What We Cannot Know

  • by Marcus du Sautoy
  • Narrated by Marcus du Sautoy
  • 15 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Britain's most famous mathematician takes us to the edge of knowledge to show us what we cannot know.
Science is king. Every week headlines announce new breakthroughs in our understanding of the universe, new technologies that will transform our environment, new medical advances that will extend our lives. Science is giving us unprecedented insight into some of the big questions that have challenged humanity ever since we've been able to formulate those questions. Where did we come from? What is the ultimate destiny of the universe? What are the building blocks of the physical world? What is consciousness?
What We Cannot Know asks us to rein in this unbridled enthusiasm for the power of science. Marcus Du Sautoy explores the limits of human knowledge, to probe whether there is anything we truly cannot know. Are there limits to what we can discover about our physical universe? Are some regions of the future beyond the predictive powers of science and mathematics? Is time before the big bang a no-go arena? Are there ideas so complex that they are beyond the conception of our finite human brains? Can brains even investigate themselves, or does the analysis enter an infinite loop from which it is impossible to rescue itself? Are there true statements that can never be proved true?
Prepare to be taken to the edge of knowledge to find out what we cannot know.

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What the Critics Say

Praise for Marcus du Sautoy: "Marcus du Sautoy [is] surely the single element in the Venn diagram intersection of 'mathematician' and 'cool'." (The Guardian)
"Marcus Du Sautoy knows how to tell a story, and, even more important, how to make difficult ideas palatable and entertaining. He is never condescending and is always true to the spirit of his subject. He is a living refutation of Hardy's snobbish view that popularisation is 'work for second rate minds'." (Sunday Telegraph)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Embrace the future of of uncertainty!

This is an excellent, scholarly and ambitious audiobook enthusiastically read by the author. It will apppeal to anyone with a passion for science and maths as it unravels like a detective story. I really enjoyed the references to inspiring and legendary science programmes like Jacob Bronowski's 'Ascent of Man' and Carl Sagan's 'Cosmos' as well as a tip of the hat to key developments in Quantum Physics. Much of what was discussed appealed to me because it resonated with my own background in studies in Math and Science. I especially liked the musical analogies that greatly helped illustrate wave theory and concepts. I expect future budding scientists will enjoy it immensely too. On reflection, I would've liked to hear more on the invaluable contribution of pioneering women in science to this journey of discovery (e.g. Rosalind Franklin, Chien-Shiung Wu) as I felt this was somewhat lacking - but this does not detract from the overall theme of the work. I wonder if other listeners feel the same way? In summary, this is a really stimulating and mind expanding addition to my audiobook library that is worthy of repeated listens and further enquiry. Thank you Professor Marcus Du Sautoy for another outstanding book.
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- Adisha

Fantastic !

Sheer enjoyment listening to Prof du Sautoy's audiobook. I have read every mainstream book he has written but being able to listen to his wonderful and expressive voice takes it to another level. This is a masterpiece which will have many many relistens .
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- T C parnell

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-05-2016
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Limited