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New Book Coming from ODU's John Adam, 'A Mathematical Nature Walk'

"A Mathematical Nature Walk," the new book by John Adam, University Professor of mathematics at Old Dominion University and a prolific author in recent years, will be published by Princeton University Press in April.

Adam's current book, which he wrote together with Lawrence Weinstein, ODU University Professor of physics, is the entertaining "Guesstimation: Solving the World's Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin." That book was published in April 2008 and has benefitted from endorsements by the Wall Street Journal and numerous other media.

The new work will present nearly 100 questions that might occur to someone on a nature walk. Adam shows how to arrive at answers using mostly basic mathematics.

Questions included are: Can you weigh a pumpkin just by carefully looking at it? Why can you see farther in rain than in fog? What causes the variations in the colors of butterfly wings, bird feathers and oil slicks? Why are large haystacks prone to spontaneous combustion?

Many of the questions are illustrated with photos and drawings, and the book has answers, a glossary of terms and a list of some of the patterns found in nature.

Adam, who was a 2007 recipient of the Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award sponsored by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, is known for his ability to make numbers interesting. His research has involved mathematical modeling and mathematical biology focused on tumor growth and wound healing. But with his popular writing he has explored a more whimsical side of mathematics and patterns.

In a pre-publication endorsement of "A Mathematical Nature Walk," Kenneth Libbrecht, author of "The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty," writes, "With a mathematician's eye and a playful wit, John Adam takes a walk through the woods and returns with stories aplenty! His narratives are about nature and how things work, about looking analytically at the world around us, and about the art of creating mathematical models. For anyone with a mathematical bent who has ever asked, "what is that?", this book will provide an interesting read and a valuable resource."

Adam's book, "Mathematics in Nature: Modeling Patterns in the Natural World," won the Association of American Publishers Mathematics and Statistics Professional/Scholarly Award in 2004 and was one of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2004. In addition to writing the text for that book, Adam also contributed photographs.

Adam has worked with Princeton University Press on each of the recent books. More information can be found at http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8864.html.

This article was posted on: November 25, 2008

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