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Message boards : General discussion : Book/magazine review: National Geographic Mathemetics: Primes

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River~~
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Message 104127 - Posted: 25 Jan 2017 | 18:43:41 UTC

hi all

in the UK, National Geographic currently have a series of books coming out one per week on Mathematical topics. These are being distributed as if they were magazines, and so are likley to be in the magazine rack rather than the bookstall. Despite that they are hardback books, with none of the colour pics we associate with the National Geographic magazine.

This weeks book is about Primes. Or the title says it is.

The TL;DR version of this review is do not waste your money on it. I believe that nobody here will learn any new maths from this book.

To be fair, there are plenty of interesting anecdotes about mathematicians who are connected with primes, (I did not know, for example, that Mersenne used his position as a monk to write a defence of Galileo). There is very little number theory. There are exactly two proofs in the appendix, and one of them is incomplete (a proof by induction that neglects to prove the base case, so thereby proves absolutely nothing).

The book is further spoilt by having been translated (apparently) by someone with insufficient maths. Where it is talking about co-prime numbers, it says these are also called "related primes". I think not (tell me if you have met this name before?). I believe this is a mistranslation of "relative primes".

This edition was a disappointment to me. The previous edition, about cryptography, did not contain anything I did not know but did seem accurate and had rather more than two proofs in its appendix -- and as afar as I could tell those proofs were complete.

River~~

Profile JeppeSNProject donor
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Message 104131 - Posted: 25 Jan 2017 | 20:05:21 UTC

I think it is Our Mathematical World, right? /JeppeSN

River~~
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Joined: 17 Mar 07
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Message 104136 - Posted: 25 Jan 2017 | 21:20:13 UTC - in response to Message 104131.

I think it is Our Mathematical World, right? /JeppeSN


Hi Jeppe

Yes indeed the series is called Our Mathematical World.

This volume is called Prime Numbers: A long road to infinity.

R~~

Message boards : General discussion : Book/magazine review: National Geographic Mathemetics: Primes

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