- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (June 15, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195157990
- ISBN-13: 978-0195157994
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.1 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,030,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Wonders of Numbers: Adventures in Mathematics, Mind, and Meaning
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The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Clifford A. Pickover received his Ph.D. from Yale University and is the author of over twenty-five highly-acclaimed popular science books. Pickover is a prolific inventor, the associate editor for several journals, and puzzle creator for magazines and his own puzzle calendars. His web site, Pickover.com, has received over 500,000 visits. He lives in Yorktown Heights, New York.
Top customer reviews
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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.
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.
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.