How Math Explains the World: A Guide to the Power of Numbers, from Car Repair to Modern Physics

Hardcover | April 14, 2008

byJames D., Jr. Stein

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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 π , 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.

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From the Publisher

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...

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.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.97 inPublished:April 14, 2008Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0061241768

ISBN - 13:9780061241765

Customer Reviews of How Math Explains the World: A Guide to the Power of Numbers, from Car Repair to Modern Physics

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Brief Overview of the World of Mathematics It is made abundantly clear in this fascinating book that certain sub-disciplines in mathematics are extremely useful in describing the physical world in which we live. It is made equally clear, and admitted by the author, that many other of its sub-disciplines are (at least currently) completely useless in the sense that there are no known practical applications. The author, a mathematician, does an excellent job in providing the reader with an overview of both types of these sub-disciplines, while discussing various questions and issues in mathematics. To add a human element to these discussions, the author has peppered the text with many historical and micro-biographical snippets, as well as personal anecdotes – thus making the book all the more enjoyable. The writing style is authoritative, very friendly and generally clear; that is, some sections could have been made clearer if figures or diagrams had been included to complement the descriptions that are given, thus saving the reader a bit of re-reading and head scratching (such as in my case). The fact that many mathematical terms are used without being previously defined suggests that the reader should have some basic knowledge in math in order to better appreciate the topics being discussed. Consequently, the book would likely be most enjoyed by science and especially math buffs.
Date published: 2008-05-25