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The Quest to Think the Unthinkable

by Brian Clegg

ISBN 0786712856 / 9780786712854 / 0-7867-1285-6
Publisher Running Press
Language English
Edition Softcover
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Book summary

It amazes children, as they try to count themselves out of numbers, only to discover one day that the hundreds, thousands, and zillions go on foreverto something like infinity. And anyone who has advanced beyond the bounds of basic mathematics has soon marveled at that drunken number eight lying on its side in the pages of their work. Infinity fascinates; it takes the mind beyond its everyday concernsindeed, beyond everythingto something always more. Infinity makes even the infinite universe seem small; yet it can also be infinitesimal. Infinity thrives on paradox, and it turns the simplest arithmetic on its head, with 1 seeming feasibly to equal 0, after all. Infinity defies common sense. The contemplation of it has relieved at least two great mathematicians of their sanity. Thoroughly readable and entirely accessible, science writer Brian Clegg's lively history explores infinity in its many intriguing facets, from its ancient origins to its place today at the heart of mathematics and science. He examines infinity's paradoxes and profiles the people who first grappled with and then defined and refined them, offering information, mystery, and poetry to conceive the inconceivable and define the indefinable.