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Duel at Dawn: Heroes, Martyrs, and the Rise of Modern Mathematics (New Histories of Science, Technology, and Medicine)

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Duel at Dawn: Heroes, Martyrs, and the Rise of Modern Mathematics (New Histories of Science, Technology, and Medicine) Cover

 

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Publisher Comments:

In the fog of a Paris dawn in 1832, Évariste Galois, the 20-year-old founder of modern algebra, was shot and killed in a duel. That gunshot, suggests Amir Alexander, marked the end of one era in mathematics and the beginning of another. Arguing that not even the purest mathematics can be separated from its cultural background, Alexander shows how popular stories about mathematicians are really morality tales about their craft as it relates to the world. In the eighteenth century, Alexander says, mathematicians were idealized as child-like, eternally curious, and uniquely suited to reveal the hidden harmonies of the world. But in the nineteenth century, brilliant mathematicians like Galois became Romantic heroes like poets, artists, and musicians. The ideal mathematician was now an alienated loner, driven to despondency by an uncomprehending world. A field that had been focused on the natural world now sought to create its own reality. Higher mathematics became a world unto itself--pure and governed solely by the laws of reason. In this strikingly original book that takes us from Paris to St. Petersburg, Norway to Transylvania, Alexander introduces us to national heroes and outcasts, innocents, swindlers, and martyrs-all uncommonly gifted creators of modern mathematics.

About the Author

Amir Alexander is a historian and writer in Los Angeles.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: A Showdown in Paris
  • Part I: Natural Men
    • The Eternal Child
    • Natural Mathematics
  • Part II: Heroes and Martyrs
    • A Habit of Insult: The Short and Impertinent Life of Évariste Galois
    • The Exquisite Dance of the Blue Nymphs
    • A Martyr to Contempt
  • Part III: Romantic Mathematics
    • The Poetry of Mathematics
    • Purity and Rigor: The Birth of Modern Mathematics
  • Part IV: A New and Different World
    • The Gifted Swordsman
  • Conclusion: Portrait of a Mathematician
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780674046610
Author:
Alexander, Amir
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Location:
Cambridge
Subject:
History -- Philosophy.
Subject:
History
Subject:
Folklore & Mythology
Subject:
Mathematics - Social aspects - History
Subject:
Mathematics -- History.
Subject:
Science -- History.
Subject:
Social Science - Folklore & Mythology
Subject:
HISTORY / Europe/General
Subject:
HISTORY / Modern / General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Cloth
Series:
New Histories of Science, Technology, and Medicine
Series Volume:
22
Publication Date:
April 2010
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
10 halftones, 14 line illustrations
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects


Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Science and Mathematics » Mathematics » History

Duel at Dawn: Heroes, Martyrs, and the Rise of Modern Mathematics (New Histories of Science, Technology, and Medicine) New Hardcover
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Product details 320 pages Harvard University Press - English 9780674046610 Reviews:
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