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Britain's most famous mathematician takes us to the edge of knowledge to show us what we cannot know.
Science is king. Every week headlines announce new breakthroughs in our understanding of the universe, new technologies that will transform our environment, new medical advances that will extend our lives. Science is giving us unprecedented insight into some of the big questions that have challenged humanity ever since we've been able to formulate those questions. Where did we come from? What is the ultimate destiny of the universe? What are the building blocks of the physical world? What is consciousness?
What We Cannot Know asks us to rein in this unbridled enthusiasm for the power of science. Marcus Du Sautoy explores the limits of human knowledge, to probe whether there is anything we truly cannot know. Are there limits to what we can discover about our physical universe? Are some regions of the future beyond the predictive powers of science and mathematics? Is time before the big bang a no-go arena? Are there ideas so complex that they are beyond the conception of our finite human brains? Can brains even investigate themselves, or does the analysis enter an infinite loop from which it is impossible to rescue itself? Are there true statements that can never be proved true?
Prepare to be taken to the edge of knowledge to find out what we cannot know.
"Marcus Du Sautoy knows how to tell a story, and, even more important, how to make difficult ideas palatable and entertaining. He is never condescending and is always true to the spirit of his subject. He is a living refutation of Hardy's snobbish view that popularisation is 'work for second rate minds'." ( Sunday Telegraph)
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- Marc Dierckx
Putting dogmas in an axiomatic framework
Who else but a mathematician would be able to take away all emotions out of the furious debate about the existence of "God" and rephrase it as "what we can know". The book written by the successor to Richard Dawkins as Simonyi professor for the public understanding of science lifts himself from the down to earth zealous nature of his predecessor and gives us in this way the better perspective. Marcus de Sautoy takes us on a journey: on every page he pinpoints a particular area, but leaves it up to us readers to make the observation and draw conclusions. At the end of the book we can only marvel at the accumulated human knowledge and gaze at the horizon in front and dream of the ones beyond.