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A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2009
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Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems sent shivers through Vienna's intellectual circles and directly challenged Ludwig Wittgenstein's dominant philosophy. Alan Turing's mathematical genius helped him break the Nazi Enigma Code during WWII. Though they never met, their lives strangely mirrored one another—both were brilliant, and both met with tragic ends. Here, a mysterious narrator intertwines these parallel lives into a double helix of genius and anguish, wonderfully capturing not only two radiant, fragile minds but also the zeitgeist of the era.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
02/19/2009
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307538031
ASIN:
B000SEK30U
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Janna Levin. (2009). A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Janna Levin. 2009. A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Janna Levin, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2009.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Janna Levin. A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2009. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
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        Born in Texas and raised in Chicago, Janna Levin is currently a professor of mathematics and physics at Barnard and Columbia universities. She holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has been Scientist-in-Residence at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at the University of Oxford and an Advanced Fellow in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University. Levin is the author of How the Universe Got Its Spots, published in 2003 by Anchor.

      • name: Janna Levin
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title
A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines
fullDescription

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems sent shivers through Vienna's intellectual circles and directly challenged Ludwig Wittgenstein's dominant philosophy. Alan Turing's mathematical genius helped him break the Nazi Enigma Code during WWII. Though they never met, their lives strangely mirrored one another—both were brilliant, and both met with tragic ends. Here, a mysterious narrator intertwines these parallel lives into a double helix of genius and anguish, wonderfully capturing not only two radiant, fragile minds but also the zeitgeist of the era.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Seed Magazine
      • content:

        "Intelligent . . . compelling. . . . As Levin alternates between the lives of Turing and G?del, she delivers a convincing, palpably human portrait of solitary genius." --The Philadelphia Inquirer"A simple work of genius."--Toronto Globe & Mail"Her characters and their century come brilliantly . . . alive." --The Los Angeles Times Book Review"Like a lyrical mash-up, Levin interweaves the personal narrative style of her first book with taut prose evocative of Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams."

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        May 8, 2006
        The lives of Kurt Gödel (1906– 1978) and Alan Turing (1912– 1954) never crossed physically, but did intellectually: Gödel's incompleteness theorem implies a sort of Platonism, and Turing's mechanical decision theory implies, conversely, hard-nosed materialism. Levin, a mathematician, juxtaposes both lives in her debut novel. She begins with Gödel as a young man in Vienna, his incompleteness theorem destroying the line of inquiry (arguably spearheaded by Wittgenstein, who cameos)that argued math was complete in itself; his courtship with a nightclub dancer, Adele; his misunderstanding of the Nazi takeover of Austria. Alan Turing's not very charmed life is skewed not only by what looks like autism but by being hounded for his homosexuality in Britain—after breaking the German Enigma code during WWII. Turing is an innocent in many ways, while Gödel, a greater thinker, is a monster of selfishness; both, however, have a passion for the invisible that is hard to dramatize. Gödel becomes a paranoid old man, living with Adele (who comes alive through Levin's shrewd novelistic guesswork) in solitude in Princeton, and eventually starving himself to death. Levin is sympathetic to all concerned, but doesn't quite make a larger point, dramatic or otherwise.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        May 15, 2006
        Levin (physics & astronomy, Barnard; "How the Universe Got Its Spots") has written an illuminating, highly personalized account of the intellectual confrontation of two of the last century's most brilliant thinkers -logician Kurt Gö del and mathematician Alan Turing. Turing, who broke the Nazis' Enigma Code for the British in World War II, argues that -mathematics is not a human invention [but] the purest form of natural law. - Gö del is determined to refute Turing's thesis that -mental procedures cannot go beyond mechanical procedures. - Yet for all that brilliance, Levin searingly portrays the inability of either man to manage his own life, with one starving himself to death and the other committing suicide. The author enters unobtrusively into her story and wonders, along with her characters, whether we can ever know the truth. The one thing we do know is real are library budgets, and libraries that can spring for this book will richly reward patrons who enjoy a novel of ideas." -Edward Cone, New York"

        Copyright 2006 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems sent shivers through Vienna's intellectual circles and directly challenged Ludwig Wittgenstein's dominant philosophy. Alan Turing's mathematical genius helped him break the Nazi Enigma Code during WWII. Though they never met, their lives strangely mirrored one another—both were brilliant, and both met with tragic ends. Here, a mysterious narrator intertwines these parallel lives into a double helix of genius and anguish, wonderfully capturing not only two radiant, fragile minds but also the zeitgeist of the era.

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