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What We Cannot Know by Marcus du Sautoy

What We Cannot Know

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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. '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.


What We Cannot Know by Marcus du Sautoy

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? 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.


Praise for Marcus du Sautoy:

'Marcus du Sautoy [is] surely the single element in the Venn diagram intersection of mathematician and cool
The Guardian

'Careful now! This book may trick you into learning something. Warning! Don't start reading this unless you have something to scribble on. Someday all maths will be taught like this. If Maths is the Queen of Sciences, this is her with her petticoats undone'
Dara O'Briain

'Mind-bending, fascinating and useful too. Maths didn't used to be this much fun'
Alan Davies

'Brilliant and fascinating. No one is better at making the recondite accessible and exciting'
Bill Bryson

'I felt I was being carried off on a wonderful journey, a thrilling research expedition to the teasing and mysterious boundaries of scientific knowledge, and I never wanted to turn back. Du Sautoy is a masterful and friendly guide to these remotest regions ... It is absolutely fascinating throughout, and I really loved it'
Richard Holmes

'I admire and envy the clarity and authority with which Marcus du Sautoy addresses a range of profound issues. His book deserves a wide readership'
Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal

About the Author

Marcus du Sautoy is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Wadham College. He has been named by the Independent on Sunday as one of the UK's leading scientists, has written extensively for the Guardian, The Times and the Daily Telegraph and has appeared on Radio 4 on numerous occasions. He is the author of 'The Music of the Primes' and has presented 'Mind Games' and 'Music of the Primes' on BBC television. He was the Royal Institution Christmas lecturer in 2006, broadcast on Channel 5, and is filming 'The Story of Maths' for the BBC. In October 2008 he was appointed to Oxford University's prestigious professorship as the Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science, a post previously held by Richard Dawkins. He lives in London with his wife and three children.

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Book Info

Publication date

19th May 2016


Marcus du Sautoy

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Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


320 pages


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