978-0-471-34756-9 / 9780471347569

Why Do Buses Come in Threes: The Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life





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About the book:

Why is it better to buy a lottery ticket on a Friday? Is bad luck just chance, or can it be explained? Is it possible to win every time without cheating? And can math greatly increase your odds of getting a date and even falling in love? If you've had the sneaking suspicion ever since the third grade that math is conspiring against youyou're right. Math and the laws of probability are constantly at work in our lives, affecting everything we do from getting a date to catching a bus.

Why Do Buses Come in Threes? is a delightfully entertaining ride for anyone wanting to remind themselvesor discover for the first timethat math is relevant to almost everything we do. Buses that bunch, identical potato chips, and slicing a cake evenly for an odd number of guests all have their links to intriguing mathematical problems. With great humor and a genuine love for the subject, the authors present the solutions to such conundrums as how fast one should run in the rain to keep dry and who was the greatest sportsman statistically.

Discover the mathematical explanations for the strange coincidence of two Presidents dying on July 4, the uncanny "accuracy" of horoscopes, the number of petals on a flower and seeds in an apple, and other not-so-coincidental coincidences. Eastaway and Wyndham also reveal how television ratings work, which numbers are more likely to be big winners in the lottery, and why bad things, just like buses, always seem to happen in threes. It's a fascinating journey through the logic of life where Newton's laws explain bar fights, exploding rabbit populations, and why showers always run either too hot or too cold. For the kids, the authors have devoted an entire chapter to tricks that entertain, teach, and baffle children with the magical properties of numbers. So climb aboard, take a ride, and discover the hidden mathematical code to some of life's greatest (and most irritating) questions.

You may know 2+2, but do you know . . .

Which part of a moving train is always stationary, and which part is always traveling in the reverse direction to the train itself? How understanding Pascal's triangle can keep you from being overcharged in a New York taxicab? What popular lunch food has its own theorem? Why lights are always red when you're in a hurry? Why math, not the idiot in front of you, is to blame for your being stuck in long lines at the supermarket?

Math: It isn't all in your head . . .

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