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Guesstimation Book Featured in New York Times

The quantitative skills of Old Dominion University professors Larry Weinstein and John Adam has been noted in the news many times in recent months because of their book, "Guesstimation: Solving the World's Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin," but not even they could have guessed the response to an article about them Tuesday in the Science section of the New York Times.

Weinstein watched the book move in just a few hours Tuesday morning from around 20,000th on the Amazon sales list to 4,000th. "It's going to be fun to follow this all day long," he said.

"Our publishers love us," said Adam. "Looks like there is an up-tick in sales!" A representative of Princeton University Press, which published "Guesstimation" last spring, told Adam that it is unusual for a book to get this kind of boost a year after it debuts.

"They're saying at Princeton that we make a good team. They're already coming up with ideas for other books for us to write," said Adam, who is University Professor of mathematics and statistics at ODU. Weinstein is University Professor of physics.

The April issue of National Geographic magazine, which began appearing on newstands last week, also has a story noting Weinstein's "guesstimation" expertise.

The New York Times story, written by Natalie Angier, is headlined "The Biggest Puzzles Brought Down to Size." Packaged with the story, which is prominently played in the newspaper and at www.nytimes.com, is an online quiz to test estimation abilities. Some of the questions were drawn from the book and others were contributed by the authors exclusively for the New York Times.

The story is at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/31/science/31angi.html?ref=science.

"Guesstimation," which presents lighthearted problems for which ballpark solutions can be calculated by using plausible assumptions and arithmetic, has drawn broad media attention previously, most notably from the Wall Street Journal's "The Numbers Guy" columnist. Also presenting stories about the book: Science magazine, Nature Physics, Games magazine, Business Week and BBC Focus Magazine.

In addition to English, the book has appeared or soon will in Japanese, Chinese and Italian language editions.

This article was posted on: March 31, 2009

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