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lively excursion, the author takes a fun-filled, in-depth look at eight infamous cases of bad science: highly touted discoveries or projects that are astonishing examples of serious scientific slipups.”

BIOGRAPHY:  MATHEMATICIANS + SCIENTISTS

1.

A Beautiful Mind: A Biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr. By Silvia Nasar.(Simon & Schuster, 459 pp, 1998) General audience. This is the book on which the movie was based. John Nash was one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the 1940s and 1950s, but he suffered from schizophrenia, which devastated not only him, but his work, and his family (or families). Eventually he got well enough to earn a Nobel Prize for game theory. "…a story about the mystery of the human mind, in three acts: genius, madness, reawakening.” .

2.

Benjamin Banneker: Surveyor, Astronomer, Publisher, Patriot. By Charles A. Cerami, Robert M. Silverstein (Wiley, 288 pp, 2002) Teen-Adult. Herein breathes the universal genius Benjamin Banneker — mathematician, astronomer, diarist, and sage…. Captured completely is the flowering genius of a largely home-schooled boy wonder, exhibiting mathematical wizardry while devouring the Bible, Plato, Epictetus, and virtually every other extant tome. … We understand how the pragmatic farmer who was imbued with Quaker ideology endured decades of ignominious racism with overt equanimity while haunted by incessant night terrors. We comprehend the heroism of the man whose very existence refuted Thomas Jefferson's notorious public denial of black intellect in Notes on Virginia when, speaking truth to power, Banneker launched an anti-slavery epistle at the ambivalent and duplicitous Jefferson. We are enraged at the account of arsonists setting fire on the day of Banneker's funeral to the small, rustic log cabin where the genius had labored in solitude among his instruments, papers, and books….”  I don’t know whether this volume repeats the many [untrue] myths that have grown up around its subject.

1.

Ex-Prodigy: My Childhood and Youth. By Norbert Wiener (or other similar titles by him– not easy to find!) General audiences. Norbert Wiener was one of the greatest applied mathematicians of this century, and had a great impact on the invention and uses of robots and computers. His writing is clear and elegant. The last book mentioned does not have a single equation. Anything by him that you can find in a library would be good, if you can understand it. I read Cybernetics when I was in high school and thought it was great.

2.

Galileo’s Daughter; A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love by Dava Sobel. . (Walker, 420 pp, 1999) GFBR ****. HS-Adult. Details the life of Galileo Galilei, the inventor of the astronomical telescope, and his daughter, a nun, and how he was condemned and sentenced by the Catholic Inquisition for his views on whether the earth revolved around the sun, or vice versa, even though Galileo always considered himself to be a good Catholic. By the way, you also find out that Galileo wasn’t always right about everything.

3.

The Life of Benjamin Banneker: The First African-American Man of Science. By Silvio A. Bedini. (Md. Historical Society, 448 pp, 1999) GFBR ****. HS-Adult. “Bedini’s authoritative biography of Banneker will be welcomed by those interested in the history of American science as well as students of black history. Well written and exhaustively researched, it is more than simply a recounting of the life and deeds of the black astronomer and almanac maker. Bedini’s work deals with the economy of 18th-centrury Maryland, the important contributions of the Ellicott family to the area and the new nation, the surveying of the District of Columbia, and the methods used by early almanac makers in their computations.” This well-researched accurate book lays to rest several popular myths about

Science and Math Books You Can Read – page 5 out of 30

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