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Readblog 9/17/22: "Fantastic Numbers and Where to Find Them" by Antonio Padilla

"Fantastic Numbers and Where to Find them"

Written by Antonio Padilla

Published in 2022 by Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux

Snippet Read by Richard Coombs


"For particularly brilliant theoretical physicists like James Clerk Maxwell, Paul Dirac, or Albert Einstein, the search for mathematical truths led to strange new understandings of the ultimate nature of reality. But what are these truths? What are the mysterious numbers that explain the universe?


In Fantastic Numbers and Where to Find Them, the leading theoretical physicist and YouTube star Antonio Padilla takes us on an irreverent cosmic tour of nine of the most extraordinary numbers in physics, offering a startling picture of how the universe works. These strange numbers include Graham’s number, which is so large that if you thought about it in the wrong way, your head would collapse into a singularity; TREE(3), whose finite nature can never be definitively proved, because to do so would take so much time that the universe would experience a Poincaré Recurrence―resetting to precisely the state it currently holds, down to the arrangement of individual atoms; and 10^{-120}, measuring the desperately unlikely balance of energy needed to allow the universe to exist for more than just a moment, to extend beyond the size of a single atom―in other words, the mystery of our unexpected universe.


Leading us down the rabbit hole to a deeper understanding of reality, Padilla explains how these unusual numbers are the key to understanding such mind-boggling phenomena as black holes, relativity, and the problem of the cosmological constant―that the two best and most rigorously tested ways of understanding the universe contradict one another. Fantastic Numbers and Where to Find Them is a combination of popular and cutting-edge science―and a lively, entertaining, and even funny exploration of the most fundamental truths about the universe."




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