A couple of my friends that know my passion (!= expertise) for maths asked my opinion about the claim that the Riemann Hypothesis has been proven by professor Enoch Openyemi.
The RH is a very important conjecture that, if proven, would offer a model for the distribution of prime numbers (numbers that are naturally divisible only by themselves and the unity) which in turn has vast consequences on many branches of mathematics.
[EDIT: my friend George Chiesa reminds me that EVERYTHING in cryptography is connected to prime numbers. Good point, indeed!]
Well, I certainly do not have the capability to understand prof. Openyemi’s proof: we’ll have to wait until this is done by the handful of mathematical minds that can do this check. And a sure sign whether the proof is genuine will come when the Clay Mathematics Institute, who created the Millennium Prize that pays 1 million dollars for the solution of each of seven old mathematics conjectures will declare the problem solved.
At the moment, it is still listed as open.
These things are very good for science in general, as they turn what is an obscure and daunting branch of knowledge into full-fledged drama we all can take an interest in. Certainly, the ingredients are all here in this case: a 150-years old mystery, a Nigerian professor, academic rivalries and back-stabbing, hoaxes, their debunking and the debunking of their debunking, the staple of our Internet age.
Therefore we can only follow the drama as it unfolds.
However, I also remember what happened when in 1993 Andrew Wiles claimed he had proven the equally old Fermat’s Last Theorem: his proof, when first announced with much fanfare, turned out to be flawed, causing him much angst and depression. However, he went back to work and was able to repair it announcing a couple of years later what is now commonly accepted as the real proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem.
At the time of his first announcement (as told in the excellent book by Simon Singh which is great reading even for those who have problems checking the bill at the restaurant) it was estimated that no more than five or six mathematicians in the whole world were advanced enough to follow the convolute 150-pages proof, so good luck to prof. Openyemi.