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Why Do Buses Come in Threes?: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life: The Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life [Paperback]

Tim Rice , Rob Eastaway , Jeremy Wyndham
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

17 Jun 2005
With a foreword by Tim Rice, this book will change the way you see the world. Why is it better to buy a lottery ticket on a Friday? Why are showers always too hot or too cold? And what's the connection between a rugby player taking a conversion and a tourist trying to get the best photograph of Nelson's Column? These and many other fascinating questions are answered in this entertaining and highly informative book, which is ideal for anyone wanting to remind themselves - or discover for the first time - that maths is relevant to almost everything we do. Dating, cooking, travelling by car, gambling and even life-saving techniques have links with intriguing mathematical problems, as you will find explained here. Whether you have a PhD in astrophysics or haven't touched a maths problem since your school days, this book will give you a fresh understanding of the world around you.

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Why Do Buses Come in Threes?: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life: The Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life + How Long Is a Piece of String? + How Many Socks Make a Pair?: Surprisingly Interesting Everyday Maths
Price For All Three: 18.27

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Robson Books Ltd; New Ed edition (17 Jun 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861058624
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861058621
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 13 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Amazon Review

If you've ever bought a Lottery ticket and wondered about your bad luck afterwards, you've had to deal with math. From timing to probability, it pervades our every waking moment, and even the most crippling maths-phobia can't make it go away. Writers Rob Eastaway and Jeremy Wyndham throw up their hands in defeat and give in to the amusing, interesting and practical aspects of math in Why Do Buses Come in Threes?. Taking their title from the oft-noticed phenomenon of clumping in mass transit, they explain in clear, common-sense language why this must be so. At the end of their description, you might be left with the uneasy sense that you just learned some maths and on a quick review, you'll find that the authors have in fact snuck some in under your radar. In chapter after chapter, Eastaway and Wyndham successfully navigate statistics, codes, coincidences and many other parts of our lives, peeling away the surface to show what's really going on to make our lives so weird and wonderful. Diagrams and drawings help to make their points even clearer and there are almost never any scary formulae to frighten the timid. If you've been waiting your whole life to learn the Ham Sandwich Theorem, or just want to put some old fears to rest, Why Do Buses Come in Threes? is the solution. --Rob Lightner, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'An interesting read for even the most maths-phobic' - The Good Book Guide

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining look at numbers 26 May 2009
By Peter Durward Harris #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Some people have a fear of mathematics, possibly because of the abstract teaching methods that were in use in my schooldays. I get the impression that things have changed somewhat since then, but in any case this book provides an easy to understand some of the things that happen in everyday life.

The first chapter begins with numbers that occur frequently in plants, explaining why four-leafed clovers are rare. Depending on the species, plants tend to have three leaves like clovers, or five leaves like buttercups, pansies and primroses, rather than four. The chapter then describes more curiosities about numbers and ratios that occur in plants.

The ninth chapter deals with the title of the book, explaining why buses that begin their journeys at evenly spaced intervals and travelling along the same route don't usually arrive at their destination at evenly spaced intervals. The author suggests that it is quite common for a bus to catch up the one ahead, but that it is most unlikely that a third bus will catch these two, so buses may come in twos but rarely threes.

Other chapters deal with route planning, opinion polls, betting, apparent coincidences, angles, making tea, cutting cake, secret codes, sports rankings, game theory, set theory, map reading, traffic jams, queues, scheduling, logic and deduction. If some of these sound intimidating, don't worry as they are all presented in an easy-going style that makes them more interesting than they might otherwise be.

The final chapter presents a few mathematical tricks that you can play on unsuspecting children as a good way to get them interested in numbers. All in all, this book presents mathematics in an entertaining and easily accessible way.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of maths book 29 Sep 2006
By Gerry C
Maths books, even 'popular' ones, generally approach the subject from an abstract point of view. That is partly because mathematics is a beautiful subject in its own right, regardless of its link with the real world. The problem, however, is that most people don't see it that way. What makes 'Why do buses' different is that it is centred firmly on the world of everyday experiences that most people can relate to, like coincidences and traffic jams, and from that starting point it goes on to explore the mathematical ideas behind those phenomena. The book isn't nearly as mathematical as it could be, but if there was more maths in it, I'm prepared to bet that far fewer people would ever have read it, which would defeat the point of it.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! Maths Made Even More Fun! 11 Jun 2000
By A Customer
I was looking for a book to widen my knowledge of Maths, because I am thinking of applying to do it at university. I wanted to read around the subject in an interesting way. "Why Do Buses Come In Threes" was a brilliant read! It makes Maths a lot of fun and it tells you about many different ways in which Maths can be used in real-life. Most of the book is easy to understand, although some of it is harder and more mathematical, but it is truly great and I would definitely recommend it.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 8 Jun 2006
I just finished reading "Why Do Buses Come In Threes?" and I was disappointed with it. I was expecting something more and the book sure had the potential to be a quite interesting book about the use of mathematics on everyday subjects.

The problem though is that by trying to make it simple for people with no maths background, the authors went too far - they hint on mathematical explanations for some of the topics presented, but they never get to actually present the maths, albeit in a simple form.

It's not enough to have someone telling you that some mundane phenomena is explained by maths, you should take the time to actually explain the maths behind it, and this book fails in doing that.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent reminder about why maths is fun 28 Mar 2005
By Andrew Johnston VINE VOICE
The two messages of this book are that mathematics is important to everyday life, and that it's fun. Like the earlier books of Martin Gardener, this book aims to make mathematics relevant and accessible, but with a British rather than American slant.
Have you ever wondered why flowers often have five petals, how bookies' odds work, how you always end up in the slowest queue, or, indeed, why buses come in threes? If so, then this is the book for you.
In the course of a humorous, chatty discourse on the mysteries of life the authors introduce a number of branches of mathematics, including probability, topology, statistics and queuing theory, to name just a few.
To aid casual readers or those who've previously found the subject forbidding the maths is kept at a fairly simple level. However there's still enough detail to be useful in other applications. I used this book as a reminder when trying to solve a problem related to software performance, and others who don't exercise their maths every day might also find it a useful memory jogger.
Whether as an introduction if you've never enjoyed maths before, or a reminder if you have, I thoroughly recommend this book. I can also recommend the companion volume "How Long is a Piece of String?"
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Common sense maths for the rest of us. 15 April 2006
By red_monkey VINE VOICE
If you have an interest in the reasons for things, a hunch that maths may explain these things, and an inability to grasp mathematical formulae then this may well be the book you're looking for.

After three unsuccessful attempts to read The Magical Maze by Ian Stewart, I found this book on the shop shelves and thought I'd give it a go.

Outstanding. Where The Magical Maze illustrates nature's relationship with maths but fails to explain it, this book succeeds and then some.

This was an absolute pleasure to read and taught me things that my school teachers should have, had they had the imagination and enthusiasm of the authors.

The greatest revelation was how counter-intuitive a lot of fairly simple mathematical problems are.

I now feel cleverer than when I started the book which can only be a good thing!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars And They Do
There are so many questions like this, and many of them are answered here. Great if you are not a trained statistician. Good fun and an easy read.
Published 3 months ago by William L Mackie
4.0 out of 5 stars decent
a good introduction to interesting maths, but don't buy it if you're using it as extra curricular maths for a level, as you will have covered most if not all of the material... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Fionn Kennedy
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit light on the maths
This book takes a fun look at how maths can explain certain phenomena in our everyday lives. I thought it was a bit light on the maths, but this is just a personal whinge- others... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Martensgirl
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting
Very interesting if necessarily eclectic.
It needed a little more real maths for me to have awarded it a 5.
Published 16 months ago by PhilB100
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not educational
I got what I expected with this book. I was not expecting to read a math book that outlined in detail complex math formulae about normal everyday situations. Read more
Published on 3 Jun 2011 by L. Davidson
5.0 out of 5 stars mathematically genious
It becomes more and more apparent with each chapter just how much maths is in everyday life, and it's not just obvious counting patterns either, there are connections to some... Read more
Published on 18 April 2009 by Nicola
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for sceptical pupils
"Sir, what's the point of maths?" The question that any maths teacher dreads. This is one of the books that I always recommend to my older pupils (aged 15 plus) who want to see... Read more
Published on 8 Jun 2007 by Phil
2.0 out of 5 stars Does ANYONE ask these questions?
This book addresses 18 questions that anyone might ask where a knowledge of mathematics would be helpful. Examples include "Why am I always in traffic jams? Read more
Published on 30 Mar 2007 by Andrew Walker
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