Genius At Play: The Curious Mind of John Horton Conway

Genius At Play: The Curious Mind of John Horton Conway

by Siobhan Roberts

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Overview

Winner of the 2017 JPBM Communications Award for Expository and Popular Books.
“A delightful meta-biography--playful indeed--of a brilliant iconoclast.” --James Gleick, author of The Information

John Horton Conway is a singular mathematician with a lovely loopy brain. He is Archimedes, Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali, and Richard Feynman all rolled into one--he boasts a rock star's charisma, a slyly bent sense of humor, a polymath's promiscuous curiosity, and an insatiable compulsion to explain everything about the world to everyone in it. At Cambridge, Conway wrestled with "Monstrous Moonshine," discovered the aptly named surreal numbers, and invented the cult classic Game of Life--more than just a cool fad, Life demonstrates how simplicity generates complexity and provides an analogy for mathematics and the entire universe. As a "mathemagician" at Princeton, he used ropes, dice, pennies, coat hangers, even the occasional Slinky, as props to extend his winning imagination and share his many nerdish delights. He granted Roberts full access to his idiosyncrasies and intellect both, though not without the occasional grumble: "Oh hell," he'd say. "You're not going to put that in the book. Are you?!?"


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620405949
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication date: 07/14/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 568,502
File size: 16 MB
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About the Author

Siobhan Roberts is a science writer and winner of four National Magazine Awards. While writing this book, she was a Director's Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and a Fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography, at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York. Her first book, King of Infinite Space, won the Mathematical Association of America's Euler Prize for expanding the public's view of mathematics. She lives in Toronto, Canada.
Siobhan Roberts is a science writer and winner of four National Magazine Awards. While writing this book, she was a Director's Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and a Fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography, at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York. Her first book, King of Infinite Space, won the Mathematical Association of America's Euler Prize for expanding the public's view of mathematics. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

Table of Contents

Prologue xi

Act I

1 Identity Elements 3

2 Dazzling New World 10

3 Gymnastics 19

4 Calculate the Stars 43

5 Nerdish Delights 57

6 The Vow 83

Act II

7 Religion 103

8 Criteria of Virtue 109

9 Character Assassination 128

10 Snip, Clip, Prune, Lop 171

11 Dotto & Company 216

12 Truth Beauty, Beauty Truth 241

Act III

13 Mortality Flash 271

14 Optional Probability Fields 282

15 Lustration 320

16 Take It as Axiomatic 334

17 Humpty Dumpty's Prerogative 351

Epilogue 375

Appendix A On Morley's Trisector Theorem 393

Appendix B The Lexicode Dictionary 394

Appendix C Surreally 396

Author's Note 403

Acknowledgments 405

A Select Conway Bibliography 409

Bibliography 413

Notes 423

Art Credits 439

Index 441

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