Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Danny Yee
PopularScience

Amir Aczel

The mystery of the aleph

Infinity has been a source of much confusion over the ages. In The mystery of the aleph Amir Aczel traces our gradual acceptance of the concept. He starts with the ideas of Zeno and Pythagoras and goes on to consider the Jewish mystical system known as the Kabbalah. He shows how Galileo began to take infinity seriously, accepting actual as well as potential infinities. Aczel then moves on to the nineteenth century, when infinitesimals were put on a firmer footing, but most importantly of all he describes the life of Georg Cantor, and his work on transfinite set theory. The last few chapters look at later developments of this theory, and in particular the work of Kurt Gödel.

I would say that the reader needs some mathematical background to be able to follow this book. It's harder than God's Equation where biographical details help the reader along, but then biographies of those working with the infinite tend to be a bit depressing. But I think that someone who has pursued mathematics to a reasonably advanced level at school should have no problems with this book, and that it would be a useful introduction to the concept of infinity for those wanting to go on to study mathematics or physical science at university level.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 272 pages  
ISBN: 0743422996
Salesrank: 776990
Weight:0.53 lbs
Published: 2001 Washington Square Press
Amazon price $16.96
Marketplace:New from $7.97:Used from $0.25
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 272 pages  
ISBN: 0743422996
Salesrank: 293145
Weight:0.53 lbs
Published: 2001 Washington Square Press
Amazon price £10.99
Marketplace:New from £7.63:Used from £0.43
Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.ca info
Paperback 272 pages  
ISBN: 0743422996
Salesrank: 395780
Weight:0.53 lbs
Published: 2001 Washington Square Press
Amazon price CDN$ 19.98
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 16.11:Used from CDN$ 0.01
Buy from Amazon.ca





Product Description
A compelling narrative that blends a story of infinity with the tagic tale of a tormented and brilliant mathematician. From the end of the ninteenth century until his death, one of history's greatest mathematicians languished in an asylum, driven mad by an almost Faustian thirst for universal knowledge. The Mystery Of The Aleph tells the story of Georg Cantor (1845-1918), a Russian born German whose work on the 'continuum problem' would bring us closer than any mathemetician before him in helping us to comprehend the nature of infinity. A respected mathematician himself, Dr. Aczel follows Cantor's life and traces the roots of his enigmatic theories. From the Pythagoreans, the Greek cult of mathematics, to the mystical Jewish numerology found in the Kabbalah, The Mystery Of The Aleph follows the search for an answer that may never truly be trusted.