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Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers That Define Our Universe

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  99 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Our fascination with numbers begins when we are children and continues throughout our lives. We start counting our fingers and toes and end up balancing checkbooks and calculating risk. So powerful is the appeal of numbers that many people ascribe to them a mystical significance. Other numbers go beyond the supernatural, working to explain our universe and how it behaves.

ebook, 228 pages
Published September 6th 2011 by Basic Books
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Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"if the universe does not end, all the good things might continue. or come again."

what a unique book this was !! it took me quite some time to work my way through it, but every chapter was more enjoyable than the last. i have a decent background in astronomy/cosmology so much of the theoretical side of this book was familiar to me, but i loved learning some of the more obscure stories behind the discoveries.

even though this is a book about numbers, the mathematics did strike me as a little heav
Jim Collins
Stein's book is based on a wonderful idea, explaining the origins and meanings of famous cosmological numbers such as Planck's constant, absolute zero, the universal gravitational constant, Avogadro's number, the Schwarzchild radius... you get the idea. He gives us some biographical details about the discoverers of these concepts and how they fit into and support various aspects of science. Unfortunately his telling is scattered and not well organized; some serious editing was needed. The text w ...more
Sacry K.
May 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: popsci, dnf
The author is too lazy to add graphs. :(

The content is nice but how could people describe things like these using pure words.
Jul 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, non-fiction
Stein is a friendly conversationalist and his enthusiasm for the topic is welcome. Unfortunately i got lost whenever he delved into any actual equations. He does attempt to help the average reader by making amusing analogies but even these left me out. The book felt like i was at a party overhearing a lively discussion between two good friends over an obscure the social history of saliva. You laugh politely, enjoy their enthusiasm, but keep your mouth shut so you don't look like an ...more
Jul 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Histories of fundamental physical constants like G, c, 0 Kelvin, Avogadro's number, k, and so on makes for surprisingly riveting reading. If science teaching spent a little more time on its long and fascinating history there might be more sense and less nonsense in our world.
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: math
I am really enjoying this tome. It is always refreshing to read the works of brilliant individuals. Hope to see more of James Stein's work.
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
A wee bit mathy for my tastes but good none the less.
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great read, specially for the scientifically inclined. It's one of those books you can read over & over again ...more
Steve Schlutow
I didn't care much for this book. I was expecting something different, such as Marc Reese "Just Six Numbers", it wasn't close, thus a bit disappointed.
Alberto Neto
Dec 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Maybe a good introduction to the subject and his enthusiasm is evident. The book lacked some illustrations to accompany the mathematical developments.
Randall Farmer
Feb 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Okay book, nothing special. Suitable for anyone not thrown by the occasional (and skippable) high school physics (non-calculus) equations.
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Dr. James D. Stein graduated from Yale in 1962 with a BA in mathematics and received his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in 1967. He is the author of more than 30 research articles on mathematics and the co-author of textbooks on mathematics and strategic management, as well as several books on mathematics and science for the general public. He has served on state and nationwide ...more

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