Saturday, October 15, 2011

More About Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers

The Economist just ran a short piece on the ivory-billed woodpecker, and whether it might not have gone extinct after all. I just love this story: as I have written before, it's like learning that the dodo might still exist somewhere on Earth.
Image is courtesy of Corbis / National Geographic

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Euclid in the Rainforest -- Book Review

Euclid in the Rainforest: Discovering Universal Truth in Logic and MathEuclid in the Rainforest: Discovering Universal Truth in Logic and Math by Joseph Mazur
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really, really wanted to like this book. The table of contents sounded so interesting: infinity! logic! how math pertains to reality! But, the further I got into the book, the more frustrated I became. Each section -- infinity, logic, and reality -- contains several chapters, but it's never clear to the reader how each chapter relates to the overarching theme. Moreover, each chapter itself seemed just like a collection of math-related stories, one after the other, with no obvious link. (I'm sure there *were* links, but I would have had to work to find them.) Also -- and this may seem like a nit-picking critique -- the weak topic sentences really got in the way of my understanding each paragraph. Topic sentences have to set up the rest of the sentences in a paragraph, giving the reader a kind of road map, but these didn't. Arrrrgh! In my opinion, the book should be rewritten under the watchful eye of a careful editor.

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