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Math book’s odd title honored

Sat., March 27, 2010, midnight

LONDON – A book charting the frontier between handicrafts and geometry on Friday won Britain’s quirkiest literary award, the Diagram Prize for year’s oddest book title.

“Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes” by mathematician Daina Taimina beat runners-up “What Kind of Bean is This Chihuahua?” and “Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich.”

The winning book’s title may be odd, but the subject is serious. Taimina, an adjunct associate professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., uses crochet to create hyperbolic planes, surfaces on which lines curve away from each other instead of running parallel, as on a flat plane, or converging, as on a sphere.

Her creations, which resemble complex coral formations, have been included in art shows and hailed by academics for making tactile concepts in geometry that can be hard to visualize.

Founded in 1978, the Diagram Prize is run by trade magazine The Bookseller. Its rules say the books must be serious and their titles not merely a gimmick. The winner is decided by public vote.


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