The Art of More: How Mathematics Created Civilization

Michael Brooks. Pantheon, $28 (336) ISBN 978-1-5247-4899-9
“Our way of life, our institutions, and our infrastructures” were all built on math, writes New Scientist editor Brooks in this savvy study (after 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense). He begins by diligently explaining the basics of algebra, arithmetic, calculus, and geometry, and introducing key figures in math’s history. There’s Pythagoras and Isaac Newton, as well as lesser-known figures such as Claude Elwood Shannon, a pioneer in the information theory that undergirds today’s communication technology, and William Rowan Hamilton, a 19th-century mathematician who was “obsessed with complex numbers.” Brooks uses the work of these thinkers to break down the math behind facets of everyday life: he describes the statistics that underlie life expectancies; the equations that allow scientists to understand the cosmos; and the imaginary numbers that give guitar amplifiers their power. In his introduction, Brooks describes a point when a person hits their “mathematical limit” and gets overloaded, and encourages readers to avoid that feeling by approaching math with a sense of awe. He expertly maintains that spirit throughout and easily shows how, “through maths, we shape the world around us to give ourselves a better experience of being human.” It’s a show-stopping paean to the wonder of numbers. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/14/2021
Release date: 01/18/2022
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-5247-4900-2
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