A History of the Infinite will be available to download for the next month

Infinity in 15 minutes - philosopher's new radio series

Matt Pickles

An Oxford University professor will be taking Radio 4 listeners on a journey through the history of the concept of infinity for the next fortnight.

Philosopher Professor Adrian Moore will present a 15-minute programme at 1.45pm from Monday to Friday this week and Monday to Friday next week.

In today’s episode of A History of the Infinite, Professor Moore explores why the idea of infinity made the Ancient Greeks so uncomfortable.

Oxford University academics contributing to the programmes include Ursula Coope, Professor of Ancient Philosophy, Cecilia Trifogli, Lecturer in Medieval Philosophy, and Professor Richard Sorabji, Honorary Fellow of Wolfson College.

Professor Moore says: 'This series is based on my book The Infinite (Routledge, 2nd edn 2001).  The first four programmes are concerned with the remarkable turnaround between the time of the early Greeks, when various puzzles and paradoxes associated with the infinite had made it an object of abhorrence and distrust, to the early modern period, by which time it had come to be associated with the divine and had become an object of veneration and awe. 

'In the next three programmes listeners are introduced to some of the extraordinary mathematical results concerning the infinite, including the discovery that some infinities are bigger than others. 

'In the final three programmes attention shifts to the cosmos and our place in it. I consider questions about the age and size of the universe, about death and immortality, and about our basic urge to seek meaning for our lives in something infinitely greater than us.'

All programmes will be available to listen to or download from the BBC website over the next month.