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The Infinite Quest

Peter Cameron

From Zeno to Gödel, philosophers and mathematicians have grappled with the infinite. Prize-winning mathematician Professor Peter Cameron proposes that infinity itself may be an illusion.
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Instructor
  • Peter Cameron Additional Speaker Photo
    Peter Cameron
    Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Queen Mary, University of London
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About the Course

Infinity has inspired wonder and terror throughout the history of mathematics. As the cutting edge of cosmology grapples with the question of whether the infinite exists in nature, mathematicians are continue build on work where there can be infinitely many infinities. In this course Professor Peter Cameron shows how an idea until recently considered unworkable is in fact central to modern scientific and mathematical thought.

By the end of the course, you will have learned:

  • why mathematics cannot work without infinity
  • why infinity may not exist in nature
  • how infinity and the curvature of space are entangled
  • why information may be the basis of reality
  • the smallest infinity possible
  • how to prove that infinities can have different sizes
  • the continuum hypothesis of infinite sets
  • why there is always a larger infinity.

 

As part of the course there are in-video quiz questions to consolidate your learning, suggested further readings to stimulate a deeper exploration of the topic, discussion boards to have your say and an end-of-course assessment set by Professor Cameron.

IAI Academy courses are designed to be challenging but accessible to the interested student. No specialist knowledge is required.

The end-of-course assessment is available for authentication by our online proctoring partners Software Secure. Lean how you can earn a verified certificate.

About the Instructor

  • Peter Cameron

    Multiple award-winning Professor of Mathematics Peter Cameron frequently engages the public in how to think like a mathematician. He has an Erdös number of 1.

Course Syllabus

  • Part One: From the Greeks to the Geeks
    Not just a mathematical curiosity, the history of infinity is rife with madness, power and paradox
  • Part Two: Is the Universe Infinite?
    Could the universe not contain any real infinities? Cameron challenges leading cosmologists.
  • Part Three: Cantor’s Paradise
    Did Georg Cantor solve the puzzle of infinity with set theory, and if not, can we do so at all?

Suggested Further Readings

A selection of further readings has been suggested by Professor Cameron as part of this course.

Explore Further

Our editors have brought together a range of content from across IAI.tv which further explores the ideas in this course.

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