The Magic of Numbers

$11.59

  • Format: PDF
  • Pages: 249
  • Published Date: 1946
Category:

Description

From one of the foremost interpreters for lay readers of the history and meaning of mathematics: a stimulating account of the origins of mathematical thought and the development of numerical theory. It probes the work of Pythagoras, Galileo, Berkeley, Einstein, and others, exploring how “number magic” has influenced religion, philosophy, science, and mathematics.

Introduction:

Eric Temple Bell (1883-1960), a former professor of mathematics at California Institute of Technology and prolific author, combines a fascinating history of ideas with an engaging series of life stories of the brilliant thinkers who forged mathematical history.

The topic of The Magic of Numbers is described in the first few pages of the opening chapter. It concerns what may be the least expected turn of scientific thought in twenty-five centuries. Should this return to a remote past-for that is what the most recent philosophy of science really is-be generally accepted, our descendants a few generations hence will look back on us and our science as incredibly unenlightened.

Not much of the proposed substitute for the scientific method as commonly understood has been discussed outside professional scientific circles. An untechnical account of the origins and progress of the new approach to nature may therefore be of interest to those who do not make their livings at science. It will appear that the new and the old are strangely alike.

For valuable criticisms and suggestions I am indebted to many friends, professional and other. Though I alone am responsible for what finally got written down, I should like especially to thank Eleanor Bohnenblust, Frederic Bohnenblust, Mary Mayo, and Laslo Zechmeister for their patience and helpfulness with it all, and Nina Jo Reeves for preparing the manuscript for publication. For permission to reprint the excerpts that appeared in Scripta Mathematica, I am indebted to the editors of Scripta.

Contents:

  • THE PAST RETURNS
  • A ROYAL MACE
  • FOR THEIR OWN SAKE
  • THE DECISIVE CENTURY
  • A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION
  • WISDOM AS A PROFESSION
  • NOT MUCH, BUT ENOUGH
  • ONE OR MANY?
  • A DREAM AND A DOUBT .
  • HALF MAN, HALF MYTH
  • DISCORD AND HARMONY
  • HARMONY AND DISCORD
  • MYTHOLOGY TRANSFORMED
  • THE COSMOS AS NUMBER
  • HIMSELF MADE IT?
  • INTIMATIONS OF THE INFINITE
  • A MISCARRIAGE OF REASON
  • POLITICS AND GEOMETRY
  • “ANOTHER I”
  • NUMBER DEIFIED
  • PYTHAGORAS IN PURGATORY
  • SAINTS AND HERETICS
  • ATURNING POINT
  • THE SKEPTICAL BISHOP
  • BELIEVER AND DISBELIEVER
  • CHANGING VIEWS
  • RETURN OF THE MASTER