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Town-N-Gown to Present Authors of 'Guesstimation,' Coming Soon in Italian

When Old Dominion University faculty members Lawrence Weinstein and John Adam deliver a lecture about their book, "Guesstimation: Solving the World's Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin," in the Town-N-Gown Speaker Series on Tuesday, Nov. 18, they just may say a few words in Italian.

Italian is the language of the moment for the two researchers, who have learned that rights to their popular book, which was published in the authors' native tongue by Princeton University Press in April, have been snapped up by a company in Bologna, Italy.

The lecture sponsored by the Town-N-Gown organization will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Board Room of Webb Center. The program is free and open to the public.

"Guesstimation" presents a lighthearted series of problems for which "ballpark" solutions can be calculated by using plausible assumptions and arithmetic. The book, which is available for $19.95 at the University Bookstore, has been the subject of media reports in Science magazine, Nature Physics, Games magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Business Week and BBC Focus Magazine.

Weinstein and Adam said they were informed that the Italian publishers will want to make a few changes because of language and cultural differences. Obviously, the Italians would want all measurements to be in metric units. Not so obviously, the Italians want to use soccer (football) balls, not golf balls, in a problem about how many balls will fit side-by-side along the Equator. And another problem involving pickles seems destined to be dropped altogether because as an Italian editor wrote in his critique of the book, "Hardly anyone eats pickles in Italy."

Weinstein is University Professor of physics and Adam is University Professor of mathematics at ODU.

Town-N-Gown, founded in 1965, promotes a positive relationship between the university and surrounding community with programs and activities that increase awareness and appreciation of the university and military communities. For more information about the organization or the speakers series, contact Stuart Cake at 464-2885.

This article was posted on: November 12, 2008

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