Time Travel and Other Mathematical Bewilderments

Time Travel and Other Mathematical Bewilderments
by Martin Gardner

W. H. Freeman and Co.
0-7167-1924-X; 0-7167-1925-8 (paper)
T, GA **


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This is another fascinating and delightful collection of Martin Gardner's columns from Scientific American. Even the mathephobic will be intrigued by the paradoxes of time travel, the ancient beauty of tangrams, and the cleverness of melody-making machines, anamorphic art (distortions through projective transformations), curious geographic maps, and the contortions of a worm on a rubber rope, as well as other topics. Also included is the infamous April Fool's column of 1975 that claimed to present a counterexample to the then unsolved Four Color Problem. The topics and puzzles/games in this collection could easily be used by an enterprising elementary school teacher to stimulate interest in mathematics among the disinterested. High school and college instructors will find this book a gold mine as well. Many of the topics mentioned above as well as the chapters on induction and probability, tree-plant problems (which contains an interesting discussion on early U.S. flag designs), magic squares/cubes, and tiling problems could be used as the basis of a mathematics course for liberal arts majors. A fun, stimulating book for people of all ages and interests!

--Reviewed by Lucy Dechéne in Science Books and Films, 23/5 (May/June 1988), p. 280.