What We Are Reading Today: Euler’s Gem by David S. Richeson

Updated 09 July 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Euler’s Gem by David S. Richeson

  • Richeson presents this mathematical idea’s many elegant and unexpected applications

Leonhard Euler’s polyhedron formula describes the structure of many objects — from soccer balls and gemstones to Buckminster Fuller’s buildings and giant all-carbon molecules. 

Yet Euler’s theorem is so simple it can be explained to a child. From ancient Greek geometry to today’s cutting-edge research, Euler’s Gem celebrates the discovery of Euler’s beloved polyhedron formula and its far-reaching impact on topology, the study of shapes. 

Using wonderful examples and numerous illustrations, David Richeson presents this mathematical idea’s many elegant and unexpected applications, such as showing why there is always some windless spot on earth, how to measure the acreage of a tree farm by counting trees, and how many crayons are needed to color any map, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.  Filled with a who’s who of brilliant mathematicians who questioned, refined, and contributed to a remarkable theorem’s development, Euler’s Gem will fascinate every mathematics enthusiast. This paperback edition contains a new preface by the author.


What We Are Reading Today: The Confounding Island by Orlando Patterson

Updated 19 November 2019

What We Are Reading Today: The Confounding Island by Orlando Patterson

Author Orlando Patterson investigates the failures of Jamaica’s postcolonial democracy, exploring why the country has been unable to achieve broad economic growth and why its free elections and stable government have been unable to address violence and poverty.
Patterson “is a Jamaican who has long lived in the US, working as a sociology professor at Harvard University, which allows him both an intimacy with the island and a degree of distance through which to analyze it,” said Carrie Gibson in a review for The New York Times.
Gibson said: “Although Patterson provides extensive citations and robust discussions of theoretical frameworks, he also offers a personal story of affection and frustration, perhaps most evident in the questions that form all but one of the eight chapter titles. These include: ‘Why Has Jamaica Trailed Barbados on the Path to Sustained Growth?” and ‘Why is Democratic Jamaica So Violent?’ Indeed, these two questions are so significant, he devotes the first half of the book to them.”