21 September 2012 by Dominic Lenton
Exposure to Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle's Molesworth books
at an early age meant I had a rough if unenthusiastic idea of what to expect from geometry when I finally encountered it.
A good sign when flicking through Benjamin Wardhaugh's collection of popular mathematics writing from the past 500 years, 'A Wealth of Numbers', is that even in a book published by the august Princeton University Press he's managed to squeeze in 'Scenes from the Life of Pythagoras' from 1953's Down with Skool!
It's not all laughs though. Wardhaugh, a postdoctoral research fellow at All Souls College, University of Oxford, includes Thomas L Heath's more prosaic 'Pythagoras and His Theorem' from 1908. In between there are getting on for a hundred short extracts, some well known, others more obscure, that are just the right length for dipping in and out of.
Drawing from books, newspapers, magazines, and websites, it finds room for recreational, classroom, and work mathematics as well as history and biography. There are explanations of mathematical instruments, discussions of how maths should be taught and learned, reflections on the place of math in the world, and maths in fiction and humor.
No sign, sadly, of Sigismund the mad maths master.
Edited: 27 September 2012 at 04:25 PM by Dominic Lenton
Posted By: Dominic Lenton @ 21 September 2012 05:36 PM General
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