Weird Maths

Join us on a journey into the farthest realms of a subject like no other: as familiar as 1, 2, 3, yet as strange as dimensions without end…


Is anything truly random? Does infinity actually exist? Could we ever see into other dimensions? In this journey of discovery, we draw connections between the cutting edge of modern maths and life as we understand it, delving into the strange – would we like alien music? – and venturing out on quests to consider the existence of free will and the fantastical future of quantum computers. Packed with puzzles and paradoxes, mind-bending concepts and surprising solutions, this book is for anyone who wants life’s questions answered – even those you never thought to ask.


“A glorious trip through some of the wilder regions of the mathematical landscape, explaining why they are important and useful, but mostly revelling in the sheer joy of the unexpected. Highly recommended!” – Ian Stewart, author of Significant Figures


“Darling and Banerjee take us on a captivating ride through a vast landscape of mathematics, touching on mesmerising topics that include randomness, higher dimensions, alien music, chess, chaos, prime numbers, cicadas, infinity, and more. Read this book and soar.” – Clifford A. Pickover, author of The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension


“In this inspired collaboration, a young maths prodigy teams up with a popular science writer to present a fresh view of the world of mathematics. Together they fearlessly tackle some of the most weird and wonderful topics in mathematics today, rightly believing that “if you can’t explain something in plain language then you don’t properly understand it”. Clearly, they understand it.” – John Stillwell, Professor of Mathematics, University of San Francisco, and author of Elements of Mathematics



A History of Flight through its Martyrs, Oddballs and Daredevils


In a world without aircraft, to believe flight might be possible required a certain kind of character. You had to be starry-eyed, a possessor of practical ingenuity, nerves of steel and a level of sanity that would be best described as deficient.


In Mayday!, I tell the stories of the unconventional aviators across history who have been willing to risk all to further their craft. Meet Sophie Blanchard, a balloonist of nervous disposition whom Napoleon charged with organizing balloon displays at all major ceremonies in France. Then there’s the daredevil stuntman Lincoln Beachey, the dogfighter aces of WWI, the man who performed the dance of death – switching planes in mid-air, the real “X-Men” who flew at the edge of space, and the BASE jumpers who want to fly without wings. The cast members are eccentric, reckless and extraordinary, and Mayday! is made up of their riveting tales, bizarre contraptions, magnificent achievements and, sometimes, startling folly.


“Gripping… dazzling tales of madness and derring do.”  -- Brian Clegg, author of Inflight Science


“Impressive.” – Wall Street Journal Oneworld Publications, 2015


The Extraterrestrial Encyclopedia

Within the next 10 or 15 years we may have our first clear evidence of life on other worlds. This comprehensive A-Z contains the latest information on all aspects of our quest to find life, and possibly intelligence, elsewhere in the universe. The first edition of The Extraterrestrial Encyclopedia was published in 2000. Now this completely revised and updated edition, which I’ve coauthored with astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, covers the latest developments in exoplanet discoveries, origin-of-life research, the biology of extremophiles, missions to Mars and other astrobiologically significant places in the solar system. Also included is the history of human thought on the subject of life beyond Earth, biographical entries on scientists, philosophers, and writers who have made important contributions, alien life as depicted in science fiction, and popular conceptions and beliefs about extraterrestrials.


First edition, Three Rivers Press, NY, 2000.

Revised edition, First Edition Design, 2015.



Nine Strange Ways the World Could End


Could it be the asteroid hurtling towards us from outer space, or a super-volcano covering the Earth under a cloud of ash; black holes gobbling up the solar system, or a tiny army of nanobots in a deranged feeding frenzy? Oh, and don’t forget — there’s always the risk of alien invasion. Rating the likelihood of each potential disaster, Dirk Schulze-Makuch and I provide the best guide to the worst that could happen, and explore what we could do to save our souls. So sit down, face the inevitable, and prepare to discover the nine weirdest ways we could all go to meet our maker.


"Fascinating, if sometimes macabre ... A fabulous book that got better with every page - I couldn't put it down!" - Debra Fischer, Professor of Astronomy at Yale University


"A mix of good old-fashioned silliness and some fine science writing. Next time someone tells you, 'Cheer up, it might never happen,' throw this book at them." - BBC Focus Magazine


Oneworld Publications, 2012


Zen Physics

What happens to “you” – your self – when your body dies? What is the purpose of life? And can we realistically look forward to a life after death? For millennia people have pondered these fundamental questions. In this book I offer some possible answers drawn from a synthesis of the latest scientific research and the ageless wisdom of Eastern philosophy.


I begin by upending our most basic notions of what it means to be us. The urban myth of ‘who we are’ is peeled back to reveal a strange truth: we are little more than narratives held together by a selfish brain whose primary concern is its own immortality. I point to clinical evidence that demonstrates how fragile and malleable our “I’s” are. I explore the mysteries of multiple-personality syndrome, left-brain/right-brain splits, and memory disorders, to unravel the greater mystery of why we evolved selves in the first place and to prove how easy it is to “change our minds”. Although each individual self is the product of a certain brain and as such changes over time and eventually dies, the fact of consciousness is shared and independent of the body.


First edition, HarperCollins, 1996.

Reprinted by First Edition Design, 2012.


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