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April 20 , 2011

The Fifth Postulate

How Unraveling A Two Thousand Year Old Mystery Unraveled the Universe


The great discovery that no one wanted to make

It's the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and Euclidean geometry has been profoundly influential for centuries. One mystery remains, however: Euclid's fifth postulate has eluded for two thousand years all attempts to prove it. What happens when three nineteenth-century mathematicians realize that there is no way to prove the fifth postulate and that it ought to be discarded—along with everything they'd come to know about geometry? Jason Socrates Bardi shares the dramatic story of the moment when the tangible and easily understood world we live in gave way to the strange, mind-blowing world of relativity, curved space-time, and more.

"Jason Socrates Bardi tells the story of the discovery of non-Euclidian geometry—one of the greatest intellectual advances of all time—with tremendous clarity and verve. I loved this book."
—John Horgan, author, The End of Science and Rational Mysticism

"An accessible and engrossing blend of micro-biography, history and mathematics, woven together to reveal a blockbuster discovery."
—David Wolman, author of Righting the Mother Tongue and A Left-Hand Turn around the World

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