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A Brief History of Infinity

The Quest to Think the Unthinkable

Author: Brian Clegg

Publisher: Hachette UK


Category: Mathematics

Page: 160

View: 861

'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.

The Infinite

Author: A.W. Moore

Publisher: Routledge


Category: Philosophy

Page: 308

View: 281

We are all captivated and puzzled by the infinite, in its many varied guises; by the endlessness of space and time; by the thought that between any two points in space, however close, there is always another; by the fact that numbers go on forever; and by the idea of an all-knowing, all-powerful God. In this acclaimed introduction to the infinite, A. W. Moore takes us on a journey back to early Greek thought about the infinite, from its inception to Aristotle. He then examines medieval and early modern conceptions of the infinite, including a brief history of the calculus, before turning to Kant and post-Kantian ideas. He also gives an account of Cantor’s remarkable discovery that some infinities are bigger than others. In the second part of the book, Moore develops his own views, drawing on technical advances in the mathematics of the infinite, including the celebrated theorems of Skolem and Gödel, and deriving inspiration from Wittgenstein. He concludes this part with a discussion of death and human finitude. For this third edition Moore has added a new part, ‘Infinity superseded’, which contains two new chapters refining his own ideas through a re-examination of the ideas of Spinoza, Hegel, and Nietzsche. This new part is heavily influenced by the work of Deleuze. Also new for the third edition are: a technical appendix on still unresolved questions about different infinite sizes; an expanded glossary; and updated references and further reading. The Infinite, Third Edition is ideal reading for anyone interested in an engaging and historically informed account of this fascinating topic, whether from a philosophical point of view, a mathematical point of view, or a religious point of view.

Christian Doctrine

Author: Mike Higton

Publisher: Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd


Category: Religion

Page: 413

View: 233

The SCM Core Text: Christian Doctrine offers an up-to-date, accessible introduction to one of the core subjects of theology. Written for second and third year university students, it shows that Christian Doctrine is not a set of impossible claims to be clung to with blind faith. Mike Higton argues that it is, rather, a set of claims that emerge in the midst of Christian life, as Christian communities try to make enough sense of their lives and of their world to allow them to carry on. This book explores these and other central Christian doctrines, and in each case shows how the doctrine makes sense, and how it is woven into Christian life. It will help readers to see what sense it might make to say the things that Christian doctrine says, and how that doctrine might affect the way that one looks at everything: the natural world, gossip, culture, speaking in tongues, politics, dieting, human, freedom, love, High Noon, justice, computers, racism, the novels of Jane Austen, parenthood, death and fashion.

Isotopic Randomness and Self-Organization

In Physics, Biology, Nanotechnology, and Digital Informatics

Author: Alexander Berezin

Publisher: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG


Category: Science

Page: 322

View: 900

The material world is made of atoms, and the majority of chemical elements has two or more stable isotopes. The existence of isotopes and their applications are well known. Yet, there is little appreciation of isotopic diversity as a singular phenomenon of nature. This book discusses aspects of isotopic diversity in terms of a singular principle: "isotopicity".

Infinity: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Ian Stewart

Publisher: Oxford University Press


Category: Mathematics

Page: 144

View: 134

Infinity is an intriguing topic, with connections to religion, philosophy, metaphysics, logic, and physics as well as mathematics. Its history goes back to ancient times, with especially important contributions from Euclid, Aristotle, Eudoxus, and Archimedes. The infinitely large (infinite) is intimately related to the infinitely small (infinitesimal). Cosmologists consider sweeping questions about whether space and time are infinite. Philosophers and mathematicians ranging from Zeno to Russell have posed numerous paradoxes about infinity and infinitesimals. Many vital areas of mathematics rest upon some version of infinity. The most obvious, and the first context in which major new techniques depended on formulating infinite processes, is calculus. But there are many others, for example Fourier analysis and fractals. In this Very Short Introduction, Ian Stewart discusses infinity in mathematics while also drawing in the various other aspects of infinity and explaining some of the major problems and insights arising from this concept. He argues that working with infinity is not just an abstract, intellectual exercise but that it is instead a concept with important practical everyday applications, and considers how mathematicians use infinity and infinitesimals to answer questions or supply techniques that do not appear to involve the infinite. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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