Monday, March 11, 2013
The Mystery of... Matthew Watkins
Sol Lederman's podcast with British mathematician Dr. Matthew Watkins (author of "The Mystery of the Prime Numbers") is now up:
It's 74 mins. long, so again you'll need to set aside some time to hear the whole thing, as Matthew expounds on his intuitive feel that there is more to the number system than meets the eye... or brain.
In trying to sum up his "Secrets of Creation" book trilogy Matthew notes that the third volume really contains the key ideas he's wishing to transmit, but volumes 1 and 2 are the necessary prelude to comprehending that final volume (which comes out shortly). His books are suited to a surprisingly wide range of ages and knowledge levels (despite the playful illustrations incorporated). In Matthew's words the books attempt "to undermine the conventional certainties" and get at the "ultimate nature of the number system" which he believes is different from how commonly perceived. He notes the world has become intensely and overly "mathematicized" with a near-worship of "quantification" which represents a detrimental, even "alarming trend" in human society.
Dr. Watkins' almost 'mystical' outlook on mathematics may put some listeners off, but I (and Sol) find it fascinating and rewarding... nor is it really much different than the deeply reverential view or tone of math that many of the greatest mathematicians of the past have likewise expressed.
When I interviewed Dr. Watkins here at Math-Frolic I called him someone "off the beaten path" of mathematics (and meant that in a positive way). That will come through all-the-more by the conclusion of Sol's extensive interview.