Nature's Numbers: The Unreal Reality of Mathematical Imagination

Nature's Numbers: The Unreal Reality of Mathematical Imagination

by Ian Stewart
     
 
"It appears to us that the universe is structured in a deeply mathematical way. Falling bodies fall with predictable accelerations. Eclipses can be accurately forecast centuries in advance. Nuclear power plants generate electricity according to well-known formulas. But those examples are the tip of the iceberg. In Nature's Numbers, Ian Stewart presents

Overview

"It appears to us that the universe is structured in a deeply mathematical way. Falling bodies fall with predictable accelerations. Eclipses can be accurately forecast centuries in advance. Nuclear power plants generate electricity according to well-known formulas. But those examples are the tip of the iceberg. In Nature's Numbers, Ian Stewart presents many more, each charming in its own way...Stewart admirably captures compelling and accessible mathematical ideas along with the pleasures of thinking of them. He writes with clarity and percision. Those who enjoy this sort of thing will love this book."
Los Angeles Times

"First-rate popular mathematics writing...Stewart achieves what other popular mathematics writers merely strive for: an accurate, informative portrayal of contemporary mathematics without a single equation in sight...[If] someone you know wants to know what mathematics really is, buy them a copy of Nature's Numbers"
Nature

"Stewart is the soul of clarity...[a] winning formula for the science shelf."
Booklist

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Defining mathematics as a system of thought for recognizing and exploiting patterns, Scientific American math columnist Stewart takes readers on an exciting, lucid voyage of discovery as he investigates patterns of form, number, shape and movement in the world around us. His examples range from water dripping slowly from a tap to the symmetries of molecules, viruses and galaxies and from a snail's spiral shell to biological evolution and the dynamics of solar systems. Making forays into the history of mathematics and the role of mathematics in human culture, Stewart gives the reader an uncanny feel for the way mathematicians think and provides a succinct yet remarkably broad overview extending from the invention of numbers to unsolved problems that bedevil contemporary mathematicians and cosmologists. His elegant narrative concludes with a look at today's emerging sciences of chaos and complexity, which reveal that nature's seeming anarchy is bound by rules. Both novices and advanced students will find this an enlightening and rewarding exploration. QPBC triple main selection, Library of Science dual main selection, BOMC alternate. (Aug.)
Booknews
A readable investigation of mathematical patterns in nature for students and general readers, illustrating early discoveries, the purpose of mathematics, and concepts in chaos theory with examples from the natural world such as flower petals, animal markings, weather systems, and sand dunes. Includes b&w diagrams. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465072736
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
06/28/1995
Series:
Science Masters Series
Pages:
164
Product dimensions:
5.94(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.75(d)

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