A Most Elegant Equation
Bertrand Russell once wrote that mathematics can delight and exalt “as surely as poetry.” This is especially true of Euler’s formula, considered mathematics’ most beautiful equation. The brainchild of Leonhard Euler, the Mozart of mathematics, it contains just five numbers yet encapsulates a remarkable array of big ideas in math, such as the endlessly provocative concept of infinity, the uncanny ubiquity of the number pi in mathematics, the surprising utility of imaginary numbers, and the wonderfulness of nothing (zero). Aimed at readers who know no more math than is needed to calculate a tip, A Most Elegant Equation explains how these concepts come together in a fascinating way in the celebrated formula—the book represents a revelatory ode to math for those who’ve wondered why mathematics is often said to be exquisitely beautiful.
I’m a science writer whose work has appeared in Scientific American, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Slate.com, Science, and other publications. My earlier book, The Youth Pill: Scientists at the Brink of an Anti-Aging Revolution, is about the science of aging.