Suggested Reading: Mrs. Perkins’s Electric Quilt

Paul J. Nahin — Mrs. Perkins’s Electric Quilt: And Other Intriguing Stories of Mathematical Physics — Princeton University Press, 2009, 391 pp. ISBN 978-0-691-13540-3

(Buy at

In this book, you will discover the topic of mathematical physics—or physics mathematics, depending on how you look at it—through a series of counter-intuitive results (counter-intuitive for the non-physicist, that is). The author shows that with logic and (quite) a bit of mathematics, you can obtain surprising but correct results. A good part of the book rotates around the topic of gravity (boom, tss.) but also presents other topics such as air drag, partitionning squares into squares optimally, infinite resistor networks, and random walks. The narrative style is clear and simple; and while the mathematics in the book may seems scary at first, you still get the point; someone with just a little background in mathematics will still get the essential; someone with a better background in mathematics will get the best of it.

Another worthwhile note is that the typography of mathematical equations is simply exquisite; it is very well typeset. Something that is getting rare these days for a grand public book.

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