seems to be a neverending (sic) stream of books and posts on the
Riemann hypothesis. A while ago I
wrote about du Sautoy’s The music of primes and over a snow-sparse
skiing holiday I read Stalking the Riemann Hypothesis by Daniel N. Rockmore.
Here’s the blurb
Like a hunter who sees ‘a bit of blood’
on the trail, that’s how Princeton mathematician Peter Sarnak describes
the feeling of chasing an idea that seems to have a chance of success.
If this is so, then the jungle of abstractions that is mathematics is
full of frenzied hunters these days. They are out stalking big game: the
resolution of ‘The Riemann Hypothesis’, seems to be in their sights. The
Riemann Hypothesis is about the prime numbers, the fundamental numerical
elements. Stated in 1859 by Professor Bernhard Riemann, it proposes a
simple law which Riemann believed a ‘very likely’ explanation for the
way in which the primes are distributed among the whole numbers,
indivisible stars scattered without end throughout a boundless numerical
universe. Just eight years later, at the tender age of thirty-nine
Riemann would be dead from tuberculosis, cheated of the opportunity to
settle his conjecture. For over a century, the Riemann Hypothesis has
stumped the greatest of mathematical minds, but these days frustration
has begun to give way to excitement. This unassuming comment is
revealing astounding connections among nuclear physics, chaos and number
theory, creating a frenzy of intellectual excitement amplified by the
recent promise of a one million dollar bountry. The story of the quest
to settle the Riemann Hypothesis is one of scientific exploration. It is
peopled with solitary hermits and gregarious cheerleaders, cool
calculators and wild-eyed visionaries, Nobel Prize-winners and Fields
Medalists. To delve into the Riemann Hypothesis is to gain a window into
the world of modern mathematics and the nature of mathematics research.
Stalking the Riemann Hypothesis will open wide this window so that all
may gaze through it in amazement.
Personally, I prefer
this book over du Sautoy’s. Ok, the first few chapters are a bit pompous
but the latter half gives a (much) better idea of the ‘quantum chaos’
connection to the RH. At the Arcadian Functor, there was the post
Riemann rumbling on
pointing to the book Dr, Riemann’s zeros by Karl Sabbagh.
what Kea wrote I understand it also involves quantum chaos. Im not sure
whether I’ll bother to buy this one though, as one reviewer wrote
I stopped reading this rather fast: it had errors in it,
and while a lovely story for the non-mathematician, for anyone who knows
and loves mathematics (and who else really does buy these books?) it’s
really rather frustrating that, after a few chapters, you’re still not
much clearer on what Reimann’s Hypothesis really is.
Not worth the
money: try The Music of the Primes (utterly brilliant) instead. This
book simply cannot begin to compete.
The last line did it
for me, but then “Des gouts et des couleurs, on ne dispute pas”.
Speaking of which, over at Noncommutative geometry there was a post
by Alain Connes on his approach to the Riemann Hypothesis Le reve mathematique which
A masterpiece of
mathematical blogging, a post by Alain Connes in Noncommutative
Geometry. Strongly recommended.