The Mobius Strip: Dr. August Mobius’s Marvelous Band in Mathematics, Games, Literature, Art, Technology, and Cosmology
The road that leads from the Möbius strip—a common-sense-defying continuous loop with only one side and one edge, made famous by the illustrations of M.C. Escher—goes to some of the strangest spots imaginable. It takes us to a place where the purely intellectual enters our daily world: where our outraged senses, overloaded with grocery bills, the price of gas, and what to eat for lunch, are expected to absorb really bizarre ideas. And no better guide to this weird universe exists than the brilliant thinker Clifford A. Pickover, the 21st century’s answer to Buckminster Fuller.
Come along as Pickover traces the origins of the Möbius strip from the mid-1800s, when the visionary scientist Dr. August Möbius became the first to describe the properties of one-sided surfaces, to the present, where it is an integral part of mathematics, magic, science, art, engineering, literature, and music. It has become a metaphor for change, strangeness, looping, and rejuvenation.
Touching on everything from molecules and metal sculptures to postage stamps, architectural structures, and models of our entire universe, The Möbius Strip is lavishly illustrated and gives readers a glimpse into other worlds and new ways of thinking as Pickover reaches across cultures and dimensions.
From Publishers Weekly
The Möbius band is a puzzlingly twisted strip of paper joined at the ends with, remarkably, only one side. It was discovered separately in 1858 by German mathematicians August Ferdinand Möbius and Johann Benedict Listing. As Pickover (Calculus and Pizza), a prolific science author and former Discover columnist, tells us, today Möbius’s strip is everywhere: it forms the familiar recycling symbol; freestyle skiers attempt a stunt called a “”””Möbius flip””””; and it appears in the works of artists like M.C. Escher and writers like Arthur C. Clarke. Pickover uses the strip as a jumping-off point for a wide-ranging exploration of objects that are “”””chiral”””” (objects that are mirror images yet cannot be superimposed on each other) or have unusual properties of continuity. His travels take us from Earth, where he describes patented contraptions that incorporate the strip (a conveyor belt being one of the most successful), to the outer reaches of space, explaining some very strange topologies that have been theorized for the universe. Pickover is less successful in his forays into literature and the arts, and at times he wanders far afield. Readers who enjoy recreational mathematics à la Martin Gardner will get much pleasure from this inviting book. B&w illus. (May)
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Limericks, equations, quotations, patent drawings–anything pertaining to Pickover’s fascination with the Mobius strip finds a place in this entertaining scrapbook of a tome. That includes biographical vignettes of nineteenth–century German mathematician August Mobius, plus cartoons of the same, which weave through Pickover’s musings over the protean manifestations of the Mobius strip. The simplicity of the strip, which is formally known as a one-sided surface without identifiable direction, is a source of its ubiquity in popular awareness and parlance. Touching on plot summaries of movies and sf novels that play off the loopy continuum of the Mobius strip, Pickover underscores the high approval rating of the strip by inventors and mathematicians, for whom it is a gateway to higher dimensional space. A prolific popularizer of mathematics, Pickover is not purely an impresario here, as he delves into the strip’s mathematical expression in trigonometry and complex numbers. Full of amusement and curiosity, Pickover’s eclectic book should absorb the numbers set. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Dr. Clifford A. Pickover is the author of over thirty highly-acclaimed books on such topics as computers and creativity, art, mathematics, black holes, human behavior and intelligence, religion, medical mysteries, time travel, alien life, and science fiction. He is a prolific inventor with dozens of patents, the associate editor for several journals, author of colorful puzzle calendars, and contributor to magazines geared to children and adults.
Pickover is a Research Staff Member at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, where he has received over 40 invention achievement awards. He is also the Brain-Strain columnist for Odyssey magazine and, for many years, he was the Brain-Boggler columnist for Discover magazine. Among his many patents, Pickover received U.S. Patent 5,095,302 for a 3-D computer mouse, 5,564,004 for strange computer icons, and 5,682,486 for black-hole transporter interfaces to computers.
- Author(s): Clifford A. Pickover
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1560258268
- ISBN-13 : 978-1560258261
- Publisher : Thunder’s Mouth Press (April 7, 2006)
- Language: : English