Toward the end of the 19th century, one of the most brilliant mathematicians in history languished in an asylum. His greatest accomplishment, the result of a series of extraordinary leaps of insight, was his pioneering understanding of the nature of infinity.
From the acclaimed author of God's Equation comes The Mystery of the Aleph, the story of Georg Cantor: how he came to his theories and the reverberations of his pioneering work, the consequences of which will shape our world for the foreseeable future. The mindtwisting, deeply philosophical work of Cantor has its roots in ancient Greek mathematics and Jewish numerology as found in the mystical work known as the Kabbalah. Cantor's theory of the infinite is famous for its many seeming contradictions; for example, we can prove that in all time there are as many years as days, that there are as many points on a one-inch line as on a one-mile line.
While the inspiration for Cantor's mind-twisting genius lies in the very origins of mathematics, its meaning is still being interpreted. Only in 1947 did Kurt Godel prove that Cantor's Continuum Hypothesis is independent of the rest of mathematics - and that the foundations of mathematics itself are therefore shaky.
©2001 by Amir D. Aczel; (P)2001 Random House, Inc.
"Mr. Aczel is very good at portraying the essences of the thoughts and lives of that quirky class of geniuses known as mathematicians". (The New York Times Book Review)
I was unaware of the two egregious mispronunciations, so they did not distract from my enjoyment of the book. That said, this book does a very good job of palpably relating the fascinating nature of the underlying structures upon which modern mathematics in based and the thinking that went into their construction. I find numbers and their properties fascinating, but it usually takes lots of mental labor before the beauty reveals itself; it's like climbing and climbing and finally coming up over the top of a mountain and suddenly you perceive the wondrous landscape stretched out before you. This author has the ability to evoke that sense of wonder and fascination that comes from understanding the big (mathematical) picture.
I have enjoyed several of Aczel's books, and this one is especially interesting. He constructs a compelling narrative and explains complicated concepts in a way that I (not a mathemetician) could easily understand. The only downside to this book is that the narrator drives me crazy. I wish audible would stop using him as a narrator. If you can get past his irritating voice and bizarre inflections (he emphasizes words that can detract from the power of a sentence) then you will enjoy this book. I am currently listening to Entanglement, again by Aczel and narrated by the same guy (Leyva) and can't believe i didn't check to see who narrated it. Anyway, this book is really good and I would give it 6 stars if it weren't for Leyva's insane reading style.
This is a wonderful listen. You don't have to be a mathematician (which I am not) to enjoy this interesting trip in time the author has so seamlessly created. I highly recommend this program to folks who have an interest in the history of man's insatiable quest for the elusive infinity.
Amir D. Aczel is an excellent writer on scientific and mathematical topics. I have come to expect readable and understandable expositions, and The Mystery of the Aleph is no exception.
The highest tribute that I can confer upon this work is that I found it helpful in contemplating some issues of Physics and Math that I have been exploring recently.
The book is an excellent exposition and reflection on important mathematical principles and theorems, presented in a compelling manner. My only reservation is that the narrator had difficulty pronouncing "Georg", instead pronouncing it "Gerreg" or something like that. Just a minor thing, but since much of the text concerns the mathematical genius of Georg Cantor, it is troublesome that neither the narrator nor someone who perhaps "edits" the narration sought to correct this error. Nevertheless, it is well worth a listen, maybe even several.
I am not a mathematician by any means; I consider myself numerically challenged. And, there were some challenging parts to this book; I had to rewind and re-listen to parts several times. But, I found it fascinating and worth the effort. The book discusses how the concept of infinity developed, and works it into certain religious concepts. While I doubt I "got it" all, I did get some of it, and learned about math history on the way.
This is an amazing account of how Mathematics and Mathematicians work and how it all relates to the creation of Space and Time and making order out of Chaos...
The reader was excellent as well...
This is another fine book by the author. To me the subject matter wasn't quite so interesting as that of Entanglement but still an interesting read. Once again, a superb job by the narrator.
This isn't Shakespeare. It is science and the narrator couldn't have done a better job.
This was a great story about how the idea of infinity contributed to Cantor's mental decline -- chicken or egg? Some of the theories explained in this book threatened to make my head spin off too. A great read. His book on Einstein is also well worth reading.
The stories of the mathematicians was interesting. Some very colorful characters
There is a shoe-horning of the material into a psuedo-spiritual concept of infinity in the kaballah. Infinity is mind-blowing enough without trying to fit it into a pre-existing concept. I don't think the the modern mathematicians were trying to explain the 'mathematics' in the Kaballah or vice versa. Fortunately that was a rhetorical tool and not the main subject of the book
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