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Paperback A History of Pi Book

ISBN: 0312381859

ISBN13: 9780312381851

A History of Pi

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Book Overview

The history of pi, says the author, though a small part of the history of mathematics, is nevertheless a mirror of the history of man. Petr Beckmann holds up this mirror, giving the background of the... This description may be from another edition of this product.

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Math Mathematics Science & Math

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

Like new?

My “like new” book arrived with very obvious food stains on it and it was meant to be a gift to an old teacher. I get that it’s a $5 book but if I saw that at a resale store I would’ve laughed

Start down a new math path

I picked this book up as a person more interested in "A History of. . . " than Pi. However after finishing this book, I immediatley went out and bought 3 more books about math. I was stunned to figure out that math was fascinating. This book may not be comprehensive, and certainly the author shares his personal opinion about historical figures, but the name of the book isn't "A Comprehensive, Unbiased History of Pi". This book started me on a path from math phobe to math phile. Give it a try, your 7th grade teacherr was right math is cool!

No Dry Pi History...

I loved this book. I started reading on Thursday evening and finished on Sunday, enjoying almost every page.It not only put the development of Pi into a world history context, it gave the author's opinions (well labeled) of who did what and what the effect was on not only the science and engineering communities, but the larger society(s).I notice some reviewers see fault in this. Too bad. I guess they would rather have their Pi dry and eat it too.For my own part, Mr. Beckman's 1974 3rd edition preface where he claims we were then entering a new age of scientific ignorance and anti-technology sentiment was RIGHT ON THE MARK! Consider what is happening in 2001 in California's energy industry. They build no new power plants for more than 10yrs, though demand is constantly rising, then I see housewives on TV claiming "isn't it suspicious that we suddenly run out of energy, and then the price skyrockets?" They start clamoring for price controls and even the governor publically discusses "taking over" the privately owned industry. This is a road to serfdom, and it starts with technology ignorance.They understand neither technology nor free markets (where freedom is practiced and not an abstract thing) and the irony is that they have caused excess statistical deaths to now begin to occur while increasing the pollution of the environment over the intervening years of extending operation of older less efficient plants. But, by God, they do vote, don't they!For those of you that don't get it, the history of Pi did not occur apart from the tolerance of society for scientists and technologists to practice their trade, and the historical intertwinning of technological intolerance and authoritarian regimes is actually the major theme of the book. Using the focused history of Pi to illustrate this theme strikes me as a not so subtle statement about the pervasiveness of the author's claim. The beauty of this metaphor to mathematicians should be the symmetrical knowledge of the pervasiveness of Pi in mathematical abstraction of all kinds.I find much new material to think about in Mr. Beckman's book especially on Roman Civilation. I did not say I swallow his thesis whole, just that he has provoked me to think.By way of full disclosure, I have university education(s) in electrical engineering and business administration. I would like to think I was pre-disposed towards freedom since before, but the truth is I had to learn to think first.My advice, don't buy this book if you do not want to be provoked into thinking.Regards to all, Roger Whatley

An antidote to today's hyper-sensitive history

My kind of book: A seemingly mundane subject that packs a punch. Those expecting an exhaustive mathematical treatise should remember that this is a HISTORY of pi, including the events and people that colored it. Beckmann is opinionated, and thankfully so! History is a story composed of characters that either advance or impede human progress, and Beckmann shines the spotlight on both, heaping scorn and reverence without regard to who's ox is being gored. In the process, he manages to annoy all the right groups (organized religion, fascists, communists) making him unpopular with some, but rare is the factual rebuttal to any of his charges. Indeed, the primary complaint seems not to be that he's wrong but that he's particularly unforgiving of history's morons. There's enough conceptual math and intriguing history to please both mathematicians and historians, particularly those tired of the politically correct drivel that so permeates popular science today. A truly great read.

Brilliant and controversial -- Which a book should be!

Dr. Petr Beckmann was never one to mince words. He quotes a biblical passage that strongly implies that pi equals 3, and while he is never disrespectful to the Bible, he does mock the tortured attempts of some fundamentalists to reconcile this passage with the actual value of pi. He also mocks the Indiana State Legislature (which, in 1897, nearly passed a law that set the value of pi at about 9.23), and Theodore Heisel (who, in 1931, wrote a mathematical treatise that ignored 4000 years of progress in determining pi).But he praises Archimedes and Newton, among others, for their heroic and quiet progress in determining the value and application of pi. And, sadly, he concludes that the Heisels of the world are more numerous than the Archimedes.Great book. But it must be read with an open mind.

An entertaining disertation on freedom and the value of PI.

Dr. Beckman was born in Czechoslovakia and lived for many years under Soviet rule. His experiences made him a particularly vehement and eloquent defender of individual freedom and that can be seen in "A History of PI". This is not a dry recitation of the achievements made possible by the discovery of the relationship between a circle's circumference and its diameter. It contains such purely factual information but in a context which serves to show that free men can discover the truth, use it, and move all men -- free, unfree, rich, and poor -- forward; creating wealth, abundance, and leisure. The book also outlines those periods in history when freedom is crushed, the truth is lost, and men are dehumanized. Finally, it cautions us that the struggle never ends. Indeed, in our own time a piece of legislation was submitted to the United States House of Representatives which sought to define PI as being equal to the integer value three [rather than 3.1415...]. Overall, the book is well written, readable, sometimes funny and sometimes deadly serious. (The following is "as best as I can remember" and may contain some inaccuracies.) Dr. Beckman was professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering at The University of Colorado until his death in 1994. He published a number of books on his own which dealt with Engineering, Language, and Music (most notably "The Health Hazards of NOT Going Nuclear") and translated a number of works by Soviet Engineers and Scientists (most of whom were eventually destroyed by the system to which they were bound in servitude). He also produced "Access to Energy: A Pro-Technology, Pro-Free Enterprise Newsletter." He is survived by his Wife.

A History of Pi Mentions in Our Blog

A History of Pi in Happy National Pi Day!
Happy National Pi Day!
Published by Beth Clark • March 14, 2019

Celebrate #NationalPiDay with 3.14 pieces of your favorite pie (à la mode, according to our recent poll), 3.14 slices of your favorite pizza (pie), 3.14 chapters of The Life of Pi, or by seeing how many decimal digits of Pi (π) you can memorize and say aloud. (FYI, there are over a trillion, so hydrate first.)

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