Based on Mlodinow's extensive historical research; his studies alongside colleagues such as Richard Feynman and Kip Thorne; and interviews with leading physicists and mathematicians such as Murray Gell-Mann, Edward Witten, and Brian Greene, Euclid's Window is an extraordinary blend of rigorous, authoritative investigation and accessible, good-humored storytelling that makes a stunningly original argument asserting the primacy of geometry. For those who have looked through Euclid's Window, no space, no thing, and no time will ever be quite the same.
©2009 Leonard Mlodinow; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
It is so rare to find a math history book on audio. I found the first half far more enlightening than the last, and enjoyed his jokes and personal narratives woven in as examples. His treatment of hyperbolic geometry was particularly noteworthy.
I paid for my whole seat but found out quickly that I would only use the edge or approximately one third of the area.
Maybe better as a normal book. As an audio book, it sometimes is annoying when the presenter rambles off long formulae or numbers (which is thankfully not too often).
The topic appears to skip around a bit and the change in historical interpretation of geometry from high-school math to mind-bending modern physics is offered mostly as a biography of those working on these topics over the past 2,500 years.
Overall: good but not great
Haven't read the print version.
Seeing Einstein's vision of curved space and non-Euclidean geometry based on the evolution of math from the triangle.
Some great background and stories about how math developed from the Geometry of the Ancient Greeks, through non-Euclidean Geometry of Gauss, Riemann, etc., which set the stage for the math of Relativity and Quantum theories. Fascinating listen on audiobook. Not many charts or graphs, so you wouldn't miss much by listening in the car.
And you can download the pdf of accompanying illustrations anyway.
I really enjoyed Mlodinow's "The Drunkard's Walk" and I do recommend it to anyone. So it was a big surprise when I listened to "Euclid's Window." This book was very uneven. There were good chapters and weak chapters. Also, I felt like he was trying too hard to be humorous or "folksy." As I listened, I got the feeling that this was a much earlier book than "The Drunkard's Walk" and when I checked the publication dates, it was true. Mlodinow's "voice" is much better in his later writing compared to this book. The material here is good, for the most part, but how it is presented needed the firm recommendations of a good editor who might have made it more consistent and confident.
Witty Historical Survey
Biography of Albert Einstein by Walter Isaacson would be a good companion to Euclid's Window. The historical perspective of Einstein's life and especially the detail about his difficulties with developing the Theory of Relativity through the politics and antisemitism help provide the skeleton of history provided in Euclid's Window with the fullness of flesh.
Blumenfeld's intelligible diction was reminiscent of a professors monologue with the inflection of entertainment and the confidence indicating a familiarity with the work. He was a perfect choice for this entertaining historical writing.
I particularly enjoyed the author's use of his two sons in demonstrating complex ideas. One particular scene is of Alexi as Einstein and Nicholas as Heisenberg in a heated discussion over whether small regions of space are flat if it is devoid of mass. Alexi says it should be but Nicholas taunts him with his principle of uncertainty causing fluctuations of gravity that belie flatness of space.
I am going to listen to the book a second time. I like the chronological approach to the development of the geometry. Truly it presents math as a natural philosophy based on the world and a desire to understand it. In the next reading of the text I am going to stop periodically to learn more in depth the concepts and supplement the reading with other writings.
I am a 27 year old nurse pursuing a nurse practitioner degree. My favorite book genres are: fantasy, science fiction, medicine and sociology
I love non fiction and learning about something new. I was very surprised at how clever the writing was in this book. Some one-liners downright had me laughing out loud. At one point, my brother (22 years old and a law student without much math or science in his background) sat through an hour long car ride in which I listened to this audio book, and even from a random point in the book, he found himself exclaiming in surprise at some interesting facts he learned, and laughing at the clever jokes and side comments.
I have to say that I learned something, but furthermore enjoyed learning it. It didn't feel tremendously technical or too plodding and long. It also explores the contributing social circumstances and history of the various mathematicians and scientists mentioned within its pages, which helps create a broad knowledge base on the topics at hand and about the people behind the discoveries as well.
Making Hyperbolic Geometry fun and interesting to the general reader deserves a great review. In the next edition replace "Jesuits" and "Franciscans" with "Benedictines" and give examples of (actual) modern geometrical reasoning in side boxes.
I really love both history and mathematics, so this was the perfect read for me.
In college, I was so focused on problem solving, I wasn't able to step away from the text to really delve into the story behind the Geometry. This read affords me that chance and has me going back to some of my old text and rediscovering what I really love about mathematics.
Very much recommended for anyone who loves history and is fascinated by mathematics ;-)!
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