Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Book of Numbers (mathematics)

Bentley, J Peter,(2008) The Book of Numbers: The Secret of Numbers and how they changed the World. Buffalo NY, Firefly Books.

This is a beautifully put together book that should be brought into every math classroom. It is the history of numbers through a historical narrative. This book paints the picture of mathematicians, astronomers, and physicists as explorers "they didn't weave the tapestry they examined. They did not invent their numbers or mathematical ideas as novelist invent a story. They searched for truth, and tried to explain it inventing new languages of numbers simply to be able to write down their discoveries."

This book creatively sews the pieces together from negative numbers, zero, decimal, one, irrational numbers, Phi, 2, e, 3, Pi, 10, 13, c, infinity and i. It carries the story of mathematics invented, what's at the foundation, and easily explains complex ideas like topography, fractals, relativity, probability, etc.

There is no argument in this book that numbers are anything other than what they are. But Bentley does an amazing job showing the reader what numbers actually are. I would recommend this book to any math, science, humanities class from 8th grade on up. This book could bring to students that necessary curiosity that enables them to enjoy mathematics.

This book will increase your ability to marvel at the world. In the words of Albert Einstein "There are two ways to live your life. One as though nothing is a miracle. The other though everything is a miracle."

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