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The Colossal Book of Mathematics: Classic Puzzles, Paradoxes, and Problemsby Martin Gardner
Synopses & Reviews
Whether discussing hexaflexagons or number theory, Klein bottles or the essence of "nothing," Martin Gardner has single-handedly created the field of "recreational mathematics." The Colossal Book of Mathematics collects together Gardner's most popular pieces from his legendary "Mathematical Games" column, which ran in Scientific American for twenty-five years. Gardner's array of absorbing puzzles and mind-twisting paradoxes opens mathematics up to the world at large, inspiring people to see past numbers and formulas and experience the application of mathematical principles to the mysterious world around them. With articles on topics ranging from simple algebra to the twisting surfaces of Mobius strips, from an endless game of Bulgarian solitaire to the unreachable dream of time travel, this volume comprises a substantial and definitive monument to Gardner's influence on mathematics, science, and culture.
In its twelve sections, The Colossal Book of Math explores a wide range of areas, each startlingly illuminated by Gardner's incisive expertise. Beginning with seemingly simple topics, Gardner expertly guides us through complicated and wondrous worlds: by way of basic algebra we contemplate the mesmerizing, often hilarious, linguistic and numerical possibilities of palindromes; using simple geometry, he dissects the principles of symmetry upon which the renowned mathematical artist M. C. Escher constructs his unique, dizzying universe. Gardner, like few thinkers today, melds a rigorous scientific skepticism with a profound artistic and imaginative impulse. His stunning exploration of "The Church of the Fourth Dimension," for example, bridges the disparate worlds of religion and science by brilliantly imagining the spatial possibility of God's presence in the world as a fourth dimension, at once "everywhere and nowhere."
With boundless wisdom and his trademark wit, Gardner allows the reader to further engage challenging topics like probability and game theory which have plagued clever gamblers, and famous mathematicians, for centuries. Whether debunking Pascal's wager with basic probability, making visual music with fractals, or uncoiling a "knotted doughnut" with introductory topology, Gardner continuously displays his fierce intelligence and gentle humor. His articles confront both the comfortingly mundane--"Generalized Ticktacktoe" and "Sprouts and Brussel Sprouts"--and the quakingly abstract--"Hexaflexagons," "Nothing," and "Everything." He navigates these staggeringly obscure topics with a deft intelligence and, with addendums and suggested reading lists, he informs these classic articles with new insight.
Admired by scientists and mathematicians, writers and readers alike, Gardner's vast knowledge and burning curiosity reveal themselves on every page. The culmination of a lifelong devotion to the wonders of mathematics, The Colossal Book of Mathematics is the largest and most comprehensive math book ever assembled by Gardner and remains an indispensable volume for the amateur and expert alike.
Book News Annotation:
Gardner has chosen 50 articles from the Mathematical Games column he wrote for Scientific American for 25 years, added a sometimes lengthy addendum, and updated the material. They are in sections on arithmetic and algebra, solid geometry and higher dimensions, probability, games and decision theory, physics, and other topics.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
No amateur or math authority can be without this ultimate compendium from America's best-loved mathematical expert.
About the Author
Martin Gardner (1914-2010) is the author of more than seventy books, including Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, The Annotated Alice, The Annotated Hunting of the Snark, and The Colossal Book of Mathematics.
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