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A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science Paperback – September 29, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0060926717 ISBN-10: 0060926716 Edition: Later Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 351 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPerennial; Later Edition edition (September 29, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060926716
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060926717
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 7.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In the spiral of the nautilus shell, in the veins of a maple leaf, in the bonds of the benzene ring--everywhere he looks, Schneider sees a cosmic geometry. Of course, the lines of this geometry have long attracted the attention of probing minds, including Pythagoras, Plato, the Psalmist, Demetrius, and Plotinus. The author weaves the insights of these thinkers and many more together in a tapestry of reflections (richly illustrated) on celestial harmonies. Once initiated into the ancient mysteries, the reader will recognize profound meanings--not merely scientific utility--in squares, triangles, and other common shapes. The reader needs no extraordinary expertise in mathematics to explore these pages, just a relish for intellectual adventure. Schneider helps us discover just how much mental energy can fit within the circle of new horizons. Bryce Christensen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Highly informative . . . [shows] Schneider's particular gift of transforming everyday experience into something magical . . . Highly recommended." -- -- New Frontier

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Customer Reviews

And if you think that everything around you is chaos, read this book and look again.
Brian Johnston
Schneider also shows how, with a compass, pencil and straightedge, one can construct one's own symbolic universe.
JLind555
This is a very educational book that covers a lot of ground, and does so in an entertaining way.
Kenneth James Michael MacLean

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

148 of 149 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth James Michael MacLean on January 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a very well written book that relates some basic concepts in geometry to science, architecture and life. Each of the ten chapters is about a geometric shape and Mr. Schneider shows how to construct it using only compass and straight-edge. The author begins every construction from a circle, and every line is shown as the intersection of two or more circles. This is consistent with his assertion in Chapter One that the circle is Unity, but I believe it is also more accurate geometrically.
Mr. Schneider gets into the Platonic Solids, explains the golden section and its use in architecture and nature, shows the regularity in nature and a lot more. This is a very educational book that covers a lot of ground, and does so in an entertaining way.
What I really like about the book is the author's ability to bring geometry to life. There are many diagrams, drawings and pictures which make it easy to follow the text.
The book is written for the layman, not the mathematician. If you are looking for a more rigorous introduction to geometry, try reading H.M.S. Coxeter (if you can!).
This book would be a nice companion to "The Power of Limits" by Doczi, 'The Geometry of Art and Life" by Ghyka, and "The Divine Proportion" by Huntley.
If I had to recommend only one book about geometry for the average reader, this book would be my first choice.
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117 of 120 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 9, 1995
Format: Paperback
I'm quite biased because I'm the author. Just thought I'd mention that it took over 20 years of research and 2 years to write & illustrate (500 illus!), plus hundreds of relevant quotations in the side margins.
The numbers 1-10 (&12) are the key to the code of nature's designs, and are the basis of an ancient symbolic language used to design the arts, crafts & architecture worldwide.
Each of 10 chapters looks at that number & its related shapes, as they appear in nature's beautiful forms, in art, in symbolism, and as archetypes of our own spiritual nature.
Shapes are the characters of the alphabet in which the Book of Nature is written, and this is a "math" book with no math (the kind of cold "math" we were shown in school, anyway). Some people call it "sacred geometry".
This book will save you years of research, and show you how to appreciate the shapes of nature as a symbolic language familiar to our deepest self. Every shape has a "meaning" and this book shows you what they are. Reviews (Parabola Journal Winter 95, New Age Journal 8/95, etc, all remark how "accessible" it is.
I hope you enjoy it. If you read it, write me, if you like.
Happy Trails!
Michael S. Schneider
NYC
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102 of 107 people found the following review helpful By JLind555 on February 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
Who knew that our universe is such a spectacularly ordered place? Michael Schneider takes us on a fantastic voyage through the primary numbers one through ten, and shows us how numbers and geometry have helped shape our world and the cosmos. Why is a manhole cover round? Because a circle, whose diameter is everywhere equal, is the only shape that won't fall into its own hole. Three symbolizes harmony -- life has a beginning, a middle and an end. Life forms are often characterized by pentagons (cut an apple in half crosswise and look at the seeds), while six is the number of structure-function-order, as seen in the hexagonal symmetry of crystals and snowflakes. This book is by no means for math majors only; even math dummies like this reviewer will find themselves totally caught up. Art and design students especially will appreciate the almost infinite variety of possible designs suggested within each primary number and the basic shapes (circle, square and triangle). Schneider also shows how, with a compass, pencil and straightedge, one can construct one's own symbolic universe. I came away from this book not only enlightened on the subject of symbolic math, but blown away by the relationship between geometry and religion. Because reading this book makes one realize that the universe is not random, as we see it within our limited scope, but has a definite function and order, and perhaps only the God who created it according to His plan can see it whole.
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67 of 72 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
What I find fascinating about this book is the way it explores relationships between numbers, and why geometry is not as artificial and arbitrary as most people think today. For example, the REASON why bees construct honeycombs from hexagonal cells.
The author knows his Pythagoras, but unfortunately he plays fast and loose with a few other things. One example is the "red devil" image of Set that doesn't exist anywhere in ancient Egyptian literature or art. And throughout the book he seems to go a little too far into New Age mystical fuzziness for my tastes.
Overall I'd recommend the book, but any statements that aren't purely mathematical, take with a grain of salt. The math itself is fascinating enough without the embellishments.
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Brian Johnston on November 26, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really did not like math when I was in school. What was the point? Manipulating a bunch of abstract concepts for the mere sake of doing the work. Why don't they teach this type of math in schools? Well anyway, I believe that you can not truly understand life, religion and the world around us without taking a long look at this beautiful knowledge that has been preserved for so many millenia. If you want to look into the mind of God, study the rules by which he organized the universe. And if you think that everything around you is chaos, read this book and look again. You will find that everything from the microscopic to universal aggregate is striving toward simple and beautiful geometric patterns. The author does a nice job of giving to the reader a piece of his deep understanding and love for this subject. This book is more of a textbook and is neatly organized. I highly recommend also getting a copy of Sacred Geometry: Philosophy and Practice by Robert Lawlor. It has lots of excercises to emerse the student in the beauty of geometric relationships. These two books go hand-in-hand. Lastly, I can not emphasize enough how much more understanding I gained about religion by learning geometry. Does that sound bizzare? I suppose, but it is true.
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