Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture:

By Apostolos Doxiadis – is a work of complete and utter brilliance, I would say genius – and a book that joins that elite (and very small) group of mine, the books that have been read in just one sitting.  If you have even the slightest interest in things mathematical, then read this book – it just might change your life – it certainly made me pause to reflect and brought back strong memories of a time when I was 19.

I recall the day clearly – I was sitting in my bedroom in Walkhampton (a village in Dartmoor National Park) and I was thinking long and hard about the subject I would take for my first degree.  If I was going to spend three long painful years learning something to the depths of my ability – then the subject had to be immutable, permanent, not something that could be disproved as our knowledge advanced.  The first subject that came to mind was mathematics, that’s it, I would take my first degree in mathematics – no question.  But in the back of my mind (I have no idea where I had read or heard of it) there was this thing called Godel’s Theorem, and although I knew nothing (in detail) about this, I was sure it meant that the subject of mathematics was not built on solid foundations.  Being only 19, and without the power of the Internet at my disposal (we are talking 1973) I decided in my ignorance not to take a degree in mathematics but instead to take Physics, after all if mathematics was flawed why not take another flawed subject?  And that’s how I ended up going to the University of Sussex in 1975 to take a first degree in Physics with Mathematics and Astronomy.  If you read Doxiadis’ book – you will see that Kurt Godel had a profound influence on many people with his Incompleteness Theorem 🙂

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