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e The Story of a Number

 e   The Story of a Number Author Eli Maor
ISBN-10 9781400832347
Release 2011-10-12
Pages 248
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The interest earned on a bank account, the arrangement of seeds in a sunflower, and the shape of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis are all intimately connected with the mysterious number e. In this informal and engaging history, Eli Maor portrays the curious characters and the elegant mathematics that lie behind the number. Designed for a reader with only a modest mathematical background, this biography brings out the central importance of e to mathematics and illuminates a golden era in the age of science.

An Imaginary Tale

An Imaginary Tale Author Paul J. Nahin
ISBN-10 1400833892
Release 2010-02-22
Pages 296
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Today complex numbers have such widespread practical use--from electrical engineering to aeronautics--that few people would expect the story behind their derivation to be filled with adventure and enigma. In An Imaginary Tale, Paul Nahin tells the 2000-year-old history of one of mathematics' most elusive numbers, the square root of minus one, also known as i. He recreates the baffling mathematical problems that conjured it up, and the colorful characters who tried to solve them. In 1878, when two brothers stole a mathematical papyrus from the ancient Egyptian burial site in the Valley of Kings, they led scholars to the earliest known occurrence of the square root of a negative number. The papyrus offered a specific numerical example of how to calculate the volume of a truncated square pyramid, which implied the need for i. In the first century, the mathematician-engineer Heron of Alexandria encountered I in a separate project, but fudged the arithmetic; medieval mathematicians stumbled upon the concept while grappling with the meaning of negative numbers, but dismissed their square roots as nonsense. By the time of Descartes, a theoretical use for these elusive square roots--now called "imaginary numbers"--was suspected, but efforts to solve them led to intense, bitter debates. The notorious i finally won acceptance and was put to use in complex analysis and theoretical physics in Napoleonic times. Addressing readers with both a general and scholarly interest in mathematics, Nahin weaves into this narrative entertaining historical facts and mathematical discussions, including the application of complex numbers and functions to important problems, such as Kepler's laws of planetary motion and ac electrical circuits. This book can be read as an engaging history, almost a biography, of one of the most evasive and pervasive "numbers" in all of mathematics. Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.

Beautiful Geometry

Beautiful Geometry Author Eli Maor
ISBN-10 9781400848331
Release 2014-01-19
Pages 208
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If you've ever thought that mathematics and art don't mix, this stunning visual history of geometry will change your mind. As much a work of art as a book about mathematics, Beautiful Geometry presents more than sixty exquisite color plates illustrating a wide range of geometric patterns and theorems, accompanied by brief accounts of the fascinating history and people behind each. With artwork by Swiss artist Eugen Jost and text by math historian Eli Maor, this unique celebration of geometry covers numerous subjects, from straightedge-and-compass constructions to intriguing configurations involving infinity. The result is a delightful and informative illustrated tour through the 2,500-year-old history of one of the most important branches of mathematics.

The Pythagorean Theorem

The Pythagorean Theorem Author Eli Maor
ISBN-10 9780691148236
Release 2010-08-15
Pages 280
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The author presents a complex history of the Pythagorean Theorem, examining the earliest evidence of knowledge of the theorem to Einstein's theory of relativity.

Dr Euler s Fabulous Formula

Dr  Euler s Fabulous Formula Author Paul J. Nahin
ISBN-10 1400838479
Release 2011-04-25
Pages 416
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In the mid-eighteenth century, Swiss-born mathematician Leonhard Euler developed a formula so innovative and complex that it continues to inspire research, discussion, and even the occasional limerick. Dr. Euler's Fabulous Formula shares the fascinating story of this groundbreaking formula—long regarded as the gold standard for mathematical beauty—and shows why it still lies at the heart of complex number theory. In some ways a sequel to Nahin's An Imaginary Tale, this book examines the many applications of complex numbers alongside intriguing stories from the history of mathematics. Dr. Euler's Fabulous Formula is accessible to any reader familiar with calculus and differential equations, and promises to inspire mathematicians for years to come.

To Infinity and Beyond

To Infinity and Beyond Author Eli Maor
ISBN-10 0691025118
Release 1991
Pages 284
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Eli Maor examines the role of infinity in mathematics and geometry and its cultural impact on the arts and sciences. He evokes the profound intellectual impact the infinite has exercised on the human mind--from the "horror infiniti" of the Greeks to the works of M. C. Escher; from the ornamental designs of the Moslems, to the sage Giordano Bruno, whose belief in an infinite universe led to his death at the hands of the Inquisition. But above all, the book describes the mathematician's fascination with infinity--a fascination mingled with puzzlement. "Maor explores the idea of infinity in mathematics and in art and argues that this is the point of contact between the two, best exemplified by the work of the Dutch artist M. C. Escher, six of whose works are shown here in beautiful color plates."--Los Angeles Times "[Eli Maor's] enthusiasm for the topic carries the reader through a rich panorama."--Choice "Fascinating and enjoyable.... places the ideas of infinity in a cultural context and shows how they have been espoused and molded by mathematics."--Science

Trigonometric Delights

Trigonometric Delights Author Eli Maor
ISBN-10 9781400846757
Release 2013-03-13
Pages 256
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Trigonometry has always been an underappreciated branch of mathematics. It has a reputation as a dry and difficult subject, a glorified form of geometry complicated by tedious computation. In this book, Eli Maor draws on his remarkable talents as a guide to the world of numbers to dispel that view. Rejecting the usual arid descriptions of sine, cosine, and their trigonometric relatives, he brings the subject to life in a compelling blend of history, biography, and mathematics. He presents both a survey of the main elements of trigonometry and a unique account of its vital contribution to science and social development. Woven together in a tapestry of entertaining stories, scientific curiosities, and educational insights, the book more than lives up to the title Trigonometric Delights. ? Maor, whose previous books have demystified the concept of infinity and the unusual number "e," begins by examining the "proto-trigonometry" of the Egyptian pyramid builders. He shows how Greek astronomers developed the first true trigonometry. He traces the slow emergence of modern, analytical trigonometry, recounting its colorful origins in Renaissance Europe's quest for more accurate artillery, more precise clocks, and more pleasing musical instruments. Along the way, we see trigonometry at work in, for example, the struggle of the famous mapmaker Gerardus Mercator to represent the curved earth on a flat sheet of paper; we see how M. C. Escher used geometric progressions in his art; and we learn how the toy Spirograph uses epicycles and hypocycles. Maor also sketches the lives of some of the intriguing figures who have shaped four thousand years of trigonometric history. We meet, for instance, the Renaissance scholar Regiomontanus, who is rumored to have been poisoned for insulting a colleague, and Maria Agnesi, an eighteenth-century Italian genius who gave up mathematics to work with the poor--but not before she investigated a special curve that, due to mistranslation, bears the unfortunate name "the witch of Agnesi." The book is richly illustrated, including rare prints from the author's own collection. Trigonometric Delights will change forever our view of a once dreaded subject.

T Rex and the Crater of Doom

T  Rex and the Crater of Doom Author Walter Alvarez
ISBN-10 0691131031
Release 2008
Pages 185
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Sixty-five million years ago, a comet or asteroid larger than Mount Everest slammed into the Earth, inducing an explosion equivalent to the detonation of a hundred million hydrogen bombs. Vaporized detritus blasted through the atmosphere upon impact, falling back to Earth around the globe. Disastrous environmental consequences ensued: a giant tsunami, continent-scale wildfires, darkness, and cold, followed by sweltering greenhouse heat. When conditions returned to normal, half the plant and animal genera on Earth had perished. This horrific chain of events is now widely accepted as the solution to a great scientific mystery: what caused the extinction of the dinosaurs? Walter Alvarez, one of the Berkeley scientists who discovered evidence of the impact, tells the story behind the development of the initially controversial theory. It is a saga of high adventure in remote locations, of arduous data collection and intellectual struggle, of long periods of frustration ended by sudden breakthroughs, of friendships made and lost, and of the exhilaration of discovery that forever altered our understanding of Earth’s geological history.

A Certain Ambiguity

A Certain Ambiguity Author Gaurav Suri
ISBN-10 1400834775
Release 2010-07-01
Pages 296
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While taking a class on infinity at Stanford in the late 1980s, Ravi Kapoor discovers that he is confronting the same mathematical and philosophical dilemmas that his mathematician grandfather had faced many decades earlier--and that had landed him in jail. Charged under an obscure blasphemy law in a small New Jersey town in 1919, Vijay Sahni is challenged by a skeptical judge to defend his belief that the certainty of mathematics can be extended to all human knowledge--including religion. Together, the two men discover the power--and the fallibility--of what has long been considered the pinnacle of human certainty, Euclidean geometry. As grandfather and grandson struggle with the question of whether there can ever be absolute certainty in mathematics or life, they are forced to reconsider their fundamental beliefs and choices. Their stories hinge on their explorations of parallel developments in the study of geometry and infinity--and the mathematics throughout is as rigorous and fascinating as the narrative and characters are compelling and complex. Moving and enlightening, A Certain Ambiguity is a story about what it means to face the extent--and the limits--of human knowledge.

Life on a Young Planet

Life on a Young Planet Author Andrew H. Knoll
ISBN-10 9781400866045
Release 2015-03-22
Pages 288
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Australopithecines, dinosaurs, trilobites--such fossils conjure up images of lost worlds filled with vanished organisms. But in the full history of life, ancient animals, even the trilobites, form only the half-billion-year tip of a nearly four-billion-year iceberg. Andrew Knoll explores the deep history of life from its origins on a young planet to the incredible Cambrian explosion, presenting a compelling new explanation for the emergence of biological novelty. The very latest discoveries in paleontology--many of them made by the author and his students--are integrated with emerging insights from molecular biology and earth system science to forge a broad understanding of how the biological diversity that surrounds us came to be. Moving from Siberia to Namibia to the Bahamas, Knoll shows how life and environment have evolved together through Earth's history. Innovations in biology have helped shape our air and oceans, and, just as surely, environmental change has influenced the course of evolution, repeatedly closing off opportunities for some species while opening avenues for others. Readers go into the field to confront fossils, enter the lab to discern the inner workings of cells, and alight on Mars to ask how our terrestrial experience can guide exploration for life beyond our planet. Along the way, Knoll brings us up-to-date on some of science's hottest questions, from the oldest fossils and claims of life beyond the Earth to the hypothesis of global glaciation and Knoll's own unifying concept of ''permissive ecology.'' In laying bare Earth's deepest biological roots, Life on a Young Planet helps us understand our own place in the universe--and our responsibility as stewards of a world four billion years in the making. In a new preface, Knoll describes how the field has broadened and deepened in the decade since the book's original publication.

Strange Glow

Strange Glow Author Timothy J. Jorgensen
ISBN-10 9781400880522
Release 2016-02-23
Pages 512
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More than ever before, radiation is a part of our modern daily lives. We own radiation-emitting phones, regularly get diagnostic x-rays, such as mammograms, and submit to full-body security scans at airports. We worry and debate about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the safety of nuclear power plants. But how much do we really know about radiation? And what are its actual dangers? An accessible blend of narrative history and science, Strange Glow describes mankind's extraordinary, thorny relationship with radiation, including the hard-won lessons of how radiation helps and harms our health. Timothy Jorgensen explores how our knowledge of and experiences with radiation in the last century can lead us to smarter personal decisions about radiation exposures today. Jorgensen introduces key figures in the story of radiation—from Wilhelm Roentgen, the discoverer of x-rays, and pioneering radioactivity researchers Marie and Pierre Curie, to Thomas Edison and the victims of the recent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. Tracing the most important events in the evolution of radiation, Jorgensen explains exactly what radiation is, how it produces certain health consequences, and how we can protect ourselves from harm. He also considers a range of practical scenarios such as the risks of radon in our basements, radiation levels in the fish we eat, questions about cell-phone use, and radiation's link to cancer. Jorgensen empowers us to make informed choices while offering a clearer understanding of broader societal issues. Investigating radiation's benefits and risks, Strange Glow takes a remarkable look at how, for better or worse, radiation has transformed our society.

Four Colors Suffice

Four Colors Suffice Author Robin J. Wilson
ISBN-10 0691120234
Release 2002
Pages 262
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On October 23, 1852, Professor Augustus De Morgan wrote a letter to a colleague, unaware that he was launching one of the most famous mathematical conundrums in history--one that would confound thousands of puzzlers for more than a century. This is the amazing story of how the "map problem" was solved. The problem posed in the letter came from a former student: What is the least possible number of colors needed to fill in any map (real or invented) so that neighboring counties are always colored differently? This deceptively simple question was of minimal interest to cartographers, who saw little need to limit how many colors they used. But the problem set off a frenzy among professional mathematicians and amateur problem solvers, among them Lewis Carroll, an astronomer, a botanist, an obsessive golfer, the Bishop of London, a man who set his watch only once a year, a California traffic cop, and a bridegroom who spent his honeymoon coloring maps. In their pursuit of the solution, mathematicians painted maps on doughnuts and horseshoes and played with patterned soccer balls and the great rhombicuboctahedron. It would be more than one hundred years (and countless colored maps) later before the result was finally established. Even then, difficult questions remained, and the intricate solution--which involved no fewer than 1,200 hours of computer time--was greeted with as much dismay as enthusiasm. Providing a clear and elegant explanation of the problem and the proof, Robin Wilson tells how a seemingly innocuous question baffled great minds and stimulated exciting mathematics with far-flung applications. This is the entertaining story of those who failed to prove, and those who ultimately did prove, that four colors do indeed suffice to color any map.

Summing It Up

Summing It Up Author Avner Ash
ISBN-10 9781400880539
Release 2016-05-17
Pages 248
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We use addition on a daily basis—yet how many of us stop to truly consider the enormous and remarkable ramifications of this mathematical activity? Summing It Up uses addition as a springboard to present a fascinating and accessible look at numbers and number theory, and how we apply beautiful numerical properties to answer math problems. Mathematicians Avner Ash and Robert Gross explore addition's most basic characteristics as well as the addition of squares and other powers before moving onward to infinite series, modular forms, and issues at the forefront of current mathematical research. Ash and Gross tailor their succinct and engaging investigations for math enthusiasts of all backgrounds. Employing college algebra, the first part of the book examines such questions as, can all positive numbers be written as a sum of four perfect squares? The second section of the book incorporates calculus and examines infinite series—long sums that can only be defined by the concept of limit, as in the example of 1+1/2+1/4+. . .=? With the help of some group theory and geometry, the third section ties together the first two parts of the book through a discussion of modular forms—the analytic functions on the upper half-plane of the complex numbers that have growth and transformation properties. Ash and Gross show how modular forms are indispensable in modern number theory, for example in the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. Appropriate for numbers novices as well as college math majors, Summing It Up delves into mathematics that will enlighten anyone fascinated by numbers.


Capitalism Author Jürgen Kocka
ISBN-10 9781400873418
Release 2016-01-12
Pages 208
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In this authoritative and accessible book, one of the world's most renowned historians provides a concise and comprehensive history of capitalism within a global perspective from its medieval origins to the 2008 financial crisis and beyond. From early commercial capitalism in the Arab world, China, and Europe, to nineteenth- and twentieth-century industrialization, to today’s globalized financial capitalism, Jürgen Kocka offers an unmatched account of capitalism, one that weighs its great achievements against its great costs, crises, and failures. Based on intensive research, the book puts the rise of capitalist economies in social, political, and cultural context, and shows how their current problems and foreseeable future are connected to a long history. Sweeping in scope, the book describes how capitalist expansion was connected to colonialism; how industrialism brought unprecedented innovation, growth, and prosperity but also increasing inequality; and how managerialism, financialization, and globalization later changed the face of capitalism. The book also addresses the idea of capitalism in the work of thinkers such as Marx, Weber, and Schumpeter, and chronicles how criticism of capitalism is as old as capitalism itself, fed by its persistent contradictions and recurrent emergencies. Authoritative and accessible, Capitalism is an enlightening account of a force that has shaped the modern world like few others.

Finding Fibonacci

Finding Fibonacci Author Keith Devlin
ISBN-10 9781400885534
Release 2017-03-07
Pages 256
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A compelling firsthand account of Keith Devlin's ten-year quest to tell Fibonacci's story In 2000, Keith Devlin set out to research the life and legacy of the medieval mathematician Leonardo of Pisa, popularly known as Fibonacci, whose book Liber abbaci has quite literally affected the lives of everyone alive today. Although he is most famous for the Fibonacci numbers—which, it so happens, he didn't invent—Fibonacci's greatest contribution was as an expositor of mathematical ideas at a level ordinary people could understand. In 1202, Liber abbaci—the "Book of Calculation"—introduced modern arithmetic to the Western world. Yet Fibonacci was long forgotten after his death, and it was not until the 1960s that his true achievements were finally recognized. Finding Fibonacci is Devlin's compelling firsthand account of his ten-year quest to tell Fibonacci's story. Devlin, a math expositor himself, kept a diary of the undertaking, which he draws on here to describe the project's highs and lows, its false starts and disappointments, the tragedies and unexpected turns, some hilarious episodes, and the occasional lucky breaks. You will also meet the unique individuals Devlin encountered along the way, people who, each for their own reasons, became fascinated by Fibonacci, from the Yale professor who traced modern finance back to Fibonacci to the Italian historian who made the crucial archival discovery that brought together all the threads of Fibonacci's astonishing story. Fibonacci helped to revive the West as the cradle of science, technology, and commerce, yet he vanished from the pages of history. This is Devlin's search to find him.


Gamma Author Julian Havil
ISBN-10 9781400832538
Release 2010-01-04
Pages 296
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Among the many constants that appear in mathematics, π, e, and i are the most familiar. Following closely behind is y, or gamma, a constant that arises in many mathematical areas yet maintains a profound sense of mystery. In a tantalizing blend of history and mathematics, Julian Havil takes the reader on a journey through logarithms and the harmonic series, the two defining elements of gamma, toward the first account of gamma's place in mathematics. Introduced by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707-1783), who figures prominently in this book, gamma is defined as the limit of the sum of 1 + 1/2 + 1/3 + . . . Up to 1/n, minus the natural logarithm of n--the numerical value being 0.5772156. . . . But unlike its more celebrated colleagues π and e, the exact nature of gamma remains a mystery--we don't even know if gamma can be expressed as a fraction. Among the numerous topics that arise during this historical odyssey into fundamental mathematical ideas are the Prime Number Theorem and the most important open problem in mathematics today--the Riemann Hypothesis (though no proof of either is offered!). Sure to be popular with not only students and instructors but all math aficionados, Gamma takes us through countries, centuries, lives, and works, unfolding along the way the stories of some remarkable mathematics from some remarkable mathematicians.

Mathematics and Art

Mathematics and Art Author Lynn Gamwell
ISBN-10 9780691165288
Release 2015-10-27
Pages 576
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This is a cultural history of mathematics and art, from antiquity to the present. Mathematicians and artists have long been on a quest to understand the physical world they see before them and the abstract objects they know by thought alone. Taking readers on a tour of the practice of mathematics and the philosophical ideas that drive the discipline, Lynn Gamwell points out the important ways mathematical concepts have been expressed by artists. Sumptuous illustrations of artworks and cogent math diagrams are featured in Gamwell’s comprehensive exploration. Gamwell begins by describing mathematics from antiquity to the Enlightenment, including Greek, Islamic, and Asian mathematics. Then focusing on modern culture, Gamwell traces mathematicians’ search for the foundations of their science, such as David Hilbert’s conception of mathematics as an arrangement of meaning-free signs, as well as artists’ search for the essence of their craft, such as Aleksandr Rodchenko’s monochrome paintings. She shows that self-reflection is inherent to the practice of both modern mathematics and art, and that this introspection points to a deep resonance between the two fields: Kurt Gödel posed questions about the nature of mathematics in the language of mathematics and Jasper Johns asked “What is art?” in the vocabulary of art. Throughout, Gamwell describes the personalities and cultural environments of a multitude of mathematicians and artists, from Gottlob Frege and Benoît Mandelbrot to Max Bill and Xu Bing. Mathematics and Art demonstrates how mathematical ideas are embodied in the visual arts and will enlighten all who are interested in the complex intellectual pursuits, personalities, and cultural settings that connect these vast disciplines.