The Universe in Zero Words: The Story of Mathematics as Told through Equations

The Universe in Zero Words: The Story of Mathematics as Told through Equations

3.0 2
by Dana Mackenzie
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691152829

ISBN-13: 9780691152820

Pub. Date: 04/29/2012

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Most popular books about science, and even about mathematics, tiptoe around equations as if they were something to be hidden from the reader's tender eyes. Dana Mackenzie starts from the opposite premise: He celebrates equations. No history of art would be complete without pictures. Why, then, should a history of mathematics--the universal language of

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Overview

Most popular books about science, and even about mathematics, tiptoe around equations as if they were something to be hidden from the reader's tender eyes. Dana Mackenzie starts from the opposite premise: He celebrates equations. No history of art would be complete without pictures. Why, then, should a history of mathematics--the universal language of science--keep the masterpieces of the subject hidden behind a veil?

The Universe in Zero Words tells the history of twenty-four great and beautiful equations that have shaped mathematics, science, and society--from the elementary (1+1=2) to the sophisticated (the Black-Scholes formula for financial derivatives), and from the famous (E=mc2) to the arcane (Hamilton's quaternion equations). Mackenzie, who has been called "a popular-science ace" by Booklist magazine, lucidly explains what each equation means, who discovered it (and how), and how it has affected our lives.

Illustrated in color throughout, the book tells the human and often-surprising stories behind the invention or discovery of the equations, from how a bad cigar changed the course of quantum mechanics to why whales (if they could communicate with us) would teach us a totally different concept of geometry. At the same time, the book shows why these equations have something timeless to say about the universe, and how they do it with an economy (zero words) that no other form of human expression can match.

The Universe in Zero Words is the ultimate introduction and guide to equations that have changed the world.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691152820
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
04/29/2012
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
731,471
Product dimensions:
7.12(w) x 9.78(h) x 1.01(d)

Table of Contents

preface 6

introduction: the abacist versus the algorist 10

Part 1 equations of antiquity 16

1 Why we believe in arithmetic: the world's simplest equation 20

2 Resisting a new concept: the discovery of zero 26

3 The square of the hypotenuse: the Pythagorean theorem 30

4 The circle game: the discovery of π 40

5 From Zeno's paradoxes to the idea of infinity 46

6 A matter of leverage: laws of levers 52

Part 2 equations in the age of exploration 56

7 The stammerer's secret: Cardano's formula 60

8 Order in the heavens: Kepler's laws of planetary motion 68

9 Writing for eternity: Fermat's Last Theorem 74

10 An unexplored continent: the fundamental theorem of calculus 80

11 Of apples, legends... and comets: Newton's laws 90

12 The great explorer: Euler's theorems 96

Part 3 equations in a promethean age 104

13 The new algebra: Hamilton and quaternions 108

14 Two shooting stars: group theory 114

15 The geometry of whales and ants: non-Euclidean geometry 122

16 In primes we trust: the prime number theorem 128

17 The idea of spectra: Fourier series 134

18 A god's-eye view of light: Maxwell's equations 142

Part 4 equations in our own time 150

19 The photoelectric effect: quanta and relativity 154

20 From a bad cigar to Westminster Abbey: Dirac's formula 164

21 The empire-builder: the Chern-Gauss-Bonnet equation 174

22 A little bit infinite: the Continuum Hypothesis 182

23 Theories of chaos: Lorenz equations 194

24 Taming the tiger: the Black-Scholes equation 204

conclusion: what of the future? 214

acknowledgments 218

bibliography 219

index 222ÿfl

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The Universe in Zero Words: The Story of Mathematics as Told through Equations 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Malme84 More than 1 year ago
Great book and very well written. The author takes the time to explain not only what the equations are for, but what each part of the equation means. The author covers the history, and evalution of each equation wonderfully, and leaves you with a true appreciation of mathematics.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dick!!