A Mathematical Nature Walk by John A. Adam, 9780691128955

-12% A Mathematical Nature Walk by John A. Adam, 9780691128955

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How heavy is that cloud? Why can you see farther in rain than in fog? Why are the droplets on that spider web spaced apart so evenly? If you have ever asked questions like these while outdoors, and wondered how you might figure out the answers, this is a book for you. An entertaining and informative collection of fascinating puzzles from the natural world around us, A Mathematical Nature Walk will delight anyone who loves nature or math or both. John Adam presents ninety-six questions about many common natural phenomena--and a few uncommon ones--and then shows how to answer them using mostly basic mathematics. Can you weigh a pumpkin just by carefully looking at it? Why can you see farther in rain than in fog? What causes the variations in the colors of butterfly wings, bird feathers, and oil slicks? And why are large haystacks prone to spontaneous combustion? These are just a few of the questions you'll find inside. Many of the problems are illustrated with photos and drawings, and the book also has answers, a glossary of terms, and a list of some of the patterns found in nature. About a quarter of the questions can be answered with arithmetic, and many of the rest require only precalculus. But regardless of math background, readers will learn from the informal descriptions of the problems and gain a new appreciation of the beauty of nature and the mathematics that lies behind it.

Publisher reviews

"[A] snappy guide to the mathematics of the outdoors... A sharp eye and an ingenious mind are at work on every page... Read this book with pencil and paper in hand. Then go forth, enjoy the view, and impress your friends."--Laurence A. Marschall, Natural History "Mathematics professor John Adam has come up with a novel combination. This book will provide anyone with a solid grounding in mathematics with enough conversation starters to keep fellow walkers' brains working as hard as their legs."--Dominic Lenton, Engineering & Technology "A catalogue of playful inquiries and their mathematical solutions."--Conservation Magazine "For teachers who are interested in seeing how what they teach might be used or for students or parents who might be interested in seeing how mathematics might be used, this is an intriguing book."--Mathematics Teacher "Adam has written a terrific book that takes his earlier work a step further... [T]his is a well written guide not only to seeing our world with simplified and useful models and mathematics, but to asking good questions of what we see and then answering those questions on our own. I found the book delightful, engaging, and interesting. It's written for anyone with a calculus background, and that's all one needs. If you're looking for a fun book with a touch of complexity, this is a good one."--David S. Mazel, MAA Reviews "[A]dam's love of both nature and mathematics is obvious, and his chatty style and sense of humour--look out for the question about spontaneously combusting haystacks--enliven a book that will get readers thinking as well as itching for a pleasant stroll."--Physics World "Indeed, Adam has deliberately reworked topics treated in Mathematics in Nature to make them accessible to a larger audience. Beyond insights into specific questions about nature, the general reader will find here a remarkably lucid explanation of how mathematicians create a formulaic model that mimics the key features of some natural phenomenon. Adam particularly highlights the importance in this process of solving inverse problems. Ordinary math becomes adventure."--Booklist "If you are a walker, as I am, your daypack probably contains sunscreen, a poncho, a floppy hat, and a pair of binoculars. After reading this snappy guide to the mathematics of the outdoors, by John Adam, a professor of mathematics at Old Dominion University in Virginia, you might consider tossing in a programmable calculator... A sharp eye and an ingenious mind are at work on every page... Read this book with pencil and paper in hand. Then go forth, enjoy the view, and impress your friends."--Natural History "There are now few (if any) areas of science where mathematics does not play a role and, by extension, many of the sights and sounds of nature can be studied using mathematics. This is the motivation behind A Mathematical Nature Walk by John Adam, which considers some of the natural phenomena that might be encountered on a walk in the countryside (or even just a wander around one's own garden)."--Sarah Shepherd, iSquared "[S]urprising and entertaining... Adam's book is lucidly written, making it suitable for people of all ages."--Good Book Guide "The dedicated reader stands a lot to gain from delving into the text and thinking hard about the problems posed. As the saying goes, 'mathematics is not a spectator sport,' so if this book is read with pencil and paper at hand, to scribble along and confirm understanding of the mathematical trains of thought--all the better."--Philip McIntosh, Suite101.com



About the author

John A. Adam is professor of mathematics at Old Dominion University. He is the coauthor of "Guesstimation: Solving the World's Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin" and the author of "Mathematics in Nature" (both Princeton).

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  • ISBN: 9780691128955
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