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Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us [Kindle Edition]

Oscar E. Fernandez
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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One of American Association for the Advancement of Science's Books for General Audiences and Young Adults 2014

"For every befuddled math student who's ever sat in class and thought, 'When am I ever going to use this?' Fernandez, assistant professor of mathematics at Wellesley College, gleefully reveals the truth: the world really does run on math. . . . Whether describing how biology uses math to design more efficient organs and body structures or the best way to figure out when to overhaul a subway car, Fernandez keeps the tone light, as entertaining as it is informative. The book will speak most strongly to readers with some experience in trigonometry and basic calculus, but it's also accessible to those willing to put in a little extra effort. Either way, Fernandez's witty, delightful approach makes for a winning introduction to the wonderland of math behind the scenes of everyday life."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The author earnestly and excitedly seeks to make the principles of calculus near and natural, without the intimidation of a five-pound textbook dense with equations. . . . Fernandez invites the reader along on this work day and telegraphs an enthusiasm for seeing calculus, with hints of differential equations, presented to him. This excitement will communicate itself to the math enthusiast becoming acquainted with calculus through the author's style, which is both lively and confident."--Tom Schulte, MAA Reviews

"Written in a bright conversational tone, this book wonderfully integrates calculus into everyday life."--Devorah Bennu, GrrlScientist, The Guardian

"Professor Fernandez is a delightfully quirky writer and his book Everyday Calculus is lighthearted and compelling, connecting mathematics to daily life. . . . Everyday Calculus will not only be found to be understandable by non-mathematicians but will also be found to be quite entertaining. Indeed, not everyone considers the calculus going on inside Tandoori ovens, and they should."--Robert Schaefer, New York Journal of Books

"Written in a bright conversational tone, this book wonderfully integrates calculus into everyday life."--GrrrlScientist

"[T]he book is perfect for a reader who really wants to know what mathematics are governing our lives and who wants to learn and understand or polish up his rusty knowledge of these mathematics."--A. Bultheel, European Mathematical Society

"Everyday Calculus is a triumph in the pursuit of the lofty goal of comprehending the world. Fernandez has touched upon a sensitive nerve, not just because mathematics makes most people cringe, but because the subject has allowed the passage of great things from some of the greatest minds ever to wander within the twentieth century. Oscar Fernandez is as bold as Alfred S. Posementier in his quest to deliver mathematical thinking as nature's gift to the thinking person."--D. Wayne Dworsky, San Francisco Book Review

"Fernandez is especially effective when linking together seemingly disparate activities for which the underlying mathematical basis is identical. As the subtitle of the book suggests, the thrust is more one of 'discovering the hidden math all around us' rather than showing 'how mathematics is used,' which provides an honest and very pleasurable journey."--Choice

Product Description

Calculus. For some of us, the word conjures up memories of ten-pound textbooks and visions of tedious abstract equations. And yet, in reality, calculus is fun, accessible, and surrounds us everywhere we go. In Everyday Calculus, Oscar Fernandez shows us how to see the math in our coffee, on the highway, and even in the night sky.

Fernandez uses our everyday experiences to skillfully reveal the hidden calculus behind a typical day's events. He guides us through how math naturally emerges from simple observations--how hot coffee cools down, for example--and in discussions of over fifty familiar events and activities. Fernandez demonstrates that calculus can be used to explore practically any aspect of our lives, including the most effective number of hours to sleep and the fastest route to get to work. He also shows that calculus can be both useful--determining which seat at the theater leads to the best viewing experience, for instance--and fascinating--exploring topics such as time travel and the age of the universe. Throughout, Fernandez presents straightforward concepts, and no prior mathematical knowledge is required. For advanced math fans, the mathematical derivations are included in the appendixes. Fernandez also maintains an expanding library of interactive demonstrations tied to the book's content at his site

Whether you're new to mathematics or already a curious math enthusiast, Everyday Calculus invites you to spend a day discovering the calculus all around you. The book will convince even die-hard skeptics to view this area of math in a whole new way.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gem of a book. 15 April 2014
By Siva
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is how books in science should be written. You can learn what calculus is about in the dash board of a car. Instant speed of the car is differentiation .The total miles covered is integration.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Introduction to Calculus 16 April 2014
By G. Poirier - Published on
From getting up in the morning to going to bed at night, the author describes a typical day in his life, all the while concentrating on “mathematizing” various things/events/processes that he sees around him. From functions to differentiation to integration, the reader is gently guided through the nature of calculus and how it can be used to solve various problems in the real world. This is all done in a most painless way; the more in-depth calculational details are relegated to appendices. Although, as pointed out by the author, the mathematical models that are developed here are crude approximations to reality, the approaches that are used are important and serve to illustrate the power of calculus.

On the down side, I did find a few errors, e.g., Galileo did not invent the telescope (as stated on p.17), the speed of light is not 11,176,920 miles per second (as given on p. 47), etc. However, I did not find many such mistakes and they do not detract from the essence of the book.

I found the writing style to be very friendly, lively, authoritative, highly accessible and quite captivating. Although any interested reader could enjoy this little book (117 pages of main text), it would likely be most appreciated by math/science enthusiasts. The book could also be used as an enjoyable complement to an introductory course in calculus.
43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sneaky Intro to Differential Equations 24 April 2014
By Let's Compare Options Preptorial - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The systems, events and measurements highlighted in this fine little book are the "everyday" part-- the calculus is not! In order to model the types of everyday experiences the author describes in fine fashion, simply taking the first or second derivative to find slope or acceleration doesn't do much. The truth is that he's subtly talking about dynamical systems-- differential EQUATIONS, not just calc as we'd see it as an isolated technique.

The real physics, engineering, biology, etc. that these equations model require matrix vectors and really advanced concepts and techniques, many of them not even able to be generalized beyond that model or problem. In fact, of the four methods used in dynamical systems (analytic, qualitative, numeric and the newest family member stochastic/statistical), most are incapable of modeling anything but the simplest versions of the underlying "reality." We can't, for example, specify the design of an airplane wing analytically, so we use qualitative (graphs, for example) and numeric ("guesses" with computer algorithms), which as we engineers would say, gets us "close enough."

I just didn't want you misled into thinking that the calculus itself was everyday or simple. The author does a wonderful job of hand holding us through the foundations. There is a lot of value in this in: 1. Getting us "ready" for advanced applications 2. Giving us a fun glimpse at why calc is so important 3. Giving us an intuitive feel for why we model in the more advanced form. Every High School student interested in math should read this, even though the true topics are advanced undergrad and grad level! The author actually makes this possible, which is a rare feat. If you're an AP math student, you'll get this easily, and the appendix will transition you to undergrad. The sneaky part is that the solutions to the calculus described here are quantities, whereas the real-life modeling dynamical systems equations have functions as solutions. This is normally not taught in High School, at least in the US (I teach bright HS kids math online).

If you're an autodidact or math enthusiast, you'll enjoy this regardless of your level, as there is a very broad collection of applications, and the author explains them in enough detail to whet your appetite for more. Highly recommended for the right reader. I also had no problem with the formulas (they aren't that detailed, and have no nasty page breaks) on my Kindle. If I were home schooling, I'd definitely get this as a "motivator" to teach why math is so important to "real" life. Realistically, it is the brain that uses these equations to cross a street, not necessarily our everyday mind! You won't be doing calculations after reading this (except unconsciously) to decide where to sit in a movie. Honestly, most "users" of these techniques are engineers and physicists, but even an 11 year old child is doing advanced calc when s/he rides a bike!!! Pretty astonishing.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read 20 Aug. 2014
By Jay1905 - Published on
A humorous insightful book that respects the intelligence of its reader. The author has adroitly balanced insight into the concepts and the calculations behind them with the clever use of an appendix. For those who learned calculus many years ago, it is a refreshing read that will give you insights that you wish you had learned when you first approached calculus. If you are just learning the subject, this is an invaluable read as you will understand the meaning behind all of those calculations that you preform (unlike most of the lame word problems that you find in the typical textbook).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars √ Use Calculus to Calculate Time Wasted Tweeting 5 Aug. 2014
By Bassocantor - Published on
This is a well-written, whimsical way of seeing calculus at work in our everyday life. The author describes many commonplace objects and actions, then shows how calculus actually underpins the foundation. For example, the author shows how we can use calculus to model worker productivity, and how much time is lost goofing around on the Internet, instead of doing real work.

The strongest part of this book is the professor's very clear and humorous writing style. It really makes a tough subject more fun. My favorite part was the professor's explanation of why Edison lost out on his D.C. power transmission lines. Edison's lines could only traverse 2 miles, whereas A.C. lines could travel hundreds of miles. Prof Fernandez clearly explains how induction is easily used to step-up/step-down the voltage of AC lines, whereas Edison was stuck with his "low" voltage 120 volts DC.

To top off the book, there are very complete appendices, with extended information on various equations discussed in the main body.

Minor nit: Surprised to see some misspelled words. Not significant, but a bit surprising.

√ All in all, a fun book by a witty writer. Recommend!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a fun book if you ever wondered what calculus is good ... 2 Sept. 2014
By Reader - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a fun book if you ever wondered what calculus is good for. His presentation is so clever that, as he says, you can skip the equations and appendices and still see how calculus is all around us. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

One minor quibble: on p. 111, he says, ". . . Albert Einstein managed not only to prove Newton wrong, but also to replace his theory of gravity with a much more correct one."

He should have a conversation with the guys at NASA: "Today the world's space agencies, such as NASA and ESA, still use Newton's laws of motion and gravitation to work out the most effective trajectories for spacecraft," (p. 55, IN PURSUIT OF THE UNKNOWN, Ian Stewart, Basic Books, 2012).

Fernandez should have stayed with math and avoided physics.
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