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The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics (Sterling Milestones) Paperback – February 7, 2012
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“Pickover contemplates realms beyond our known reality.”--The New York Times
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Top Customer Reviews
Mathematically unsophisticated readers will end up with a fair idea of what a Bessel function or a zeta function looks like, some notion of what it's for, and enough of the fundamentals to convince ourselves that with a little effort we could figure out what it actually is. If we choose to do so, eight pages of bibliography reference books, periodicals, and websites for further reading. This would be a good primer for a college-bound youngster.
As you turn each page, you are surprised by yet another full-page picture relating to the previous page's concise summary of some even stranger mathematical topic. Everything is cited, making this book a complete summery of every cool Mathematical topic from Archimedes to Zeno!
This book is by far the best Math book I own and have ever read. It is truly awesome beyond words!
Pickover has an excellent way of making mathematical ideas accessible to those of us who cannot ascend the heights frequented by career mathematicians, or do not have the mental clarity or discipline it takes to delve more deeply into math. I myself hit the wall at about 2nd year calculus. I'd very much like to understand things like the Riemann Hypothesis, for example. But I can't. The subtleties of Cantor's Transfinite numbers, the Continuum Hypothesis, etc. somehow escape me. I can't begin to imagine why it takes several hundred pages to prove that 1 + 1 = 2 (Principia Mathematica), or why anyone would care. Pickover explains it so I can at least get a bit of a handle on it.
I don't guarantee that you wil "get" everything in "The Math Book." I didn't. But you absolutely will find more than a few things that intrigue or astound you. It's great fun!
Gullberg's "Mathematics: From the Birth of Numbers" is all around a superior book that is informative and written with humor (!). Skip Mr. Pickover and go Gullberg.