- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (December 15, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195133420
- ISBN-13: 978-0195133424
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,131,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Wonders of Numbers: Adventures in Math, Mind, and Meaning 1st Edition
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From the Author
Who are the eight most influential female mathematicians? Why aren't Roman numerals used anymore? Why was the first woman mathematician brutally murdered? What were the Unabomber's ten most mathematical technical papers?
Prepare yourself for a shattering odyssey as Wonders of Numbers unlocks the doors of your imagination. The thought-provoking mysteries, puzzles, and problems range from the most beautiful formula of Ramanujan (India's most famous mathematician) to the Leviathan number, a number so big that it makes a trillion pale in comparison. The mysterious puzzles and games should cause even the most left-brained readers to fall in love with numbers. The quirky and exclusive surveys on mathematicians' lives, scandals, and passions will entertain people at all levels of mathematical sophistication.
Grab a pencil. Relax. Then take off on a mind-boggling journey to the ultimate frontier of math, mind, and meaning, as Dr. Clifford Pickover and legendary, eccentric mathematician Dr. Francis Googol explore some of the oddest and quirkiest highways and byways of the numerically obsessed. With numerous illustrations and appendices pointing to computer explorations, this is an original, fun-filled, and thoroughly unique introduction to numbers and their role in creativity, computers, games, practical research, and absurd adventures that teeter on the edge of logic and insanity.
From the Inside Flap
"The prolific Clifford Pickover has written another marvelous book. Through conversations between whimsical Dr. Googol and his pupil Monica, you can test your wits on an incredible variety of unusual mathematical puzzles and games. Along the way there are fascinating historical facts and math gossip to enjoy. You can't help absorbing a great deal of important math as you pick your way through Pickover's delightful pick of fresh, little-known gems of recreational mathematics."
-- Martin Gardner
"Pickover dazzles us once more with his book Wonders of Numbers. This big book of mathematical ideas provides hours, days, months if not years of entertaining numbers, puzzles, problems and novelties to explore. The book runs the gamut with such things as X-File numbers, Mozart numbers, Katydid sequences, and on and on. There's something for everyone's interest."
-- Theoni Pappas, author of The Joy of Mathematics
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Top Customer Reviews
But I've always been fascinated by Arabic numbers themselves. No offense intended, but I don't believe in the "facts" of Numerology, where the numeric equivalents of the letters of my name equals a number that is then subtracted from or added to the numbers of my date of birth, (or some such figuring) tells me my character traits or future. But I not only believe in, but I am captivated, by numbers and how they may align themselves and form and solve puzzles that have nothing to do with what the thing the number hypothetically counts, just the actions of the numbers represented.
As an example, consider the number 142857. If one multiplies that number by two, the combined numbers will be the same, but different in arrangement. This holds true up to and through the multiplier of six, the answer of which is 857142. At the multiplication of seven, the number gives up its consistencies and becomes 999999. Now there is a formula that concludes the same, but I'm not so interested in the mathematics to solve "x" as I am in how the numbers simply act with one another.
Speaking of simple, I realize my attitude is a highly "simplistic" approach to numbers, whereas the mathematical scientist strives to solve various mysteries of why or how, while I am content to just watch the magic performance and be amazed at the actions. I don't need to know how it's done, but am just content to enjoy the show. The Wonders of Numbers: Adventures in Mathematics, Mind, and Meaning is a book that celebrates numbers in their various roles in ways at are truly adventures of figures, their perception and the human mind.
This book is not only good reading, but might be used with a young person if they are struggling to learn mathematics, to show them the fun in numbers.
1. Chapters are VERY short, some less than 1 page. Author covers a lot of ground. It may not be detailed enough for some, but for the most part, I though there was enough background history and examples to sufficiently introduce each topic. It is better to know something exists than to never be exposed to it, and this book will expose you to a lot!
2. Answers and followup discussions are not at the end of the chapter where I think they should be, but in a separate section toward the end of the book. I don't like this style as it requires you to use 2 bookmarks and constantly go back and forth. One star penalty for this.
3. Many of the great problems posed in the book are answered, but some are specifically left out. I think it should be up to the reader to decide how much they want to spoil the fun.
Summed up, a good book well worth getting and reading.
Wonders of Numbers is exactly the sort of material which stimulates the bright kids (and their teachers!), and gets them thinking in depth long after the class has finished. It takes them beyond the idea of just "getting sums right" to the concept that mathematics is a glorious plaything.
Many of the chapters include computer related themes (fractals, programming) so students can see that mathematics is an evolving subject, not something which was all discovered long ago.
The constant inclusion of interesting people, the humour in the writing, the validity of the topics mathematically, the strange sidelines and the general sense of fun, ensures I have another gem to extend the students beyond the regular curriculum. The chapters are just the right size to initiate a topic and motivate the students to pursue it. It is lovely to have material to use which doesn't just lead to a correct answer and end to the problem, but leads them to take it further and further.
The book is not all numbers. There are historical anecdotes and stories about mathematicians told by the author's alter-ego, Dr. Googol. Are all mathematicians insane? The answer is not clear. However, the author describes the five strangest. Did you know that Pythagoras believed that it was sinful to eat beans?
There are a number of interesting top ten lists. As one who thinks that the proper role of mathematics is to solve the problems of the physical world, I was happy to note that Dr. Googol chose equations of physics for six of the ten most important mathematical expressions, e.g. Gauss' law and Newton's law of gravitation. Dr. Googol must have some physicist friends.
This is just one in a series of wonderful books that Dr. Pickover has written. I also recommend "The Science of Aliens, or Time: A Traveler's Guide", and his new book "A Passion for Mathematics".
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is elementar, but very interesting.Read more