Britain's most famous mathematician takes us to the edge of knowledge to show us what we cannot know.
Science is king. Every week headlines announce new breakthroughs in our understanding of the universe, new technologies that will transform our environment, new medical advances that will extend our lives. Science is giving us unprecedented insight into some of the big questions that have challenged humanity ever since we've been able to formulate those questions. Where did we come from? What is the ultimate destiny of the universe? What are the building blocks of the physical world? What is consciousness?
What We Cannot Know asks us to rein in this unbridled enthusiasm for the power of science. Marcus Du Sautoy explores the limits of human knowledge, to probe whether there is anything we truly cannot know. Are there limits to what we can discover about our physical universe? Are some regions of the future beyond the predictive powers of science and mathematics? Is time before the big bang a no-go arena? Are there ideas so complex that they are beyond the conception of our finite human brains? Can brains even investigate themselves, or does the analysis enter an infinite loop from which it is impossible to rescue itself? Are there true statements that can never be proved true?
Prepare to be taken to the edge of knowledge to find out what we cannot know.
©2016 Marcus du Sautoy (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
Praise for Marcus du Sautoy: "Marcus du Sautoy [is] surely the single element in the Venn diagram intersection of 'mathematician' and 'cool'." (The Guardian)
"Marcus Du Sautoy knows how to tell a story, and, even more important, how to make difficult ideas palatable and entertaining. He is never condescending and is always true to the spirit of his subject. He is a living refutation of Hardy's snobbish view that popularisation is 'work for second rate minds'." (Sunday Telegraph)
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"Embrace the future of of uncertainty!"
This is an excellent, scholarly and ambitious audiobook enthusiastically read by the author. It will apppeal to anyone with a passion for science and maths as it unravels like a detective story. I really enjoyed the references to inspiring and legendary science programmes like Jacob Bronowski's 'Ascent of Man' and Carl Sagan's 'Cosmos' as well as a tip of the hat to key developments in Quantum Physics. Much of what was discussed appealed to me because it resonated with my own background in studies in Math and Science. I especially liked the musical analogies that greatly helped illustrate wave theory and concepts. I expect future budding scientists will enjoy it immensely too. On reflection, I would've liked to hear more on the invaluable contribution of pioneering women in science to this journey of discovery (e.g. Rosalind Franklin, Chien-Shiung Wu) as I felt this was somewhat lacking - but this does not detract from the overall theme of the work. I wonder if other listeners feel the same way? In summary, this is a really stimulating and mind expanding addition to my audiobook library that is worthy of repeated listens and further enquiry. Thank you Professor Marcus Du Sautoy for another outstanding book.
Sheer enjoyment listening to Prof du Sautoy's audiobook. I have read every mainstream book he has written but being able to listen to his wonderful and expressive voice takes it to another level. This is a masterpiece which will have many many relistens .
"Maths student here"
Loved it, I would recommend this to all science lovers and thinkers :)
Definitely tickled my brain.
Wonderfully written and read!
Well done and keep doing more!!
"Well I don't know!"
Marcus du Sautoy is an enthusiastic and engaging reader. As its his book he should be. The subjects are interesting and varied and all in all it is a book that makes you think. I'd like to sit in a pub and talk over this book with Mr du Sautoy. I reckon that would make a great evening.
"interesting and thought provoking"
hoped for a little more depth in relation to man's religious motivation and would perhaps prefer the same subject covered by a biologist rather than a mathematician,but this is a personal preference.
The authors voice is quite light weight, I feel he would have benefited from the services of a more authoritative and heavier reader.
"Disappointing Religious Digressions"
People who think Richard Dawkin's awful unscholarly work on religion deserves the time of day. Or those who enjoy the central premise of the book and can overlook the odd and seemingly out of place attacks on religious thought.
If he stuck to the science then yes.
If he stuck to the science then yes.
The premise of the book is really interesting, looking at the boundaries of scientific knowledge. However du Sautoy constantly wastes time with straw-man arguments and digressions about religion. There was no reason to include religion in this book, certainly not in this teenage sneering manner.
I'm not a believer, but logic requires that an all-powerful creator God can stand outside science. There was no reason to either use religion as a whipping boy in this book. It was especially grating when du Sautoy would relate conversations with believers but then rake over their points afterwords with no right to reply. It was sad to hear it, in fact I stop listening 2/3rds of the way into the book.
This should have been a fabulous book. But it was ruined by the angry fixation with religion. In that respect it served as a metaphor for the sad decline in the once great scientist Richard Dawkins. Alas this book gives the impression that du Sautoy admires the once great evolutionary biologist's latter ramblings.
More science next time please Marcus, and less sixth-form religious polemic.
"not too bad"
well written, explains the theories well too. Just not what I thought it would be.
"good story, slightly sloppy end"
starts at a mid school level but gets better. some very good descriptions of hard concepts and a very enjoyable journey through maths, physics and philosophy. resolving God and the unknown at the end was a bit obvious but didn't spoil the book. definately worth 14 hrs.
"Really enjoyed this"
fascinating look at mathematics, and to the limits of what is potentially knowable! enjoyed the listen, and the concepts covered.
"A bit self indulgent"
A better story
No I like him on telly but his style doesn't translate well to audio
Get someone else to narrate
Marcus de savoy
Seems to be written because he thought he had to write it. Didn't get the passion story wasn't coherent.
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