books & arts
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A Most Elegant Equation: Euler’s Formula and the Beauty of Mathematics
BASIC BOOKS: 2017. 240PP. £25.00
If mathematics can delight and exalt “as surely as poetry” as Bertrand Russell famously said,
then Euler’s formula can be compared to a Shakespearean sonnet in both its elegance and its
importance. David Stipp unveils step by step how Euler came to this formula and clearly
explains why it is considered as perhaps the most beautiful among all formulas. In the process,
he advocates for the — sometimes hidden — beauty and truth in mathematics. The book also
includes Euler’s original derivation.
The Milky Way: An Insider’s Guide
William H. Waller
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS: 2017. 336PP. £14.95
The Milky Way is arguably the galaxy we know best, just because we are allowed a view from
within. William H. Waller ﬁrst delves into the historical perception of the Milky Way, from
ancient Egypt to modern astronomy, and then moves on to explain the life and death of stars
within our Galaxy, the structure of the Milky Way, the origin of the Universe and even how
supermassive black holes work. Targeting a scientiﬁcally literate audience, Waller does not shy
away from data or technical depictions of concepts such as the proper motion of stars and the
cosmological microwave background.
Our Cosmic Habitat
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS: 2017. 224PP. £14.95
A bit more than 15 years since the original was written, Rees revisits his work with a new
preface that discusses what was expected then versus what we know now. He is clearly
disappointed, for example, that the nature of dark matter (let alone dark energy) still stubbornly
eludes us. The leaps in our understanding are clear in chapters dealing with fast-paced ﬁelds,
like exoplanets. Yet our views about the fundamentals of how our Universe works remain the
same. This book gives a wide, if not coarse, overview to the interested reader, who can then
venture into more recent literature.
ON OUR BOOKSHELF
Published online: 1 December 2017
NATURE ASTRONOMY | VOL 1 | DECEMBER 2017 | 816 | www.nature.com/natureastronomy