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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
1-30
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3,000)

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
5 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
math-science,
non-fiction

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

Jan 16, 2015
Aamil Syed
rated it
5 of 5 stars
·
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'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
3 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Recommended to Kitty by:
C.F.

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

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 ...more
Oct 04, 2013
Barbara
rated it
5 of 5 stars
·
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.

Jul 26, 2012
Cassandra Kay Silva
rated it
4 of 5 stars
·
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
4 of 5 stars
·
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

I think the author did miss a few things, for example, he talks about various series that give the value of Pi, but he omits perhaps the most miraculous, which gives Pi in terms of ...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

The book starts with humans and how we count, back to tribal man and his “1,2 and many” through to the first counting techniqu ...more

Feb 25, 2013
Ashley
rated it
4 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
2013-books,
non-fiction

In school, some parts of math were fascinating the me (algebra - everything balances!) and other not so much (geometry - boo for proofs). Bellos makes it all interesting by taking a very journalistic approach to the subject and is unafraid to gloss over some of the more eye-glazing parts. Covering everything from the cultural use of numbers (some cultures don't have numbers for anything over about 4) to zero to infinity.

Some interesting facts:

- We tend to see the world from the POV of a logarit ...more

Some interesting facts:

- We tend to see the world from the POV of a logarit ...more

*Here's Looking at Euclid*, a self-proclaimed "Surprising Excursion Through the Astonishing World of Math" delivers on its promise. You'll meet the numerologist who persuaded Puff Daddy to change his name, a Romanian probability theorist who parlayed his know-how into enough lotteries wins to fund an early retirement in the South Pacific, and the nine-year-old Japanese prodigy who can play a speed-ga ...more

But I

*loved*this book!

Part of the appeal of the book is its author. I am convinced that Alex Bellos could make anything interesting. He is a gifted w ...more

*Adventures in Numberland*was a bit odd then, less a book exploring in greater depth the topics in includes, more a series of chapters like TV documentaries wh ...more

*Guardian*, ma ha una laurea in matematica e informatica, almeno secondo quanto afferma lui stesso in questo libro. L'idea di base del libro è così quella di parlare di matematica come se si dovesse fare un report giornalistico. Indubbiamente, anche se il materiale è lo stesso che si trova in altri libri divulgativi, la presentazione è sicuramente diversa: la cosa può risultare interessante non solo per il lettore casuale che di queste cose non ne sa mol ...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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