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The Grand Contraption: The World as Myth, Number, and Chance

David Park
Publisher: 
Princeton University Press
Publication Date: 
2005
Number of Pages: 
329
Format: 
Hardcover
Price: 
29.95
ISBN: 
0-691-12133-8
Category: 
General
[Reviewed by
Herbert E. Kasube
, on
09/2/2005
]

Is this book about mathematics? theology? mythology? All of the above? It is difficult to classify, but it is certainly a congenial mixture of mathematics, science and theology. The author describes mankind's attempts to explain the world around us. While theology plays a role, it is not the principal focus here. Mathematics is seen at various stages — early Babylon, the astronomy of Kepler, the contributions of Newton and Descartes. The author notes commonalities and differences in the way people thought over the centuries. It is interesting to see so many common ideas. We see that the differences are often rather subtle.

This book is not an easy read, but it is a well-written history of human thought. The exposition is clear and engages the reader. It is not to be read passively: you will become involved. Numerous well-chosen illustrations punctuate the text. There is a generous bibliography to point you toward further readings.


Herbert E. Kasube (hkasube@hilltop.bradley.edu) is associate professor of mathematics at Bradley University. His mathematical interests include number theory, discrete mathematics and the history of mathematics. When not doing mathematics he can often be found jogging around the streets of Peoria.

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