|This novel, recently (2000) translated from Greek, follows the attempts of
fictional mathematician Petros Papachristos to prove Goldbach's
Conjecture (that every even number greater than two is the sum of two
primes) and the frustrations of his nephew to whom he presents the
problem as an elementary test of his mathematical skills. Real
mathematicians (Hardy, Ramanujan, Turing, Littlewood, Caratheodory and Godel) appear in fictionalized
form in this story as well. We have on the word of Sir Michael Atiyah
that "[This book] is brilliantly written -- a mathematical detective
story of great charm-and it certainly succeeds in capturing much of
the spirit of mathematical research." (What more could you ask for?)
"This novel offers an excellent
dramatic account of the search for truth and obsession with
mathematical certainty, which mathematics itself (!) tells us
is unattainable. The fictional Uncle Petros finds out from
Alan Turing that `truth is not always provable'."
Gordon Pace, IMAG|
"In my opinion, this is a grave
misrepresentation of mathematicians.
There is also a serious mathematical
mistake underlying one of the main
`events' in the book: Uncle Petros wants
to talk to Godel to know whether it is
decidable whether a particular problem
([Goldbach Conjecture], in his case) is
provable or not. Unfortunately, as
should be clear to any mathematically
inclined person, if we can prove that
[Goldbach] is undecidable, then it must be true
(since, if it is false, a counterexample
exists, which is a valid counterproof).
Hence we can never prove that such a
proposition is undecidable.
Literarywise, I was not so impressed,
either. Overall I found the book to be
a quick, but unsatisfying read."
"I enjoyed very much reading this book, in its translation into Hebrew."
sòlo quiero decir que el autor es un poco idealista al creer que la" verdad y la belleza" sòlo puden ser alcanzados por los matemàticos.Tanto un artista: pintor, escritor, mùsico, etc pueden alcanzar grandes estados de èxtasis en sus investigaciones.
La novela la considero exelente.
I enjoyed the quote where Uncle Petros says a latin phrase that means 'Mathematicians are born, not made.' I think it's something like "Never forget it: Mathematicus est nasci, pas fit."
This book is a fantastic read. It is quite interesting as a fictional book, although there are a few dry parts, but overall, excellent. It was involved enough in mathematics that the mathematician would appreciate it, but not so much that a lay person could not read it. I found both the mathematical and literal aspects both inspiring and affected my own path through life somewhat. I would recommend this book to any mathematician or otherwise for its beautifully written account of one man's valiant life-long struggle to solve one of the greatest mysteries in mathematics.