The Big Bang of Numbers: How to Build the Universe Using Only Math (Paperback)

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The Big Bang of Numbers: How to Build the Universe Using Only Math By Manil Suri Cover Image

The Big Bang of Numbers: How to Build the Universe Using Only Math (Paperback)


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Finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

"What a fun escape! Reminds me of math books I read when I was coming of age." —Neil deGrasse Tyson

An "exhilarating" (Steven Strogatz) tour through the fundamental mathematical concepts—from arithmetic to infinity—that form the building blocks of our universe.

Our universe has multiple origin stories, from religious creation myths to the Big Bang of scientists. But if we leave those behind and start from nothing—no matter, no cosmos, not even empty space—could we create a universe using only math? Irreverent, richly illustrated, and boundlessly creative, The Big Bang of Numbers invites us to try.

In this new mathematical origin story, mathematician and novelist Manil Suri creates a natural progression of ideas needed to design our world, starting with numbers and continuing through geometry, algebra, and beyond. He reveals the secret lives of real and imaginary numbers, teaches them to play abstract games with real-world applications, discovers unexpected patterns that connect humble lifeforms to enormous galaxies, and explores mathematical underpinnings for randomness and beauty. With evocative examples ranging from multidimensional crochet to the Mona Lisa’s asymmetrical smile, as well as ingenious storytelling that helps illuminate complex concepts like infinity and relativity, The Big Bang of Numbers charts a playful, inventive course to existence. Mathematics, Suri shows, might best be understood not as something we invent to explain Nature, but as the source of all creation, whose directives Nature tries to obey as best she can.

Offering both striking new perspectives for math aficionados and an accessible introduction for anyone daunted by calculation, The Big Bang of Numbers proves that we can all fall in love with math.

Manil Suri is a distinguished mathematics professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Author of three acclaimed novels, including The Death of Vishnu, he is a former contributing opinion writer at the New York Times, for which he has written several widely read pieces on mathematics. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Product Details ISBN: 9781324065937
ISBN-10: 1324065931
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: November 28th, 2023
Pages: 384
Language: English
Infinitely fascinating…[Suri] succeeds in making slippery ideas easy to grasp.
— Stephen Bleach - Times [UK]

Some of the math books out there are difficult to read, but [The Big Bang of Numbers] isn’t one of them…[A]n elegant journey explaining why we have the number and math systems that we have.

— David Hu - Five Books

By limiting the formulas and equations, [Manil Suri] has created a very readable tour that emphasizes ideas over calculation.
— Physics Today

[The Big Bang of Numbers] explains how understanding math helps you understand the universe.

— Marketplace Tech

Imaginative and organized; [Suri] presents his materials clearly with nice graphics.
— Peter Pesic - Wall Street Journal

A beautifully written meditation on mathematics: whimsical, thought-provoking, and deep.
— Alex Bellos, author of Alex’s Adventures in Numberland

In The Big Bang of Numbers, Manil Suri invites the reader to create a universe made of mathematical ideas, sparking a thrill that may catch you off guard—an exhilarating sensation of playfulness, power, and insight.

— Steven Strogatz, New York Times bestselling author of Infinite Powers and The Joy of x

Who knew numbers could be so charming? So industrious? Suri takes us on a lighthearted journey all the way from nothing (zero) to infinity. Math has rarely been so readable.
— Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

A most unusual, creative, and fascinating account of mathematics that relies not on equations or formulas, but on real-life examples, metaphors, paradoxes, and lovely vignettes.
— John Allen Paulos, author of Innumeracy and A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper

A great sneak peek ahead for anyone interested in mathematical ideas, but bored by the lack of conceptual depth in their introductory math classes.
— Mathematical Association of America

A visual pleasure to read…[Manil Suri] is a smooth, stylish writer.
— Business Standard

[Suri] successfully explores many areas of seemingly pure math that explain the natural world... He also sheds light on abstruse subjects (fractals, infinity, curved space) that puzzle humans more than they should, creating a text that is deeper than most popular writing on math but worth the effort. A successful contribution to the math-isn’t-boring genre.
— Kirkus Reviews

Suri takes on the challenge of developing mathematics from scratch in this high concept thought experiment.
— Publishers Weekly