squarely in the larger context of the Enlightenment's quest for perfection in nature and its startling discovery of a world ‘too irregular to serve as its own measure.’” The meter was supposed to a universal standard, exactly of the circumference of the earth, but ….

15.

The Mystery of the Aleph: Mathematics, the Kabbalah, and the Human Mind. By Amir D. Aczel (4 Walls 8 Windows, 258 pp, 2000) HS – adult. "Aczel tells of mathematicians struggling with absolute infinity and some of its mind-bending ramifications. The crown jewel of this struggle was conceived more than a century ago by Georg Cantor and remains an enigma to mathematicians. Cantor spent his life going back and forth between trying to prove and disprove his continuum hypothesis. In the Kabbalah, the aleph ‘represents the infinite nature, and the oneness, of God.’ Cantor deliberately picked this symbol for use in his equations: to him, trying to understand the absolute infinite was like trying to touch the face of God."

16.

The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero. By Robert Kaplan. (Oxford, 225 pp, 2000) GFBR ***. HS-Adult. "It is hard to imagine that an entertaining, informative book could be written about nothing, but Robert Kaplan has done it brilliantly. Starting with the great invention of zero as a place holder, Kaplan takes you through the use of zero in algebra, and in calculus, through the importance of the null set. His book closes with that unthinkable question, 'Why is there something rather than nothing?' about which one cannot long meditate without fear of going mad."

17.

Numbers; the Universal Language. By Denis Guedj. (Abrams, 175 pp, 1996, 1997) Middle School-Adult. “Positional notation i.e Hindu(Arabic) is beautifully explained in this book like no other! The Photographs the artwork and the layout of the book make it even more readable. For anyone like myself that couldn't understand Mathematics at High School or University - primarily because your Teacher or Lecturer didn't understand it either should buy this book! It will open your eyes!”

18.

Trigonometric Delights.,By Eli Maor. (Princeton, 248 pp, 1998) GFBR ****. Advanced HS-Adult. "Maor writes Trigonometric Delights from an historical perspective, but it is not a history book. It contains many theorems and results of trigonometry, but it is not a textbook. Rather, Maor achieves a satisfying blend of mathematics and history, creating a work that informs, teaches, and stimulates thought, while underscoring that mathematics is a human endeavor, not a stale collection of facts that exist in a vacuum. His book is the labor of a missionary whose aim is to deepen our appreciation of ideas and the people who developed them, ideas about which we have heard, but have not fully enjoyed. It is evident throughout that Maor is devoted to his subject. His love for trigonometry is contagious. He writes enthusiastically and engagingly."

19.

The Universal History of Numbers: From Prehistory to the Invention of the Computer. By Georges Ifrah. (Wiley, 633 pp, several editions) HS-Adult. A very in-depth treatment of the subject, much more so than I have found in any other history-of-mathematics book – and that includes Florian Cajori, Otto Neugebauer, and many others.

HOW-TO: MATHEMATICS

1.

Mathemagics: How to Look like a Genius Without Really Trying. By Arthur Benjamin and Michael Shermer (Lowell, 218 pp, 1993) GFBR *** Teen-adult. . Teaches you how to calculate in your head faster than you can with a calculator.

Science and Math Books You Can Read – page 17 out of 30