Sunday, January 02, 2005

The Music of the Primes

by Marcus du Sautoy

I ordered this book of Amazon in a drunken fit of consumerism over a year ago. It's taken me a long time to get round to reading it, possibly because the idea of reading a book about maths didn't excite me that much, but fortunately it turned out to be a pretty easy read.

It's the story of mathematical research into the nature of prime numbers. There's some pretty spooky stuff in there about where maths actually comes from, and a whole bunch of eccentric mathematicians to read about, so it's not a bore to read. The author is very passionate in his love of mathematics, which is good, but he tends to fly off into hyperbole when talking about his favorite mathematicians. He also tends to be dismissive of other pursuits, such as physics and chemistry, and downright insulting towards the humanities. My main complaint however, is that there isn't enough maths in it. It explains, in general terms, the results of the proofs involved, but it never shows any of the actual maths. I guess it's aimed at a more general audience than me. But it's made me think about buying some more maths and science books at some stage. Well at least after I get through the huge backlog of books I've had for over a year.

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