While taking a class on infinity at Stanford in the late 1980s, Ravi Kapoor discovers that he is confronting the same mathematical and philosophical dilemmas that his mathematician grandfather had faced many decades earlier--and that had landed him in jail. Charged under an obscure blasphemy law in a small New Jersey town in 1919, Vijay Sahni is challenged by a skeptical judge to defend his belief that the certainty of mathematics can be extended to all human knowledge--including religion. Together, the two men discover the power--and the fallibility--of what has long been considered the pinnacle of human certainty, Euclidean geometry. As grandfather and grandson struggle with the question of whether there can ever be absolute certainty in mathematics or life, they are forced to reconsider their fundamental beliefs and choices. Their stories hinge on their explorations of parallel developments in the study of geometry and infinity--and the mathematics throughout is as rigorous and fascinating as the narrative and characters are compelling and complex. Moving and enlightening, A Certain Ambiguity is a story about what it means to face the extent--and the limits--of human knowledge.
This collection presents significant contributions from an international network project on mathematical cultures, including essays from leading scholars in the history and philosophy of mathematics and mathematics education. Mathematics has universal standards of validity. Nevertheless, there are local styles in mathematical research and teaching, and great variation in the place of mathematics in the larger cultures that mathematical practitioners belong to. The reflections on mathematical cultures collected in this book are of interest to mathematicians, philosophers, historians, sociologists, cognitive scientists and mathematics educators.
Mathematics has maintained a surprising presence in popular media for over a century. In recent years, the movies Good Will Hunting, A Beautiful Mind, and Stand and Deliver, the stage plays Breaking the Code and Proof, the novella Flatland and the hugely successful television crime series NUMB3RS all weave mathematics prominently into their storylines. Less obvious but pivotal references to the subject appear in the blockbuster TV show Lost, the cult movie The Princess Bride, and even Tolstoy’s War and Peace. In this collection of new essays, contributors consider the role of math in everything from films, baseball, crossword puzzles, fantasy role-playing games, and television shows to science fiction tales, award-winning plays and classic works of literature. Revealing the broad range of intersections between mathematics and mainstream culture, this collection demonstrates that even “mass entertainment” can have a hidden depth.
This text offers 6th - 12th grade educators guided instructional approaches for including young adult (YA) literature in science and math classes in order to promote literacy development while learning content.
In today's unpredictable and chaotic world, we look to science to provide certainty and answers--and often blame it when things go wrong. The Blind Spot reveals why our faith in scientific certainty is a dangerous illusion, and how only by embracing science's inherent ambiguities and paradoxes can we truly appreciate its beauty and harness its potential. Crackling with insights into our most perplexing contemporary dilemmas, from climate change to the global financial meltdown, this book challenges our most sacredly held beliefs about science, technology, and progress. At the same time, it shows how the secret to better science can be found where we least expect it--in the uncertain, the ambiguous, and the inevitably unpredictable. William Byers explains why the subjective element in scientific inquiry is in fact what makes it so dynamic, and deftly balances the need for certainty and rigor in science with the equally important need for creativity, freedom, and downright wonder. Drawing on an array of fascinating examples--from Wall Street's overreliance on algorithms to provide certainty in uncertain markets, to undecidable problems in mathematics and computer science, to Georg Cantor's paradoxical but true assertion about infinity--Byers demonstrates how we can and must learn from the existence of blind spots in our scientific and mathematical understanding. The Blind Spot offers an entirely new way of thinking about science, one that highlights its strengths and limitations, its unrealized promise, and, above all, its unavoidable ambiguity. It also points to a more sophisticated approach to the most intractable problems of our time.
A journey to the centre of the Indian identity The Narmada is the only river in India to merit a parikrama. The traditional journey takes more than three years and ends where it begins, having covered more than 2,600 kilometres. Bal follows the parikrama to study the stories of the clash of cultures along the river. It is here that the agriculturist encountered the forest dweller, the Indo-European north faced the Dravidian south, the Afghan battled the Gond and the dam builders confronted the environmentalists. Perhaps, then, it is no coincidence that the Adi Sankara attained the realization of Advaita - non-duality - on these banks. As the author seeks to understand whether such reconciliation is possible in every case, the stories he encounters take on a life of their own - from Osho's relatives who still safeguard his memory in sari shops to the king of a small island who spends moonlit nights firing bullets into the river.