The Grapes of Math
How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect LifeBook - 2014
From triangles, rotations and power laws, to fractals, cones and curves, bestselling author Alex Bellos takes you on a journey of mathematical discovery with his signature wit, engaging stories and limitless enthusiasm. As he narrates a series of eye-opening encounters with lively personalities all over the world, Alex demonstrates how numbers have come to be our friends, are fascinating and extremely accessible, and how they have changed our world.
He turns even the dreaded calculus into an easy-to-grasp mathematical exposition, and sifts through over 30,000 survey submissions to reveal the world's favourite number. In Germany, he meets the engineer who designed the first roller-coaster loop, whilst in India he joins the world's highly numerate community at the International Congress of Mathematicians. He explores the wonders behind the Game of Life program, and explains mathematical logic, growth and negative numbers. Stateside, he hangs out with a private detective in Oregon and meets the mathematician who looks for universes from his garage in Illinois.
Read this captivating book, and you won't realise that you're learning about complex concepts. Alex will get you hooked on maths as he delves deep into humankind's turbulent relationship with numbers, and proves just how much fun we can have with them.
From the critics
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OMG!!! LOL!!! It turns out that if we calculate 1/n! for every number starting from 0, then add up all the terms, the answer is e.
Euler’s identity is the “To be or not to be” of mathematics, the most famous line in the oeuvre and a piece of cultural heritage that resonates beyond its field: e^iπ + 1 = 0
...The equation is mind-blowing. It cleanly unites the five most important numbers in math: 1, the first counting number; 0, the abstraction of nothing; π, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter; e, the exponential constant; and i, the square root of minus one.
Jokes are stories with a setup and a punch line. You follow them carefully until the payoff, which makes you smile. A piece of math is also a story with a setup and a punch line. It’s a different type of story, of course, in which the protagonists are numbers, shapes, symbols and patterns. We’d usually call a mathematical story a “proof,” and the punch line a “theorem.”
It is really rule of 69:
So, the number of compounding periods tit takes for a quantity to double is 69 divided by the percentage growth rate R. Because 72 is an easier number to divide than 69, the number most commonly used in the rule is 72, even though 69 would be more accurate.
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