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# Alex's Adventures in Numberland: Dispatches from the Wonderful World of Mathematics

by
Alex Bellos (Goodreads Author)

Explodes the myth that maths is best left to the geeks. Covering subjects from adding to algebra, from set theory to statistics, and from logarithms to logical paradoxes, this title explains how mathematical ideas underpin just about everything in our lives. It also explains the strategy of how best to gamble in a casino.

Hardcover, 448 pages

Published
May 1st 2010
by Bloomsbury UK
(first published 2010)

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## Community Reviews

(showing
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Jun 23, 2015
Ms.pegasus
rated it
really liked it
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
anyone interested in games, puzzles, and mathematical connections

Alex Bellos is a gifted writer who has embarked on a mission to popularize mathematics. He makes a frank observation that should give pause to any reader:

*“By age 16, schoolkids have learned almost no math beyond what was already known in the mid-seventeenth century, and likewise by the time they are 18, they have not gone beyond the mid-eighteenth century.”*What ensues is both a historical tour and spontaneous encounters with some of the most eccentric people currently operating on the fringes ...more
Jan 16, 2015
Aamil Syed
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
130-challenge,
non-fiction

This is a fabulous chronicle of the most esoteric subject in existence!

Alex Bellos is witty, serious, engaging and if I may say so, utterly charming in his narration of the history of mathematics. He has organized the book in the way that allows him to be chronological while also taking diversions from time to time to connect with what's happening now in the field of mathematics.

He begins with a systematic exposition of the idea of numbers and the need for them and progresses steadily at a reall ...more

Alex Bellos is witty, serious, engaging and if I may say so, utterly charming in his narration of the history of mathematics. He has organized the book in the way that allows him to be chronological while also taking diversions from time to time to connect with what's happening now in the field of mathematics.

He begins with a systematic exposition of the idea of numbers and the need for them and progresses steadily at a reall ...more

I have a degree in mathematics, but there were many things in the book that were new to me, and some that made my jaw drop. My feeling is though, that any ...more

The world of maths can seem mind-boggling, irrelevant and, let's face it, boring. This groundbreaking book reclaims maths from the geeks.

This is how the blurb on the back cover starts.

*Alex's Adventures in Numberland*isn't quite as awful as that suggests, but it's very apparent Bellos is a journalist, not a mathematician. He shares with most of his colleagues a subconscious but profound contempt of experts (to his credit, at least it

*is*subconscious), an inability to distinguish substance and le ...more

May 27, 2011
Brian Sison
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
non-fiction,
math-science

This is a great book that delves into the fascinating history of math. Stops along the way include the advent of zero, the use of the abacus and the sliderule, the search for the trillionth decimal in pi, the Fibonacci sequence, the golden ratio, fractals, varying levels of infiniti, counting cards in blackjack, the definition of what's "normal", and straight lines that aren't straight.

Unlike some books that try to cover so many topics, Bellos goes into enough depth in each chapter to educate, e ...more

Unlike some books that try to cover so many topics, Bellos goes into enough depth in each chapter to educate, e ...more

Bellos does a lively romp through various everyday (and some not so everyday) things with little resort to heavy equations or other soporific or brain-wrenching stuff. He covers sudoku, magic squares, number sequences, the probability and statistics of gambling and betting systems, pi and transcenden ...more

I've been spending the summer feeling like one of the teachers from Pink Floyd's The Wall, forcing my 12 year old to study Algebra in preparation for next school year. It's been shear hell for both of us. Neither of us likes math, but I'm a really stubborn woman & I've been seeking sources that will make math & algebra more accessible, more understandable, maybe even interesting. Who ...more

No, I did not know that there are sets of infinities greater than infinity. I wasn't aware that crochet was instrumental in 20th Century breakthroughs in maths and physics. Fibonacci numbers help e ...more

Mar 15, 2015
Kitty Jay
rated it
liked it
·
review of another edition

Recommended to Kitty by:
C.F.

Shelves:
non-fiction,
checked-out-from-library

There is a difference between a primer and something written for laymen. This book more closely aligns with my interpretation of the former. For people who have no familiarity with mathematical concepts, this book would probably be delightful. For those who are aware of the more famous math intrigues but are amateurs (or, like me, more interested in the history, applications, and explanations than the proofs), this book retreads old, familiar ground. Anyone who watched

*Numb3rs*or – painful thoug ...moreRecently, someone whose last math course was high school geometry told me of her ren ...more

Oct 04, 2013
Barbara
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
curious, interested people

Recommended to Barbara by:
My Mommie

A bouncy and fascinating history of math.......but that's just the start.

Mr. Bellos also weaves in studies and observations about how math wires the brain, and how children in some cultures learn to count earlier because of the names of numbers.

This is a very interesting and inspiring book, especially for those of us who think in words, not numbers, but who are interested in the very act and method of thinking.

Mr. Bellos also weaves in studies and observations about how math wires the brain, and how children in some cultures learn to count earlier because of the names of numbers.

This is a very interesting and inspiring book, especially for those of us who think in words, not numbers, but who are interested in the very act and method of thinking.

Around the bases and into the abacus. Shepherds have used base 20, PCs base 2, case to be made for base 12. some civilizations have used base 64.

The importation from India of the zero which opened up the number line and sent us into an immense ...more

Jul 26, 2012
Cassandra Kay Silva
rated it
really liked it
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
mathematics

A very delightful approach to mathematics. It was lighthearted and touched on subjects that would interest most audiences. I think the statistical gambling section would be of particular interest to a few friends of mine and I will have to pass along at least these sections.

Just a couple of notes:

- The first few chapters are about numbers, not really "math".

- A lot of the book is about the authors interactions with other people in many diverse fields, I really enjoyed them. You may not if you're just looking for Math.

- The Book is very well organized, which really enhances the reading experience.

- The Book can be really dumbed down somet ...more

Jul 23, 2014
Marcy Stearns
rated it
really liked it
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
ed-or-ceu,
summer-2014

I enjoyed getting to know mathematics better through this book.

I liked the first chapter, with its anthropological point of view to mathematics. Of the others, the best part of the book was the last chapter about Cantor's theorems. His beautiful proofs still illuminate any book; ...more

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"I was born in Oxford and grew up in Edinburgh and Southampton. After studying mathematics and philosophy at university I joined the Evening Argus in Brighton as a trainee reporter. I joined the Guardian in 1994 as a reporter and in 1998 moved to Rio de Janeiro, where I spent five years as the paper’s South America correspondent. Since 2003 I have lived in London, as a freelance writer and broadca
...more

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“Mathematicians have, according to Wright, been "unreasonably successful" in finding applications to apparently useless theorems, and often years after the theorems were first discovered.”
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