To Infinity and Beyond: A Cultural History of the Infinite (Studies in Early Institutional)

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9780817633257: To Infinity and Beyond: A Cultural History of the Infinite (Studies in Early Institutional)

The infinite! No other question has ever moved so profoundly the spirit of man; no other idea has so fruitfully stimulated his intellect; yet no other concept stands in greater need of clarification than that of the infinite. . . - David Hilbert (1862-1943) Infinity is a fathomless gulf, There is a story attributed to David Hilbert, the preeminent mathe­ into which all things matician whose quotation appears above. A man walked into a vanish. hotel late one night and asked for a room. "Sorry, we don't have o Marcus Aurelius (121- 180), Roman Emperor any more vacancies," replied the owner, "but let's see, perhaps and philosopher I can find you a room after alL" Leaving his desk, the owner reluctantly awakened his guests and asked them to change their rooms: the occupant of room #1 would move to room #2, the occupant of room #2 would move to room #3, and so on until each occupant had moved one room over. To the utter astonish­ ment of our latecomer, room #1 suddenly became vacated, and he happily moved in and settled down for the night. But a numbing thought kept him from sleep: How could it be that by merely moving the occupants from one room to another, the first room had become vacated? (Remember, all of the rooms were occupied when he arrived.

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From the Back Cover:

'Maor explores the idea of infinity in mathematics and in art and argues that this is the point of contact between the two, best exemplified by the work of the Dutch artist M.C. Escher, six of whose works are shown here in beautiful color plates.' -Los Angeles Times

About the Author:

Eli Maor is the author of Beautiful Geometry (with Eugen Jost), Venus in Transit, Trigonometric Delights, e: The Story of a Number, and The Pythagorean Theorem: A 4,000-Year History (all Princeton).

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