mayank chhaya reports--MCR

John von Neumann: The Man from the Future
48:10

John von Neumann: The Man from the Future

From quantum mechanics to computing, from the atom bomb to game theory, and from nuclear weapons to self-replicating spacecrafts, the mathematician John von Neumann leapt across disciplines, any single one of which would be formidable for a lesser intellect. Despite his awe-inspiring cerebral bandwidth and a cult status among the scientific community von Neumann is not known much among general science readers. Correcting that with extraordinary critical success is his biography ‘The Man from the Future: The Visionary Life of John von Neumann’ by Ananyo Bhattacharya. Bhattacharya, himself a Ph.D. in biophysics and a widely published science writer for Nature and the Economist among other publications, offers a remarkable whistle-stop tour of von Neumann’s compelling life. A synopsis to Bhattacharya’s critically acclaimed book describes Neumann thus: “Born in Budapest at the turn of the century, von Neumann is one of the most influential scientists to have ever lived. A child prodigy, he mastered calculus by the age of eight, and in high school made lasting contributions to mathematics. In Germany, where he helped lay the foundations of quantum mechanics, and later at Princeton, von Neumann’s colleagues believed he had the fastest brain on the planet―bar none. He was instrumental in the Manhattan Project and the design of the atom bomb; he helped formulate the bedrock of Cold War geopolitics and modern economic theory; he created the first ever programmable digital computer; he prophesized the potential of nanotechnology; and, from his deathbed, he expounded on the limits of brains and computers―and how they might be overcome.”