Mathematical Mysteries: The Beauty and Magic of Numbers

Mathematical Mysteries: The Beauty and Magic of Numbers

Mathematical Mysteries: The Beauty and Magic of Numbers

Mathematical Mysteries: The Beauty and Magic of Numbers

Synopsis

Why seemingly unrelated mathematical truths are connected in simple and beautiful equations continues to stump even mathematicians. This recreational math book takes the reader on a fantastic voyage into the world of natural numbers. From the earliest discoveries of the ancient Greeks to various fundamental characteristics of the natural number sequence, Clawson explains fascinating mathematical mysteries in clear and easy prose. He delves into the heart of number theory to see and understand the exquisite relationships among natural numbers, and ends by exploring the ultimate mystery of mathematics: the Riemann hypothesis, which says that through a point in a plane, no line can be drawn parallel to a given line.

While a professional mathematician's treatment of number theory involves the most sophisticated analytical tools, its basic ideas are surprisingly easy to comprehend. By concentrating on the meaning behind various equations and proofs and avoiding technical refinements, Mathematical Mysteries lets the common reader catch a glimpse of this wonderful and exotic world.

Excerpt

The mathematician lives long and lives young; the wings of the soul do not early drop off, nor do its pores become clogged with the earthly particles blown from the dusty highways of vulgar life.

JAMES JOSEPH SYLVESTER (1814-1897)

Tvividly remember a class on numerical analysis taught by Professor Chamberlain at the University of Utah during the 1960s. He would become so enthralled with his lecture that, while hurriedly writing equations on the blackboard, he would fail to notice how closely he was stepping to the edge of the platform, raised six inches off the floor. My attention fluctuated between following his lecture and watching his feet move ever nearer to the platform's edge. Suddenly and without warning, he would step off the platform and fall in a great tumble to the floor.

The entire class would burst out laughing. Chamberlain would give a great laugh as he picked himself off the floor and brushed the dust from his pants. Smiling, he would offer some delightful joke and then return to the blackboard and his equations. We were so awed by his complete involvement in the realms of numerical analysis that we, too, paid intense attention to his lectures trying to discover what he saw in the subject matter. By the end of the year, we had fallen a little more in love with numbers.

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