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'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.

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?

I suspect maths in primary school would be greeted with far more enthusiasm if students had Ian Stewart as a teacher. Any man who can explain electromagnetism, gravity and atomic nuclear forces in terms of a piggy fridge magnet and a smashed kitchen plate is, surely, a communicator to be reckoned with.

Have you got a favourite number? I have two — 3 and 8 — but I'm afraid my reasons aren't particularly interesting: I am born on the 3rd and 8 is two 3's joined together.