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Book Review: The Handy Math Answer Book – Authors Patricia Barnes-Svarney | Thomas E Svarney

The-Handy-Math-Answer-BookThe Handy Math Answer Book  (PAPERBACK)
Series: The Handy Answer Book Series
Written by  Patricia Barnes-Svarney, Thomas E Svarney
Published by Visible Ink Press
Format: Black /White – 528 pages
Price: $21.95

Another great book of interest from the publishers at “Visible Ink” Press. “The Handy Math Answer Book” is one of several subject related books dedicated to providing quick answers to common questions. What I like most about these is that they stand out from traditional academic books by presenting quick answers to subject relative questions.

For me, someone who has been out of the college academic circle for quite some time, I found these aids as extremely useful in regards to getting back on track quicker. For instance, fractions have always seemed odd to me. I’ve never found a use for them outside of school learning, so when asked how to do a specific problem 20 years later…well let’s just say a quick learning curve is in order. Whether used for my own understanding or just helping out my kiddos….I can see the immediate value.

Digging in, the book begins with the origins of mathematics and arithmetic per way of a historical overview. Then it details how it has differed in cultures over time with variations spanning thru Egyptian, Summerian, and Chinese cultures. More abstract terms are explained such as: “cartesian Coordinates”, “vanishing numbers” and “Pi”. This segues into various calendars, the concept of time, and how the number zero originated.

There is great introduction to the foundation that makes up the diverse number systems with theories behind each. Clocks, infinity, or how about the highest known numbers? Sounds fascinating? Well this is only the beginning.

“The Handy Math Answer Book” offers alot to its readers. What I especially found informing was in its ability to break down common terms or concepts into readable bits. I may have come across the word “theorem”, “proof” and “paradox” used in films and literature, however often its true origins and explanation are left to assumption over clearer translations. This book breaks down many of these ideas and terms into quick consumable bits.

Other chapters go into occupations of interest (that are appropriate for those who are drawn to mathematics), with other chapters breaking down puzzles, the Rubik’s cube and “types” of puzzles. Each piece offers its own claim into the arena of mathematics doing so with highly interesting pieces of information that don’t overwhelm the reader.

A curious reader can skip pieces that might not interest them (so much) such as:  “statistical process control” choosing instead to learn about the origins of an “abacus” or the idea of balancing a check book (something we all can benefit from).

I was drawn to processes that could be used as trivia excerpts such as measuring rainfall and the calculation pressure a dam might incur over time. Other areas combine academic interest areas such as calculating the distance to a sun or how astrophysics came about.

If none of this fits your comfort zone then how about TV shows that utilized crime and math as its premise or common literature novels that use mathematics at its foundation? Pretty cool, eh?

Lastly…………..as I could go on about the number of useful inclusions, I thought we all could benefit from just knowing about the odds of lottery, gambling and raffles (though that probably wouldn’t deter)

Intrigued? I bet you are now…. well, look no further than Visible Ink Press for information on how to obtain “The Handy Math Answer Book” and many others.

Excerpt from the press release:

 Bridging the gap between left- and right-brained thinking, The Handy Math Answer Book makes numbers approachable to all. Math can be daunting, but a little understanding can bring the joy of understanding our world a little bit better.

What are a googol and a googolplex?
What are some of the basic “building blocks” of geometry?
What is a percent?
What are some of the mathematics behind global warming?
How does the adult brain process fractions?
What is a computer“app”?

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