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To Infinity and Beyond


May 1831 saw the discovery and loss of a mathematical genius; before Evariste Galois met his death in a duel for the affection of his love, his scribbled down a theory which eventually unlocked the secrets of symmetry.

In Russia, Georg Cantor realised that not only did infinity exist, but managed to demonstrate that there are different kinds of infinity.

In 1900, French mathematician David Hilbert identified the most important unsolved mysteries confronting mathematics, laying down the roadmap for maths in the 20th century. 15 of the 23 problems have been fully or partly resolved and work continues on the rest.

The computer revolutionised mathematics by enabling lightening speed calculations and helping mathematicians to “see” chaos, but proof without understanding has continued to unsettle mathematicians. Many argue that the pleasure of mathematics is to be found in the understanding of the problem, not simply a correct solution.

(Episode four of the four-part series "The Story of Maths")



11 - 13

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