1300 36 33 32

In 1824 a young Norwegian named Niels Henrik Abel proved conclusively that algebraic equations of the fifth order are not solvable in radicals. In this book Peter Pesic shows what an important event this was in the history of thought. He also presents it as a remarkable human story. Abel was twenty-one when he self-published his proof, and he died five years later, poor and depressed, just before the proof started to receive wide acclaim. Abel's attempts to reach out to the mathematical elite of the day had been spurned, and he was unable to find a position that would allow him to work in peace and marry his fiance. But Pesic's story begins long before Abel and continues to the present day, for Abel's proof changed how we think about mathematics and its relation to the "real" world. Starting with the Greeks, who invented the idea of mathematical proof, Pesic shows how mathematics found its sources in the real world (the shapes of things, the accounting needs of merchants) and then reached beyond those sources toward something more universal. The Pythagoreans' attempts to deal with irrational numbers foreshadowed the slow emergence of abstract mathematics. Pesic focuses on the contested development of algebra--which even Newton resisted--and the gradual acceptance of the usefulness and perhaps even beauty of abstractions that seem to invoke realities with dimensions outside human experience. Pesic tells this story as a history of ideas, with mathematical details incorporated in boxes. The book also includes a new annotated translation of Abel's original proof.

Buy Abel's Proof book by Peter Pesic from Australia's Online Bookstore, Boomerang Books.

Book Details

ISBN: 9780262661829
ISBN-10: 0262661829
Format: Paperback
(203mm x 136mm x 12mm)
Pages: 222
Imprint: MIT Press
Publisher: MIT Press Ltd
Publish Date: 2-Apr-2004
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions


» Have you read this book? We'd like to know what you think about it - write a review about Abel's Proof book by Peter Pesic and you'll earn 50c in Boomerang Bucks loyalty dollars (you must be a member - it's free to sign up!)

Write Review

Author Biography - Peter Pesic

Peter Pesic is Tutor and Musician-in-Residence at St. John's College, Santa Fe. He is the author of Labyrinth: A Search for the Hidden Meaning of Science; Seeing Double: Shared Identities in Physics, Philosophy, and Literature; Abel's Proof: An Essay on the Sources and Meaning of Mathematical Unsolvability; and Sky in a Bottle, all published by the MIT Press.

Books By Author Peter Pesic

Music and the Making of Modern Science by Peter Pesic

Music and the Making of Modern Science

Hardback, July 2014
Levels of Infinity by Peter Pesic

Levels of Infinity

Paperback, March 2013
Mind and Nature by Peter Pesic

Mind and Nature

Hardback, March 2009
Sky in a Bottle by Peter Pesic

Sky in a Bottle

Paperback, March 2007