Reading, writing and arithmetic – the glorious interrelation of maths and literature

There are lots of reasons why non-scientists should be forced to study mathematics, but it’s hard to see why mathematicians should bother with literature. Literature is part of the entertainment industry: emotional manipulation, crippled by cheap assertions and hollow arguments. Maths is intellectual. Maths has rigorous standards. Literature hides guff under its pretty phrases. Hart discusses the statistical challenges for the Oulipo group and their refusal to use the letter ‘e’ in thir clvr novls Sarah Hart, a professor of mathematics, wants us to see literature and mathematics as the ancients did – mutually supportive, central elements of a rounded education.  Once Upon a Prime is an eager, straight-forward book.

The Sistine Chapel as you’ve never seen it before

‘The World’s Most Lavish Art Book’ is a pretty big claim, but when two men lugged it through my front door I conceded that The Sistine Chapel is one monster tome. Three, actually. Three hardback volumes, each two feet-tall, each weighing nearly two stone, each in its own calico bag, comprising of digitally perfect photographic recreations of the artwork in the 15th-century chapel. The first volume deals with the masterpieces along the walls, while volumes two and three are a quasi-Greatest Hits, one covering the Sistine ceiling and one the ‘Last Judgment’, both of course by Michelangelo and one of the most famous art sequences on the planet. Lavish, yes,