Andy Kubis, producer
In the UK, where it was a best-seller, the book was called Alex’s Adventures in Numberland. Now there’s a new title, Here’s Looking at Euclid. I’m not sure if a new title, no matter how clever, will be enough to make a book all about math a best-seller in this country, but I really hope it does. Truthfully, the original title is a better fit. Alex Bellos’s book does read like an adventure tale. Beginning with Chapter Zero, Bellos takes us around the globe, sharing stories that provide the best answer to the question on the mind of every trig student… Why do we need to know this stuff? Because it’s interesting. In the Amazon, Bellos introduces us to a tribe that doesn’t see the point of a complicated number system; theirs goes up to only 5. Did you know that zero wasn’t always a number? It was “invented” in India about the same time that “nothingness” became a part of the religious philosophy. And in Japan, a counting game with a big wow factor has become so popular that there’s a Nintendo game version. Alex Bellos is a great math ambassador. His enthusiasm for the subject - - one he studied at Oxford but then abandoned for journalism — is infectious. Enjoy the interview. And in the meantime, here’s an equation to punch into your calculator for a surprise answer:
(The area code for Louisville) + (Ted Williams’s Home Runs Record) - (The Dewey Decimal Classification for Science and Religion) = ???
Be sure to check out all of the great Alex Bellos videos on YouTube. This one titled “Zombie Multiplication” can both wow and scare your friends.
And here’s a link to the Little Twelvetoes from School House Rock, referenced in the book and in the interview. Base 12!