Posts Tagged ‘Alex Bellos’

alex through the looking glass Mathematics for many people is either hugely interesting or very unnerving. Either ways, numbers make us think, and think deeply. This book provides a thrilling – that’s the right word – journey through the world of numbers, starting with simple things such as number patterns & triangles before taking us down some of the more trickier paths into the worlds of pi, e and calculus. We learn many of these concepts in school and college, but I wish they had been presented in the way that this book does – using refreshingly straightforward language & illustrations and connecting them with real-world scenarios. The chapters on coneheads and calculus brought up latent memories of tough classroom sessions with disinterested professors, but also a sense of amazement that the concept itself is so logically simple to follow had it been put across the right way.

I think I enjoyed the last two chapters the most, covering logical deductions and cellular automation. Concepts such as the Game of Life show us how simple techniques inspired by mathematics & developed by mathematicians can go on to develop highly complex structures using nothing more than a handful of rules. It was almost disappointing when the book ended – it leaves us wanting more!

Mathematics can fascinate and inspire a sense of awe, yet its magic is within the reach of every one with a high-school education. The author’s love & passion for the subject shines through on every page. His selection of concepts to cover in this book and the manner of explaining them through everyday examples helps to retain the interest levels all through. At times it becomes a little complex, but skipping over a few paragraphs doesn’t leave a gap in the understanding.

Thoroughly enjoyed the book. We need such books to develop & sustain our interest in this most fundamental of subjects.


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Mathematics is either something you hate or something you love – there’s no middle ground about it. Alex Bellos takes us on a fascinating journey to explore the mathematics behind everyday phenomena and things we take for granted. He travels around the world to meet people who are still pushing the boundaries of our understanding of the subject. Along the way he serves us forgotten stories & anecdotes from the world of maths and shares his trove of mathematical treasures for us to enjoy. This book will not make you count any faster – though there are some tips for those too – but it will surely make you sit up and approach with renewed understanding some of the things that we know subconsciously but never bubble up to the conscious surface.

Alex writes very well too, with the right reverance for the topic yet keeping the chapters – which incidentally start from zero – light & entertaining. If you are a maths wizard or someone who routinely cringes at anything more complex than an addition, this book will have some eye-openers for you.

Very good read and must-have in any decent collection.



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