book review

ver the last hundred years, human understanding of the nature of the universe has expanded at a mind-boggling rate; and over the last forty, Kip Thorne, along with Stephen Hawking, who wrote the foreword to this book, have been among the group of people shining most light into the darkness. But, aware that his research is carried out on behalf of us all, Thorne has not neglected the task of explaining its results to the rest of us.
Over the last decade, the discipline of neuropsychology has shed light on many aspects of human thought. Brain scans, carefully structured behavioural experiments, and the study of individuals who have suffered brain damage, have taught us much about which abilities are native to humans and which learned; which abilities can be lost and what happens when they are.
"I am certain, absolutely certain that...these theories will be recognized as fundamental at some point in the future." Sophus Lie said these words more than hundred years ago. We know now that he was right, absolutely right. The notions of "Lie groups" and "Lie algebras" are in the vocabulary of every mathematician and physicist today. Lie's theories are indispensable tools for understanding the physical laws of Nature.
A Beautiful Mind is a touching, emotionally charged film detailing the life of a brilliant academic who suffers from schizophrenia. This affliction slowly takes over his mind and we watch as his life crumbles apart around him.
This CD ROM, produced by the Centre for the Popularisation of Mathematics at the University of Wales in Bangor, is a most unusual mixture of mathematical exposition and modern art. A central part of the content is a gallery of sculptures by John Robinson, much of whose work takes inspiration from mathematical objects, such as fractals and knots. This work, described by the artist as symbolic sculpture, uses forms such as the logarithmic spiral, and makes connections with the forces that shape our universe.

This beautifully illustrated book by the world's leading authority on African mathematics provides us with a wide-ranging introduction to mathematical intuition in sub-Saharan African cultures. These cultures are extremely diverse and expressive in their creation of designs and motifs that embody geometrical and topological ideas. No one is better qualified to tell us about it than Paulus Gerdes, who has lived and worked in Mozambique for many years.

"As Obi-Wan Kenobi said about the Light Sabre in Star Wars IV, a slide-rule is an ancient weapon from a more civilised age," state Chris Budd and Chris Sangwin in their book, Mathematics Galore, soon to released by Oxford University Press. The book digs up the slide-rule and a few more historical artefacts, as well as the art of country dancing, to present a pick-and-mix bag of mathematical ideas for the aspiring mathematician or the mathematically inclined general reader.
"Math Chat" began as a live phone-in TV show in the USA, spawned a newspaper column and a website, and now it has produced a book. The whole project was the brainchild of Williams' College mathematician Frank Morgan and has both stimulated interest in maths across a broad range of the community and led to the formation of highly successful undergraduate research groups in mathematics.
"The Language of Mathematics" is a book that sets itself an ambitious task - to sum up all of mathematics. Clearly, the author does not intend to do this without omissions - mathematics is far too large a subject for that - rather, he hopes that the reader will come away with an understanding of what maths is and what mathematicians do and why.
In this book, Martin Gardner, best known for his columns on recreational maths in Scientific American and the many books collecting this material, surveys a wide range of mathematical magic. Many of the tricks described require little or no dexterity and nothing except readily available props, such as cards or dice, and so are suitable for the beginner.