Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Books and More…

First a few quickie book notes:

1)  Interesting to see Oscar Fernandez’s 2014 “Everyday Calculus” suddenly re-appear now as a paperback. [see correction/update at bottom...] Can’t help but think this has something to do with the widespread acclaim/popularity for Steven Strogatz’s current “Infinite Powers.” And later this year Ben Orlin has his own take on calculus coming out and perhaps giving Strogatz a run for his money in this genre. ;) 
Fascinating (and wonderful) to see the bane of so many previous students, calculus, suddenly entering the mainstream of popular book fare. Sort of wish Martin Gardner was around to see this new emphasis. He attempted a remake of a calculus text decades ago and would no doubt love seeing the renewed interest in and approaches to the subject.

2)  William Poundstone is one of my favorite nonfiction writers. Just finished his latest offering: “The Doomsday Calculation”… good, thought-provoking book, lousy title methinks (because who wants to read about doomsday; like the daily news isn’t already bad enough).
Anyway, lots of fascinating topics, thought experiments, paradoxes, conundrums, philosophy, (Bayesian) probabilities, cosmology, ETs, the Matrix, AI, mind-stretching stuff, etc. Give it a whirl (don't be put off by the title)!

3) …also, ICYMI, AMS with MAA has made a wonderful compendium of essays, “Living Proof: stories of resilience along the mathematical journey,” available for free download on the net:
A great read both for professional mathematicians, and especially for those contemplating a possible math path ahead for themselves.

4)  And on the Twitters, Mike Lawler gives Graham Farmelo's new book, "The Universe Speaks in Numbers," a "100% terrific" rating. It's on my to-do list, though I'm a bit burnt-out on physics reading at the moment so it's not high-up on that list.

In other news, get your popcorn ready! Coming to a computer screen near you, the all-new summertime 2019 "Big Internet Math-Off" from Aperiodical has been announced with a diverse set of vibrant competitors (beginning July 1); Jim Propp returns, but otherwise all-new cast of characters:

Just checked with my bookie, Vinnie Boom Stats, and he analyzed the odds for each competitor to-win-it-all as follows:

Sanderson  3:1
Singh    3:1
Pantaloni  4:1
Silva  4:1
Evans  5:1
Shah   5:1
Freiberger/Thomas  6:1
Warren  6:1
Beveridge   7:1
Propp  7:1
Neale   8:1
Stephen  8:1
Carr   9:1
Corner  9:1
Haensch  9:1
Rycroft-Smith  9:1

Vinnie uses a combination of astrology, Babylonian numerology, and Oolong tea leaves to compute his odds, so no promises (I mean he assured me that Maximum Security would win the Kentucky Derby). 
…Let the upsets begin!

And from Numberphile, a fantastic calculus history lesson (audio podcast) from that Strogatz fellow (you may have heard of him) mentioned up above:

No math, but ICYMI I'll end with a link for chuckles to this widely-reported Canadian story about a plan to get consumers to do the right thing, that backfired, 'cuz ya know it's just hard to mess with human nature:

Correction:  Dr. Fernandez contacted me to let me know that despite the recent appearance of his 2014 volume in my local bookstore, the paperback version of "Everyday Calculus" actually first appeared in 2017. The paperback version of his "The Calculus of Happiness" did just recently appear, and his newest volume is "Calculus Simplified."
(...Maybe Dr. Strogatz should ask for a 10% royalty on all this renewed interest in calculus ;)))

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