Episode 1

Professor John Paulos

Mathematician, Temple University

John Paulos is an author, popular public speaker, and former monthly columnist for ABCNews.com, the Scientific American, and the Guardian. Professor of mathematics at Temple University in Philadelphia earned his Ph.D. in the subject from the University of Wisconsin.

In 2003 he received the American Association for the Advancement of Science award for promoting public understanding of science, and in 2013 the Mathematics Communication Award from the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics.

His books include "Innumeracy", "Beyond Numeracy", "A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper", "A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market", "Irreligion", an autobiography "A Numeral Life"



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Michele de Montaigne, Essays

The insight into human nature provided by his essays, for which they are so widely read, is merely a by-product of his introspection.

He mistrusted the certainty of both human reason and experience. He reasoned that while man is finite, truth is infinite; thus, human capacity is naturally inhibited in grasping reality in its fullness or with certainty.

Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian

Why I Am Not a Christian is an essay by the British philosopher Bertrand Russell. Originally a talk given 6 March 1927 at Battersea Town Hall, under the auspices of the South London Branch of the National Secular Society, it was published that year as a pamphlet and has been republished several times.

Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy

Bertrand Russell, The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell

David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

In response to the two-pronged scope of the Design argument, Hume covers his bases and launches two types of objections to the Design argument: 1.) Those which may admit of the existence of some Designer but cast his character into doubt; 2.) Those which show that there may not even be a Designer.

Martin Gardner, Many Puzzle Books

His role as a mentor: Martin Gardner was famously known for giving reply to almost all who contacted him, and keeping a close correspondence with many. Over the years he became friends with many who played an important role and informed his work, as he influenced theirs, this network of people is known as Martin Gardner’s Mathematical Grapevine.

Mad Magazine, comic books

The skeptical generation of kids it shaped in the 1950s is the same generation that, in the 1960s, opposed a war and didn't feel bad when the United States lost for the first time and in the 1970s helped turn out an Administration and didn't feel bad about that either ... It was magical, objective proof to kids that they weren't alone, that in New York City on Lafayette Street, if nowhere else, there were people who knew that there was something wrong, phony and funny about a world of bomb shelters, brinkmanship and toothpaste smiles.

Ted Lawson, 30 Seconds Over Tokyo

This book is an eyewitness account of the 1942 Dolittle Raid over Tokyo. Sixteen B-25's bombed industrial targets in Japan at close range. The mission was a success and Captain Lawson's plane bombed its assigned targets in just 30 seconds. However, because of bad weather, the plane ran short on fuel and ended up crashing in China.

Jorge Luis Borges, Library of Babel

In Borges's short story, the world consists of a gigantic library which contains every possible book that can ever be written. So, somewhere, there must logically be the book, the one that reveals the Library's secret! Unfortunately, there is no filing system, and no one has any idea of how to find the elusive book.

Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions

Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths Book

Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis

It is the story of a young man who, transformed overnight into a giant beetle-like insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, a quintessentially alienated man. A harrowing—though absurdly comic—meditation on human feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation, The Metamorphosishas taken its place as one of the most widely read and influential works of twentieth-century fiction.

Franz Kafka, The Trial

Yoko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor

Numbers are everywhere - Real, Natural, Imaginary, Perfect, Amicable, Abundant, Deficient, Triangular, Prime (including both Mersenne and Pernicious as well as Twins) to name a few. And they're all here in The Housekeeper and the Professor, which Ms. Ogawa wrote in 2007. The Professor is of mathematics and has amnesia; the housekeeper is devoted and has a son. This melange constitutes the cast of a charming story of mathematics and love.

Saul Bellow, Herzog

This is the story of Moses Herzog, a great sufferer, joker, mourner, and charmer. Although his life steadily disintegrates around him - he has failed as a writer and teacher, as a father, and has lost the affection of his wife to his best friend - Herzog sees himself as a survivor, both of his private disasters and those of the age. He writes unsent letters to friends and enemies, colleagues and famous people, revealing his wry perception of the world around him, and the innermost secrets of his heart.