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.