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Imagine something small enough to fit in your head but too large to fit in the world—or even the universe. What would it be and what would you call it? How about infinity?
As she discusses her new book, Beyond Infinity: An Expedition to the Outer Limits of Mathematics (Basic Books), mathematician, musician, and chef Eugenia Cheng answers these questions by taking a startling journey from math at its most elemental to its loftiest abstractions.
Along the way she considers questions such as why some numbers are uncountable, or why infinity plus one is not the same as one plus infinity. She finds insight in some unlikely examples: Planning a dinner party for 7 billion people using a chessboard, making a chicken-sandwich sandwich, and creating infinite cookies from a finite ball of dough all tell you more about math than you could have imagined. Cheng investigates the universe’s largest possible topic, demonstrating how one little symbol can hold the biggest idea of all.
Cheng is a scientist in residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an honorary fellow of the University of Sheffield.
Copies of Beyond Infinity are available for purchase and signing.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)