## Reviews

It's not often you see a maths professor reduced to zero on stage and then stuffed into a bag. But this is exactly what happened to Marcus du Sautoy at the Science Museum — and by means of a mathematical argument at that. Only du Sautoy wasn't being himself of course. He was playing the role of X in the new play, *X&Y*.

This book is designed to help parents support their teenagers through school maths. But with its focus on the big picture, the connections within mathematics and the references to history and applications it is also a welcome resource for teachers and even students themselves.

Martin Gardner has inspired several generations of students to become mathematicians. An ardent fan reviews Gardner's autobiography which goes way beyond his fascination with mathematical games.

Risk is not an easy subject to understand. The theory is too abstract, and often too unpalatable, for people to be comfortable with. Rather than discussing the theory, *The Norm Chronicles* provides a guide to "risk, chance, luck and coincidence" through the life of the eponymous Norm, chosen to be the average guy, from the cradle to the grave, examining the impact that his various choices make upon him.

When we arrived at the The New Diorama Theatre in London we didn't know what to expect. *The universal machine* is a musical about the life of mathematician and WWII code breaker Alan Turing. I have only seen one musical in my whole life, *Cats*, and it made me feel ill, so I really could not fathom how this was going to work. But as it turned out, we loved it.

It's always good to see other people make mistakes, so a book about serious errors committed by some of history's greatest scientists is bound to be a good read. But Mario Livio's new book isn't just about reassuring

ordinary mortals like me, and it's not at all about poking fun at less ordinary ones. It's a thoughtful look at science, the often hap-hazard path of its progress and the limitations of the human mind.

*Superposition*, an audio-visual performance written by Ryoji Ikeda, is not for the faint hearted. We certainly wouldn't ever be tempted to listen to the sound track on its own. But despite its challenging nature, it is a wonderful experience which evoked a sense of beauty from chaos, mathematics, and physics, carried across by visual art and music.

It's not often the very first person you meet in a movie is a mathematician. The second, third and fourth people on screen also being mathematicians is even rarer. But the movie *Travelling Salesman* is a rare movie: not only are almost all of the characters mathematicians, the central plot also hinges on the solution of one of the most important problems in mathematics.