An excerpt by Hannah Fry

Love, as with most of life, is full of patterns — from the number of sexual partners we have in our lifetime to how we choose who to message on a dating website. As mathematician Hannah Fry aptly and amusingly demonstrates in her new TED Book, The Mathematics of Love, math is a surprisingly useful tool for negotiating the complicated, often baffling, sometimes infuriating, always interesting patterns of love. Be warned: while reading this, you might just fall in love…with math.

For those of us who have been single for any length of time, finding someone special can sometimes feel like an insurmountable challenge. A few years of dating a succession of boring Bernards and psycho Suzys can leave us frustrated, disappointed, and feeling like the odds are stacked against us. And some people will tell you that your feelings aren’t necessarily unfounded. In fact, in 2010, mathematician and long-standing singleton Peter Backus even calculated that there were more intelligent alien civilizations in the galaxy than potential girlfriends for him to date. …

By Pico Iyer

A remarkable fact: the same people who invent your technology are the ones at the forefront of unplugging. The urgent call to bring some stillness into our hectic lives is definitely growing louder, but the idea is not a new one. As Pico Iyer relays in his new TED Book, The Art of Stillness, this is an old wisdom that has never been more relevant. Iyer explores how many disparate people — from Emily Dickinson to Gandhi — have found stillness is far from dull but rather the greatest adventure.

The idea of going nowhere is as universal as the law of gravity; that’s why wise souls from every tradition have spoken of it. “All the unhappiness of men,” the seventeenth-century French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal famously noted, “arises from one simple fact: that they cannot sit quietly in their chamber.” After Admiral Richard E. Byrd spent nearly five months alone in a shack in the Antarctic, in temperatures that sank to 70 degrees below zero, he emerged convinced that “Half the confusion in the world comes from not knowing how little we need.” Or, as they sometimes say around Kyoto, “Don’t just do something. …

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