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Here's Looking at Euclid: A Surprising Excursion Through the Astonishing World of Math Hardcover – 15 Jun 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (15 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416588256
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416588252
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 986,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By athenian girl on 21 May 2011
Not only is Amazon selling this book, without warning us that it is "Alex's Adventures in Numberland" with a different title, but it even recommends the two books be purchased together!! Shame. And of course, to post it back to Amazon from Greece would not be cost effective for me. How many customers have been ripped off this way?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gigi on 26 April 2011
As written by a previous poster, this is the same book as his previous work "Alex's Adventures in Numberland", but published under a different title. This is not made clear, and I feel let down and mislead.
What a swindle. I will be avoiding purchasing from this publisher and author wherever possible in the future.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By kington on 29 April 2011
Very disappointed to discover that Here's Looking at Euclid is the same as Alex's Adventures in Numberland, so if you have the latter don't waste your money buying the same book with a different title.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By gypsy on 26 April 2011
I was disappointed to discover this is a reprint of the excellent Alex's adventures in Numberland. Not obvious from any of the info I've found on-line...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 62 reviews
71 of 74 people found the following review helpful
A Fascinating, Wide-Ranging Book That Will Delight a Vast Audience 10 July 2010
By William Gronos - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I've read a lot of recreational math books and this one is superb. It's as good as those written by the greatest popular mathematics author of them all, Martin Gardner.

In the preface the author states, "I have included a fair bit of historical material...". The first chapter makes it seem that the book will be 90% historical background and information ancillary to math, but within a few chapters that is no longer the case.

Even with subjects that will be familiar to most math devotees, he adds many new interesting tidbits, e.g. if you remove all the terms of the harmonic series that contain the digit 9, the formerly infinite-summing series now sums to just under 23. "Remove all terms including ANY number and the thinned-out harmonic series is convergent." if you remove all the terms that contain the string of digits 314159, the series sums, amazingly!, to a little over 2.3 million.

And mixed in with all the interesting math bits, the author constantly adds interesting asides; Peter Roget of thesaurus fame invented the slide rule log-log scale, which enabled the calculation of square roots and fractional powers like 3^2.5.

There are five pages about sudoku puzzles. They discuss the puzzle's background and also its math; the minimum number of clues needed to produce a puzzle with a unique solution seems to be 17, because although a man named Gordon Royle has collected over 50,000 17-clue puzzles, there has never been a 16-clue puzzle and Royle has a gut feeling that none exist.

I could go on and on describing the many things I found extremely interesting in this book, but I'm too lazy to type them all out. Since I compared this author with the Maestro Martin Garder, let me close with the author's account of his meeting with Gardner: "I found his home in an assisted-living center next to a fast food joint... Gardner opened the door and invited me in. On the wall was a portrait of him made out of dominoes, a large photograph of Einstein and an Escher original... Gardner's preferred subject is magic... At first I had felt a little let down that Gardner was not a mathemetician, but as I left the assisted-living center it struck me that it was brilliantly in the spirit of recreational math that the man who now personifies it was only ever an enthusiastic amateur."

Alex Bellows, your great book earns you the right to be favorably compared to Gardner. May you be as prolific as Martin and keep amazing me for decades to come.
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Mathematics in a Whole New Light 22 Jun 2010
By Travis Klempan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read a condensed article that turned out to be the first chapter of this book - a book that has opened my eyes to the pure wonders and joys of mathematics. It would be easy to use over-the-top superlatives in describing my reaction not only to the book as a whole, but to each chapter. In this case, though, they would be deserved.

The writing and arrangement of the material is masterful - each chapter could stand alone as an essay of the first degree, and stories of travel, interviews, and history are seamlessly woven with surprising revelations about mathematics and humanity. In particular, the chapter on zero should be taught early and often, and the concepts used to illustrate infinity (and the different levels of infinity) made me gape in awe and fear. Sublime.

The one complaint (and a minor one) I have is the way it appeared on my Kindle. Granted, I don't own the large-screen version, but for a text that relies so heavily on numbers, formulae, and specialized symbols, the paragraphs often appeared distorted or cut off. Again, this is my only hang up regarding what is otherwise a classic.

Future reviews may say it, so I'd like to be the first: this book re-introduced me to mathematics and showed me the beauty of what is often a daunting subject. Would that more math teachers at all levels were able to communicate in the way Alex Bellos does. Well done!
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Here's Looking at Euclid 6 Aug 2010
By Andy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I heard the author being interviewed on national public radio and was intrigued by the title. My daughter is a math professor and my husband is an aeronautical engineer, but my knowledge of math is limited. I thought this book would be a fun way to learn some interesting facts about math and it didn't disappoint. For a person who is mathematically inclined, parts of it might be more easily understood and appreciated, but on a simpler level the book is also quite enjoyable. I would recommend it highly.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
The Amazing World of Mathematics - For Everyone 24 July 2010
By G. Poirier - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a book in which just about everyone should find something of interest, mainly because the author's topics are so wide-ranging. In the first chapters, he discusses how the brain works when solving mathematical problems. He then moves on to how primitive societies started counting and how mathematical concepts evolved. In subsequent chapters, the reader is treated to discussions on a variety of topics including: geometry, origami, number games (e.g., Sudoku), number theory, logarithms, devices used for calculating (abacus, slide rule, etc.), graphing, infinities, the golden mean, pi, probability (especially as applied to gambling), and statistics. In each case, the reader is introduced to some history, various related anecdotes as well as key people (some of whom the author has interviewed) who are currently involved in some of these topics. The author notes that the chapters can be read in any order, but suggests that the usual progression may be best.

Naturally, in a book that is so sweeping in its topics, a given reader may enjoy some chapters more than others; that certainly was my case. However, throughout, the writing style is lively, friendly, accessible, authoritative and quite engaging (depending, of course, on the reader's topics of preference).

I do believe that this book has something for everyone. Those who are math phobic may find clues as to why they are that way, i.e., how their brains may work when they are confronted with a math problem; maths buffs may find fascinating historical information as well current developments in some fields of mathematics that are less known to them. Gamblers may find information that could improve their odds at winning at certain games, or they could learn why they may lose more than they win. Those simply interested in math for its own sake will find plenty here to explore and enjoy.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Here's looking at Euclid 8 Aug 2010
By trgtchr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fun book to read. I am a math teacher and plan on using some of this information in my math classes. Would definitely recommend this book to other teachers.
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