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World Book Day 2023
(3 March 2023)

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World Book Day yesterday got everyone here at ICLMS thinking about our favourite books! And in my opinion there is nothing better than cozying up with a hot chocolate and a popular mathematics book. With that in mind, we have curated a list of some of our top recommendations of popular mathematics and science books that have educated, inspired, and motivated us as mathematicians for you to check out.

Alex’s Adventures in Numberland – Alex Bellos

Bellos’ distinctive brand as both a mathematician and a skilled journalist shines through in this book, which focuses as much on the culture, characters and context behind the maths as it does on the numbers themselves. Topics included in the book span from set theory, sequences and statistics all the way to the psychology of mathematics and how our humanity shapes the number systems that we use.

Alex Bellos continues this journey in his book “Alex Through the Looking Glass” and has a range of mathematical puzzle books in “Can You Solve My Problems?”, “Puzzle Ninja”, and “So You Think You’ve Got Problems?”.

Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine – Hannah Fry

A Professor of mathematics, radio host, podcaster, television presenter, panellist, author and much much more, it is extremely likely that you have came across Hannah Fry before on Numberphile, BBC documentaries and panel shows, TED talks, or even her RI Christmas Lecture. Hello World focuses on the ubiquity of algorithms in our day to day lives and highlights the true power that modern technology and data science has, both good and bad, in the world around us. From our courtrooms to our supermarkets, algorithms look as if they are here to stay, so how do we keep our humanity in the age of the machine?

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer – Sydney Padua

Join Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage in this graphic novel as they go on adventures in a steampunk themed alternate universe where their Analytical Engine was successfully built. One part historical look into the most intriguing duo in the history of computational mathematics, and one part fictional action-adventure story, this book is perfect for those who want a fun an engaging read and some time off from purely non-fiction academic texts.

Taming the Infinite – Ian Stewart

One of the most prolific popular mathematics writers in the business, Ian Stewart takes us on a journey through the history of mathematics, from ancient Babylon and the creation of 0 to modern fields and proofs such as chaos theory and Fermat’s Last Theorem. Providing historical context alongside equations gives them a new lease of life and will inspire you to question mathematical concepts in a new and exciting way, based as much on social and historical context as it is in mathematical prose.

If mathematical history isn’t for you, Stewart has written over 20 different books on mathematics and science so do check out his other books as there is bound to be something you are interested in. 

Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality – Max Tegmark

From a multiversal bicycle accident to the structure of reality itself, Swedish-American cosmologist Max Tegmark seamlessly interweaves modern advancements in astrophysics with discourse on both the micro and macro scales of the universe, helping Tegmark lay out his theory that reality is a mathematical structure. By the end of the book four different levels of multiverse are theorised, and in the height of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Multiverse Saga” it would be silly not to read up on this important book.

The End of Everything – Katie Mack

Theoretical Cosmologist Katie Mack takes us on a deep dive all of the way into the end of the universe in this popular astrophysics book. From a big crunch to a heat death, Mack details five possible endings to everything, and even the possibility of new beginnings, in an easy to read and accessible manner. It may be uncertain exactly how the universe will end, but we can guarantee that you will enjoy this book!

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics – Carlo Rovelli

Short and concise, this book expertly manages to cover the biggest revelations of post-Newtonian physics in the space of, you guessed it, seven brief lessons. Rovelli’s accessible writing allows tough concepts from quantum physics to probability to be simply understood by the everyday reader and uncovers the true beauty behind physics. If you want an informative and extensive book on physics that you can finish over a weekend, then this is the book for you.

What I’m Reading

Books can act as windows into another world, so it is important that we read a diverse range of different books alongside our favourite popular maths and science picks. My personal favourite genres are science fiction and fantasy. I am currently making my way through the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman and my all-time favourite book series is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Happy Reading!
Max Hughes
Outreach Coordinator 

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