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A Crash Course in Smart Thinking

Göran Grimvall

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Göran Grimvall is determined to help mere mortals understand how scientists get to the kernel of perplexing problems. Entertaining and enlightening, his latest book uses examples from sports, literature, and nature—as well as from the varied worlds of science—to illustrate how scientists make sense of and explain the world around us.

Grimvall's fun-to-read essays and easy-to-follow examples detail how order-of-magnitude estimation, extreme cases, dimensional analysis, and other modeling methods work. They also reveal how nonscientists absorb these concepts and use them at home, school, and…

Göran Grimvall is determined to help mere mortals understand how scientists get to the kernel of perplexing problems. Entertaining and enlightening, his latest book uses examples from sports, literature, and nature—as well as from the varied worlds of science—to illustrate how scientists make sense of and explain the world around us.

Grimvall's fun-to-read essays and easy-to-follow examples detail how order-of-magnitude estimation, extreme cases, dimensional analysis, and other modeling methods work. They also reveal how nonscientists absorb these concepts and use them at home, school, and work.

Grimvall's simple, elegant explanations will help you tap into your inner scientist. Read this book and enjoy your own "Aha!" moment.

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Göran Grimvall

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Reviews

Reviews

An excellent piece of work with lots of fascinating information inside.

Essays are fun, involving... and will appeal to both general readers and collections from high school into college grades.

Grimvall's book should appeal to and amuse a wide audience, extending from professional scientists, teachres, school kids, newspaper columnists to the... average citizen.

A wonderful read for everyone, emphasizing how scientists and engineers tend to think about examples from daily life that are expressed by numbers... Highly recommended.

A fun survey of the use of numbers to make sound judgments, from gravity’s effects on sports records to statistical analysis of the weather.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
5.5
x
8.5
Pages
232
ISBN
9780801897177
Illustration Description
56 line drawings
Table of Contents

Preface
1. Numbers
1.1. Numerical Literacy
Babylon, Babble, and Billion
Prefixes
What Is the Point?
1.2. The Power of Logarithms
Order of Magnitude
Hot Air Balloons and Renard Numbers
Finding Fraud in Figures
1

Preface
1. Numbers
1.1. Numerical Literacy
Babylon, Babble, and Billion
Prefixes
What Is the Point?
1.2. The Power of Logarithms
Order of Magnitude
Hot Air Balloons and Renard Numbers
Finding Fraud in Figures
1.3. What Is Typical?
The Height of an Adult
Social Competence and Personal Encounters
Hit by Returning Rocket
1.4. Estimates
Is Anybody Out There?
Sand, Sibyl, Olympic Medals, and Homeopathy
Cover the Earth with Paper
2. Measures
2.1. What Is It on a Scale?
The Richter Scale
Nuclear Incidents and Accidents
Natural Threats
2.2. Comparing Apples and Oranges
Human Well-Being and Poverty
Track and Field
At Scout Camp
2.3. Units
Going Metric—Inch by Inch
Horsepower and Manpower
The Loss of a Spacecraft
2.4. On the Road
Left-Hand Traffic
The Value of a Life
Gasoline Here and There
3. Accuracy and Significance
3.1. Could You Be More Precise, Please?
What Is Austria's Population?
A Slim Waist
Man on the Moon
3.2. Significant?
Flunking
A Change in Opinion
Error Bars
3.3. Limiti Values
Will Your iPod Make You Deaf?
Lethal Dose
The Weakest Link
3.4. A Fair Games?
Winning by a Small Margin
Accurate Timing
Are All Sports Venues Equivalent?
4. Extrapolations
4.1. The Dangerous Exponential
The Rule of 72
A Problematic Reward
Suddenly Nothing Was Left
4.2. The Ubiquitous Straight Line
Dubious Extrapolations
Moore's Law
Low Radiation Level and Cancer
4.3. Scaling
Big and Small Fish
Gulliver
Roasting a Turkey
4.4. Looking Ahead
The Law of Diminishing Returns
The Sign of the Second Derivative
Lynx and Hare
5. Models
5.1. What Are the Chances?
Proofreading
Losing a Leg
Sunday Traffic
5.2. Seeking the Optimum
Tax Rates and the Autobahn
Running to the Rescue
Selecting the Best Golf Club
5.3. Focus on the Essential
How Small Can a Mouse Be?
The Age of the Earth
5.4. A Loud Party
Ohm's Law Is Not a Law
A Mad Pursuit
Is Coulomb's Law Exact?
6. The Real World
6.1. Plausible, but Not Correct
The Unridable Bicycle
Church Windows and Lead Roofs
The Bathtub Vortex
6.2. You See What You Want to See
Waves Are Rolling In
Galileo Galilei's Trial
Submarines and Mink
6.3. Suddenly Something Happens
Fishing Nets, Coffee Percolators, and the Web
Goethe and the Height of Trees
Supercooled Rain and Critical Mass
6.4. Engineering versus Science
Slapstick
Not a Schoolbook Problem
Hoisting a Sack
7. Tricks of the Trade
7.1. A Crash Course in Science Thinking
Dinghy, Anchor, and Pool
Up and Down the Escalator
The Floating Apple
7.2. Is the Formula Accurate Enough?
Obesity
Wind Chill Temperature
The Size of a Ship
7.3. Characteristic Quantities
How Deep Is Deep?
The Coldest Day of the Year
Galileo Galilei, Basketball, and Table Tennis
7.4. Impress Them!
What Is Your BMI?
The Aeolian Harp
One Trick and Two Areas
Epilogue: Seven Principles in Scientific Literacy
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Göran Grimvall

Göran Grimvall is a professor of physics and the director of undergraduate studies at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm. He is an elected member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and has published several popular science books.