Synopses & Reviews
"Guesstimation is a delightful book that, page after page, gleams with insight into the measure of all things--from house pets to lottery tickets and from the kitchen to the cosmos. Meanwhile, the authors cleverly teach you some fundamental chemistry, physics, and biology, leaving you enlightened and curiously comfortable with all that once seemed intractable in the world."--Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History, author of Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries
"Wow, I suddenly grasped concepts that have eluded me for a lifetime. If you work anywhere in the professional world and are aiming for the corner office, this little book could have significant impact on both your analytical abilities and the way you are perceived by others. An absolute eye-opener!"--Martin Yate, New York Times best-selling author of the Knock 'Em Dead job-search and career-management books
"In a world where we are constantly bombarded with quantitative information (and disinformation) and where implausible factoids become established truths by repetition, acquiring a sound grounding in 'numeric literacy' has almost become a civic duty. Weinstein and Adam show to us that it can also be fun! An extremely useful book--not just for the intelligent layperson, but for virtually everyone: politicians, students, policymakers and, yes, sometimes even physicists."--Riccardo Rebonato, Royal Bank of Scotland, author of Plight of the Fortune Tellers
"As well as giving insight into how scientists think, this book packs in more amazing facts than you could shake a stick at. Learn the technique of 'guesstimation' and you will be able to astound your friends at parties, as well as avoid getting ripped off by misleading advertising claims. You may even be able to work out how many facts you can shake a stick at."--John Gribbin, author of Deep Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity
"A very interesting and informative work, showing both how important and how easy it can be to estimate magnitudes. This book will amuse you while it instructs."--Gino Segrè, author of A Matter of Degrees
"This is definitely my kind of book. The authors show, using numerous examples, how readers can make numerical estimates of quantities--some absurd and some fascinating--in a wide variety of areas. This is a very useful talent--be it in everyday life, in one's career, or in job interviews."--Robert Ehrlich, author of Eight Preposterous Propositions
"This book will benefit teachers and students in science and engineering, from grade school to college. The problems are well chosen to illustrate increasingly complex themes, culminating in energy conservation, risk assessment, and environmental problems. The solutions are careful, complete, and illuminating. General readers with a taste for mathematical puzzles will enjoy it."--Hans Christian von Baeyer, author of The Fermi Solution
Review
"In a world where we are constantly bombarded with quantitative information (and disinformation) and where implausible factoids become established truths by repetition, acquiring a sound grounding in 'numeric literacy' has almost become a civic duty. Weinstein and Adam show to us that it can also be fun! An extremely useful book not just for the intelligent layperson, but for virtually everyone: politicians, students, policymakers and, yes, sometimes even physicists." Riccardo Rebonato, author of Plight of the Fortune Tellers
Review
"Wow, I suddenly grasped concepts that have eluded me for a lifetime. If you work anywhere in the professional world and are aiming for the corner office, this little book could have significant impact on both your analytical abilities and the way you are perceived by others. An absolute eye-opener!" Martin Yate, author of the 'Knock 'Em Dead' series of Job-search and Career-management books
Review
"As well as giving insight into how scientists think, this book packs in more amazing facts than you could shake a stick at. Learn the technique of 'guesstimation' and you will be able to astound your friends at parties, as well as avoid getting ripped off by misleading advertising claims. You may even be able to work out how many facts you can shake a stick at." John Gribbin, author of Deep Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity
Review
"Guesstimation is a delightful book that, page after page, gleams with insight into the measure of all things from house pets to lottery tickets and from the kitchen to the cosmos. Meanwhile, the authors cleverly teach you some fundamental chemistry, physics, and biology, leaving you enlightened and curiously comfortable with all that once seemed intractable in the world." Neil deGrasse Tyson, author of Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries
Review
Any idea what fraction of land in the US is covered by either a roof or pavement? Known as a Fermi problem, this type of question requires the use of reasonable estimation, which is the focus of the book at hand. In the initial chapters, Weinstein and Adam briefly review good 'guesstimation' techniques involving numbers and explain why the use of the geometric mean is preferred over the arithmetic mean. Rony V. Diaz - Manila Times
Review
How many people in the world are picking their nose right now? Weinstein and Adam 'guesstimate' the answer to this problem and 79 others, covering chemistry, physics, biology and history. The book is a step-by-step guide to problem-solving using rough-and-ready maths, the kind done on the back of a cocktail napkin. And the authors have kindly left additional questions at the end to get readers started on their own problem-solving expedition. J. Johnson - Choice
Review
A source of imaginative problems, this book would make a nice addition to a mathematics department library. -- Diane Resek, Mathematics Teacher
Review
[I]t's quite obvious that the authors intend their book to be fun, nonthreatening, and user-friendly. There's very little not to like. . . . [T]he book can be for everybody, 'higher-up professionals' who might know math but not physics, as well as students wrestling with 'word problems.' Teachers could very well recommend it to math majors and nonmajors alike, or even use it in the classroom, in some cases as supplementary reading for the course. Diane Resek - Mathematics Teacher
Review
Dr. Adam and his colleague Lawrence Weinstein, a professor of physics, offer a wide and often amusing assortment of Fermi flexes in a book that just caught my eye, Guesstimation: Solving the World's Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin. -- Natalie Angier, New York Times An important skill of great use . . . is the ability to derive an approximate result from insufficient data. Guesstimation is a collection of [problems] gathered from everyday life and various fields. Working out questions . . . is both entertaining and enlightening. It may also help foster your career . . . because making correct guesses quickly establishes your reputation as an expert. -- Stephan Mertens, Science This book is a stimulating collection that will help the reader to reach informed judgments and will be a useful source of inspiration for mathematics and physics teachers: my only concern is that if my students have read it before they arrive at university, I may have to find a new approach to my first day's teaching. -- Tony Mann, Times Higher Education While few can hope to emulate the brilliance of a Nobel Prize winner like [Enrico] Fermi, coming up with pretty good guesstimates is a skill that can be taught. And that's the aim of Guesstimation. After a quick tutorial, the authors get down to business with a host of wide-ranging worked examples, from estimating the numbers of piano tuners in Los Angeles to figuring out the impact of deforestation on greenhouse gas levels. The results are sometimes surprising. -- Robert Matthews, BBC Focus Magazine [Guesstimation is] a left-brain book that helps you approximate answers to the types of questions actually asked in some job interviews today. -- Peter Coy, BusinessWeek [A] delightful account of mathematical approximation, which instills the beauty and power of the back-of-the-envelope calculation. The puzzles make addictive confidence builders by breaking down tricky questions into manageable parts. Never again will you take a newspaper figure at face value without feeling the need, and confidence, to guesstimate your own figure. -- Matthew Killeya, New Scientist Guesstimation is both enlightening and entertaining. I recommend it to my fellow journalists both as a tool of our trade and as a mind stretcher. -- Rony V. Diaz, Manila Times Any idea what fraction of land in the US is covered by either a roof or pavement? Known as a Fermi problem, this type of question requires the use of reasonable estimation, which is the focus of the book at hand. In the initial chapters, Weinstein and Adam briefly review good 'guesstimation' techniques involving numbers and explain why the use of the geometric mean is preferred over the arithmetic mean. -- J. Johnson, Choice How many people in the world are picking their nose right now? Weinstein and Adam 'guesstimate' the answer to this problem and 79 others, covering chemistry, physics, biology and history. The book is a step-by-step guide to problem-solving using rough-and-ready maths, the kind done on the back of a cocktail napkin. And the authors have kindly left additional questions at the end to get readers started on their own problem-solving expedition. -- Cosmos Physics educators can use this book as a guide to including the important skill of estimation in their courses. Students may find the power of estimation to be a valuable skill and will want to work their way through this book. -- Arthur Eisenkrafr, American Journal of Physics A source of imaginative problems, this book would make a nice addition to a mathematics department library. -- Diane Resek, Mathematics Teacher [I]t's quite obvious that the authors intend their book to be fun, nonthreatening, and user-friendly. There's very little not to like. . . . [T]he book can be for everybody, 'higher-up professionals' who might know math but not physics, as well as students wrestling with 'word problems.' Teachers could very well recommend it to math majors and nonmajors alike, or even use it in the classroom, in some cases as supplementary reading for the course. -- Marion Deutsche Cohen, Mathematical Intelligencer The cumulative effect of fairly simple paths to estimating solutions to a dizzying array of difficult problems is fascinating. -- Ray Bert, Civil Engineering
Review
"Dr. Adam and his colleague Lawrence Weinstein, a professor of physics, offer a wide and often amusing assortment of Fermi flexes in a book that just caught my eye, Guesstimation: Solving the World's Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin."--Natalie Angier, New York Times
Review
"An important skill of great use . . . is the ability to derive an approximate result from insufficient data. Guesstimation is a collection of [problems] gathered from everyday life and various fields. Working out questions . . . is both entertaining and enlightening. It may also help foster your career . . . because making correct guesses quickly establishes your reputation as an expert."--Stephan Mertens, Science
Review
"This book is a stimulating collection that will help the reader to reach informed judgments and will be a useful source of inspiration for mathematics and physics teachers: my only concern is that if my students have read it before they arrive at university, I may have to find a new approach to my first day's teaching."--Tony Mann, Times Higher Education
Review
"While few can hope to emulate the brilliance of a Nobel Prize winner like [Enrico] Fermi, coming up with pretty good guesstimates is a skill that can be taught. And that's the aim of Guesstimation. After a quick tutorial, the authors get down to business with a host of wide-ranging worked examples, from estimating the numbers of piano tuners in Los Angeles to figuring out the impact of deforestation on greenhouse gas levels. The results are sometimes surprising."--Robert Matthews, BBC Focus Magazine
Review
[Guesstimation is] a left-brain book that helps you approximate answers to the types of questions actually asked in some job interviews today. Robert Matthews - BBC Focus Magazine
Review
[A] delightful account of mathematical approximation, which instills the beauty and power of the back-of-the-envelope calculation. The puzzles make addictive confidence builders by breaking down tricky questions into manageable parts. Never again will you take a newspaper figure at face value without feeling the need, and confidence, to guesstimate your own figure. Peter Coy - BusinessWeek
Review
Guesstimation is both enlightening and entertaining. I recommend it to my fellow journalists both as a tool of our trade and as a mind stretcher. -- Rony V. Diaz, Manila Times
Review
Physics educators can use this book as a guide to including the important skill of estimation in their courses. Students may find the power of estimation to be a valuable skill and will want to work their way through this book. Cosmos
Review
The cumulative effect of fairly simple paths to estimating solutions to a dizzying array of difficult problems is fascinating. -- Ray Bert, Civil Engineering
Review
Guesstimation is both enlightening and entertaining. I recommend it to my fellow journalists both as a tool of our trade and as a mind stretcher. Matthew Killeya - New Scientist
Review
A source of imaginative problems, this book would make a nice addition to a mathematics department library. Arthur Eisenkrafr - American Journal of Physics
Review
The cumulative effect of fairly simple paths to estimating solutions to a dizzying array of difficult problems is fascinating. Marion Deutsche Cohen - Mathematical Intelligencer
Synopsis
Guesstimation is a book that unlocks the power of approximation; it's popular mathematics rounded to the nearest power of ten. The ability to estimate is an important skill in daily life. More and more leading businesses today use estimation questions in interviews to test applicants' abilities to think on their feet.
Guesstimation enables anyone with basic math and science skills to estimate virtually anything, quickly, using plausible assumptions and elementary arithmetic.
Lawrence Weinstein and John Adam present an eclectic array of estimation problems that range from devilishly simple to quite sophisticated and from serious real-world concerns to downright silly ones. How long would it take a running faucet to fill the inverted dome of the Capitol? What is the total length of all the pickles consumed in the U.S. in one year? What are the relative merits of internal-combustion and electric cars, of coal and nuclear energy? The problems are marvelously diverse, yet the skills to solve them are the same. The authors show how easy it is to derive useful ballpark estimates by breaking complex problems into simpler, more manageable ones, and how there can be many paths to the right answer. The book is written in a question-and-answer format with lots of hints along the way. It includes a handy appendix summarizing the few formulas and basic science concepts needed, and its small size and French-fold design make it conveniently portable. Illustrated with humorous pen-and-ink sketches, Guesstimation will delight popular-math enthusiasts and is ideal for the classroom.
Synopsis
"
Guesstimation is a delightful book that, page after page, gleams with insight into the measure of all things--from house pets to lottery tickets and from the kitchen to the cosmos. Meanwhile, the authors cleverly teach you some fundamental chemistry, physics, and biology, leaving you enlightened and curiously comfortable with all that once seemed intractable in the world."
--Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History, author of Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries"Wow, I suddenly grasped concepts that have eluded me for a lifetime. If you work anywhere in the professional world and are aiming for the corner office, this little book could have significant impact on both your analytical abilities and the way you are perceived by others. An absolute eye-opener!"--Martin Yate, New York Times best-selling author of the Knock 'Em Dead job-search and career-management books
"In a world where we are constantly bombarded with quantitative information (and disinformation) and where implausible factoids become established truths by repetition, acquiring a sound grounding in 'numeric literacy' has almost become a civic duty. Weinstein and Adam show to us that it can also be fun! An extremely useful book--not just for the intelligent layperson, but for virtually everyone: politicians, students, policymakers and, yes, sometimes even physicists."--Riccardo Rebonato, Royal Bank of Scotland, author of Plight of the Fortune Tellers
"As well as giving insight into how scientists think, this book packs in more amazing facts than you could shake a stick at. Learn the technique of 'guesstimation' and you will be able to astound your friends at parties, as well as avoid getting ripped off by misleading advertising claims. You may even be able to work out how many facts you can shake a stick at."--John Gribbin, author of Deep Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity
"A very interesting and informative work, showing both how important and how easy it can be to estimate magnitudes. This book will amuse you while it instructs."--Gino Segrè, author of A Matter of Degrees
"This is definitely my kind of book. The authors show, using numerous examples, how readers can make numerical estimates of quantities--some absurd and some fascinating--in a wide variety of areas. This is a very useful talent--be it in everyday life, in one's career, or in job interviews."--Robert Ehrlich, author of Eight Preposterous Propositions
"This book will benefit teachers and students in science and engineering, from grade school to college. The problems are well chosen to illustrate increasingly complex themes, culminating in energy conservation, risk assessment, and environmental problems. The solutions are careful, complete, and illuminating. General readers with a taste for mathematical puzzles will enjoy it."--Hans Christian von Baeyer, author of The Fermi Solution
Synopsis
Guesstimation is a book that unlocks the power of approximation--it's popular mathematics rounded to the nearest power of ten! The ability to estimate is an important skill in daily life. More and more leading businesses today use estimation questions in interviews to test applicants' abilities to think on their feet. Guesstimation enables anyone with basic math and science skills to estimate virtually anything--quickly--using plausible assumptions and elementary arithmetic.
Lawrence Weinstein and John Adam present an eclectic array of estimation problems that range from devilishly simple to quite sophisticated and from serious real-world concerns to downright silly ones. How long would it take a running faucet to fill the inverted dome of the Capitol? What is the total length of all the pickles consumed in the US in one year? What are the relative merits of internal-combustion and electric cars, of coal and nuclear energy? The problems are marvelously diverse, yet the skills to solve them are the same. The authors show how easy it is to derive useful ballpark estimates by breaking complex problems into simpler, more manageable ones--and how there can be many paths to the right answer. The book is written in a question-and-answer format with lots of hints along the way. It includes a handy appendix summarizing the few formulas and basic science concepts needed, and its small size and French-fold design make it conveniently portable. Illustrated with humorous pen-and-ink sketches, Guesstimation will delight popular-math enthusiasts and is ideal for the classroom.
About the Author
Lawrence Weinstein is professor of physics at Old Dominion University. John A. Adam is professor of mathematics at Old Dominion University. He is the author of Mathematics in Nature: Modeling Patterns in the Natural World (Princeton) and the coeditor of A Survey of Models for Tumor-Immune System Dynamics.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments xi
Preface xiii
Chapter 1: How to Solve Problems 1
Chapter 2: Dealing with Large Numbers 11
2.1 Scientific Notation 11
2.2 Accuracy 14
2.3 A Note on Units 16
2.4 Unit Conversion 17
Chapter 3: General Questions 19
3.1 One big family 21
3.2 Fore! 25
3.3 This is a fine pickle you've got us into, Patty 29
3.4 Throwing in the towel 31
3.5 Hey buddy, can you fill a dome? 35
3.6 A mole of cats 39
3.7 Massive MongaMillions 41
3.8 Tons of trash 43
3.9 Mt. Trashmore 47
3.10 Juggling people 51
3.11 Shelving the problem 53
Chapter 4: Animals and People 55
4.1 More numerous than the stars in the sky 57
4.2 Laboring in vein 61
4.3 Unzipping your skin 65
4.4 Hair today, gone tomorrow 69
4.5 Hot dawg! 73
4.6 Playing the field 75
4.7 Ewww. . . gross! 77
4.8 Going potty 79
4.9 Let's get one thing straight! 83
Chapter 5: Transportation 87
5.1 Driving past Saturn 89
5.2 Drowning in gasoline 91
5.3 Slowly on the highway 95
5.4 Rickshaws and automobiles 99
5.5 Horse exhaust 103
5.6 Tire tracks 107
5.7 Working for the car 109
Chapter 6: Energy and Work 113
6.1 Energy of height 114
6.1.1 Mountain climbing 115
6.1.2 Flattening the Alps 119
6.1.3 Raising a building 123
6.2 Energy of motion 126
6.2.1 At your service 127
6.2.2 Kinetic trucking 129
6.2.3 Racing continents 131
6.2.4 "To boldly go. . . " 135
6.3 Work 138
6.3.1 Crash! 139
6.3.2 Spider-Man and the subway car 143
Chapter 7: Hydrocarbons and Carbohydrates 145
7.1 Chemical energy 145
7.1.1 Energy in gasoline 147
7.1.2 Battery energy 151
7.1.3 Battery energy density 155
7.1.4 Batteries vs. gas tanks 159
7.2 Food is energy 162
7.2.1 Eat here, get gas 163
7.2.2 Farmland for ethanol 167
7.3 Power! 170
7.3.1 Hot humans 171
7.3.2 Fill 'er up with gasoline 173
7.3.3 Fill 'er up with electricity 175
Chapter 8: The Earth, the Moon, and Lots of Gerbils 179
8.1 "And yet it moves" (e pur si muove) 181
8.2 Duck! 185
8.3 Super-sized Sun 189
8.4 Sun power 193
8.5 Gerbils 1, Sun 0 197
8.6 Chemical Sun 201
8.7 Nearby supernova 205
8.8 Melting ice caps 209
Chapter 9: Energy and the Environment 213
9.1 Power to the people 215
9.2 Continental power 219
9.3 Solar energy 223
9.4 Land for solar energy 225
9.5 Tilting at windmills 229
9.6 The power of coal 233
9.7 The power of nuclei 237
9.8 Hard surfaces 239
Chapter 10: The Atmosphere 243
10.1 Into thin air 245
10.2 Ancient air 247
10.3 Suck it up 251
10.4 CO2 from coal 255
10.5 A healthy glow 259
10.6 CO2 from cars 261
10.7 Turning gas into trees 265
10.8 Turning trees into gas 269
Chapter 11: Risk 273
11.1 Gambling on the road 275
11.2 The plane truth 277
11.3 Life's a beach 279
11.4 Up in smoke 281
Chapter 12: Unanswered Questions 285
Appendix: Needed Numbers and Formulas 289
A.1 Useful Numbers 289
A.2 Handy Formulas 289
A.3 Metric Prefixes 290
B Pegs to Hang Things On 291
Bibliography 295
Index 299