When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut

When We Cease to Understand the World

Benjamín Labatut

Defying categorisation - is it a scientific novel, or a fictionalisation of wonder and terror at the nature of the universe? You’ll get a better grasp of quantum mechanics, and maybe an even greater understanding of the mind-bending power of nature’s secrets to provoke both genius and madness. Have someone close by to force you to put this book down - it will take over your life.


'What stimulates me is not ambition or the thirst for power. It is the acute perception of something immense and yet very delicate at the same time.' Grothendieck continued to push past the limits of abstraction. No sooner had he conquered new territory than he was preparing to expand its frontiers. The pinnacle of his investigations was the concept of motive: a ray of light capable of illuminating every conceivable incarnation of a mathematical object. 'The heart of the heart' he called this strange entity located at the crux of the mathematical universe, of which we know nothing save its faintest glimmers.

Even his closest and most loyal collaborators believed he had gone too far. Grothendieck wanted to hold the sun in the palm of his hand, uncover the secret root that could bind together countless theories that bore no apparent relation to one another. They told him that his goal was unattainable, and that his project sounded more like the pipe dreams of an amateur than a legitimate programme for scientific exploration. Grothendieck did not listen. After spending so long gazing down at the foundations of mathematics, his mind had stumbled into the abyss.

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Explicit sexual content