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Adam Spencer's Book of Numbers: A Bizarre and Hilarious Journey from 1 to 100 Paperback – February 16, 2004

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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About the Author

Adam Spencer — who has a PhD in mathematics — is a stand-up comedian and DJ in Australia, from whence he declares he is on a mission to "take the 'numb' out of 'numbers.'"
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (February 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568582897
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568582894
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,365,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Heidi M. on November 24, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
interesting
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Format: Paperback
Here's a book idea. You're a comedian who also knows a lot of number theory. People are fascinated by numbers--and heaven knows we could all use a chuckle or two. So...Aussie comedian, DJ and math PhD Adam Spencer decided he'd have something to say about all the numbers from 1 to 100, but he'd try to keep it lively and funny and relevant to people's lives with references to the popular culture and such. And he'd throw in some jokes and shore it up with some number puzzles. This would appeal to both the general public and people who love numbers.

Well, I am sorry to say that I don't think he was entirely successful. First of all the book is not all that funny. (But you might want to judge for yourself.) Second, most of the mathematical stuff is about number theory which is famously that part of mathematics that is the most removed from practical application (and therefore the public interest). In fact, until an offshoot of prime number explorations contributed to data encryption (in credit card numbers and corporate and military messaging, etc.) number theory was proudly the province of the utterly impractical, the purest of pure mathematics. (A nice lesson here is that we can never know when some esoteric endeavor may yield a practical application.)

Third--and to my mind most important--the information about numbers in this book is in many cases information that is only tangentially or accidentally related to the numbers themselves. For example for the number 44, Spencer tells us that "Drinking 1 cup of tea a day is thought to reduce your risk of major heart attack by up to 44 per cent." The number could just as well have been 43 or some other percent.
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