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How Math Explains the World: A Guide to the Power of Numbers, from Car Repair to Modern Physics
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How Math Explains the World: A Guide to the Power of Numbers, from Car Repair to Modern Physics

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  111 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
In How Math Explains the World, mathematician Stein reveals how seemingly arcane mathematical investigations and discoveries have led to bigger, more world-shaking insights into the nature of our world. In the four main sections of the book, Stein tells the stories of the mathematical thinkers who discerned some of the most fundamental aspects of our universe. From their s ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 22nd 2008 by Smithsonian (first published January 1st 2008)
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Sep 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Dipped in and out. Got a bit bored.
Jenny GB
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I read about half of this book and then decided I couldn't read anymore. It's not that it was all bad, butI felt that it jumped around too much and the thesis of explaining the world really wasn't coming through for me. In fact, it seemed like more of the opposite and Stein was continually explaining what math couldn't do or what physics couldn't fully explain. Frequently the historical information about mathematicians was entertaining and several of Stein's examples to illustrate the math or sc ...more
May 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book was presented in exactly the way I like pop-math books to be written--with loads of pop-science examples. The math involved was just the right proportion of actual equations and examples, without reminding one too much of the text book she ought to be working from instead of reading popular books. As an overarching thesis, of course, the book is concerned with mathematics as a model--examples such as the Traveling Salesman Problem, Instant Runoff Voting, and the thermodynamics of melti ...more
Jun 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Later teens/Adults
NOT light reading but a good read for Math/Science.
I thought it would be helpful for teaching Math next year but I have found better History of Math books. I did find a wealth of quotes I liked though and some thought provoking chapters. Of course Math doesn't explain ALL of life/the world. Like why my internet connection breaks down at the most inconvenient times or why some people dislike cats. Random things. Of course the people who want to win in Las Vegas should understand probability. And
Collin Bryant
Dec 14, 2016 rated it liked it
This book had an odd layout of information. There were some interesting concepts here and there, but I found myself having a hard time staying interested in the majority. The concepts were easy enough to understand without having taken anything higher than calculus. I would recommend this to people who have nothing better to do and have a basic interest in how mathematics is integrated into everyday things.
Aug 19, 2010 rated it liked it
I never fully got the organization of this book, but I enjoyed the variety of math issues considered, even if I didn't learn to solve any of them. The theme seems to be a look at the Clay Mathematics Institutes seven critical problems with an offer of $1Million for each solution.
Katharine R
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author shows how math is important and essential for a variety of things: physics, why your car takes forever to repair at the auto shop, etc. Some examples are surprising! Accessible to curious people who finished high school math.
Jul 04, 2011 rated it liked it
This is the book dedicated to all those who had a very bad math teacher in high school and who never understood why they have been taught logs and probabilities. A nice summary with unexpected "mathy" jokes about the development of mathematics.
Aug 06, 2011 added it
I really enjoyed this book. It started slooowly, but once I got into it, I had a lot of fun reading it. It also got my teenaged daughter interested in mathematical concepts (not just calculations)... very cool!
Jun 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: math-science
Good popular math book but not as readable as some. Not as connected to "explaining the world" as the title implies. I thought I was going to get connections I could share with my high school class but came up short. Good overview of mathematical advances though.
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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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