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# Imagining Numbers: (particularly the square root of minus fifteen)

by
Barry Mazur

**Barry Mazur**invites lovers of poetry to make a leap into mathematics. Through discussions of the role of the imagination and imagery in both poetry and mathematics, Mazur reviews the writings of the early mathematical explorers and reveals the early bafflement of these Renaissance thinkers faced with imaginary numbers. Then he shows us, step-by-step, how to begin imagining ...more

Paperback, 288 pages

Published
February 1st 2004
by Picador
(first published 2002)

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## Community Reviews

(showing
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287)

*i*, the square root of minus one. I was particularly struck by the explanation of arithmetical operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication) as manipulations of the real number line. Thus adding 5 to each number shifts the line 5 places to the right (or subtracting shifts it to the left), and multiplying by a positive number causes the number line to e ...more

Reminds me ...more

A brief history of imaginary numbers from then they were first encountered through to the nineteenth century. The issue I had with the book was it was a rather slow progress through the history and the author tried to compare the mathematics with poetry.

Now as all mathematicians know, mathematics is a form of poetry. It has a grace and form that are beautiful and astounding however Barry rather laboured this point. As ...more

Apart from that, which isn't really the point of the book, too much maths for someone as lazy as me, and not enough on trying to imagine things, which sort of was the point of the book.

Mar 15, 2007
PMP
rated it
really liked it
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
ithinkthereforeiwrite

More poetry than mathematics, or illuminating the poetry in mathematics. The sort of cross-pollination between disciplines that gets me so thrilled. Taught me the incomparable word "onomatoid". You have to see the window display that Barry's wife Gretchen designed to advertise the book. It involved a coat hanger, a bee and a tulip. The store-owners called to ask if she had made a mistake.

This is the most entertaining book on mathematics you will ever read but a warning, if you're rusty on your sums like me, there is a lot of flicking backwards and forwards.

As seen in

*Nature*.
Sep 23, 2013
Ilib4kids
marked it as to-read
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
w_to-read-priority-1

512 MAZ

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