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# The Great Equations: Breakthroughs in Science from Pythagoras to Heisenberg

Philosopher and science historian Robert P. Crease tells the stories behind ten of the greatest equations in human history. Was Nobel laureate Richard Feynman really joking when he called Maxwell's electromagnetic equations the most significant event of the nineteenth century? How did Newton's law of gravitation influence young revolutionaries? Why has Euler's formula been...more

Hardcover, 224 pages

Published
January 19th 2009
by W. W. Norton & Company
(first published 2008)

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## Community Reviews

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Oct 10, 2011
Upom
rated it
4 of 5 stars

Shelves:
mathematics,
history,
physics,
equation,
science,
newton,
pythagoras,
geometry,
nonfiction,
thermodynamics,
quantum-mechanics,
euler,
philosophy

So often our culture forgets science and in our march to progress. Crease even noted that Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present barely mentions science, although mentioning almost every other aspect of a forgotten American history. Sadly, Crease also mentioned a simple rule of thumb publishers use for math in a book: for every math equation added to a popular book for science and readers, the sales of books drop by half. It's for sad reasons like these that I fee...more

One of the interesting things is how the book demonstrates the way science progresses in fits and starts. It also shows how im...more

If you enjoy historical anecdotes of why things are the way they are, or how something was discovered then you will devour this book.

If you respect math and history, you will appreciate these stories - however no talent in either field is required.

This is a great read. The chapters are self con...more

__The Great Equations__is a great book that explains everything you will ever need to know about maths history and the way it has become the way it is today.

__The Great Equations__starts from the first equation being 1+1=2 and ends explaining The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Along the way we see Menos' paradox and how Pythagoras had nothing to do with the creation of the Pythagorean theorem (it was invented possibly a thousand years before Pythagoras was born in India). The book explains how eq...more

*meaning*of each equation, he does go into detail about the impact of the equation and why it was important. Any book on this type of subject is going to miss equations that some would believe are important while including some that everyone may not agree should be included; however, Crease does a satisfactory job of justifying why each equation was included. Recommended for anyo...more

That being said, I am happy I caught this and read it. The history behind the development of each discovery is quite fascinating. The struggles that each scientist goes through is usually so under-exposed.

But that's all it is. It writes the equation for you, tells you how it came about, provides minimal math (I really wish there were more. But I know just find a text book. Still as a reader I wouldn't be turned do...more

The explanations behind the chosen equations were very clear and helped me to understand both their meaning and significance.

I really enjoyed how the author emphasized that these equations didn't pop onto the page out of nowhere, but were the result of the intellectual struggle of human beings who felt confusion, frustration and joy in attempting to understand and explain physical and mathematical phenomenon.

One of the best general ma...more

Mar 19, 2014
Jeff
added it

Rather repetative - so you have to take some time in between equestions. Crease does a good job and has enlightened me about some of my favorites (e.g Newton's second)

May 20, 2011
Keith
added it

wanted more math and less history. But it was amusing.

Apr 02, 2010
Kathrynn
marked it as to-read
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
nonfiction-math,
own

Ordered 4/2/10

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Professor Robert P. Crease is Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at Stony Brook University, New York.

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