*Significant Figures: The Lives and Work of Great Mathematicians*

*Significant Figures: The Lives and Work of Great Mathematicians*

# by Ian Stewart

# Audiobooklife rating: ๐ค ๐ค ๐ค ๐ค

This audio book was almost twelve hours in duration. Took me less than two days. The progression of math has been well studied and documented throughout history. It’s unbelievable we are able to follow it in such detail. Put me in a good mood. Quarantine has given me time to reflect and bulldoze digital audio books. What are you reading or listening to while being quarantined? Reading is therapeutic and helps make the state of affairs less painful and the sky more blue. ๐

Anyways the author is an acclaimed mathematician, a science fiction writer and Emeritus professor at Warwick in England. Math can be an intimidating and exigent subject. He makes the subject matter understandable and oh so enjoyable! It spans two-thousand years and touches on twenty five mathematicians through short biography. It’s a wonderful compendium of great minds that have discovered and created systems of math used today. None of which are alive. Shout out๐ข to all living amateur and professional mathematicians! From the great geometer to the creation of algebra to the advent of super computers this book has it. There was even a chapter on Benoit Mandelbrot and fractal geometry. I love fractals! Nature is full of fractals. They are never ending patterns and you are free to get lost in them. โ

I have a profound reverence for math myself. Everything in the universe obeys geometric rules and ratios. Through logic and deduction you can reduce all phenomenon in nature to mathematical axioms and laws. Also being a science major I had to reach at least the level of calculus. Why? Calculus was required for genetics. Genetics was required for cell biology. Cell biology was required for biochemistry. You get the idea. I spent many semesters in math class and we are well acquainted. โ

My favorite mathematician would have to be Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi. He is the father of algebra and the word algorithm derives from his manuscripts (see The Sieve of Eratosthenes). His work helped society get wages and inheritances properly and was one of the most famous scholars in The House of Wisdom. So much science and math were discovered in the ancient middle east. Pretty incredible! I guess that is one defining characteristic of people. The quest for knowledge, insight, understanding and awareness. Of course, Issac Newton (co-inventor of calculus) will always hold a special place in my heart. โซ

A little side joke. How would you define a significant figure? Google defines it as: each of the digits of a number that are used to express it to the required degree of accuracy, starting from the first nonzero digit. In a nutshell “Sig figs” are used in science and medicine to estimate how many decimal places are needed. ๐

Number is the ruler of all forms!

## Michael ๐