Wonders Beyond Numbers: A Brief History of All Things Mathematical by Johnny Ball

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Wonders Beyond Numbers: A Brief History of All Things Mathematical by Johnny Ball

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Buy Wonders Beyond Numbers: A Brief History of All Things Mathematical by Johnny Ball at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Popular Science
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: A concise history of the world, showing the contribution that mathematics has made to the progress of civilization.
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 480 Date: August 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury Sigma
ISBN: 9781472939982

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Like many people of a certain age, I have fond memories of tuning in to watch Johnny Ball enthusiastically extolling the virtues of maths and science; succeeding where our schoolteachers had failed and actually making these subjects fun. Although decades have passed since those classic TV shows, his latest book proves that he has lost none of his passion and enthusiasm for his subject.

The book itself is certainly an ambitious one; a brief history of all things mathematical, squeezed into 470 pages. The result is a potted history of the world, starting with the Egyptians and then working its way through the Sumerians, Greeks, Romans and subsequent civilizations up to the present day. As we read about the discoveries and developments over the centuries, we see that mathematics is the central thread weaving everything together. Advances in the fields of architecture, art, astronomy, finance, science, transport and engineering simply would not have been possible without the mathematical principles that underpin them.

We learn about some of the greatest minds the world has even known: Archimedes, Pythagoras, Newton and Einstein; to name a few. But what about lesser-known heroes who still made a valuable contribution to mathematical history? People like Heron, Hipparchus, Mendeleev and many others made discoveries that changed the world and yet we barely know their names. This book gives them all a chance to shine.

It is amazing to see how far the human race has come in understanding the world around us and even our place in the universe. It is fascinating to see how these great minds arrived at their conclusions, and how sometimes progress moved backwards, as well as forwards. This is certainly true when it comes to the ancient concept that the Earth was the centre of the universe; an idea so entrenched in the minds of people that it was difficult to break free and think outside of the box, as it were.

Throughout the book, Johnny keeps his trademark enthusiasm, which shines through on each page. There is even an index at the back of the book that explores some of the mathematical ideas in more depth, which he aptly calls the WOW Factor Mathematical Index. This is an author who is truly excited and inspired by his specialist subject, and it rubs off on his readers.

I thoroughly enjoyed my brief trip through history and although maths was never my strongest subject, I do have a newfound respect for it; so many of the things we take for granted are due to mathematical discoveries, including the computer that I am typing on right now! Many thanks to the publishers for my review copy.

Bookbag also enjoyed Beyond Infinity: An expedition to the outer limits of the mathematical universe by Eugenia Cheng which explores the idea of infinity and what it really means.

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Buy Wonders Beyond Numbers: A Brief History of All Things Mathematical by Johnny Ball at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wonders Beyond Numbers: A Brief History of All Things Mathematical by Johnny Ball at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Wonders Beyond Numbers: A Brief History of All Things Mathematical by Johnny Ball at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wonders Beyond Numbers: A Brief History of All Things Mathematical by Johnny Ball at Amazon.com.

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