Synopses & Reviews
Although we seldom think of it, our lives are played out in a world of numbers. Such common activities as throwing baseballs, skipping rope, growing flowers, playing football, measuring savings accounts, and many others are inherently mathematical. So are more speculative problems that are simply fun to ponder in themselves--such as the best way to score Olympic events.
Here Robert Banks presents a wide range of musings, both practical and entertaining, that have intrigued him and others: How tall can one grow? Why do we get stuck in traffic? Which football player would have a better chance of breaking away--a small, speedy wide receiver or a huge, slow linebacker? Can California water shortages be alleviated by towing icebergs from Antarctica? What is the fastest the 100-meter dash will ever be run?
The book's twenty-four concise chapters, each centered on a real-world phenomenon, are presented in an informal and engaging manner. Banks shows how math and simple reasoning together may produce elegant models that explain everything from the federal debt to the proper technique for ski-jumping.
This book, which requires of its readers only a basic understanding of high school or college math, is for anyone fascinated by the workings of mathematics in our everyday lives, as well as its applications to what may be imagined. All will be rewarded with a myriad of interesting problems and the know-how to solve them.
Review
"The book reads like a pacey murder mystery but with a scintillating twist, the reader becomes an active participant in the forensic analysis. . . . [A] fabulous exposition of adventures in applied mathematics. It's already one of my favourite books. It's so good I find it hard to lay aside."
--B. L. Henry, The Physicist
Review
"In
Towing Icebergs, Falling Dominoes former engineering professor Robert Banks reveals a startling fact: relatively simple maths can indeed be applied to an astonishing variety of relevant and interesting problems. There is something here for every mathematically inclined reader. The aerodynamics of balls in sport, the spread of diseases, traffic flow, the effect of meteor impacts--he deals with these and much more in engaging, well judged detail."
--Robert Matthews, New Scientist
Review
"Robert Banks's study of everyday phenomena is infused with infectious enthusiasm."
--Publishers Weekly
Review
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 1999
Synopsis
"An imaginative collection of popular engineering problems, worked out completely, and whose solutions are within the grasp of anyone with a knowledge of elementary differential equations. Even without this knowledge, the surrounding discussions are both revealing and entertaining."--Philip J. Davis, author of Mathematical Encounters of the Second Kind
Table of Contents
| Preface | |
| Acknowledgments | |
Ch. 1 | Units and Dimensions and Mach Numbers | 3 |
Ch. 2 | Alligator Eggs and the Federal Debt | 15 |
Ch. 3 | Controlling Growth and Perceiving Spread | 24 |
Ch. 4 | Little Things Falling from the Sky | 31 |
Ch. 5 | Big Things Falling from the Sky | 42 |
Ch. 6 | Towing and Melting Enormous Icebergs: Part I | 54 |
Ch. 7 | Towing and Melting Enormous Icebergs: Part II | 68 |
Ch. 8 | A Better Way to Score the Olympics | 79 |
Ch. 9 | How to Calculate the Economic Energy of a Nation | 93 |
Ch. 10 | How to Start Football Games, and Other Probably Good Ideas | 109 |
Ch. 11 | Gigantic Numbers and Extreme Exponents | 121 |
Ch. 12 | Ups and Downs of Professional Football | 133 |
Ch. 13 | A Tower, a Bridge, and a Beautiful Arch | 150 |
Ch. 14 | Jumping Ropes and Wind Turbines | 168 |
Ch. 15 | The Crisis of the Deficit: Gompertz to the Rescue | 179 |
Ch. 16 | How to Reduce the Population with Differential Equations | 189 |
Ch. 17 | Shot Puts, Basketballs, and Water Fountains | 201 |
Ch. 18 | Balls and Strikes and Home Runs | 219 |
Ch. 19 | Hooks and Slices and Holes in One | 234 |
Ch. 20 | Happy Landings in the Snow | 243 |
Ch. 21 | Water Waves and Falling Dominoes | 254 |
Ch. 22 | Something Shocking about Highway Traffic | 270 |
Ch. 23 | How Tall Will I Grow? | 283 |
Ch. 24 | How Fast Can Runners Run? | 300 |
| References | 321 |
| Index | 327 |