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Mathletics: A Scientist Explains 100 Amazing Things About the World of Sports Hardcover – June 18, 2012
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On the positive side, there are many interesting sports details discussed in this book - especially about Olympic events. Consequently, I learned much about the various Olympic sports, as well as a bit on their history. Also, many of the physical/mathematical analyses are as interesting as I had hoped and were a great pleasure to read. Finally, the author's writing style is very friendly, chatty, lively and generally accessible.
On the negative side, the book contains too many errors, omissions, erroneous labelling of diagrams, incomplete/misleading diagrams and some rather unclear descriptions. Taken together, I found these to be extremely frustrating. Also, I must agree with a prior reviewer who pointed out that some rather British sports - predominantly rugby and cricket - are discussed with the assumption that the reader knows all about them: terminology, rules, etc. For North American readers like me, this is not necessarily the case. In retrospect, it almost appears as though the book was rushed into print without proper editing. The author often mentions the "future" London 2012 Olympics.Read more ›
But other parts are disappointing. This is a collection of many short essays, and some of them stop before making an interesting point: an essay on the appearance of Simpson's paradox in averages gets as far as observing an occurrence of it, and then it just ends. There is no exploration of the mathematics of Simpson's paradox on even a superficial level. The chapter describing an algorithm for organizing a round-robin tournament is completely wrong: it's very clear from the author's examples that some teams will never play each other under his algorithm, while a correct algorithm is very widely known but not, apparently, to the author. Lots of typos throughout the book render some of the equations and expressions incorrect, so if readers are trying to follow along with the algebra, they may get very confused.
The author can't decide the level he's pitching the book at. Some very elementary mathematical concepts are explained in detail, while other sections assume specialist knowledge that is not explained: for instance the calculation of power-vs-drag of a rowing crew uses concepts about scaling and dimensionality which would make an interesting chapter on their own, but instead are introduced very quickly in passing. It's hard to imagine that a reader who hadn't met these ideas before would be satisfied.Read more ›
Having been a rower when I was young, I was particularly fascinated by the arguments discussed in chapter 36 "Rowing has its moments" which is about the moments (force x distance) applied to a boat with N rowers (N=4,8). From Barrow's analysis it appears that the boats with standard rig of alternate four or eight rowers do wiggle because the total moment is not zero. In this regard, the non-standard rig introduced by the Moto Guzzi rowing club in the 1950s is characterized by a zero total moment which is highly beneficial (they won the Olympic Games in 1956). A detailed analysis by Barrow was published in the American Journal of Physics in 2010.
Another interesting chapter is the one dedicated to triathlon (ch. 58): according to the author, the present triathlon races are biased toward bicycle ride, meaning that good swimmers and runners are at disadvantage with respect to the riders. The author hence suggest an equitempered triathlon that result from equalizing the time spent on each activity. The book is certainly interesting and entertaining and it is worth reading even if you do not have a good background in mathematics and physics.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was recommend to me by my math professor and didn't disappoint. It's a perfect book for those who are interested in math/stat and sports. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Melissa
Perfect. Highly recommend buying from this individual in the future.Published 22 months ago by Kenneth
I'm a physicist and like to use sport to illustrate bits of physics. That said it is very difficult making something that is interesting and useful for a general audience - I know... Read morePublished on March 3, 2014 by E. Crandall
Some of the maths was a bit esoteric and could have been made simpler. More attention could have been applied to limits of swimming speeds.Published on January 15, 2014 by John Murray
Tedious reading except maybe for the professional gambler who is looking for a slight edge. Otherwise this is a must not on my reading listPublished on November 6, 2013 by ray lev
The book has a large number of facts that are not ordinairily considered in the enjoyment of sports as a spectator, but might be useful when it comes to coaching. Read morePublished on December 27, 2012 by Ralph R. Woodworth