The Fifth Postulate: How Unraveling A Two Thousand Year Old Mystery Unraveled the Universe [NOOK Book]

Overview

The great discovery that no one wanted to make

It's the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and Euclidean geometry has been profoundly influential for centuries. One mystery remains, however: Euclid's fifth postulate has eluded for two thousand years all attempts to prove it. What happens when three nineteenth-century mathematicians realize that there is no way to prove the fifth postulate and that it ought to be discarded—along with everything they'd come to know about geometry?...

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The Fifth Postulate: How Unraveling A Two Thousand Year Old Mystery Unraveled the Universe

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Overview

The great discovery that no one wanted to make

It's the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and Euclidean geometry has been profoundly influential for centuries. One mystery remains, however: Euclid's fifth postulate has eluded for two thousand years all attempts to prove it. What happens when three nineteenth-century mathematicians realize that there is no way to prove the fifth postulate and that it ought to be discarded—along with everything they'd come to know about geometry? Jason Socrates Bardi shares the dramatic story of the moment when the tangible and easily understood world we live in gave way to the strange, mind-blowing world of relativity, curved space-time, and more.

"Jason Socrates Bardi tells the story of the discovery of non-Euclidian geometry—one of the greatest intellectual advances of all time—with tremendous clarity and verve. I loved this book."

—John Horgan, author, The End of Science and Rational Mysticism

"An accessible and engrossing blend of micro-biography, history and mathematics, woven together to reveal a blockbuster discovery."

—David Wolman, author of Righting the Mother Tongue and A Left-Hand Turn around the World

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470467367
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/1/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,275,907
  • File size: 390 KB

Meet the Author

Jason Socrates Bardi, author of The Calculus Wars, holds master's degrees in both science writing and molecular biophysics from Johns Hopkins University.

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 A Mathematician's Waterloo 3

2 The Strange Vegetarian Cult and Mathematics 25

3 The Mystery Maker 45

4 Those False and Would-Be Proofs 57

5 A Codebreaker's Fix 71

6 Searching for Ceres 83

7 The Dim Light of Exhaustion 95

8 Gauss's Little Secret 105

9 Lessons of Curvature 111

10 To Stir the Nests of Wasps 123

11 A Strange New World 137

12 A Message for You, Ambassador 147

13 "To Praise It Would Be to Praise Myself" 157

14 The Birth of Electronic Communication 167

15 The Imaginary Man from Kazan 177

16 The Soul of the Universe 193

17 The Curvature of Space 207

Notes 211

Bibliography 235

Index 245

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