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Yearning for the Impossible: The Surprising Truths of Mathematics
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Yearning for the Impossible: The Surprising Truths of Mathematics

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  49 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
This book explores the history of mathematics from the perspective of the creative tension between common sense and the "impossible" as the author follows the discovery or invention of new concepts that have marked mathematical progress: - Irrational and Imaginary Numbers - The Fourth Dimension - Curved Space - Infinity and others The author puts these creations into a bro ...more
Paperback, 244 pages
Published May 23rd 2006 by A K PETERS (first published May 22nd 2006)
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Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I quite enjoyed this book. It deals with subjects in mathematics which were once considered "impossible", but which were later addressed in a surprising and fascinating voyage of intellectual discovery.
- The first chapter, on the irrationals, is quite nice - the concepts are explained nicely and clearly.
- The second chapter, about the imaginary and the complex numbers, is quite nice too. But I must say that I was left a bit disappointed here:
a) yes there are very nice points about the geometry
Feb 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-tech
I like this book quite a bit. The writing is good, but the metaphor becomes extended and forced. The idea is that much of what we need to calculate things that have real existence comes from a consideration of mathematics thought to be impossible (or irrational, or imaginary). It's very well done, but I felt that I "got it" about halfway through. I think it is time for me to read some shorter essays and popular excursions on mathematical topics.
Sep 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Many of the mathematical ideas once considered impossible

This is one of those books where I dislike the title, yet love the content. Mathematicians generally go where the necessity and reasoning takes them, so it is a misnomer to claim that they have a yearning for the impossible. Also, to argue that mathematical results are impossible at some point then are considered routine later is incorrect.
As mathematical knowledge has expanded, new discoveries sometimes contradict and in all cases exte
Chelsea M
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
It was a very interesting read, and it was around the right level for me.
One minor complaint is that the placement of diagrams weren't always ideal, and I ended up having to flip back and forth between pages to refer to them often. But otherwise, it was both entertaining and educational.
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