Are Numbers Real?
The Uncanny Relationship of Mathematics and the Physical World
St. Martin's Press 2016
Brian Clegg’s Are Numbers Real? The Uncanny Relationship of Mathematics and the Physical World (St. Martin’s Press, 2016) is a compact, very readable, and highly entertaining history of the development and use of mathematics to answer the important practical questions involved in advancing civilization. The question “Are Numbers Real?” is a terrific way to attack the problem so compellingly stated by the physicist Eugene Wigner what accounts for the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in describing the natural and the man-made Universe? Some of Clegg’s journey from the basics of counting through the intricate mathematical structures currently being used to explore reality will be familiar to the experienced reader. But even such a reader will find new insights and pleasures in the book and for those just starting out on their intellectual journey, Are Numbers Real? Is a superb introduction to mathematics, science, and that branch of philosophy devoted to exploring the nature of reality.