Mrs. Perkins's Electric Quilt: And Other Intriguing Stories of Mathematical Physics

Mrs. Perkins's Electric Quilt: And Other Intriguing Stories of Mathematical Physics

by Paul J. Nahin
     
 

"If you like mathematics, you will love this book. If you like physics, you will love it even more. A treasure trove for students of any age, and a marvelous resource for teachers."—Kenneth W. Ford, author of The Quantum World: Quantum Physics for Everyone

"I greatly enjoyed this delightful book, which nicely mixes elegant mathematics,

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Overview

"If you like mathematics, you will love this book. If you like physics, you will love it even more. A treasure trove for students of any age, and a marvelous resource for teachers."—Kenneth W. Ford, author of The Quantum World: Quantum Physics for Everyone

"I greatly enjoyed this delightful book, which nicely mixes elegant mathematics, intriguing physics, interesting history and personalities, and useful numerical simulation. The book applies these in order to examine a wide range of fascinating and fun phenomena, from trajectory motion to electrical networks to random walks, in new and different ways."—Lawrence Weinstein, coauthor of Guesstimation: Solving the World's Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin

"This is an excellent piece of work, well up to Nahin's very high standards. It contains a wealth of interesting examples, simple but clever ideas, and surprising conclusions. The book demonstrates why basic calculus is fascinating, beautiful, and relevant to the world around us—and why it is infinitely more accurate and powerful than intuition when it comes to explaining nature. Another fine addition to the Nahin canon."—Desmond Higham, University of Strathclyde

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691135403
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
08/17/2009
Pages:
424
Sales rank:
1,411,772
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

Table of Contents

For the Reader xi
Preface xiii

Chapter 1: Three Examples of the Mutual Embrace 1
1.1 Unphysical Laws 1
1.2 When Math Goes Wrong 6
1.3 Math from Physics 13

Chapter 2: Measuring Gravity 18
2.1 First, a Little Theory 18
2.2 Out in the Author's Garage 21

Chapter 3: Feynman's Infinite Circuit 24
3.1 An Infinity of Resistors 24
3.2 An Infinity of Reactances, and
Recursion 27
3.3 Convergence—or Not? 32
3.4 Three More Infinite, All-Resistor
Networks 36

Chapter 4: Air Drag—A Mathematical View 44
4.1 Air Drag Treated Broadly 44
4.2 Air Drag Treated with Some Detail 51

Chapter 5: Air Drag—A Physical View 62
5.1 The Quadratic Force Law 62
5.2 Long Falls through a Real Atmosphere 70

Chapter 6: Really Long Falls 82
6.1 Falling into the Sun 82
6.2 Falling from Heaven to Hell 86

Chapter 7: The Zeta Function—and Physics 94
7.1 A Curious Double Integral 94
7.2 Fourier Series and the Zeta Function 95
7.3 The Zeta Function in Physics 100

Chapter 8: Ballistics—With No Air Drag (Yet) 107
8.1 Shooting a Cannon in a Vacuum 107
8.2 What Makes a Champion Shot-Putter? 112
8.3 Another Cannon Question 116

Chapter 9: Ballistics—With Air Drag 120
9.1 Thin Air Cannot Be Ignored! 120
9.2 Air Drag and Baseball 126

Chapter 10: Gravity and Newton 136
10.1 The Beginnings of Modern Gravity 136
10.2 Newton's Superb Theorems 140
10.3 The Moon Test and Blowing-Up Planets 148
10.4 A Surprising Gravity Calculation 152
10.5 Gravitational Contraction 157

Chapter 11: Gravity Far Above the Earth 170
11.1 Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion 170
11.2 Weighing the Planets 175

Chapter 12: Gravity Inside the Earth 186
12.1 Newton's Experiment 186
12.2 Gravity Inside the Earth 191
12.3 Pressure at the Center of the Earth 200
12.4 Travel Inside the Earth 203
12.5 Epilogue 209

Chapter 13: Quilts & Electricity 215
13.1 Recreational Mathematics 215
13.2 Electric Quilts 220
13.3 Three Impossibility Proofs 225

Chapter 14: Random Walks 233
14.1 Ronald Ross and the Flight of Mosquitoes 233
14.2 Karl Pearson Formulates a Famous Problem 236
14.3 Gambler's Ruin 241
14.4 The Monte Carlo Method 245

Chapter 15: Two More Random Walks 261
15.1 Brownian Motion 261
15.2 Shrinking Walks 269

Chapter 16: Nearest Neighbors 285
16.1 Cannibals Can Be Fun! 285
16.2 Neighbors Beyond the Nearest 291
16.3 What Happens When We Have Lots of Cannibals 294
16.4 Serious Physics 296

Chapter 17: One Last Random Walk 299
17.1 Resistor Mathematics 299
17.2 Electric Walks 301
17.3 Monte Carlo Circuit Simulation 305
17.4 Symmetry, Superposition, and Resistor Circuits 313

Chapter 18: The Big Noise 321
18.1 An Interesting Textbook Problem 321
18.2 The Polar Equations of the Big-Noise Flight 322
18.3 The Acceleration on a Big-Noise Flight Path 328

SOLUTIONS TO THE CHALLENGE PROBLEMS 333
SPECIAL BONUS DISCUSSION 371
Warning: Do Not Read before Reading Disscussion 17 373

Chapter 19: Electricity in the Fourth Dimension 373
19.1 The Tesseract 373
19.2 Connecting a Tesseract Resistor Cube 376

Acknowledgments 385
Index 387

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