"How do you know where you are?" asks Leonard Mlodinow in his charming mathematical history, Euclid's Window. This question and others about space and time grew out of simple observations of the environment by a select group of thinkers whose lives and brains Mlodinow dissects. Starting with Euclid, geometry has flowed out over the centuries, describing the universe, and, Mlodinow argues, making modern civilization possible.
This is not just a history of geometry--it's a timeline of reason and abstraction, with all the major players present: Euclid, Descartes, Gauss, Einstein, and Witten, each represented by a minibiography.
Lots of examples pepper the narrative to help readers achieve their own "eureka!" And it's impossible not to be staggered at the mathematical feats of these geniuses, accomplished as many of them were in the absence of anything but observation and intense thought. Each story builds satisfactorily on the last, until at the end of this delightful book, one has a sense of having climbed a peak of understanding.
A working knowledge of basic geometry is helpful but not essential for enjoying Euclid's Window, and Mlodinow's chatty style lends itself remarkably well to explaining these deep and revolutionary concepts. --Adam Fisher --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Mlodinow's background in physics and educational CD-ROMs fails to gel in this episodic history of five "revolutions in geometry," each presented around a central figure. The first four Euclid, Descartes, Gauss and Einstein are landmarks, while the fifth, Edward Witten, should join their ranks if and when his M-theory produces its promised grand unification of all fundamental forces and particles. Mlodinow conveys a sense of excitement about geometry's importance in human thought, but sloppiness and distracting patter combine with slipshod presentation to bestow a feel for, rather than a grasp of, the subject. Certain misses are peripheral but annoying nonetheless confusing Keats with Blake, repeating a discredited account of Georg Cantor's depression, etc. Some of them, however, undermine the heart of the book's argument. Strictly speaking, Descartes, Einstein and Witten didn't produce revolutions in geometry but rather in how it's related to other subjects, while Gauss arguably produced two revolutions, one of which non-Euclidean geometry is featured, while the other differential geometry though equally necessary for Einstein's subsequent breakthrough, is barely developed. Mlodinow completely ignores another revolution in geometry, the development of topology, despite its crucial role in Witten's work. Occasionally Mlodinow delivers succinct explanations that convey key insights in easily graspable form, but far more often he tells jokes and avoids the issue, giving the false, probably unintentional impression that the subject itself is dull or inaccessible. More substance and less speculation about the Greeks could have laid the foundations for an equally spirited but far more informative book. 11 figures, two not seen by PW. (Apr.)Forecast: The Free Press may be looking for a math popularizer in the mold of Amir Aczel, but Mlodinow falls short. Don't look for big sales here.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Editorial Reviews
Great book, geared for the curious & interested person who may not have a high degree in Mathematics. Very accessible and interesting, easy read, highly recommend.Published 3 months ago by Phaedrus
An interesting read of the history of Geometry from classical Greece up to today's String Theory. You don't need a advanced degree in Math or Physics to enjoy this book and to... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Tom Arneson
Leonard Mlodinow is an outstanding scientific populariser. Makes it smooth yet marvelling to glimpse into the world of thought... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Javs
This book is everything that it promises to be. If you are interested in Mathematics and Science then I would strongly recommend you to read this book. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Francois Meyer
Well and clearly written with a touch of humor that makes the reading a pleasure. Not a difficult read.Published 8 months ago by Donald
Leonard Mlodnow’s Euclid’s Window successfully makes the most dreaded subject from 8th grade (geometry) interesting. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Jason LaMountain