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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

MAX NISEN JUL. 10, 2012, 11:39 AM 781,865 18

Earlier this year, Mathematician Ian Stewart came out with an excellent and deeply researched book titled "In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World" that takes a look at the most pivotal equations of all time, and puts them in a human, rather than technical context.

We asked Professor Stewart why he decided to do this book:

"Equations definitely CAN be dull, and they CAN seem complicated, but that’s because they are often presented in a dull and complicated way. I have an advantage over school math teachers: I’m not trying to show you how to do the sums yourself. You can appreciate the beauty and importance of equations without knowing how to solve them..... The intention is to locate them in their cultural and human context, and pull back the veil on their hidden effects on history. Equations are a vital part of our culture. The stories behind them --- the people who discovered/invented them and the periods in which they lived --- are fascinating."

This should be particularly relevant to anybody affected by the financial crisis.

Click here to see the 17 equations >

Black Scholes, a derivative pricing equation and number 17 on this list helped cause it.

From an email exchange with Professor Stewart:

"It’s actually a fairly simple equation, mathematically speaking. What caused trouble was the complexity of the system the mathematics was intended to model.... You don’t really need to be a rocket scientist to understand that lending hundreds of billions of dollars to people who have no prospect of ever paying it back is not a great idea...."

Business Insider

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Replies to This Discussion

Cool, i actually many of these daily!  Thanks for posting, Neal!

http://www.businessinsider.com/17-equations-that-changed-the-world-...

Very interesting to say the least! 

Cool list indeed, your welcome. =)

Here is a companion list, the 100 diagrams that changed the world

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/12/21/100-diagrams-that...

Excellent

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