Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe

Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe

Steven Strogatz

A New York Times bestseller
Featured on NPR’s Science Friday
Named one of the 10 Best Books to Read this Spring by Amazon’s Chris Schluep


“Marvelous . . . an array of witty and astonishing stories . . . to illuminate how calculus has helped bring into being our contemporary world and so many of the instruments whose role we now blithely assume.”
—The Washington Post


“A brilliant, appealing explanation of how calculus works and why it makes our lives so much better.”
Amazon’s Chris Schluep, for the Saturday Evening Post


Without calculus, we wouldn’t have cell phones, TV, GPS, or ultrasound. We wouldn’t have unraveled DNA or discovered Neptune or figured out how to put 5,000 songs in your pocket.


Though many of us were scared away from this essential, engrossing subject in high school and college, Steven Strogatz’s brilliantly creative, down‑to‑earth history shows that calculus is not about complexity; it’s about simplicity. It harnesses an unreal number—infinity—to tackle real‑world problems, breaking them down into easier ones and then reassembling the answers into solutions that feel miraculous.


Infinite Powers recounts how calculus tantalized and thrilled its inventors, starting with its first glimmers in ancient Greece and bringing us right up to the discovery of gravitational waves (a phenomenon predicted by calculus). Strogatz reveals how this form of math rose to the challenges of each age: how to determine the area of a circle with only sand and a stick; how to explain why Mars goes “backwards” sometimes; how to make electricity with magnets; how to ensure your rocket doesn’t miss the moon; how to turn the tide in the fight against AIDS.


As Strogatz proves, calculus is truly the language of the universe. By unveiling the principles of that language, Infinite Powers makes us marvel at the world anew.

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