In "Euclid's Window", Leonard Mlondinow takes us on a brilliantly entertaining journey through 3,000 years of genius and geometry, introducing the people who revolutionized the way we see the world around us. Ever since Pythagoras hatched a 'little scheme' to invent a set of rules describing the entire universe, scientists and mathematicians have ...
In "Euclid's Window", Leonard Mlondinow takes us on a brilliantly entertaining journey through 3,000 years of genius and geometry, introducing the people who revolutionized the way we see the world around us. Ever since Pythagoras hatched a 'little scheme' to invent a set of rules describing the entire universe, scientists and mathematicians have tried to seek order in the cosmos: Euclid, who in 300BC defined the nature of space; Descartes, a fourteenth-century gambler and idler who invented the graph; Gauss, the fifteen-year-old genius who discovered that space is curved; Einstein, who added time to the equation; and Witten, who ushered in today's weird new world of extra, twisted dimensions. They all show how geometry is the key to understanding the universe. Once you have viewed life through "Euclid's Window", it will never be the same again..."Elegant, attractive and concise ...also very readable. Buy it". (Ian Stewart, "New Scientist"). "This is an exhilarating book ...an important book ...and finally, a lovely book, one that reflects the radiance of its subject". (David Berlinski). "Reader-friendly, high-spirited, splendidly lucid and often hilarious". ("Washington Post"). "Mlodinow has a talent for lively and clear exposition...Pythagoras' proof has lost none of its capacity to astonish and delight". (Edward Skidelsky, "Daily Telegraph"). Leonard Mlodinow was a member of the faculty of the Californian Institute of Technology before moving to Hollywood to become a writer for television. He has developed many best selling and award-winning CD-ROMs and is currently Vice President, Emerging Technologies and R&D at Scholastic Inc. He lives in New York City. His other books include "The Drunkard's Walk" and "Subliminal".
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Publishers Weekly, 2001-03-05 Mlodinow's background in physics and educational CD-ROMs fails to gel in this episodic history of five "revolutions in geometry," each presented around a central figure. The first four Euclid, Descartes, Gauss and Einstein are landmarks, while the fifth, Edward Witten, should join their ranks if and when his M-theory produces its promised grand unification of all fundamental forces and particles. Mlodinow conveys a sense of excitement about geometry's importance in human thought, but sloppiness and distracting patter combine with slipshod presentation to bestow a feel for, rather than a grasp of, the subject. Certain misses are peripheral but annoying nonetheless confusing Keats with Blake, repeating a discredited account of Georg Cantor's depression, etc. Some of them, however, undermine the heart of the book's argument. Strictly speaking, Descartes, Einstein and Witten didn't produce revolutions in geometry but rather in how it's related to other subjects, while Gauss arguably produced two revolutions, one of which non-Euclidean geometry is featured, while the other differential geometry though equally necessary for Einstein's subsequent breakthrough, is barely developed. Mlodinow completely ignores another revolution in geometry, the development of topology, despite its crucial role in Witten's work. Occasionally Mlodinow delivers succinct explanations that convey key insights in easily graspable form, but far more often he tells jokes and avoids the issue, giving the false, probably unintentional impression that the subject itself is dull or inaccessible. More substance and less speculation about the Greeks could have laid the foundations for an equally spirited but far more informative book. 11 figures, two not seen by PW. (Apr.) Forecast: The Free Press may be looking for a math popularizer in the mold of Amir Aczel, but Mlodinow falls short. Don't look for big sales here. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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