[alert variation=”alert-info”]Publisher: Prometheus Books
Formats: Paperback, eBook, Kindle
Purchase: Powell’s | Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | iBooks[/alert]

Author Colin Pask claims in his introduction that calculations quoted in this book are mostly simple and accessible to ordinary readers. This statement should’ve been qualified to say that ordinary readers competent and interested in mathematics. Other ordinary readers, even most scientists, will quickly turn the pages to find something they can comprehend with ease. Pask’s writing is clear and understandable, however the subject is complex.

Of the hundreds of calculations in science and mathematics over the millennia, Pask has chosen fifty in Great Calculations that he considered most significant in mathematical history. He groups these in eleven broad categories, such as The Solar System, Light, and Nuclear and Particle Physics. Within each category he goes through several sets of mathematical calculations. For example, under Our World, we find calculations related to size of the earth, its mass and age, what’s inside, its spinning motions, and tide predictions. Pask wisely divided each section into many short subsections for easier readability. A thirty-five page Notes, Name Index, and Subject and Term Index end the book.

For the ordinary non-mathematical readers, the discussions may be hard to follow, even with many illustrating sketches. This book is primarily written and geared toward mathematicians, both professional and amateur.

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