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A History of Pi
Petr Beckmann
0880294183
September 1989
Hardcover
·
 
Review
"A pure delight . . . Entirely offbeat, which gives it its charm." --The Denver Post "A very readable account." --Science "A cheerful work." --Scientific American --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description
The history of pi, says the author, though a small part of the history of mathematics, is nevertheless a mirror of the history of man. Petr Beckmann holds up this mirror, giving the background of the times when pi made progress -- and also when it did not, because science was being stifled by militarism or religious fanaticism.


Before the Dawn : Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors
Nicholas Wade
1594200793
April 20, 2006
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Scientists are using DNA analysis to understand our prehistory: the evolution of humans; their relation to the Neanderthals, who populated Europe and the Near East; and Homo erectus, who roamed the steppes of Asia. Most importantly, geneticists can trace the movements of a little band of human ancestors, numbering perhaps no more than 150, who crossed the Red Sea from east Africa about 50,000 years ago. Within a few thousand years, their descendents, Homo sapiens, became masters of all they surveyed, the other humanoid species having become extinct. According to New York Times science reporter Wade, this DNA analysis shows that evolution isn't restricted to the distant past: Iceland has been settled for only 1,000 years, but the inhabitants have already developed distinctive genetic traits. Wade expands his...


God Created the Integers
Stephen Hawking
0762419229
Oct 2005
Hardcover
·
 
Book Review
"God created the integers," wrote mathematician Leopold Kronecker, "All the rest is the work of Man." In this collection of landmark mathematical works, editor Stephen Hawking has assembled the greatest feats humans have ever accomplished using just numbers and their brains. Each of the 17 sections opens with a historical introduction of the featured author, and proceeds to a faithful translation of their most famous work. While most mathematicians will already have complete editions of Isaac Newton's Principia or Georg Cantor's Contributions to the Founding of the Theory of Transfinite Numbers, this book is unique in presenting just the best bits of these and other theoretical works. The collection spans 2,500 years and covers a vast range of theories: the parallel postulate, Boolean logic, differential...


Zero
Charles Seife
0140296476
Sept 2000
Paperback
·
 
Book Review
The seemingly impossible Zen task--writing a book about nothing--has a loophole: people have been chatting, learning, and even fighting about nothing for millennia. Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, by noted science writer Charles Seife, starts with the story of a modern battleship stopped dead in the water by a loose zero, then rewinds back to several hundred years BCE. Some empty-headed genius improved the traditional Eastern counting methods immeasurably by adding zero as a placeholder, which allowed the genesis of our still-used decimal system. It's all been uphill from there, but Seife is enthusiastic about his subject; his synthesis of math, history, and anthropology seduces the reader into a new fascination with the most troubling number.

Why did the Church reject the use of zero? How did mystics of all...



The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World
Michael Pollan
0375760393
May 28, 2002
Paperback
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Book Review's Best of 2001
Working in his garden one day, Michael Pollan hit pay dirt in the form of an idea: do plants, he wondered, use humans as much as we use them? While the question is not entirely original, the way Pollan examines this complex coevolution by looking at the natural world from the perspective of plants is unique. The result is a fascinating and engaging look at the true nature of domestication.

In making his point, Pollan focuses on the relationship between humans and four specific plants: apples, tulips, marijuana, and potatoes. He uses the history of John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) to illustrate how both the apple's sweetness and its role in the production of alcoholic cider made it appealing to settlers moving west, thus greatly expanding the plant's range. He also explains how human manipulation of the...



Five Equations That Changed the World: The Power and Poetry of Mathematics
Michael Guillen
1567314058
July 2000
Hardcover
·
 
From Publishers Weekly
Harvard mathematician Guillen looks at five mathematical breakthroughs and the theorists behind them, among them Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Library Journal
Guillen, an instructor in physics and mathematics at Harvard, devotes this work to discussions of five significant equations in physics and the individuals who developed them. The individuals are Issac Newton (universal gravitation), Daniel Bernoulli (hydrodynamic pressure), Michael Faraday (thermodynamics), Rudolf Clausius (thermodynamics), and Albert Einstein (special relativity). Guillen sets their work in the context of the science of their times with accounts that are obviously fictionalized,...


A Short History of Nearly Everything: Special Illustrated Edition
Bill Bryson
0767923227
November 1, 2005
Hardcover
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Review

Praise for A Short History of Nearly Everything

“A modern classic of science writing. . . . The more I read of A Short History of Nearly Everything, the more I was convinced that Bryson had achieved exactly what he’d set out to do.” —New York Times Book Review

“A highly readable mix of historical anecdotes, gee-whiz facts, adept summarization, and gleeful recounts of the eccentricities of great scientists. It moves so fast that it’s science on a toboggan.”—Seattle Times

“[Bill Bryson] makes science interesting and funny. . . . You can bet that many questions you have about the universe and the world will be answered here.”—Boston Globe

“Here are answers to the stupid questions you were...



A Beautiful Mind
Sylvia Nasar
0743224574
Dec 2001
Paperback
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Book Review
Stories of famously eccentric Princetonians abound--such as that of chemist Hubert Alyea, the model for The Absent-Minded Professor, or Ralph Nader, said to have had his own key to the library as an undergraduate. Or the "Phantom of Fine Hall," a figure many students had seen shuffling around the corridors of the math and physics building wearing purple sneakers and writing numerology treatises on the blackboards. The Phantom was John Nash, one of the most brilliant mathematicians of his generation, who had spiraled into schizophrenia in the 1950s. His most important work had been in game theory, which by the 1980s was underpinning a large part of economics. When the Nobel Prize committee began debating a prize for game theory, Nash's name inevitably came up--only to be dismissed, since the prize clearly...


Mystery of the Aleph: Mathematics, the Kabbalah, and the Search for Infinity
Amir D. Aczel
0760777780
November 2005
Hardcover
·
 
Book Description
In the late 19th century, a brilliant mathematician languished in an asylum. His greatest accomplishment, the result of a series of leaps of insight, was his pioneering understanding of the nature of infinity. This is the story of Georg Cantor: how he came to his theories and the reverberations of his work, the consequences of which shape our world. Cantor's theory of the infinite is famous for its many seeming contradictions: for example, we can prove there are as many points on a line one inch long as on a line one mile long; we can also prove that in all time there are as many years as there are days. According to Cantor, infinite sets are equal. The mind-twisting, deeply philosophical work of Cantor has its roots in ancient Greek mathematics and Jewish numerology as found in the mystical work known as the...


Fermat's Enigma
Simon Singh
0385493622
Sept 1998
Paperback
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Book Review
When Andrew Wiles of Princeton University announced a solution of Fermat's last theorem in 1993, it electrified the world of mathematics. After a flaw was discovered in the proof, Wiles had to work for another year--he had already labored in solitude for seven years--to establish that he had solved the 350-year-old problem. Simon Singh's book is a lively, comprehensible explanation of Wiles's work and of the star-, trauma-, and wacko-studded history of Fermat's last theorem. Fermat's Enigma contains some problems that offer a taste of the math, but it also includes limericks to give a feeling for the goofy side of mathematicians.

From School Library Journal
YAAThe riveting story of a mathematical problem that sprang from the study of the Pythagorean theorem developed in ancient...


Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, New Edition
Jared Diamond
0393061310
July 11, 2005
Hardcover
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Book Review
Explaining what William McNeill called The Rise of the West has become the central problem in the study of global history. In Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond presents the biologist's answer: geography, demography, and ecological happenstance. Diamond evenhandedly reviews human history on every continent since the Ice Age at a rate that emphasizes only the broadest movements of peoples and ideas. Yet his survey is binocular: one eye has the rather distant vision of the evolutionary biologist, while the other eye--and his heart--belongs to the people of New Guinea, where he has done field work for more than 30 years. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal
Most of this work deals with non-Europeans, but Diamond's thesis sheds...


Infinite Ascent: A Short History of Mathematics
David Berlinski
067964234X
September 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
No one knows for sure when mathematics went from being a functional system for keeping track of sheep to a philosophical system that transcended the objects it counted, but as well-known science writer Berlinski (Tour of the Calculus) tells readers, around 500 B.C. Pythagoras elevated mathematics into a religion. It has kept its near-mystical status ever since. (Even students instructed in its arcane languages can only gape at how numbers dictated where missing elementary particles like positrons and quarks were to be found.). Readers may have heard of the short-lived Évariste Galois, killed in a duel over a woman, but here they will come to understand his importance to group theory, his thoughts scribbled down the night before his death. Non-Euclidean geometry led to Einstein's universe, and Berlinski...


Molecular Gastronomy : Exploring the Science of Flavor (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)
Herv¿ This, Malcolm DeBevoise (Translator)
023113312X
December 9, 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Originally published in France, This's book documents the sensory phenomena of eating and uses basic physics to put to bed many culinary myths. In each short chapter This presents a piece of debatable conventional wisdom-such as whether it is better to make a stock by placing meat in already boiling water, or water before it is boiled-and gives its history, often quoting famous French chefs, before making scientific pronouncements. In the chapter on al dente pasta, for instance, This discusses pasta-making experiments, the science behind cooking it and whether it is better to use oil or butter to prevent it from sticking. Most of the discussions revolve around common practices and phenomenon-chilling wine, why spices are spicy, how to best cool a hot drink-but more than a few are either irrelevant or...


Descartes' Secret Notebook
Amir D. Aczel
0767920333
Oct 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. What Aczel did for mathematician Fermat (Fermat's Last Theorem) he now does for Descartes in this splendid study about the French philosopher and mathematician (1596–1650) most famous for his paradigm-smashing declaration, "I think; therefore, I am." Part historical sketch, part biography and part detective story, Aczel's chronicle of Descartes's hidden work hinges on his lost secret notebook. Of 16 pages of coded manuscript, one and a half were copied in 1676 by fellow philosopher and mathematician Leibniz. For him, Descartes's inscription of the cryptic letters "GFRC" immediately revealed his association with the occult fraternity of the Rosicrucians—Leibniz was also a member. The notebook also revealed to Leibniz a discovery made by Descartes that would have transformed...


Godel Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Douglas R. Hofstadter
0465026567
February 1999
Paperback
·
 
Book Review
Twenty years after it topped the bestseller charts, Douglas R. Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid is still something of a marvel. Besides being a profound and entertaining meditation on human thought and creativity, this book looks at the surprising points of contact between the music of Bach, the artwork of Escher, and the mathematics of Gödel. It also looks at the prospects for computers and artificial intelligence (AI) for mimicking human thought. For the general reader and the computer techie alike, this book still sets a standard for thinking about the future of computers and their relation to the way we think.

Hofstadter's great achievement in Gödel, Escher, Bach was making abstruse mathematical topics (like undecidability, recursion, and 'strange loops') accessible and...



The Golden Ratio
Mario Livio
0767908163
Sept 2003
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
Most readers will have at least dim memories from geometry class of the irrational number pi. Theoretical astrophysicist Livio gives pi's overlooked cousin phi its due with this lively account, the first on the subject written for the layperson. Phi is the golden ratio of antiquity (1.6180339887), a never-ending number so lauded for its harmonious qualities that in the 16th century it was dubbed the divine proportion. It is related to phenomena as diverse as the petal arrangements of roses, the breeding patterns of rabbits and the shape of our galaxy. Phi is also claimed to have been crucial in the design of the Great Pyramids, the composition of the Mona Lisa and the construction of Stradivarius violins. Livio (The Accelerating Universe) carefully investigates these and other claims and does not hesitate to...


The Winds of Change : Climate, Weather, and the Destruction of Civilizations
Eugene Linden
0684863529
February 7, 2006
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Linden, who has been writing about the environment for 20 years (The Future in Plain Sight), is angry that, despite compelling scientific consensus, American politicians aren't facing up to the climate change that is upon us, and he's frustrated that the public isn't forcing them to do so. Such slowpoke acceptance of an inevitability, Linden argues in this articulate polemic, is rooted in the fact that "it has been our good fortune to prosper... during one of the most benign climate periods"—but one that, if past worldwide weather cycles do portend the future, is fast coming to an end, with severe cultural and political consequences. Linden draws his conclusion from millennia of historical evidence, including the relatively recent Little Ice Age, starting in the 14th century, that wiped out Norse settlers...


Number Theory and Its History
Oystein Ore
0486656209
April 1988
Paperback
·
 
Book Description
Unusually clear, accessible introduction covers counting, properties of numbers, prime numbers, Aliquot parts, Diophantine problems, congruences, much more. Bibliography.


A Brief History of Time : The Updated and Expanded Tenth Anniversary Edition
Stephen Hawking
0553380168
September 1, 1998
Paperback
·
 
Book Review
Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists in history, wrote the modern classic A Brief History of Time to help nonscientists understand the questions being asked by scientists today: Where did the universe come from? How and why did it begin? Will it come to an end, and if so, how? Hawking attempts to reveal these questions (and where we're looking for answers) using a minimum of technical jargon. Among the topics gracefully covered are gravity, black holes, the Big Bang, the nature of time, and physicists' search for a grand unifying theory. This is deep science; these concepts are so vast (or so tiny) as to cause vertigo while reading, and one can't help but marvel at Hawking's ability to synthesize this difficult subject for people not used to thinking about things like alternate dimensions. The...


1001 Math Problems, 2e
Learningexpress
1576855120
May 2004
Paperback
·
 
Book Description
Ideal for readers who need extra practice and skill reinforcement for exams. Reviews and hones skills for college and graduate school admissions exams. Also perfect for adult test-takers who need to review all the most-tested basic math concepts to score well on vocational and certification exams.

Book Info
Practice for math skills needed to pass important exams. Previous edition: c1999. Softcover. DLC: Mathematics--Problems, exercises, etc.


The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved
Mario Livio
0743258207
Sept 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
The idea of symmetry has been heavily deployed in recent science popularizations to introduce advanced subjects in math and physics. This approach usually backfires—mathematical symmetry is much too difficult for most laypeople to understand. But this engaging treatise soft-pedals it in a crowd-pleasing way. The title's formula is the "quintic" equation (involving x raised to the fifth power), the analysis of which gave rise to "group theory," the mathematical apparatus scientists use to explore symmetry. Inevitably, the author's attempts to explain group theory and its applications in particle physics and string theory to a general audience fall sadly short, so readers will just have to take his word for the Mozartean beauty of it all. Fortunately, astrophysicist Livio (The Golden Ratio) keeps the hard...


A Briefer History of Time
Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow
0553804367
September 27, 2005
Hardcover
·
 
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In the 17 years since the publication of A Brief History of Time, Dr. Hawking's bestselling exposition of physics, new data from particle physics and observational astronomy have shed light on efforts to find a Grand Unified Theory of Everything that Hawking and Mlodinow use to enhance and update their answers to basic questions about the universe: where it's going and how it began. Discussed at length are the mysterious dark matter and dark energy-both of which can only be observed by their gravitational effects and are believed to make up 90 percent of the universe. Another area of research that has exploded in the past 20 years is string theory. Hawking and Mlodinow provide one of the most lucid discussions of this complex topic ever written for a general audience. Readers will come away with...


Incompleteness
Rebecca Goldstein
0393051692
Feb 2005
Hardcover
·
 
Book Review
Kurt Gödel is often held up as an intellectual revolutionary whose incompleteness theorem helped tear down the notion that there was anything certain about the universe. Philosophy professor, novelist, and MacArthur Fellow Rebecca Goldstein reinterprets the evidence and restores to Gödel's famous idea the meaning he claimed he intended: that there is a mathematical truth--an objective certainty--underlying everything and existing independently of human thought. Gödel, Goldstein maintains, was an intellectual heir to Plato whose sense of alienation from the positivists and postmodernists of the 1940s was only ameliorated by his friendship with another intellectual giant, Albert Einstein. As Goldstein writes, "That his work, like Einstein's, has been interpreted as not only consistent with the revolt against...


A Short History of Nearly Everything
Bill Bryson
076790818X
September 14, 2004
Paperback
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Book Review
From primordial nothingness to this very moment, A Short History of Nearly Everything reports what happened and how humans figured it out. To accomplish this daunting literary task, Bill Bryson uses hundreds of sources, from popular science books to interviews with luminaries in various fields. His aim is to help people like him, who rejected stale school textbooks and dry explanations, to appreciate how we have used science to understand the smallest particles and the unimaginably vast expanses of space. With his distinctive prose style and wit, Bryson succeeds admirably. Though A Short History clocks in at a daunting 500-plus pages and covers the same material as every science book before it, it reads something like a particularly detailed novel (albeit without a plot). Each longish chapter is devoted to a ...


World History SparkCharts (SparkNotes History and Social Sciences Series)
SparkNotes Editors
1586636480
September 2002
Paperback
·
 


US History I: 1492-1865 SparkCharts (SparkNotes History and Social Sciences Series)
SparkNotes Editors
1586636499
September 2002
Paperback
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Meta Math!
Gregory Chaitin
0375423133
Oct 2005
Hardcover
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From Booklist
Note the exclamation point: Chaitin is on fire about math and is unable to restrain his enthusiasm. No mere number cruncher, he is renowned for finding another proof of Kurt Godel's incompleteness theorem and another for Alan Turing's "halting problem" in computation. Chaitin explains these two achievements here, in prose that is difficult for general readers to follow, but the spirit he brings to his subject will be apparent to all. Chaitin radiates his zeal like a preacher seeking converts. His asides often directly speak to students who might want to become professional mathematicians, stoking their fire, for example, with the vulnerability of even ancient theorems to new analysis (he sketches two ways, in addition to Euclid's, to prove the infinity of prime numbers). Chaitin's freewheeling expressions of mathematical...

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