How Long Is A Piece of String?
More Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life, By Rob Eastaway and Jeremy Wyndham
|Value for money||8/10|
|Did it do what it said on the box?||8/10|
Another excellent introduction to the fun of mathematics
This is a follow-up to the earlier, excellent, “Why Do Buses Come In Threes?”. While the earlier book focused on those annoying little mysteries of life, this asks a set of different questions, many related to tough decisions such as how conmen get rich, or “should I phone a friend?”
The answers, like before, lead us through a gentle, humorous exploration of mathematics and its relevance to everyday life. Along the way we explore (among others) geometric progression (why all pyramid schemes eventually fail), the geometry of stacking, fractals, chaos theory, the mathematics behind taxi meters, and various uses and abuses of statistics, both to detect and commit fraud.
The two messages of this book are that mathematics is important, and that it’s fun. It’s in the same vein as the work of Martin Gardener, but with a British slant.
To aid casual readers or those who’ve previously found the subject forbidding the maths is kept at a fairly simple level. Most of the time the concepts are communicated in words and simple graphs, but key equations are included and explained for completeness. The text is easy to read and the illustrations clear and amusing. Although aimed at those new to the enjoyment of maths, it’s also a good memory jogger for those with a bit more background.
I thoroughly recommend this book, and also the authors’ earlier volume.