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From 0 to Infinity in 26 Centuries: The extraordinary story of maths [Hardcover]

Chris Waring
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

6 Sep 2012

We may remember their equations and discoveries from school, but do we remember who the men behind the maths were? From the theories of Pythagoras (did you know he ran a secret brotherhood that studied maths, music and gymnastics?) to coining the term 'Googol', From 0 to Infinity in 26 Centuries: The extraordinary story of maths is packed full of fascinating facts and surprising stories from ancient times to the modern day.

Do you want to know why the Ancient Greeks knew so much maths? Or, why there was so little maths studied in the Dark Ages? Read this fascinating book to uncover the mysteries of maths...


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Michael O'Mara (6 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843178737
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843178736
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 18.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 60,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Waring was born in London, UK. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College and a short yet disastrous career as a headhunter, he became a maths teacher. Since then he has taught small children and Oxbridge candidates and everybody in-between.
His writing career began with I Used To Know That: Maths, where he put his years of teaching experience to good use to create possibly the first ever readable maths revision guide. In 2012 his second book, From 0 To Infinity in 26 Chapters successfully tells the stories of the people, places and events behind the creation of the mathematics that has made the world as we know it.
Iain Wear of thebookbag.co.uk says of it: "...as a starter book into the history of Maths, this is a very well done book indeed. It touches enough on each notable person or concept to give an idea of what they or it did and then moves on. This allows for a very compact book that doesn't get bogged down by too much complicated details that would cause a reader with a relatively basic understanding to get confused or disinterested. It won't necessarily make Maths any easier, but it could make it a little more interesting for the reluctant or unenthusiastic student of the subject."
Chris is married to the composer Morag Galloway and they live in York.

Product Description

Review

Sit back and enjoy a maths lesson like no other ... exploring the mysteries of maths has never been so much fun (Lancashire Evening Post)

About the Author

Chris Waring is a secondary school Maths teacher and the author of I Used to Know That: Maths (Michael O'Mara Books, 2010). He lives in York.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good attempt, but flawed 16 Feb 2013
By Sid Nuncius HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I generally enjoy books of this kind very much and this one does have its merits, but I'm afraid I thought it had some serious flaws, too.

It is presented in a series of brief sections, most of which give an outline of the contribution of an individual to mathematics, from ancient Greek, Chinese, Indian and Arabic mathematicians via people like Descartes, Newton, Euler and so on up to the 20th century where both concepts and people become less familiar. These are generally well written, the concepts on the whole are well explained and the tone is amiable and welcoming with not too much in the way of scary equations, which is excellent for the non-specialist.

However, as a story of maths (which it claims to be) I found it rather lacking because there is no sense anywhere of how the ideas described fit together, and although it is roughly chronological it seemed just a random scattering of stories without any sense of movement through history. And while Chris Waring mentions applications of some of the concepts and techniques, I didn't really get a sense of how it all fitted into the world.

More seriously, some of the explanations are badly flawed. For example, I thought I was losing my mathematical marbles on page 54 because Euclid's Theorem of Infinite Primes is so poorly and inaccurately explained that it seems to be self-evidently false. Waring says "If you multiply all the primes together you generate a number. This next number..." What he means by "this next number" is, "if you then add one to the generated number, this new number..." which is something very different, and even when (or if) you realise this, the explanation still omits a vital step in reasoning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By S. Riches TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I hated Maths at school and took two goes to get my Maths "O" level pass. Even now I go into panic even at something as simple as adding up a pile of money. I'll only agree, on the odd occasion when required to help run an NTFC supporters' away coach, if someone else will add up the cash - I get a different total each time!
Yet this book for me was a fascinating read, and would, I believe be equally so (with extra meaning) for the accomplished mathematician. So do not assume it is for those with number-crunching brains because really it is a compelling story of human history and the development of society hand-in-hand with the various branches of Maths that are required - yet, as the book shows, there still are tribes whose environment does not need the concept of numbers, and some for whom the expression of a number will seem bizarre to those of us steeped in numbers based on the digits of two hands - eg. some people in northern Australia still indicate the number 9 with their shoulder!

The reason the book works on all levels is an easy-to-understand writing style, plenty of visual examples, lots of "factoids" in boxes, and an explanation of how a system works: even if you are unable to follow the workings to the "n"th degree, you will still grasp the priciples. It isn't a "dry" publication, it is bubbling with life.

You are taken from earliest civilisation to the digital computer age in various steps through history, which gives you great insight into the human mind and the various needs for different types of maths to cope with what life throws at people.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book. 31 Jan 2014
By Aztec
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bought it for a friend for Xmas. More of a stocking filler really. Really good book. Very interesting read, so I'm told.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Largely a series of mini biographies, giving potted accounts of the contributions made by key figures in Maths over the centuries.
I found the use of graph paper background to many of the examples a bit distracting. Otherwise well illustrated with easy examples.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A solid overview of the history of maths 25 May 2013
By Karura VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When we learn maths in school, we probably don't give much thought as to where all those formulae and equations come from, or who discovered them. In this book, high school teacher Chris Waring takes a whistle stop tour through the history of maths, highlighting the men and women behind our millennia-old attempt to understand the world around us through the application of numbers.

From ancient civilisations to modern unsolved problems, this book packs a lot of mathematical history into its pages. With that in mind, it's a very good book for satisfying the curiosity of children and adults with an interest in mathematics, but for students of the discipline, it may feel a little lacking. Certainly, I felt as if the opening chapters were just a retread of Marcus du Sautoy's The Story of Maths - it was only later on that the book started taking on an identity of its own.

That being said, if you're interested in the history of mathematics and only have a passing familiarity with the subject, then this book will serve as a good introduction. But if you're looking for something a bit meatier or more technical, then this won't satisfy your needs.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for the general reader
Although billed as the story of mathematics, this would be better described as a series of short stories from the history of mathematics in that there is not an unbroken narrative... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Ray Blake
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple but interesting read
This great little book is simply a history of mathematics, beginning with the stone age (I now know what "subitize" means), moving through ancient and classical history with the... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Paul Fillery
4.0 out of 5 stars Not 100% accurate but I enjoyed it
My wife is a maths teacher. I am not. I'm technical but not mathematical and to be honest for me maths is a practical pursuit rather than one done for fun. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mr. R. D. Turner
3.0 out of 5 stars I expected more
I really like Maths, but I never thought of its story, so I hoped this book could be something special. Read more
Published 15 months ago by janci
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced and engaging
I really enjoyed this book!

I love maths and physics theory books, but sadly have to accept I don't have a brain for maths and struggle with it's applications beyond... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Rosey Lea
2.0 out of 5 stars As another reviewer said - superficial
Do not get me wrong - this is not a bad book, but as another reviewer said it is far too superficial for anyone above GCSE level of Maths. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Ajo
5.0 out of 5 stars Lively and accessible
I'll admit I struggled with maths at school, and am currently trying to encourage a reluctant 6 year old with her maths, so I picked this book with her in mind actually, thinking... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Easterchick
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and entertaining
I have no great interest in mathematics per se, but I thought this book might be of interest to a grandson who has a particular aptitude I never managed. Read more
Published 16 months ago by BruceB
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent but brief history of maths
Having done a maths degree course (many years ago now) it seems odd in retrospect that they didn't spend any time covering the history of mathematics, as this would have been a... Read more
Published 16 months ago by A. Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars The story of Maths, the story of human development
It is interesting and enlightening to see how Maths has developed throughout human history. I found it very helpful once I realised this, because at school it is presented as a... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Nish Pfister
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