Johnny Ball has been a well-loved name in mathematics for many years. Wonders Beyond Numbers is his magnum opus, and his first book for more than ten years. It is nothing less than the history of mathematics; he describes it as 'a summation of my career as an enthusiast for mathematics'. It will help spark (or re-spark) the reader's love of maths in its many facets.
The scope of the book is breathtaking. Running in something approaching chronological order, it shows that every breakthrough in maths represents a single step forward, resting on the work of others, and it brings to life the importance of numbers, shapes and patterns in the world around us.
As an indication of coverage, early chapters in the book will be looking at Egyptian binary maths, Thales's angular measurements, Sumer and base 60, Pythagoras and the maths of music, Plato and Euclid, Archimedes and hydrostatics, Pi and circular maths, areas and volumes, Diophantus and algebra, measuring the Earth, Quipo maths in Peru, Mayan maths and base 20, the discovery of zero, Chinese maths, negative numbers, Pascal's triangle and Al Khwarizmi's algebra. That takes us up to the early Middle Ages.
It's all-encompassing, yet written in a light and reader-friendly fashion, and filled with diagrams to help explain the maths. Dotted throughout will be anecdotes and stories from Johnny's life and mathematical adventures, both in front of the camera and in the real world, too. This book's a gem.
About the Author
Forty years ago, Johnny Ball wrote his first Think of a Number TV show, which opened the door to a whole new genre of programmes based on maths and science. He drew in audiences of all ages, and influenced a generation.
While Johnny had no formal university experience in mathematics he made it his hobby, and after being a drummer, comedian, comedy writer and TV presenter, he turned this into a second career, one that continues to this day.
Today he lectures on mathematics and science to readers, viewers and listeners of all levels and ages.
"The great strength of this book is probably its wide coverage of practical applications of mathematics, especially in engineering and architecture."
The Mathematical Gazette
"Johnny Ball's trademark enthusiasm for mathematics bubbles off every page. Clear, simple, readable, and informative - just as I expected. It's a winner!"
Ian Stewart, author of Significant Figures
"I became an instant Johnny Ball fan when his TV series Think of a Number first aired in the UK, and I saw how he engaged and delighted my two young daughters in a way I, their maths professor dad, could not. With this new book, his passion for, and sheer enjoyment of, mathematics will surely entice yet more generations to the subject we both love."
Keith Devlin, Stanford University mathematician
"I always found maths intriguing and baffling in equal measure - and the latter triumphed. If only I'd had Wonders Beyond Numbers when growing up. But I now have it and it is a re-awaking into a world of delight and wonder. It is a wonderful book."
Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham