For 150 years the Riemann hypothesis has been the holy grail of mathematics. Now, at a moment when mathematicians are finally moving in on a proof, Dartmouth professor Dan Rockmore tells the riveting history of the hunt for a solution.In 1859 German professor Bernhard Riemann postulated a law capable of describing with an amazing degree of accuracy the occurrence of the prime numbers. Rockmore takes us all the way from Euclid to the mysteries of quantum chaos to show how the Riemann hypothesis lies at the very heart of some of the most cutting-edge research going on today in physics and mathematics.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Stalking the Riemann Hypothesis|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
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|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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Stalking the Riemann Hypothesis
PrologueIt All Begins with Zero
It's one of those slate-gray summer days that more properly belong to mid-August than late May, one of those days in New York City when it is barely clear where the city ends and the sky begins. The hard-edged lines and Euclidean-inspired shapes that are building, sidewalk, and pavement all seem to fuse into one huge melted mass that slowly dissolves into the humid, breezeless, torpid air. On mornings like this, even this irrepressible metropolis seems to have slowed a notch, a muffled cacophony more bass than treble, as the city that never sleeps stumbles and shuffles to work.
But here in Greenwich Village, at the corner of Mercer and West Fourth streets, where we find New York University's Warren Weaver Hall, the hazy torpor is interrupted by a localized high-energy eddy. Here, deep in the heart of the artistic rain forest that is "the Village," just across the street from the rock 'n' rolling nightclub the Bottom line, a stone's throw from the lofts and galleries that gave birth to
Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and the Velvet Underground, is the home of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, where at this moment there is an excitement worthy of any gallery opening in SoHo, or any new wave, next wave, or crest-of-the-wave musical performance.
The lobby and adjacent plaza are teeming with mathematicians, a polyglot and international group, abuzz with excitement. Listen closely, and amid the multilingual, every-accent mathematical jibber-jabber you'll hear a lot of talk about nothing, or more properly a lot of talk about zero.
Zero is not an uncommon topic of conversation in Ne...