Infinitesimal: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World

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Oneworld Publications, Jul 3, 2014 - Science - 368 pages
On August 10, 1632, five leading Jesuits convened in a sombre Roman palazzo to pass judgment on a simple idea: that a continuous line is composed of distinct and limitlessly tiny parts. The doctrine would become the foundation of calculus, but on that fateful day the judges ruled that it was forbidden. With the stroke of a pen they set off a war for the soul of the modern world.

Amir Alexander takes us from the bloody religious strife of the sixteenth century to the battlefields of the English civil war and the fierce confrontations between leading thinkers like Galileo and Hobbes. The legitimacy of popes and kings, as well as our modern beliefs in human liberty and progressive science, hung in the balance; the answer hinged on the infinitesimal.

Pulsing with drama and excitement, Infinitesimal will forever change the way you look at a simple line.

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User Review  - kukulaj - LibraryThing

Pre-Birth of The Calculus... does metaphysics matter? The outer brackets of this book might be from Luther's pinned-up Theses to the Glorious Revolution in the UK in 1688. The medieval world was ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nbmars - LibraryThing

Infinitesimal is a quirky little book. Its basic thesis is that various responses to an arcane mathematical concept, infinitesimals, or the infinite amount of parts into which a line can be divided ... Read full review

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About the author (2014)

Amir Alexander teaches history at UCLA. He is the author of Geometrical Landscapes and Duel at Dawn. His work has been featured in Nature, the Guardian, among others. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

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