There is a tendency within our society to view science with suspicion, whether it is stories of nano-robots infiltrating our body and messing with our DNA, black holes appearing in the Large Hadron Collider in Cern that will swallow up the universe, or genetically modified crops sweeping the world and destroying all in their path. All scientific progress involves steps into the unknown, and that inevitably entails risk. That is why books like this are valuable. Once you know about the science and its implications, you are in a much better position to distinguish sinister developments from mere hype.

So when it comes to Baker's numerati, all of us have a responsibility to understand how much companies and government can or cannot use or abuse the maths. This book won't make you an expert on how the mathematicians do their tricks, but it will make you more aware of the the implications. Read it and you'll have a much better idea of who has got your number.

• Marcus du Sautoy is the new Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford and author of Finding Moonshine (Fourth Estate).

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