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Number Freak: From 1 to 200- The Hidden Language of Numbers Revealed Paperback – Bargain Price, August 4, 2009


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Number Freak: From 1 to 200- The Hidden Language of Numbers Revealed + The Penguin Book of Curious and Interesting Numbers: Revised Edition (Penguin Press Science S)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Trade; Original edition (August 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399534598
  • ASIN: B0033AGSPA
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,413,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'This book is a complete joy. It made me smile. A lot.' - Carol Vorderman. 'There's more to maths than just numbers - but, as this entertaining and engaging book amply demonstrates, the depth and variety of mathematical ideas that appear when you start with 1, 2, 3 and keep going is astonishing. Once you start reading "Number Freak" it's just like the number system itself - impossible to stop' - Ian Stewart, author of "Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities". 'A great maths book for geeks and non-geeks alike' - Johnny Ball. 'A fascinating parade of diverse numerical characters... An entertaining mix of numerical fun and theory' - Booklist. 'A fun book... definitely challenging' - Vanity Fair. 'All sorts of fascinating mathematical minutiae' - Time Out, Chicago. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Derrick Niederman has worked as a mathematician, securities analyst investment writer, and professor of financial modeling. A life master in duplicate bridge, and is a frequent contributor of crossword puzzles to the New York Times.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Peter St Wecker on January 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
In "Number Freak", Derrick Niederman sets out to write something interesting about each number from 1 to 200. The results are from a mix of disciplines, including:

- Math: "28 is the second perfect number. It equals the sum of its proper factors (1+2+4+7+14=28)"

- Literature: "...Catch-22 may be the most recognizable use of the number 22 in modern culture."

- Religion: "...40 days of Lent to the traditional 40 days of mourning in the Muslim faith."

- Language: "...the most complex Chinese character still in use....involves 57 separate pen strokes...."

and lots of trivia (39 is the highest number on a standard Master combination lock, The Roman Catholic Church has 194 dioceses within the United States, Studio 54 was located at 254 West 54th Street, etc.)

As a trained mathematician, it's no surprise that Niederman devotes the most space to math properties of many numbers. While the other information can be interesting, the math examples seem to be the most fascinating and unique. Indeed, from reading the introduction it seems that the author himself worries about juxtaposing important mathematics with "fun and silly stuff." As a lover of trivia myself, I always enjoy learning new random facts about everything, but I also found it a bit distracting from the interesting math history and unique properties of various numbers.

Readers who are interested in a book that focuses more on math should definitely seek out The Penguin Book of Curious and Interesting Numbers: Revised Edition (Penguin Press Science) by David Wells.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nikon Owner on January 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book but have been frustrated by a fair number of typos - such as 1/2 + 1/5 + 1/5 + 1/12 = 1 and the magic hexagon that has 15 in it twice. Be careful before you scratch your head too long trying to understand something, it may be a typo!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cranky on February 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
A book about maths needs to be reviewed and edited by someone who knows what they are looking at. That would have caught the error in #22. Other errors include #6 where the text refers to a diagram of hexagons, but there isn't actually a diagram there, reference for a 30 degree triangle under #30 where the angles of the triangles shown are not 30 degrees. (They are the 3-4-5 and 20-21-29 triangles, which don't have anything to do with 30 degrees or each other, other than they both have integral sides. Perhaps this diagram was supposed to have appeared somewhere else in the book?) And the diagram for #85 should have radial lines from a hexagon's vertices to its center actually meet at the center of the hexagon instead of being misaligned by a noticeable amount.

As for the substance, some of the properties of numbers are very interesting and create a nice diversion for the reader to go off and prove or tackle some of the assertions. However, that is often tainted with a condescending tone in effect saying "you won't understand this".

Perhaps this book is better if it is not read all the way through, as the author appears to be grasping at straws for some of the higher numbers. For example, is 77 really special because it is the smallest number of U.S. coins that cannot be combined to total a U.S. dollar? This flows from the fact that 77 = 100 - 23 and 23 is the largest number that cannot be formed as an integer sum of 4's and 9's. For any two relatively prime integers A and B, there is always such a largest number (namely, AB-A-B).

And then, under #81, there is a complicated and opaque inequality where 81 appears. Strip away all the obfuscation and you note that all this is saying is that (p-1)^2/p >= 0 when p>0 and that 81 = 3^4.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 18, 2013
Format: Paperback
A large number of people, many of which are not mathematicians, love learning facts about numbers. That is the point of this book, there are many of the facts that can be considered routine and common knowledge, for example some of the well known facts about magic squares are given. Yet, there were many that I found unusual, despite my years of working in recreational mathematics.
If you are a fan of facts about numbers, this list of properties of the integers from one to 200 will excite you. I enjoyed it, even when the fact was not new to me.
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