The authors offer some beguiling insights on what math is about and how it has evolved but no royal road to easy...



A science writer and astronomer and his student, a teen math prodigy, join forces to elucidate fields of math they find weird.

Darling (Mayday!: A History of Flight Through its Martyrs, Oddballs, and Daredevils, 2015, etc.) and Banerjee are struck by how some of the most abstruse findings from math turn out to have practical applications in quantum physics or computer science—or lead to concepts like orders of infinity or yield unexpected patterns of numbers or figures. One could argue that these findings are neither weird nor magical but the inexorable results of logic and the permissible rules of operation of mathematical systems by imaginative thinkers. As subjects, the authors examine selected fields of pure, as opposed to applied, math. The first chapter takes on the idea of seeing in the fourth dimension, with descriptions of the 4-D extension of the cube called a tesseract. There follows a chapter on probability emphasizing non-intuitive findings and then one on fractals, a field that deals with curves that have fractional dimensions. This idea grew out of a paper by the field’s inventor, Benoit Mandelbrot, that asked, “how long is the coast of Britain?” Thereafter, the authors’ choices are more self-indulgent, with chapters on chess and music, which will be lost on readers who are not game players or familiar with harmonics. Other areas concern computer science and number theory emphasizing primes. There is a particularly wearisome chapter on competitions to generate large and larger numbers, a sport favored by Banerjee. The text concludes with chapters on topology, set theory, infinity, and the foundations of mathematics. This is difficult material, and readers should be familiar with logical paradoxes, the meaning of “proof,” and notions of consistency and completeness of axiomatic systems as well as the work Gödel and others in establishing the incompleteness of any mathematical system complex enough to embody arithmetic.

The authors offer some beguiling insights on what math is about and how it has evolved but no royal road to easy understanding.

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5416-4478-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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

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