Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible

19Apr/106

Math bloggers: Would you like free Math books to review?

Over the past year I've developed relationships with some publishers of Math books and I've received a number of free books. Publishers are very interested in getting newly published books into the hands of bloggers if we're willing to review them on our blogs. One publisher has explicitly asked me if I know of any Math bloggers who would review books and that request prompted this post.

I would like to build an email list of Math bloggers who are serious about reviewing books. This means that you should not ask publishers for books that you have no intention of reviewing or that you plan to give a crummy review to. This doesn't mean that your reviews need to be rosy but, if they include criticism, it should be balanced with positive feedback. And, if you get a book and then realize that you can't review it that's ok although that shouldn't happen too often. I've turned down requests to review books if I don't think I'll like the book or if I think it's too advanced or too basic for my audience but I have reviewed every book I've gotten. You can see plenty of reviews on this blog.

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19Apr/101

Review: One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With MATH!

Word problems made relevant and interesting. Storytelling meets Math. That's my assessment of "One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve with Math!" If you had to deal with the same boring word problems I had to deal with in school (remember those trains coming at each other at different speeds?) you'll like the challenges in this book a whole lot better - or at least your kids will. And, if you've had a hard time convincing your kids that Math is important in real world situations this book will do the convincing for you. Plus, at only $9.95 retail, less for used copies, this book is very accessible.

As the title suggests, there are 65 short scenarios (1 page each) that tells a mystery that one has to solve using mathematical skills. If you turn the page you can read the answer. I'm going to give my review copy of this book to my 11-year old niece. I bet she'll love it. One interesting thing about the problems in the book is that they're not particularly trivial, even for a Stanford-education Math major.

I found this great interview with the authors at the publisher's web-site and got their permission to republish it. It does a really nice job of telling the "making of" story of how a father and his daughter (a high school junior) collaborated to write this book. That's inspiring all by itself.


An Interview with Eric and Natalie Yoder:
The father/daughter team behind the bestselling
One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Math!
Science, Naturally! April 2010

ISBN: 978-0-9678020-0-8

You already tackled science in your previous book, One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve with Science!, and now you’ve moved on to math. During the writing process, did you see any connections between science knowledge and math knowledge?

19Apr/100

How far would Mantle’s mighty smash have traveled, had it not smacked the upper façade?

Princeton University Press is interviewing its authors in April for Math Awareness Month. This year's theme is Mathematics and sports.

This morning Princeton University Press published an interview with Mike Huber, author of Mythematics, a book I reviewed last October. It turns out that Huber is passionate about baseball, especially about the Mathematics of the sport.

As part of our Math Awareness Month celebrations we interviewed previous faculty member of the United States Military Academy at West Point and current Associate Professor of Mathematics at Muhlenberg College, Dr. Mike Huber. Although Huber teaches courses ranging from Statistics to Calculus his real passion is sabermetrics, the computerized measurement of baseball statistics. Huber finds that he is able to relate to students most through sabermetrics because he is able to show that what he is teaching in the classroom is relevant to the students’ passion of sports. He is also the author of Mythematics: Solving the Twelve Labors of Hercules

The interview is fun and inspiring for sports fanatics who are curious about the role of Mathematics in sports. In the interview, Huber tells a fun story:

Several years ago, I met Mr. Tony Morante, the director of tours at Yankee Stadium. He asked me to investigate a story surrounding Mickey Mantle. On May 22nd, 1963, the New York Yankees hosted the Kansas City Athletics in a night game at Yankee Stadium, before a crowd of 9,727. According to John Drebinger of The New York Times, “Mickey Mantle belted one of the most powerful home run drives of his spectacular career.” In the next paragraph, Drebinger continues, “First up in the last of the 11th with a score deadlocked at 7-all and a count of two balls and two strikes, the famed Switcher leaned into one of Carl [note: Fischer’s first name was Bill] Fischer’s fast ones and sent the ball soaring. It crashed against the upper façade of the right-field stand, which towers 108 feet above the playing field.” Mr Morante wanted to know, “How far would Mantle’s mighty smash have traveled, had it not smacked the upper façade?”

Read the interview to hear Huber's answer plus what factors he considered in determining his answer.

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15Apr/101

Exploring the Math of Binary Numbers: guest post

[ Editor's note: Rick Regan took me up on my offer to promote web sites I like. Rick has a nice blog about binary numbers. I've enjoyed thinking about binary numbers in ways I hadn't considered before. I highly recommend Rick's blog. Here is a guest article from Rick about his blog. ]

Exploring the Math of Binary Numbers

Hello readers of Wild About Math! My name is Rick Regan and I'm the author of a blog called Exploring Binary. On Exploring Binary, I write a lot about binary numbers. Binary numbers exist in two worlds: inside computers and inside mathematics. I study them in both contexts, but here I'll just highlight some of what I've written about their mathematical properties.

Digit Properties of Binary Numbers

Here are some properties of the binary representation of certain decimal numbers:

  • A nonnegative power of ten has a binary representation with trailing digits that match that power of ten. For example, 1000 decimal is 1111101000 in binary.
  • A decimal integer consisting of n digits of 9s has a binary representation with n digits of trailing 1s. For example, 999 decimal is 1111100111 in binary.

Binary Palindromes

Binary numbers can be palindromes, just like decimal numbers. For example, 1001001 is a binary palindrome. Here are some facts about binary palindromes:

  • Binary palindromes can be generated and counted like decimal palindromes, using similar algorithms and formulas.
  • Some numbers are palindromic in both binary and decimal; for example, 11101111110111 base 2 = 15351 base 10.
  • Some numbers are palindromic in binary, decimal, and octal; for example, 1001001001 base 2 = 585 base 10 = 1111 base 8.
  • It is unknown whether there are any numbers that are palindromic in binary, decimal, and hexadecimal.

Digit Properties of the Powers of Two

Binary numbers are composed of powers of two: binary integers are made of nonnegative powers of two, and binary fractions are made of negative powers of two. Here are some properties of their digits:

  • The last digit of the positive powers of two cycles through the digits 2, 4, 8, 6.
  • The last m digits of the positive powers of two cycle with period 4·5m-1.
  • Negative powers of two look like positive powers of five and vice versa. For example, 2-4 = 0.0625 and 54 = 625.
  • Negative powers of two end with the digit 5.
  • The last m digits of the negative powers of two cycle with period 2m-2.

The details behind all these properties -- including proofs -- can be found in this list of articles on Exploring Binary.

(Also, be sure to check out these articles on Wild About Math -- both are related to binary numbers: Easy and fun Math trick and Impressive Math magic with 16 index cards.)

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