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Pondering Imponderables

Life presents imponderables...if we notice them. Math to the rescue!

Clint Brookhart's Go Figure! Using Math to Answer Everyday Imponderables (used copies < $1) is a fun resource to explore. You not only learn what some of the world's imponderables are...but also how to use mathematics to resolve them.

The author is an engineer, but supposedly "sees the world through the eyes of a mathematician." After browsing the resource, I suggest it should be "an engineer with a mathematician's formulas and a calculator."

The book explores diverse topics such as:

  • Distance to the horizon
  • Earthquake mathematics
  • Making a star
  • Ubiquitous number 9
  • Gravity Law in sociology and phone calls
  • Predicting a child's height
  • Baseball arithmetic
  • Mathematical workings of time and space
Admittedly, while exploring these imponderables, the author's approach usually is to just present a magical formula...with no justification, supportive data, derivation, or proof. In some cases this suffices...but many times I heard myself asking: "I wonder how he got this...?"

Maybe that is the true meaning of the book's title. That is, I need to "Go Figure!" on my own.