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# Are Numbers Real?: The Uncanny Relationship of Mathematics and the Physical World

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Have you ever wondered what humans did before numbers existed? How they organized their lives, traded goods, or kept track of their treasures? What would your life be like without them?

Numbers began as simple representations of everyday things, but mathematics rapidly took on a life of its own, occupying a parallel virtual world. In

Numbers began as simple representations of everyday things, but mathematics rapidly took on a life of its own, occupying a parallel virtual world. In

*Are Numbers Real?*, Brian Clegg explores ...more## Get A Copy

Hardcover, 304 pages

Published
December 6th 2016
by St. Martin's Press

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This one is a bit tough for me to review. I really enjoyed reading

*Are Numbers Real?*for the first third—but as soon as we got to imaginary numbers, I got lost. Just like in high school. I am not the most math-oriented person, but I wanted to give this book a try to get out of my comfort zone a bit.

I found Clegg’s writing to be engaging, and I did learn some things. The idea that numbers don’t actually “exist” is honestly something that ...more

Are Numbers Real? is a book that looks into the history behind the math. The first six chapters focus on the history of math – how would numbers come about and how mathematics developed. The history of maths is really interesting, going through the cult of Pythagoras (which reminded me of The Black Tapes podcast), the first proofs, and how the number zero ...more

Is math useful? Usually yes, sometimes no.

In this book, Clegg takes us on a whirlwind tour from the invention of numbers (likely simple abstraction through counting) to the current state, where advances in math generally have little to nothing to do with the world as we know it (although these advances

*might*be used, we just don't know yet).

The question at the title of this book is deceptively simple, much like the numbers we use every day to count time, balance our accounts, and measure the miles to the store and our weight on the scales from eating too much of what we bought at the store too soon after buying it.

Clegg progresses chronologically through the history of mathematics, from the use of fingers to count specific objects, to the generalization of the counters ("hands" and "fingers" in h ...more

Spoiler alert: it seems like numbers might indeed be real, in some cases surpris ...more

A lot of the book covers the history of how math concepts like imaginary numbers came into being and how they are useful. Later on author' ...more

While I believe that the study of mathematics is important and shouldn't be discounted, I will argue its value as solid proof in the realm of physics or other scientific fields. As described in this book, physics is no longer a hard science, provable by calculation. It's merely the belief system of theoretical physicists, similar to re ...more

And it is encouraging that some physicists are open about their own limitations with this challenging area of study including quantum theory, black holes.gravity, etc. Also it is interesting to learn that many scientists including Clegg are increasingly skeptical about string ...more

The short answer to the title is: all models are wrong, but some are useful.

Summary: worth reading. It is simply development of math, a math history.

chap 12, 13, 14 take me a lot of time to read.

p262 numbers, I would suggest, are real at their most basic, but most of mathematics isn't. It's a fantasy world that sometimes mirrors and parallels our own, and as such can help provides with tools to help understand reality.

Chap 1 Counting Sheep?

Math is arbitrary?

A linguist may regard the 'one' as meaning 'one- no more and no less.' To those skilled in the art it may, ...more

His conclusion? Numbers are real; mathematics by itself does not have to be; and more and more in physics it seems disconnected, with the mathematical models w ...more

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Brian's latest books, Ten Billion Tomorrows and How Many Moons does the Earth Have are now available to pre-order. He has written a range of other science titles, including the bestselling Inflight Science, The God Effect, Before the Big Bang, A Brief History of Infinity, Build Your Own Time Machine and Dice World.

Along with appearances at the Royal Institution in London he has spoken at venues fr ...more

Along with appearances at the Royal Institution in London he has spoken at venues fr ...more

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