To our modern sensibilities, infinity — the mathematical concept involving the unending and the limitless — is denuded of both meaning and mystery. But even as recently as the late 1800s, the notion of a boundless set of numbers led to heated debates in math journals and landed a promising young mind named Georg Cantor in a mental institution. This 19th-century episode is a rare tragic note in Cambridge math professor John D. Barrow’s otherwise lively history of infinity through the ages, The Infinite Book — a tour that includes stops at an explanatory construct called the Hotel Infinity and the perhaps-a-bit-too-ambitious Theory of Everything. How much will armchair thinkers enjoy this clever and insightful read? Let us count the ways. . .

The Infinite Book
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