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How Math Explains the World: A Guide to the Power of Numbers, from Car Repair to Modern Physicsby James D. Stein
Synopses & Reviews
In How Math Explains the World, mathematician Stein reveals how seemingly arcane mathematical investigations and discoveries have led to bigger, more world-shaking insights into the nature of our world. In the four main sections of the book, Stein tells the stories of the mathematical thinkers who discerned some of the most fundamental aspects of our universe. From their successes and failures, delusions, and even duels, the trajectories of their innovations (and their impact on society) are traced in this fascinating narrative. Quantum mechanics, space-time, chaos theory and the workings of complex systems, and the impossibility of a "perfect" democracy are all here. Stein's book is both mind-bending and practical, as he explains the best way for a salesman to plan a trip, examines why any thought you could have is imbedded in the number pi, and, perhaps most importantly, answers one of the modern world's toughest questions: why the garage can never get your car repaired on time.
Friendly, entertaining, and fun, How Math Explains the World is the first book by one of California's most popular math teachers, a veteran of both "math for poets" and Princeton's Institute for Advanced Studies. And it's perfect for any reader wanting to know how math makes both science and the world tick.
"Stein, a mathematics professor at California State University, explores the application of math to problem solving in the everyday, explaining tricky concepts and developing elegant algorithms for everything from scheduling auto repair to organizing a closet. He also demonstrates the power of the solution: 'We advance, both as individuals and as a species, by solving problems. As a rule of thumb, the reward for solving problems increases with the difficulty.' Stein blends math history and complex theories with jokes in a seamless manner while looking into everything from quantum mechanics to voting, while still realizing the limitations of his field-'without experiments and measurement these tools mathetmatics are essentially useless'-and its more whimsical possibilities: 'We do not yet have the mathematical objects needed to discuss art, or beauty, or love; but that does not mean that they do not exist.' Stein's work, mathematically rigorous but with minimal equations, will appeal to both casual and serious fans of math or physics, as well as those who take keen interest in problem solving." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Stein (mathematics, California State U. at Long Beach) addresses a wide variety of topics in this celebration of the mysteries of mathematics. Writing for an audience that seems expected to be relatively knowledgeable of basic mathematical concepts, Stein discusses topics connected to quantum mechanics, space-time, chaos theory, and complexity, to name just a few. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Stein offers this beginner's guide to the power of numbers. He explains how math weaves the world together and the unexpected ways that discovery can lead to even more innovation.
About the Author
James D. Stein is a professor of mathematics at California State University, Long Beach. A graduate of Yale University and the University of California, Berkeley, he lives in Redondo Beach, California.
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