[Math Lair] More Puzzles, Paradoxes and Brain Teasers by Stan Gibilisco

Math Lair Home > Book Reviews > More Puzzles, Paradoxes and Brain Teasers by Stan Gibilisco

More Puzzles, Paradoxes and Brain Teasers by Stan Gibilisco (Tab Books, 1990) is the second book in Gibilisco's "Puzzles, Paradoxes and Brain Teasers" series. It is an interesting book about an eclectic selection of topics.

The book contains seven chapters, and each chapter is broken down into several small topics, mostly around two pages long. The first chapter best fits the title; it contains around 20 puzzles, problems or demonstrations with paradoxical or surprising results, and other mind benders. Many of these you may have seen elsewhere, but there are some original discussions. The second chapter discusses several famous problems in mathematics, such as that of trisecting an angle, Euclid's parallel postulate, and Fermat's Last Theorem (note that the book was written before the latter was proven, so is now a somewhat obsolete introduction). The problems are explained very clearly so that the casual reader can understand what is going on. The section on statistical objectivity is also a good read.

Starting in chapter 3, the book starts to depart from strictly mathematical concepts, although the topics are ones that can be treated somewhat mathematically. Chapter 3 discusses the possibility (or impossibility) of absolutes in the universe (position, motion, etc.). Chapter 4 discusses causality, coincidence, and free will. While there is a slight inaccuracy in the discussion about Penney's game of flipping coins, in general the chapters are a worthwhile read. Chapters 5 and 7, which primarily discuss chaos and fractals, respectively, mark a return to mathematical concepts. Both provide a good introduction to the topic, although perhaps more illustrations may have been useful here. These two chapters are separated by a chapter primarily about the occult, which seems an unusual choice for a book about mathematics (how many other math books can you think of that contain a section on astral projection?). Gibilisco is open-minded about ESP, astrology and the like, but does emphasise the lack of solid evidence for these phenomena.

Overall, it is a good book with a few minor inaccuracies. Those looking for a book solely about recreational mathematics may want to choose another, but those who don't mind the wide assortment of topics will find it quite interesting.

Rating: 8/10