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1089 and all that. A Journey into Mathematics

  1. Apr 7, 2003 #1
    1089 and all that. A Journey into Mathematics.

    David Acheson

    Oxford University Press (www.oup.com)

    ISBN 0-19-851623-1

    Introduction: You like maths don't you? Of course you do, because you would be making haste to get out of my sight before I damn your eyes with a strategically and excruciatingly placed cigarette if you didn't. That and you're reading the review section for Maths books, so you obviously like it. In fact, I bet you love it. Maybe you can't get enough of it! Well, if you love it so much, prove it. Yeah, you read right. Prove it. Maths doesn't want you swanning into its life, fumbling with its unmentionables for a couple of hours and then feverishly bragging to your friends in sordidly candid terms about how you sorted out a right tasty looking differential equation the other night. Maths is too classy for that, and don't need no playah who's just looking for a casual ego boost. It wants a hero, not a zero...well, it does most definitely want a zero but...you know what I mean!

    But how does one snuggle with maths? Simple, One reads a book like this. A charming, lighthearted overview of the subject of Mathematics, lightly peppered with sparkling anecdote and delivered by the amiable voice of a razor sharp mind.

    Audience: Anyone and everyone with a genuine interest in Mathematics, from high school students to graduates and even crusty old dons (should any be reading this forum).

    Pros: Charming, witty, and conversational in tone without ever once faltering from presenting major topics in mathematics in an understandable and occassionally impressively detailed light. An absolute gorgeous little tome about no higher than the length of an average sized hand and only 178 pages in length.

    Cons: There are no cons to snuggling, ever. Especially when it's with mathematics.

    Conclusion: This book is intended as a gentle introduction to the major topics in Mathematics, from elementary geometry to chaos and catastrophe. Even though the introduction is indeed gentle, it sometimes amazes to see how much maths is actually discussed in such a small and informal book. For high school students thinking of studying maths I would make it compulsory reading. If you're an undergraduate, graduate, etc, you're not going to discover anything new, but, lets face it, how many times do you get the chance to enjoy reading about mathematics? Yeah, yeah, I'm sure you "Found 'Principles of Mathematical Analysis' deeply stimulating". But you didn't 'enjoy' it.

    In short, it's somewhat akin to attending that general lecture that we all hoped for whilst making our way to university. You know what I'm talking about: the oak panelling; the smell of chalk thick in the air; the jovial, red cheeked, tweed clad, and generally 'hearty' in manner (as well as in circumfrence) professor slipping in and out of anecdote with seemingly practiced ease as he navigates his way through the subject matter.

    It also explains the indian rope trick, sort of.

    Disclaimer: The above does not represent a description of the author of this book. I have never met the man, but, if I did, I'm sure I would be compelled to comment on his youthful and thoroughly virile appearance. Indeed, I suspect I would find myself even a little attracted to him and would afterwards have to spend hours recouperating on the sofa and contemplating what implications this incident held for my sexuality.
  2. jcsd
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