A Cultural Paradox: Fun in Mathematics
Do you think "math = awesome" is a true statement? After reading this book, you might change your answer to a yes. With "jargon avoidance" in mind, this recreational math book gives you the lowdown on why math is fun, interesting and relevant in today's society. Intended for anyone who is curious about math and where it is circa 2010. This book is less concerned with exploring the mathematical details than it is with exploring the overall impact of various discoveries and insights, and aims to be insightful, cutting edge-y and mathematically rigorous.
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Reviewed by Stephanie D. for Readers Favorite
"A Cultural Paradox: Fun in Mathematics" by Jeffrey A Zilahy is a great book. It is unique and very well done. And the title turns out to be true - mathematics actually is fun. Well, at least in this author’s hands. He has an engaging style of writing and a great sense of humour. We have several pages of maths jokes, and a photo of Kurt Gödel, who contributed greatly to removing uncertainty from mathematics, and it is labelled as ‘Probably a photo of Kurt Gödel’. Even the publication date is given in binary code! Each chapter is a brief conversation on a certain topic, such as pi, probability, statistics, the birthday paradox, the New Kind of Science, various mathematicians, zero and binary numbers. We also look at the mathematics of spaghetti and meet undercover mathematicians such as Art Garfunkel and Brian May.
Many people are at worst scared and at best suspicious of advanced maths and maths theories. This books shows us in a very approachable style what they’re really about and how they’re not actually as awful as they sound. They’re put into a familiar context and explained in ways we can understand. The book is well-laid out and the subject matter is clearly presented. It makes for a fascinating and educational read. My only complaint, as a European, is that it is very much slanted to the American market. A "Cultural Paradox" is quirky, entertaining, well-explained and interesting. And it has an index, which is something every non-fiction book should have. 11 cheers for the author (that’s three in binary!).
"A Cultural Paradox: Fun in Mathematics" is a fun, light and quick read. It's a nice book for a young person who enjoys Math or science. It appeals to our natural sense of curiosity about math and numbers through enjoyable little stories.