From teleportation and space elevators to alien contact and interstellar travel, science fiction and fantasy writers have come up with some brilliant and innovative ideas. Yet how plausible are these ideas--for instance, could Mr. Weasley's flying car in the Harry Potter books really exist? Which concepts might actually happen, and which ones wouldn’t work at all? Wizards, Aliens, and Starships delves into the most extraordinary details in science fiction and fantasy--such as time warps, shape changing, rocket launches, and illumination by floating candle--and shows readers the physics and math behind the phenomena.
With simple mathematical models, and in most cases using no more than high school algebra, Charles Adler ranges across a plethora of remarkable imaginings, from the works of Ursula K. Le Guin to Star Trek and Avatar, to explore what might become reality. Adler explains why fantasy in the Harry Potter and Dresden Files novels cannot adhere strictly to scientific laws, and when magic might make scientific sense in the muggle world. He examines space travel and wonders why it isn’t cheaper and more common today. Adler also discusses exoplanets and how the search for alien life has shifted from radio communications to space-based telescopes. He concludes by investigating the future survival of humanity and other intelligent races. Throughout, he cites an abundance of science fiction and fantasy authors, and includes concise descriptions of stories as well as an appendix on Newton's laws of motion.
Wizards, Aliens, and Starships will speak to anyone wanting to know about the correct--and incorrect--science of science fiction and fantasy.
Gina is very curious about science blogs. Can they be useful for learning about or discussing science? What happens in these blogs and who participates in them? Gina is eager to learn the issues and to form her own opinion about the string theory controversy. She is equipped with some academic background, including in mathematics, and has some familiarity with academic life. Her knowledge of physics is derived mainly from popular accounts. Gina likes to debate and to argue. She is fascinated by questions about rationality and philosophy, and was exposed to various other scientific controversies in the past.
This book uses the blog debate on string theory to discuss blogs, science, and mathematics. Meandering over various topics from children's dyscalculia to Chomskian linguistics, the reader may get some sense of the chaotic and often confusing scientific experience. The book tries to show the immense difficulty involved in getting the factual matters right, and interpreting fragmented and partial information.
The third edition emphasizes the dialogue between civilizations, and further explores how mathematical ideas were transmitted from East to West. The book's scope is now even wider, incorporating recent findings on the history of mathematics in China, India, and early Islamic civilizations as well as Egypt and Mesopotamia. With more detailed coverage of proto-mathematics and the origins of trigonometry and infinity in the East, The Crest of the Peacock further illuminates the global history of mathematics.
Levi turns math and physics upside down, revealing how physics can simplify proofs and lead to quicker solutions and new theorems, and how physical solutions can illustrate why results are true in ways lengthy mathematical calculations never can. Did you know it's possible to derive the Pythagorean theorem by spinning a fish tank filled with water? Or that soap film holds the key to determining the cheapest container for a given volume? Or that the line of best fit for a data set can be found using a mechanical contraption made from a rod and springs? Levi demonstrates how to use physical intuition to solve these and other fascinating math problems. More than half the problems can be tackled by anyone with precalculus and basic geometry, while the more challenging problems require some calculus. This one-of-a-kind book explains physics and math concepts where needed, and includes an informative appendix of physical principles.
The Mathematical Mechanic will appeal to anyone interested in the little-known connections between mathematics and physics and how both endeavors relate to the world around us.
The mathematics of ancient Egypt was fundamentally different from our math today. Contrary to what people might think, it wasn't a primitive forerunner of modern mathematics. In fact, it can’t be understood using our current computational methods. Count Like an Egyptian provides a fun, hands-on introduction to the intuitive and often-surprising art of ancient Egyptian math. David Reimer guides you step-by-step through addition, subtraction, multiplication, and more. He even shows you how fractions and decimals may have been calculated—they technically didn’t exist in the land of the pharaohs. You’ll be counting like an Egyptian in no time, and along the way you’ll learn firsthand how mathematics is an expression of the culture that uses it, and why there’s more to math than rote memorization and bewildering abstraction.
Reimer takes you on a lively and entertaining tour of the ancient Egyptian world, providing rich historical details and amusing anecdotes as he presents a host of mathematical problems drawn from different eras of the Egyptian past. Each of these problems is like a tantalizing puzzle, often with a beautiful and elegant solution. As you solve them, you’ll be immersed in many facets of Egyptian life, from hieroglyphs and pyramid building to agriculture, religion, and even bread baking and beer brewing.
Fully illustrated in color throughout, Count Like an Egyptian also teaches you some Babylonian computation—the precursor to our modern system—and compares ancient Egyptian mathematics to today’s math, letting you decide for yourself which is better.