Two beguiling mathematics books reviewed: The Seven Measures of the World and Four Ways of Thinking

A three-dimensional quantum gas atomic clock.

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The Seven Measures of the World

Piero Martin

Yale University Press

Four Ways of Thinking

David Sumpter

Allen Lane

Blame the sundial. A dinner guest in a poem by the Roman writer Plautus, his stomach rumbling, complains that: “The town’s so full of these confounded dials / The greatest part of the inhabitants, / Shrunk up with hunger, crawl along the streets”.

We have been slaves to number ever since. Not that we need complain, according to two recent books. Experimental physicist Piero …

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