There

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.

From

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

some found

A masterpiece of

mathematical blogging, a post by Alain Connes in Noncommutative

Geometry. Strongly recommended.

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