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How Long is a Piece of String?: More Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life Paperback – Import, 28 Jul 2003


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Review

""It is rare for a book about mathematics to be as engaging as this." "New Scientist"

About the Author

Rob Eastaway is a writer, speaker and consultant. His books include the bestselling What is a Googly? (9781861056290) and Why Do Buses Come In Threes? (9781861058621). He jointly devised the system now used to officially rank international cricketers and lives in London, where he is a keen weekend cricketer and occasional golfer.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars 10 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interseting and fun book to read! 29 November 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book on a whim, not knowing whether it would be as good as some people say, or if it would bore me to death. I'm glad I bought it! I'm a college student, and I must say that this is a very interesting book to read. This book has opened my eyes to so many things I have not noticed before! Why do guys avoid using urinals next to each other? What are pyramid scams and how did they bankrupt a country? And many more questions... The book is written in a humorous and down to earth style, and the best thing is that the mathematics of it are very easy to understand. This is a book you will definitely enjoy! You should also check out "Why Do Buses Come In Threes?", which is a prequel to this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 13 June 2017
By laurie l. gibson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book! Thanks!
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect condition 6 July 2013
By jessie0323 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For a used book, it looked brand new. I was so happy about the price and the condition of the book
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, fun math; but not as good as others by the same authors 15 September 2014
By Aaron C. Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This is part of a great series of books that put serious mathematics in easy to understand terms, attacking realistic questions of everyday life. Be sure to start with The Hidden Mathematics of Sport, which has the most interesting applications and the most passion and knowledge in the writing. Why Do Buses Come in Threes? The Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life is not quite as good. The math is still top-notch but some of the examples are a bit more forced and there is much less passion.

This book is another notch down, but still a five-star effort. The title example concerns fractals, which despite the authors' efforts, fail to generate much non-mathematical interest. The related chapter on chaos is a bit more accessible. Some of the topics like names of the days of the week and why karaoke singers sound terrible have more interest, but the math is not as elegant.

Chapters on game shows and con games are fun, although I would have preferred more precision in distinguishing pyramid games from Ponzi schemes and in discussing utility theory. There is a lot of great material here, both general interest and mathematical, and I think the book could have done a better job.

For all the minor gripes, this is another winner in a great series of books. Math lovers will find lots of fun material, and can use it as a jumping off point to learn more. Math haters will be hard pressed to stick to their attitude after reading these charming and incisive essays about mathematics and life.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, entertaining 25 November 2010
By Philip Spires - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you have a couple of hours to spare and are intrigued by apparently simple problems that turn out to be more complex than they seem, then Rob Eastaway and Jeremy Wyndham's book How Long Is A Piece Of String? would be an engaging way to fill the time. This is a carefully constructed book, with each of its sixteen chapters occupying about ten pages. There is just enough space to introduce an idea, pose a couple of questions and then deliver suitable solutions. The style is a little polemical, since there is not much space for the reader to investigate. But overall the material is well thought out and offers one or two surprising ideas.

Each chapter poses a question. How Long Is a Piece Of String, Am I Being Taken For A Ride, What Makes A Hit Single, Is It A Fake are just a few examples. In Am I Being Taken For A Ride the authors explain the logic of the taxi fare. It's ironic that as the chapters go by they themselves have something of the air of a driver eyeing the customer in the back with an associated, "And another thing..."

The authors consider chance in game shows alongside how soon a drunk will fall into the ditch. Their analysis of how predictable sporting contests might be might itself also explain why I gave up watching tennis decades ago. They examine fractals and make a tree and then conclude that numbers quite often start with one. You may find this last revelation surprising. I did.

All right, it's populist stuff, but there is enough mathematics to keep the specialist interested for a couple of hours. The book is strangely but usefully illustrated and some of its explanations are extremely well presented. It's undoubtedly a worthwhile read. Oh, and How Long Is A Piece OF String? Well, as Richard Feynman famously answered, it depends on the length of your ruler.

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