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Books & Articles I wrote.

Monday, June 05, 2006



This weekend i read "Everything and more" by David Foster Wallace.

I am still recovering. I actually enjoyed quite a bit of the book, but i can't really believe that simple High School maths would be enough to get you through it... unless you did stuff like advanced Fourier Analysis and Riemannian Geometry in high school.

I have a Physics background, but found the way soe of the maths was thrown in and just stated for the record (with sometimes a footnote) a little hard to deal with. However, with a bit of effort i was able to do so.

What i found hardest was some of the prose - particularly as related to some of the theories of inifinity and some of the solutions to given paradoxes were explained to get round other oparadoxes that had caused them.

The eird thing was that i did come out with a fairly solid picture of what is going on with inifinity as well as a much better idea of where it all came from. It's also quite a funny book to read and when he says things like :

" (“Parts of E.G.II are going to be brutal . . . regrets are hereby conveyed”)"


... “inaccessible ordinals,” “transfinite recursion”—are “fun to say even if one has no clear idea what they’re supposed to denote.”

i do appreciate where he coming from having come through many a Quantum Physics class - there ARE topics that have significant amounts of material, but ultimately no-one really knows what they mean. I would argue inifinifty is perhaps teh best example of that - certainly that's where i stand now.

For all the proofs, equations, solutions and ideas, i don't yet know what ∞ actually IS - and i don't know that there is an answer that would satisfy me anyway. If we do take ∞ from the abstract mathematical sense into the "concretete" universe, then i'd have to ask where the universe (or time) "ends" and in many cases that isn't even a sensible question.

But that fact that you can have larger infinities (via their power set) is just as mad as it gets for me.

Read an in depth review of the book here.

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