Change is the Only Constant

On October 8th, a red-faced newborn will enter the world, available in hardcover and ebook: an infant creature called Change is the Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World.


Change is the Only Constant explores the human side of calculus through 28 stories, illustrated with nearly 500 all-new, still-bad drawings. The narratives span from the ancient past to the sci-fi future, each with a kernel of truth about our changing world and the mathematical language thereof.

Starring characters include a wily princess, a dancing speck of dust, and, naturally, a genius dog.

A14 - That's Professor Dog to You13

Why calculus? Isn’t that a weed-out class, a college admissions stunt, a gatekeeper for the technical professions? Exactly right—which is why I wanted to show a different side of the subject, a calculus for everyone.

You’ll find the pages of Change is the Only Constant populated not just by name-brand scientists like Archimedes and Einstein, but also by novelists, poets, moral philosophers, and high school English teachers.


It is surreal and delightful to have some of my creative heroes saying things like this:

“It’s the first—and so far only—book of mathematics that I read entirely in a single sitting!” –Ryan North, author of Dinosaur Comics and How to Invent Everything

“This is the book I wish I had before I ever learned what a limit is.” – Zach Weinersmith, creator of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and New York Times bestselling author

“Wit that had me laughing from page one.” –Grant Sanderson, creator of 3Blue1Brown

“A funny, smart, endlessly engaging book—that just happens to be about one of the most important and complicated subjects on the planet.” –David Litt, New York Times-bestselling author of Thanks, Obama and speechwriter for President Obama

“Orlin’s storybook telling of the history of math is a treat for your inner geek, and a major gift for your adult mind.” –Rebecca Dinerstein, author and screenwriter of The Sunlit Night

“In Ben Orlin’s delightful treatment, calculus is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get next.” –Steven Strogatz, professor of mathematics at Cornell University and author of Infinite Powers

Anyway, if I may be so bold, I humbly invite you to preorder! All preorders count towards first-week sales, and that number is paramount for a book’s success. It will help me share these stories as widely as possible, as well as afford the finest carrot sticks and oatmeal for my growing (and ravenously hungry) family.

You can preorder at your favorite local bookstore, as well as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Target, Books-A-Million, Powell’s, and Indiebound.

You can preorder a signed copy through Minneapolis bookseller Magers & Quinn. (They’ll ship anywhere!)

As a tasty bonus, once you’ve got a preorder receipt from any bookseller, you’re eligible to receive an exclusive signed print courtesy of my publisher Black Dog & Leventhal. (As they say, Terms and Conditions apply, so check out the form.)

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This classy rap can be yours soon!

When I settled on the title Change is the Only Constant in 2018, I did not realize how fitting it would prove. By the time the book comes out, I’ll have moved from Massachusetts to Minnesota. I’ll have returned to the classroom after a lonely two-year absence.

And that’s not to mention the real change: the football-sized sentience that just came into my life, holding my finger in one tiny hand and my heart in the other.


The calendar says that I’ve been a father for twelve days, but to me, it feels more like twelve seconds.

Also, twelve centuries.

This baby causes time to collapse around her. She yawns, and continents drift. She cries, and light slows to a crawl. She coos, and my heart expands into a giant red star that engulfs the earth.

Change, as they say, is the only constant.

31 thoughts on “Change is the Only Constant

  1. Congratulations on becoming a father! She is beautiful. (And I preordered your book).

    1. Thanks! It’s not evident in the photo but she’s actually got remarkable hair (the baby, that is – if your book comes with hair feel free to return it for another copy)

    1. Yeah, not as much as I did for the last book – between the new baby and the new teaching gig I’ve got more anchoring me at home – but I hope to do a few events!

  2. It costs $284,570 to raise a child*, so of course I pre-ordered a copy. Congratulations Ben!


    1. Yikes! So small, yet so expensive. That said, she’s napping next to me as I write this, and that little face is worth any price.

      (And thanks for preordering!)

  3. Time suddenly has meaning and the new metric is transitions in your daughter’s life (and yours). Enjoy them for all they bring. Coach her team(s), watch her grow, believe in the future.

  4. I preordered my Kindle Copy and I can’t wait to read it. Congratulations to you both on your beautiful, world-centering daughter. I read your post aloud to your cousin Jim. While he was driving and he agreed you expressed the miracle of a new baby perfectly.

  5. I’ll be pre-ordering, but I can only read on apps due to my eyes, so I’m a little sad there’s no digital equivalent to the signed-copy bonus. 🙁

    1. Let me see if I can come up with something for you! If you send me an email (name of the blog at gmail) I’m sure we can find a suitable equivalent.

  6. So many congrats on everything! A little bummed the release date isn’t til well after the school year starts.

    I’m guessing this is not aimed as a textbook per so; can you give an idea how you conceive this book will have a role in a calc teacher’s toolbox?

  7. Great news. I’m also returning the classroom after two years and for the first time will be teaching pre-calculus and Algebra 2. I look forward to reading your book. I hope your Newton rap is the first step to collaboration with Lin Manuel Miranda on Calculus! the musical

  8. Was the dog + princess inspired by the Tale of Labrador?

    Congratulations! I’m definitely preordering.

  9. Hi Ben,
    uber congrats with your little one – so sweeeet! I hope you are getting some sleep
    I pre-ordered your book some weeks ago (Christmas pressy for me!) and eagerly await it’s release date of 14th Nov. I would dearly love your signed poster, but could not claim it at the time of pre-order due to a lack of US shipping address (I live in the UK).
    Now I’ve got a friend’s address in the US, BUT the link to the form to claim the poster no longer works. Noooooo!
    Please could you advise me on how to get hold of your fab poster, please?
    love^x where x->infinity

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