January 31, 2021

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, January 2021

Attention conservation notice: I have no taste, and no qualifications to opine on the history of science.

Oystein Ore, Cardano, the Gambling Scholar: With a Translation from the Latin of Cardano's Book on Games of Chance, by Sydney Henry Gould [JSTOR]
Reading this a few years after Grafton's book on Cardano, I am struck by two things. The first is that while the two books are factually perfectly compatible, the impressions they give of Cardano are radically different. Grafton's Cardano is a touchy astrologer and medical man; Ore's Cardano is primarily a mathematician (but equally touchy). The second is that Cardano really did basically invent probability theory out of, seemingly, nothing. Reading the translation of his work was actually exciting. It really does seem like the first appreciation of a quantitative sense of probability, a century before Pascal and Fermat (and apparently independent of them). Interestingly Cardano, at least in translation, speaks of "odds" or "chances" but not "probability", or anything suggestive of degree-of-belief. §
Lee Goldberg, Bone Canyon
Mind candy mystery, sequel to Lost Hills, and enjoyable in a similar mostly-funny-except-when-really-not way. (Gangs inside the LA county sheriff's department turn out to be real.) --- Sequel. §

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur; Writing for Antiquity; Enigmas of Chance; Mathematics; Pleasures of Detection, Portraits of Crime

Posted at January 31, 2021 23:59 | permanent link

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