‘Weird Math’ aims to connect numbers and equations to the real world

Tropical Storm Harvey
MATH GETS REAL Chaos theory explains why it’s so difficult to predict weather — a small change in conditions at any point in time can have a large effect on future conditions in, for example, a hurricane’s trajectory (Tropical Storm Harvey shown).

Weird Math
David Darling and Agnijo Banerjee
Basic Books, $27

Weird Math sets out to “reveal the strange connections between math and everyday life.” The book fulfills that laudable goal, in part. At times, teenage math prodigy Agnijo Banerjee and his tutor, science writer David Darling, find ways to make complex math relatable, like linking chaos theory to weather forecasting and virtual reality. But there’s a tension between precision and accessibility, and the authors don’t always find the sweet spot.

The book offers an in-depth exploration of the history of a number of mathematical concepts that Banerjee and Darling find intriguing. Some of their choices — including the mathematics of music, higher dimensions and chaos theory — are written in clear, accessible language that many science-interested readers will…

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