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Publisher:

Basic Books

Publication Date:

2010

Number of Pages:

352

Format:

Paperback

Price:

16.95

ISBN:

9780465017751

Category:

General

[Reviewed by , on ]

Allen Stenger

02/27/2010

The introduction accurately describes this book as a “mathematical miscellany,” with an emphasis on “miscellaneous.” It is aimed primarily at general readers, but also has things that will interest mathematicians. It is a continuation of Stewart’s previous miscellany, *Professor Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities*.

The content is primarily brain-teasers with some mathematical angle (full solutions are included), but also has a lot of fun math facts and curiosities, along with some (possibly apocryphal) stories about mathematicians, some jokes, a little bit of physics (angular momentum is a recurring theme), and some real mathematics. This is not a book for scholars: there are no references and no index, and no attempt to trace the history of the items. There are a number of references to online sites (especially Wikipedia) for further reading.

i believe none of the items here is original, although some of the treatments may be. Most items will be familiar to mathematicians, especially those who pay any attention to recreational math. Some items that I thought were especially interesting: a good explanation (with photos) of how cats always land on their feet; the three-jugs problem (interesting because it gives a systematic solution using trilinear coordinates); and a good explanation of the scientific basis and mathematical modeling of global warming.

Allen Stenger is a math hobbyist and retired software developer. He is webmaster and newsletter editor for the MAA Southwestern Section and is an editor of the Missouri Journal of Mathematical Sciences. His mathematical interests are number theory and classical analysis. He volunteers in his spare time at MathNerds.com, a math help site that fosters inquiry learning.

Acknowledgements

Second Drawer Down

Calculator Curiosity 1

Year Turned Upside Down

Luckless Lovelorn Lilavati

Sixteen Matches

Swallowing Elephants

Magic Circle

Dodgem

Press-the-Digit-ation

Secrets of the Abacus

Redbeard’s Treasure

Hexaflexagons

Who Invented the Equals Sign?

Stars and Snips

By the Numbers of Babylon

Magic Hexagons

The Collatz-Syracuse-Ulam Problem

The Jeweller’s Dilemma

What Seamus Didn’t Know

Why Toast Always Falls Buttered-Side Down

The Buttered Cat Paradox

Lincoln’s Dog

Whodunni’s Dice

A Flexible Polyhedron

But What About Concertinas?

The Bellows Conjecture

Digital Cubes

Nothing Which Appeals Much to a Mathematician

What Is the Area of an Ostrich Egg?

Order into Chaos

Big Numbers

The Drowning Mathematician

Mathematical Pirates

The Hairy Ball Theorem

Cups and Downs

Secret Codes

When 2 + 2 = 0

Secret Codes That Can Be Made Public

Calendar Magic

Mathematical Cats

The Rule of Eleven

Digital Multiplication

Common Knowledge

Pickled Onion Puzzle

Guess the Card

And Now with a Complete Pack

Halloween = Christmas

Egyptian Fractions

The Greedy Algorithm

How to Move a Table

Rectangling the Square

Newton, by Byron

X Marks the Spot

Whatever’s the Antimatter?

How to See Inside Things

Mathematicians Musing About Mathematics

Wittgenstein’s Sheep

Leaning Tower of Pizza

PieThagoras’s World-Famous Mince πs

Diamond Frame

Poor Relations

Alexander’s Horned Sphere

The Sacred Principle of Mat

Perfectly Abundantly Amicably Deficient

Target Practice

Just a Phase I’m Going Through

Proof Techniques

Second Thoughts

How Dudeney Cooked Loyd

Cooking with Water

Celestial Resonance

Calculator Curiosity 2

Which is Bigger?

Sums That Go On For Ever

The Most Outrageous Proof

Colorado Smith and the Solar Temple

Why Can’t I Add Fractions Like I Multiply Them?

Farey, Farey, Quite Contrary

Pooling Resources

Welcome to the Rep-Tile House

Cooking on a Torus

The Catalan Conjecture

The Origin of the Square Root Symbol

Please Bear with Me

The Ham Sandwich Theorem

Cricket on Grumpius

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers

The Missing Piece

The Other Coconut

What Does Zeno?

Pieces of Five

Pi in the Sky

The Curious Incident of the Dog

Mathematics Made Difficult

A Weird Fact about Egyptian Fractions

A Four Colour Theorem

Serpent of Perpetual Darkness

What Are the Odds?

A Potted History of Mathematics

The Shortest Mathematical Joke Ever

Global Warming Swindle

Name the Cards

What Is Point Nine Recurring?

Ghost of a Departed Quantity

Nice Little Earner

A Puzzle for Leonardo

Congruent Numbers

Present-Minded Somewhere Else

It’s About Time

Do I Avoid Kangaroos?

The Klein Bottle

Accounting the Digits

Multiplying with Sticks

As Long as I Gaze on Laplacian Sunrise

Another Take on Mathematical Cats

Bordered Prime Magic Square

The Green-Tao Theorem

Peaucellier’s Linkage

A Better Approximation to π

Strictly for Calculus Buffs

The Statue of Pallas Athene

Calculator Curiosity 3

Completing the Square

The Look and Say Sequence

Non-Mathematicians Musing About Mathematics

Euler’s Conjecture

The Millionth Digit

Piratical Pathways

Trains that Pass in the Siding

Please Make Yourself Clear

Squares, Lists and Digital Sums

Hilbert’s Hit-List

Match Trick

Which Hospital Should Close?

How to Turn a Sphere Inside Out

A Piece of String Walked into a Bar…

Slicing the Cake

The Origin of the Symbol for Pi

Hall of Mirrors

Greek and Trojan Asteroids

Sliding Coins

Beat That!

Euclid’s Puzzle

The Infinite Monkey Theorem

Monkeys Against Evolution

Universal Letter of Reference

Snakes and Adders

Powerful Crossnumber

Magic Handkerchiefs

A Bluffer’s Guide to Symmetry

Digital Century Revisited

An Infinity of Primes

A Century In Fractions

Ah, That Explains It…

Life, Recursion and Everything

False, Not Stated, Not Proved

Proof That 2 + 2 = 4

Slicing the Doughnut

The Kissing Number

Tippe Top Twister

When Is a Knot Not Knotted?

The Origin of the Factorial Symbol

Juniper Green

Mathematical Metajoke

Beyond the Fourth Dimension

Slade’s Braid

Avoiding the Neighbours

Career Move

A Rolling Wheel Gathers No Speed

Point Placement Problem

Chess in Flatland

The Infinite Lottery

Ships That Pass…

The Largest Number is Forty-Two

A Future History of Mathematics

Professor Stewart’s Superlative Storehouse of Sneaky Solutions and Stimulating Supplements

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