Mathematics is the language of science. Clear, simple, fundamental. Perhaps because of this purity, numbers can be the slaves of spin-doctors, politicians and an unscrupulous media.

I will tell you all about the book, but first I want to tell you what it felt like to read it. It felt like being back at the beginning of my adventure into mathematics. It felt like the first time the history, culture, and philosophy of maths were unfolded before me.

I've read several of Paul Nahin's books before (see my review of Dr. Euler's fabulous formula in Plus) and this is no exception to his excellent style. The strategies of pursuit and evasion have fascinated mathematicians for centuries. One of the earliest problems was posed by Frenchman Pierre Bouger in 1732.

Leonhard Euler was one of the greatest and most prolific mathematicians of all time. His work was of vital importance to a bewildering variety of fields, many of which he himself created

The movie is based on one of the best mathematical tales ever written. Inhabiting a two-dimensional world populated by polygons and ruled by circular tyrants, a bright young hexagon, through sheer mathematical willpower, imagines a third dimension.

Given that 14 billion years have elapsed since the birth of the Universe and that the cosmos contains a mind-boggling 10^{24} stars, can Earth really be the only planet in the entire Universe to contain life?