Hidden Harmonies: The Lives and Times of the Pythagorean Theorem

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Bloomsbury Publishing USA, Jan 11, 2011 - Mathematics - 304 pages
2 Reviews
A squared plus b squared equals c squared. It
sounds simple, doesn't it? Yet this familiar expression is a gateway
into the riotous garden of mathematics, and sends us on a journey of
exploration in the company of two inspired guides, acclaimed authors
Robert and Ellen Kaplan. With wit, verve, and clarity, they trace the
life of the Pythagorean theorem, from ancient Babylon to the present,
visiting along the way Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, President
James Garfield, and the Freemasons-not to mention the elusive Pythagoras
himself, who almost certainly did not make the statement that bears his
name.
How can a theorem have more than one proof? Why does this one have
more than two hundred-or is it four thousand? The Pythagorean theorem
has even more applications than proofs: Ancient Egyptians used it for
surveying property lines, and today astronomers call on it to measure
the distance between stars. Its generalizations are stunning-the theorem
works even with shapes on the sides that aren't squares, and not just
in two dimensions, but any number you like, up to infinity. And perhaps
its most intriguing feature of all, this tidy expression opened the door
to the world of irrational numbers, an untidy discovery that deeply
troubled Pythagoras's disciples.
Like the authors' bestselling The Nothing That Is and Chances Are . . .-hailed as "erudite and witty," "magnificent," and "exhilarating"-Hidden Harmonies makes the excitement of mathematics palpable.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - fpagan - LibraryThing

Many a reader, I think, would find this volume's writing to be too clever and erudite for its own good. A more straightforward popularization on the Pythagorean Theorem and related mathematics, such ... Read full review

HIDDEN HARMONIES: The Lives and Times of the Pythagorean Theorem

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Popular math writers Robert and Ellen Kaplan (Out of the Labyrinth: Setting Mathematics Free, 2007, etc.) examine the far-reaching, and at times exotic, applications of the familiar theorem.With its ... Read full review

Contents

CHAPTER
6
CHAPTER THREE
44
CHAPTER FOUR
63
CHAPTER FIVE
81
CHAPTER
138
CHAPTER EIGHT
192
CHAPTER NINE
224
CHAPTER
254
AFTERWORD
262
Selected Bibliography
275
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Robert and Ellen Kaplan have taught mathematics to people from
six to sixty, at leading independent schools and most recently at
Harvard University. Robert Kaplan is the author of the best-selling The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero, which has been translated into 10 languages, and together they wrote The Art of the Infinite. Ellen Kaplan is also co-author of Chances Are: Adventures in Probability and Bozo Sapiens: Why to Err is Human, co-written with her son Michael Kaplan.

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