Desire to think –

Perhaps it is the memory of the red flags in the notebook from school that leads most to the conviction that numbers and formulas can always tell whether something is true or not. But in his new book, French mathematics professor and talented narrator Mikael Launay separates with his readers into a fascinating world in which mathematical questions are based on point of view and it is fun to search for mystery in phrases in order to learn new things.

How do you add to the multiplication? What is the magnitude of infinity? What do dimensions mean? Why is Mount Everest not the highest mountain on Earth? Apparently, Launay succeeds in conveying the basic ideas of number theory, set theory, geometry, logic and relativity – without any equations, simple and always with custom examples. He explains infinity with chocolate and the secrets of Euclid’s geometry with monsters. Through anecdotes, he brings readers closer to scientists such as Cantor, Newton, Benford, Einstein, and Mandelbrot and entertainingly explains their ideas.

After reading the universal formula, no one has any desire for mathematics as being just right or wrong. The desire to think and other points of view increases. This book expands the mind in the best sense of the word – without any pills.Tobias Beck

Michael Looney
parachute formula
CH Beck, 281 S., €22.95
ISBN 978–3–406–75648–1

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