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Alex Through the Looking Glass: How Life Reflects Numbers, and Numbers Reflect Life by [Bellos, Alex]
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Alex Through the Looking Glass: How Life Reflects Numbers, and Numbers Reflect Life Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Product Description

Review

See, numbers don't have to be scary Evan Davis Another sparkling romp through the world of numbers, with the inimitable Alex Bellos as your friendly, informed, and crystal-clear guide. A brilliant successor to Alex in Numberland Ian Stewart To read Alex Through the Looking-Glass is to have one's mind quietly but continually blown with the knowledge that the world, so seemingly complex, is constantly conforming to patterns ... Bright children, bored with the way maths is presented, will find plenty here to jolly up their calculus classes, while those with an in-depth mathematical education may still find new gems Sunday Express Alex Bellos brings the quirks and eccentricities of numbers wonderfully to life ... Each chapter has its fair share of intriguing stories, which are always followed by plenty of equations and detailed explanations. In many ways, Bellos's books remind me of the writing of Martin Gardiner, who was one of the most prolific recreational mathematicians of the 20th century and who died in 2010 Simon Singh, Observer The great moments in maths, it seems, are not contemplations of chilly glories, but small, satisfying discoveries, like getting a particularly clever cryptic crossword clue, it is this friendly approach to numbers that makes Bellos so approachable; he has a way of walking the reader through a problem ... If anything, Looking Glass is a better work than Numberland - it feels more immediate, more relevant and fun Daily Telegraph Fresh, fascinating and endlessly charming. A splendiferous book altogether Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist Strikes Back Bellos's book is sprinkled with similarly surprising revelations about familiar mathematical objects ... Bellos has a fantastic knack of making you feel as if you're sharing a room with these mathematical explorers New Scientist If you're someone who has always considered maths dull or boring, think again. In this engaging journey of mathematical discover, Bellos travels around the world to prove that numbers are fun and have changed us in fascinating, often surprising ways Daily Telegraph

Book Description

The Sunday Times bestseller by the author of Alex's Adventures in Numberland - a dazzling new book that turns even the most complex maths into a brilliantly entertaining narrative

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 26179 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1 edition (15 April 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HXEF46Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #50,042 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am someone who thinks they don't like maths.

Like, seriously, even basic multiplications with single numbers flummox me. But I do like books, and I like stories, and especially stories about people and places and the origins of things. So when someone suggested that I read this book (actually, someone suggested that I read the first book, which I did, and then I bought this second one of my own accord) I was delighted, becauase it delivered on all the things I do like (stories about people, places, and the origins of things), AND it succeeded in making me think that maths wasn't all that bad after all.

Bellos writes in a really friendly, intelligent, warm style. It's often humourous, and very clear when it comes to the maths bits.

It's presented really well - the book looks good on the page with great illustrations and graphs.

I'm still never going to run down the street proclaiming that I love maths, and I confess that I did sometimes skip over the harder maths bits (which pressumably clever maths-lovers will really enjoy) but I would highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in philosphy, history, people - and - mathematics!
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Format: Hardcover
Bought this for my maths obsessed teenager. Big fan of his previous work. Not being quite as able as my son at maths this book is so well written and accessible that I can discuss maths with him, which is worth buying just for that.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There's no dumbing-down (and quite a few formulas) but it's still very accessible to anyone who once did o-level maths. I found the whole thing absolutely fascinating and constantly entertaining. Definitely recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
First of all, let me confess that I am scared of spreadsheets and bribe the Finance Director at work to help me with my budget. But, despite that, I think it's important not to let my own dyscalculia influence my daughter and this book has been a great ice-breaker. We've been dipping in and out of this book and talking about numbers which has been interesting and refreshing. It brings numbers to life in a way that maths homework and times tables don't.
The little video on You Tube about why number 7 is special is great too - my daughter even got the maths teacher at school to show it to the class!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In his latest book Alex Bellos devotes a chapter to each of the various fields of mathematics from basic principles through negative and imaginary numbers, trigonometry, calculus, and how they relate to real life events with which we are all familiar.
The unique feature of this book is that each chapter can be dipped into without having studied previous chapters. Publications on maths often qualify for the “most boring book of the year award”. This book is at the other end of the spectrum , amusing, entertaining and instructive and provides the reader with an excellent overall view of each topic.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As someone not especially interested in numbers and with an aversion to figures and spreadsheet generally, I have to say what a superb book Alex Through the Looking Glass is. It's subtitle is How life reflects numbers and numbers reflect life, and this is perhaps the secret of its fascination. The book is choc-a-block with interesting stuff about numbers as well as how they apply in real life.

So to give one example of the former, stuff about numbers, we have the research which reveals what are our favourite numbers. Apparently, and unsurprisingly, number 7 is the most popular choice, followed by number 3. Hmmm, all very magical. But the world's least loved number is 110! That I could not have guessed. 69 makes the top thirty, but Alex sagely observes: "The appearance of 69 shows that juvenile humour cannot be eliminated from Internet polls". A wry sense of humour runs through the book.

As for the applications to real life the book has so much information that transcends merely mathematics. To take the number 7 as a case in point we learn just how embedded in our world that number is: wonders, deadly sins, ages of man, pillars of wisdom, brides for brothers, seas, samurai and dwarves, as well as Babylonian ziggurats, Egyptian gates to hell, Vedic sun god horses, and walking seven time round the Kaaba during Hajj. Wow!

If I had one criticism of the book, it would be minor. It's that American-style thing that I detect started (although it may have been earlier) with Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point: the tendency to go and visit people who you refer to in the book and to get a description of them which, apparently, is to draw you into the narrative, but has the opposite effect with me.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very accessible book for non-mathematicians and those who wish they had some talent for numbers (like me!). The writing style is highly engaging and it is not always a simplistic analysis, which I really liked. However, I found the last chapter on cells and the Game of Life to be out of sync with preceding chapters. The subject is vague and is something of an underground interest, with the link to maths being rather tenuous and as such it jars with the rest of the book. Moreover, it is shame that this is the conclusive material and it was the only chapter that I struggled to engage with, not because of the complexity of ideas, but because I couldn't really get the point of why I was reading it. But, this is a really enjoyable and thought-provoking book that I'd recommend all to read.
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