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Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace
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Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,334 Ratings  ·  132 Reviews
Through Euclid's Window Leonard Mlodinow brilliantly and delightfully leads us on a journey through five revolutions in geometry, from the Greek concept of parallel lines to the latest notions of hyperspace. Here is an altogether new, refreshing, alternative history of math revealing how simple questions anyone might ask about space -- in the living room or in some other g ...more
Paperback, 308 pages
Published April 9th 2002 by The Free Press (first published 2001)
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Trevor
Jul 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
I’ve done what I never do – before starting this review I’ve read some of the other reviews on this site. I’m quite surprised at the negative reviews this book has received. Someone has even complained that this is quite an ‘anti-Christian’ book. I guess this is because the author was clearly less than impressed with the ‘Dark Ages’ which he introduces by discussing Hypatia. So, yes, I can understand why that might annoy a Christian. But this would be like a Marxist complaining when people menti ...more
Aleksandar Janjic
Још мало популарне науке. Еуклидов прозор се, као и већина научнопопуларних књига, бави модерним теоријама које би требало да представљају пут ка Теорији свега, при чему се наравно на првом мјесту налази фамозна теорија струна. Разлика је (ваљда!) у томе што се овде много више пажње посвећује геометрији из које све то проистиче, како еуклидској, тако и нееуклидској. Нажалост, Леонард Млодинов је кобила, тако да оно што је у теорији могло да представља предивно читање добија једва пролазну оцјену ...more
Terry
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Euclid's Window is an unremarkable tour of a very specific line of reasoning that is neither refreshing nor fleshed out. The narrative is supposed to span the progress of ideas coming from the advent of space as a notion to modern multidimensional brane theory but the path drawn by the author is not clear.

Writing - The writing itself is fine. The prose is concise, the jokes are acceptable, and the anecdotes are quaint. Definitions are usually good with periodic reminders.

Organization - Strictly
...more
Lightreads
Jul 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history
History of math more than actualfacts math, with a minimally annoying authorial voice as these things go. Except for the teeny weeny culture/race centrism problem – I’m neither a historian nor a mathematician, but even I know it’s pretty freaking suspect when your history doesn’t include the advancements of, um, the Arab world, the South/Central American empires, or, you know, Asia, except for that one paragraph that one time. I mean, write a history of European geometry, by all means, I did lik ...more
Fortunr
Sep 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Firstly, a disclaimer: as the author was a writer for "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (which I totally loved), I am naturally inclined to give a favourable review to whatever he writes :).

Back to the book: basically, this book is a history of our understanding of the structure of space (dimensions, curvature etc., in other words its "geometric" properties) starting from the Ancients (usual culprits, Pythagoras and Euclid) up to the latest scientific developments.
This book provides beautifully s
...more
Jerry
Apr 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mathematics, history
Interesting discussion of history of geometry from the time of the ancient Greeks through geometry's role today in String Theory and M-Theory. It covers what it considers to be the major events of the history of geometry, starting with Euclid's organizing Greek knowledge of geometry into the Elements, Descartes bringing the coordinate system to geometry, Gauss and Riemann moving geometry beyond Euclidean space, Einstein with his theory of relativity, and finally Ed Witten and his contributions t ...more
Sam
Ich kann nicht behaupten, alles in diesem Buch verstanden zu haben. Gerade die letzten 100 Seiten über Relativitäts- und Stringtheorie wurden zusehends unverständlich, teils auch, weil die Forschung auf letzterem Gebiet in vollem Gange ist und die Experten selbst noch nicht wissen, was Sache ist.

Aber allein die ersten 150 Seiten waren für mich ein ganz neuer Blick auf ein Feld, das mich nie interessiert hat. Mlodinow schreibt äußerst unterhaltsam und liefert viele Einblicke in kulturelle und ges
...more
Trever
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Book was great from the beginning with small stories that engage and keep you interested. When the book goes further on it takes too much time to describe Einstein and String Theory and moves too slowly. Half the book is the history of geometry, the other half is Einstein. It turned me off at the end.
Jeremy
Nov 15, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: math-and-science
An extremely poor approach to the historical development of mathematics. The book is replete with historical inaccuracies and a clear anti-Christian bias throughout. Try Kline's "Mathematics for the Nonmathematician" instead.
Rebecca
Jul 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Mlodinow tackles what some people would think would be a dry topic and manages to infuse some wit into it. You can tell that he really loves his topic and wants the reader to as well. He explains the math and gives you examples to help you understand. And they are very helpful (although I must say that his examples using his sons start to get a little annoying after a while.) He explains the beginnings of geometry and how it progressed and reasons why it was, at times, held back due to politics ...more
Ender
It's called Euclid's Window, but the view isn't really so inspiring in the opening chapters. My version had a glaring mistake on the first page! The previous borrower had helpfully (and amusingly) annotated my library copy. Makes me wonder if I could perhaps make it as a professional editor. I mean, how hard can it be?

Typos aside, this is a fairly pedestrian stroll through the key (European) developments in geometry from antiquity to the 20th century. The anecdotes are quite dry, and the explan
...more
Esmeralda
Jul 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, math
Euclid started out his hobby by lining up stones to represent numbers in order to find patterns. From there, the narrator goes through the historical developments of geometry. It combines biographical anecdotes and snippets of theory. As in art, many thinkers took pieces of a previous theoretical approach and gave new interpretation. Humanity would have more research to use if religion had not come around to kill people, torture people, and sometimes burn works of original thinkers. I love that ...more
Georg
Aug 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: english, non-fiction
Nach dem Drunkard's Walk war das eine herbe Enttäuschung. Keine überraschenden Erkenntnisse, mehr Kurzbiographien als Erläuterungen der wissenschagtlichen Fortschritte selbst und ziemlich viel aufdringliche Beispiele, in denen Alexej und sein Bruder vorkommen. Ich hatte nicht die Illusion, dass ich diesmal Einsteins Theorien verstehen würde (das wird mir sicher nie gelingen), aber von diesem Ziel bin ich jetzt eher weiter entfernt als näher dran. Ich habe nichts dagegen, wenn Wissenschaft locker ...more
Lynn
Jun 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
I read Mlodinow’s The Drunkard’s Walk and thought this would be a great book on the history of mathematics. It started out good and then just fizzled out for me toward the end. His explanations were sometimes a little hokey and sometimes confusing. I think if you worked hard you could probably make sense of what he was trying to explain, but I’ve read better explanations of relativity, quantum mechanics, and string theory so I skimmed through the last half of the book pretty fast. It just didn’t ...more
Shashi Martynova
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: translated
charming, inspite of sometimes a little bit too much of unceremoniousness.
and yes, it makes the brain work and get amazed. and excited.
and all in all: a person loving his|her subject just can't possibly write a vapid book, i believe.
Tony
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Probably the worst popular science/math book I've read. He distorted and sensationalized history in an effort to be shocking and entertaining. It's less a history of geometry than a tabloid like account of the lives and discoveries of famous mathematicians and physicists.
Murali Behara
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
if you have a background in math and science, it sure would move you. human stories of extraordinary individuals and their insights. made me laugh and cry.
Dubravka
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
Interesting. Funny. At times too cutesy for my taste.
Sriram
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, as it succinctly explained the progression of geometry from ancient Greece to todays fascinating new discoveries. Each topic was broken down into digestive chunks, which I devoured (like the pun? :)). While some may not like to read books about math, I would definitely give this book a chance. The information was very factual, and fun to read.
Piyush Yadav
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
A humbling compilation but lacks completely in the breadth of the topics covered and certain subtle explanations lack proper inspirations.
One might capture an impression of the author's interest in promoting string theory rather than explaining the history of mathematics(here, geometry ).
Audrey
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It may not be an overstatement to say that I learned more science from this book than I did in my secondary education. (Big picture, key concept knowledge...not little details like distance equals rate times time.) Gravity is a matter of perspective? Space and time, in one sense, don't really exist? There is no absolute distance...of anything. Space may actually have 11 dimensions? Oh yeah, and time is different on the earth than it is on the sun. Since I graduated after this book was published, ...more
VijayaRaghavan S N
Apr 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in left being dazed
In passing, Mr Moldinow mentioned the art perfected by schools and colleges in presenting Geometry as one of the most boring subjects. And also how he is going to change that view for his readers. That too with the help of minimal number of diagrams. Before I start, let me say that I belong to the same category of people who have been bored with Geometry. And so, when I read this passage, where he promises to show how interesting a subject Geometry is, I was naturally very excited. Even though I ...more
Becky
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this as an audiobook, and thought it was fascinating. All of the historical anecdotes were relevant to the mathematical topics. Though geometry may seem objective and unquestionable, I learned a lot about how the development of this field has been very contentious and intimately tied to changing paradigms of reality in european/western thinking. As some other reviewers state, this book unapologetically leaves out mention of the development of geometry in other parts of the world. H ...more
Nadia
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is a cute piece of pop-science that takes us through the history of the human understanding of space, from the Ancient Greeks to modern theories of quantums, strings and numerous dimensions that sound mysterious and strange. And mysterious and strange remained even after reading the book, since the author doesn't do a great job at putting the "popular" in "popular science" as the things he's talking about grow more and more complex (and seem to focus more on physics than math or geometry as ...more
Mark
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've read a number of 'science for the layman' which work through the discoveries of quantum mechanics, special and general relativity, and string theory. This offering covers that ground as well but starts much farther back with the foundational discoveries within mathematics, which I enjoyed.

Looking at the development of mathematics and physics through the lens of geometry is a novel approach and led me to some better understanding of the subject matter than I brought in to the book.

I've been
...more
Sam Bledsoe
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
It's not the first Leonard Mlodinow book I've read, but it's not my favorite, either.

First, when it comes to pop-math books, I love that he attempts math, even if it is rhetorical. I can wish for someone to write a book with really hard stuff, but for now I appreciate that explains the logic and reasoning behind math. He also explains techniques well.

His humor is good. Some jokes fall flat, I thought, but overall I smiled and chuckled at some.

He talks about his sons a lot. Like, every example he
...more
Ziqi
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Incredibly funny and cheeky; Mlodinow gives a broad overview of (a very Eurocentric) history of geometry, profiling 5 major figures: Euclid, Descartes, Gauss, Einstein and Witten. Truth be told, the biographies fell short and were very spotty. The author is very easily distracted and feels the need to insert a joke at every turn.

The Witten chapter was extremely disappointing; we only get a sliver of his work (M-theory is mentioned, like, twice), and it is corrupted by Mlodinow's own personal pe
...more
Tim
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Overall, an excellent book that covers geometry all the way from Pythagoras (so not just Euclid) to modern day String Theory. It's probably not a good choice for a pop science book, but for someone interested in the history of mathematics/science, it's very well done.

There's a lot in this book. He covers early geometry by Pythagoras and Euclid, on to others like Descartes (and his predecessors), then on to people like Gauss and Riemann. He then discusses the impact of their work on Einstein whic
...more
Holly
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Well, I loved this book (reading it as a layman who knows very little about geometry, physics and mathematics in general!)

It broadened my horizons - I want to read books about physics now. I want to read about Feynman and Gauss and string theory.

I loved how the author interwove other parts of history with the discoveries in geometry. I appreciated the way in which he explained complex mathematical concepts in an almost anecdotal style.

I noticed how when describing theoretically what a physicist
...more
Nathan Glenn
Nov 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was a completely fascinating read! It follows the history of mathematics and particularly geometry from the very beginning all the way to modern research in physics (which is heavily tied to geometry). It gives an account of the time before anyone thought of numbers by themselves, divorced from the length of a rope or a country's boundary. It recounts the revolutionary idea of Descartes that numbers can be drawn on a graph, with up being a bigger number and down being lower. These are ...more
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Leonard Mlodinow is a physicist and author.

Mlodinow was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1959, of parents who were both Holocaust survivors. His father, who spent more than a year in the Buchenwald death camp, had been a leader in the Jewish resistance under Nazi rule in his hometown of Częstochowa, Poland. As a child, Mlodinow was interested in both mathematics and chemistry, and while in high schoo
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