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An Equation for Every Occasion

, 200 pages

1 halftone, 15 line drawings

August 2014



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Usually ships 2-3 business days after receipt of order.

An Equation for Every Occasion

Fifty-Two Formulas and Why They Matter


With this fun romp through the world of equations we encounter in our everyday lives, you’ll find yourself flipping through the stories of fifty-two formulas faster than a deck of cards. John M. Henshaw’s intriguing true accounts, each inspired by a different mathematical equation, are both succinct and easy to read. His tales come from the spheres of sports, business, history, the arts, science, and technology. Anecdotes about famous equations, like E=mc 2, appear alongside tales of not-so-famous—but equally fascinating—equations, such as the one used to determine the SPF number for sunscreen.

Drawn from the breadth of human endeavor, Henshaw's stories demonstrate the power and utility of math. He entertains us by exploring the ways that equations can be used to explain, among other things, Ponzi schemes, the placebo effect, "dog years," IQ, the wave mechanics of tsunamis, the troubled modern beekeeping industry, and the Challenger disaster. Smartly conceived and fast paced, his book offers something for anyone curious about math and its impacts.

John M. Henshaw is the department chair and Harry H. Rogers Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Tulsa. He is the author of Does Measurement Measure Up? How Numbers Reveal and Conceal the Truth and A Tour of the Senses: How Your Brain Interprets the World.

"The wide ranging essays touch on history, art, architecture, biology, astrophysics, geology, economics, engineering, and many aspects of everyday life. They are supplemented with helpful graphics and written in a lively and clear style appropriate for non-specialist readers, including high school students."

"An intriguing, thought provoking and humorous book... Highly entertaining treatises for nature lovers as well as science, mathematics and art enthusiasts."

"Henshaw's stories about each formula are interesting, humorous, and oftentimes surprising. The range of formulas in [ An Equation for Every Occasion] is appealing, no matter where one's interests lie... This book is a must for teachers who teach formulas. This book provides both interesting stories and historial context to pass on to students"

" An Equation for Every Occasion makes for fascinating history. People who are intimidated by mathematics, but also serious students of science, will be drawn in by the book's engaging stories. This is good down-to-earth applied mathematics."

"Written in bite-sized chapters, An Equation for Every Occasion is like a trail of candy that lures the reader to a deeper understanding of the mathematics behind everyday life. I had a great time leaping from one subject to the next, never staying for long. A perfect book for the budding mathematician with a short attention span."

"From the links between music and math and the importance of the concept of friction to either the success or failure of athletes to estimating the size of a crowd by understanding principles of density, these applications are not only lively discussions of daily living, but require no prior math knowledge from their readers, making An Equation for Every Occasion a recommended pick for lay audiences interested in math's intersections with real-world concerns."

"Recommended. All readers."

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