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Mathletics: 100 Amazing Things You Didn't Know about the World of Sports
     

Mathletics: 100 Amazing Things You Didn't Know about the World of Sports

by John D. Barrow
 

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An entertaining, eye-opening guide to what math and physics can reveal about sports.

How can sprinter Usain Bolt break his world record without expending any additional effort? What dates of birth give rise to the best professional athletes? Is it better to have the inside or outside lane during a race?

Drawing on vivid, real-life examples, mathematician

Overview

An entertaining, eye-opening guide to what math and physics can reveal about sports.

How can sprinter Usain Bolt break his world record without expending any additional effort? What dates of birth give rise to the best professional athletes? Is it better to have the inside or outside lane during a race?

Drawing on vivid, real-life examples, mathematician John D. Barrow entertainingly explores the eye-opening, often counterintuitive, insights into the world of sports that math and physics can give us. For example, we learn that left-handed boxers have a statistical advantage over their right-handed opponents. Through clear, detailed, and fascinating mathematical explanations, Barrow reveals the best techniques and strategies for an incredible range of sports, from soccer and running to cycling, archery, gymnastics, and rowing.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Barrow delivers the math and science goods for every sports fan who’s ever wondered how to “Bend It Like Beckham” or what the best positions are to reduce air resistance while sky-diving. The book contains 100 short essays explaining a variety of sports-related topics, such as various applications of statistics, the physics of wheelchair racing, how different scoring methods affect the outcome of multievent sports like the decathlon, and how a new rule led to “the most bizarre soccer match ever played.” There’s no formal organization, so the two-to-five-page-long essays are perfect for dipping into at the reader’s whim. One moment Barrow is elucidating how organizations use math to determine tournament seeds, the next he’s calculating whether runner and double amputee Oscar Pistorius’s artificial limbs give him an advantage in sprinting events. Not everything is about math, however. Essays on Olympic trivia reveal that the marathon’s distance wasn’t standardized until 1921. Barrow’s writing is accessible and entertaining, just the thing for mathematically minded sports fans. 40 illus. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
Entertaining deconstruction of the mathematics of sports. To enjoy this book, readers need only a basic knowledge of high school math, even when Barrow (Mathematical Sciences/Cambridge Univ.; The Book of Universes: Exploring the Limits of the Cosmos, 2011, etc.) discusses more complicated subjects such as probabilities. He shows how the relationship between time and distance determines the best strategy for kicking the ball in rugby or soccer. Turning to track and field, Barrow speculates that in order to top his world-record 100-meter time, sprinter Usain Bolt could reduce his reaction time, but an even better bet would be to race on a high-altitude track in Mexico City while getting an assist from a high tailwind. The author explains why runners, given a choice, don't select either the inside position on a circular track, even though it is the shortest distance, or the outside, with its gentler curve, because they want to gauge the speed of the runners on either side. Barrow also investigates Cold War politics to discover why female world records in Olympic track and field competitions have remained static in recent years. The answer can be found in the practices of the East German Stasi, who systematically dosed their athletes with anabolic steroids. While random testing is now routine for Olympic athletes, there is no random testing of U.S. baseball players, despite evidence of steroid use. The author explains that existing tests are not considered to be sufficiently precise. Using hypothetical examples, Barrow introduces the fundamentals of statistics and the application of Bayes' theorem to conditional probabilities, and he includes discussions of skydiving, rowing, triathlons and water polo, among other athletic endeavors. An illuminating mix for sports fans and math buffs looking to hone their skills.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393084122
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
06/11/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,267,783
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

John D. Barrow is professor of mathematical sciences and director of the Millennium Mathematics Project at Cambridge University, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society. He is the best-selling author of many books on science and mathematics, including Mathletics: 100 Amazing Things You Didn’t Know about the World of Sports and 100 Essential Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know: Math Explains Your World.

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