Dangerous Knowledge Documentary

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Hello everyone. I recently found this documentary which some of you may find interesting.

In this one-off documentary, David Malone looks at four brilliant mathematicians - Georg Cantor, Ludwig Boltzmann, Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing - whose genius has profoundly affected us, but which tragically drove them insane and eventually led to them all committing suicide. The film begins with Georg Cantor, the great mathematician whose work proved to be the foundation for much of the 20th-century mathematics. He believed he was God's messenger and was eventually driven insane trying to prove his theories of infinity


The description the poster gave for the video is kind of bad (they didn't even all commit suicide). Regardless, it's a great documentary.

Part 1 http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8492625684649921614&ei=2uqWScDFOY3I-gGOrMGNBA&q=Dangerous+Knowledge&hl=en" [Broken]

Part 2 http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1663091361786740235&ei=neuWSaCYMYuQ-wGX4-2CBA&q=Dangerous+Knowledge+2+of+2&hl=en" [Broken]
 
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  • #2
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Yeah, I viewed it on youtube and found it very informative and interesting!
 
  • #3
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I've seen this, and would also recommend it.
 
  • #4
quasar987
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Thanks for posting, it was nice.
 
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thanks
 
  • #6
arildno
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Alan Turing did NOT commit suicide because his mathematical revelations drove him into insanity. Rather, he commited suicide because he couldn't bear the persecution and humiliation he was subjected to because he had been "indiscreet" as a homosexual.

The Wikipedia article on Turing's last years follows quite closely the tale told by his biographer, Andrew Hodges:
Chemical castration
Homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom[3] and regarded as a mental illness and subject to criminal sanctions. In 1952, Arnold Murray, a 19-year-old recent acquaintance of Turing's,[30] helped an accomplice to break into Turing's house, and Turing reported the crime to the police. As a result of the police investigation, Turing acknowledged a sexual relationship with Murray, and a crime having been identified and settled, Turing and Murray were charged with gross indecency under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. Turing was unrepentant and was convicted of the same crime Oscar Wilde had been convicted of more than fifty years before.[31]

Turing was given a choice between imprisonment and probation, conditional on his undergoing hormonal treatment designed to reduce libido. To avoid jail, he accepted the estrogen hormone injections, which lasted for a year. His conviction led to a removal of his security clearance and prevented him from continuing consultancy for GCHQ on cryptographic matters. At the time, there was acute public anxiety about spies and homosexual entrapment by Soviet agents, possibly due to the recent exposure of the first two members of the Cambridge Five, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, as KGB double agents. Turing was never accused of espionage but, as with all who had worked at Bletchley Park, could not discuss his war work.


[edit] Death
On 8 June 1954, his cleaner found him dead; the previous day, he had died of cyanide poisoning, apparently from a cyanide-laced apple he left half-eaten beside his bed. The apple itself was never tested for contamination with cyanide, but a post-mortem established that the cause of death was cyanide poisoning. Most believe that his death was intentional, and the death was ruled a suicide. His mother, however, strenuously argued that the ingestion was accidental due to his careless storage of laboratory chemicals. Biographer Andrew Hodges suggests that Turing may have killed himself in this ambiguous way quite deliberately, to give his mother some plausible deniability.[32] Others suggest that Turing was re-enacting a scene from 'Snow White', his favourite fairy tale.[33] Because Turing's homosexuality would have been perceived as a security risk, the possibility of assassination has also been suggested.[34] His remains were cremated at Woking crematorium on 12 June 1954.
 
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Boltzmann was a mathematician??? How???
 
  • #8
arildno
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Boltzmann was a mathematician??? How???
Hmm..how was he not?
 
  • #9
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Hm, here I was always thinking that he was a physicist.
 
  • #10
arildno
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Hm, here I was always thinking that he was a physicist.
And?
He was primarily a theoretical physicist, his main work consisting of the development and studying of mathematical equations.

Thus, at the very least, he should be regarded as a master of applied mathematics.
 
  • #11
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And?
He was primarily a theoretical physicist, his main work consisting of the development and studying of mathematical equations.

Thus, at the very least, he should be regarded as a master of applied mathematics.
True. But to me the idea that someone can be both a mathematician and a physicist confuses me. I personally would call very few people that.

It's probably my condescending attitude towards all the applied mathematics. :shy:
 
  • #12
arildno
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True. But to me the idea that someone can be both a mathematician and a physicist confuses me. I personally would call very few people that.

It's probably my condescending attitude towards all the applied mathematics. :shy:
Hmm, isn't issues like:
1. Proving boundedness of solutions maths?
2. Developing approximative schemes, and proving their convergence properties maths?

to mention just a couple of points ubiquitous in the practices of applied mathematicians..
 
  • #13
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Hmm, isn't issues like:
1. Proving boundedness of solutions maths?
2. Developing approximative schemes, and proving their convergence properties maths?

to mention just a couple of points ubiquitous in the practices of applied mathematicians..
But wouldn't that make a lot of physicists mathematicians? I apologize for my very narrow view of mathematics, but I know people don't call Atiyah a physicist.
 
  • #14
arildno
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But wouldn't that make a lot of physicists mathematicians?
Certainly.
I apologize for my very narrow view of mathematics, but I know people don't call Atiyah a physicist.
No, because in much of his work, while hugely significant for physics, that significance was only incidental to the general mathematical contributions he made.

Maths is a much wider field than physics, the whole of physics is strictly contained within it.

Thus, you can easily have mathematicians who provide ground-breaking results for physicists, while still being properly classified as mathematicians, rather than physicists, but you cannot have physicists producing ground-breaking results within maths without them being adept mathematicians as well.
:smile:
 
  • #15
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Thus, you can easily have mathematicians who provide ground-breaking results for physicists, while still being properly classified as mathematicians, rather than physicists, but you cannot have physicists producing ground-breaking results within maths without them being adept mathematicians as well.
:smile:
I agree with you there. It also relieves fear for us physics-loving mathematicians in the closet not wanting to be classified physicists. Thankfully, we will still be mathematicians! :approve:

[EDIT: but to add, someone like Arnold would say mathematics is part of physics. Not that I agree with that.]
 

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