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The Grapes of Math: How Life Reflects…
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The Grapes of Math: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life (2014)

by Alex Bellos

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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213886,358 (3.7)3
"From the bestselling author of Here's Looking at Euclid, a dazzling new book that turns even the most complex math into a brilliantly entertaining narrative. From triangles, rotations and power laws, to cones, curves and the dreaded calculus, Alex takes you on a journey of mathematical discovery with his signature wit and limitless enthusiasm. He sifts through over 30,000 survey submissions to uncover the world's favourite number, and meets a mathematician who looks for universes in his garage. He attends the World Mathematical Congress in India, and visits the engineer who designed the first roller-coaster loop. Get hooked on math as Alex delves deep into humankind's turbulent relationship with numbers, and reveals how they have shaped the world we live in"--… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Much more technical then his first book, but consequently more informative as well. Excellent as both a refresher for forgotten material and as an introduction to new concepts. Discussion of set theory, pi (and its would be replacement tau), logarithms, negative roots and calculus are some of the highlights. ( )
  bensdad00 | Jan 10, 2017 |
Alex Bellos has a knack for whimsical book titles (his previous book was Here’s Looking at Euclid) and for making math interesting. In The Grapes of Math, he covers a wide range of only tangentially (get it?) related topics like how parabolas differ from catenaries, the area under a cycloid, and an understandable derivation of Euler’s almost mystical eponymous equation. The transcendental numbers pi, e, and i each gets its own chapter along with a succinct, lucid explication of the nature and history of calculus. This is a fun romp for anyone who did well in advanced algebra.

(JAB) ( )
  nbmars | Aug 25, 2016 |
Imagine life without a number line. I had never considered the idea before this book. The Grapes of Math is a really fun and interesting read. I picked it up between other books and read pieces at a time, and almost every time, it made me happy.

I loved learning the history and context of the concepts presented. I now have a better understanding and appreciation for those concepts.

Note: I am not a mathematician, but I took a few math courses (2 calculus, a linear algebra, lots of statistics) in college (more than a decade ago) and find math interesting. There were a few parts that were a bit too technical for me, but for the most part I didn't have a problem following and enjoying the writing.

First Sentence: Jerry Newport asked me to pick a four-digit number.
Favorite Sentence: The i's pop out, leaving a term that even the Greeks would understand.

( )
  kparr | Dec 31, 2015 |
Another math book from Alex Bellos, The Grapes of Math takes the reader through a history of the great achievements of mathematics – and the often flamboyant personalities who helped them along – starting from the basics and working its way to calculus and on.

This one did not quite grab me as much as his previous novel, Here’s Looking at Euclid, if only because Bellos has a habit of defining the very simple and then jumping to the very complex with no intermediate step. I only finished through calculus in school (which was quite some time ago), but even I remembered the basics of SOH-CAH-TOA and what an exponent is, but Bellos still defined them in aching detail. Part of this was necessary, I’ll admit, but it did feel a bit elementary – until it suddenly didn’t. Even the parts that I understood seemed convoluted.

That said, Bellos includes wonderful details about historic personages, including a few very funny anecdotes and some ego-driven feuds, and has an adorable narration voice (if you skipped the references or dedication page, go back for gems like, “According to David Bellos, professor of French at Princeton and the author’s dad…” (320), which is just too cute for words). I was also excited when he mentioned the Poincare Conjecture, having just read [b:Perfect Rigor: A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century|6684592|Perfect Rigor A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century|Masha Gessen|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1391802454s/6684592.jpg|6879898] by [a:Masha Gessen|24695|Masha Gessen|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1291557798p2/24695.jpg] on the eccentric man behind its solution, Grigori Perelman – it was like running into a friend unexpectedly.

Toward the end, when he began getting into the Game of Life (not the board game) and imaginary numbers, the text was fascinating – but the beginning was a bit of a slog to anyone who remembers even the rudiments of their old classes. ( )
  kittyjay | Jul 18, 2015 |
Another math book from Alex Bellos, The Grapes of Math takes the reader through a history of the great achievements of mathematics – and the often flamboyant personalities who helped them along – starting from the basics and working its way to calculus and on.

This one did not quite grab me as much as his previous novel, Here’s Looking at Euclid, if only because Bellos has a habit of defining the very simple and then jumping to the very complex with no intermediate step. I only finished through calculus in school (which was quite some time ago), but even I remembered the basics of SOH-CAH-TOA and what an exponent is, but Bellos still defined them in aching detail. Part of this was necessary, I’ll admit, but it did feel a bit elementary – until it suddenly didn’t. Even the parts that I understood seemed convoluted.

That said, Bellos includes wonderful details about historic personages, including a few very funny anecdotes and some ego-driven feuds, and has an adorable narration voice (if you skipped the references or dedication page, go back for gems like, “According to David Bellos, professor of French at Princeton and the author’s dad…” (320), which is just too cute for words). I was also excited when he mentioned the Poincare Conjecture, having just read [b:Perfect Rigor: A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century|6684592|Perfect Rigor A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century|Masha Gessen|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1391802454s/6684592.jpg|6879898] by [a:Masha Gessen|24695|Masha Gessen|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1291557798p2/24695.jpg] on the eccentric man behind its solution, Grigori Perelman – it was like running into a friend unexpectedly.

Toward the end, when he began getting into the Game of Life (not the board game) and imaginary numbers, the text was fascinating – but the beginning was a bit of a slog to anyone who remembers even the rudiments of their old classes. ( )
  kittyjay | Jul 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alex Bellosprimary authorall editionscalculated
McCoy, The SurrealIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Nat
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Mathematics is a joke.

Introduction.
Jerry Newport asked me to pick a four-digit number.

Chapter one - Every number tells a story.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Alex through the looking-glass was published under the title The grapes of math in the United States.
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