Hidden Harmonies by Ellen Kaplan
The Lives and Times of the Pythagorean Theorem

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Synopsis


A squared plus b squared equals c squared. It
sounds simple, doesn't it? Yet this familiar expression is a gateway
into the riotous garden of mathematics, and sends us on a journey of
exploration in the company of two inspired guides, acclaimed authors
Robert and Ellen Kaplan. With wit, verve, and clarity, they trace the
life of the Pythagorean theorem, from ancient Babylon to the present,
visiting along the way Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, President
James Garfield, and the Freemasons-not to mention the elusive Pythagoras
himself, who almost certainly did not make the statement that bears his
name.


How can a theorem have more than one proof? Why does this one have
more than two hundred-or is it four thousand? The Pythagorean theorem
has even more applications than proofs: Ancient Egyptians used it for
surveying property lines, and today astronomers call on it to measure
the distance between stars. Its generalizations are stunning-the theorem
works even with shapes on the sides that aren't squares, and not just
in two dimensions, but any number you like, up to infinity. And perhaps
its most intriguing feature of all, this tidy expression opened the door
to the world of irrational numbers, an untidy discovery that deeply
troubled Pythagoras's disciples.


Like the authors' bestselling The Nothing That Is and Chances Are . . .-hailed as "erudite and witty," "magnificent," and "exhilarating"-Hidden Harmonies makes the excitement of mathematics palpable.
 

About Ellen Kaplan

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Robert Kaplan has taught mathematics to people from six to sixty, most recently at Harvard University. In 1994, with his wife Ellen, he founded The Math Circle, a program, open to the public, for the enjoyment of pure mathematics. He has also taught Philosophy, Greek, German, Sanskrit, and InspiredGuessing. Robert Kaplan lives in Cambridge, MA. Ellen Kaplan has taught mathematics to people from six to sixty, at leading independent schools and most recently at Harvard University. She is a founder of The Math Circle, a program for the exploration and enjoyment of mathematics, which is opening branches across America and Great Britain.
 
Published January 11, 2011 by Bloomsbury Press. 304 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Science & Math, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Hidden Harmonies

Kirkus Reviews

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It’s clear that this theorem continues to play an important role in math and science, that the human capacity for theoretical exploration remains unabated and that our “curiosity always seeks to justify the peculiar, and imagination to shape a deeper unity.” As such, this engaging history of the ...

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Publishers Weekly

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The Kaplans (Out of the Labyrinth) collaborate for a fourth time on this historical and mathematical examination of the Pythagorean Theorem (a2+b2=c2).

Feb 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Hidden Harmonies: The Lives a...

The Wall Street Journal

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Robert and Ellen Kaplan's "Hidden Harmonies: The Lives and Times of the Pythagorean Theorem" enters a crowded field of general-reader books on mathematics, including Eli Maor's "The Pythagorean Theorem: A 4,000-Year History" (2007).

Jan 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Hidden Harmonies: The Lives a...

Daily Kos

It's true - we've all met these folks , possibly in disguise of Victorian costume and unusual (to us)dialects of English - buts these damned nuts populate our lives as surely as they do the books whose pages they come to life on again.Thanks to oter reders at this website for mentioning these - a...

Oct 13 2010 | Read Full Review of Hidden Harmonies: The Lives a...

Bookmarks Magazine

With wit, verve, and clarity, they trace the life of the Pythagorean theorem, from ancient Babylon to the present, visiting along the way Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, President James Garfield, and the Freemasons-not to mention the elusive Pythagoras himself, who almost certainly did not ma...

Jan 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Hidden Harmonies: The Lives a...

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