## Book Review of Paul Nahin's "An Imaginary Tale: The Story of √-1"

Started by 5 years ago●4 replies●latest reply 5 years ago●316 viewsBook review of 'An Imaginary Tale'.pdf

Rick,

I loved this book (mine is the leftmost edition pictured in your informative post). Yeah, SQRT(-1) is to be avoided but this book is written in a very conversation manner. To me, the reviewer seems to be overdoing a bit. He doesn't seem to like Oliver Heaviside and surely Paul Nahin details Heaviside's extremely cantankerous nature. But let's not forget:

- Operational Calculus
- G = 0 and the 4 equation form of Maxwell's (20) Equations
- The incremental LCR (or LCG) model of a transmission line and the concomitant Telegrapher's Equation. William Thompson (Lord Kelvin) agreed on the capacitive element of T-Lines but in those days nobody was seeing an inductive component. I think it would have been a while before someone came along and gave that degree of insight in T-Lines which, by the way, helped avoid burning out any more trans-Atlantic cables.

There is a nice grouping of books out there on PI, e, i, Gamma, ...

They make for insightful reading. Another author I recommend is William Dunham especially with respect to Euler.

Coop

Hi Coop. Regarding Heaviside, I agree with you and I believe he deserves to be at least as famous as, say, Brad Pitt or George Clooney. To appreciate Heaviside's contributions see the "Innovations and Discoveries" section at:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Heaviside

You mentioned "a nice grouping of books out there." For years I've had the following list on my computer:

"e - The Story of a Number" - Eli Maor

"A History of Pi" - Petr Beckman

"An Imaginary Tale - The Story of sqrt(-1)" - Paul J. Nahin

"The Nothing That Is" - Robert Kaplan

"Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea" - Charles Seife

Don't forget "Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity" by David Foster Wallace

@Rick_Lyons and @jms_nh,

Very good suggestions. Here are a couple more (from my unread pile):

__Gamma, Exploring Euler's Constant__, ISBN 9780691178103__The Mystery of the Aleph:____Mathematics, the Kabbalah, and the Search for Infinity__by Amir D. Azcel ISBN 9780743422994

Coop