The Num8er My5teries: A Mathematical Odyssey Through Everyday Life

The Num8er My5teries: A Mathematical Odyssey Through Everyday Life
Genre : Popular Science
Published : 8 Jul 2010 - Fourth Estate
THE NUM8ER MY5TERIES is a departure from du Sautoy’s previous two books. It is a book about mathematics that the reader can dip into for interesting facts, challenges and puzzles. It is a small-format hardback with line illustrations – a short, lively book of five chapters – and each chapter deals with one of five uncrackable mathematical problems, the kind of problems that have vexed mathematicians for hundreds of years. Each of these problems, however, cast a fascinating light onto how mathematics relate to everyday life.

Du Sautoy shows, for example, how prime numbers preserve secrets on the internet, how they ensure the survival of insects in the forests of North America, even how they are the key to Real Madrid’s success on the football pitch. He explains how to fake a Jackson Pollock; and how to see shapes in four dimensions. He also shows how mathematics provides the best tactics for optimizing your success in game shows, gambling and all kinds of strategy games.

It is the perfect gift book for anybody curious about the world around them.


It's a hard task making the world of maths accessible and intriguing to the general public. Du Sautoy manages it covering everything from internet credit-card security to the maths behind making the roundest football, he builds a persuasive case for how relevant these mathematical mysteries are to our everyday lives.

The Sunday Times

A superb book about everything from numbers to shapes, to chaos, to codes, from a very able mathematician.

Amir D. Aczel, author of FERMAT'S LAST THEOREM

A distinguished biologist and I were being escorted through the Panama jungle by an enthusiastic field worker, when the great man whispered to me, 'What a joy to be shown around by a man who really loves his animals.' The joke was that this man’s animals were plants. Numbers are Marcus du Sautoy’s animals, and his love for them glows on every page. Marcus du Sautoy is the Steve Irwin of the number kingdom.

Richard Dawkins

Mind-bending, fascinating and useful too. Maths didn’t used to be this much fun.

Alan Davies

Some day all Maths will be taught like this. If Maths is the Queen of Sciences, this is her with her petticoats undone.

Dara O’Briain

The book contains some of the clearest and most remarkable explanations I have ever read of some of the deepest questions in mathematics. It illustrates like no other the beauty, power, fun, ubiquity, and compulsive nature of mathematics.

Plus Magazine

His book is clearly written, attractively produced, well illustrated with drawings and diagrams, and limited to five chapters, each of which takes the reader on a journey through one of the big themes of mathematics and ends with a yet-to-be-solved million-dollar-prize puzzle.

The Economist

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