100 Essential Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know about Math and the Arts

Book review by Deane Barker

This is a weird one. It’s basically 100 vignettes, theoretically how math and art intersect. But…it didn’t always hit right.

I skipped around quite a bit – the book really invites that. Here’s some examples:

  • A discussion of how many guards an art gallery might need if it was shaped a specific way. This has something to do with triangles, but very little do with art except that the contrived setting was an “art gallery.”

  • A discussion of the aspect ratios of televisions and how they’ve changed over time and may or may not relate to the Golden Ratio.

  • A discussion of autotune, for no particular reason (it might have something to do with math in terms of regression to the mean…maybe?)

  • Why we like to sing in the shower. This apparently has to do with the resonance and reverberation of sound in an enclosed space with smooth surfaces which serves to smooth out the sound.

  • The history of the Mobius Strip and its usage in art.

…and so on.

The author is a math professor at Cambridge, and he’s written several other “100 Things” books. Apparently he just likes anecdotes?

He should start a blog. This just didn’t quite work as a book.

The subtitle uses the word “essential,” but I’m gonna resolutely disagree on that point.

Book Info

John D. Barrow

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