Professor Stewart's Hoard of Mathematical Treasures by Ian Stewart
|Professor Stewart's Hoard of Mathematical Treasures by Ian Stewart
|Category: Popular Science
|Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
|Summary: A wonderful collection of maths puzzles, games, stories and concepts. It's perfectly written, being both accessible yet not dumbed down. Anyone with at least a passing interest in maths will love it. Highly recommended. Ian Stewart was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
|Date: October 2009
|Publisher: Profile Books
|External links: Author's website
Ian Stewart has been collecting mathematical curiosities, puzzles and stories since he was 14. He published his Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities in 2008, and hot on its success, he's sharing this second volume with us.
If maths scares you, you might as well stop reading now. Whilst it's not a book that requires deep mathematical understanding, it does require an interest in it. Still here? Great. Place four coins so they're equidistant from all the others. I'll wait... Done? Ok, now do it with five. (If you're really stuck, leave a comment at the end of this review and I'll tell you the answer). The hundreds of treasures in the Hoard range from this sort of simple bar bet and puzzle, to funny stories (like William Feller who worked out a mathematical proof that a table couldn't get through a door, whilst his wife managed to get it through said door), to deeper explanations of mathematical concepts, such as how to turn a sphere inside out.
I loved it. In fact, my biggest disappointment was that I had to get through it quickly in order to review it, rather than being able to ponder every puzzle at my leisure, trying to solve them. Even only taking a little time with each puzzle then checking the answer, it's still a great book, but it's at its best if you dip in and out of it at random. Put it in the bathroom, but make sure you've also got a few pencils and extra rolls of toilet paper, so people can work things out. (I'll resist the urge to tell the old joke about the constipated mathematician).
Professor Stewart's Hoard of Mathematical Treasures is pitched at the perfect difficulty level: it's clearly and intelligently written, so that you won't require anything other than a basic secondary school knowledge of maths, yet it's not dumbed down and doesn't shy away from anything complicated. Anyone with a slight geeky bent to them, whether they be adult or teenager, will find plenty to edify, tickle and tantalise them. It'd make a wonderful present for anyone with at least a passing interest in maths and puzzles. I can't wait for the next volume. Highly recommended.
My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag. We also have a review of Professor Stewart’s Incredible Numbers.
How To Make A Tornado by Mick O'Hare is another collection of curiosities, this time from the world of science rather than maths. The Tiger that Isn't by Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot gives you the tools you need to deconstruct the numbers which are pushed at us day in, day out - it features in our Top Ten Books For Slightly Geeky People, which is also worth a look.
Ian Stewart was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
Professor Stewart's Hoard of Mathematical Treasures by Ian Stewart is in the Bookbag's Christmas Gift Recommendations 2009.
You can read more book reviews or buy Professor Stewart's Hoard of Mathematical Treasures by Ian Stewart at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Professor Stewart's Hoard of Mathematical Treasures by Ian Stewart at Amazon.com.
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