Mar 22, 2011
Richard Holmes went to Cambridge University intending to study the lives of poets. Until a dueling mathematician, and a dinner conversation composed entirely of gestures, changed his mind.
In this short, Robert asks Richard how he came to write The Age of Wonder, a rollicking book full of adventure and discovery about the rise of modern science in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Richard tells us the poignant story of mathematician Évariste Galois--and how dropping his name at the High Table at Cambridge University led to a wordless demonstration of cubic equations by a cutlery-wielding Russian mathematician (who spoke no English). In the end, Richard was so taken with the lengths scientists will go to in order to explain their work (even when they fail), that he decided to give it a go himself. We get that.