Coincidences, Chaos, and All that Math Jazz: Making Light of Weighty Ideas

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2005 - Science - 276 pages
2 Reviews
Improbable? Yes. Impossible? Noan irreverent, entertaining, readable, and completely understandable explanation of lofty mathematical ideas.

By starting in the familiar world and using a few simple steps of imagination, Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird sneak up on weighty mathematical ideas. The spirals on a pineapple quickly lead to the famous Fibonacci numbers and the alluring Golden Ratio and from there to aesthetic forms in nature, art, and music. The edge of a twisted strip of paper leads to an image of the shape of the universe. Playing with the notion of probability demonstrates that surprising coincidences such as the amazing parallels between the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations are sure to happen. These and other foreign and familiar mysteries share two featuresthey appear inexplicable and they are all explained with great humor and clarity in this book. Perhaps the greatest surprise is that these travels require no math background. If you never thought you would read about mathematics, this book is for you. 160 illustrations.
 

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Contents

UNDERSTANDING UNCERTAINTY Coincidences Chaos and Confusion
1
UNBRIDLED COINCIDENCES Likelihood Lady Luck and Lady Love
3
CHAOS REIGNS Why We Cant Predict the Future
20
DIGESTING LIFES DATA Statistical Surprises
42
EMBRACING FIGURES Sensing Secrecy Magnificent Magnitudes and Natures Numbers
63
SECRETS HELD SECRETS REVEALED Cryptography Decrypted
65
SIZING UP NUMBERS How Many? How Big? How Quick?
78
A SYNERGY BETWEEN NATURE AND NUMBER A Search for Pattern
100
A TWISTED TURN IN AN AMORPHOUS UNIVERSE An Exploration of an Elasticized World
166
TRANSCENDING REALITY The Fourth Dimension and Infinity
199
THE UNIVERSE NEXT DOOR The Magic of the Fourth Dimension
201
MOVING BEYOND THE CONFINES OF OUR NUTSHELL A Journey Into Infinity
231
IN SEARCH OF SOMETHING STILL LARGER A Journey Beyond Infinity
246
Closing Thoughts
267
Acknowledgments
268
Further Resources
269

EXPLORING AESTHETICS Sexy Rectangles Fiery Fractals and Contortions of Space
121
FROM PRECISE BEAUTY TO PURE CHAOS Picturing Aesthetics Through the Lens of Mathematics
123
ORIGAMI FORTHE ORIGAMICALLY CHALLENGED From Paper Folding to Computers and Fiery Fractals
146
Permissions
270
Index
271
Copyright

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