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# In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World

by
Ian Stewart

Acclaimed writer and mathematician Ian Stewart examines the seventeen equations that have revolutionized our thinking and changed the course of history.

ebook, 352 pages

Published
March 1st 2012
by Basic Books (AZ)
(first published 1996)

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## Community Reviews

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Stewart is a prolific writer - according to the accompanying bumf he has authored more than 80 books, which is quite an oeuvre. That can't be bad ...more

(...) 17 ecuaciones que cambiaron el mundo no es un libro fácil en la medida en que su público potencial seremos lectores sin formación matemática profunda. Algunas partes requieren una lectura atenta y disciplinada y otras requerirán echar una mirada a capítulos precedentes para refrescar las nociones, ya que muchas ecuaciones se construyen a partir de ideas y conceptos ya presentados a los que el autor no vuelve. No es un manual o un libro de texto, ni m ...more

May 31, 2012
Converse
rated it
3 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
mathematics,
non-fiction

Not every chapter in the British mathematician's latest book is actually about an equation, but most of them are. He covers Pythagora's theorem (the one about the sides of a triangle), logarithms, calculus, Newton's law of gravity, complex numbers, the relationship discovered by the Swiss mathematician Euler regarding the number of sides and vertices of polyhedra, the normal distribution (the bell curve), the equation used to describe waves, fluid mootion (Navier-Stokes equation) and electromagn
...more

As the subtitle says, this book is about 17 equations that changed the world. As one who has a Ph.D. in Physics, I was familiar with all but one of these ...more

http://www.drgoulu.com/2014/03/16/17-...

If there ever was a book I wished I read earlier - this has to be it. If Ian Stewart had published this book pre-2003, maybe I wouldn't have skipped so many lectures after booze-induced somnolence.

Ian does justice covering 17 of the greatest mathematical equations responsible for mankind's progress. He starts off with Pythagoras..a^2 + b^2 ...more

*Thousand Plateaus*and was reminded that I am unfluent in math. So at my willowy poetfriend's bookstore, I picked up this book, hoping to read about one equation a day. Which is what I did. And it's a damn fine introduction to these equations, but I've forgotten nearly everything. I can't sketch out the second law of thermodynamics, nor any of the other equations from memory, and couldn't give you but a rough outline of all of the engro ...more

Somewhere in chapter 12 it quotes novelist C.P. Snow, who warns that society is starting to slit into 2 groups, one of them being scientifically illiterate, says ...more

Part of the problem is the limited audience. Unless you already know some of this stuff already, the book will be rough going. It's not pitched at someone new to science and math. Luckily, I'm new to neither science nor math, so it wasn't a problem for m ...more

Another is Shannon's information entropy equation (though Stewart labelled

*H*``information'', which is obviously wrong), and though information theory is technically a sub-field of mathematics, it's usually handled by computer scientists rather than pur ...more

Newton's law of gravita ...more

Chapters one and two were amazingly useful, I invented a method to calculat ...more

Aug 09, 2014
Ricardo da Fonseca
rated it
4 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
favorites

O livro como o próprio nome deixa muito claro descreve 17 equações que tiveram grande impacto em nossa sociedade. A descrição de cada equação se inicia com tópicos que mostram claramente a importância dela para a humanidade de acordo com as aplicações dessa nos artefatos tecnológicos dos dias de hoje.

A descrição das equações é feita de forma muito interessante, ressaltando-se fatos históricos curiosos que levaram ao desenvolvimento da equação propriamente dita. A descrição da matemática, quando ...more

A descrição das equações é feita de forma muito interessante, ressaltando-se fatos históricos curiosos que levaram ao desenvolvimento da equação propriamente dita. A descrição da matemática, quando ...more

Jul 31, 2015
Vikram
rated it
4 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
science lover, mathematics, history of science

Interesting book on history of some of the most widely known and impact full mathematical/science equations. Book gives an idea of how those equations got developed by the people working on them. Dont get upset by the title, it doesn'y go into mathematical derivations of the equations. Rather tells the story of development. Recommended for people who love science and mathematics.

The early chapters are quite developed presenting both the important mathematics and a discussion of the relevance of the equations in ...more

The real world applications and meaning of each equation are a very nice touch.

Worth reading if you are into math/scince history or are a bit of a nerd

The last chapter itself though is probably more than worth the reading of this book (the equation that many financ ...more

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Ian Stewart is an Emeritus Professor and Digital Media Fellow in the Mathematics Department at Warwick University, with special responsibility for public awareness of mathematics and science. He is best known for his popular science writing on mathematical themes.

--from the author's website

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--from the author's website

*Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See other authors wit*...more## Share This Book

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“The Black–Scholes equation changed the world by creating a booming quadrillion-dollar industry; its generalisations, used unintelligently by a small coterie of bankers, changed the world again by contributing to a multitrillion-dollar financial crash whose ever more malign effects, now extending to entire national economics, are still being felt worldwide.”
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“IQ is a statistical method for quantifying specific kinds of problem-solving ability, mathematically convenient but not necessarily corresponding to a real attribute of the human brain, and not necessarily representing whatever it is that we mean by ‘intelligence’.”
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