The Great Unknown

Marcus du Sautoy ( shows us the successes and limitations of maths and science in this book. The reader is taken to seven different ‘edges’ of knowledge and is shown why even Newton, Leibniz, and Galileo didn’t have a comprehensive grip on knowledge in their own day. From chaos theory, which ‘placed huge limits on what we humans could ever hope to know,’ to consciousness, to infinity, each edge ‘represents a horizon beyond which we cannot see.’ Patiently and cleverly explaining basic principles, du Sautoy begins most sections with a simple touchstone and builds from there, deftly rendering what would otherwise be recondite theories. A pair of dice leads to probability, a cello to the nature of matter, a pot of uranium to quantum physics. One-on-one interviews with working scientists and du Sautoy’s descriptions of his participation in various experiments breathe life into cold data. For example, the author perceives his consciousness in another person and observes the illusion of his own free will in an fMRI.

This is a brilliant and well-written exploration of our universe’s biggest mysteries. I think it will captivate the curious and leave you pondering ‘natural phenomena that will never be tamed and known.’

Marcus du Sautoy is the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University (a position previously held by Richard Dawkins) and the bestselling author of The Music of the Primes. He has received the Berwick prize, given to Britain’s most outstanding young mathematician, and the Royal Society’s Faraday Prize for excellence in communicating science. He has written and presented more than a dozen popular television series, including The Story of MathsThe Code, and Music of the Primes. He was made an Officer of the British Empire by the Queen for his services to Science.

Enquire at your local library.  Check if this new thought provoking book is in stock by consulting the online catalogue at

450 pages in Viking

First published 2017

ISBN  978-0735221802

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Professor Marcus du Sautoy

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