I do apologise in advance for the randomness of this post. My Internet home page is set to Google and as you may know, they put pretty pictures on there of things of general interest. It’s a bit like having an automatic calendar. Birthdays and anniversaries (see the previous post!) are celebrated by Google!

Today’s picture is this:

I looked at it curiously. Einstein, I decided, must have been born today. But when I hovered over the picture, the words “I have discovered a truly marvellous proof of this theorem, which this doodle is too small to contain” appear and I decided it must be Pierre de Fermat’s birthday instead. Sure enough, he was born on 17th August, though the year seems to be in dispute (1601 or 1607 or 1608 were all suggested by Wikipedia!)

Fermat, for those of you who aren’t surrounded by mathematicians and maths books as I am, was a 17th century mathematician famous for his ‘Last Theorem’ which states that no three positive integers a, b, and c can satisfy the equation an + bn = cn for any integer value of n greater than two. No, I don’t understand it, either. I did know of Fermat because he was French and a contemporary of the philosopher and mathematician Pascal. I do vaguely remember the theorem only being ‘proved’ in recent years, over 300 years after Fermat wrote about it. It makes no difference at all to my daily living as far as I can see and I’m really not that interested in it, though my husband and son often try to explain to me the wonders and relevance of maths.

What does interest me, however, is the fact that people have the capacity to think about these things, ponder them, reflect on them and care about them. The human mind is an amazing thing and I am constantly awed by what it can conceive.

Many of us are so busy with everyday things that we feel we have no time for thinking. Jesus warned us in Matthew 6:25-34 not to be so preoccupied with the everyday things that we forget about God. God is there, even in the ordinary, even in the mundane, and we need to reflect on Him and ‘ponder anew what the Almighty can do’ at every opportunity. Stopping and reflecting on an extraordinary life lived hundreds of years ago – even if it seems to have little direct connection to my ordinary life in 2011 – can’t be a bad way to start the day!