Vector: A Surprising Story of Space, Time, and Mathematical Transformation

University of Chicago Press, 2024

**Cloth**: 978-0-226-82110-8 | **eISBN**: 978-0-226-82111-5

**Library of Congress Classification** QA433.A75 2024

**Dewey Decimal Classification** 515.63

The stars of this book, vectors and tensors, are unlikely celebrities. If you ever took a physics course, the word “vector” might remind you of the mathematics needed to determine forces on an amusement park ride, a turbine, or a projectile. You might also remember that a vector is a quantity that has magnitude and (this is the key) direction. In fact, vectors are examples of tensors, which can represent even more data. It sounds simple enough—and yet, as award-winning science writer Robyn Arianrhod shows in this riveting story, the idea of a single symbol expressing more than one thing at once was millennia in the making. And without that idea, we wouldn’t have such a deep understanding of our world.

Vector and tensor calculus offers an elegant language for expressing the way things behave in space and time, and Arianrhod shows how this enabled physicists and mathematicians to

In exploring the evolution of vectors and tensors—and introducing the fascinating people who gave them to us—Arianrhod takes readers on an extraordinary, five-thousand-year journey through the human imagination. She shows the genius required to reimagine the world—and how a clever mathematical construct can dramatically change discovery’s direction.

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