Alex's Adventures in Numberland: Dispatches from the Wonderful World of Mathematics

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Alex's Adventures in Numberland: Dispatches from the Wonderful World of Mathematics

Alex's Adventures in Numberland: Dispatches from the Wonderful World of Mathematics

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It's no mean feat to be able to explain concepts like Zeno's paradox, regression to the mean, squaring a circle and Riemann's non-Euclidean geometry without using any equations. Bellos does that and more! He's juggling hardcore mathematics, entertaining (and often humorous) anecdotes and practical applications of math at the same time! Alex explains the surprising geometry of the 50p piece, and the strategy of how best to gamble it in a casino. He shines a light on the mathematical patterns in nature, and on the peculiar predictability of random behaviour. He eats a potato crisp whose revolutionary shape was unpalatable to the ancient Greeks, and he shows the deep connections between maths, religion and philosophy. Bellos's promised excursion begins with the invention of zero, a number so basic to all calculations that it is easy to forget that it needed to be invented. He concludes the journey with a chapter that defies both intuition and cultural pre-conceptions. It is a chapter that discusses Euclid's Fifth Postulate, which came to be reformulated as the Parallel Postulate: “Given a line and a point not on that line, then there is at most one line that goes through the point and is parallel to the original line.” The postulate works for a flat plane ( at most one line) and a spherical plane (e.g. there are no straight straight lines passing through the north pole and that are parallel to the equator). Then, Bellos introduces the hyperbolic plane, a surface with negative curvature. It's a construct that almost defies visualization. The example he offers is a localized section that resembles a pringle. Mathematicians are familiar with the form as represented by Professor Daina Taimina's model constructed from crochet work. Even today's 3-D printers cannot replicate her models (http.// Publisher's biography of Alex Bellos". Archived from the original on 16 May 2012 . Retrieved 10 April 2012.

Second, I would show you that there is beauty and joy in incredibly simple math. We don’t need to go to the high slopes–the foothills contain many treasures. Even something as well-known as the Pythagorean Theorem reveals wonderful patterns.While I was reading this book , I noticed it was published by Bloomsbury and I remembered that a few years ago they were doing rather poorly until J.K.Rowling came along with a seven volume Christian parable for children and magically transformed their financial performance. Shortlisted for the Royal Society Prizes for Science Books for Alex's Adventures in Numberland [28] Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award for Best Book with Facts for Football School: Where Football Explains the World [26]

There have been books about the history of mathematics before and, I hope, there will be many more in the future. There are scores of textbooks about the history of mathematics too, many of which could tell you roughly the same things that Bellos's book covers. But you would be hard-pressed to find a book on this subject with the same humour, wonder, and with the comfort of knowing that the author is resolutely on your side on this (sometimes difficult) adventure through the land of numbers and shapes. Anyone in the other group, and Alex Bellos is one of these people, would disagree. For these folk, mathematics is a proud human endeavour more profound than science and more creative than art. For people like Bellos, mathematics is beautiful. This is an excellently researched and well-written book. It distinguishes itself from the body of popular science books by interspersing and motivating the mathematics it contains using stories, interviews and conversations with a variety of people, ranging from mathematicians and linguists to mystics. The result is a mixture of journalism, travel literature and mathematical history that will have a much wider appeal than many other accessible texts on mathematics. Alexander Bellos (born 1969) [1] is a British writer, broadcaster and mathematics communicator. [3] [4] [5] [6] He is the author of books about Brazil and mathematics, as well as having a column in The Guardian newspaper. [2] [7] Education and early life [ edit ] Lccn 2010533074 Ocr tesseract 5.0.0-1-g862e Ocr_detected_lang en Ocr_detected_lang_conf 1.0000 Ocr_detected_script Latin Ocr_detected_script_conf 1.0000 Ocr_module_version 0.0.14 Ocr_parameters -l eng Old_pallet IA-NS-2000521 Openlibrary_editionYou must, must, must read this book. See the excerpts to know why (excerpts annotated with a lot of love) Bellos is a former Guardian reporter who studied math and philosophy at Oxford University. He is pictured above among the main promoters of Vedic mathematics at the Shankaracharya of Puri’s temple in Puri, Orissa, India. Access-restricted-item true Addeddate 2022-01-25 13:07:53 Bookplateleaf 0002 Boxid IA40337210 Camera USB PTP Class Camera Collection_set printdisabled External-identifier Shortlisted for British Book Awards, Sports Book of the Year for Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life [ citation needed]

Guardian review of 'Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life' ". London: Bloomsbury Publishing. 7 October 2002 . Retrieved 10 April 2012. The modern, base-10 number system came from elements of all these ancient cultures but it was the Greek and Arabic mathematicians who did most to begin what we would nowadays call mathematics: taking patterns and numbers measured in the physical world and abstracting them into universal proofs. In this sense, maths is a more ancient and fixed base for knowledge than science, which is continually improved and changed in light of new evidence. The maths of Pythagoras is the maths we use today, whereas the scientific thinking of Aristotle has largely been consigned to history. This book was originally published in the U.K. as ALEX'S ADVENTURES IN NUMBERLAND. In my opinion it was a more appropriate title, mirroring some of the spirit of Lewis Carroll's verbal playfulness. In an interview Bellos was asked if he thought math was the universal language. Bellos responded in part: “...math is not just a universal language but also a language of universals....” ( http://intelligenttravel.nationalgeog...) Moreover, his goal is not to instruct, any more than the goal of THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS is a manual on chess-playing. Bellos wants to pique our curiosity, and maybe even expand a few brain cell connections. Alex Bellos is a gifted writer who has embarked on a mission to popularize mathematics. He makes a frank observation that should give pause to any reader: “By age 16, schoolkids have learned almost no math beyond what was already known in the mid-seventeenth century, and likewise by the time they are 18, they have not gone beyond the mid-eighteenth century.” What ensues is both a historical tour and spontaneous encounters with some of the most eccentric people currently operating on the fringes of mathematics.He begins with a systematic exposition of the idea of numbers and the need for them and progresses steadily at a really comfortable pace to cover everything from shepherds using a hybrid base of numbers for counting their sheep to humans understanding incredibly weird and abstract concepts in mathematics with the help of crochet!

Et Dieu Crea le Foot', National Geographic Channel". Archived from the original on 6 September 2010 . Retrieved 11 April 2012. There are many tidbits in the book that refresh your ideas of math. Indeed, for me this was a refresher of my entire math curriculum from school. And this book is also an answer (without actually trying to be) to all those people who ask – 'Why do we learn math if it has no real application in life?' Well, as amply demonstrated by Bellos, everything that is ever done in mathematics, be it silly games or idle curiosity, everything has been put to some use and had contributed to the progress of humanity. We found logarithms (which were the only way to do complex engineering sums before calculators came along) and realised that the collective behaviour of people or molecules was predictable, even if it seemed random. Statistics therefore became important for states, for economists, and to discover and understand climate change. Gamblers wanted to know how to beat the house and, by examining the mathematical patterns and probabilities in a game, were rewarded with intricate ways of gaining a tiny edge. The current record for reciting the digital expansion of pi from memory is held by Akira Haraguchi, a 60 year old retired engineer from Japan. In 2006, he was filmed in a public hall near Tokyo reciting pi to 100,000 decimal places. The performance took him 16 hours and 28 minutes. He used a mnemonic technique, assigning syllables to each number from 0 to 9 and then translating pi's decimals into words, which in turn formed sentences. The record for pi memorisation whilst juggling is held by Mats Bergsten (Sweden) who has recited 9778 digits while juggling three balls. (p162/163).

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The most endearing aspect of the book is that it doesn't take sides. It is incredibly neutral in its treatment of all the branches of math, no matter how bogus they may seem (I'm looking at you, Vedic math). All the people in this book have been treated as creative artists and their work has been explored with childlike wonder.

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