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

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Their lines tended to compress the distances between higher numbers — a logarithmic as opposed to linear depiction.

The maths of Pythagoras is the maths we use today, whereas the scientific thinking of Aristotle has largely been consigned to history. Registered office address: Unit 34 Vulcan House Business Centre, Vulcan Road, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE5 3EF. Photograph: Wong Maye-E/AP Mathematics has revealed the underlying structures of nature, such as the golden ratio that defines the shape of a nautilus's shell.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! Alex explains the surprising geometry of the 50p piece, and the strategy of how best to gamble it in a casino. They have no need to count lots of things and, indeed, see counting endlessly as a ludicrous activity. It is to be hoped that the uncountable delights of Bellos’s book, its verve and feeling for mathematics, convey its enchantments to a new generation - Times Literary Supplement You may also be interested in.

Concerning "the golden ratio," Bellos notes, "It may sound Orwellian, but some irrational numbers are more irrational than others. Also the rudimentary thought of quantifying ideas and enumerating large/small quantities , their relation between scales and the ethno-religious constraints , the edification of ideas through various times and filters in human history is quite captivatingly presented in this book and there influence on modern day contemporary society is looked into with lucidity.But as illustrative of my point as this passage may be, I only included it because it contains the word "legerdemain.

It also reminded me of the debates I would have as a portfolio analyst with my quant boss about over-reliance on statistical models to predict the fortunes of industry segments. I was instead a believer in the theory that an industry segment collapses under the weight of too much money chasing it, and all you need for that analysis is a critical mass of Wall Street Journal headlines. I might be the ideal audience for this book - turned off Maths at school, yet still mildly interested, bed bound and unwell , with limited reading choices, however I found it largely uninteresting built up of clusters of not particularly memorable anecdotes which I have, a few months on entirely forgotten.But for Alex Bellos math can be inspiring and brilliantly creative and he proves it in this book that can be read easily by most non-geeks. As the book progresses, so does the abstract nature of the subject matter, and the concept of pi provides the perfect bridge between numeracy and philosophy, which had already emerged with the chapter on zero. Whether writing about how algebra solved Swedish traffic problems, visiting the Mental Calculation World Cup to disclose the secrets of lightning calculation, or exploring the links between pineapples and beautiful teeth, Bellos is a wonderfully engaging guide who never fails to delight even as he edifies.

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