A Mathematical Nature Walk

Front Cover
Princeton University Press, Sep 12, 2011 - Nature - 264 pages
0 Reviews

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.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Introduction
1
At the beginning
11
In the playground
13
In the garden
24
In the neighborhood
43
In the shadows
58
In the sky
64
In the nest
122
In the national park
183
In the night sky
194
At the end
217
A very short glossary of mathematical terms and functions
231
Answers to questions 115
234
Newtons law of cooling
238
More mathematical patterns in nature
240
References
243

In or on the water
137
In the forest
168

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

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).

Bibliographic information