'A well-spun yarn, a cracking read… engaging…unique’
How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern WorldAssoc. Prof. Amir Alexander
On August 10, 1632, five leading Jesuits convened in a sombre Roman palazzo to pass judgment on a simple idea: that a continuous line is composed of distinct and limitlessly tiny parts. The doctrine would become the foundation of calculus, but on that fateful day the judges ruled that it was forbidden. With the stroke of a pen they set off a war for the soul of the modern world.
Amir Alexander takes us from the bloody religious strife of the sixteenth century to the battlefields of the English civil war and the fierce confrontations between leading thinkers like Galileo and Hobbes. The legitimacy of popes and kings, as well as our modern beliefs in human liberty and progressive science, hung in the balance; the answer hinged on the infinitesimal.
Pulsing with drama and excitement, Infinitesimal will forever change the way you look at a simple line.
‘A gripping and thorough history of the ultimate triumph of the mathematical tool… Infinitesimal will inspire you to dig deeper into the implications of the philosophy of mathematics and knowledge’
‘A complex story told with skill and verve… Alexander does an excellent job of presenting both sides of the debate.’
‘Amir Alexander’s enthralling book presents a controversial mathematical breakthrough, vividly describing the players and showing exactly what was at stake.’
“Bertrand Russell once wrote that mathematics had a ‘beauty cold and austere’… Amir Alexander shows that mathematics can also become entangled in ugliness hot and messy… [a] fascinating narrative.”
“[Told with] high drama and thrilling tension.”
‘A gripping tale of mathematical, philosophical, and theological controversies in the run-up to calculus.'
‘Clever and enthralling.'
‘A real-world Da Vinci Code’
‘Fascinating.. Amir Alexander vividly recreates a wonderfully strange chapter of scientific history... You will never look at calculus the same way again.’
‘Gripping… Amir Alexander writes with elegance and verve... A page-turner full of fascinating stories about the struggles of remarkable individuals and ideas, Infinitesimal will help you understand the world at a deeper level.’
‘We thought we knew the whole story: Copernicus, Galileo, the sun in the centre, the Church rushing to condemn. Now this remarkable book puts the deeply subversive doctrine of atomism and its accompanying mathematics at the heart of modern science.’