One Hundred Essential Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know: Math Explains Your World

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2008 - Mathematics - 284 pages
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Eminent cosmologist and writer John D. Barrow uses simple mathematics to answer one hundred perplexing questions from everyday life.

Mathematics can reveal and illuminate things about the complex world we live in that can’t be found any other way. In this hugely informative and entertaining book, John D. Barrow takes the most perplexing of everyday phenomena—from the odds of winning the lottery and the method of determining batting averages to the shapes of roller coasters and the reasoning behind the fairest possible divorce settlements—and explains why things work the way they do. With elementary math and accompanying illustrations, he sheds light on the mysterious corners of the world we encounter every day. Have you ever considered why you always seem to get stuck in the longest line? Why two’s company but three’s a crowd? Or why there are six degrees of separation instead of seven? This clever little book has all the answers to these puzzling, everyday questions of existence that need not perplex us anymore.
 

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Contents

Twos Company Threes a Crowd
4
Its a Small World After All
7
Monkey Business
10
Independence Day
13
Rugby and Relativity
15
Wagons Roll
17
A Sense of Proportion
19
Why Does the Other Queue Always Move Faster?
22
Walk Please Dont Run
149
Mindreading Tricks
151
The Planet of the Deceivers
153
How to Win the Lottery
155
A Truly Weird Football Match
158
An Arch Problem
160
Counting in Eights
162
Getting a Mandate
164

Pylon of the Month
24
A Sense of Balance
27
Bridging That Gap
29
On the Cards
33
Tally Ho
37
Relationships
40
Racing Certainties
43
High Jumping
46
Superficiality
50
VAT in Eternity
53
Living in a Simulation
55
Emergence
59
How to Push a Car
62
Positive Feedback
65
The Drunkards Walk
67
Faking It
69
The Flaw of Averages
72
The Origami of the Universe
74
Easy and Hard Problems
76
Is This a Record?
79
A DoltYourself Lottery
82
I Do Not Believe It
84
Flash Fires
86
The Secretary Problem
89
Fair Divorce Settlements the WinWin Solution
93
Many Happy Returns
96
Tilting at Windmills
99
Verbal Conjuring
102
Financial Investment with Time Travellers
104
A Thought for Your Pennies
107
Breaking the Law of Averages
110
How Long are Things Likely to Survive?
112
A President who Preferred the Triangle to the Pentagon
115
Secret Codes in Your Pocket
119
Ive Got a Terrible Memory for Names
123
Calculus Makes You Live Longer
125
Getting in a Flap
127
Your Numbers Up
130
Double Your Money
132
Some Reflections on Faces
134
The Most Infamous Mathematician
138
Roller Coasters and Motorway Junctions
142
A Taylormade Explosion
146
The Twoheaded League
167
Creating Something out of Nothing
169
How to Rig An Election
172
The Swing of the Pendulum
175
A Bike with Square Wheels
177
How Many Guards Does an Art Gallery Need?
179
and What About a Prison?
184
A Snooker Trick Shot
186
Brothers and Sisters
189
Playing Fair with a Biased Coin
192
The Wonders of Tautology
194
What a Racket
196
Packing Your Stuff
200
Sent Packing Again
202
Crouching Tiger
207
How the Leopard Got His Spots
210
The Madness of Crowds
212
Diamond Geezer
215
The Three Laws of Robotics
219
Thinking Outside the Box
222
Googling in the Caribbean The Power of the Matrix
225
Loss Aversion
229
The Lead in Your Pencil
231
Testing Spaghetti to Destruction
233
The Gherkin
235
Being Mean with the Price Index
238
Omniscience can be a Liability
241
Why People arent Cleverer
243
The Man from Underground
245
There are No Uninteresting Numbers
247
Incognito
249
The Ice Skating Paradox
252
The Rule of Two
255
Segregation and Micromotives
257
Not Going with the Flow
259
Venn Vill They Ever Learn
261
Some Benefits of Irrationality
264
Strange Formulae
269
Chaos
273
All Aboard
276
The Global Village
279
Notes
282
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About the author (2008)

John D. Barrow is professor of mathematical sciences and director of the Millennium Mathematics Project at Cambridge University, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society. He is the best-selling author of many books on science and mathematics, including Mathletics: 100 Amazing Things You Didn’t Know about the World of Sports and 100 Essential Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know: Math Explains Your World.

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