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The Math of Life and Death (eBook)

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  • 288 Pages

A brilliant and entertaining mathematician illuminates seven mathematical principles that shape our lives.

“Kit Yates shows how our private and social lives are suffused by mathematics. Ignorance may bring tragedy or farce. This is an exquisitely interesting book. It’s a deeply serious one too and, for those like me who have little math, it’s delightfully readable.” —Ian McEwan, author of Atonement

“Kit Yates is a natural storyteller. Through fascinating stories and examples, he shows how maths is the beating heart of so much of modern life. An exciting new voice in the world of science communication.” —Marcus du Sautoy, author of The Music of the Primes

From birthdays and birth rates to how we perceive the passing of time, to overpopulation, the spread of disease, and freak accidents, math underpins every aspect of our lives from cradle to grave. Many of us are aware of this, at least through high school, but few of us really appreciate the full power of math at work in every office, home, court room, and hospital ward.

In this eye-opening and extraordinary book, mathematical biologist Kit Yates explores true stories of life-changing events in which the application—or misapplication—of math has played a critical role.

Within each chapter, Kit Yates takes us on a brilliant tour of light-hearted, simple everyday situations to more serious, grand-scale applications of seven mathematical concepts, including exponential growth and decay, optimization, statistics and probability, and number systems. At every turn, he reveals the mathematical undersides of controversies over DNA testing, medical screening results, and events like the Chernobyl disaster and the Amanda Knox trial. Readers will finish this book with an enlightened perspective and a tighter grasp on the hidden intricacies of the world around them—and will be better equipped to make personal decisions with math in mind, everything from finding the best seat on the train to halting the spread of a deadly disease.

A brilliant and entertaining mathematician illuminates seven mathematical principles that shape our lives.

“Kit Yates shows how our private and social lives are suffused by mathematics. Ignorance may bring tragedy or farce. This is an exquisitely interesting book. It’s a deeply serious one too and, for those like me who have little math, it’s delightfully readable.” —Ian McEwan, author of Atonement

“Kit Yates is a natural storyteller. Through fascinating stories and examples, he shows how maths is the beating heart of so much of modern life. An exciting new voice in the world of science communication.” —Marcus du Sautoy, author of The Music of the Primes

From birthdays and birth rates to how we perceive the passing of time, to overpopulation, the spread of disease, and freak accidents, math underpins every aspect of our lives from cradle to grave. Many of us are aware of this, at least through high school, but few of us really appreciate the full power of math at work in every office, home, court room, and hospital ward.

In this eye-opening and extraordinary book, mathematical biologist Kit Yates explores true stories of life-changing events in which the application—or misapplication—of math has played a critical role.

Within each chapter, Kit Yates takes us on a brilliant tour of light-hearted, simple everyday situations to more serious, grand-scale applications of seven mathematical concepts, including exponential growth and decay, optimization, statistics and probability, and number systems. At every turn, he reveals the mathematical undersides of controversies over DNA testing, medical screening results, and events like the Chernobyl disaster and the Amanda Knox trial. Readers will finish this book with an enlightened perspective and a tighter grasp on the hidden intricacies of the world around them—and will be better equipped to make personal decisions with math in mind, everything from finding the best seat on the train to halting the spread of a deadly disease.



The Math of Life and Death

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