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Is God a Mathematician?

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3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  728 Ratings  ·  108 Reviews
Bestselling author and astrophysicist Mario Livio examines the lives and theories of history’s greatest mathematicians to ask how—if mathematics is an abstract construction of the human mind—it can so perfectly explain the physical world.

Nobel Laureate Eugene Wigner once wondered about “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics” in the formulation of the laws of nature
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ebook, 320 pages
Published February 22nd 2011 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,206)
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Ken Roebuck
Jul 26, 2011 Ken Roebuck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The answer to the question "Is God a Mathematician" depends very much on your world view. Those of faith that believe in a transcendent creator God will surely answer with a resounding YES. But Atheists and other non believers are likely to think mathematics is nothing more than an invention of the human mind. Nevertheless, it remains that the universe appears to have been designed by a pure mathematician. As James Jean put it “mathematics appears to be almost too effective in describing and exp ...more
 Δx Δp ≥ ½ ħ
Sangat sederhana dan menggelitik pertanyaannya, Apakah Tuhan itu Seorang Matematikawan?

Jika Anda pernah membaca buku Biografi Angka Nol-nya Charles Seife, Anda bakal langsung faham, mengapa Tuhan seolah menganakemaskan matematika dibandingkan ilmu yang lainnya. Tuhan, anehnya, seolah menaruh minat khusus pada perkembangan matematika.

Sebagai contoh, siapa yang tak kenal Golden Ratio alias "Nisbah Emas"? nyaris semua struktur makhluk hidup memiliki perbandingan nisbah emas. mulai dari susunan tula
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Mazola1
Feb 06, 2009 Mazola1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Is God A Mathematician, Mario Livio tries to explain the "unreasonable effectiveness" of mathematics to make sense of nature. Why do so many basic truths of physics, nature and the universe obey mathematical laws? Livio also tackles the question of whether mathematics is discovered (an objective truth independent of human thought) or invented (the product of human thought and reasoning). Along the way, Livio provides a fascinating mini-history of the development of math, biographies of some o ...more
Crina Bucur
Nov 01, 2015 Crina Bucur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone curious
I was pleasantly surprised by Mario Livio’s “Is God a Mathematician?” specifically his eloquence in walking the readers through the most significant moments in the history of mathematics and acquainting them with prominent figures on an extensive timeline from antiquity to modern days.

As the title suggests, the main focus of the book is represented by the existence of various paradigms describing how we should approach mathematics, among which two stand out as poles apart: formalism (claiming th
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David
Jun 02, 2009 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book, Livio addresses the question of why the principles and laws of mathematics seem so "unreasonably effective" in explaining the physical world. For instance, when Newton deduced the law of gravity, he could hardly have known that these mathematical laws would for six orders of magnitude more precision than the data he originally was trying to match. In a similar way, there are numerous instances in 20th century physics of mathematical principles, previously discovered by mathematicia ...more
Fortunr
Aug 31, 2013 Fortunr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book, highly recommended to anybody interested in the relationship between mathematics and physical reality. The author demonstrates his wide knowledge and culture, which is not limited only to mathematics and physics, but also to philosophy, cognitive sciences etc. A very comprehensive account, the only small defect being that the final conclusive part seems a bit rushed.
Nostromo
Става дума за история и философия на математиката. Мястото на математиката, като дисциплина, в книгата реално се намира само на едно място - в заглавието. Същото се отнася и за Бог (доколкото той може да се намира някъде).

Ливио се е опитал да направи едно неутрално изследване за "необяснимата ефективност на математиката" в света, който обитаваме, а бележките и библиографията в края на книгата, говорят, че се е постарал да си напише домашното. И се е получило. Като повечето домашни - сухо, педант
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James (JD) Dittes
Since the enlightenment, mathematics and the sciences have ascended heights where God alone used to dwell, growing in scope and complexity and marveling the world with miracles like fusion, antibiotics, and space travel. Livio's title, "Is God a Mathematician?" isn't so much an effort to unite math and theology as it is an effort to find out how omnipotent and omniscient math can truly be.

The first half reads as a history of science--going over the ground of Archimides, Galileo, Copernicus and
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Fernando del Alamo
Dec 26, 2014 Fernando del Alamo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
La verdad es que este libro, en general todos los que voy leyendo de este autor, ha sido una gozada. En él, el autor llama "magos" a aquellos científicos que en su día se dieron cuenta de que las matemáticas tenían una relación inseparable con la realidad. Si algo no tiene funamento matemático, decimos que le falta rigor. Pero no siempre fue así.

Y entonces al autor da un repaso de los principales personajes centrándose en esta idea y explicando muchos detalles de aquellos que no se leen en gener
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Liviu

Pi in The Sky is still the gold standard for books trying to explain why mathematics fits the real world with unreasonable effectiveness as the famous Wigner quote puts it. This book is still worth a read, but does not bring anything new, though it's entertaining and well written
Vov
Jan 17, 2015 Vov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off, I'll begin by recommending this book to anyone who: is a newbie to mathematics, is a math enthusiast, enjoys digging deeper into the history of math and the people behind it, and anyone in general who is interested in math.
Note: I think those of you who have more experience with math (and its history) might not find anything new in this book -- but it's still a fun read which you could breeze through and enjoy.

Secondly, I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Livio's style is somew
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Jeff
Sep 20, 2010 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Senior astrophysicist at the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute and author of a few other math books aimed at the general public, Mario Livio has written a short, accessible, and in many ways profound exploration of the nature of mathematics. He centers his book around two questions: 1. "Is mathematics ultimately invented or discovered?" and 2. "Why is mathematics so effective and productive in explaining the world around us that it even yields new knowledge?"

He frames his inquiry with wha
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Yofish
Mar 04, 2009 Yofish rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Yofish by: WaPo review Feb 2009
Shelves: read-math
Written by a relatively famous physicist. Purports to examine the question as to whether math is invented or discovered. Never really gets around to 'answering' that question, and the final chapter is pretty disappointing. But there's a lot of good math history in there---mini-biographies of Newton, Galileo, Descartes, Aristotle among others. (He seems to have an odd bias against Gauss, for reasons I don't understand, and Euler barely receives mention.) Nice description of the rise of non-Euclid ...more
Lammoth
Oct 05, 2012 Lammoth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Всичко около нас може да бъде представено чрез математически модели. Чрез математиката можем да формулираме теории за вселената, анализираме поведението на стоковите борси, чрез нея статистиците оптимизират и прогнозират поведението на различни социални явления, невробиолозите създават модели за работата на мозъка и т.н. Може да кажем, че математиката е езика, граматиката на науката.

Но дали тя е плод на нашето въображение или тя е даденост в природата, нещо което просто откриваме? Иначе казано -
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Eric
Apr 27, 2009 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
What accounts for the uncanny ability of mathematics to model the physical world? Is mathematics purely a human construct, an external reality, or something in between. These are the questions Livio sets out to address. He spends most of the book setting the stage for that, by reviewing critical developments in math and its use for modeling, from ancient Greece to the 21st century. In the end, Livio's personal answers to the questions don't matter as much as the enjoyment of the journey he takes ...more
Oliver Sampson
Oct 09, 2015 Oliver Sampson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to give this book five starts despite its grievous flaw. The book is a very well written history of Mathematics, with an emphasis on the discussion of whether Mathematics is something invented by humans to describe the world or is an intrinsic part of the world discovered by humans. The pacing is excellent and reads as much as a novel as a history. The explanations of mathematical concepts is also excellent giving enough detail to keep the informed interested without delving too far in ...more
Bob Nichols
In this survey of the history of mathematics, a key question is whether mathematics is “discovered” or it is “invented” by mind. The former, the author says, has two schools of thought. The first is the Platonic version where mathematical entities have objective standing in “an autonomous world of timeless essence.” A second version has mathematical entities as part of the natural world, though as a manifestation of a transcendent reality. Descartes and Newton have the physical world operating b ...more
Rama
Feb 20, 2014 Rama rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The relevance of mathematics in physical reality

This is a historical review of the evolution of mathematics in physics and philosophy. The author and publishers have used a catchy title for the book to enhance its marketability. I was looking for a philosophical analysis of the basic laws (and equations) of physics and how it influenced the thought on physical reality. There is no discussion of how consciousness fit in within all this. If God used mathematics to create the laws of physics, then
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Jenny GB
Feb 09, 2015 Jenny GB rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was largely disappointed by this book. I think this is one of those eye catching titles to try to make you buy the book because the question is interesting, but the answer provided is not very interesting at all. First, most of the book is dedicated to talking about various historical figures and mathematical breakthroughs. While this is usually nice to read it doesn't do a whole lot to address the central question of the book. Livio lightly threads through some comments made by various mathem ...more
Gendou
May 25, 2010 Gendou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half is a stale history of mathematicians, lacking in actual math. The second half is more interesting, when it gets into topology and non-Euclidean geometry. Much of the philosophy in the book suffers from the too common disease of struggling to define terms instead of presenting substantive arguments. However, the last chapter has some real gems in it, so I'd say this one's worth a read!
Eric
May 11, 2015 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is mistitled. The real questions are laid out in the first chapter, but more succinctly put at the end of chapter 8 (p. 224): "Why is mathematics so effective and productive in explaining the world around us that it even yields new knowledge? And, is mathematics ultimately invented or discovered?" While reviewing the history of mathematics from Euclid, Archimedes, Plato, through Descartes, Newton, Riemann, and on to Gödel, Livio emphasizes two seminal events, the discovery of non-Eucli ...more
John
Aug 22, 2014 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual, math
Interesting insights into how mathematics has developed over the centuries and how it appears to 'perfectly' describe natural phenomena so 'exactly'. It uses this to pose the question if mathematics is 'divinely inspired' or is it really 'invented by the human mind' (to fit the circumstances of nature) I'm not finished reading it so it doesn't answer this yet but it does give a nice 'whirlwind tour' of the key contributors in mathematical thought over the years ...

It leaves the question to us,
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John Silva
Jan 31, 2016 John Silva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting insights into how mathematics has developed over the centuries and how it appears to 'perfectly' describe natural phenomena so 'exactly'. It uses this to pose the question if mathematics is 'divinely inspired' or is it really 'invented by the human mind' (to fit the circumstances of nature) I'm not finished reading it so it doesn't answer this yet but it does give a nice 'whirlwind tour' of the key contributors in mathematical thought over the years ...

It leaves the question to us,
...more
TheIron Paw
The title is a little bit misleading: the author's question is actually whether mathematics has a reality outside the human mind. While Livio does keep the thread of this question alive through the book, the book's true value (to me at least) was that it provides an excellent history of the development of mathematics from the Greeks to modern knot theory. He also ties together the various fields of mathematics (topology, plane geometry, probability, calculus etc.). The writing style very easy to ...more
Го Шо
Dec 26, 2013 Го Шо rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a bit more popular than I expected it to be but it was still good.
Mike Moody
Jun 20, 2015 Mike Moody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This a a fantastic book. The author takes you on a tour of the history of mathematics, from Pythagoras through Archimedes, Galileo, Newton and many others with an eye toward trying to answer the question: is math something humans invent or discover?. No subject is explored too deeply, mainly because the topics are so broad and far ranging, but they are covered with enough depth to give you a good understanding of the concepts involved. While this book won't answer all of your questions, it will ...more
Sajith Kumar
Jan 11, 2016 Sajith Kumar rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All
Shelves: popular-science
Science is an attempt to read God’s mind which is evident in the physical reality as the rules and principles which hold the world together. Livio’s book is an elegant attempt to tell the epic story of man’s quest to peer into nature itself and to grasp its fundamental principles with the help of his greatest intellectual tool – mathematics. Its extraordinary ability to describe the world has been a source of wonder to philosophists ever. This feat comes in two varieties. In one category named a ...more
Heather
Mar 19, 2015 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have nothing much else to say that isn't FINALLY, FREAKING FINALLY. This wasn't the most easiest book to read through, despite the admittedly interesting and downright captivating subject matter. It was a bit too smart, bit too textbook-y to actually get absorbed in it, and this was me actively trying to read through and finish this book after like, oh I don't know, seven false starts, I think?
It's good, great actually. I will definitely give it that. But despite being only a couple of hundred
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Cynthia
May 15, 2009 Cynthia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So far, loving it! Had to buy it 'cause I checked it out of the library but didn't finish it, and it was requested & so I had to return it. Then two weeks later had to take a break and let it dry out - I'd spilled water on part of the pages - and have just moved it back up to my bedside table... which is part of the reason it's taking so long to read it, I am just generally tired when I start reading, and don't read many pages.

Finally I am reading a part about mathematicians whom I don't rea
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Jack
Jun 27, 2010 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started a detailed review with quotes from the book but have not had time to finish it. I'll try to give my off the cuff impression.

Livio's writing revolves around the question of whether mathematics is a creation of the human imagination, i.e. completely theoretical, or whether mathematics remarkable ability (unreasonable effectiveness) to describe the natural world suggests that mathematics is part of "creation". He poses the question thus: Is mathematics created by human mathematicians or d
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  • The Infinite Book: A Short Guide to the Boundless, Timeless and Endless
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  • Why Beauty Is Truth: A History of Symmetry
  • The Calculus Wars: Newton, Leibniz, and the Greatest Mathematical Clash of All Time
  • Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty
  • Infinity and the Mind: The Science and Philosophy of the Infinite
  • An Imaginary Tale: The Story of the Square Root of Minus One
  • The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics
  • A Certain Ambiguity: A Mathematical Novel
  • Symmetry: A Journey into the Patterns of Nature
  • The Great Equations: Breakthroughs in Science from Pythagoras to Heisenberg
  • Symmetry and the Monster: One of the Greatest Quests of Mathematics
  • Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics
  • The Shape of Inner Space: String Theory and the Geometry of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions
  • God Created The Integers
  • The Mathematical Experience

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