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John D. Barrow’s Pi in the Sky is a profound — and profoundly different — exploration of the world of mathematics: where it comes from, what it is, and where it’s going to take us if we follow it to the limit in our search for the ultimate meaning of the universe. Barrow begins by investigating whether math is a purely human invention inspired by our practical needs. Or is it something inherent in nature waiting to be discovered?
In answering these questions, Barrow provides a bridge between the usually irreconcilable worlds of mathematics and theology. Along the way, he treats us to a history of counting all over the world, from Egyptian hieroglyphics to logical friction, from number mysticism to Marxist mathematics. And he introduces us to a host of peculiar individuals who have thought some of the deepest and strangest thoughts that human minds have ever thought, from Lao-Tse to Robert Pirsig, Charles Darwin, and Umberto Eco. Barrow thus provides the historical framework and the intellectual tools necessary to an understanding of some of today’s weightiest mathematical concepts.
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