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Euclid in the Rainforest: Discovering Universal Truth in Logic and Math Paperback – July 25, 2006
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“Joseph Mazur brilliantly explores the symbiotic relationship between the physical and the mathematical worlds…A stylish and seductive book that convinces the mind even as it delights the soul.” —PEN American Center
From the Back Cover
"Devoid of complex proofs and dense mathematical language; instead, the author has drawn upon his experience as a formative teacher to create a book rich in content that connects with real-world experiences."
"Joseph Mazur brilliantly explores the symbiotic relationship between the physical and the mathematical worlds A stylish and seductive book that convinces the mind even as it delights the soul."
PEN American Center
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More About the Author
JOSEPH MAZUR is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Marlboro College where he has taught a wide range of classes in all areas of mathematics, its history and philosophy. He holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from M.I.T., and is a Guggenheim Fellow. He is the author of Euclid in the Rainforest: Discovering Universal Truth in Mathematics (Finalist of the 2005 PEN/Martha Albrand Award and chosen as one of Choice's 2005 Outstanding Academic Titles of the Year) and the editor of the recently republished classic by Tobias Dantzig, Number: The Language of Science. He is the author of The Motion Paradox: The 2,500-Year Old Puzzle Behind All the Mysteries of Time and Space (Plume), What's Luck Got to do With it?, (Princeton), Enlightening Symbols: A Short History of Mathematical Notation and Its Hidden Powers (Princeton), and the forthcoming Fluke: The Math and Myth of Coincidences (Basic Books, available on March 29, 2016).
Top Customer Reviews
For example, in the section on Euclid, Mazur starts with a story about soldiers in the Amazon rain forest trying to pull a truck out of a gully. This involves a bit of trigonometry, which leads to a discussion of the Pythagorean Theorem. But it's not really about geometry; it's about how mathematicians approach problems and how they prove their solutions and even what it means to say that some mathematical statement is true. Mazur illustrates this by showing two non-mathematicians struggling with the theorem, trying to arrive at a solid proof, whatever that means. How they arrive at the proof, and what it means for something to be a proof, are just what this book is about.
Who, other than a teacher of mathematics, can profit from this book? The target audience consists of people who don't have much math education but are interested. But there is significant use of diagrams, numbers, and algebra. (By algebra I mean the rules of arithmetic; you don't have to be able to solve equations.) If you have "math anxiety" you might have trouble getting past that. Then again, the chatty style is designed to ease you through, so you might give it a try.
You might decide that my review would be more useful if you knew a bit more about my background. If so, click on my name at the head of this review.
Dr. Mazur loves mathematics, math for itself, math just for its elegance. And he brings it across in this book. I can remember in my own math studies when I first got to differential calculus. It was like new worlds opening. It was like what other people tell me about the first time they heard Beethoven's Fifth.
What I could never have done was bring out the excitement, the fascination, the love that Dr. Mazur does in this book.
I've never been to the Venezuelan rainforest, but mathematician Joseph Mazur made me feel as if I had taken an expedition up the Orinoco River in a hot 1960 summer. I have never been to Paris either, but I felt as if I was in Café Luxembourg while a famous professor explains a proof to a young American thirsty for knowledge.
The young American (young Dr Mazur) is the reason I loved this book, because his adventures and discoveries are so fascinating and true. Not only does he make me see what he sees (ah, all those wonderful places!), he also makes me feel and get excited about the same things he feels. There is much more going on than just trips all over the globe, and he tells you all about it.
Young Joseph Mazur and his friends travel and have a lot of fun while pondering mathematical theoretical questions and discovering the truth all around them. Every trip is an initiation into another chapter of history of mathematics, whether it is trigonometry, geometry, set theory or probability.
Euclid in the Rainforest is filled with interesting characters like Zeno, Achilles, Riemann, Cantor, and Dr. Mazur makes them all seem as real as the people in your hometown. Every time you meet on one of these characters you discover something new, they all teach something about logic, infinity and reality.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this book for my mathematics class. If you don't like math, which I didn't, then this is the book for you. Read morePublished on October 16, 2013 by roze
...the autobiographical content; for me...the math. And yet, the pop math exposition in this book is, by and large, standard fare: some reflections on mathematical logic,... Read morePublished on June 18, 2013 by Librum
I had difficulty becoming engaged in reading this book even though I am a math teacher. Ended up giving it away.Published on February 10, 2013 by mayo
This is a book about the history of mathematics presented as a novel: as a result it is eminently readable. It does for mathematics what Sophie's World did for philosophy. Read morePublished on August 15, 2012 by Dr. H. A. Jones
My only complaint is that I read the whole thing in only two days, as I couldn't put it down. Since the book cost $15.00, this comes to $7.50 per day. Read morePublished on July 26, 2009 by James McCully
I found this remarkable little book in a 'bargain basket' at a bookstore in Panama City. I took it with me to Kuna Yala where I was staying in a Kuna village without electricity,... Read morePublished on July 17, 2007 by sbissell3
This is a good book. You just read page after page without any brain-twisting theories. Facts and stories about math are lucidly presented. Read morePublished on January 30, 2007 by Farseem Mohammedy
The book does not deliver to the promise in its title. It is yet another "discover fun in mathematics" book, mixed with a poorly written travel account.Published on January 3, 2007 by Roberto Gejman Frank
I agree with the review from Mr.Strasser as found below. The book intention seems not to enlighten any mathematical foundations or concepts but rather to find universal truth in... Read morePublished on October 28, 2006 by Augustine