Can you understand maths in minutes?

I don’t think I’m unique among writers and editors in being pretty average when it comes to numbers and all things mathematical. But I can understand this chunky little book by Paul Glendinning. He has written about Monstrous Moonshine (surely a terrible drink from the prohibition era?) and the barber paradox (which exposes the flaws in elementary set theory). Also because for the first time I have an inkling what trigonometry is.

Use it to check your maths terms

This is a handy reference for brushing up on the basics. I use it to check that mathematical terms in my editing are correct. The book is arranged starting from the basics (numbers, sets, geometry). Then it moves on to the more mind-blowing (matrices, topology). So working through it systematically might even allow you to nod knowingly at a mathematicians’ convention morning tea.

The author pours cold water on my sense of enlightenment. ‘Only a lunatic would pretend that all mathematics could be presented in 200 bite-sized chunks’, he says. Be that as it may, Maths in Minutes is enough for most of us.

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