Dangerous Knowledge

Beneath the surface of the world are the rules of science, but beneath them there is a far deeper set of rules, a matrix of pure mathematics, which explains the nature of the rules of science...

So begins this David Malone tour-de-force tribute to four geniuses who dared to confront the nature of the rules underlying all mathematics, logic and science, and saw in their various ways that the certainty with which we had become so familiar and comfortable was but an illusion.

Their stories are both inspiring and tragic. These men, Georg Cantor, Ludwig Boltzmann, Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing, were all destined for intellectual fame and greatness, if only posthumously, but because of the nature of their research, because of the intense dedication that their academic problems demanded of them, because of the great resistance they had to overcome from detractors, and because of the major threat they posed to our most foundational beliefs, they came to the brink of madness, and their ends were all tragic, lonely and regrettable. For all of that, however, and however briefly, they each got a glimpse of a reality few, if any of us, will ever get to experience.

This is, quite possibly, the best thing you may do for your brain this week...






And for another masterpiece on Alan Turing's intellectual contributions, check out Jim Al-Khalili's The Secret Life of Chaos.
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