How Math Explains the World: A Guide to the Power of Numbers, from Car Repair to Modern Physics
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How Math Explains the World: A Guide to the Power of Numbers, from Car Repair to Modern Physics

3.2 of 5 stars 3.20  ·  rating details  ·  40 ratings  ·  10 reviews
In How Math Explains the World, mathematician Stein reveals how seemingly arcane mathematical investigations and discoveries have led to bigger, more world-shaking insights into the nature of our world. In the four main sections of the book, Stein tells the stories of the mathematical thinkers who discerned some of the most fundamental aspects of our universe. From their s...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 22nd 2008 by Smithsonian
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This book was presented in exactly the way I like pop-math books to be written--with loads of pop-science examples. The math involved was just the right proportion of actual equations and examples, without reminding one too much of the text book she ought to be working from instead of reading popular books. As an overarching thesis, of course, the book is concerned with mathematics as a model--examples such as the Traveling Salesman Problem, Instant Runoff Voting, and the thermodynamics of melti...more
Jun 25, 2008 Cbpax rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Later teens/Adults
NOT light reading but a good read for Math/Science.
I thought it would be helpful for teaching Math next year but I have found better History of Math books. I did find a wealth of quotes I liked though and some thought provoking chapters. Of course Math doesn't explain ALL of life/the world. Like why my internet connection breaks down at the most inconvenient times or why some people dislike cats. Random things. Of course the people who want to win in Las Vegas should understand probability. And...more
I never fully got the organization of this book, but I enjoyed the variety of math issues considered, even if I didn't learn to solve any of them. The theme seems to be a look at the Clay Mathematics Institutes seven critical problems with an offer of $1Million for each solution.
Good popular math book but not as readable as some. Not as connected to "explaining the world" as the title implies. I thought I was going to get connections I could share with my high school class but came up short. Good overview of mathematical advances though.
This is the book dedicated to all those who had a very bad math teacher in high school and who never understood why they have been taught logs and probabilities. A nice summary with unexpected "mathy" jokes about the development of mathematics.
Aug 06, 2011 Corin added it
I really enjoyed this book. It started slooowly, but once I got into it, I had a lot of fun reading it. It also got my teenaged daughter interested in mathematical concepts (not just calculations)... very cool!
There were some interesting chapters in the book, though it was heavier on modern physics than the other, readily accessible areas of the world we actually interact with.
loved it. great re-grounding in math.

only problem is i think it was mis-titled. should have been called: all the places math falls short in explaining the world.
From what I know of math and physics, a good overview of open questions and how math and physics are similar
There is a reason I wasn't a math or physics major.
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