978-0-471-40734-8 / 0471407348

A Mathematical Mystery Tour: Discovering the Truth and Beauty of the Cosmos

by Dewdney, A. K.




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About the book:

This is a thought-provoking book that entertains, makes you smile, and opens your mind to intriguing questions about the cosmos, truth and the nature of mathematics. You'll finish this book having had a number of those delightful "aha! experiences", in which a new insight is obtained or half-understood ideas fall into place. It is a book about the history and philosophy of mathematics that it is written in a very enjoyable style. Once started, you'll not want to put it down.

The author takes the reader on a quest for answers to the questions: Why is mathematics so useful in science? Is mathematics discovered or created? He recounts fictional visits to the cities of Miletus, Aqaba, Venice and Oxford. From quirky specialists he learns about a host of intriguing subjects, including the mathematics of Pythagoras, amicable numbers, the Arab world's invention of algebra, atomic theory, metamathematics and models of computation. The travelogue format of the book is charming. Parts of the book with appeal to lovers of science fiction or of Jorge Luis Borges, and there are some subtle good jokes. At the same time, the discussions of group theory and mathematical logic are solid mathematics and amongst the most digestible and entertaining introductions to those subjects.

There are important mathematical and philosophical ideas in these 200 pages, and they are made accessible to anyone aged 16 or more who is interested in mathematics or science. The quest is concerned more with questions than answers. The author has written other acclaimed mathematics and science books. After reading this one, you'll want to read all the others. --Richard Weber

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