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ODU's Weinstein to Discuss 'Guesstimation' on Radio Show

Lawrence Weinstein, a nuclear physicist on the faculty of Old Dominion University, will be a guest on the public radio show "With Good Reason," which will be broadcast on stations in Virginia and the District of Columbia the week of March 31. He will discuss the art of guesstimation, a way of looking at the world around us, from the power output of a gerbil to the relative dangers of a shark attack.

The program will be broadcast in southeastern Virginia by WHRV-89.5 F.M. at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 3. A broadcast also can be heard by visiting the Hampton Roads public broadcasting family of Web sites at WHRO.org.

At withgoodreasonradio.org, the program will be available in the future within the site's archives. "With Good Reason" is produced for the Virginia Higher Education Broadcasting Consortium by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and is broadcast in partnership with public radio stations.

Weinstein, a University Professor of physics, tries through his writings about guesstimation to improve our understanding of the numbers that bombard us each day. For example, he offers a visual reference of lottery tickets stacked up to an over flying jet to help people comprehend what it means to have one in 170 million chances to win a lottery. Numerical literacy helps us make sense of our world, Weinstein says, and keeps us from jumping to conclusions or formulating opinions that do not conform to universal laws.

He and John Adam, ODU professor of mathematics and statistics, have written a book, "Guesstimation: Solving the World's Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin" (Princeton University Press), that is scheduled to be in bookstores by April 21. Weinstein also writes a column in The Physics Teacher magazine titled "Fermi Questions." This is a term scientists use for the sort of questions that the renowned physicist Enrico Fermi could answer with quick applications of physical laws and numerical reasoning.

This article was posted on: March 27, 2008

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