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Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities [Hardcover]

Ian Stewart
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Oct 2008

School maths is not the interesting part. The real fun is elsewhere. Like a magpie, Ian Stewart has collected the most enlightening, entertaining and vexing 'curiosities' of maths over the years...Now, the private collection is displayed in his cabinet.

There are some hidden gems of logic, geometry and probability - like how to extract a cherry from a cocktail glass (harder than you think), a pop up dodecahedron, the real reason why you can't divide anything by zero and some tips for making money by proving the obvious. Scattered among these are keys to unlocking the mysteries of Fermat's last theorem, the Poincaré Conjecture, chaos theory, and the P/NP problem for which a million dollar prize is on offer. There are beguiling secrets about familiar names like Pythagoras or prime numbers, as well as anecdotes about great mathematicians. Pull out the drawers of the Professor's cabinet and who knows what could happen...

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (2 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846680646
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846680649
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 220,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Professor Ian Stewart is the author of many popular science books. He is the mathematics consultant for the New Scientist and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick. He was awarded the Michael Faraday Medal for furthering the public understanding of science, and in 2001 became a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Product Description


This is a superb Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities that deserves a place with the classics of the genre. (Mathematics today)

The book's goofy and unabashed enthusiasm will charm any interested teenager (Daily Telegraph)

interesting and illuminating... (BBC Focus)

Stewart has served up the instructive equivalent of a Michelin-starred tasting menu, or perhaps a smorgasbord of appetisers. And of course, appetisers are designed to give you an appetite for more. (Tim Radford Guardian)

Book Description

A book of mathematical oddities: games, puzzles, facts, numbers and delightful mathematical nibbles for the curious and adventurous mind.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
75 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating 22 Oct 2008
a well written and witty look at hundreds of mathematical puzzles, stories and jokes. I am a maths teacher and there is so much material here, it's amazing. I have already used a few of these with my classes and the puzzles have really caught their imagination. Highly recommended

although the solution to the problem on page 143 is wrong
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Have for the lover of Puzzles and Logic 22 Sep 2009
I picked this up to leaf through it the day it arrived, whilst already halfway through another book, AND I COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN!
Packed full of puzzles, and funny quirks of number patterns, this book is for readers of all abilities who have an interest in numerical gymnastics.
The other main component of the book is the history of mathematical research and development, in which Stewart gives an insight into the discovery of numerous maths theories and laws. And whilst this is -- at times -- heavy going, it's delivered in bite-size sections, interspersed throughout the book, which itself is given in tiny portions, allowing the reader to pick up and read at any time.
Brilliantly collected puzzles and stories with easy-to-understand solutions and explanations, Stewart's jovial delivery makes this book an unalloyed pleasure. 10/10!
Andy Gibson, 35, Fleet, Hampshire.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
This book is full of little gems, it's a great little read.
Forget about what some of the other comments said, if your a average person with average abilities in mathematics you should easily understand this book just as I did, I'm no brain box. If your not too good at math then maybe give this a miss, otherwise pick this book up and give it a read.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Useless as an ebook 24 Nov 2010
By Bruce N
Format:Kindle Edition
So badly formatted for the Kindle its almost unreadable. Answers to problems are not linked so you have to guess the location. I just gave up it was so much hassle!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very enjoyable and well-pitched 27 July 2011
I'm a (new) maths teacher, and found this book really enjoyable and interesting, both for me and for my pupils. Stewart has a great style - very accessible and friendly. However, I don't think it would be accessible to anyone who didn't do reasonably well in GCSE maths etc (i.e. that level of knowledge and technique is presumed).
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent value. 27 Feb 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
this book is perhaps one of his best books yet. the puzzles are varied enough to allow you to read through the whole book and/or dip in at various intervals. the presentation of the information and puzzles is very clear and consise and often leads to reading another of his books. however, the only bad point is that some of the puzzles have been done before by other books. excellent value for money and it has a charming style. suitable for first timers and the experienced
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars genius 3 Feb 2009
By J. Burn
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book kept a brainy 17-year old engrossed for hours over Christmas. Worth every penny. I'll be looking out for more by this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Little original here, lots of rehashed stuff 2 Nov 2010
I expect more from Ian Stewart than this. There are too many books around with this subject matter and in order to stand out it has to have that something extra. This one doesn't.

There are so many hackneyed old puzzles in here that really need to be laid to rest. The wolf, the goat and the cabbage - again? That one was done to death in The Office, for goodness sake. Stewart himself has already covered this one in its entirety in one of his earlier books anyway.

That said, it's readable and passably entertaining. Just too short on real meat.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A requested present.
Just perfect, couldn't be better, it was the choice of a relative for a gift. Supplied in time without problems.
Published 6 months ago by Daniel Crawford
3.0 out of 5 stars OK
Interesting I suppose, but somehow pedestrian, it isn't light my candle at all.however some will surely like it -not me though
Published 14 months ago by Keith A. Mellard
5.0 out of 5 stars Typical Ian Stewart
Lots of interesting, mathematically-correct oddities,puzzles, facts etc. Some items have questions and explained answers, and some are unanswered 'famous' problems.
Published 15 months ago by M. D. W. Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and fun
Really enjoyed reading through these curiousities and problems. This is a book I will dip into again over the years. Read more
Published 15 months ago by light
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy on Kindle
I concur with other comments on the Kindle version. I found I o be missing some diagrams and workings out and It could do with links to solutions.
Published 16 months ago by Mark Deacon
5.0 out of 5 stars A great find
Having been afraid of maths since school and apart from having excellent mental arithmetic skills, had no interest in the topic. This book has changed this. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mr. R. Callard
3.0 out of 5 stars ok
making people write long reviews on ggod they receive is in my opinion expecting a lot. surely just a simple word comment is enough??
Published 19 months ago by Ms. Julie A. Renyard
1.0 out of 5 stars DONT BUY THIS ON KINDLE
Wish I had read the full set of reviews before I bought this book on Kindle, as it is rubbish, as other people have commented. Read more
Published on 6 April 2011 by ChuckyH
5.0 out of 5 stars Maths made interesting!
This book ought to be required reading for all pupils learning mathematics - it shows how maths is a really interesting subject if you go about it the right way. Read more
Published on 3 April 2011 by Jim Munroe
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful little book
I have always had a fascination for science, and these mathematical curios piqued my interest. The book contains items that could be used in teaching, specifically to generate an... Read more
Published on 15 Jan 2011 by Mole
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