Editor’s note: The following article is a synopsis written by staff members and volunteers of the Cary Public Library highlighting one of the suggested reading books, as determined by their staff.
Did you ever try to read a book written in a foreign language with only a modicum of knowledge of that language?
We just finished “Everyday Calculus” by Oscar Fernandez, whose writing is concise, fun, and surely does try to show us the extent mathematics, especially calculus, is embedded in our daily lives. He starts his “calculus day” before he rises from bed by listening to the radio (MPBN, of course) and explaining sound waves frequencies of television and radio.
Then we have the trigonometric and rational functions of change. And on page 34, “…that wherever there is change calculus, a derivative in particular, is not far behind.” His coffee changed from hot to lukewarm…
The author interjects commonplace examples of calculus in our lives with humor and careful explanation of its relation to the topic: the “spookiness” of GPS, Isaac Newton wearing his wig in a Boston traffic jam, spreading the common cold. He likes to ask a question, then “mathematize” the problem. One example is the human population explosion vs. the sustainability in our oceans.
Speaking of oceans, calculus is used to calculate flooding in zones needing excavations to save lies. It helps retirement planning for those interested in saving. “Ugly formulas” can be really neat when explained by this author as in when he figures the optimal way from work to home to save gas, despite sighting a traffic cop.
A good book for those mathematically inclined, and interesting to those who ever wonder about the hidden knowledge in our lives which we take for granted.
The Cary Public Library is open Monday-Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call 532-1302.