Alex's Adventures in Numberland: Dispatches from the Wonderful World of Mathematics

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Alex's Adventures in Numberland: Dispatches from the Wonderful World of Mathematics

Alex's Adventures in Numberland: Dispatches from the Wonderful World of Mathematics

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It's no mean feat to be able to explain concepts like Zeno's paradox, regression to the mean, squaring a circle and Riemann's non-Euclidean geometry without using any equations. But if showmanship is not your cup of tea, then there's a really good critical examination of Pascal's wager, an exploration of the wonders of Pascal's triangle and of course, a fitting end to the book with a mind-mangling (a term I learned from this book) discussion of Cantor's various infinities. The style is laced with humour, but at all times, the star of the show is mathematics Ian Stewart, Prospect It is to be hoped that the uncountable delights of Bellos’s book, its verve and feeling for mathematics, convey its enchantments to a new generation. Two reasons: (1) we have ten fingers, a pretty obvious observation after someone points it out to you; and (2) the French, who pretty much forced Europe to adopt decimalisation, probably in a fit of pique after losing out to English in the language stakes.

In the 1980s, presumably with the help of comupters, the Chudnovsky brothers developed an even more ferocious formula (p165). In probing the many intrigues of that most beloved of numbers, pi, he visits with two brothers so obsessed with the elusive number that they built a supercomputer in their Manhattan apartment to study it. In India he finds the brilliant mathematical insights of the Buddha and in Japan he visits the creator of Sudoku and explores the delights of mathematical games.

A conditional recommendation for people who like to brush up on their maths and not beaten up by formulas. The insights and intuition you get for the most basic tenets of mathematics from this book Is just exquisite. org In addition to cataloging number sequences, there is a tool for converting the sequence into musical notes. Absolutely loved it, it is a romp through the history of maths in bite sized chunks which investigate certain aspects, e.

Photograph: Wong Maye-E/AP Mathematics has revealed the underlying structures of nature, such as the golden ratio that defines the shape of a nautilus's shell. The Babylonians, Sumerians, Greeks, Chinese, Indians and Persians all had slightly different ways of quantifying objects and areas and slightly different ways of writing down their numbers.When he was the Guardian's correspondent in South America he wrote Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life, a look at contemporary Brazil seen through soccer. The discussion of the Hilbert Hotel, Cantor and infinity was very difficult to grasp but I imagine I am not the only one. This is yet another concept with which I struggled, this time as a university student in 1974, because the idea of anything normal in a world characterised by Vietnam, Watergate and the Bay City Rollers could only be, in the words of Spiro T. Registered office address: Unit 34 Vulcan House Business Centre, Vulcan Road, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE5 3EF. Our counting numbers (1, 2, 3, etc) are probably less than 10,000 years old, an offshoot of language, and there were probably no more than a handful of these discrete units for most of that time.

It’s my journey as I travel around the world meeting characters who bring mathematical ideas to life.The slide rule exposed my lack of dexterity, which I blame for a lifelong preference for the directionally correct over pinpoint accuracy. Mathematical thought is one of the great achievements of the human race, and arguably the foundation of all human progress.

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