What makes a bridge wobble when it's not meant to? Billions of dollars mysteriously vanish into thin air? A building rock when its resonant frequency matches a gym class leaping to Snap's 1990 hit I've Got The Power? The answer is maths. Or, to be precise, what happens when maths goes wrong in the real world.

As Matt Parker shows us, our modern lives are built on maths: computer programmes, finance, engineering. And most of the time this maths works quietly behind the scenes, until ... it doesn't. Exploring and explaining a litany of glitches, near-misses and mishaps involving the internet, big data, elections, street signs, lotteries, the Roman empire and a hapless Olympic shooting team, Matt Parker shows us the bizarre ways maths trips us up, and what this reveals about its essential place in our world.

Mathematics doesn't have good 'people skills', but we would all be better …

What makes a bridge wobble when it's not meant to? Billions of dollars mysteriously vanish into thin air? A building rock when its resonant frequency matches a gym class leaping to Snap's 1990 hit I've Got The Power? The answer is maths. Or, to be precise, what happens when maths goes wrong in the real world.

As Matt Parker shows us, our modern lives are built on maths: computer programmes, finance, engineering. And most of the time this maths works quietly behind the scenes, until ... it doesn't. Exploring and explaining a litany of glitches, near-misses and mishaps involving the internet, big data, elections, street signs, lotteries, the Roman empire and a hapless Olympic shooting team, Matt Parker shows us the bizarre ways maths trips us up, and what this reveals about its essential place in our world.

Mathematics doesn't have good 'people skills', but we would all be better off, he argues, if we saw it as a practical ally. This book shows how, by making maths our friend, we can learn from its pitfalls. It also contains puzzles, challenges, geometric socks, jokes about binary code and three deliberate mistakes. Getting it wrong has never been more fun.

Matt Parker is a straight up funny guy, at least for those aligned with this kind of humor. I used to watch his calculator unboxing videos and the bamboo calculator is forever engraved on my mind, so I was primed to like this book.

No plot twist here. I had a great time with the book and it's one of those cases where it's the author who reads the audiobook and it works for the better. It's like a 10h playlist of his videos, but with more editorial and crafted storytelling.

Review of 'Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

As a connoisseur of fine mistakes, I was happy to find Matt Parker’s book. I knew him from YouTube where he broadcasts the same type of content. He is a mathematics teacher and comedian, and I thought this book was about as good as something like this can be. I can’t tell you too much about it or it would spoil all the great mistakes (although there are a few that you’ve probably heard of), but I was entertained to hear that the German police were searching for a serial killer for years. Her DNA turned up at every crime scene. They eventually learned that the DNA belonged to a woman who worked at the factory that made the cotton swabs they were using.