- Paperback: 362 pages
- Publisher: The Inamorata Press (Feb. 2010)
- ISBN-10: 0956487904
- ISBN-13: 978-0956487902
- Package Dimensions: 24.6 x 18.8 x 2.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 407,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
The Mystery of the Prime Numbers: Secrets of Creation v. 1 Paperback – 1 Feb 2010
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About the Author
Matthew Watkins completed a PhD in mathematics in 1994, but has always been more interested in trying to understand what mathematics "is" and "where it comes from" (as well as trying to explain it to his non-mathematical friends) than pursuing a conventional research or teaching career.
The second half of the 1990s were spent living as a nomadic musician (he plays the saz, a seven-stringed Turkish instrument), contemplating the underlying nature of reality while wandering the British Isles, busking, picking fruit, planting trees, visiting megalithic sites, etc. The music continues.
In 1999 he had a little maths and physics reference book published (also illustrated by Matt Tweed) as part of the popular Wooden Books series. This has since been licensed by Walker & Co., NYC and last time he checked, it had been translated into at least half a dozen languages.
Since 2000, he's been an Honorary Fellow in Exeter University's mathematics department (which keeps changing its name, but is currently part of something called "SECaM". During this time, as well as having done a bit of teaching work, he initiated and has been since been curating the online Number Theory and Physics Archive and the related (but more popularly accessible) site Inexplicable Secrets of Creation, a project which naturally led to the idea of this series of books.
Top Customer Reviews
The book takes you gently, yet quickly, through a well constructed ladder of mathematical concepts regarding primes. You could start with a pre-GCSE level of maths (as my students do). Due to the collaboration between the artist and the mathematician, the illustrations really do explain the ideas as they develop. In no time you can understand some of the biggest questions in mathematics and understand the delight to be found in them.
It's really good!
And then: I found this!!! Although I studied mathematics at (allegedly) one of the world's leading institutions, I learned things - truly deep and important things - explained in simple terms !!! - that I was never taught in my degree classes. While other books are full of quotes by professional mathematicians about the "wonder, beauty, mystery, depth" etc. of the primes and the Riemann Hypothesis, THIS IS THE ONLY BOOK THAT ACTUALLY SHOWS YOU THAT PROFUNDITY!!!
Truly, if I ever get time once I'm finished with what I'm doing, I'll mount a crusade to ensure that no-one can get a degree in mathematics without reading this work. And once I'm done with that, I'll mount a crusade ... A-level maths ... GCSE maths ... because ANYONE can get this. I really believe that. (See the review by "Suzi" for more on this point).
So ... (with all due respect to the authors of the following) sell your copies of "Music of the Primes", "Prime Obsession" etc; and BUY THIS BOOK (and the following volumes). Trust me - you'll never regret it :).
So I bought it. And never regretted it. One of the lovely things about maths is the way ideas from one area crop up in another, and this book delivers this in spades. The cartoons will not be to everyone's taste (I am agnostic on this), but ideas teem.
From a discussion of how different multiplication and addition are (sounds simple? - just you see)to the unordilness of factors, to prime numbers (including why 1 isn't a prime), to the use of "spirals" in the generation of those primes, the authors take you on a voyage of discovery. Have you ever thought about why primes are primes whatever base in which they are expressed (eg 17 in base 10 or 1001 in base 2? Just one of a thousand insights you'll find on your journey.
It isn't always easy - though the more tricksy bits are in an appendix and are worth pursuing if you have the time and effort available. I set the book aside for a while, and decided on return that I needed to start at the beginning again.
I've not yet started the second book but am looking forward to it very much.
If you have the slightest interest in number theory - or would like to see what mathemeticians make of numbers, buy this marvellous book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of the most interesting and well-constructed books I have ever had the pleasure to read. Read morePublished on 17 Sept. 2014 by Andy Platt
The publisher/ writer has been nagging me for a review, so here goes..
Overall, I think it's a good book and is suitable for a wide audience. Read more
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