Here is the true story of a very interesting individual, one whose name will ring a bell for anyone who has studied higher mathematics, because his name is associated with dozens of theorems, proofs, algorithms, constants and laws. Though not a scientist by training, he contributed immeasurably to science by advancing its language (mathematics) and its toolkit of operations. According to math professor Howard Anton, he “made major contributions to virtually every branch of mathematics as well as to the theory of optics, planetary motion, electricity, magnetism, and general mechanics.” His name was Leonhard Euler (pronounced oiler), a true genius who was also a committed Christian all his life.
Euler was so smart it’s almost scary. In his thick textbook Calculus, Howard Anton includes brief biographies of famous mathematicians; his entry on Euler sounds like an episode from Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” –
Euler was probably the most prolific mathematician who ever lived. It has been said that, “Euler wrote mathematics as effortlessly as most men breathe.” .… Euler’s energy and capacity for work were virtually boundless. His collected works form about 60 to 80 quarto sized volumes and it is believed that much of his work has been lost. What is particularly astonishing is that Euler was blind for the last 17 years of his life, and this was one of his most productive periods! Euler’s flawless memory was phenomenal. Early in his life he memorized the entire Aeneid by Virgil and at age 70 could not only recite the entire work, but could also state the first and last sentence on each page of the book from which he memorized the work. His ability to solve problems in his head was beyond belief. He worked out in his head major problems of lunar motion that baffled Isaac Newton and once did a complicated calculation in his head to settle an argument between two students whose computations differed in the fiftieth decimal place.
This gives us cause to ponder the possibilities inherent in the human brain. It makes us wonder what initial abilities the Creator gave to man that have been degenerating since the creation, only to surface occasionally to above-average levels in rare geniuses like Euler. It also makes us wonder how any theory of evolution could ever produce such a superabundance of potential, far more than needed for mere survival….
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