Why should we be interested in the history of mathematics? Mathematics, like painting, music, literature, has a long history, says Robin Wilson. Indeed, it’s longer than most, since the first writing is believed to be numerical. Mathematics is also multicultural, with its historical origins in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
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“Science is a profoundly human endeavour. The stories of triumph and success in science, alongside the failures and despair, are compelling.” From a data-driven account of air pollution to a book that makes calculus fun, 2019 has been a great year for science books. Nigel Shadbolt, chair of judges, discusses the six books shortlisted for the 2019 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize.
It’s a difficult task: to identify the very best nonfiction books of the year. But the Baillie Gifford Prize aims to do just that. The chair of the prize’s 2018 judging panel Fiammetta Rocco talks to us about the six fascinating titles that made the shortlist.
Nearly everyone has had to sit a standardised test at some point in their lives and felt the grip it might hold over their future—and not always in a good way. André Rupp, research director at ETS, the nonprofit company that runs some of the most well-known tests, talks us through what’s going on at the forefront of research and the new kinds of tests that are being developed.
As distinctions between traditional and avant-garde, central and marginal dissolve, poet and critic Stephanie Burt discusses some of America’s most exciting contemporary poets, who are speaking to and from diverse experiences and backgrounds – sometimes with a disco beat
At its worst, finance leads to crises and economic dislocation and, yet, it’s absolutely vital to solving many of the problems society faces today. MIT’s Andrew W Lo introduces some of the best books on finance and explains how it can change the world for the better.
Philip Plait urges us to remember that “science isn’t an encyclopedia of facts to memorise. It’s alive.” The astronomer and author of the acclaimed Bad Astronomy blog discusses books that can’t help but light the fire of interest in all things astronomical. He looks at how we can date the age of the universe, the danger of solar flares, and why Pluto is no longer classed as a planet.
“Love,” wrote Ovid, “is no assignment for cowards.” Cultural critic Mia Levitin talks us through the history of seduction from the Classical era, through ballroom dancing, calling cards and into the present age of swiping on our mobile phones. Here she recommends five of the best books for those braving the modern dating scene.
We think of philosophy as a discipline that interrogates complex dilemmas—the nature of will, right and wrong, human freedom—with logic, reasoned thought and argument. But what do the moments in philosophy that make us stop and look outside ourselves have to teach us? According to Eric Schwitzgebel, philosopher at the University of California Riverside, they can open up worlds of fresh possibility. Here he recommends five books of philosophical wonder.
2020 has been a great year for popular philosophy with many excellent books published. Here, Nigel Warburton, our philosophy editor and co-host of the Philosophy Bites podcast, picks his favourites and explains what he likes about them.
Our political systems evolved in an era when information was much harder to come by. What challenges does our current reality of information overload pose for democracy? How do we even start thinking about these questions? Political scientist Henry Farrell proposes key books for building a curriculum on ‘the politics of information,’ starting with a beautifully written novel.
The global economy has been hit by another massive and unexpected shock this year in the form of the pandemic, which is already having knock-on effects on how people think about economics. Here, Professor Diane Coyle of Cambridge University chooses the best economics books published in 2020.
What do we mean when we talk about 'big data', and how can be become better critical consumers of it? Data scientist Vicki Boykis recommends the best books for learning Python—a language, she says, as versatile as a Swiss Army knife—and shows that it's possible to teach yourself coding and data science.
What can Nietzsche and Aristotle teach us about how to live? Should everyone read Being and Nothingness? From a philosophical approach to misogyny to an interrogation of whether it’s morally acceptable to have a Facebook account, philosopher Nigel Warburton introduces us to the best philosophy books of 2018.
We are taught to value intelligence and academic ability, but raw mental firepower does not always translate into success at work or a life of contentment. Just as important are the skills that make up ’emotional intelligence,’ says Daniel Goleman, whose bestselling book popularised the concept. Here he chooses five emotional intelligence books that explore its practical applications.
Neuroscience has banished the problem of dualism—the ‘ghost in the machine’ mulled over by philosophists since the time of Descartes, says the renowned cognitive neuroscientist Professor Dick Passingham. Here, he chooses five books that signified major breakthroughs in this fast-advancing field.
Many people feel dissatisfied with aspects of neoliberalism, but fewer know what it is or where it came from. Economic historian Niall Kishtainy recommends some of his favourite books on the history of economic thought, books that use intellectual history to examine issues confronting us in the real world.
Contemporary physics is so complex that no single physicist can be said to have a decent grasp of the full picture. This makes communicating physics a formidable challenge. Acclaimed popular science writer, Jim Baggott, talks us through this challenge by discussing his favourite physics books.
Wall Street money manager Barry Ritholtz diagnoses the ills of America’s political and economic system in a fizzing, irreverent analysis (with promised f-bombs thrown in). He recommends the best books on the causes of the financial crisis.
Logic is an excellent form of mind-training because it involves a very particular way of thinking and focus on truth. But how does it work and what are its limitations? Tom Stoneham, a professor of philosophy at the University of York, picks some great books for anyone who wants to learn more about logic.
The Oxford professor of philosophy and ‘the ethics of information’ says methods for discussing the ethics of information technology have been latent in philosophy from its origins. He picks the best books on the philosophy of information.
Quantum physics is deeply confusing and its relation to reality the cause of heated debate among physicists since its discovery. Here, science writer Jim Baggott—who has spent more than three decades thinking about quantum mechanics and written a number of books about it—recommends books for better understanding what it’s about, and explains why how physicists approach it is so crucial to science’s credibility.