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Mathematics Of Life: Unlocking the Secrets of Existence [Kindle Edition]

Ian Stewart
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Book Description

A new partnership of biologists and mathematicians is picking apart the hidden complexity of animals and plants to throw fresh light on the behaviour of entire organisms, how they interact and how changes in biological diversity affect the planet's ecological balance. Mathematics offers new and sometimes startling perspectives on evolution and how patterns of inheritance and population work out over time-scales ranging from millions to hundreds of years - as well as what's going on to change us right now.





Ian Stewart, in characteristically clear and entertaining fashion, explores these and a whole range of pertinent issues, including how far genes control behaviour and the nature of life itself. He shows how far mathematicians and biologists are succeeding in tackling some of the most difficult scientific problems the human race has ever confronted and where their research is currently taking us.


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Review

Stewart is Britain's most brilliant and prolific populariser of mathematics ... the book is a testament to the versatility of maths and how it is shaping our understanding of the world. (Alex Bellos Guardian)

As always, [Stewart] explains complicated mathematical ideas brilliantly (New Scientist)

A quirky look at the mathematics of biology for those who want to know about patterns on tigers, the taxonomy of lizards, alien life, and how much information in an egg is needed to make an elephant . Stewart has a lively humour and his book stretches the mind without pain. (The Times)

Will this book do for biomathematics what Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time did for relativity and cosmology? Time will tell. Until then, the distinguished author's friendly, well-argued style should guarantee its popular success (Chris Howls Times Higher Education)

Review

"'Stewart is Britain's most brilliant and prolific populariser of mathematics... the book is a testament to the versatility of maths and how it is shaping our understanding of the world.' (Alex Bellos, Guardian) 'As always, [Stewart] explains complicated mathematical ideas brilliantly' (New Scientist) 'A quirky look at the mathematics of biology for those who want to know about patterns on tigers, the taxonomy of lizards, alien life, and how much information in an egg is needed to make an elephant. Stewart has a lively humour and his book stretches the mind without pain.' (The Times)"

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2091 KB
  • Print Length: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (7 April 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0054461N2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #33,998 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard Math, Simple Biology. 2 May 2011
Format:Hardcover
I am a great fan of Ian Stewart, and an avid reader of 'popular science' novels such as this one. However, I think Ian has made a mistake with his audience on this one. He is a mathematician, not a biologist, and as such he describes simple A-level biological phenomenon as if it was all new, excitingand in great depth. Then rushes onto the mathematics that just leave you stumped wanting more explanation. The first half of the book is a boring re-hash of biology text-books. Written (it seems) to bring the knowledge of his reader up to a fundamental level of understanding in order to pile the mathematics on top, later in the book. As a biologist I was left bored churning through the first bit and then a bit lost in places on the second bit (Seriously multi-dimensional mathematics gets about half a chapter, and no nuts and bolts explanation as with the biology, I would of much preferred half a book on this!). If your a mathematician that has never looked at life sciences, then you will probably enjoy it. If your a life scientist looking for a mathematicians take on your subject, then that is basically what you get, but be prepared to read around some of the concepts elsewhere as they are not included in sufficient clarity within the book. Despite this, Ian is an engrossing and enjoyable author and usually his books are a triumph of learining and reasoning. Maybe I am too close to one of the subjects to appreciatte it, but I was disapointed with this title.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Recycled contents 6 Jun. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As usual with Stewart the book is well written and relevant to his subject. Perhaps because he can not assume knowledge of sufficient biological background there seems to be a greater proportion of non-mathematical exposition than in most of his other books.

There is a problem which Stewart shares with other prolific writers and that is the limit to the amount of material which is available to a popularising author. The overlap between 'Mathematics of Life' and his earlier book 'Life's Other Secret' (1998) is quite extensive. I'm sure it has been re-written and updated but anyone led from this book to the earlier one would find it repetitious.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book hurts 4 Oct. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Prof. Ian Stewart FRS is clever and well-regarded. For a long time, his book on Galois theory was on my to-read list. This book was a major disappointment. It started off, in prospect, as a possible five stars, but it rapidly slid down to two.

What are the problems? Too many to list, but here are some.

First, there is actually precious little mathematics here, esp. in the first hundred pages or so. Then the text is littered with statements that were almost literally painful to read. At one point, he observes that the number of bits required to encode the human genome is approximately the same as the capacity of a CD - thus 'we are roughly as complex as Seargent Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band'. This is a _completely_ content free remark, for reasons that I am sure Prof. Stewart is aware of, when he is making any effort at all. He implies that we didn't 'really' know that a reef-knot cannot be untied, until topologists managed to prove it in this century. This is a serious confusion of models and reality. It is more accurate to say that we have known, _with absolute certainty_ that you cannot untie a reef-knot with fixed ends, we juat haven't bothered to shoe-horn that knowledge into the language of algebraic topology. Presumably we didn't know until this century either (because mathematics tells us that you can) that you could take a sphere the size of a football apart, and put it together as a sphere the size of the sun?
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2.0 out of 5 stars Skips over maths 29 Aug. 2013
By Pajy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Skips over maths and dwells in obvious biology far too long excessive scope has lead to a much less useful book Han it might have been
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