New Books In Mathematics

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Synopsis

Interviews with Mathematicians about their New Books

Episodes

  • Leslie M. Harris, Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    Leslie M. Harris, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    28/04/2020 Duration: 59min

    Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (University of Georgia Press, 2019), edited by Leslie M. Harris, James T. Campbell, and Alfred L. Brophy, is the first edited collection of scholarly essays devoted solely to the histories and legacies of this subject on North American campuses and in their Atlantic contexts. Gathering together contributions from scholars, activists, and administrators, the volume combines two broad bodies of work: (1) historically based interdisciplinary research on the presence of slavery at higher education institutions in terms of the development of proslavery and antislavery thought and the use of slave labor; and (2) analysis on the ways in which the legacies of slavery in institutions of higher education continued in the post–Civil War era to the present day. The collection features broadly themed essays on issues of religion, economy, and the regional slave trade of the Caribbean. It also includes case studies of slavery’s influence on specific institutions, such as P

  • Alex Berke, Beautiful Symmetry: A Coloring Book about Math (MIT Press, 2020)

    Alex Berke, "Beautiful Symmetry: A Coloring Book about Math" (MIT Press, 2020)

    22/04/2020 Duration: 53min

    Alex Berke's Beautiful Symmetry (MIT Press, 2020) is both a fascinating book and a concept -- it's like no other book I’ve ever read. It's a coloring book about math, inviting us to engage with mathematical concepts visually through coloring challenges and visual puzzles. We can explore symmetry and the beauty of mathematics playfully, coloring through ideas usually reserved for advanced courses. The book is for children and adults, for math nerds and math avoiders, for educators, students, and coloring enthusiasts. Through illustration, language that is visual, and words that are jargon-free, the book introduces group theory as the mathematical foundation for discussions of symmetry, covering symmetry groups that include the cyclic groups, frieze groups, and wallpaper groups. The illustrations are drawn by algorithms, following the symmetry rules for each given group. The coloring challenges can be completed and fully realized only on the page; solutions are provided. Online, in a complementary digital editi

  • Paul Nahin, Hot Molecules, Cold Electrons (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Paul Nahin, "Hot Molecules, Cold Electrons" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    03/04/2020 Duration: 52min

    Hot Molecules, Cold Electrons: From the Mathematics of Heat to the Development of the Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Cable (Princeton University Press, 2020), by Paul Nahin, is a book that is meant for someone who is comfortable with calculus, but for those readers who are, it is a treat. It is a thorough study of the history and mathematics of the heat equation, which is not only important as an analysis of heat, its analysis marked the beginning of Fourier series. It came as a surprise to me that the heat equation was also instrumental in analyzing the problem of laying the transatlantic cable that was one of the great engineering feats of the nineteenth century. Although it isn’t necessary to work through the math to appreciate this book, I think that students studying this material would not only find Paul’s treatments easy to follow, but would benefit greatly by learning something of the history that surrounds the development of the analysis and applications of the heat equation. Learn more about your ad choic

  • Matt Cook, Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy (MIT Press, 2020)

    Matt Cook, "Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy" (MIT Press, 2020)

    30/03/2020 Duration: 54min

    Paradox is a sophisticated kind of magic trick. A magician's purpose is to create the appearance of impossibility, to pull a rabbit from an empty hat. Yet paradox doesn't require tangibles, like rabbits or hats. Paradox works in the abstract, with words and concepts and symbols, to create the illusion of contradiction. There are no contradictions in reality, but there can appear to be. In Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy (MIT Press, 2020), Matt Cook and a few collaborators dive deeply into more than 75 paradoxes in mathematics, physics, philosophy, and the social sciences. As each paradox is discussed and resolved, Cook helps readers discover the meaning of knowledge and the proper formation of concepts―and how reason can dispel the illusion of contradiction. The journey begins with “a most ingenious paradox” from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance. Readers will then travel from Ancient Greece to cutting-edge laboratories, encounter infinity and its diffe

  • Al Posamentier, Math Makers: The Lives and Works of 50 Famous Mathematicians (Prometheus, 2020)

    Al Posamentier, "Math Makers: The Lives and Works of 50 Famous Mathematicians" (Prometheus, 2020)

    10/03/2020 Duration: 56min

    Today I talked to Alfred S. Posamentier, a co-author (with Christian Spreitzer) of Math Makers: The Lives and Works of 50 Famous Mathematicians (Prometheus, 2020). This charming book is more than just mathematics, because mathematicians are not just makers of mathematics. They are human beings whose life stories are often not just entertaining, but are sometimes interwoven with important historical events. Of course you get the math in this book –but I would have read this book just for the fascinating anecdotes. Just for openers, how many other disciplines have people who made remarkable contributions but were arrested for revolutionary activities in their teens, and then killed in a duel at age 21? This is the story of Evariste Galois, just one of the 50 fascinating lives you'll read about in this book. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Maureen T. Carroll and Elyn Rykken, Geometry: The Line and the Circle (MAA Press, 2018)

    Maureen T. Carroll and Elyn Rykken, "Geometry: The Line and the Circle" (MAA Press, 2018)

    26/02/2020 Duration: 49min

    From an undergraduate perspective, coming from the rigid proofs and concrete constructions of middle- or high-school courses, the broad discipline of geometry can be at once intimately familiar and menacingly exotic. For most of its history, and perhaps for many of the same reasons, geometers struggled to come to terms with the unsolved problems, unstated assumptions, and untapped generalizability contained in the "bible of mathematics", Euclid's Elements. In their recent text, Geometry: The Line and the Circle (MAA Press, 2018), Maureen T. Carroll and Elyn Rykken have produced a unified survey of Euclidean and many significant non-Euclidean geometries, one that draws from the patterns of historical development to immerse students into progressively new territory. Their book is organized around the Elements but soon (and often) detours into spherical, finite, and other geometries that bring the limitations of the classic text—and the contributions of subsequent geometers—to the fore. Throughout, they examine

  • Phillipa Chong, “Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times” (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Phillipa Chong, “Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times” (Princeton UP, 2020)

    25/02/2020 Duration: 42min

    How does the world of book reviews work? In Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times (Princeton University Press, 2020), Phillipa Chong, assistant professor in sociology at McMaster University, provides a unique sociological analysis of how critics confront the different types of uncertainty associated with their practice. The book explores how reviewers get matched to books, the ethics and etiquette of negative reviews and ‘punching up’, along with professional identities and the future of criticism. The book is packed with interview material, coupled with accessible and easy to follow theoretical interventions, creating a text that will be of interest to social sciences, humanities, and general readers alike. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • K. Linder et al., Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers (Stylus Publishing, 2020)

    K. Linder et al., "Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers" (Stylus Publishing, 2020)

    30/01/2020 Duration: 39min

    If you’re a grad student facing the ugly reality of finding a tenure-track job, you could easily be forgiven for thinking about a career change. However, if you’ve spent the last several years working on a PhD, or if you’re a faculty member whose career has basically consisted of higher ed, switching isn’t so easy. PhD holders are mostly trained to work as professors, and making easy connections to other careers is no mean feat. Because the people you know were generally trained to do the same sorts of things, an easy source of advice might not be there for you. Thankfully, for anybody who wishes there was a guidebook that would just break all of this down, that book has now been written. Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers (Stylus Publishing, 2020) by Kathryn E. Linder, Kevin Kelly, and Thomas J. Tobin offers practical advice and step-by-step instructions on how to decide if you want to leave behind academia and how to start searching for a new career. If a lot of career advice is too vague

  • Christopher J. Phillips, Scouting and Scoring: How We Know What We Know About Baseball (Princeton UP, 2019)

    Christopher J. Phillips, "Scouting and Scoring: How We Know What We Know About Baseball" (Princeton UP, 2019)

    29/01/2020 Duration: 45min

    The so-called Sabermetrics revolution in baseball that began in the 1970s, popularized by the book—and later Hollywood film—Moneyball, was supposed to represent a triumph of observation over intuition. Cash-strapped clubs need not compete for hyped-up prospects when undervalued players provide better price per run scored. Q.E.D., right? In Scouting and Scoring: How We Know What We Know About Baseball (Princeton University Press, 2019), historian of science Christopher J. Phillips rejects his titular dualism. He shows us that baseball can be, in the words of seminal anthropologist and noted Tampa Bay Rays fan* Claude Lévi-Strauss, “good to think with.” Both traditional amateur scouts and statistically-savvy scorers rely on metrics and bureaucracy to make their judgments count, as it were. Some like to say that baseball is quantitative at its core, but by tracing the co-evolution of the sport’s competing data sciences—with episodes that bear witness to the development of the modern press and digital computers—P

  • Brian Clegg, Conundrum: Crack the Ultimate Cipher Challenge (Icon Books, 2019)

    Brian Clegg, "Conundrum: Crack the Ultimate Cipher Challenge" (Icon Books, 2019)

    28/01/2020 Duration: 54min

    The book we are discussing is by Brian Clegg, a well-known author of books on math and science -- but this is not exactly a book on math or science, although these subjects play a significant role. His latest book is Conundrum: Crack the Ultimate Cipher Challenge (Icon Books, 2019), which should delight and intrigue not only those who love math and science, but those who love solving puzzles. This book is a literary escape room, with a series of puzzles to be solved, all of which contribute to a final puzzle that concludes the book. And like the clues one finds in an escape room, Brian mercifully offers hints for the puzzles. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • David Spiegelhalter, The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data (Basic, 2019)

    David Spiegelhalter, "The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data" (Basic, 2019)

    13/12/2019 Duration: 01h02min

    Today's guest is distinguished researcher and statistician, Sir David Spiegelhalter. A fellow of the Royal Society, he is currently Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge. He has dedicated his career, in his words to, “improving the way that quantitative evidence is used in society.” This includes (of particular interest to us) biostatistics and medical research. David is an ISI highly cited researcher who has also focused much of his time and energy to public education through numerous media appearances, documentaries such as his recent BBC series geared towards children, and books such as the one we are discussing today. That book, The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data, was published in the UK by Penguin in March, 2019 and recently released here in the US by Basic Books in September 2019. Colin Miller and Dr. Keith Mankin host the popular medical podcast, PeerSpectrum. Colin works in the medical device space and Keith is a retired pediatric orth

  • Alberto Cairo, How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter about Visual Information (Norton, 2019)

    Alberto Cairo, "How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter about Visual Information" (Norton, 2019)

    03/12/2019 Duration: 57min

    We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, but what if we don’t understand what we’re looking at? Social media has made charts, infographics, and diagrams ubiquitous―and easier to share than ever. We associate charts with science and reason; the flashy visuals are both appealing and persuasive. Pie charts, maps, bar and line graphs, and scatter plots (to name a few) can better inform us, revealing patterns and trends hidden behind the numbers we encounter in our lives. In short, good charts make us smarter―if we know how to read them. However, they can also lead us astray. Charts lie in a variety of ways―displaying incomplete or inaccurate data, suggesting misleading patterns, and concealing uncertainty―or are frequently misunderstood, such as the confusing cone of uncertainty maps shown on TV every hurricane season. To make matters worse, many of us are ill-equipped to interpret the visuals that politicians, journalists, advertisers, and even our employers present each day, enabling bad actors

  • Gary Meisner, The Golden Ratio: The Divine Beauty of Mathematics (Race Point Press, 2018)

    Gary Meisner, "The Golden Ratio: The Divine Beauty of Mathematics" (Race Point Press, 2018)

    22/11/2019 Duration: 40min

    From the pyramids of Giza, to quasicrystals, to the proportions of the human face, the golden ratio has an infinite capacity to generate shapes with exquisite properties. This book invites you to take a new look at this timeless topic, with a compilation of research and information worthy of a text book, accompanied by over 200 beautiful color illustrations that transform this into the ultimate coffee table book. In The Golden Ratio: The Divine Beauty of Mathematics (Race Point Press, 2018), Gary Meisner shares the results of his twenty-year investigation and collaboration with thousands of people across the globe in dozens of professions and walks of life. The evidence will close the gaps of understanding related to many claims of the golden ratio’s appearances and applications, and present new findings to take our knowledge further yet. Whoever you are, and whatever you may know about this topic, you’ll find something new, interesting, and informative in this book, and may find yourself challenged to see, a

  • Julian Havil, Curves for the Mathematically Curious (Princeton UP, 2019)

    Julian Havil, "Curves for the Mathematically Curious" (Princeton UP, 2019)

    15/11/2019 Duration: 59min

    Today I talked to Julian Havil about his latest book Curves for the Mathematically Curious: An Anthology of the Unpredictable, Historical, Beautiful, and Romantic (Princeton University Press, 2019). You don’t have to be mathematically curious to appreciate Julian’s talent for weaving mathematics and history together – but mathematical curiosity and a year or two of calculus will greatly add to your enjoyment of it. This is not your father’s – or grandfather’s – standard collection of conic sections, with perhaps a few curves of higher degree thrown in. This is a collection of elegant, unusual, and mathematically significant curves, chosen by a connoisseur, and beautifully presented for your delectation. You may recognize a few old favorites – the catenary and the normal curve come to mind – but many of the others will be new to you, as they were to me. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Margaret E. Schotte, Sailing School: Navigating Science and Skill, 1550-1800 (Johns Hopkins UP, 2019)

    Margaret E. Schotte, "Sailing School: Navigating Science and Skill, 1550-1800" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2019)

    14/11/2019 Duration: 56min

    Throughout the Age of Exploration, European maritime communities bent on colonial and commercial expansion embraced the complex mechanics of celestial navigation. They developed schools, textbooks, and instruments to teach the new mathematical techniques to sailors. As these experts debated the value of theory and practice, memory and mathematics, they created hybrid models that would have a lasting impact on applied science. In Sailing School: Navigating Science and Skill, 1550-1800 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019), a richly illustrated comparative study of this transformative period, Margaret E. Schotte charts more than two hundred years of navigational history as she investigates how mariners solved the challenges of navigating beyond sight of land. She begins by outlining the influential sixteenth-century Iberian model for training and certifying nautical practitioners. She takes us into a Dutch bookshop stocked with maritime manuals and a French trigonometry lesson devoted to the idea that "navigat

  • Kathryn Conrad on University Press Publishing

    Kathryn Conrad on University Press Publishing

    03/11/2019 Duration: 40min

    As you may know, university presses publish a lot of good books. In fact, they publish thousands of them every year. They are different from most trade books in that most of them are what you might called "fundamental research." Their authors--dedicated researchers one and all--provide the scholarly stuff upon which many non-fiction trade books are based. So when you are reading, say, a popular history, you are often reading UP books at one remove. Of course, some UP books are also bestsellers, and they are all well written (and, I should say, thoroughly vetted thanks to the peer review system), but the greatest contribution of UPs is to provide a base of fundamental research to the public. And they do a great job of it. How do they do it? Today I talked to Kathryn Conrad, the president of the Association of University Presses, about the work of UPs, the challenges they face, and some terrific new directions they are going. We also talked about why, if you have a scholarly book in progress, you should talk to

  • David S. Richeson, Tales of Impossibility (Princeton UP, 2019)

    David S. Richeson, "Tales of Impossibility" (Princeton UP, 2019)

    30/10/2019 Duration: 53min

    David S. Richeson's book Tales of Impossibility: The 2000-Year Quest to Solve the Mathematical Problems of Antiquity (Princeton University Press, 2019) is the fascinating story of the 2000 year quest to solve four of the most perplexing problems of antiquity: squaring the circle, duplicating the cube, trisecting the angle, and constructing regular polygons. The eventual conclusion was that all four of these problems could not be solved under the conditions laid out millennia ago. But it's also an engaging tale of some of the greatest mathematicians, and some not-so-well known ones, who met the challenge and moved mathematics forward in ways that the Greek geometers could never have envisioned. Even if you never read a single proof through to its conclusion, you'll enjoy the many entertaining side trips into a geometry far beyond what you learned in high school. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • J. Neuhaus, Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to Be Effective Teachers (West Virginia UP, 2019)

    J. Neuhaus, "Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to Be Effective Teachers" (West Virginia UP, 2019)

    24/10/2019 Duration: 32min

    The things that make people academics -- as deep fascination with some arcane subject, often bordering on obsession, and a comfort with the solitude that developing expertise requires -- do not necessarily make us good teachers. Jessamyn Neuhaus’s Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to Be Effective Teachers (West Virginia University Press, 2019) helps us to identify and embrace that geekiness in us and then offers practical, step-by-step guidelines for how to turn it to effective pedagogy. It’s a sharp, slim, and entertaining volume that can make better teachers of us all. Stephen Pimpare is Senior Lecturer in the Politics & Society Program and Faculty Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. He is the author of The New Victorians (New Press, 2004), A Peoples History of Poverty in America (New Press, 2008), winner of the Michael Harrington Award, and Ghettos, Tramps and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen (Oxford, 2017

  • David Lindsay Roberts, Republic of Numbers: Unexpected Stories of Mathematical Americans through History (Johns Hopkins UP, 2019)

    David Lindsay Roberts, "Republic of Numbers: Unexpected Stories of Mathematical Americans through History" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2019)

    17/10/2019 Duration: 01h13min

    The institutional history of mathematics in the United States comprises several entangled traditions—military, civil, academic, industrial—each of which merits its own treatment. David Lindsay Roberts, adjunct professor of mathematics at Prince George's Community College, takes a very different approach. His unique book, Republic of Numbers: Unexpected Stories of Mathematical Americans through History(Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019), anchors 20 biographical chapters to a decadal series of events, whose mathematical significance could not often have been anticipated. These short biographies range from the inauguration of military and civil engineering (Sylvanus Thayer) and the textbook industry (Catharine Beecher and Joseph Ray) to the influence of geopolitics during and after the Cold War (Joaquin Basilio Diaz, John F. Nash Jr.), and over the course of the book the subjects witness the professionalization of the research community (Charles H. Davis), radical expansions of educational access (Kelly Mille

  • Alfred S. Posamentier, Tools to Help Your Children Learn Math (WSPC, 2019)

    Alfred S. Posamentier, "Tools to Help Your Children Learn Math" (WSPC, 2019)

    16/09/2019 Duration: 57min

    Our guest today is Al Posamentier, the lead author of Tools to Help Your Children Learn Math (WSPC, 2019). Helping your children with math is one of the most important things a parent can do to further their children’s educational progress, and Al has teamed with other math educators, psychologists, and counselors to write a book which many will find extremely helpful in what is often a difficult and frustrating job.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

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