The Mystery of the Aleph: Mathematics, the Kabbalah, and the Search for Infinity

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9780743422994: The Mystery of the Aleph: Mathematics, the Kabbalah, and the Search for Infinity

A compelling narrative that blends a story of infinity with the tagic tale of a tormented and brilliant mathematician. From the end of the ninteenth century until his death, one of history's greatest mathematicians languished in an asylum, driven mad by an almost Faustian thirst for universal knowledge. The Mystery Of The Aleph tells the story of Georg Cantor (1845-1918), a Russian born German whose work on the 'continuum problem' would bring us closer than any mathemetician before him in helping us to comprehend the nature of infinity. A respected mathematician himself, Dr. Aczel follows Cantor's life and traces the roots of his enigmatic theories. From the Pythagoreans, the Greek cult of mathematics, to the mystical Jewish numerology found in the Kabbalah, The Mystery Of The Aleph follows the search for an answer that may never truly be trusted.

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Review:

The search for infinity, that sublime and barely comprehensible mystery, has exercised both mathematicians and theologians over many generations. Jewish mystics, in particular, labored with elaborate numerological schema to imagine the pure nothingness of infinity, while scientists such as Galileo, the great astronomer, and Georg Cantor, the inventor of modern set theory (as well as a gifted Shakespearean scholar), brought their training to bear on the unimaginable infinitude of numbers and of space, seeking the key to the universe.

In this sometimes technical but always accessible narrative, Amir Aczel, author of the spirited study Fermat's Last Theorem, contemplates such matters as the Greek philosopher Zeno's several paradoxes; the curious careers of defrocked priests, (literal) mad scientists, and sober scholars whose work helped untangle some of those paradoxes; and the conundrums that modern mathematics has substituted for the puzzles of yore. To negotiate some of those enigmas requires a belief not unlike faith, Aczel hints, noting, "We may find it hard to believe that an elegant and seemingly very simple system of numbers and operations such as addition and multiplication--elements so intuitive that children learn them in school--should be fraught with holes and logical hurdles." Hard to believe, indeed. Aczel's book makes for a fine and fun exercise in brain-stretching, while providing a learned survey of the regions where science and religion meet. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Amir D. Aczel is the bestselling author of ten books, including Entanglement, The Riddle of the Compass, The Mystery of the Aleph, and Fermat's Last Theorem. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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Book Description Washington Square Press. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 272 pages. Dimensions: 8.0in. x 5.3in. x 0.9in.A compelling narrative that blends a story of infinity with the tagic tale of a tormented and brilliant mathematician. From the end of the ninteenth century until his death, one of historys greatest mathematicians languished in an asylum, driven mad by an almost Faustian thirst for universal knowledge. THE MYSTERY OF THE ALEPH tells the story of Georg Cantor (1845-1918), a Russian born German whose work on the continuum problem would bring us closer than any mathemetician before him in helping us to comprehend the nature of infinity. A respected mathematician himself, Dr. Aczel follows Cantors life and traces the roots of his enigmatic theories. From the Pythagoreans, the Greek cult of mathematics, to the mystical Jewish numerology found in the Kabbalah, THE MYSTERY OF THE ALEPH follows the search for an answer that may never truly be trusted. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780743422994

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