What We Cannot Know

Marcus du Sautoy

Science is king. Every week, headlines announce new breakthroughs in our understanding of the universe, new technologies that will transform our environment, new medical advances that will extend our lives. Science is giving us unprecedented insight into some of the big questions that have challenged humanity ever since we’ve been able to formulate those questions. Where did we come from? What is the ultimate destiny of the universe? What are the building blocks of the physical world? What is consciousness?

‘What We Cannot Know’ asks us to rein in this unbridled enthusiasm for the power of science. Marcus Du Sautoy explores the limits of human knowledge, to probe whether there is anything we truly cannot know.

Are there limits to what we can discover about our physical universe? Are some regions of the future beyond the predictive powers of science and mathematics? Is time before the big bang a no go arena? Are there ideas so complex that they are beyond the conception of our finite human brains? Can brains even investigate themselves or does the analysis enter an infinite loop from which it is impossible to rescue itself? Are there true statements that can never be proved true?

Prepare to be taken to the edge of knowledge to find out what we cannot know.

Reviews of What We Cannot Know

  • Praise for Marcus du Sautoy:

    ‘Marcus du Sautoy [is] surely the single element in the Venn diagram intersection of “mathematician” and “cool”’ The Guardian

    ‘Marcus Du Sautoy knows how to tell a story, and, even more important, how to make difficult ideas palatable and entertaining. He is never condescending and is always true to the spirit of his subject. He is a living refutation of Hardy’s snobbish view that popularization is ‘work for second rate minds’’ Sunday Telegraph

    Praise for ‘The Number Mysteries’:

    ‘Careful now! This book may trick you into learning something. Warning! Don’t start reading this unless you have something to scribble on. Someday all maths will be taught like this. If Maths is the Queen of Sciences, this is her with her petticoats undone’ Dara O’Briain

    ‘Mind-bending, fascinating and useful too. Maths didn’t used to be this much fun’ Alan Davies

    ‘A distinguished biologist and I were being escorted through the Panama jungle by an enthusiastic field worker, when the great man whispered to me, “What a joy to be shown around by a man who really loves his animals.” The joke was that that man’s animals were plants. Numbers are Marcus du Sautoy’s animals, and his love for them glows on every page. Marcus du Sautoy is the Steve Irwin of the number kingdom’ Richard Dawkins