The Mystery of the Aleph

  • by Amir D. Aczel
  • Narrated by Henry Leyva
  • 5 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

"An engaging, pellucid explanation of the mathematical understanding of infinity, enlivened by a historical gloss on age-old affinities..." - Washington Post Book WorldToward the end of the 19th century, one of the most brilliant mathematicians in history languished in an asylum. His greatest accomplishment, the result of a series of extraordinary leaps of insight, was his pioneering understanding of the nature of infinity.From the acclaimed author of God's Equation comes The Mystery of the Aleph, the story of Georg Cantor: how he came to his theories and the reverberations of his pioneering work, the consequences of which will shape our world for the foreseeable future. The mindtwisting, deeply philosophical work of Cantor has its roots in ancient Greek mathematics and Jewish numerology as found in the mystical work known as the Kabbalah. Cantor's theory of the infinite is famous for its many seeming contradictions; for example, we can prove that in all time there are as many years as days, that there are as many points on a one-inch line as on a one-mile line.While the inspiration for Cantor's mind-twisting genius lies in the very origins of mathematics, its meaning is still being interpreted. Only in 1947 did Kurt Godel prove that Cantor's Continuum Hypothesis is independent of the rest of mathematics - and that the foundations of mathematics itself are therefore shaky.


What the Critics Say

"Mr. Aczel is very good at portraying the essences of the thoughts and lives of that quirky class of geniuses known as mathematicians". (The New York Times Book Review)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

beauty in numbers

I was unaware of the two egregious mispronunciations, so they did not distract from my enjoyment of the book. That said, this book does a very good job of palpably relating the fascinating nature of the underlying structures upon which modern mathematics in based and the thinking that went into their construction. I find numbers and their properties fascinating, but it usually takes lots of mental labor before the beauty reveals itself; it's like climbing and climbing and finally coming up over the top of a mountain and suddenly you perceive the wondrous landscape stretched out before you. This author has the ability to evoke that sense of wonder and fascination that comes from understanding the big (mathematical) picture.
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- Jeffrey

See previous review of this book by me

I forgot something. I know some may feel my review is just nit picking, but as this book relates, mathematics is poetry. If it's read incorrectly it just simply spoils it, in an important way. Especially when the author mispronounces the MAIN CHARACTER's historical name. Well, I forgot something. The MAIN POINT of this book is something called aleph null. That's written as the hebrew letter with a "0" subscript. But the author pronounces this "aleph zero" about 200 times. That's just unforgiveably slopppy, to not know the proper way to describe the central point of the book you're paid to read.
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- Rorick

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-20-2001
  • Publisher: Random House Audio