The Story of Math
How Numbers Explain Our Universe and Reveal Unseen WorldsDVD - 2009
Discs 1-2. The story of maths. Without mathematics, there would be no physics, chemistry, or astronomy. No architecture. No commerce. No accurate maps or precise time-keeping, therefore no dependable long-range navigation. No geometry, statistics, or calculations of any kind. No computers. In this four-part series, University of Oxford Professor Marcus du Sautoy takes viewers on a journey through the ages and around the world to trace the development of mathematics and see how math has shaped human civilization.
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This is an excellent introduction to the evolution of Mathematical thinking. While the focus is mainly on Western civilization, it does spend some time on Eastern mathematical innovations. This series was made in association with the BBC and The British Open University (OU).
Marc Du Sautoy is the perfect presenter for this material, as while he is grounded in solid mathematical knowledge, he has a light and engaging personality. I suspect he’s an excellent professor at Oxford. While the format is based on historical research, there is a generous portion of personal video travel blog to connect the seemingly disparate elements together (there was an obviously generous travel budget in this production). The computer animation is used well in most cases, but is a little intrusive in some scenes, especially the Egyptian segment. The videography is excellent, and I found myself being so distracted by some of the rich imagery, that I had to re-watch some of the segments to fully appreciate the history being presented.
While a lot of the material will be familiar to the average student, Du Sautoy also investigates some unfamiliar territory. He uncovers some important mathematicians I had never heard of. I was also surprised to learn that Arabic numbers are actually Indian in origin, making them Hindu-Arabic numbers. I didn’t know that Leibnitz discovered Calculas before Newton. I also realized the prison time appears to be good for struggling mathematical minds.
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