Steve Stone

Developer. Designer. Youth Worker. Nerd.

Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension

February 18, 2022

I just finished Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension by Matt Parker. It's a math book. I read it for fun. Yea.

Honestly, this book was fun. I know Matt Parker from his Youtube channel and podcasts (including A Problem Squared). I like the way that he thinks and teaches, but was skeptical about a "math book".

My experience with math is it's a set of tools or algorithms to solve problems. What I learned with this book is that view is incomplete and naive. Matt was able to tell the history behind the problems that mathematicians were trying to solve, and why. He showed how math is a story and history. How it is still incomplete. How our finite brains still struggle with concepts even today. How math can be fun. He also did it with his comedic flare.

The earlier chapters covered digits, bases, numbers, geometry, and primes. This was fun because it showed how maths got started and how practical it started out as. The middle dealt with computers and algorithms, which was fun to connect to computer science and programming. I nerded-out there. The later chapters dealt with higher dimensions, knots, infinity. Frankly, I struggled with these. I think that my brain just struggles to comprehend some of the ideas here... which was Matt's point! These things are hard because they are relatively new concepts and out brains have a hard time with these concepts. But it was fun to think about!

This was a fun book. I would recommend!