Synopses & Reviews
From the end of the 19th century until his death, one of history's most brilliant mathematicians languished in an asylum. The Mystery of the Aleph tells the story of Georg Cantor (1845-1918), a Russian-born German who created set theory, the concept of infinite numbers, and the "continuum hypothesis," which challenged the very foundations of mathematics. His ideas brought expected denunciation from established corners - he was called a "corruptor of youth" not only for his work in mathematics, but for his larger attempts to meld spirituality and science.
This biography of troubled pioneer Georg Cantor (1845-1918), who created the set theory and the concept of infinite numbers, tells how he challenged the foundations of mathematics, yet languished in an asylum.
Table of Contents
Halle -- Ancient roots -- Kabbalah -- Galileo and Bolzano -- Berlin -- Squaring the circle -- The student -- The birth of set theory -- The first circle -- "I see it, but I don't believe it" -- Virulent opposition -- The transfinite numbers -- The continuum hypothesis -- Shakespeare and mental illness -- The axiom of choice -- Russell's paradox -- Marienbad -- The Viennese cafâe -- The night of June 14-15, 1937 -- Leibniz, relativity, and the U.S. Constitution -- Cohen's proof and the future of set theory -- The infinite brightness of the chaluk.