ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This ten part history of mathematics from Newton to the present day, reveals the personalities behind the calculations: the passions and rivalries of mathematicians struggling to get their ideas heard. Professor Marcus du Sautoy shows how these masters of abstraction find a role in the real world and proves that mathematics is the driving force behind modern science.
Today, the mathematician that never was, Nicolas Bourbaki. A group of French mathematicians, working between the two world wars and writing under the pseudonym Nicolas Bourbaki transformed their discipline and paved the way for several mathematical breakthroughs in the 21st century.
Producer: Anna Buckley.
English
United States

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:00hello I'm Professor Marcus to say toy and this is a brief history of mathematics which was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 BBC. Co. Uk podcasts and cheap I listen to whenever you wish this point of the Lost episode is set in 20th century France is the story of Heidi productive elusive mathematical hero
00:00:30I remember as a graduate student being quite terrified by the collected works of Nicolas bourbaki his work build several channels is this the kind of productivity that would be expected of me it was several years before I lose more about this prolific and a loose interpretation and I started to feel a little less insecure
00:00:55the collected works of Bugatti represents one of the most ambitious Enterprises in mathematical history an attempt to reform and reinvigorate the whole discipline to build a new thinking about mathematics to previously distinct areas of the subject shapes and numbers
00:01:16ready this new way of mathematical thinking has paved the way for the solution to the notoriously difficult for the night's Los theorem prove by the British mathematician Andrew was in 1999 can I use it everyday to navigate the complex more than world of mathematics and I believe will lead to many remarkable mathematical and scientific breakthroughs in the decades to come
00:01:43A Brief History of mathematics with Marcus DeSoto
00:01:56the 19th century the Paris Academy of Science call Friedrich Gauss most of the remaining mathematical Talent end of the beginning of the 20th century the next generation of French mathematicians until one on route to a member of the Academy of Science to introduce a new colleague cool that Michelle is the former Professor the Royal University of best on Polar TV I met some time ago to Cafe where he spends most of the day and even the night having lost both his job and most of his fortune I'm at the troubles that cause the unfortunate part of a Nation to disappear from Europe
00:02:53love you and she's living at the cafe by giving lessons in Bennett the card game he plays Super attempting to the graphical details World War 1 interrupted Roebuck is fruitful scientific work event on himself in the Caucasus during the revolution of 1917 working and Research Institute in Batavia Civil War Bucky to emigrate to a round in 1920 this was the beginning of a dog. Info back his life he finally ended up in Paris would acknowledge the originality of his ideas it was fiction miss you Boo Becky was a figment of Andre bangs imagination the pseudonym for a group of young French mathematicians created to reinvigorate French mathematics and create
00:03:51Nicolas bourbaki the mathematician That Never Was
00:04:00Then his contemporaries would meet three times a year for a week or two at a time to brainstorm about mathematics normally at the cafe on the Left Bank but sometimes they would Retreat to the countryside to rewrite mathematics from the bottom up words and put the whole subject on firm rigorous Foundation Rica is the mathematician what mortality is II Men silent o Becky was about creating a new Romantics one that everyone was expected to take pumpkin molding invited as Spectators double-neck in meetings which come out with the impression that it is a gathering of Mad Men
00:04:51they could not imagine how these people shouting sometimes three or four of the same time could ever come up with something intelligent but for the members of the bull that he collected it was the process
00:05:02Tacoma Diesel Service Group was based on the very thing that makes mathematics so unique amongst the sun sis and physics chemistry or biology based on their ability to account for experimental data mathematics is different is proved it will hold true forever each generation of petitions that the mathematical Oedipus I become rather rambling with too many disconnected Wings they believe in the inherent Unity of mathematics they wanted to present the hold of mathematics and its purest simplest form to reclassify and reform the entire discipline they want you to strip mathematics back to its deepest foundations the max they did was highly abstract and very ambitious
00:06:08the invention of bull Becky did rain big write French mathematics just as they had hoped but then the Specter of Another War began to lose him over Europe
00:06:18venue flight to Finland hoping to keep go back to your lawyer from there but soon ended up in prison on suspicion of being a Soviet spy is calling cards belonging to Nicolas bourbaki pages of incomprehensible equations it's very suspicious to the finish with Marty's he narrowly avoided execution but if I don't know that's what he was charged with possession from the Army
00:06:47mathematics but always being a comfortable day when the going got tough in the real world once when I took a painful full My Sister Simone could think of nothing for it but to run and fetch my algebra book to comfort me and is very strong in prison it was mathematics mathematics paper and Imagination the prison provided the first two of these they have plenty of my mathematics work is proceeding beyond my wildest hopes and I'm even a bit worried
00:07:29images of me in prison but I work so well what do I have to arrange to spend two or three months locked up a year
00:07:36usually they was very cautious about publishing his work too soon preparing to check every detail of his proof but on this occasion he felt that the future was too uncertain to risk the life he wrote to the editor of the prestigious French Journal control especially because of friends around the world and I am thrilled by the beauty of my fairings
00:08:06to which the editors son a friend and Tony give their knees right back and be asleep when I throw lucky enough to sit and work I'm disturbed like you in prison in room they began to develop a whole new approach to mathematics building on the back of an approach that would allow him to change the algebraic equations into something much more tangible
00:08:30in the beginning of the seventeenth Century the French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes invented a way to convert learn shapes and places in two numbers and equations any position in space he realize could be described as I'm standing outside and latitude is 51.5 degrees north is North .14 degrees west now these numbers on 10th south and east west location as measured from the place where the equator meets the line of longitude running no cell through Greenwich oyster metric location on the Earth's surface
00:09:21is school today most children learn about two distinct areas of Matt's shapes and numbers but they showed us how to change shapes into numbers using his anointed
00:09:34Andre very when did you could do a similar thing but in the opposite direction could you use intuitive he showed us how to think about equations and shapes yes it's a tricky only did and it was complicated even for the mathematicians of the time it's a complete Ford absolutely the product addition and it moved the entire discipline of mathematics onto a totally new level
00:10:09they created the mathematical beautiful concept of what is now called algebraic geometry to solve equations that for centuries it seems quite impossible most famously it paid the way for solution in 1995 that's lost British my wedding is March celebrated proof but it was the whole idea that made this possible
00:10:41now as you might have heard me all do more than once in this brief history of mathematics mathematics is the driving force behind modern science next question what time is this abstract concept of algebraic geometry
00:11:03I don't say that it's too early to judge mathematics ahead of the game he can take two or three hundred years for the full-time mathematical insights to be appreciated by scientists that will prove itself, some biologists believe it sheds light on the evilution of jeans and robot designers are interested in it too
00:11:34by himself was never that bothered by how is mathematics would be applied
00:11:48Bank was released from prison in May 1940 in the round in France he did what many European mathematicians were doing at the time move to America The Institute for advanced study in Princeton that opened its doors in 1933 by the end of the war was a well-funded research center with many superstars in the faculty and countless other scientific Emma Grace with Europe radish by and getting destroyed by Hitler Princeton quickly because it continues to attract mathematical Talent from across Europe including Britain's very own mathematical Superstar Andrew Wiles
00:12:32this Walton Andrew Wiles is due to arrive in Oxford could this be a good place for mathematics in the 21st century
00:12:45at the start of this brief history of mathematics I sent out my stool mathematics I said is the queen of science microscopes and telescopes experiments have played a huge role in the history of science but only believe that the main driving force behind scientific discovery is mathematics mathematician the course I'm biased in favor of discipline but time and again in this brief history of mathematics I hope life just how powerful mathematics in the scientific quest to understand the world Galileo sent that the universe is written in a mathematical language on until we understand that language we have no hope without mad scientist of wandering around in a dark Labyrinth
00:13:37mathematics is the queen of science but he is the final twist it achieves this status no because it sets out to answer scientific questions but because my petitions but she's mathematics for its own sake
00:13:52mathematicians deal in abstract problems from reality
00:14:00what is the solution studies abstract problems that have had amazing and often unintended consequences for the world of science
00:14:09I just let my petitions who Focus solely on mathematics to change the course of modern science thanks for listening to this podcast from BBC Radio 4 with me Marcus to say joy and if you enjoy this episode don't forget you can collect the whole set or 10 episodes UK for slash podcasts

Transcribed by algorithms. Report Errata
Disclaimer: The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from BBC Radio 4, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.

EDIT

Thank you for helping to keep the podcast database up to date.