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Dangerous Knowledge (Philosophy, Physics, Mathematics) Part 1

In this one-off documentary, David Malone looks at four brilliant mathematicians - Georg Cantor, Ludwig Boltzmann, Kurt Godel and Alan Turing - whose genius has profoundly affected us, but which tragically drove them insane and eventually led to them all committing suicide.

The film begins with Georg Cantor, the great mathematician whose work proved to be the foundation for much of the 20th-century mathematics. He believed he was God's messenger and was eventually driven insane trying to prove his theories of infinity.

Ludwig Boltzmann's struggle to prove the existence of atoms and probability eventually drove him to suicide. Kurt Godel, the introverted confidant of Einstein, proved that there would always be problems which were outside human logic. His life ended in a sanatorium where he starved himself to death.

Finally, Alan Turing, the great Bletchley Park code breaker, father of computer science and homosexual, died trying to prove that some things are fundamentally unprovable.

The film also talks to the latest in the line of thinkers who have continued to pursue the question of whether there are things that mathematics and the human mind cannot know. They include Greg Chaitin, mathematician at the IBM TJ Watson Research Center, New York, and Roger Penrose.

Dangerous Knowledge tackles some of the profound questions about the true nature of reality that mathematical thinkers are still trying to answer today.

I.

Beneath the surface of the world...

are the rules of science.

But beneath them, there is

a far deeper set of rules.

A matrix of pure mathematics,

which explains the nature

of the rules of science,

and how it is we can understand

them in the first place.

"To see a world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour."

What is the system that...

that everything has to adhere to,

if there is no God?

You had these ideas, and...

and you had to be very careful

because at any moment,

they would bite you.

They sounded great but

they were very dangerous.

But then of course,

people get scared.

So they pull back from

the edge of the precipice.

Well, this is not a matter

of liking it or not...

You have here this proof and...

one has to live with it.

This film, is about how a small

group of the most brilliant minds,

unraveled our old cosey certainties

about maths and the universe.

It is also about how once they

had looked at these problems,

they could not look away...

and pursued the questions

to the brink of insanity,

and then over it,

to madness and suicide.

But for all their tragedies,

what they saw, is still true.

Their contempories largely rejected

the significance of their work,

and we have yet

to fully inhered it.

Today, we still stand

only on the threshold,

of the world they saw.

My name is David Malone.

And this is my hommage,

to former great thinkers,

who without most of us,

even having heard of them,

have profoundly influenced

the nature of our age,

and who's stories have, i think,

an important message for us today.

This is Halle.

A provincial town

in Eastern Germany,

where Martin Luther once

preached the reformation.

Our story starts here,

at the towns university

with a mathematics professor.

A man called: Georg Cantor,

who started a revolution he

never really meant to start.

In this one-off documentary, David Malone looks at four brilliant mathematicians - Georg Cantor, Ludwig Boltzmann, Kurt Godel and Alan Turing - whose genius has profoundly affected us, but which tragically drove them insane and eventually led to them all committing suicide.

The film begins with Georg Cantor, the great mathematician whose work proved to be the foundation for much of the 20th-century mathematics. He believed he was God's messenger and was eventually driven insane trying to prove his theories of infinity.

Ludwig Boltzmann's struggle to prove the existence of atoms and probability eventually drove him to suicide. Kurt Godel, the introverted confidant of Einstein, proved that there would always be problems which were outside human logic. His life ended in a sanatorium where he starved himself to death.

Finally, Alan Turing, the great Bletchley Park code breaker, father of computer science and homosexual, died trying to prove that some things are fundamentally unprovable.

The film also talks to the latest in the line of thinkers who have continued to pursue the question of whether there are things that mathematics and the human mind cannot know. They include Greg Chaitin, mathematician at the IBM TJ Watson Research Center, New York, and Roger Penrose.

Dangerous Knowledge tackles some of the profound questions about the true nature of reality that mathematical thinkers are still trying to answer today.

I.

Beneath the surface of the world...

are the rules of science.

But beneath them, there is

a far deeper set of rules.

A matrix of pure mathematics,

which explains the nature

of the rules of science,

and how it is we can understand

them in the first place.

"To see a world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour."

What is the system that...

that everything has to adhere to,

if there is no God?

You had these ideas, and...

and you had to be very careful

because at any moment,

they would bite you.

They sounded great but

they were very dangerous.

But then of course,

people get scared.

So they pull back from

the edge of the precipice.

Well, this is not a matter

of liking it or not...

You have here this proof and...

one has to live with it.

This film, is about how a small

group of the most brilliant minds,

unraveled our old cosey certainties

about maths and the universe.

It is also about how once they

had looked at these problems,

they could not look away...

and pursued the questions

to the brink of insanity,

and then over it,

to madness and suicide.

But for all their tragedies,

what they saw, is still true.

Their contempories largely rejected

the significance of their work,

and we have yet

to fully inhered it.

Today, we still stand

only on the threshold,

of the world they saw.

My name is David Malone.

And this is my hommage,

to former great thinkers,

who without most of us,

even having heard of them,

have profoundly influenced

the nature of our age,

and who's stories have, i think,

an important message for us today.

This is Halle.

A provincial town

in Eastern Germany,

where Martin Luther once

preached the reformation.

Our story starts here,

at the towns university

with a mathematics professor.

A man called: Georg Cantor,

who started a revolution he

never really meant to start.

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