Naming Infinity: A True Story of Religious Mysticism and Mathematical Creativity

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Harvard University Press, 2009 - Всего страниц: 239
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In 1913, Russian imperial marines stormed an Orthodox monastery at Mt. Athos, Greece, to haul off monks engaged in a dangerously heretical practice known as Name Worshipping. Exiled to remote Russian outposts, the monks and their mystical movement went underground. Ultimately, they came across Russian intellectuals who embraced Name Worshipping—and who would achieve one of the biggest mathematical breakthroughs of the twentieth century, going beyond recent French achievements.

Loren Graham and Jean-Michel Kantor take us on an exciting mathematical mystery tour as they unravel a bizarre tale of political struggles, psychological crises, sexual complexities, and ethical dilemmas. At the core of this book is the contest between French and Russian mathematicians who sought new answers to one of the oldest puzzles in math: the nature of infinity. The French school chased rationalist solutions. The Russian mathematicians, notably Dmitri Egorov and Nikolai Luzin—who founded the famous Moscow School of Mathematics—were inspired by mystical insights attained during Name Worshipping. Their religious practice appears to have opened to them visions into the infinite—and led to the founding of descriptive set theory.

The men and women of the leading French and Russian mathematical schools are central characters in this absorbing tale that could not be told until now. Naming Infinity is a poignant human interest story that raises provocative questions about science and religion, intuition and ­creativity.

 

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Содержание

Introduction
1
1 Storming a Monastery
7
2 A Crisis in Mathematics
19
Borel Lebesgue Baire
33
Egorov Luzin Florensky
66
5 Russian Mathematics and Mysticism
91
6 The Legendary Lusitania
101
7 Fates of the Russian Trio
125
8 Lusitania and After
162
9 The Human in Mathematics Then and Now
188
Luzins Personal Archives
205
Notes
212
Acknowledgments
228
Index
231
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Об авторе (2009)

Loren Graham is Professor Emeritus of the History of Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jean-Michel Kantor is a mathematician at the Institut de Mathématiques de Jussieu in Paris.

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