Here's Looking at Euclid - Alex Bellos

Here's Looking at Euclid

By Alex Bellos

  • Release Date: 2010-06-06
  • Genre: Mathematics


“[A] remarkable foray into the realm of numbers. . . . Intellectual entertainment of the first order.” —Booklist

Math gets a bad rap—it’s dry! it’s difficult!—but it can also be inspiring and brilliantly creative when you go beyond the surface of the blackboard. Alex Bellos has traveled the globe and plunged into history to uncover fascinating stories of mathematical achievement, from the breakthroughs of Euclid, the greatest mathematician of all time, to the creations of the Zen master of origami, one of the hottest areas of mathematical work today. Taking us into the wilds of the Amazon, he tells of a tribe there who can count only to five, and he reports the latest findings about the math instinct—including the revelation that ants can count how many steps they’ve taken. Journeying to the Bay of Bengal, he interviews a Hindu sage about the brilliant mathematical insights of the Buddha, while in Japan he visits the godfather of Sudoku and introduces the brainteasing delights of mathematical games.

Exploring the mysteries of randomness, he explains why it’s impossible for the shuffle setting to truly select songs at random. In probing the intrigues of pi, he visits two brothers so obsessed with the elusive number that they built a supercomputer in their Manhattan apartment to study it. Throughout, you’ll find a wealth of illustrations, such as the clever puzzles known as tangrams and the crochet creation of an American math professor who suddenly realized that she could knit a representation of higher dimensional space that no one had been able to visualize.

Whether writing about how algebra solved Swedish traffic problems, visiting the Mental Calculation World Cup to disclose the secrets of lightning-fast calculation, or exploring the links between pineapples and beautiful teeth, Bellos is a wonderfully engaging guide who never fails to delight even as he edifies.

“A delightful worldwide tour of the most interesting and weirdest in math.” —The Daily Beast

“Lively writing . . . helpful charts and graphics.” —Publishers Weekly

“A smorgasbord for math fans of all abilities.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)