Infinite powers : how calculus reveals the secrets of the universe

by Strogatz, Steven H.

Format: Print Book 2019.
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"Marvelous . . . an array of witty and astonishing stories . . . to illuminate how calculus has helped bring into being our contemporary world."-- The Washington Post

From preeminent math personality and author of The Joy of x, a brilliant and endlessly appealing explanation of calculus - how it works and why it makes our lives immeasurably better.

Without calculus, we wouldn't have cell phones, TV, GPS, or ultrasound. We wouldn't have unraveled DNA or discovered Neptune or figured out how to put 5,000 songs in your pocket.

Though many of us were scared away from this essential, engrossing subject in high school and college, Steven Strogatz's brilliantly creative, down‑to‑earth history shows that calculus is not about complexity; it's about simplicity. It harnesses an unreal number--infinity--to tackle real‑world problems, breaking them down into easier ones and then reassembling the answers into solutions that feel miraculous.

Infinite Powers recounts how calculus tantalized and thrilled its inventors, starting with its first glimmers in ancient Greece and bringing us right up to the discovery of gravitational waves (a phenomenon predicted by calculus). Strogatz reveals how this form of math rose to the challenges of each age: how to determine the area of a circle with only sand and a stick; how to explain why Mars goes "backwards" sometimes; how to make electricity with magnets; how to ensure your rocket doesn't miss the moon; how to turn the tide in the fight against AIDS.

As Strogatz proves, calculus is truly the language of the universe. By unveiling the principles of that language, Infinite Powers makes us marvel at the world anew.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "If, as physicist Richard Feynman believed, calculus is the language God talks, then readers not schooled in its divine idioms will thank Strogatz for taking on the role of translator. Converted from baffling equations into accessible metaphors and anecdotes, the heavenly language of calculus illuminates an astonishing range of natural marvels from the gravity waves generated by cosmically distant black holes to positrons annihilated in collision with electrons. With lucid brevity, Strogatz explains the intergalactic reach of calculus by examining just two operations: first, the division of a shape or phenomenon into infinitely many parts, and, second, the integration of the infinitesimal pieces. Of course, as a professor of applied mathematics at Cornell, Strogatz tutors readers in the use of calculus to image the brain, to design jetliner wings, to power GPS navigation. Strogatz grows giddy as he imagines a future in which artificially intelligent computers use calculus to fathom not only the hows of mathematics but also the whys. After this schooling in fundamentals, readers may hope to understand the heavenly language those computers will be speaking.--Bryce Christensen Copyright 2019 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Strogatz (The Joy of X), a professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University, provides a reminder that calculus has practical applications and makes the field accessible to readers at all levels in this far-ranging survey. He begins with the ancient Greeks and their search for ways to calculate the areas of circles and curves by slicing them into smaller pieces. Centuries later, Galileo studied the relationship between the length and movement of pendulums. Strogatz introduces the characters behind the math, covering great partnerships (such as that of astronomers Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe, whose work led to Kepler's laws of planetary motion) and seething rivalries (such as that of Pierre de Fermat and RenAc Descartes, who laid the groundwork for differential calculus, and the famous competition between calculus innovators Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz). Strogatz also gives plenty of real-world applications, from designing microwave ovens to plotting the course of spacecraft and fighting HIV. His discussion is clear and accessible, with plenty of diagrams, and mercifully few equations. Strogatz successfully illuminates a notoriously complex topic and this work should enhance appreciation for the history behind its innovations. Agent: Katinka Matson, Brockman Inc. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Archimedes.
Calculus -- History.
Differential calculus.
Publisher Boston :2019.
Language English
Notes "An Eamon Dolan book."
Description xxiii, 360 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 333-343) and index.
ISBN 9781328879981
Other Classic View