
Curt McMullen, Harvard University
A Skeptical History of Numbers
Also this second talk of a speaker series for undergraduates
``Why Do Math"
This is again a talk for a general audience; no math background required.
Abstract: Quantum theory, virtual particles, curved space and dark energy
all emerged from a critical assessment of the foundations of physics in the 20th
century. In the same period, a foundational crisis threatened the edifice of
mathematics itself. Focusing on the concept of numbers, this talk will recap some
of the great leaps of imagination in the history of mathematical thought, describe
the foundational crisis, critique the attempts to rescue certainty, and assess
the current state of affairs.
