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Voltaire's Riddle (Dolciani Mathematical Expositions)
In 1752 Voltaire published Micromegas, the story of a 120,000-foot tall resident of a planet of Sirius who visited our solar system. As a parting gift, the visitor gave the French Academy of Sciences a book that, he said, contained the answer to all things. On examination, the book was found to be blank. This is the riddle: why was it blank? Voltaire's Riddle contains a ...more
Hardcover, 396 pages
Published January 14th 2010 by Mathematical Association of America (MAA)
(first published December 1st 2009)
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This is a largely delightful text weaving together Voltaire’s satire, history, science, and mathematics. However, the engaging chapters and vignettes are bookended by the book’s weakest material. Chapter one is The Annotated Micromégas. This is a new translation of the Micromégas story. Undoubtedly, Voltaire never intended his near breathless romp of impossibly large aliens to be subjected to such a thorough exegesis. However, here it is, weighted down with a profundity of footnotes. As someone ...more