Preface 

ix  




3  (4) 

An introduction to numbers, pointing out their upsides (they're efficient) as well as their downsides (they're ethereal) 




7  (8) 

Treating numbers concretelythink rockscan make calculations less baffling 




15  (8) 

The disturbing concept of subtraction, and how we deal with the fact that negative numbers seem so... negative 




23  (6) 

When you buy jeans on sale, do you save more money if the clerk applies the discount after the tax, or before? 



5 Division and Its Discontents 


29  (6) 

Helping Verizon grasp the difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents 



6 Location, Location, Location 


35  (10) 

How the placevalue system for writing numbers brought arithmetic to the masses 






45  (6) 

Arithmetic becomes algebra when we begin working with unknowns and formulas 




51  (8) 

Complex numbers, a hybrid of the imaginary and the real, are the pinnacle of number systems 




59  (8) 

Turning peril to pleasure in word problems 




67  (8) 

The quadratic formula may never win any beauty contests, but the ideas behind it are ravishing 




75  (10) 

In math, the function of functions is to transform 






85  (8) 

Geometry, intuition, and the long road from Pythagoras to Einstein 



13 Something from Nothing 


93  (8) 

Like any other creative act, constructing a proof begins with inspiration 




101  (12) 

The uncanny similarities between parabolas and ellipses suggest hidden forces at work 




113  (8) 

Sine waves everywhere, from Ferris wheels to zebra stripes 




121  (10) 

Archimedes recognized the power of the infinite and in the process laid the groundwork for calculus 





17 Change We Can Believe In 


131  (8) 

Differential calculus can show you the best path from A to B, and Michael Jordan's dunks help explain why 




139  (8) 

The lasting legacy of integral calculus is a VegOMatic view of the universe 




147  (8) 

How many people should you date before settling down? Your grandmother knowsand so does the number e 



20 Loves Me, Loves Me Not 


155  (6) 

Differential equations made sense of planetary motion. But the course of true love? Now that's confusing 




161  (14) 

A light beam is a pas de deux of electric and magnetic fields, and vector calculus is its choreographer 






175  (8) 

Bell curves are out. Fat tails are in 




183  

The improbable thrills of probability theory 

