Friday, June 20, 2008


BBC's Dangerous Knowledge explores the lives and work of Georg Cantor, Ludwig Boltzmann, Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing, fascinating figures all. It conveys their research with an intensity that provides a glimpse into their agonies, some imposed and many self-created. These guys didn't end well, but then endings aren't everything.
I object to what I consider the over-dramatization which mars some of the narration, with phrases like "Boltzmann had discovered one of the fundamental equations which makes the Universe work" (I have a feeling the Universe would work fine without us discovering the equation) being debatable at best, but this documentary does provides a good overview of three mathematicians and one physicist whose lives aren't usually covered. If you ignore the occasional dip into sensationalism it's a lot of fun, and very well-produced. Oh, and it was awesome to see interview clips with Roger Penrose!
As a result of watching this I'm now interested in the work of Hugo von Hofmannsthal.
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