In this richly entertaining and accessible book, Alex Bellos explodes the myth that maths is best left to the geeks. Covering subjects from adding to algebra, from set theory to statistics, and from logarithms to logical paradoxes, he explains how mathematical ideas underpin just about everything in our lives. Alex explains the surprising geometry of the 50p piece, and the strategy of how best to gamble it in a casino. He shines a light on the mathematical patterns in nature, and on the peculiar predictability of random behaviour. He eats a potato crisp whose revolutionary shape was unpalatable to the ancient Greeks, and he shows the deep connections between maths, religion and philosophy. Alex weaves a journey from primary school to university level maths, from ancient history to the computing frontline, and from St Louis, Missouri, to Braintree, Essex. He meets the world's fastest mental calculators in Germany, consults a numerologist in the US desert, meets a startlingly numerate chimpanzee in Japan, and seeks advice from a venerable Hindu sage in India.
An unlikely but exhilarating cocktail of history, reportage and mathematical proofs, Alex's dispatches from 'Numberland' show the world of maths to be a much friendlier and more colourful place than you might have imagined.
Alex Bellos has a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from Oxford University. He has worked for the Guardian in London and Rio de Janeiro, where he was the paper's unusually numerate foreign correspondent. In 2002 he wrote a critically acclaimed book about Brazilian football and in 2006 ghostwrote Pele's autobiography, which was a number one bestseller.