There are undoubtedly physicists who write novels and biochemists who philosophise but I don't know any arty types who spend their evenings curled up with some critically acclaimed number theory or multidimensional calculus. Unless you choose to study a maths-related discipline at university, then the subject – bar some frantic mental arithmetic at the supermarket till – is pretty much dead to you. This sparky new book demonstrates quite how much we're missing.
Maths has the remarkable capacity to give birth to wonder: the pleasurable incredulity that occurs when the mind's conceptual limits are breached by the compulsion of logical proof. But, as Alex Bellos discovers as he jaunts around the globe meeting child abacus prodigies in Japan and celebrity numerologists,