Math, Mysteries, and
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Einstein is all over the place this spring, with a number of
books exploring his life, his effect on philosophy, and his
contribution to black hole theory.
Erwin Schrödinger, on the other hand, is less prominent, always sort of there
and not there simultaneously. But these Nobel laureates both made ground-
breaking contributions to our understanding of the bizarre realities of the phys-
ical world, as Paul Halpern outlines in Einstein’s Dice and Schrödinger’s
Cat: How Two Great Minds Battled Quantum Randomness to Create a
Unified Theory of Physics, one of several noteworthy titles from Basic due
Nobel laureates Steven Weinberg and Frank Wilczek both have new histo-
ries of science in the works: To Explain the World: The Discovery of
Modern Science and A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature’s Deep
Design, respectively. Prolific English science writer Philip Ball seems to
produce a fascinating book every year, and 2015 is no exception. In
Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen, he confronts a timeless
idea hidden in plain sight.
And what underpins all of modern science and allows us to understand the
structures of nature? Math, of course, which is well represented this season—
particularly in accessible mathematics books for the general public. Eugenia
Cheng heads to the kitchen, using the culinary world as a means to better
understand math in How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the
Mathematics of Mathematics, another intriguing release from Basic. Cédric
Villani, recipient of the Fields Medal, the most prestigious honor in mathematics, delivers Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure, a
reflection on his struggles with the theorem that made his reputation. And
math professor Andrew Hacker takes up the contrarian’s position regarding
the overhyped emphasis on compulsory higher-math education in The Math
Myth: And Other STEM Delusions.
No sane person is going to say that genetics and evolution are overhyped.
However, paleoanthropologist Ian Tattersall offers a corrective to mispercep-
tions about evolution in The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack and
Other Cautionary Tales from Human Evolution. Natural history always
provides novel ways of examining phenomena we take for granted, and
Cynthia Barnett does just that with Rain: A Natural and Cultural
Finally, where would a science list be without some good stories on the
medical front? Rob Dunn takes medicine to heart, literally, with a history of
cardiac medicine: The Man Who Touched His Own Heart: True Tales of
Science, Surgery, and Mystery.
SPRING 2015 ADULT