For readers who haven’t balked at Stephen Hawkings’s A Brief History of Time (Bantam, 1988) or Robert P. Crease and Alfred Scharff Goldhaber’s The Quantum Moment (Norton, 2014), this sustained ramble through the thickets of mathematics offers similarly lucid but challenging insights into our universe’s deeper patterns and principles.
Building not on a chronological but a conceptual framework outlined in the opening chapter, “Zeroth Chapter,” the author explores the historical evolution of mathematical tools, conjectures, and concepts from numbers and geometrical shapes to primes, knots, algorithms, multiple dimensions, computers from the Antikythera Mechanism on, probability, “ridiculous” (i.e., negative, transcendental, surreal, and the like) numbers, and infinities of diverse flavor. He adds lots of small diagrams and photos to illustrate his topics, but appends no index or, aside from follow-up comments on scattered posers, back matter.
A stand-up comedian as well as a trained mathematician, Parker lightens the intellectual load considerably with zingers (“That’s the problem with binary jokes: they either work or they don’t”) and everyday examples from bar bets to dating algorithms. Still, even confirmed math geeks will find this pleasurable but not casual reading.
by guest reviewer John Peters, School Library Journal
It’s the one thing you’re still allowed to be proud of being bad at, No one walks around saying, ‘I’m terrible at reading – I just can’t read or write’, but people are almost proud of being ignorant of this huge achievement of humankind, the discipline that underpins our society.
Douglas “Swish” Reemer: Your bed is over here.
[indicates a dog bed]
Kenny “Squeak” Scolari: Dude, that is so fuckin’ weak! How am I supposed to get a chick in that?
Joseph R. Cooper: Oh, don’t worry, dude. You couldn’t get a chick if you had a hundred dollar bill hanging out of your zipper.
Kenny “Squeak” Scolari: Yeah I could.
Douglas “Swish” Reemer: No. Dude, you’re a little bitch!
Kenny “Squeak” Scolari: I am not! I don’t even know why I hang out with you guys, anyway.
Joseph R. Cooper: ‘Cause you’re a piece of shit.
Kenny “Squeak” Scolari: I am not a piece of shit!
Douglas “Swish” Reemer: Yeah, but you’re a little bitch.
Kenny “Squeak” Scolari: Goddammit! I swear if you guys rip on me 13 or 14 more times… I’m outta here!
…relating the narrative of Andrew Dosunmu’s seductive…drama “Mother of George” would do little to convey the film’s stark, poetic power, much less its extraordinary visual and sonic acumen. Steeping the audience from the very first frame in the…textures and…rhythms of Brooklyn’s Yoruba community, Dosunmu doesn’t use such iridescent local color merely to dress up this classically structured melodrama…but to provide a suitably prismatic context…