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The Grapes of Math: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Lifeby Alex Bellos
Synopses & Reviews
From the bestselling author of Here's Looking at Euclid, a dazzling new book that turns even the most complex math into a brilliantly entertaining narrative.
From triangles, rotations and power laws, to cones, curves and the dreaded calculus, Alex takes you on a journey of mathematical discovery with his signature wit and limitless enthusiasm. He sifts through over 30,000 survey submissions to uncover the world's favourite number, and meets a mathematician who looks for universes in his garage. He attends the World Mathematical Congress in India, and visits the engineer who designed the first roller-coaster loop.
Get hooked on math as Alex delves deep into humankind's turbulent relationship with numbers, and reveals how they have shaped the world we live in.
"Channeling the spirit of Martin Gardner, the Guardian's math blogger Bellos (Here's Looking at Euclid) reveals — and revels in — the pleasures of mathematics, which he has dubbed 'the most playful of all intellectual disciplines.' Numbers are so basic to our lives that we've even given them personalities, Bellos says. Even numbers seem female, odd numbers male, and across cultures we're fascinated by numbers that end in 1 — just think of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Levi's 501 jeans, or Kentucky Fried Chicken's 11 herbs and spices. Bello, a natural storyteller, moves smoothly from simple topics to those more complex. The tale of the ill-fated elliptical pool table leads to the shared secret of theater spotlights and the shape of planetary orbits. From there, we explore exponential growth and compound interest, the magic of imaginary numbers, and self-reproducing fractals. Along the way, Bello introduces fascinating characters, from the retired cabdriver in Tucson whose hobby is factoring prime numbers, to swashbuckling astronomer Tycho Brahe, who lost his nose in a duel over a math formula. Through intriguing characters, lively prose, and thoroughly accessible mathematics, Bellos deftly shows readers why math is so important, and why it can be so much fun. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Another sparkling romp through the world of numbers, with the inimitable Alex Bellos as your friendly, informed, and crystal-clear guide. A brilliant successor to Here's Looking at Euclid." Ian Stewart, Professor of Mathematics, University of Warwick, and author of Visions of Infinity
"Love the book! Fresh, fascinating and endlessly charming. A splendiferous book altogether." Tim Harford, Financial Times, author of The Undercover Economist Strikes Back
"Think of the best storyteller you know and the coolest teacher you ever had, and now you've got some idea of what Alex Bellos is like. His Grapes of Math taught me something new on every page. Better yet, it made me laugh and want to tell someone what I'd just read. Math has never been so much fun." Steven Strogatz, professor of applied mathematics, Cornell University, and author, The Joy of x
"Alex Bellos' The Grapes of Math is a delicious grab bag of mathematical miscellany that includes Benford's law, fractals, exponentials and imaginary numbers, the Game of Life, among many other goodies, all presented in a most entertaining style. Both fun and instructive." John Allen Paulos is the author of several books including Innumeracy and A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper
"[A] first-rate survey of the world of mathematics by a British practitioner of the art....Great reading for the intellectually curious." Kirkus
About the Author
Alex Bellos has a degree in mathematics from Oxford University and is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the BBC's Newsnight program. He lives in London, UK.
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