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A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  737 ratings  ·  103 reviews
The Universe May Be a Mystery,But It's No Secret Michael Schneider leads us on a spectacular, lavishly illustrated journey along the numbers one through ten to explore the mathematical principles made visible in flowers, shells, crystals, plants, and the human body, expressed in the symbolic language of folk sayings and fairy tales, myth and religion, art and architecture. ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published by Harper Perennial (first published August 1st 1994)
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Average rating 4.24  · 
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Nov 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
I have just finished reading this book, and I like some parts of it. After getting over my initial disappointment, I realized that I had expectations from its title, and the title simply is misleading. The book is really about geometric patterns in our culture and in ancient and other modern cultures. Where do these patterns come from, and how do they manifest in art, in symbology, in philosophy. Many of the geometric patterns--maybe all of them--come from nature, and that is where the author ti ...more
Jan 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2011, didn-t-finish
I just can't slog through this book anymore. It was another book I really wanted to like. I read some reviews that warned me that it was less "Math, Nature, Art & Science" and more "New Age hoo-hah" and unfortunately that turned out to be the case.

I can't verify that the connections the author is making are not true, just like I can't verify that they're not, because everything is written in that completely unsourced manner. But not only is it unsourced, it's also unexplained thoroughly, and sor
This is a wonderfully accessible book that takes each of the numbers from one to ten and devotes a chapter to the symbology and geometry behind it.

The author does an amazing job condensing a vast amount of historical and mathematical information into a concise and highly readable text. He is a professional educator and it shows (in a good way)

Contemplating/meditating on the concepts in this book has been very conducive to some powerful experiences*. This book is a real keeper and I go back to i
Oct 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I was lucky enough to chance upon a free copy of this book. It's amazing and wonderful. It takes you through the basic numbers, showing you how to construct a regular polygon using only a compass and straight edge to emphasize how everything emerges from one. Everything is connected in that way. Everything emerges from the same place. It goes on to discuss the importance of that particular number, shape or related sequence in how nature is constructed, and what that number has symbolized histori ...more
Aug 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Whoever thinks our world is just full of chaos should read this book! It's all actually magically organized. ...more
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
This is an excellent, almost magical book about how the essential nature of numbers, their relationship with each other, and the patterns that arise from them shape the foundation of our world.

It is also very dense, and the larger the numbers got the harder it was for me to read. (Your mileage may vary.) Eventually I realized I was not going to finish it, but it's going to stay on my shelves as an inspirational resource.

I would recommend it to parents of young children as a way of inspiring you
Jun 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This book is about more than math. It connects science, literature, philosophy,religion, art and architecture. I plan on using this as our core book for our homeschool studies in the fall. I was hooked from the very first page, and kept thinking how much I would have loved math in school, if I'd had a teacher like Michael Scneider. ...more
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
FASCINATING read on sacred geometry and the archetypes of the numbers 1-10: where they show up in nature, language, history and architecture, and how they inform every aspect of our own being/consciousness/transformation. Definitely esoteric and not for everyone, but I loved it. Recommended by my teacher at Katonah Yoga, Nevine Michaan.
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing!!!!
Nov 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I wish they would teach geometry like this in school!
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've read this book many times over, one of my very favorite books on numbers. Instructions for making the platonic solids out of paper and golden calipers too. ...more
Gavin White
Sep 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: geometry
I have mixed feelings in regard to this book. It took me three goes to finish it and it ended up being a bit of a struggle. On the positive side I have learnt many interesting nuggets of geometric and mathematical lore and some new graphic procedures. On the other hand, it was very 'New Age' in its approach and the terms of its narrative. I would have preferred a more classical philosophical approach in line with the Neo-Platonists rather than a load of Jungian psycho-babble about personal growt ...more
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic book about mathematics! The most frequently asked question students in the public education system have of their math teachers is 'When am I ever going to use this (math concept) in my life?' And it is a valid question. So much of what is taught in math classes has no practical value for most people; the few things that are taught in math classes that have practical value are not presented in the context of here is how this relates to everyday life; and much of math that has ...more
Avi Love
Dec 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book by Michael Schneider is a wonderful in-depth introduction to a wide range of subjects. Michael himself is an incredible resource. Find him online sharing amazing and wondrous things, in a way both adults and children can receive. Michael's enthusiasm for sacred geometry found in every day life is contagious. I am blessed to have been in many of his classes over the past several years in Northern California. Whenever he has new material -- in person, in print, or online with articles, i ...more
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was a lovely tour of numbers 1-10 via a combination of geometry, myth, art, and science. The main thesis: the universe follows particular geometric/numerical patterns, and by recognizing those patterns, we can live harmoniously within creation. I sometimes wondered whether the facts were being oversimplified in order to support the thesis, and the connections between patterns and nature frequently seemed tenuous. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed learning to draw polygons with nothing but ...more
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love, love, love this book! It's so amazing to learn how mathematical principles surround us in every day life. The principle of symmetry alone is astounding. It's fascinating to see how the universe was created from a blueprint that is based on math. Every math class can become more interesting and worthwhile if one can see how math appears in the world rather than just on paper. Real math is exciting. I think a teacher would be able to break down the themes in this book to add some magic to ...more
Feb 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a GREAT book for any one learning introductory geometry. I am using it in my geometry classes. It shows tons of examples of geometry in nature and art; it opens your eyes to see the geometric relationships and patterns that surround us.

There are a couple problem points. He gets a little over-the-top philosophical some times and I have found errors, not typos but mistakes in math or physics, in several places. Despite these I’d say its well worth reading, even if only for the pictures!
Alexander McLeese
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A genuinely awesome read and a book which you can read again and again. Great for anyone who likes things of an esoteric nature, sacred geometry, sacred mathematics, numerology, the teachings of Pythagoras etc
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating concept
Leah Douglas
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
“Both Pythagoras and Plato suggested that all citizens learn the properties of the first ten numbers as a form of moral instruction.” P. xxiii
“Mythmatics” ❤️ p xxvii
“...perhaps instead of teaching science to youngsters in separate pigeonholes of biology, chemistry, physics, and so on, science courses could investigate the principles that run through each of them, such as wholeness, polarity, balance, pattern, and harmony.” P 28
“Unlike any other shape, the three sides of a triangle resolve opposi
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Welp, looks like we aren't going to finish this K-choice read aloud. We started out strong, really liked the idea of it...but there is just too much woo and illogic. Archetypes and symbolism are interesting and the history of numbers is foundational, but this author needed to lose at least 50% of this text--tighten it up and find the facts, and much more clearly delineate the supposition and pie-in-the-sky arm waving. We got almost halfway through on the strength of the historical bits and the f ...more
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was not what I expected. I was thinking it was about physics but it’s really about numbers, patterns, geometry and the application and discovery of all three. It was not an easy read by any means but very interesting, when I could understand it. I heard someone say that there is something to offend everyone in it. So true. I’ve seen lots of reviews calling it New Age nonsense. I didn’t always agree with Schneider but there was enough that I liked that I would read it again. Hopefully I ...more
Ethan Chappell
This book took math and helped me learn how to apply it to the real world. It went through all the shapes from the circle to the decagon and showed how they all link together to make the world around us. It introduced me to so much and I really enjoyed learning about he golden mean. It's a fairly long book and I would totally read it again just so I can do all the projects and research in depth the history of mathematics. ...more
Blake Paine
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book has been a golden thread, tying so many ideas together for me! It is an inward thread and this book is just mind blowing! If you are trying to recover from a scientific materialist hangover this is a good place to start. This book offers a new freedom to explore the Cosmo's and what universal archetypes have to teach us about what it means to be human. ...more
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is about math and how it has influenced the world. It shows how nature uses math to create harmony. Really intersting to learn about. If you read it, take it with a grain of salt- I'm pretty sure many parts are opinion stated as fact. Would recomended it. ...more
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating! I enjoyed how Schneider explores the world using geometric principles. Geometry was always my least favorite part of math, but after reading this it’s now one of the most interesting. Math needs to be taught more often by using real world connections!
I had to zoom through this book after having allowed it to languish until the library due date was upon me. Every chapter was faacinating and intriguing. I just didn’t know—until now. I’ve had to set this aside until I can get my hands upon another copy. I’ll be watching!!
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Well i've had it on my to read list for quite a while and a conversation kicked it into my awareness again so before i paid money to gift it i got it on audible. suffice to say i'm still listening to it, as well as reading and highlighting the copy i got (allegedly) for my daughter... ...more
Manish Katyal
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
An atypical book. Very new-agey, light on the math but still engaging.
Stephen Cranney
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
A lot of interesting points and connections throughout nature, but it got a little too much into mumbo jumbo.
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