As the author shows, many significant scientific calculations are quite simple and fairly easy to understand, even for readers will little math background. But their implications can be surprising and profound.
For example, what links a famous comet and the cost of an annuity? Why do scientists claim there is "dark matter" in the universe if it can't be observed? How does carbon-based life on Earth depend on a quirk of nuclear physics? The answer to each question is an illuminating calculation.
This accessible, engaging book will help you understand these breakthroughs and how they changed our view of life and the world.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-09-07
- Reviewer: Staff
Mathematician Pask (Magnificent Principia) successfully demonstrates to readers that modern understandings of life, the natural environment, and the universe have arisen due to scientists' exploration of theories through the application of mathematics. He covers a wide range of material that includes the discovery of Earth's shape as well as the discovery of dark matter by scientist Vera Rubin. Pask also runs through 50 groundbreaking calculations he believes have aided scientists in the fields of astronomy, physics, and biology. It is a fun and engaging approach to examining science's greatest mysteries, and Pask's historical knowledge and enthusiasm for his material are evident throughout. In his chapters on the solar system, arguably the most compelling in the book, Pask explores the theories that brought greater understanding to humankind's biggest questions about the universe. He also confidently recounts the competition between scientists to be the first to declare their findings. Though he sometimes relays too much information directly through mathematical jargon, Pask flourishes when setting the context and history of these great calculations, and there is a lot in here that amateur mathematicians will be able to appreciate. (July)