I picked up the book expecting to find an assortment of number and mathematical based trivia. Though not entirely wrong, the book is more scholarly than the typical trivia book. The book is not full of equations but is aimed much more at the visual learner - filled with illustrations and graphs. Each chapter tackles a specific topic of interest in mathematics and illustrates its place in our natural world. For example, Chapter 7 is entitled “What Sunflowers Know About the Universe”. In the course of 20 pages the author takes the reader through a study of symmetry, into a discussion of the golden ratio, and concludes by saying:
A BRIEF NOTE: It’s not really that sunflowers are intelligent beings who worked out the equations to come to this conclusion -- but simply that any ancestral sunflowers that didn’t use the golden ratio produced fewer seeds per flower, and were therefore weeded out by the process of natural selection. But the fact that this natural algorithm should arrive at a mathematical truth like this is almost as beautiful as the fact that human beings calculated it through their ingenuity and insight!
The author, an Australian public school teacher, has been named Australia’s “Teacher of the Year” and identified as one of the top ten teachers of the world. In 2018, he was named “Australia’s Local Hero of the Year”. This book serves as great evidence for the validity of those honors. More information about the author can be found on Wikipedia and with a Google search. As a Christian, I found the dedication of interest:
Dedicated to the Author of Life
“Mathematics is the language with
which God has written the universe.”
Though mathematical, it is not a difficult read - and will be enjoyed by many. Whether a mathematician, a physicist, a general lover of knowledge, this book has a place on your bookshelf or bed stand. The junior high and high school library will want a copy on their shelves. This is also true of the liberal arts college library. It is less likely to be found on the shelves of the university library, but perhaps on the coffee table in the math department’s lounge.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.