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Paperback Wonders of Numbers : Adventures in Mathematics, Mind, and Meaning Book

ISBN: 0195157990

ISBN13: 9780195157994

Wonders of Numbers : Adventures in Mathematics, Mind, and Meaning

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Book Overview

Who were the five strangest mathematicians in history? What are the ten most interesting numbers? Jam-packed with thought-provoking mathematical mysteries, puzzles, and games, Wonders of Numbers will enchant even the most left-brained of readers. Hosted by the quirky Dr. Googol--who resides on a remote island and occasionally collaborates with Clifford Pickover--Wonders of Numbers focuses on creativity and the delight of discovery. Here is a potpourri...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A mathematical carnival at its best

An amazing amalgam of mathematical treats! Each chapter is super short. Fun for readers of wide abilities. Here are some of my favorite topics: Ackermann's function, Maria Agnesi, Alien snow, Amicable numbers, Apocalyptic numbers, Audioactive decay, Bible code, Catalan numbers, Cellular automata, Doughnut loops, Paul Erdos, Fractals, Sophie Germain, Goldbach Conjecture, Hexamorphic numbers, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, Palindromes, Roger Penrose, Poincare Conjecture, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Scandals, Self-similarity, Transcendentals, ... and more.

The best "Pickover" I've read

Pickover fans will buy and enjoy this book - his 26th by my rough count. But if you aren't a fan, if you've tasted and returned to the kitchen previous titles by Mr. Pickover, you might still enjoy this fascinating buffet.And those are 5 hard-earned stars in my rating! I was well past starting to think that the best parts of Pickover's books were the always-intriguing titles. I had started a number of these in the past, but usually ended up skimming or setting them aside. None that I have read would have earned more than 3 stars. Until now!"Wonders of Numbers" is, somehow, different. It still has some of his quirky lists ("The Unabomber's 10 Most Mathematical Technical Papers", "A Ranking of the 5 Strangest Mathematicians Who Ever Lived"). It still has the intriguing titles - each of 125 "chapters" carries one, ranging from "The Pipes of Papua" to "Anchovy Marriage Test". The pieces still seem to jump all over the place. Most of these things didn't grab me in past Pickover titles. Here, they all fit together and work nicely.Oddly enough, I think the appeal of this volume might be its eclecticism. Pickover is not trying to create a whole story as he has in some earlier books ("Time: A Traveler's Guide", "Surfing through Hyperspace"). The unifying center of this book is, simply, mathematics and the myriad ways it exposes its wonders to us. I'm guessing that the reason I haven't put this one down is my own fascination with mathematics itself. The broader the scope the better - and none takes a wider view than Clifford Pickover. The book has something for everyone - but it will also draw you in to other pieces you thought you weren't interested in. Martin Gardner meets Conway & Guy ! A nice combo.

A gem for teachers

Pickover's latest book is wonderful! I specialise in teaching very able mathematics students and have used Clifford A. Pickover's books and web site with great success. The students really respond to his sense of humour.Wonders of Numbers is exactly the sort of material which stimulates the bright kids (and their teachers!), and gets them thinking in depth long after the class has finished. It takes them beyond the idea of just "getting sums right" to the concept that mathematics is a glorious plaything. Many of the chapters include computer related themes (fractals, programming) so students can see that mathematics is an evolving subject, not something which was all discovered long ago.The constant inclusion of interesting people, the humour in the writing, the validity of the topics mathematically, the strange sidelines and the general sense of fun, ensures I have another gem to extend the students beyond the regular curriculum. The chapters are just the right size to initiate a topic and motivate the students to pursue it. It is lovely to have material to use which doesn't just lead to a correct answer and end to the problem, but leads them to take it further and further.Wonderful!

A Wonderful Book

Now here is a fine weekend escape - a delightful book to be read with one's feet up and an ice cold beverage all the while contemplating the wonders of numbers. Mostly about the integers, there are such mathematical adventures as 2, 3, and 4 dimensional magic squares, numbers so huge they require special notation and easily dwarf the number of atoms in the known universe, fractal number sequences, Mozart numbers, and lots of other fun things in the 125 chapters. My favorite numbers are the Schizophrenic numbers (Chapter 93) which when evaluated to 500 digits reveal patterns of seemingly random digits alternating with chains of repetitions of identical digits. The book is especially entertaining for the connections shown between some of these numbers and music, art, science, and other areas of mathematics. For additional enjoyment the Further Exploring section offers additional background including references to books and web sites and also some challenges to readers - a few of which even include a cash prize. And, best of all Wonders of Numbers is written in plain English and accompanied by splendid graphics, lively anecdotes, and a generous supply of epigraphs. A fun way to while away a weekend.

A plentitude of petite puzzles to ponder

I really enjoyed this book. There's a tremendous number of interesting questions raised, many of them currently unanswered. Not a huge amount of depth on any particular question but each chapter has it's own "alter ego" at the back in the "further investigations" part of the book with answers (when they're known) and resources to take off on your own. The book actually becomes most interesting when you're not reading it - when you've set it aside and started thinking about the interesting ideas on your own. Most of these problems are simple enough to comprehend that you can immediately start making new little discoveries on your own if you're even a little mathematical. Very "Martin Gardner"ish in that sense, and in my book there's no higher compliment to pay to a book than to compare it to Gardner's classics. So if you have a mathematical bone in your body and you want to exercise it this is a great book to use as a springboard into really interesting and big ideas.
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