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149 of 151 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wished I had read this when I was in school !
Mathematics gets a bad press in school and elsewhere, characterized as dry and difficult ,is one of the most hated topics in a student can read. But for Alex Bellos math can be inspiring and brilliantly creative and he proves it in this book that can be read easily by most non-geeks.

Mathematical thought is one of the great achievements of the human race, and...
Published on 6 May 2010 by A customer

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67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book let down by sloppy Kindle conversion
I've just finished reading the Kindle edition of this book and really enjoyed it, but just had to comment on the slap-dash approach to the reproductions of most of the maths and equations in it.

Wherever a fraction is used in text, it's set in a minuscule font that most of the time is impossible to read. Similarly many of the more esoteric characters used when...
Published on 3 May 2011 by Chris Houston


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unconventional, 26 April 2011
By 
John Dexter - See all my reviews
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Alex Bellos's treatise on mathematics is one of those rare books that manages to delight and disappoint in equal measure. Promoted as a "richly entertaining and accessible book", there is little doubt that our guide in the mythical world of Numberland is as competent as he is charming and, with his infectious enthusiasm and gentle humour, he certainly provides his readers with some welcome clarity in several of the fundamental precepts of mathematics.

However, like many popularizations aimed at a lay-audience, the subject matter is vulnerable to the dangers of over-simplification and, given its four-hundred or so pages, "Numberland" proves to be surprisingly superficial in places. Indeed, one does not have to venture far into Bellos's world (for instance, see p.9) to find examples of sloppy, incomplete, or clumsy reasoning: it seems that, unlike Euclid, Bellos is content to presume that his audience has the requisite knowledge and critical thinking skills to identify his assumptions and recognize approximations without assistance. Clearly, this won't always be the case and such presumptions on the part of teachers and commentators alike may even explain why many people struggle to grasp basic mathematics in the first place.

Moreover, Bellos has a proclivity for things spiritual and religious and his inclination for the "deep connection between maths, religion and philosophy" gives such pseudo-science an ill-deserved legitimacy for which he offers no real justification.

Notwithstanding my discomfort, it is only fair to acknowledge that Alex Bellos never claims that his work is intended as a mathematical text book, only that it seeks to "explode[s] the myth that maths is best left to the geeks". In this respect, he is wholly successful: this is certainly an unconventional book on mathematics! Nonetheless, when viewed as an account of one man's odyssey to discover the use (and abuse) of numbers, it makes far more sense and is much more enjoyable.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I'd read this book when I was young, 15 May 2010
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S. Gibbons (sheffield uk) - See all my reviews
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I have actually only read half of this book so far but have been so impressed that I feel compelled to write my first ever review. I am 46 but can still remember those achingly tedious, dry maths lessons and my dis-interest in the teachers - how much more respectful would I have been if I (or perhaps they !)had read this book. Who knows where it would have taken me. I have just sent off for a book on Euclid...thats how inspired I feel. Thank you for this epiphany. The next person who tells me maths is boring will get this book right between the eyes.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alex's adventures in Numberland-with Andrew, 9 Aug. 2010
By 
Mr. A. Folker (Wiltshire, England.) - See all my reviews
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Having read a review in the paper and then seeing the title on Amazon I decided to buy. The book was a revelation -as someone who never really 'got' mathematics -as I read I began to see why people got so enthusiastic. Patterns of numbers that have always been there were revealed to me, relationships between numbers and shapes became clear and , although some of the more detailed equations(anyhing with cube roots)were beyond me the book was a real 'page turner'. Well written-the passion shine through-and never condesending or patronising-a good read -highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting subject that could have been written better, 28 July 2010
Alex Belos in Alex's adventures in numberland presents an easy account of the history of Maths and to some extend how Maths shape the world we live in for the last 4 thousand or so years. The content in itself is very interesting but you can find other authors that present the same case in a more interesting way. The content is there, some interesting examples as well but somehow there is something missing. The book has few inspirational moments in which the reader can lose itself in the read.

I truly believe is a worth reading book but after reading a few books by Simon Singh in which the subject of maths is put in a much more interesting way it is somewhat a disappointment to read a book about the same subject that does not elicit the same kind of feeling and engagement.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Parent of a 16yr old boy, 7 Dec. 2010
By 
Poppy Barrow (Cheshire, England) - See all my reviews
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Like many boys our 16yr old reads occasionally and not as much as we would like. In desperation I decided to try something different and ordered this book as he does enjoy Maths. Result? He comes to the supper table quoting things he has read. He has decided that he wants to use one of the topics for his Extended Project AS exam in 6th form. He is reading and enjoying! It is one of the most successful books I have ever bought for him.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short & Quick, 14 May 2010
I'm currently studying a Physics degree, but this is a fantastic book and it was great to read maths approached from a different, incredibly accessible angle.

This book is for everyone, you have really got nothing to loose, but hopefully a massive insight to gain and to discover for yourself that maths really can be fun!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alex's Adventures in Numberland, 15 Jan. 2012
I bought this book but gave it away to my son Alex before I read it, and subsequently it was my first book on the Kindle. As a book it was fine and quite interesting, dryness of the subject is alleviated by anecdotes about mathematicians but I didn't see the need for a descripion of their personal features. Padding!
It seems Cantor was a bit unstable, probably all his thought about infinity. All the stuff about an infinity of infinities, and Hibert's Hotel leaves me cold and I wish Alex Bellos had left it out. I can't see and Alex didn't give any relevence to normal folk. Chaos theory would have been more interesting.
When I read this book on my Kindle I was dissapointed that the pages were not arranged to include the diagrams with the connected words (so one has to flip forward and backwards), and this doesn't aid the understanding of a concept. I might add that my Kindle has been left on the default font size and page layout, so one would have thought that the pages would have been re-edited to counter this problem. Also some of the diagrams are so faint that they where difficult to see at all.
Basically the book is good but Amazon could have done better. By the way, look at Alex's website it is very interesting!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maths has never been so interesting, 30 Nov. 2010
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This review is from: Alex's Adventures in Numberland (Kindle Edition)
This book isn't about maths or numbers, it's more about the history of maths and numbers, which is different. Alex goes into the reasons why certain things are the way they are - why are there 60 minutes in an hour, 12 hours in a day - and of course into lots of great trivia - did you know that the Chinese have a system of counting up to a billion on your fingers? The first few chapters are particularly insightful as he talks about the human perception of logarithmic scale and how it factors into the way we refer to large quantities.

The chapter on numerology which I didn't like or rather, I didn't understand why it was there or what purpose is served. It was more quasi-mystical and borderline hippie rather than contributing any way to the overall theme of the book. But still, each chapter is sufficiently modular so that the adventures don't overlap with each other.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A history of mathematics, 5 Jan. 2011
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This review is from: Alex's Adventures in Numberland (Kindle Edition)
A well written and interesting book detailing the history of modern mathematics. Bellos starts by looking at how humans aquired numbers, then moves through the Greek's exploration of geometry to the maths behind the house always winning in casinos and finally the invention of hyperbolic space and its relation to Einstein's famous theory of general relativity. He manages to present complex ideas in an accessable way with minimal use of equations. Well selected diagrams help illustrate the theories and there are appendices for readers who want more detailed explanations and proofs.

You do not need an A-level in mathematics to enjoy this book, just an interest and basic arithmetic are sufficient to access the ideas presented. A well written and witty journey through the fascinating world of mathematics that many people will wish they had covered at school.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From pi to phi - a journey to infinity - AND BEYOND!, 13 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Alex's Adventures in Numberland (Kindle Edition)
This is quite simply an extraordinary book, and probably the second book in the space of two years where I felt a genuine sadness as I reached its end (the other being a biography of George Washington by Ron Chernow). Whether you are a seasoned mathematician, or like myself a well-intentioned amateur, there should be the makings of an epiphany in this book for you. The overriding impression I have on completing the book is a feeling of enthused reassurance - the author presents layer upon layer of evidence of the fundamental patterns at the heart of life, and displays with a great sense of relish how a truly mathematical approach to life can unlock much of its beauty for the naked eye. I only wish that I had this book when I studied Maths in school. I enjoyed it then and scored well in exams, but my deeper understanding was nowhere near what it should, or could, have been. And I know that I would have enjoyed it more. By exploring a mathematical view of the world in a broad array of disciplines, from number theory to gambling, and repeatedly returning to the real world, the author ultimately raises the reader's eye to the sky, and the infinities beyond. When you read the book through, you will understand that this last statement is no exaggeration. The best example of the beauty, poise and awe that lies at the heart of this book is found in the proof that one of the most conceptually complex areas of maths, hyperbolic space, has found its only concrete expression to date in crochet, and that computers cannot display it, because there is no formula for it! Read on!
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