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May 8, 2012

"Politics is for the present, but an equation is for eternity." --Albert Einstein

How 17 Equations Changed the World

When legendary theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking was setting out to release A Brief History of Time, one of the most influential science books in modern history, his publishers admonished him that every equation included would halve the book's sales. Undeterred, he dared include E = mc^2, even though cutting it out would have allegedly sold another 10 million copies. The anecdote captures the extent of our culture's distaste for, if not fear of, equations. And yet, as mathematician Ian Stewart argues in his book: In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World, equations have held remarkable power in facilitating humanity's progress and, as such, call for rudimentary understanding as a form of our most basic literacy.

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