Riemann Hypothesis features in Time Magazine

In Time Magazine dated Monday 30 April 1945, there appeared a picture of Bernhard Riemann with the caption "Few understand it, none has proved it." The article, written by a Time Magazine reporter, appeared under the headline, "Science: As You Were." It reads as follows:


A sure way for any mathematician to achieve immortal fame would be to prove or disprove the Riemann hypothesis. This baffling theory, which deals with prime numbers, is usually stated in Riemann's symbolism as follows:
"All the nontrivial zeros of the zeta function of s, a complex variable, lie on the line where sigma is 1/2 (sigma being the real part of s)."
The theory was propounded in 1859 by Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann (who revolutionized geometry and laid the foundations for Einstein's theory of relativity). No layman has ever been able to understand it and no mathematician has ever proved it.

One day last month electrifying news arrived at the University of Chicago office of Dr Adrian Albert, editor of the 'Transactions of the American Mathematical Society'. A wire from the Society's secretary, University of Pennsylvania Professor John R Kline, asked editor Albert to stop the presses; a paper disproving the Riemann Hypothesis was on the way. Its author Professor Hans Adolf Rademacher, a refugee German mathematician now at Penn.

On the heels of the telegram came a letter from Professor Rademacher himself reporting that his calculations had been checked and confirmed by famed mathematician Carl Ludwig Siegel of Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study. Editor Albert got ready to publish the historic paper in the May issue. US mathematicians, hearing the wildfire rumour, held their breath. Also for drama, last week the issue went to press without the Rademacher article. At the last moment the professor wired meekly that it was all a mistake; on rechecking, mathematician Siegel had discovered a flaw (undisclosed) in the Rademacher reasoning. US mathematicians felt much like the morning after a phoney armistice celebration. Sighed editor Albert, "The whole thing raised a lot of false hopes."


JOC/EFR October 2016

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