In this richly entertaining and accessible book, Alex Bellos explodes the myth that maths is best left to the geeks. Covering subjects from adding to algebra, from set theory to statistics, and from logarithms to logical paradoxes, he explains how mathematical ideas underpin just about everything in our lives. Alex explains the surprising geometry of the 50p piece, and the strategy of how best to gamble it in a casino.
He shines a light on the mathematical patterns in nature, and on the peculiar predictability of random behavior. He eats a potato crisp whose revolutionary shape was unpalatable to the ancient Greeks, and he shows the deep connections between maths, religion and philosophy. Alex weaves a journey from primary school to university level maths, from ancient history to the computing frontline, and from St Louis, Missouri, to Braintree, Essex.
He meets the world’s fastest mental calculators in Germany, consults a numerologist in the US desert, meets a startlingly numerate chimpanzee in Japan, and seeks advice from a venerable Hindu sage in India. An unlikely but exhilarating cocktail of history, reportage and mathematical proofs, Alex’s dispatches from ‘Numberland’ show the world of maths to be a much friendlier and more colourful place than you might have imagined.
Truly original, the author presents such a diverse range of investigations, all mathematically-centred, of everyday things that it cannot fail to spark much more desire in the reader’s mind for further investigation. The book applies a usefulness to the often mundane subject that is maths – providing lots of ideas to apply numeracy in practical ways to studying the world around us.