December 26, 2013 10:43 AM Subscribe

I'm looking for recommendations of popular science books about the mathematical / scientific concept of infinity.

I consider myself reasonably not-math-phobic -- I got through basic college calculus a long time ago -- but, if possible, I'm hoping to avoid anything*too* heavy on the equations. Rather, ideally I'd like to find something more "popular science," for a more general audience. I saw some options on Amazon, but would appreciate any thoughts or guidance anyone could offer. Thanks!
posted by DevonKappa to Science & Nature (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

I consider myself reasonably not-math-phobic -- I got through basic college calculus a long time ago -- but, if possible, I'm hoping to avoid anything

ZERO: THE BIOGRAPHY OF A DANGEROUS IDEA by Charles Seife deals with the infinite, as you might imagine.

posted by Dr. Wu at 11:08 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by Dr. Wu at 11:08 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed One Two Three... Infinity. It has illustrations and anecdotes that make it fun to wrangle with these mind-stretchy concepts.

posted by Pwoink at 11:17 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by Pwoink at 11:17 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Godel, Escher, Bach has some pieces about infinity and is overall a pretty fantastic book, but it is on the tougher side of pop science non-fiction. Most of the math is more conceptual than functional, so you don't need to have a lot of math, just some reasoning ability.

posted by _DB_ at 12:06 PM on December 26, 2013

posted by _DB_ at 12:06 PM on December 26, 2013

Rudy Rucker's Infinity And The Mind is pretty good. It has interesting and informative discussions of Cantor, Godel, etc.

posted by thelonius at 12:20 PM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

posted by thelonius at 12:20 PM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Mystery Of The Aleph is about Georg Cantor and the development of the modern mathematical concept of infinity and set theory.

posted by empath at 12:33 PM on December 26, 2013

posted by empath at 12:33 PM on December 26, 2013

Seconding the Rudy Rucker book. It's great.

posted by wittgenstein at 2:27 PM on December 26, 2013

posted by wittgenstein at 2:27 PM on December 26, 2013

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions . . . I'll be checking all of these out to see which one grabs me, as well as a book called "The Infinite Book" by John Barrow. I appreciate all of your input.

posted by DevonKappa at 4:06 PM on December 26, 2013

posted by DevonKappa at 4:06 PM on December 26, 2013

The Infinity Puzzle is another good book about physics -- specifically how theoretical physicists dealt with all the infinities that pop up in quantum field theory.

posted by empath at 8:03 PM on December 26, 2013

posted by empath at 8:03 PM on December 26, 2013

AW Moore's book on infinity is good. Rucker, also.

posted by professor plum with a rope at 10:20 PM on December 26, 2013

posted by professor plum with a rope at 10:20 PM on December 26, 2013

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posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 10:48 AM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]