Books : reviews

Marcus du Sautoy.
The Music of the Primes: why an unsolved problem in mathematics matters.
Harper Perennial. 2003

rating : 2 : great stuff
review : 23 July 2005

I was describing to a mathematician friend how much I had enjoyed Dr. Riemann's Zeros. Read The Music of the Primes, they said; it's even better. I did, and it is.

It covers the same topic: prime numbers in general, and the Riemann Hypothesis in particular. But this is written by a mathematician, and a feeling for the actual meaning of some of the results comes through more clearly. This is an essentially historical treatment, from Euclid to the current day, building up an exciting story of our growing understanding of primes, together with how and why the style of mathematics has changed over the centuries. My only complaint is that I would have liked more mathematics; there is significantly less here than in Dr. Riemann's Zeros. However, the illuminating metaphor of music is used consistently, and manages to build a coherent picture and feel for the underlying structures. Recommended.

Marcus du Sautoy.
Finding Moonshine.
Harper Perennial. 2008

Marcus du Sautoy.
What We Cannot Know: from consciousness to the cosmos, the cutting edge of science explained.
4th Estate. 2016

Is the universe infinite?
Do we know what happened before the Big Bang?
And where is human consciousness located in the brain?

In What We Cannot Know, Marcus du Sautoy investigates how leading experts in areas from quantum physics to sensory perception and neuroscience are exploring the cutting-edge fields in science today.

In this brilliantly accessible, concise examination of the outer limits of human knowledge, Britain’s most famous mathematician explores whether there’s anything we truly cannot know.