- Paperback: 156 pages
- Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (February 25, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0471379077
- ISBN-13: 978-0471379072
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #899,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Why Do Buses Come in Threes? The Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life 1st Edition
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If you've ever bought a Lotto ticket and wondered about your bad luck afterward, you've had to deal with math. From timing to probability, it pervades our every waking moment, and even the most crippling math phobia can't make it go away. Writers Rob Eastaway and Jeremy Wyndham throw up their hands in defeat and give in to the amusing, interesting, and practical aspects of math in Why Do Buses Come in Threes? Taking their title from the oft-noticed phenomenon of clumping in mass transit, they explain in clear, commonsense language why this must be so. At the end of their description, you might be left with the uneasy sense that you just learned some math, and on quick review, you'll find that the authors have in fact snuck some in under your radar. In chapter after chapter, Eastaway and Wyndham successfully navigate statistics, codes, coincidences, and many other parts of our lives, peeling away the surface to show what's really going on to make things so weird and wonderful. Diagrams and drawings help to make their points even clearer, and there are almost never any scary formulas to frighten the timid. If you've been waiting your whole life to learn the "Ham Sandwich Theorem," or just want to put some old fears to rest, Why Do Buses Come in Threes? is the solution. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Deals in a very entertaining way with problems in normal life related to mathematics: luck, coincidences, gambling."—The Independent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Perhaps the most intriguing question answered by the book is that of the title: "why do buses come in threes?" In reality, buses usually come in twos. Only on long bus routes is it common for buses to come in threes. The reason for this phenomenon is that buses often make long stops to allow large groups of passengers to board. When this happens, the next bus on the route usually approaches before the bus preceding it departs. A bus route must be very long for a third bus to join the bunch. Therefore, buses usually come in twos; only on very long routes do they come in threes. This type of logic is used throughout the book.
Another chapter discusses coincidences. The chance of a "one-in-a-million" event happening is analyzed for several scenarios. The chance of a one-in-a-million event not happening is 0.999999. Supposing there are 100 chances for such an event to happen in a day, there is a 9,999 in 10,000 chance that it will not happen. This is derived by taking 0.999999 to the hundredth power. Therefore, there is a 1 in 10,000 chance of such an event happening. When this mathematical method is carried out for a twenty-year scenario, there is a 52% chance of such an event occurring. This type of thinking makes what may seem statistically impossible, possible.
The book concludes with a chapter on magic and its relations to math, to convey the true quirkiness of the field. While the book may seem like little more than a collection of random applications of math, it actually makes an interesting point. It shows that most seemingly unexplainable situations can be rationalized. It provides hints on how to improve one's odds when gambling, playing the lottery, or playing any game. Such reasoning can be useful in our daily lives. Why Do Buses Come in Threes is a great read for anyone interested in the underlying patterns in life. It puts daily questions in perspective using logic and mathematical reasoning. This book earns four stars for its understandable explanations and originality. The next time you're wondering why a buttercup has five petals; this book may be of interest.
Interesting examples from daily life capable of arousing curiosity were utilized to illustrate otherwise "serious" mathematical concepts: temperature of shower water (negative-feedback), dating (game-theory), "wonder numbers" in nature (golden ratio), bad luck (probability)......etc. Concepts were well-elaborated, conducted in a comprehensive and attractive, but never shallow or over-simplified, manner. The authors were just good at alluring readers to think and explore things more than "skin-deep", beyond what they seems like at surface. The writing style is attractive and humorous.
This book is of immense value in enhancing reasoning, critical thinking and, most importantly, appreciation of life itself. Highly recommended.