Parker should be commended. He may not convert all readers to loving math, but he does provide a glimmer of understanding of...

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THINGS TO MAKE AND DO IN THE FOURTH DIMENSION

A MATHEMATICIAN'S JOURNEY THROUGH NARCISSISTIC NUMBERS, OPTIMAL DATING ALGORITHMS, AT LEAST TWO KINDS OF INFINITY, AND MORE

Guardian and Telegraph writer and comedian Parker aims “to show people all the fun bits of mathematics.”

For starters, take out paper and pencil, compass, straight edge, maybe a balloon or a bag of oranges, because the author will challenge you to tackle puzzles, whether it’s cutting a pizza in equal slices so some pieces never touch the center or passing a quarter through a nickel-size hole. Parker begins with the easier elements like number systems, primes and the polygons of Euclidean geometry. But his approach has the acceleration of a Ferrari, so readers are quickly racing into higher dimensional space. Parker explains how a square becomes a cube in 3-D and a hypercube (a tesseract) in four dimensions or a doughnut (a torus) becomes an object called a Klein bottle. This branch of math is topology, but in arriving there, Parker makes forays into subfields like tiling (think bathroom floors), packing (how to ship oranges efficiently) and knot theory. Some readers will lose their way—the visualizations alone are tough. Also, by this point, it’s clear that the author does not aspire to create a math-for-dummies handbook. Instead, he provides one man’s take on the history of math, emphasizing the puzzles that led to profound discoveries or to tantalizing conjectures that remain neither proved nor disproved. But this one man is also a dedicated denizen of the digital universe, and some of the best parts of the book are Parker’s explanations of how computers work. This includes the feat in which he and math colleagues set up a field of thousands of dominoes to demonstrate how a computer adds two binary numbers. Parker goes on to explain how smartphones digitally code a photo and why a text sent across the globe arrives error-free despite all the relays along the way.

Parker should be commended. He may not convert all readers to loving math, but he does provide a glimmer of understanding of how it works.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0374275655

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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