So, this is probably an insta-read for anyone who likes both math and the Simpsons, but people who like one or the other might also enjoy it. Singh noSo, this is probably an insta-read for anyone who likes both math and the Simpsons, but people who like one or the other might also enjoy it. Singh not only explains many of the math references from the Simpsons, but also reveals the reason they are there: many of the writers have advanced degrees in math or science! There is also a section on Futurama, which has even more advanced mathematical ideas. None of the concepts are particularly advanced; basically even if you haven't studied math in awhile you can probably follow what is going on. There are also some pretty good math jokes and fun dinner party tidbits....more

The premise of this book is that dozens of famous thinkers answer the question, "What is the most deep, beautiful, and elegant theory of how the worldThe premise of this book is that dozens of famous thinkers answer the question, "What is the most deep, beautiful, and elegant theory of how the world works?" The answers range from the scientific to the philosophical, from essays of a few pages to quick responses of only a few words. The respondents were from many different fields: science, philosophy, economics, psychology, to name a few. Some ideas came up in multiple essays, some peoples' responses were unique. I will say the book seemed a little bit... self indulgent? at times, but it was interesting to see what these people, many of whom I had heard of, felt was important. Some of the essays get a bit technical; there aren't any equations or anything but they might be a bit hard to understand. Of course, you can always skip the parts you aren't interested in.

I had never heard of Simon Norton, the subject of this biography, but I love math so I grabbed it from the library. It details both Simon's history asI had never heard of Simon Norton, the subject of this biography, but I love math so I grabbed it from the library. It details both Simon's history as a mathematician and the relationship the author forms with him. Masters uses Simon to make some interesting observations about the nature of genius, which is always alluring to us normal people.

Simon's main area of mathematical work was/is Group Theory, and Masters gives very brief, general and simplistic explanations (complete with illustrations!) of what that is and means. But this is by no means a book about math. You don't need anything higher than arithmetic to understand what he says and it is a small part of the story as a whole. ...more

When I think of tattoos, I don't usually think of equations or the skeletons of long-dead animals. But the pictures in the book are of just that. ZimmWhen I think of tattoos, I don't usually think of equations or the skeletons of long-dead animals. But the pictures in the book are of just that. Zimmer shows the pictures of tattoos, along with a description of why the person got the tattoo and some scientific background. The science parts are quite general and easy for anyone to understand. The book is divided into sections by discipline and in addition to an index there is a very useful visual index. ...more

As a math-loving knitter, I absolutely had to get this book! After reading it, I'm not sure whether I'll make any of the projects, which run from quilAs a math-loving knitter, I absolutely had to get this book! After reading it, I'm not sure whether I'll make any of the projects, which run from quilting and knitting to blackwork embroidery and cross-stitch. However, I really enjoyed reading about the mathematics that goes into such work. The people who practice needle arts are constantly doing math and illustrating mathematical principles, whether or not they realize it. A note to the wary: the mathematics gets very technical. It is easy to skim over parts you don't understand, like I did, but for people who are afraid of math it might be a bit overwhelming. Each section also contains teaching ideas for classes of all ages. I'm also looking forward to perusing the notes section for more interesting books.

The audience for this book is incredibly specific, but if you fit into the category I would recommend Making Mathematics with Needlework....more

This is the most interesting book I've read since Godel, Escher, Bach, although it's shorter and written on a much more general level

The basic premiseThis is the most interesting book I've read since Godel, Escher, Bach, although it's shorter and written on a much more general level

The basic premise is that the author is trying to win the "most human human" award at the Turing test. So he researches the ways in which humans are different from computers and ways humans communicate that computers would have trouble with.

It delves into a broad range of topics relating to linguistics, AI, and philosophy... basically cognitive science.

I guess my one complaint is the way the notes are arranged in the back... I wish there was just a Bibliography I could look at because then my "further reading" would be easier to compile....more

In my admittedly limited experience, scientists are typically not good writers, which is what made this book all the more astonishing. If I knew nothiIn my admittedly limited experience, scientists are typically not good writers, which is what made this book all the more astonishing. If I knew nothing about Carl Sagan before reading this book, I would assume he was a novelist by trade, albeit one who had done quite a bit of research on the more scientific aspects of the book. I haven't read too many science fiction books that deal with the "first contact" aspects of alien civilizations, and I certainly haven't read one that deals with the intricacies of such contact. I was amazed at the way he was able to imagine what their message might be like and how we might decode it. He also explores the political ramifications of receiving such a message---really the consequences of receiving a message are a much bigger part of the story than any action that occurs.

I was also impressed with the way he handled some of the philosophical implications--basically, the skeptic must find faith. She knows without a doubt that something has occurred, but has no proof of it. And in the last pages of the novel, we are left with the assumption that the Universe does have an Author.

And perhaps my favorite part of this book was its protagonist, Ellie Arroway. Near the beginning of the novel, he describes her early fascination with mathematics. At this point, I was sold. He did such an amazing job conveying the absolute astonishment when you figure out the way numbers work and fit together. I couldn't put down a book with a girl who likes math!

I would recommend this book to people who like hard sci-fi and/or novels with philosophico-religious connotations. See also: The Sparrow....more

While not quite as whimsical as GEB (what could be?), I Am a Strange Loop is still an entertaining and accessible foray into what makes us conscious,While not quite as whimsical as GEB (what could be?), I Am a Strange Loop is still an entertaining and accessible foray into what makes us conscious, what gives us a sense of "I." Told with his characteristic wit and liberal use of puns and wordplay, Hofstadter details his own theory on what consciousness is. He rejects dualism, and uses the model of Godel's critique of Principia Mathematica to show that our brains work on two levels--the neurons, atoms, etc, which give rise to the higher level thinking, what we call "I."

I don't know whether I'm completely sold on his theory, but I certainly enjoyed reading it. He includes a lot more personal autobiographical information than he did in GEB, and uses an aggressively conversational tone so even a non-specialist or complete novice should be able to follow his arguments.

And of course there is a wonderful bibliography which just means I have to add dozens more books to me "to-read."...more

When I first started reading this book I thought it was basically going to be a biography of Godel, but it's much better than that. It discusses his pWhen I first started reading this book I thought it was basically going to be a biography of Godel, but it's much better than that. It discusses his proofs, but also why they were so important, especially in the context of other scientific, mathematical, and philosophical thought of the time. The author does write a little bit about his personal life, mostly his later years, which is also quite interesting. I really wish, however, that she had gone into more detail about the actual content of his proofs. I guess the book is designed to be accessible to a non-mathematician so I will have to go elsewhere for the really technical bits. I can say she made me really want to read/study his actual proof. ...more

I bought this book several years ago. I'll admit it, I bought it because of the Da Vinci Code. Dan Brown even has a quote on the cover! Which, after II bought this book several years ago. I'll admit it, I bought it because of the Da Vinci Code. Dan Brown even has a quote on the cover! Which, after I read the book, I thought was kinda weird, because the author spends a lot of time debunking ideas about the appearance of the Golden Ratio in art and architecture. I liked the skeptical approach he took when looking at claims of it being used in the pyramids or the works of Da Vinci.

Really, anyone could read this book, ie non mathematicians, but for me it was slightly more technical than some of the other nonfiction I've been reading, which I appreciated. Some proofs are included in the text and others in appendices in the back.

And oh, the list of further reading/bibliography. I started reading it but had to stop because I was getting way too excited.

If you have any interest in math or the history of math, you'd probably like this book. However I think a lot of the information is probably quite basic/introductory so if you already have a strong background in it it might be a bit repetitive....more

Wow. This is everything a book should be in so many ways. It's a creative look at the search for the foundations of mathematics in the late 19th and eWow. This is everything a book should be in so many ways. It's a creative look at the search for the foundations of mathematics in the late 19th and earlier 20th centuries, centered mostly around Bertrand Russell. So many themes are touched on in this book and lots of famous mathematicians/philosophers/logicians make cameos. My only wish is that the bibliography was more complete (joke.... intended?) because I feel like it could fill the void left by the 30+ years since GEB's publication. If you like math, philosophy, or logic, this might just blow your mind. If you don't like those things, this book might... not exactly bore you but might not interest you.

As a person who is in the very early stages of looking into a doctoral program in math/philosophy/logic the very existence of this book made my heart race. LOVELOVELOVE...more

The basic premise of this one is how numbers and statistics are manipulated by the political establishment for their own gain, and how the public is mThe basic premise of this one is how numbers and statistics are manipulated by the political establishment for their own gain, and how the public is manipulated as a result of that. It was quite a compelling read. What I particularly liked was Seife's non-partisan view. He described examples of both the left and right using numbers to skew thing toward their side.

Seife details several ways in which numbers are used to deceive or warp the truth and gives some information of things to beware of. Being an intelligent person, this book was kind of preaching to the choir for me--I mean, I didn't slap my head and say, "oh I get it look at statistics in context!"--but I certainly did learn new information.

Another thing he said that I really liked was about how in this day and age, you really only have to "consume" news that is already skewed toward your own perspective. Fox News, Huffpo and everything in between. You don't even have to look at information you won't agree with. It's something Hunter and I have talked about before so that part rang especially true for me.

I'd recommend this book to people with an interest in politics, statistics, math, and not being manipulated by pundits, media, and politicians....more

I liked the first half of this book a lot better than the second half. I really liked the historical details about the evolution of number systems andI liked the first half of this book a lot better than the second half. I really liked the historical details about the evolution of number systems and what numbers were used for "back in the day." I enjoyed the discussions about the advent of the calculus and how it was able to solve Zeno's paradox once and for all. And because I'm me, I found the description of why the church feared zero, infinity, and the void fascinating and possibly a jumping-off-point for later reading.

The second half of the book was fine, but I felt like the connections to zero were a little more tenuous. Also, I found a lot of the information repetitive which is my own fault because I've been reading several books about quantum physics so I was like yeah I get it, uncertainty, let's move on. Although I did like his succinct description of string theory. While I may not need to understand it completely since it's not as in vogue as it once was, his description of it made me understand the parts I'm capable of a little better.

If you're into history of math, by all means give this book a try. It is written for a beginner and at times I was kinda like, ok, I know how a coordinate system works no need to explain but it is definitely written to be entertaining to math nerds and well... less nerdy people who are still interested in math?...more

As a teenager, Sarah Flannery won a few international science competitions with a project about an encryption algorithm. Though it turned out that theAs a teenager, Sarah Flannery won a few international science competitions with a project about an encryption algorithm. Though it turned out that the algorithm couldn't be used for public key encryption, she got quite a lot of attention for her achievements. Her memoir details her early exposure to math, the ideas that are the basis for her award-winning project, and her personal feelings about the contests and their after-math.

The book contains explanations of some of the basic mathematical principles she used. She says you can skip those parts, but I would recommend not. People find math intimidating for whatever reason but it's mostly just arithmetic presented in different ways so at least give it a try. It was interesting to read about someone who had achieved so much, however is in many ways just a normal girl. She gives entries from her journal about the days following her contest win, and her emotions are pretty typical of a teenager.

Math lovers should definitely check this out. Anyone interested in math education or the presence of women in math and science would probably also enjoy it....more

Latest Review: July 9, 2013 Well, just finished the third read-through. I could have finished a few days earlier but I just didn't want it to end. I waLatest Review: July 9, 2013 Well, just finished the third read-through. I could have finished a few days earlier but I just didn't want it to end. I was afraid there might be a diminishing returns aspect but nope, my enjoyment is holding pretty steady. I went in this time with the intention to focus more on a few aspects of the book that I hadn't given too much attention to before, and it definitely brought new connections and interpretations to light. I don't really know what else I can say except that I love this book and can't wait to read it again next year.

Second Review: August 2, 2012 I read this book for the second time recently, but I really consider it to be an extension of the first reading. I feel like unless you have a flawless photographic memory, there's just no way to pick up all of the connections between the characters. I picked up so much the second time through that I didn't get before. Certain parts stuck out to me so much more and other parts that seemed like a big deal before were so much shorter than I remembered. I think this is going to be the kind of book that I read once a year or so. I don't think I'll ever really be done reading this book.

Original Review from August 15, 2011 There have been a few times where, upon finishing a movie, I have immediately watched the movie again. I have never done so with a book, and never wanted to until I finished Infinite Jest. (Which, if you know anything about the plot, is.... apt) It's like 1000 pages long, so I might save a re-read until next year, but it's definitely a re-reader. Because you may be daunted by the concept of reading a 1000 page long book, let me just give you some reasons why you should read this book. 1. It's a really entertaining 1000 pages. 2. The plot is brilliantly intertwined....the way it slowly unfolds and the characters become related, or relationships between them are made known... somewhere between Invisible Monsters and Great Expectations. 3. Footnotes!* 4. I'd hardly say the book is fast-paced, but it isn't slow at all. By the end I really couldn't stop reading it. Oh no! 5. Hunter and I both agreed that during every reading session, we found some nugget we really liked... either a philosophical point or some beautiful irony.

It's worth it, let me just say. If you are on the fence about reading it, I would say to just go ahead and try because it really didn't feel like 1000 pages. Oh, also.... if you want a plot summary... Hunter's description was that if they tried to make a movie of it it could end up as a combination of Igby Goes Down, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and The Ring.

Where to even start? Well I guess first off, this is one of the few books I think was written by someone who is really on my intellectual level. I wanWhere to even start? Well I guess first off, this is one of the few books I think was written by someone who is really on my intellectual level. I want to meet Hofstadter so bad because it seems like we think alike in a lot of ways.

I can't even really describe what this book is about. Yes, the three titular personalities but also AI, molecular biology, number theory, linguistics, puns... there is no end to the gems contained inside this tome.

I am not going to pretend I absorbed everything in here. The parts that were more in line with my personal interests I read through quickly and attentively, while some parts were a bit sluggish. It will definitely benefit from a re-read.

Also, read the bibliography. Read it.

I guess if I had one complaint, it would be not that the book is a bit out-of-date, but that the bibliography hasn't been updated. I'm planning on reading many of the books from the bibliography to my "to-rad" list, but I wish there was a list of more modern books with similar subject matter....more