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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 (11 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

What listeners say about Infinite Powers

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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.

13 people found this helpful

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  • A Reader in Maine
  • 2020-02-21

Not written to be read aloud

Don’t get me wrong—this is a great book and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I highly recommend it. But in many parts, the performer has to read aloud some complicated equations that are tough to follow if you are, say, listening while driving. As a statistician, I was familiar with 80% of the concepts discussed and have heard of the rest, and I struggled at times.
I recommend buying the book to read, so one can slow down when needed, or listen to it with a pencil and paper handy.
That said, this book gave me many new insights and explanations that will inform my teaching going forward.

9 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • M. McCreary
  • 2020-02-10

Read the book

This is a great discussion of the development and use of calculus, but if you're not comfortable with the topic, the audiobook isn't the best way to read it. The narrator does a great job, but with so many equations in the text, it's just easier to read the hard copy.

5 people found this 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

10 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 2020-05-29

GREAT BOOK! would be nice to have a PDF

If you enjoy math and Steven Strogatz... you're probably a nerd like me and have already read this or similar books many times, and you know its good. 😁

If you are just interested in math and want to hear it explained in an entertaining and informative, this is a great book to read.

it would benefit from a PDF for some illustrations, but even without that it is easy to follow.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Julian G.
  • 2020-01-30

Great overbiew

I'm not a math person by trade although I do enjoy mathematics. This book is a great way to get a wide breadth idea of the history of calculus. I suggest this book to anyone who kind of wants to know about the math without getting too into the Weeds about how to do it. Beautifully written and excellently narrated.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Eazy
  • 2020-05-15

Could really use an accompanying PDF

It sometimes talks about a graph or something visual and requires you to imagine it when it sounds like in the book you’d have the visuals. It would be so much better if the visuals were in an available pdf.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-03-08

history

explains calculus but not heavy on math
Lots of illustrations. good for teaching anyone at any age

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  • Timothy S.
  • 2020-01-24

Infinitely Awesome! So much fun.

Missing insight on eastern math is meaningless compared to the tale of modern infinities.

Fun listen on headphones but some pencil and paper moments when a peek at the math is required.

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  • Tyler
  • 2019-12-29

Beautiful

As a young newly inspired fellow, I’ve been surprisingly driven to read and listen to such books as Strogatz’s here. It gorgeously weaves often difficult to imagine notions of mathematics into a web of relevance.

I am registered to take calculus in the next semester, and could not have imagined a better primer. I’m hooked. I am craving to learn more, and this book has teased the desire for advancement to an incredible degree. I’ve listed this book as one I must return to after actually learning to DO the calculus he dances around. But until then, I have only dreamy things to say about the book.

Narration is wonderful. As with any scientific / mathematic audio, there are tedious portions where it becomes difficult to follow given the nature of embedding equations and proofs into paragraphs. But this is, to me, apparent and obvious. I like to consider the portions of technical speak as a challenge to myself whether I can follow. I’ll repeat it several times until I understand or decide I’m not quite studied enough to understand more deeply than I do.

Mathematics is a language of translating “reality” into symbols and back again, judging their synergy along the way. To expect a book on mathematics NOT to contain technical paragraphs, is a mistake. I loved them.

If you are reading reviews looking for fuel to motivate your own decision, do it.

Especially if you are willing to be curious.
If you would like to learn.
And if you want to explore the universe, mathematics is nestled amongst the best available tools to do so.

Dive in. Enjoy.

1 person found this helpful