22 Oct 2007

oxford murders

very interesting weekend for me, although i basically spent it in my bed, reading and solving math problems (while also not being able to hear anymore with my left ear).

the reason why it turned out to be interesting, despite its monotony, is because i read a book called "The Oxford Murders", written by Guillermo Martínez, an Argentinian writer who also has a PhD in mathematical logic. The book deals with a series of murders which appear to follow a mathematical pattern - which is why the people who seem most likely to solve them are a logics professor together with a math scholar. When i started reading the book, i did not know what to expect, especially since i feared it might be just one more of those many silly recent books which attempt to seem serious and interesting by inserting completely ridiculous mathematical codes references. Instead, it's a pleasurable reading referencing ones of the most important and challenging theories in maths, logics and even physics (Gödel's incompleteness theorem, Fermat's last theorem, Wittgenstein's Finite Rule Paradox and even Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle). And what seemed even more enticing to me is that the book manages to somewhat explain these concepts in a very simple way: it becomes clear how "any finite sequence of numbers can be a continued in a variety of different ways - some natural, others unexpected and surprising, but equally valid". Actually, the thing i appreciated the most is that the book seemed to me a very good highschool textbook, more than a detective novel. With the crime story as a pretext to exemplify the concepts. Which is probably why i got completely hooked and i spent a lot of time remembering all sorts of maths/logics talks i had during highschool, as well as actually solving some problems.

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