Book review: The Prime Number Conspiracy: The Biggest Ideas in Math from Quanta

Tuesday 12th January 2021

Quanta MagazineOpens a new window focuses on developments in maths, theoretical physics, theoretical computer science, and the basic life sciences. The Prime Number Conspiracy: The Biggest Ideas in Math from QuantaOpens a new window brings together a collection of articles from Quanta Magazine, mapping the routes of mathematical exploration and “illuminating the productive tension between conjecture and proof”.

The book is split into sections of essays, such as ‘What is infinity?’ and ‘How are surprising proofs discovered?’, and the writing within manages to be easily understandable without compromising on the integrity of the maths. This collection is a gold mine of ideas for A level students writing university admissions statements or for those who require mathematical inspiration (including teachers!), giving an understanding of what maths looks like at a research level.

My personal favourites include Kaisa Matomaki Dreams of Primes, an interview with the Finnish mathematician Kaisa Matomaki who discusses her research on prime numbers over short intervals, and The Musical, Magical Number Theorist, an article discussing Manjul Bhagarva’s weaving of maths, music and poetry.

This book comes highly recommended – a plethora of discussions around interesting problems, as well as a reminder of the amazing and deeply human side of maths.

By Gemma Boyle

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