Have you ever thought about the uniqueness and simplicity of One, or what it means to be Two? Is Four really so square and why are there Seven days of the week, Seven deadly sins, or even Seven wonders of the world? In One to Nine, Andrew Hodges brings numbers to life. Inspired by the popularity of Sudoku – and millennia of human attempts to figure things out – this pithy, kaleidoscopic book takes a fresh, witty and hands-on approach to such various topics as musical harmony, code breaking, and probabilities in poker and lotteries. It probes the surprising symmetries of time, space, matter, and forces. It even goes to the heart of what computers can do.
Andrew Hodges weaves together the inner life of numbers – the patterns of primes and powers that we try to grasp, and that have us in their grip. Accessible to anyone with a general curiosity and interest in puzzles, One to Nine might even have you completing a fiendish Sudoku in record time.
A frank acknowledgment that "anything I wrote was bound to resemble" Constance Reid's seminal From Zero to Infinity doesn't stop mathematician and biographer Hodges (Alan Turing: The Enigma) from boldly launching into his own rather disjointed explanation of the place of the numbers one through nine in mathematics and (primarily Western) culture. Pop culture references and political topics such as global warming, presumably meant to make terms like "quantum of existence" a little less scary to the novice, appear alongside subjects of more interest to math nerds (the author debunks the common assumption that mathematicians are male, overweight and perennially single). Some knowledge of mathematical vocabulary and history is necessary to fully appreciate Hodges's merry skipping from one subject to another a single page mentions "Vonnegut's fiction... Plato's aesthetics, Euclid's pentagons, Fibonacci's rabbits the inspiration of Islamic art and its parallels in Kepler" but even the most halfhearted former math major will find a lot of familiar topics, like Schr dinger's cat and the equivalence of 1 with 0.99999.... The result is not entirely satisfying to either numerophobes or numerophiles. 40 illus.