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A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science
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David Rubenstein | 853 comments Mod
This thread is for comments on the book:
A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science.

So far, I have read the first few chapters of this book. I must say, this book is a big disappointment to me. There is very little mathematics here, and nothing interesting about nature, art or science.


message 2: by Patricrk (last edited Mar 13, 2010 05:29PM) (new)

Patricrk patrick | 136 comments David wrote: "This thread is for comments on the book:
A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science.

So far, I have read the first few chapters of thi..."
I agree! I would describe this as "New Age Mysticism" myself. I flipped through some of the other chapters and it didn't look like it was getting any better. I guess I'm one of those people he warns about in the introduction. How do some of the rest of you who are reading this book feel about it?


message 3: by David (last edited Mar 13, 2010 07:09PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

David Rubenstein | 853 comments Mod
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 ties in to nature.

The problem with the book, is that the author himself does not really understand what his book is really about. It's not about science. While the book asks science-related questions, (why do we see a spiral shape in shells, galaxies, hurricanes, and watery whirlpools), there are no science answers. And when the book does reflect on an interesting science question, like how does light penetrate through glass, the author says "E=mc2" as if the formula offers an explanation. The author seems truly ignorant of science, but I think he states Einstein's formula as a symbolic triad that pervades many cultures, rather than as a scientific explanation.

The author has tried to organize the material in 10 chapters devoted, each in turn, to the numbers 1-10. But in so doing, he makes a mistake; in each chapter he tries to come up with all the examples he can think of, where that number appears in everyday life. Some of the examples are absolutely banal. For example, in Chapter 8 he mentions that in an octagon, there are 8 corner angles each covering 135 degrees, so the total angle adds up to 1080 degrees, which is the same as the radius of the moon, expressed in miles. Like this explains anything?

Don't look to this book for a better understanding of nature or science. Instead, (once you get past the New Age banalities) look at this book to understand a little better, the subtle forms in which geometric patterns manifest themselves in cultures, in art, philosophy, and spiritualism, and where people copied them out of nature.


message 4: by Patricrk (new)

Patricrk patrick | 136 comments David wrote: "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 mislea..." Your a more persistent man than me. I stopped reading it.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 363 comments I think I'm glad I skipped this one.


message 6: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (coolmoss) | 6 comments Mmm, the way David describes this book, I'm thinking that I am glad that I came on board too late for this one. It seems a little too "numerology" for me.


David Rubenstein | 853 comments Mod
Is anybody reading this book, or planning to read it?


message 8: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa I just now got my copy from the library. Given the comment thread, I think it's going right back. There is too much legitimate stuff I don't know about to be stuffing my head with nonsense.

Too bad. The title looked interestng.


message 9: by Charles (new)

Charles Traupmann (gnarlyoak) With the current comments, I canceled my order for the book. I appreciate the honesty of those who've read it. You have also alleviated my wife and the cat of another flying book on it's way to the trash (with an expletive not deleted)!
Looking forward to discussing "the greatest show..."


Nydia “Cookie” | 15 comments I read the first few chapters and decided it was best to give to my daughter who is a mathematics teacher- since MANY and MANY of the quotes would be nice to have around her room and on her bulletin board. Otherwise..... not my cup of tea, as they say.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 363 comments Sounds like a good source for quotes for a cross stitch project for a math teacher - but no.


message 12: by David (last edited Apr 03, 2010 03:48PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

David Rubenstein | 853 comments Mod
Actually, the geometric constructions described in this book would have fit in perfectly with the geometry class I remember from 9th grade. We did geometric constructions then, though not as complicated as the ones described in this book.


Nydia “Cookie” | 15 comments Very True David. I will see what she says about the book when she comes for Easter dinner tomorrow. She teaches 8th grade honors and advanced math.


message 14: by Liz (new) - added it

Liz Brau | 5 comments I am just beginning chapter 4 and I really am enjoying this book! I really liked learning about the philosophical ideas of the numbers and their symmetry and patterns.


message 15: by Liz (new) - added it

Liz Brau | 5 comments ....okay, chapter 4 starts getting a little "too much." i don't know if i can keep this up for 6 more chapters...


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