Cosmic Numbers by James D. Stein
The Numbers That Define Our Universe

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Synopsis

Our fascination with numbers begins when we are children and continues throughout our lives. We start counting our fingers and toes and end up balancing checkbooks and calculating risk. So powerful is the appeal of numbers that many people ascribe to them a mystical significance. Other numbers go beyond the supernatural, working to explain our universe and how it behaves.

In Cosmic Numbers, mathematics professor James D. Stein traces the discovery, evolution, and interrelationships of the numbers that define our world. Everyone knows about the speed of light and absolute zero, but numbers like Boltzmann’s constant and the Chandrasekhar limit are not as well known, and they do far more than one might imagine: They tell us how this world began and what the future holds. Much more than a gee-whiz collection of facts and figures, Cosmic Numbers illuminates why particular numbers are so important—both to the scientist and to the rest of us.

 

About James D. Stein

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James D. Stein is a professor of mathematics at California State University, Long Beach. A graduate of Yale University and the University of California, Berkeley, he lives in Redondo Beach, California.
 
Published September 6, 2011 by Basic Books. 242 pages
Genres: Science & Math, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Cosmic Numbers

Kirkus Reviews

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However, no one knew that 500 years ago, and Stein recounts how astronomers (in the case of light) and physicists (for absolute zero) teased out the details.

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Publishers Weekly

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Cal State professor Stein's "history by the numbers" breathes warm, surprising life into the constants that define the shape, breadth, and scope of our lives and our universe.

May 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers T...

The Wall Street Journal

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An account of how the speed of light, the pull of gravity and other fixed measures govern the universe.

Nov 17 2011 | Read Full Review of Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers T...

Washington Independent Review of Books

The number 10, the base of our modern decimal number system, is a human artifice, presumably chosen because it is the number of fingers on our two hands.

Sep 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers T...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

(One metaphysical controversy that Stein perhaps wisely avoids is the "anthropic principle," which tries to find in these numbers, so curiously suitable for human life, a guide to the possible nature of a multiverse.) Stein is careful not to make his history read like a flawless march of insight...

Oct 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers T...

City Book Review

“The reader of this book will notice a large number of calculations, because not only is this book about the cosmic numbers that define the universe, it is about the numbers themselves — the universal language, as Galileo called mathematics.” The story starts in the time of Newton and proceeds f...

Nov 17 2011 | Read Full Review of Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers T...

Bookmarks Magazine

Everyone knows about the speed of light and absolute zero, but numbers like Boltzmann’s constant and the Chandrasekhar limit are not as well known, and they do far more than one might imagine: They tell us how this world began and what the future holds.

Nov 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers T...

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