The Universe and the Teacup: The Mathematics of Truth and Beauty

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9780156006569: The Universe and the Teacup: The Mathematics of Truth and Beauty
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Mathematics, that breathtaking invention of ours that reveals the tiniest particles of matter and takes us to the outermost reaches of the cosmos, is found by many people to be intimidating. In The Universe and the Teacup, K. C. Cole demystifies mathematics and shows us-with humor and wonderfully accessible stories-why math need not be frightening. Using the O. J. Simpson trial, the bell curve, and Emmy Noether, the nineteenth-century woman scientist whose work was essential for Einstein's theory of relativity, Cole helps us see that more than just being a tool, math is a key to understanding the beauty of everything from rainbows to relativity.

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"Pure mathematics," Albert Einstein once remarked, "is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas." In The Universe and the Teacup, Los Angeles Times science writer K. C. Cole discusses some of the ways this "poetry" can be used to look at science and other realms of experience.

Mathematics, Cole explains, enables us to "translate the complexity of the world into manageable patterns," whether we're trying to comprehend the risks of smoking or the usefulness of DNA matches in criminal investigations. Cole also looks at how mathematical principles apply in unexpected fields. One chapter, for example, vindicates the theories on voting rights that cost Lani Guinier her Justice Department nomination in 1993.

Without relying on a single equation, Cole's gently humorous prose helps make mathematics unthreatening to laypeople, enabling them to better understand the world in which they live.

About the Author:

A popular science columnist for the Los Angeles Times and teacher at UCLA, K.C. Cole is a recipient of the 1995 American Institute of Physics Award for Best Science Writing. She is also the author of the internationally bestselling The Universe and the Teacup, First You Build a Cloud, and The Hole in the Universe. Cole lives in Santa Monica, California.

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