Math--the application of reasonable logic to reasonable
assumptions--usually produces reasonable results. But sometimes
math generates astonishing paradoxes--conclusions that seem
completely unreasonable or just plain impossible but that are
nevertheless demonstrably true. Did you know that a losing sports
team can become a winning one by adding worse players than its
opponents? Or that the thirteenth of the month is more likely to be
a Friday than any other day? Or that cones can roll unaided uphill?
In "Nonplussed "--a delightfully eclectic collection of paradoxes
from many different areas of math--popular-math writer Julian Havil
reveals the math that shows the truth of these and many other
"Nonplussed " pays special attention to problems from
probability and statistics, areas where intuition can easily be
wrong. These problems include the vagaries of tennis scoring, what
can be deduced from tossing a needle, and disadvantageous games
that form winning combinations. Other chapters address everything
from the historically important Torricelli's Trumpet to the
mind-warping implications of objects that live on high dimensions.
Readers learn about the colorful history and people associated with
many of these problems in addition to their mathematical
"Nonplussed " will appeal to anyone with a calculus background
who enjoys popular math books or puzzles.
Princeton University Press
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