Nature's Numbers: The Unreal Reality of Mathematical Imagination

Ian Stewart, Author Basic Books $20 (164p) ISBN 978-0-465-07273-6
Defining mathematics as a system of thought for recognizing and exploiting patterns, Scientific American math columnist Stewart takes readers on an exciting, lucid voyage of discovery as he investigates patterns of form, number, shape and movement in the world around us. His examples range from water dripping slowly from a tap to the symmetries of molecules, viruses and galaxies and from a snail's spiral shell to biological evolution and the dynamics of solar systems. Making forays into the history of mathematics and the role of mathematics in human culture, Stewart gives the reader an uncanny feel for the way mathematicians think and provides a succinct yet remarkably broad overview extending from the invention of numbers to unsolved problems that bedevil contemporary mathematicians and cosmologists. His elegant narrative concludes with a look at today's emerging sciences of chaos and complexity, which reveal that nature's seeming anarchy is bound by rules. Both novices and advanced students will find this an enlightening and rewarding exploration. QPBC triple main selection, Library of Science dual main selection, BOMC alternate. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/03/1995
Release date: 07/01/1995
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FORMATS
Paperback - 180 pages - 978-0-465-07274-3
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-7538-0530-5
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