Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 September, 2010, 12:00am
 

Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities
by Ian Stewart
Profile Books HK$135

Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code may have introduced readers to Fibonacci numbers, but Ian Stewart says the sequence has 'a long and glorious mathematical history, which has very little overlap with anything mentioned in the book'. To see what he means read his miscellany of mathematical oddities. Included are logical, geometrical, numerical and probability puzzles whose solutions promise hours of 'fun', for geeks at least. To rest the brain, there are essays explaining, for example, Fermat's Last Theorem, the Poincare Conjecture and Penrose tiles. Even those reluctant to test their counting skills will benefit from dipping into Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities. Homemakers might be interested to find out how many different symmetry types of wallpaper pattern exist (surprisingly few) or why the golden ratio is often associated with beauty. If puzzling over brain warpers isn't how you like to spend your free time, scan the contents for subjects you should be reminded about, such as the Mobius band. Then celebrate by flipping to the advice on how to cut a cake fairly.

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