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Recommended by Mr. Brandenburg - page 6 / 30





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Banneker and shows what he really accomplished.


The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdös and the Search for Mathematical Truth. By Paul Hoffman. (Little, Brown, 317 pp, 1999) GFBR ****. Teen-adult. Paul Erdös was an amazing and prolific mathematician whose life as a world-wandering numerical nomad was legendary. He published almost 1500 scholarly papers before his death in 1996, and he probably thought more about math problems than anyone in history. Like a traveling salesman offering his thoughts as wares, Erdös would show up on the doorstep of one mathematician or another and announce, ‘My brain is open.’ After working through a problem, he'd move on to the next place, the next solution.” He never learned to drive, cook, or tie his shoes, and never had a home or an apartment, but he gave away priceless mathematical knowledge and all the money he earned from his published articles.


A Mathematician's Apology. By G. H. Hardy. (Cambridge, 142 pp, reprinted from1940 edition) HS – Adult. “This is a profoundly sad book, the memoir of a man who has reached the end of his ambition, who can no longer effectively practice the art that has consumed him since he was a boy. But at the same time, it is a joyful celebration of the subject--and a stern lecture to those who would sully it by dilettantism or attempts to make it merely useful. "The mathematician's patterns," G.H. Hardy declares, "like the painter's or the poet's, must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colours or the words, must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics." '


The Meaning of it all:Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist..By Richard P. Feynman. (Helix Books, 1998) Teen-adult. “In this series of lectures originally given in 1963, which remained unpublished during Richard Feynman's lifetime, the Nobel-winning physicist thinks aloud on several ‘meta’--questions of science. What is the nature of the tension between science and religious faith? Why does uncertainty play such a crucial role in the scientific imagination? Is this really a scientific age? Marked by Feynman's characteristic combination of rationality and humor, these lectures provide an intimate glimpse at the man behind the legend. ‘In case you are beginning to believe,’ he says at the start of his final lecture, ‘that some of the things I said before are true because I am a scientist and according to the brochure that you get I won some awards and so forth, instead of your looking at the ideas themselves and judging them directly...I will get rid of that tonight. I dedicate this lecture to showing what ridiculous conclusions and rare statements such a man as myself can make.’ Rare, perhaps. Irreverent, sure. But ridiculous? Not even close.”


Men of Mathematics. By Eric Temple Bell. (Touchstone, 590 pp, many editions) GFBR **. HS-Adult. “Here is the classic, much-read introduction to the craft and history of mathematics by E.T. Bell, a leading figure in mathematics in America for half a century. Men of Mathematics accessibly explains the major mathematics, from the geometry of the Greeks through Newton's calculus and on to the laws of probability, symbolic logic, and the fourth dimension. In addition, the book goes beyond pure mathematics to present a series of engrossing biographies of the great mathematicians -- an extraordinary number of whom lived bizarre or unusual lives. Finally, Men of Mathematics is also a history of ideas, tracing the majestic development of mathematical thought from ancient times to the twentieth century. This enduring work's clear, often humorous way of dealing with complex ideas makes it an ideal book for the non-mathematician.” On the other hand, he totally omits the women of mathematics, and his stories are not always 100% accurate.


Microbe Hunters. By Paul de Kuif. (many editions, 357 pp) GFBR****. General audience. The book  “charts the amazing shift in medical knowledge from both the historical and philisophical viewpoints. Dr. de Kruif's genius lies in the fact that he can transform the highly technical jargon of medicine into a compelling story of men versus nature. It is very readable!  He maps the course that men such as [van Leeuwenhook,] Pasteur and Koch blazed into

Science and Math Books You Can Read – page 6 out of 30

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