Monday, September 28, 2009

Superhero Mathematicians? You bet!

So I just came across this book review in the New York Times, about a comic book that apparently revolves around the quest for a logical certainty in mathematics. According to The Times the story crosses the decades from the late 19th Century to the dawn of World War II. This is a period when the very nature of mathematical truth was being furiously debated by scholars and mathematicians. The cast of this tome is headed up by Bertrand Russell and includes the greatest philosophers, logicians and mathematicians of the era, along with several wives, mistresses, a couple of homicidal maniacs, an apocryphal barber, and well, Adolf Hitler.

Improbable material for comic-book treatment? Not really. The principals in this intellectual drama are superheroes of a sort. They go up against a powerful nemesis, who might be called Dark Antinomy. Each is haunted by an inner demon, the Specter of Madness. Their quest has a tragic arc, not unlike that of Superman or Donald Duck.


For the rest of this review, check out the full review.

LOGICOMIX
Written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou
Illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna
347 pp. Bloomsbury. $22.95

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