Tag Archives: math

Dangerous Knowledge

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.

The four:

  1. 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.
  2. Ludwig Boltzmann (1844 – 1906), physicist. Made sense of disorder. Probability theory pioneer.
  3. 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.
  4. Alan Turing (1912 – 1954), “the father of modern computing”

Listen 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:

Shall we play a game?


Numberphile uploaded a brief video clip of John Conway, mathematician and inventor of the Game of Life. The interesting thing about the Game of Life is that the only player input that’s needed is initial setup. Then, a computer applies a predefined set of rules to your initial configuration and you watch as your creation either prospers or dies with each iteration. Surprisingly complex patterns can emerge from simple origins. It’s been called “a fun way to consume otherwise unused CPU cycles”.

There’s a good free Game of Life in the Android Play Store.

Dr. Conway is the Von Neumann professor of mathematics at Princeton University.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695


I’ve found a new fave site with dozens of short, funny, yet educational video clips. It’s about mathematics and is called numberphile.com. It’s produced in the U.K..


The videos are less than ten minutes long. Most of the presenters are college professors. Wait! Wait! Don’t hold that against them! These guys are informal and Brady Haran masterfully edits and produces them with simple graphics so that they’re fun and easy to follow.

Have you wondered how modern public key cryptography works? Watch http://numberphile.com/videos/RSA.html.

Two entertaining videos discuss the WW2 German Enigma machine. Watch the inner workings of a real one in action:

  1. http://numberphile.com/videos/enigma.html
  2. http://numberphile.com/videos/enigma_flaw.html

I’m sure that somewhere in their table of contents you’ll find at least one video clip worth watching.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695