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The Weil Conjectures: On Maths and the Pursuit of the Unknown
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The Weil Conjectures: On Maths and the Pursuit of the Unknown (Hardback)

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Synopsis

Simone Weil: famous French philosopher, writer, political activist, mystic - and sister to Andre, one of the most influential mathematicians of the twentieth century. For Karen Olsson, who studied mathematics at Harvard only to turn to writing as a vocation, the lives and obsessions of these two extraordinary siblings returned her to the intellectual passions of her youth.



When Olsson got hold of the 1940 letters between Simone and Andre, she discovered that Andre's pursuit of his studies became increasingly incomprehensible to his sister, leading to Simone directly questioning him about the value of such rarefied knowledge as it applied to the lived experience. Struck by this conflict, Olsson revisits her own time at university, how she came to be consumed by mathematics, and the unexpected similarities that can be found between two seemingly opposed subjects. At the core of the book lies her curiosity about the inception of creative thought - that flash of insight - experienced by writers and mathematicians alike.



A rare work of non-fiction that intricately weaves together biography, memoir, history and philosophy, and written with prose of precision and poetic lucidity, The Weil Conjectures is nothing short of a complete seduction in the art of mathematics, and the mysterious nature of scientific and creative thought.

Karen Olsson is the author of the novels Waterloo and All the Houses. She has written about politics, science and popular culture for magazines including the New York Times Magazine and Texas Monthly, where she is a contributing editor, and has had work anthologized in Best American Science Writing and Best of the Best American Science Writing, among other places. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her family. karenolsson.com @olssonic

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