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Mathematical Mysteries: The Beauty and Magic of Numbers Paperback – December 8, 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A writer in love with his subject, Clawson offers the perfect antidote to the phobias and misconceptions surrounding mathematics. Teasing one marvel after another from simple formulas, he reveals the splendors of a subject too often avoided as drudgery or ordeal. Great mathematicians, he shows, have bequeathed to their successors not only techniques for solving problems but also mysteries inviting contemplation, not solution. Not infrequently, these mysteries link up in startling ways--as when the ancient Golden Mean unexpectedly emerges within the Fibonacci Sequence so important to modern scientific investigations. Unlike some colleagues who cherish their professional secrets as the shibboleths of a pure mathematics untainted by practical application, Clawson rejoices that today's theoretical breakthrough is tomorrow's method of making codes or engineering plastics. But the mental vista he opens for his readers stretches far beyond the numbers we recognize as useful tools to those we acknowledge as humbling enigmas. A superb math book for the general reader. Bryce Christensen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

This unparalleled meditation on the beauty and meaning of numbers explores the most exquisite equations in mathematics and allows us to experience the rush of exhilaration that comes with understanding their grandeur. Calvin Clawson asserts that, in the same way we are struck by the beauty of a great work of art, our brains are singularly attuned to comprehending and finding pleasure in deep mathematical truths. Clawson lets numbers sing their siren song by conferring on us the sensibility to grasp their meaning. Any of us, recalling only the basics of high school algebra, can follow Clawson into the heart of mathematics. There we learn to appreciate the wonder, as great mathematicians have through the ages, of the unexplainable symmetry, beauty, and interconnectedness of numbers. The mystery of numbers lies in a bewildering paradox: if numbers are purely objects of human thought, then why do they correspond so strikingly to the physical universe? Indeed, as Clawson explains, the story of mathematics is comprised of near-mystical expressions that elegantly connect the most important mathematical truths. Further mysteries abound: How can a simple, familiar equation, when graphed, be transformed into a stunningly complex and beautiful fractal? Why have questions posed by the Greeks remained beyond proof by even the best and brightest of our century? How can we humans, as limited and finite beings, play with and discover the infinite? This book cuts to the soul of what drives mathematicians on lifelong pilgrimages of discovery - and stays in touch with the wonder at the core of that pursuit. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (December 8, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738202592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738202594
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Imagine a book that takes you by the hand and leads you
through the intricate and exotic world of mathematics, and
does require that you know advanced mathematics. THIS IS
THAT BOOK! Written in a clear, almost conversational style,
this book is a wonderful choice for readers from all types
of mathematical backgrounds. Even those who only had
high school algebra can read and UNDERSTAND the mathematics
presented in this book. It takes the seemingly separate
and distinct pieces from different areas of math and ties
them together into a nice, clean book. Moreover, you won't
spend weeks reading this. It's reads easily, and takes
about a week to complete. Chapter by chapter or skipping
around, everyone is bound to get something out of this one!
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Format: Paperback
Clawson does an excellent job of introducing the reader to a variety of number theory topics. With each topic, he provides enough information to understand the idea and appreciate its implications without being overly technical or tedious. Suprisingly, an advanced understanding of math is not required to enjoy this book. If you have an interst in number theory and need a starting point, this is the book.
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Format: Paperback
Clawson writes with refreshing enthusiasm and really conveys how much fun it can be to explore the nature of mathematics. Although there are many equations in the book, Clawson uses them not only to help the readers understand the mathematical ideas, but also to show how truly great mathematicians can come up with extremely elegant expressions to describe what at first would seem to be completely unmanageable concepts.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a gentle introduction to number theory. The material covered here is absolutely fascinating. Once you get into the text you will be hooked. Although I have read other stuff in this genre what is different about this book is that the author does not shun from giving you equations that explain the IDEA and BEAUTY behind the numbers.

This book will give you hours of absolute delight. Excellent work.
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Format: Paperback
This book is superbly written by a highly intuitive author. The author knows how to connect to his intended readers. Book is highly informative and the equations are well defined and explained. Once you read a few pages, you are hooked. I just hope that Mr. Calvin C. Clawson will write more books on Mathematics, he will be doing a great service to would-be-mathematicians like me. More power to you sir!
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