I watched Dangerous Knowledge, a 90-minute BBC video documentary from 2007 which explores the imaginations of four great thinkers. (It’s in two parts. Watch Part Two) These guys opened doors to areas of mathematics that enable today’s technology. And then . . . then, these intellectual giants’ lives spun out of control, toward madness and suicide.
- Georg Cantor (1845 – 1918), mathematician. Inventor of set theory, he created the Continuum Hypothesis, which explored the possible sizes of infinite sets. He suffered from manic depression and spent long periods in sanitoria.
- Ludwig Boltzmann (1844 – 1906), physicist. Made sense of disorder. Probability theory pioneer.
- Kurt Gödel (1906 – 1978), shook mathematics, philosophy, and logic, with his incompleteness theorem. Close friend of Albert Einstein while at Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies.
- Alan Turing (1912 – 1954), “the father of modern computing”
In this interview with physicist Janna Levin (51 minutes), she explains the importance of the insights of mathematicians Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing.
Watch Dangerous Knowledge video: