Alain Connes, Danye Chéreau, Jacques Dixmier
The Specter of Atacama A Trio for the End of Time Publication date : January 31, 2018
Alain Connes is a mathematician, professor at the Collège de France, Chair of Analysis and Geometry, a member of the Académie des sciences, and of several international academies including the National Academy of Sciences in the United States. He received the Fields Medal in 1982.
Danye Chéreau has studied literature. Uninterested in mathematics in her youth, the vagaries of life enabled her to discover the scientific milieu and the world of scientists upon which she casts her gaze always with curiosity, delight, and empathy.
Jacques Dixmier has taught at the universities of Toulouse, Dijon, and Paris. He is a “pure” mathematician, but some of his areas of research (operator algebras, representations of groups, enveloping algebras) are useful in quantum mechanics. He has also published short stories of science fiction.
They are notably the authors of Le Théâtre quantique.
From a mysterious source there appeared a first message that had just been received by the Alma Observatory in Chili, and was saved from oblivion by the main character in the book by a mathematician obsessed with a conjecture. His tribulations, his initiatory voyage to decipher the spectral message resembling a bar code take us to Tierra del Fuego, Saint Helena, to California, Washington, into space, and perhaps even to heaven.
The devil also has a role to play, and is identified with the “machine learning” that is gaining ground, though we are unable to identify the concepts that underlie its success. The book enables us to participate in the quest for truth alongside a scientist, a trans-human, and an expert in computer science.
Following Le Théâtre quantique, whose subject was quantum mechanics and time, Le Spectre d’Atacama describes the music of shapes, or how we perceive space spectrally and musically. The book includes an introduction to the methodology of a mathematician which consists of “thinking right.” Then the reader is guided very far away in the direction of the link between space and music, with Messiaen and his Quartet for the End of Time, ultimately being able to hear the patterns, one of the great discoveries of the great mathematician Alexandre Grothendieck, and to communicate in the zeta language with hypothetical aliens.