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Infinite Powers

How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe
Written by: Steven Strogatz
Narrated by: Bob Souer
Length: 10 hrs and 41 mins
Categories: History, World
4.5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Without calculus, we wouldn't have cell phones, TV, GPS, or ultrasound. We wouldn't have unraveled DNA or discovered Neptune or figured out how to put 5,000 songs in your pocket.    

Though many of us were scared away from this essential, engrossing subject in high school and college, Steven Strogatz's brilliantly creative, down-to-earth history shows that calculus is not about complexity; it's about simplicity. It harnesses an unreal number - infinity - to tackle real world problems, breaking them down into easier ones and then reassembling the answers into solutions that feel miraculous.    

Infinite Powers recounts how calculus tantalized and thrilled its inventors, starting with its first glimmers in ancient Greece and bringing us right up to the discovery of gravitational waves. Strogatz reveals how this form of math rose to the challenges of each age: how to determine the area of a circle with only sand and a stick; how to explain why Mars goes "backwards" sometimes; how to turn the tide in the fight against AIDS.    

As Strogatz proves, calculus is truly the language of the universe. By unveiling the principles of that language, Infinite Powers makes us marvel at the world anew.

©2019 Steven Strogatz (P)2019 Tantor

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Narration borders on unlistenable

It's challenging to give this a fair review. The text clearly included jokes and whimsical passages, but it was virtually impossible to appreciate these given the narration. The narration borders on unlistenable.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-09-05

Elegant, clear, cutting edge.

If you're curious, but mathematically hopeless, this is splendid. I found the opening overview particularly illuminating, but throughout it joins history, to biography, to physics, to math in a clear but not condescending manner.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous
  • 2019-09-05

Great for those learning calculus

I'm in differential equations right now this is a good overview of the theories of calculus and covers aspects missed in lectures

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Todd
  • 2019-09-20

Lots of rehash

A lot of what's in here has already been covered elsewhere. It didn't really bring up anything new. If you're an engineer, no need to read this.

2 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • TJ Granack
  • 2019-09-17

Disappointing

William Gilbert, not Galileo Galilei, wrote the first book to use scientific method. It's called De Magnete, published in 1600, Kind of a famous treatise. (There's an original copy at the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention in their permanent Dawn of the Electrical Age Exhibit, Bellingham, WA.)
Minor inaccuracies like this made the book irritating and ultimately unreadable. Perhaps this book is intended for beginners uninterested in specifics (Galileo is a more easily recognizable & memorable name--and perhaps the author thought it too confusing for readers to get the whole Galileo, Kepler & Gilbert thing right.) You'd think a book on mathmatics would be more accurate and less interested in shaving corners to make a point.
TJ Granack

3 of 13 people found this review helpful