Arianrhod, Robyn 1951(?)–

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Arianrhod, Robyn 1951(?)–

PERSONAL: Born c. 1951. Education: Monash University, bachelor's degree, 1993, Ph.D., 2003.

ADDRESSES: Office—Monash University, School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash, Victoria 3800, Australia. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer, mathematician, and educator. Monash University, Monash, Victoria, Australia, mathematical sciences honorary research associate. Also worked as a project officer for unemployed youth.

WRITINGS:

Einstein's Heroes: Imagining the World through the Language of Mathematics, University of Queensland Press (Queensland, Australia), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: In Einstein's Heroes: Imagining the World through the Language of Mathematics Robyn Arianrhod shows how several scientific breakthroughs by Albert Einstein were influenced by the earlier innovations of physicists, mathematicians, and scientists such as James lerk Maxwell, Michael Faraday, and Isaac Newton. While exploring the development of sophisticated scientific, mathematical ideas and theories, Arianrhod relates personal quirks and eccentricities of the four famous figures as well as historical details of the times in which each lived. The result "offers an engaging intellectual exercise," observed a reviewer in Science News.

Arianrhod's serious yet engaging approach to mathematics reflects her own experience studying the subject. She grew up in Burwood, New South Wales, Australia, dreaming of becoming a physicist, but her high school did not have a full-time math teacher or a class devoted to higher math. Those interested in higher math learned from a tutor who often taught in the laundry room. While she was a student at Monash University, Arianrhod spent years comparing Einstein's work with gravity and James Clerk Maxwell's work with electromagnetism. She eventually expanded her study to include other examples where Einstein's work had parallels with that of previous mathematicians.

In her work, Arianrhod hoped to make the specialized language of mathematics accessible to more general readers, and many critics agree that she succeeded. According to Ray Olson in Booklist, "Arianrhod's achievement is to so masterfully combine history, biography, and mathematics as to absorb and enlighten even the mathematically maladroit." In a Library Journal review, Jack W. Weigel praised the book as a "well-written, fascinating discussion of intertwined topics not usually presented in one book aimed at general readers."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 2005, Ray Olson, review of Einstein's Heroes: Imagining the World through the Language of Mathematics, p. 1729.

Library Journal, May 15, 2005, Jack W. Weigel, review of Einstein's Heroes, p. 139.

Science News, July 23, 2005, review of Einstein's Heroes, p. 63.

ONLINE

Age, http://www.theage.com.au/ (December 11, 2003), Michelle Griffin, interview with Robyn Arianrhod and review of Einstein's Heroes.