Fantastic Numbers and Where to Find Them

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What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

For particularly brilliant theoretical physicists like James Clerk Maxwell, Paul Dirac or Albert Einstein, the search for mathematical truths – via ever more mind-boggling numbers – led to strange new understandings of reality. But what are these mysterious numbers that explain the universe?

In Fantastic Numbers and Where to Find Them, leading theoretical physicist and YouTube star Antonio Padilla takes us on an irreverent cosmic tour of nine of the most extraordinary numbers in physics. These include Graham’s number, which is so large that if you thought about it in the wrong way, your head would collapse into a singularity; TREE(3), whose finite value could never be reached before the universe reset itself; and 10^{-120}, which measures the desperately unlikely balance of energy the universe needs to exist. . .

Leading us down the rabbit hole to the inner workings of reality, Padilla demonstrates how these unusual numbers are the key to unlocking such mind-bending phenomena as black holes, entropy and the problem of the cosmological constant, which shows that our two best ways of understanding the universe contradict one another. Combining cutting-edge science with an entertaining cosmic quest, Fantastic Numbers and Where to Find Them is an electrifying, head-twisting guide to the most fundamental truths of the universe.

© Antonio Padilla 2022 (P) Penguin Audio 2022

Critics Review

  • An exceptional compilation of modern mathematics and its real-world applications… A fast-paced and dramatic telling of the history of mathematics that is ultimately concerned with convincing us why we should care… Perusing this book will leave readers with awe, enough fun facts for many cocktail parties, and a deep appreciation for mathematicians like Padilla who can explain how understanding a googolplex leads us to the existence of doppelgängers

    Scientific American
  • An irreverent tour of extraordinary numbers in physics, big, small and bafflingly infinite. Be amazed as physicist and YouTube star Tony Padilla reveals the inner workings of reality

    New Scientist
  • This delightful book purports to be about numbers, but is really a window onto the astonishing scope and scale of the universe in which we live. You will be amazed at the mind-bending ideas science has proposed in order to grasp reality, and be impressed that our minds are able to bend that far

    Sean Carroll, author of SOMETHING DEEPLY HIDDEN
  • This is an extraordinary book. Tony Padilla has been able to weave a remarkable set of mathematical facts into a mesmerising story that kept me gripped throughout. He has an intensity and passion that I haven’t seen for a long time in popular science

    Pedro G. Ferreira, author of THE PERFECT THEORY
  • It was said of the famous Indian mathematician Ramanujan that he knew every number as his personal friend. If you’d like to get to know some of the most charismatic of these characters then Antonio Padilla has written a beautiful Who’s Who of the world of numbers and their role in the make-up of our universe

    Marcus du Sautoy, author of THINKING BETTER

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