What's maths got to do with it?
Delve into this curious cabinet to find ut for yourself:
• How to slice through your fingers without cutting them off
• How to deduce - without looking - whether the rabbit under the hat is black or white
• Why the M25 Motorway is short going anti-clockwise than clockwise, and by how much
• Why a negative number, multiplied by a negative number, equals a positive number
• How to get a cherry out of a cocktail glass
Forget Sudoku... for keeping your brain limber, nothing can compete with Professor Stewart's tasty assortment of numerical nibbles
Frankly, I wasn't too sure what to make of this book. Sounding like it's aimed at kids, I found that more of the puzzles stumped 19 of the 20 adults I showed it to... and every single kid who read it. This is NOT 'kiddies stuff' - which is why I *LOVE* it.
Nothing gives me a bigger thrill than beating a challenge, stretching the mental muscle, and taking it out on a field trip through a field of number theory. Not only did I find a whole heap of new brain-strainers to pit my wits against, but I was amazed at the extra little tid-bits thrown in, like how 'random numbers' still have a fairly predictable pattern - statistically speaking - if you look at the frequency of the digits, rather than the whole numbers themselves. ('1' may be the loneliest number, but it has a LOT of company in certain circumstances. See page 106)
To avoid filling the review with, basically, the highlights of the book, I will instead say that depending or your penchant for puzzles, and your mental dexterity, you may find the puzzles on these pages sufficiently entertaining to warrant buying the book:
• Page 36 - Deceptive Dice (How to win at dice more often)
• Page 113 - Golden Oldie (OK, not a puzzle, but damned funny!)
• Page 144 - The Anti-Gravity Cone (Not just a puzzle, but a fun craft project too!)
• Page 245 - Counterflip (A fun game, and a great way to get money off drunk suckers )
I also loved the way some high-brow humour was scattered throughout, making the book a little less of a heavy-wade if you took breaks at the jokes to rest the mind a tad. Other places to let the mind 'rest' is where the author has thrown in a chuck of historical background - learn and play, all in the one book.
Overall, a fun book, though quite heavy in places. It won't be to everyone's taste, but for those who enjoy the challenge, and find maths and logic to be just their kind of thing, then this book is a fun way to pass wet afternoons.
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"Reality is what refuses to go away when I stop believing in it."
Philip K. Dick