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In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World Paperback – October 8, 2013
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Stewart shares his enthusiasm as well as his knowledge in this tour of ground-breaking equations and the research they supported.... An entertaining and illuminating collection of curious facts and histories suitable for random dipping-in or reading straight through.”
Stewart provides clear, cogent explanations of how the equations work without burdening the reader with cumbersome derivations.... He gives a fascinating explanation of how Newton’s laws, when extended to three-body problems, are still used by NASA to calculate the best route from Earth to Mars and have laid the basis for chaos theory. Throughout, Stewart’s style is felicitous.”
Seemingly basic equations have enabled us to predict eclipses, engineer earthquake-proof buildings, and invent the refrigerator. In this lively volume, mathematician Ian Stewart delves into 17 equations that shape our daily existence, including those dreamed up by the likes of Einstein, Newton, and Erwin Schrödinger.”
Stewart is the finest living math popularizer—a writer who can tackle eye-spraining mathematical topics approachably, and yet dazzle hard-core nerds with new and surprising information. It is hard not to get your money’s worth from him, and in a book like this he is at his best because of the very wide ground covered.”
Stewart’s expertise and his well-developed style (enhanced by a nice sense of humor) make for enjoyable reading.... [A] worthwhile and entertaining book, accessible to all readers. Recommended for anyone interested in the influence of mathematics on the development of science and on the emergence of our current technology-driven society.”
Washington Independent Review of Books
Stewart has managed to produce a remarkably readable, informative and entertaining volume on a subject about which few are as well informed as they would like to be.”
New York Journal of Books
Stewart is a genius in the way he conveys his excitement and sense of wonder.... He has that valuable grasp of not only what it takes to make equations interesting, but also to make science cool.”
Steve Mirsky, Scientific American
[Stewart] takes the reader on an engaging tour of vital math for a modern world.... I highly recommend Stewart’s wonderfully accessible book.”
In Pursuit of the Unknown is an interesting and highly entertaining book. It would make a great gift for a bright high school grandchild who has expressed interest in a technical life, or for a physicist’s own secret reading.”
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
What Stewart is able to do is to take these 17 equations that manifest in everything we do, everything we observe, every bit of space around us and bring life to them. To be clear, this is more a book about history than pure math, but there is no doubt that these 17 core equations are at the heart of the book. He presents the opening of each chapter with a concise summary of these equations in laymen's terms that helps immensely in revealing the underlying nature of the equations and then goes into the history of the creation (discovery?) of each of these equations and it's been an eye-opening read.
As an example, having majored in computer science, I worked constantly with logarithms and natural logs (there's lumber joke here somewhere) but never once understood the nature of logarithms. How did they come about? Why do they exist? What problem do they address? Just what in the heck _is_ a logarithm? I knew them only in the abstract -- as operations that yielded a result; I knew them as a general pattern but not the nature of the logarithm. The second chapter simply blew me away with the clarity and simplicity with which Stewart was able to pull back the covers on what logarithms actually mean -- there's actually a very good reason why they're called logs.Read more ›
The first chapter here is on the old familiar a^2 + b^2 = c^2, the Pythagorean Theorem. This is pure math, straight from Euclid, and not (as are many of the equations here) from applied mathematics or mathematical physics. But that does not mean the Pythagorean Theorem is forever locked within the mathematicians' ivory tower; it led to trigonometry.Read more ›
The author writes very clearly and in a friendly, lively and engaging style. In some sections the author seems to assume very little or no pertinent knowledge on the part of the reader and as a result is very careful and detailed in his explanations, e.g., logarithms, calculus. In other cases, the discussions are much more challenging, and although new terms are briefly defined, the discussions may still result in some head scratching, e.g., quantum mechanics, Black-Scholes equation. Consequently, it is difficult to determine at what population this book is aimed. Science buffs may be bored by some of the more elementary discussions but find themselves more challenged by the topics on which they know very little. On the other hand, a younger (or less-informed) reader may learn quite a bit from the elementary discussions but get lost in some of the other sections.
Overall, I think that it is safe to say that this book has something for everyone. Although I did find some sections rather challenging, I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lots of food for thought. Worth a careful rereading. I have been teaching most of his equations for 30 years and I still learnt some interesting snipetts.Published 11 days ago by Amazon Customer
Amazing book. Should be mandatory at engineering schools so students can understand the history behind the equations they will be using for so long.Published 1 month ago by Joao Gusmao Violante
If even one of these equations interests you, Ian Steward explains it clearly for the curious layman. Read morePublished 1 month ago by chesscanoe
This book is way over my head and probably yours too, but the beginnings of each chapter are interesting and I like learning a bit more each day even though I am retired and have... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Michael Paulson
what a boring narrative book besides the equations themselves. The author could do much better writing. Boring 90% of the time.Published 9 months ago by Arcangelo
You do not need expertise in mathematics or any of the fields mentioned in this book (from cosmology to biology to hydraulics to finance) to appreciate the role mathematical... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Kindle Customer