Dangerous Infinity

Posted on July 26, 2009  Comments (3)

In this BBC documentary, Dangerous Knowledge, David Malone looks at four brilliant mathematicians РGeorg Cantor, Ludwig Boltzmann, Kurt G̦del and Alan Turing Рwhose genius has profoundly affected us, but which tragically drove them insane and eventually led to them all committing suicide.

The film begins with Georg Cantor, the great mathematician whose work proved to be the foundation for much of the 20th-century mathematics. He believed he was God’s messenger and was eventually driven insane trying to prove his theories of infinity.

They explore, among other things, varying levels of infinity. With Ludwig Boltzmann they explore challenges to the understanding of physics.

Related: BBC Dangerous Knowledge web sitePoincaré ConjectureProblems Programming MathCompounding is the Most Powerful Force in the UniverseInnovation with Math

3 Responses to “Dangerous Infinity”

  1. gregbo
    July 30th, 2009 @ 10:23 pm

    I explore this in http://gregbo.livejournal.com/39971.html . There is a book called THE MYSTERY OF THE ALEPH by Amir D. Aczel that discusses how the theory of infinity was initially developed during the time of ancient Judaism. It also focuses on the life of Georg Cantor, including how he fell into depression when he could not prove the Continuum Hypothesis. There is another book called THE ADVENT OF THE ALGORITHM by David Berlinski that outlines the development of algorithms by logicians, including Gödel, Church, and Turing. It also mentions some of the emotional struggles the logicians suffered.

  2. Anonymous
    August 13th, 2009 @ 8:08 am

    “They explore, among other things, varying levels of infinity. With Ludwig Boltzmann they explore challenges to the understanding of physics.”

    Whew, such geniuses trying to get another puzzle piece to fit into the whole puzzle! I wonder what they’ve come up with after discussing the theory of infinity developed during the time of ancient Judaism. I can just imagine the mental tortures and emotional struggles all these logicians suffered during their times!

  3. Chattaranga
    April 16th, 2010 @ 3:08 am

    I think Cantor was driven insane more through depression and his colleagues abandoning him as well as all his family troubles. The proof of the non-denumerability of the real numbers is so stupidly simply that its hard to accept as valid.

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