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The Zen of Magic Squares, Circles, and Stars

Pickover, Clifford A.

18 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0691070415 / ISBN 13: 9780691070414
Published by Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002
Used Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From Read Rooster Books (Nineveh, NY, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

First Edition with full number line. Binding in clean tight condition. A few pages near the front of the book have some moderate ink annotation by a previous owner. The remainder of the book is unmarked. A few pages have slight corner creasing. The dustjacket is slightly worn/creased at extremities. A solid copy. Bookseller Inventory # 4784

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Zen of Magic Squares, Circles, and Stars

Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

Publication Date: 2002

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Humanity's love affair with mathematics and mysticism reached a critical juncture, legend has it, on the back of a turtle in ancient China. As Clifford Pickover briefly recounts in this enthralling book, the most comprehensive in decades on magic squares, Emperor Yu was supposedly strolling along the Yellow River one day around 2200 B.C. when he spotted the creature: its shell had a series of dots within squares. To Yu's amazement, each row of squares contained fifteen dots, as did the columns and diagonals. When he added any two cells opposite along a line through the center square, like 2 and 8, he always arrived at 10. The turtle, unwitting inspirer of the ''Yu'' square, went on to a life of courtly comfort and fame.

Pickover explains why Chinese emperors, Babylonian astrologer-priests, prehistoric cave people in France, and ancient Mayans of the Yucatan were convinced that magic squares--arrays filled with numbers or letters in certain arrangements--held the secret of the universe. Since the dawn of civilization, he writes, humans have invoked such patterns to ward off evil and bring good fortune. Yet who would have guessed that in the twenty-first century, mathematicians would be studying magic squares so immense and in so many dimensions that the objects defy ordinary human contemplation and visualization?

Readers are treated to a colorful history of magic squares and similar structures, their construction, and classification along with a remarkable variety of newly discovered objects ranging from ornate inlaid magic cubes to hypercubes. Illustrated examples occur throughout, with some patterns from the author's own experiments. The tesseracts, circles, spheres, and stars that he presents perfectly convey the age-old devotion of the math-minded to this Zenlike quest. Number lovers, puzzle aficionados, and math enthusiasts will treasure this rich and lively encyclopedia of one of the few areas of mathematics where the contributions of even nonspecialists count.

From the Publisher:

"Clifford Pickover has compiled such a wonderfully voluminous collection of magic squares and related configurations that the physical book itself threatens to take the shape of a magic cube. Whether or not you achieve arithmetical satori contemplating these engagingly intricate patterns, you will surely come to appreciate their history, beauty, and richness."

-- John Allen Paulos, author of Innumeracy and A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper, mathematics professor at Temple University "At first glance magic squares may seem frivolous (Ben Franklin's opinion, even as he spent countless hours studying them!), but I think that is wrong. The great 19th century German mathematician Leopold Kronecker said 'God Himself made the whole numbers - everything else is the work of men,' and Cliff Pickover's stimulating book hints strongly at the possibility that God may have done more with the integers than just create them. I don't believe in magic in the physical world, but magic squares come as close as we will probably ever see to being mathematical magic."

-- Professor Paul Nahin, author Time Machines

"Pickover carries the mystique of magic squares and its relatives into the 21st century with his new book, The Zen of Magic Squares, Circles, and Stars. Whether you're seeking an introduction to magic squares, an in-depth study, some historical information, or just some enjoyable magic figure problems, tricks, properties, or novelties-this book is for you. Pickover does not leave a magic square unturned, and tantalizes us just enough to want to explore further. From the very famous to the less known, Pickover brings them all together in this amazing collection as he points out their roles in science, our lives and the universe."

-- Theoni Pappas author of The Joy of Mathematics and Math-A-Day

A refreshing new look at a timeless topic, brimming over with ideas, littered with surprising twists. Anyone who loves numbers, anyone who enjoys puzzles, will find The Zen of Magic Numbers compulsive (and compulsory!) reading.

-- Ian Stewart, The University of Warwick

"Who would have thought that the simple numbers we used when learning to count as children could be arranged into so many geometric patterns with interesting properties. If playing with numbers is your thing, this latest work by Cliff Pickover will provide you will countless hours of mystical entertainment and mental challenges."

--Julien Clinton Sprott, Professor of Physics, University of Wisconsin

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I have been collecting and scouting books since my teen years (50 years). I've been a dealer since 1993. My main collecting interests are modern first editions, philosophy, and religion. Read Rooster Books is not an open shop but an internet business located in Upstate New York. My stock is general including fiction, history, sports, religion, children's books, metaphysical, mystery, and science fiction. My wife started selling books out of our garage/chicken coop and put up a sign calling the business "Read Rooster Books" with a picture of a large red rooster. I thought the name was charming, so I kept the name, obtained a "Doing Business As" certificate with that name, and the rest is history.

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