Mazur, Joseph 1942–

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Mazur, Joseph 1942–

PERSONAL:

Born 1942. Education: Pratt Institute, B.S., 1967; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D., 1972.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Marlboro College, Box A., Marlboro, VT 05344. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Marlboro College, Marlboro, VT, professor.

MEMBER:

PEN America, Authors Guild, Mathematical Association of America.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Euclid in the Rainforest: Discovering Universal Truth in Logic and Math was named an outstanding academic title by Choice, 2005; Guggenheim fellow, 2006.

WRITINGS:

How to Study Calculus, Wm. C. Brown Publishers (Dubuque, IA), 1994.

Euclid in the Rainforest: Discovering Universal Truth in Logic and Math, Pi Press (New York, NY), 2005.

(Editor) Tobias Dantzig, Number: The Language of Science, 4th edition, Pi Press (New York, NY), 2005.

The Motion Paradox: The 2,500-Year-Old Puzzle behind All the Mysteries of Time and Space, Dutton (New York, NY), 2007.

Author of educational software programs, including Explorations in Calculus.

SIDELIGHTS:

Mathematician Joseph Mazur is the author of a number of books and also of educational software packages. His Explorations in Calculus was the first interactive CD package of simulations for calculus. His books include Euclid in the Rainforest: Discovering Universal Truth in Logic and Math, a volume that is understandable to the undergraduate or general reader. Mazur organizes into sixteen chapters his examination of three kinds of logic—that derived from the ancient Greeks, the logic of infinity, and the practical logic that is used to drive modern scientific theory. Library Journal contributor Ian Gordon noted that Mazur explains why ‘mathematical logic and proof are essential building blocks to understanding knowledge and universal truths.’ A SciTech Book News reviewer pointed out: ‘Mazur's appendices double as very well-explained exercises.’ The book was chosen by Choice as one of the outstanding academic titles of the year.

Mazur is editor of the fourth edition of Number: The Language of Science, by mathematician Tobias Dantzig (1884-1956), who taught at Johns Hopkins, Columbia University, and the University of Maryland. First published in 1930, the volume provides a clear understanding of the concept of numbers and how humans have relied on counting to understand basic experiences and add to knowledge. Albert Einstein praised this work, and Mazur's update revises and expands the 1954 edition.

Various chapters explore rational and irrational numbers, the concept of infinity, algebra and the use of symbols, number worship, and religious numerology. Included is an explanation of the concepts of cardinal and ordinal numbers and the advancement of a number language. Appendix topics include formulas for primes and Fibonacci numbers, roots and radicals, and large numbers. In bringing the book up to date, Mazur has included a new foreword, endnotes, annotated bibliography, updated illustrations, and notes on ongoing mathematical problems.

The Motion Paradox: The 2,500-Year-Old Puzzle behind All the Mysteries of Time and Space is Mazur's study of the theories of Greek philosopher Zeno, who concluded in four paradoxes that motion and speed were illusions. He discusses the arguments of other philosophers and mathematicians in response to Zeno's proclamations, notably Aristotle, who believed that heavy objects fall faster than light ones, only to be proved wrong by Galileo some fourteen centuries later, as well as Newton and others. Mazur notes that Zeno's paradoxes have been returned to relevance with Einstein's theory of relativity and Planck's quantum theory, as well as string theory and the development of coordinate geometry and calculus.

Booklist contributor Gilbert Taylor noted the volume's ‘entrancing verbal clarity in its discussion of the success and limits of mathematically modeling motion.’ A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that Mazur's ‘conversational tone holds readers' attention even as the mathematical formulae pile up in later chapters."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 1, 2007, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Motion Paradox: The 2,500-Year-Old Puzzle behind All the Mysteries of Time and Space, p. 47.

Library Journal, November 1, 2004, Ian Gordon, review of Euclid in the Rainforest: Discovering Universal Truth in Logic and Math, p. 118.

Mathematical Intelligencer, spring, 2006, review of Euclid in the Rainforest.

New Scientist, March 31, 2007, review of The Motion Paradox.

Publishers Weekly, February 12, 2007, review of The Motion Paradox, p. 78.

Science News, April 7, 2007, review of Number: The Language of Science, p. 223; May 5, 2007, review of The Motion Paradox, p. 287.

SciTech Book News, December, 2005, review of Number; March, 2006, review of Euclid in the Rainforest; June, 2007, review of The Motion Paradox.

ONLINE

Joseph Mazur Home Page,http://www.josephmazur.com (October 1, 2007).

PEN American Center Web site,http://www.pen.org/ (October 1, 2007), interview.