For Your Reading Pleasure

by admin on January 17, 2011

Today I am going to depart from my usual ideological purity and succumb to the lure of crass commercialism. Yes, I want to use this posting to promote my new book, What’s Happening in the Mathematical Sciences (Vol. 8).

I’m afraid that you won’t learn anything about chess from this book. However, it’s your go-to book if you want to read about any of these things in plain English:

  • The Netflix Prize, and how computers can predict what movies you will like better than a human can.
  • The Weinstein Conjecture, or what the mathematics of monopoles can tell you about pendulums.
  • What mathematics had to do with the financial crisis of 2007-8.
  • How to make a billiard ball go out to infinity.
  • The breast cancer screening debate of 2009, and how mathematical models are used to predict the benefits and harms of public health initiatives.
  • Why certain physical systems (like the milk in your coffee) abruptly go from unmixed to mixed.
  • Why “quantum chaos” is an oxymoron, and how mathematicians have nevertheless found an example of it.
  • How to pack triangular pyramids, or tetrahedra, in the most efficient way. (Beverage container industry, take note!)
  • The Kervaire Invariant One problem, or why there’s no place like 126-dimensional space.

And on top of this, you get to see lots and lots of pretty color pictures. Two of them are reproduced on the cover: the Hopf fibration and behind it (very blurred, so that it looks like some kind of green and brown blobs) the standard contact form in three-dimensional space.

The book costs $23 at list price, or $18.40 if you are a member of the American Mathematical Society. Here are the links to the order pages at Amazon and at the AMS. By the way, my editor tells me that the AMS actually loses money on the What’s Happening books, but they do so more or less intentionally because of the importance of giving mathematics a public presence. So if you buy the book, not only are you getting more than your money’s worth, you are also increasing the visibility of math in our society! Woo hoo!

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