Five Equations That Changed the World: The Power and Poetry of Mathematics

Michael Guillen, Author Hyperion Books $22.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7868-6103-3
Harvard mathematician-physicist Guillen, who explored the human side of mathematics in Bridges to Infinity, now profiles five pioneers whose mathematical equations had far-reaching impacts. This seamless blend of dramatic biography and mathematical documentary links the personal with the scientific. For example, Swiss physicist Daniel Bernoulli, whose hydrodynamic equation led ultimately to the airplane, quit mathematics in disgust with his seemingly pointless career after his jealous father plagiarized his fluid-flow equations. Isaac Newton, whose understanding of gravitational attraction between objects made possible the landing of a human on the moon, was impelled to high achievement partly by an obsessive desire for vindication and revenge against a classroom bully. German physicist Rudolf Clausius, whose wife, Adelheid, died giving birth in 1875, saw life as an ultimately futile contest for survival; his law of entropy, or irreversible energy dissipation, explains a universe in which everything--cells, organisms, galaxies--eventually ages and dies. Also here are British chemist Michael Faraday, father of the electrical age, and Albert Einstein, who rued his decision to encourage Roosevelt to build atomic bombs. A wholly accessible, beautifully written exploration of the potent mathematical imagination. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/1995
Release date: 09/01/1995
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-7868-8187-1
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-1-56731-405-2
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-2258-7
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4013-0491-1
Open Ebook - 169 pages - 978-0-316-40879-0
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