Book mixing math and crochet wins UK 'odd' prize
Mar 26, 11:36 AM (ET)
By JILL LAWLESS
LONDON (AP) - 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."
Prize overseer Horace Bent said "the public proclivity towards non-Euclidian needlework" proved too strong for the competition.
"I've never won any prizes before. This is my first prize and it's wonderful," said Taimina, an adjunct associate professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
The winning book's title may be odd, but the subject is serious. Taimina 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.
"These are two-dimensional objects which you can see only in three dimensions," Taimina said. "If you want to see three-dimensional hyperbolic space you can't because you have to be in four dimensions
"Understanding these hyperbolic planes, you understand just the first step."
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.
The other finalists were "Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter,""Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots" and "The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease."
Previous champions include "Bombproof Your Horse" and "Living With Crazy Buttocks."