As part of the BOOKCLUB I read a novel called “Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture” and as the name suggests, it is perfect little novel for those of you who love mathematics the most, although given the very nice story, anyone could enjoy it.
The book was published by Greek author Apostolos Dioxiadis in 1992 and is often talked about as the novel, that started up trend of mathematics in fiction literature. Dioxiadis himself studied mathematics at the Columbia University in New York and then later in Paris where he got masters degree and his relationship towards this field of science is very clear. From the first pages to the last you can feel the knowledge of the writer poured into every word of the book, making the read very easy and natural.
I truly enjoy novels that are both educating as they are entertaining. It needs to be remembered that “Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture” and its main character, gifted Greek mathematician Petros Papachristos aka uncle Petros, is a fictional character many other characters appearing in the book and working on their theories are very much facts from history of mathematics field, and it makes the book even more gripping in its story.
The story itself is quite short and its a light and quick read if you are just in between books or have little time on your hands, with its 200 pages, this novel would be perfect. You will read the story through narrators eyes for most parts, narrator being nephew of uncle Petros who is a mysterious figure in the boys life so much so he invites this mystery into his own life. Turns out uncle Petros has been trying to prove something called “Golbach Conjecture” and dragged the main character into it as well. From here, since I really do not want to spoil anything, the boy and his uncle workout their relationships as well as the mysteries.
What is also real is the main topic of the book, the infamous “Golbach Conjecture”. It is the oldest unsolved mathematical theory that dates back to late 17th century and deals with prime numbers in way I cannot even fanthom. Either way at its begginings are two mathematicians swiss Leonhard Euler and Christian Goldback. Altough over the centuries many greatest thinkers of modern times tried to solve this theory it remains unsolved until today, even though we now have supercomputers and such. The theory is reads this Goldbacks letter to Euler:
“Every integer that can be written as the sum of two primes can also be written as the sum of as many primes as one wishes, until all terms are units.”
And this very theory is the main topic of the whole book because its solving would result not only in eternal fame but also very nice prize money.
APOSTOLOS DIOXIADIS is a Greek writer and mathematician who specialised on mathematics in neuroscience in his early studies. He is also someone who has great admiration and passion for theatre and literature, which is why he became writer in the late 80s when he published fiction in greek language. It was in the early 90s where he scored a bestseller with this very book. But he also a man with love for theatre, it is not only book but also plays he written during his career.