Sorry, I am merely a Middle School maths teacher at an Australian secondary school. I remember reading years ago about a famous mathematician (18th or 19th Century?) who calculated table upon table of numbers (pi? prime numbers?) but made an error somewhere along the way and, based on that error, all subsequent numbers in the table were incorrect. Tragically, he continued to make that error for the last few years of his life without realizing it. I'd love to know his name but also I wondered if anyone could calculate the probability of his making the mistake in the first place. Obviously, he wasn't going to make the error in the first 10 seconds of doing the sums so why did he make the error when he did? Is there some type of critical mass beyond which creating an error becomes all but inevitable?
Thank-you in advance for any replies I receive.
Michael McLean