Solid as a straightforward chronology of how mathematics has developed over time, and the author adds a provocative note...




The emphasis is on “real” in the latest by the prolific British science writer, who questions the extent to which mathematics truly reflects the workings of nature.

Clegg (Ten Billion Tomorrows: How Science Fiction Technology Became Reality and Shapes the Future, 2015, etc.) has a degree in physics from Cambridge, and he uses that knowledge to discourse on the relationship between math and science. Math builds its own universe based on given (i.e., not proven) axioms and rules of operation to derive facts (theorems) that are true in that system. Science, on the other hand, builds theories based on observations and experiments, and the theories become conventional wisdom until questioned by new observations and data. Nevertheless, over time, there has been an eerie congruence between abstruse developments in math—e.g., non-Euclidean geometry—and the equations that govern Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Clegg suggests that math increasingly has come to rule the roost in physics. Nobody has ever seen a black hole he notes; the objects are “more the product of mathematics than of science,” the evidence for their existence being indirect. Likewise the Higgs boson and superstring theory. The author urges caution and a step back rather than obedience to a questionable math authority. Before reaching this conclusion, Clegg treats readers to an orderly history of math. He begins with counting on fingers or marks on sticks to match the amount of a physical object, leading to symbols for numbers. These numbers are really real, he says, because they are based on matches with objects in nature. But as math evolved, that connection blurred. By the 19th century, with set theory and concepts of orders of infinity, and 20th-century proofs on the incompleteness of mathematical systems and other logical conundrums, the relation to reality has faded—as will some readers’ attention, because this is not easy stuff.

Solid as a straightforward chronology of how mathematics has developed over time, and the author adds a provocative note urging scientists to keep it in its place.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-08104-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?