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No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. The Colossal Sun, Mathematics and Meaning in the Larger World speaks directly to those who have shied away from mathematics because they do not feel how it could be connected to themselves and to our largely unknown world in a non-problem-solving way. In the same vein, it is also intended for those of inquiring mind who feel that mathematics, due to its obvious significance and elegance, and as one of our richest bodies of knowledge, ought to be regarded in a larger context in ways that touch them more directly. The only prerequisite is a vague remembrance of one’s high-school mathematics. Can mathematics, a science that sometimes seems so abstruse, actually clarify and deepen some of our most profound questions as well as intensify our wonder at the astonishing richness, the intricate connectedness, and the subtlety of our universe? The Colossal Sun says, Yes, it can — by bringing a larger perspective to bear on some engaging and perhaps even surprising aspects of mathematics. Some readers may wonder why many chapters contain no numbers. Of course numbers are important! But foremost in this approach is to consider mathematics as a body of concepts or ideas, ideas that may reflect more general notions in the world at large. The Colossal Sun is not a critique of how we do mathematics or of the study of its foundations in the usual sense. Rather, it strikes out carefully in another direction. The network of ideas presented is intended as a complement to the study of mathematics as well as the disciplines where mathematics plays a structural role. The book approaches the subject in a way that does not reduce it to a superficial neatness, but encourages connections that for the reader may be entirely new, or at least much more lively. Popular and semi-popular books about mathematics are numerous but most of these do not entirely satisfy the particular need just mentioned. This is not due to any deficiency in these books, many of which are outstanding. Their aims are essentially different from this work. Naturally in explaining certain mathematical topics there will be some overlap. New approaches to the meaning of mathematics are suggested, but not dogmatically pursued. In it also are some new ways of viewing certain aspects of number relations, relations that seem obscure or even contradictory to non-mathematicians —in some cases, even to mathematicians. Some Questions |