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A Brief History of Infinity: The Quest to Think the Unthinkable (Brief Histories) (English Edition) Kindle电子书
'Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space.' Douglas Adams, Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy
We human beings have trouble with infinity - yet infinity is a surprisingly human subject. Philosophers and mathematicians have gone mad contemplating its nature and complexity - yet it is a concept routinely used by schoolchildren. Exploring the infinite is a journey into paradox. Here is a quantity that turns arithmetic on its head, making it feasible that 1 = 0. Here is a concept that enables us to cram as many extra guests as we like into an already full hotel. Most bizarrely of all, it is quite easy to show that there must be something bigger than infinity - when it surely should be the biggest thing that could possibly be.
Brian Clegg takes us on a fascinating tour of that borderland between the extremely large and the ultimate that takes us from Archimedes, counting the grains of sand that would fill the universe, to the latest theories on the physical reality of the infinite. Full of unexpected delights, whether St Augustine contemplating the nature of creation, Newton and Leibniz battling over ownership of calculus, or Cantor struggling to publicise his vision of the transfinite, infinity's fascination is in the way it brings together the everyday and the extraordinary, prosaic daily life and the esoteric.
Whether your interest in infinity is mathematical, philosophical, spiritual or just plain curious, this accessible book offers a stimulating and entertaining read.
- ASIN : B00AN2KHK8
- 出版社 : Robinson; 第 UK ed. 版 (2013年2月7日)
- 出版日期 : 2013年2月7日
- 语言 : 英语
- 文件大小 : 1897 KB
- 标准语音朗读 : 已启用
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- 纸书页数 : 272页
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Clegg touches on a wide range of topics, often exploring unexpected connections and tangential matters. Sometimes his side trips are diverting and enjoyable, but at other times I found these digressions to be overly distracting. (The discussions on quantum physics seemed unnecessary; there so many good books for the layman available.) But to be fair, infinity is a broad topic and other readers may well find Clegg's far ranging approach to be stimulating and enjoyable.
Clegg addresses in a credible fashion Galileo's investigations of infinity, the battle between Newton and Leibniz (and Bishop Berkeley too) over infinitesimals, Cantor's transfinite numbers, and Robinson's non-standard analysis. These non-technical discussions are neither too superficial, nor too vague.
For readers willing to delve deeper into the mathematics of infinity, I highly recommend The Philosophy of Set Theory - An Historical Introduction to Cantor's Paradise by Mary Tiles. This is not an easy book as it primarily targets advanced students in philosophy and mathematics. Nonetheless, it is within reach of a persistent reader. Some sections can be read stand-alone; three mid-chapters (Numbering the Continuum, Cantor's Transfinite Paradise, and Axiomatic Set Theory) are outstanding and in themselves are worth the price of this book.
Going a step farther, a math major might wish to tackle Georg Cantor's Contributions to the Founding of the Theory of Transfinite Numbers. I particularly recommend the Dover reprint of the same title as it contains a lengthy introduction by the mathematician Philip E. B. Jourdain.
There is yet a third book to consider, one that has the same title as Brian Clegg's book. A Brief History of Infinity by Paolo Zellini (translated by David Marsh) "explores every aspect of infinity, distilling the wisdom of philosophers, artists, mathematicians, and theologians over the millennia". Less mathematical than my other two recommendations, Zellini's work is nonetheless quite challenging. It provides a detailed examination of philosophical issues underlying the concept of infinity.