The Art of More
Bestselling science writer Michael Brooks takes us on a fascinating journey through the history of civilisation, as he explains why maths is fundamental to our understanding of the world.
1, 2, 3 … ? The untrained brain isn’t wired for maths; beyond the number 3, it just sees ‘more’. So why bother learning it at all?
You might remember studying geometry, calculus, and algebra at school, but you probably didn’t realise – or weren’t taught – that these are the roots of art, architecture, government, and almost every other aspect of our civilisation. The mathematics of triangles enabled explorers to travel far across the seas and astronomers to map the heavens. Calculus won the Allies the Second World War and halted the HIV epidemic. And imaginary numbers, it turns out, are essential to the realities of twenty-first-century life.
From ancient Egyptian priests to the Apollo astronauts, and Babylonian tax collectors to juggling robots, join Michael Brooks and his extraordinarily eccentric cast of characters in discovering how maths shaped the world around you.
'Ambitious.' -- Tom Gatti * New Statesman * 'At school, many of us wondered about the point of geometry, calculus, and algebra. Brooks shows how the childhood question "What's the point of this?" can be reframed: esoteric concepts such as imaginary numbers, cryptography, and the semi-mystical digits of pi are revealed to be the essential building blocks of the 21st century.' -- Liz Else and Simon Ings * New Scientist * 'How brilliant of Michael Brooks to be able to reignite my almost-forgotten childhood love of mathematics. Written with beauty, style, and care for the history as well as for the science. A tour de force.' -- Angela Saini, author of Superior: the return of race science 'Michael Brooks has written the formula that reduces to near zero any sense that maths could be a dull subject to study. The Art of More brings to life in accessible, lively terms how maths helps us navigate pandemics, space travel, and encrypted apps - all while celebrating the complicated and fascinating characters, from Euclid to Florence Nightingale, who have pushed our knowledge forward. Why isn't school maths taught like this?' -- David Rowan, founding editor-in-chief of WIRED UK and author of Non-Bullshit Innovation 'In this thrilling, colourful, and deeply researched book, Michael Brooks tells the epic story of how mathematics has driven human progress, spanning millennia to trace the numerical innovations - from geometry and algebra to the mind-bending landscapes of imaginary numbers and extra dimensions - that have woven our history and shape our lives today. Along the way, he explores the passions and intrigues of the people behind the numbers, transforming mathematics from dry equations into a gripping drama. This is maths as you've never experienced it: inspiring, fun, and utterly human.' -- Jo Marchant, author of The Human Cosmos 'Michael Brooks has a rare gift for making science come to life, and in this book he is at his best, fusing mathematics with storytelling as he takes us on an exhilarating sweep through human history. The Art of More shows just how deeply numbers have propelled the advance of civilisation. And it does so with enormous narrative brio and good cheer. This is a serious - but seriously readable - history which I enjoyed from the first page to the last.' -- Dan Jones, New York Times bestselling historian 'A friendly, readable account of the huge influence that mathematics has had on human civilisation. If you've ever wondered what the maths you did at school was for, and what it has done for us, you'll find the answer here. Michael Brooks's enthusiasm for the beauty and utility of the subject shines from every page.' -- Ian Stewart, author of What's the Use? 'From Fermat's last theorem to quantum computers, pi to probability, slides rules to golden ratios, The Art of More is no mere bluffer's guide, but a rich introduction to the elegance and importance of mathematics. Michael Brooks shows what a global and multicultural task it has been, ever since prehistory, to figure out how we can benefit from quantification and calculation. He shows that maths is not just, as Eugene Wigner said, unreasonably effective for understanding the world, but also unfathomably wonderful in its own right.' -- Philip Ball, science writer and author of Beyond Weird 'Suddenly it all makes sense. This brilliant book shows maths as something concrete, real, and crucial to our lives, rather than some dry, abstract code designed to make school kids' lives miserable.' -- Charlie Higson, actor, comedian, and author of the Enemy series 'Michael Brooks has written both a lively history of civilisation, and a delightful introduction to the power of mathematics. Either would be an achievement, but to do both simultaneously is a wonder.' -- Tim Harford, author of How To Make the World Add Up 'If you love maths, you'll enjoy this book. But if you're a little scared of maths (as I am), you'll adore The Art of More. Michael Brooks knows how to tell the hidden stories behind numbers, formulas, and logarithms.' -- Andrea Wulf, author of The Invention of Nature 'Mathematics is quite unique in that even much earlier results do not change with the passing of time. This book is not only a passionate love letter to mathematics, it offers an important lesson in the appreciation of mathematics, and of its crucial role in humanity's history.' -- Mario Livio, astrophysicist, and author of Galileo and The Science Deniers
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