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A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines.



In this novel, Levin, an astrophysicist at Columbia University, weaves a tale of the lives of her two favorite mathematicians, Kurt Godel and Alan Turing. She outlines the early 20th-century youths of the men--Turing in England and Godel in Vienna--in parallel narratives that reveal their personalities as Levin imagines them. Godel, as she portrays him, is a taciturn intellectual "a man who speaks only when spoken to and then only about mathematics," whose delusions and paranoia eventually drive him to madness. Turing is also a tormented figure, whose homosexuality makes him an outcast despite his genius. He spends his days asking, "Where is God in 1+1 = 2?" and questioning his faith. He eventually marries a woman and ponders the intelligence of machines. The two men's narratives eventually intersect. Levin's story will appeal to fans of math history who seek an imaginative perspective on the lives of two of its most interesting characters. Knopf, 2006, 230 p., hardcover, $23.95.
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Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Aug 26, 2006
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