A Mathematical Nature Walk

Princeton University Press
2
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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.

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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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Reviews

4.0
2 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Sep 12, 2011
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Pages
264
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ISBN
9781400832903
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Language
English
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Genres
Mathematics / Recreations & Games
Nature / General
Science / General
Science / Life Sciences / Biology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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John A. Adam
John A. Adam
This one-of-a-kind book presents many of the mathematical concepts, structures, and techniques used in the study of rays, waves, and scattering. Panoramic in scope, it includes discussions of how ocean waves are refracted around islands and underwater ridges, how seismic waves are refracted in the earth's interior, how atmospheric waves are scattered by mountains and ridges, how the scattering of light waves produces the blue sky, and meteorological phenomena such as rainbows and coronas.

Rays, Waves, and Scattering is a valuable resource for practitioners, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates in applied mathematics, theoretical physics, and engineering. Bridging the gap between advanced treatments of the subject written for specialists and less mathematical books aimed at beginners, this unique mathematical compendium features problems and exercises throughout that are geared to various levels of sophistication, covering everything from Ptolemy's theorem to Airy integrals (as well as more technical material), and several informative appendixes.

Provides a panoramic look at wave motion in many different contextsFeatures problems and exercises throughoutIncludes numerous appendixes, some on topics not often coveredAn ideal reference book for practitionersCan also serve as a supplemental text in classical applied mathematics, particularly wave theory and mathematical methods in physics and engineeringAccessible to anyone with a strong background in ordinary differential equations, partial differential equations, and functions of a complex variable
Lawrence Weinstein
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.

John A. Adam
This one-of-a-kind book presents many of the mathematical concepts, structures, and techniques used in the study of rays, waves, and scattering. Panoramic in scope, it includes discussions of how ocean waves are refracted around islands and underwater ridges, how seismic waves are refracted in the earth's interior, how atmospheric waves are scattered by mountains and ridges, how the scattering of light waves produces the blue sky, and meteorological phenomena such as rainbows and coronas.

Rays, Waves, and Scattering is a valuable resource for practitioners, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates in applied mathematics, theoretical physics, and engineering. Bridging the gap between advanced treatments of the subject written for specialists and less mathematical books aimed at beginners, this unique mathematical compendium features problems and exercises throughout that are geared to various levels of sophistication, covering everything from Ptolemy's theorem to Airy integrals (as well as more technical material), and several informative appendixes.

Provides a panoramic look at wave motion in many different contextsFeatures problems and exercises throughoutIncludes numerous appendixes, some on topics not often coveredAn ideal reference book for practitionersCan also serve as a supplemental text in classical applied mathematics, particularly wave theory and mathematical methods in physics and engineeringAccessible to anyone with a strong background in ordinary differential equations, partial differential equations, and functions of a complex variable
Lawrence Weinstein
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.

John A. Adam
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