Towing Icebergs, Falling Dominoes, and Other Adventures in Applied Mathematics

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Princeton University Press, 2002 - Mathematics - 328 pages
2 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.


  

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Towing icebergs, falling dominoes, and other adventures in applied mathematics

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Banks, a former engineering professor, has written a fascinating book with a somewhat limited audience--people who love engineering. Each chapter develops a mathematical model of some familiar ... Read full review

Review: Towing Icebergs Falling Dominoes: And Other Adventures in Applied Mathematics

User Review  - Peter Zoll - Goodreads

Just as the title proclaims, a mathematical reference book on many calculations that define many of the major inventions and ideas of the time. If you're into the math, this is a fascinating ... Read full review

Contents

Units and Dimensions and Mach Numbers
Alligator Eggs and the Federal Debt
Controlling Growth and Perceiving Spread
Little Things Falling from the Sky
Big Things Falling from the Sky
Towing and Melting Enormous Icebergs Part I
Towing and Melting Enormous Icebergs Part II
i
A Better Way to Score the Olympics
79
The Crisis of the Deficit Gompertz to the Rescue
179
How to Reduce the Population with Differential Equations
189
Shot Puts Basketballs and Water Fountains
201
Balls and Strikes and Home Runs
219
Hooks and Slices and Holes in One
234
Happy Landings in the Snow
243
Water Waves and Falling Dominoes
254
Something Shocking about Highway Traffic
270

How to Calculate the Economic Energy of a Nation
93
How to Start Football Games and Other Probably Good Ideas
109
Gigantic Numbers and Extreme Exponents
121
Ups and Downs of Professional Football
133
A Tower a Bridge and a Beautiful Arch
150
Jumping Ropes and Wind Turbines
168
How Tall Will I Grow?
283
How Fast Can Runners Run?
300
References
321
Index
327
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

Robert B. Banks (1922-2002) was Professor of Engineering at Northwestern University and Dean of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He served with the Ford Foundation in Mexico City and with the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok. He won numerous national and international honors, including being named Commander of the Order of the White Elephant by the King of Thailand and Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques by the government of France. He is the author of "Slicing Pizzas, Racing Turtles, and Further Adventures in Applied Mathematics" (Princeton).

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