REVIEW: Alex Through the Looking Glass: Alex Bellos

May 19, 2014

Alex Through the Looking Glass,

Alex Bellos,

May 17 at 5pm,

Dome Studio, New Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1UG


Writer and broadcaster Alex Bellos lead us on a journey of mathematical discovery taken from his new book, Alex Through the Looking Glass, to show how numbers have become our friends and changed our world. From triangles, rotations and power laws to fractals, cones and curves, mathematics informs our lives in ways we cannot – or refuse to – imagine. Alex narrated a series of encounters with folk he’s met from all over the world as he conveyed the joy of mathematical thinking with wit and enthusiasm. He’s also very cute and easy on the eye too which always helps this easily distracted critic in a Saturday afternoon lecture about math..…

Quite charming and in control of his subject he rambled on – not quite as randomly as he seemed to be –  but then that’s part of the charm in talking about such a educative subject and Bellos actually dodged much fact, but although it was low on real maths and my geek of a boyfriend moaned rather about the lack of decent math,  Bellos was engaging and fun and the audience seemed entertained by his dipping in and out of his new book and bringing titbits about the wonderful world of numbers and the way we relate and emotionally respond to them both when they obviously jut out into our cosy human world and the more subtle interactions we as a human race have developed to live side by side with these odd, eccentric and delightful abstract things; the numbers.

For more details of this event see this link


You may already know of him from his endlessly entertaining and informative Guardian column, if not, check him out here and learn something cool today.  I learned some cool stuff about catenary-generated curves in the form of a cross-section of a sail from Alex this week, and spent a pleasant afternoon skimming the integer ocean in search of deeper mathematical currents.


Bellos is at his best when talking about the gritty nerdy bits of numbers which seem to interest only him and although he seeks to share the joy of numbers by attaching curious personal stories to them, and he’s kind enough to share with us as long as we are kind enough to show enough interest.  However it’s his own interpretations that are the most interesting and there are fascinating glimmers of real obsessive interest on occasion from him, before he moves swiftly on.

For more info about Alex or to see his books check out his website here: