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-- E.O. Wilson

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Mathematical Curiosities Indeed!

Number Fun...

The latest volume from prolific British mathematician Ian Stewart is "Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities," an entertaining compendium (he calls it "a miscellany") of "amusing and intriguing" puzzles, tales, factoids, and interesting tidbits from recreational mathematics; actually quite an amazing range and variety of short offerings (180+ entries). All the common mathematical recreations are found here, and a great many less familiar ones. Discussion tends to be brief, but not overly so, although in a few cases greater elucidation might've been helpful.

Obviously, one needs to enjoy math to enjoy this volume, but one doesn't need an advanced grasp of mathematics to comprehend most of the content (although for some entries it WILL definitely help).
For the math aficionados out there I definitely give this book a "B+"; it is a wonderful addition to this genre. One recreational math work I probably like better (and would rate an "A") is Martin Gardner's "The Colossal Book of Mathematics," but then it's pretty hard to top Martin Gardner! And for math-inclined lay readers who especially enjoy this genre I'll mention three other volumes I'm fond of:

"Math Charmers" by Alfred Posamentier, and
"A Passion For Mathematics" by Clifford Pickover
"Wonders of Numbers" also Clifford Pickover

Lastly, another review of Stewart's book HERE.


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