One to Nine: The Meaning of NumbersHardback
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- Publisher: Short Books Ltd
- Format: Hardback | 328 pages
- Dimensions: 139mm x 205mm x 29mm | 388g
- Publication date: 6 September 2007
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 1904977758
- ISBN 13: 9781904977759
- Sales rank: 677,308
Have you ever thought about the uniqueness and simplicity of One, or what it means to be Two? Is Four really so square and why are there Seven days of the week, Seven deadly sins, indeed Seven wonders of the world? In "One to Nine", Andrew Hodges brings numbers to life. Inspired by millennia of human attempts to figure things out, this pithy, kaleidoscopic book takes a fresh, witty and hands-on approach to such various topics as musical harmony, the probabilities in poker, code breaking and the lottery. It probes the surprising symmetries of time, space, matter and forces. It even goes to the heart of what computers can do. Interweaving all these lies the inner life of the numbers, the patterns of primes and powers, which we try to grasp, and which have us in their grip. Accessible to anyone with a general curiosity and interest in puzzles, "One to Nine" might even have you completing your fiendish Sudoku in record time...
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"A virtuoso stream of consciousness containing everything important there is to say about numbers. . . . Cogent, charming and deeply personal. . . . One to Nine makes the unfathomable enticing and gives the reader tremendous motivation to explore further."--"Daily Telegraph" (UK) "Hodges is. . .very good at pulling numerical rabbits out of everyday hats. . . .You can skip through the facts like a tourist, marvelling at the sights thrust in your path and still feeling impressed by the principles that underpin them, even when the technical detail eludes you."--"Daily Mail" (UK) "The ideal book for everyone interested in the only universal language, especially if their mathematical curiosity exceeds their skill." --"Sunday Telegraph" (UK) "One to Nine ranges widely through literature, music, philosophy, politics, and whatever else occurs to its author, in a charmingly scholarly and entertaining way. A joyous read." --"Times "(UK) "From the Hardcover edition."
A mother lode of lore and learning about the digits.Hodges (Mathematics/Oxford Univ.; Alan Turing: The Enigma, 1983) has much to say about logic, computers, binary (and other base) notational systems, encryption and randomness. As is typical of books on numbers, the chapters proceed from one to nine, exploring characteristics of each number, but they are also (as is typical of Hodges) jumping-off points for loftier concepts. Chapter "One" duly discusses unity, but before long we are introduced to zero, primes and why their number is infinite, set theory and Kurt Godel's cunning theorems on undecidability in mathematics. Two themes are also introduced: Sudoku puzzles (including the fiendish "Killer" Sudoku) and the antipathy between English scholars G.H. Hardy, who gloried in the uselessness of pure math, and Lancelot Hogben, who saw it as an important tool in all human commerce and industry. As later chapters reveal, discoveries involving pure number theory turn out to have surprising utility. Thus "quaternion" multiplication (don't ask) is "vital to quantum mechanics" and has applications in computer games and in controlling roll, pitch and yaw in spacecraft. And so it goes, as Hodges relates findings about the geometry of curved spaces to general relativity or the Fibonacci series to the growth of flowers. No book on numbers would be complete without a discussion of magic squares, the golden mean, probability theory and various formulations of the natural logarithm base e. To this add Hodges's prodigious knowledge of music (harmonics), physics and cosmology (the Higgs boson, string theory, multiverses), plus developments in modern math, and you have a formidable mix that dazzles but will likely overtax most readers. This highbrow fare is packaged in airy, witty prose, complete with Anglo-American cultural references and the occasional political dig.Not for the math-phobic reader, but a treat for those who like challenges. (Kirkus Reviews)