Papias's Reviews > A History of Pi

A History of Pi by Petr Beckmann
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Feb 02, 2011

it was ok
Read in February, 2011

I'm enjoying this book; even with Beckmann's rants. But my problem is with his willful ignoring of facts, especially when you consider how little tolerance Beckmann has for good research. For example take this passage from the chapter Night:
In 1486, Torquemada sentenced the Spanish mathematician Valmes to be burned at the stake because Valmes had claimed to have found the solution of the quartic equation. It was the will of God, maintained the Grand Inquisitor of the Holy Office of the Inquisition Against Heretical Depravity, that such a solution was inaccessible to human understanding.
But if you read the endnote for this passage you find:
Depman. In fairness I must add that I have not found a reference to this event anywhere else, and Soviet books are unreliable where competitive religions are concerned.
Beckmann rips the Roman Civilization and the Catholic Church for two full chapters for lesser scholastic violations than this.

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