If I could give this 3.5 stars, I would The book is really hit or miss If I were basing it only on the introduction, people section, and concluding sections, it would have a 5 If I were basing it only on the other sections, it would have a two If you decide to read this book, and you get to a bunch of stories that bore the crap out of you DON T GIVE UP Just skip to the next section of the book It s worth your time This book is a collection of short 2 4 page articles that were originally published in a German speaking newspaper You know, those short little special articles where you learn something rather than reading about the news It is broken up into small sections of somewhat related articles based loosely on topic though not mathematical topics, rather topics like articles about people or articles about particularly difficult problems , etc.The first section, which only contains 2 3 stories, is particularly great So great, in fact, that after I read these stories, I then returned to them and read them to my husband At that point, I assumed the entire book was equally as interesting and amusing and thought we would read it aloud together.After the last story in that section, he said, Yes, I like this math book, it s fun And then we got to the next section This one is about particularly difficult problems and bored the crap out of us The problems themselves are somewhat obtuse The articles become a bit repetitive, which is understandable since they were originally newspaper articles and there is no guarantee that the reader of one article has read any of the previous ones, but when you put them in book form a little editing is in order, I think And this section is quite thick, to boot So it dragged on and on and on and on, and both of us lost interest.But I persevered, and every now and then would pick up the book and read a story or two.And THEN, I got to the people section, and it was fun again Learning about the different mathematicians and their contributions to the field and their personal lives and diseases and etc was really fun and interesting And then I got to some other section that bored me again And then the end was fun again.If you like math explained in ways you can understand it, and especially if you like the historical aspects of it, some sections of this book would probably be a fun read for you. If one surveyed a group of adults and asked them how prevalent a role mathematics plays in their everyday life, most would likely shrug and claim, Not much Many people see math as a required subject in school and that most of it won t be important or helpful outside of a classroom To many people math is perceived to be abstract lists of equations and formulas and they can t see how any of it could be related to their lives George G Szpiro s The Secret Life of Numbers 50 Easy Pieces on How Mathematicians Work and Think is a delightful collection of 50 fun and engaging short stories 2 5 pages each that offers a peek into the world of mathematics, providing a entertaining and witty assortment of anecdotes, vignettes, and stories that enlighten to just how interesting and relevant the world of math has been in the past and can be for the present and future.The book is broken down into six parts Historical Tidbits, Unsolved Conjectures, Solved Problems, Personalities, Concrete and Abstract Matters, and Interdisciplinary Potpourri.The stories in Historical Tidbits are appealing and relatable to everyone, discussing things such as the mathematics behind why leap years exist, as well as the dysfunctional competitive family dynamics of the Bernoulli family including the tale of a resentful father framing his son for plagiarism This chapter makes relatively light use of actual mathematics, but still does a great job explaining the mathematical concepts that are discussed Unsolved Conjectures and Solved Problems profile some of the most famous problems that puzzled mathematicians for centuries as well as problems whose solutions are still unknown to this day These chapters are considerably math heavy, but Szpiro does such a great job explaining some complicated ideas of the problems that readers do not have to be aware of how the actual math works to at least have a vague understanding of the problems discussed.Ask someone to describe a math professor, and they ll likely describe a tedious old man in a tweed jacket dully giving a lecture in a monotone voice Personalities challenges that view by offering a glimpse into the interesting personal lives of some quirky mathematicians Concrete and Abstract Matters and Interdisciplinary Potpourri offer many stories that illustrate just how much mathematics affects almost every aspect of daily life Concepts involving mathematics are revealed in the fields of gambling, economics, chemistry, war, art, politics, botany, politics, geography and These chapters would be very beneficial to provide readers with the realization that no matter what field one works in, it is likely that mathematics will play a role, whether it be significant or comparatively minor.A wonderful feature of this novel is that, although the stories are grouped, none of the stories are inherently connected, so the reader can pick and choose which stories they wish to read Because some stories are math heavier than others, although Szpiro does a great job attempting to simply explain many concepts, a certain amount of mathematical knowledge is often assumed, so the casual reader can skip any stories that may be a bit too confusing In a classroom setting this could be a great resource for educators in many different content areas Any specific chapter could be pulled for use as a class reading to supplement concepts presented in the classroom and illustrate how concepts taught in school can have importance and relevance in the real world.If you love math and are already aware of its many fun and practical uses, definitely read this book But I would especially recommend this book to those who believes math has no real world purpose or that math is not relatable to anyone who isn t a mathematician This is a great book to elucidate readers to how exciting the world of math can really be Tiny happy columns on false proofs, primacy wars, Newton as a gigantic loon, and the Swiss maths scene He assumes no background explaining primes even but is concise and so not hand holding Lots of repetition because originally standalone columns, lots of bucolia because he likes mathematicians so much Harsh words for Wolfram, though The banality of eternal truthThe next morning Mignotte informed him that he thought the proof of the 500 hundred year old Catalan conjecture was correct They did not rejoice, but they were very happy. I enjoyed the leap year, world ending, Bernoulli family, an insults stink pieces Some of the others were a bit dry, but the author did a great job simplifying Topology Este libro es la antolog a de un columnista suizo que se dedicaba, entre muchas otras cosas, a la divulgaci n cient fica Todo lo que aparece aqu fue escrito originalmente para un peri dico en aquel pa s.Es necesario tener esto en mente para saber qu tipo de art culos se encontrar n aqu ensayos cortos, sin ecuaciones ni definiciones matem ticas formales, orientadas principalmente para el hombre a pie que busca la columna como una curiosidad, para satisfacer su curiosidad y aumentar su cultura general No es un libro para especialistas, ni mucho menos un libro de texto Son ensayos cortos que no apuntan a tener el rigor de un Journal cient fico moderno, s lo a cumplir con los requisitos editoriales de un diario.Dicho ello, Szpiro ha hecho un gran trabajo en esta antolog a A diferencia de otros dovulgadores, l posee el conocimiento y la pr ctica profesional de un cient fico respetable a la vez que cumple con la facilidad de palabra de todo buen reportero El resultado son 51 peque os relatos sobre matem ticas que el no especialista conoce s lo superficialmente en el mejor de los casos.Los art culos son cortos y concisos los ejemplos son claros y las an cdotas hist ricas son interesantes Aunque el libro est estructurado por t picos, se puede abrir el libro en un art culo al azar y ser igualmente agradable.Mi nica cr tica es que el estilo fluido del autor hace de ste libro uno muy corto En unas cuantas sesiones con caf uno se ha acabado todo el libro aprox 250 p ginas en la edici n de bolsillo que poseo A n as , lo recomiendo para todos los interesados en conocer un poco m s de matem ticas sin necesidad de regresar al aula Excelente para leer de camino al trabajo y como tema de conversaci n. Pronto la rese a, s lo puedo decir que es fabuloso. This is a collection of Sunday features for a popular Swiss daily, and Szpiro has a real gift for distilling complicated branches of mathematics into two or three sentences Unlike many popularizers, he actually understands the math, and his condensations are excellent preparation for delving into the real thing though not, alas, a substitute. Most Of Us Picture Mathematicians Laboring Before A Chalkboard, Scribbling Numbers And Obscure Symbols As They Mutter Unintelligibly This Lighthearted But Realistic Sneak Peak Into The Everyday World Of Mathematicians Turns That Stereotype On Its HeadMost People Have Little Idea What Mathematicians Do Or How They Think Ita TM S Often Difficult To See How Their Seemingly Arcane And Esoteric Work Applies To Our Own Everyday Lives But Mathematics Also Holds A Special Allure For Many People We Are Drawn To Its Inherent Beauty And Fascinated By Its Complexitya But Often Intimidated By Its Presumed Difficulty The Secret Life Of Numbers Opens Our Eyes To The Joys Of Mathematics, Introducing Us To The Charming, Often Whimsical Side, Of The Discipline Divided Into Several Parts, The Book Looks At Interesting And Largely Unknown Historical Tidbits, Introduces The Largerthan Life Practitioners Of Mathematics Through The Ages, Profiles Some Of The Most Significant Unsolved Conjectures, And Describes Problems And Puzzles That Have Already Been Solved Rounding Out The Table Of Contents Is A Host Of Mathematical Miscellanya All Of Which Add Up To Fun, Sometimes Cheeky, Shorttakes On The Field Chock Full Of Stories, Anecdotes, And Entertaining Vignettes, The Secret Life Of Numbers Shows Us How Mathematics Really Does Affect Almost Every Aspect Of Lifea From The Law To Geography, Elections To Botanya And We Come To Appreciate The Delight And Gratification That Mathematics Holds For All Of Us Es una colecci n de art culos de tema matem tico publicados en un peri dico suizo Son muy interesantes, pero el libro se resiente del formato original art culos limitados en espacio y de su enfoque especialmente suizo, aunque ni una cosa ni otra son tan perjudiciales Despierta la curiosidad sobre muchos matem ticos y sobre la belleza de esa ciencia. Fun little book As the title suggests, it is 50 short essays about some aspect of mathematics I have a degree in mathematics, so perhaps I found it interesting than many wouldbut I thought it very accessible.
George G Szpiro is an Israeli Swiss applied mathematician and journalist, who has emerged as a writer of popular science books.
- 210 pages
- The Secret Life of Numbers
- George G. Szpiro
- 16 July 2019 George G. Szpiro