Robert B. Banks

“Have you ever fantasized about boring a hole all the way around the globe? In addition to entertaining such thoughts, Robert Banks also provides the mathematical know-how necessary to transform fantasies into practical adventures. In this follow-up to the well-liked Towing Icebergs, Falling Dominoes (Princeton, 1998), Banks offers readers looking to improve their analytical and mathematical abilities another set of puzzles. The issues range from the amazing to the really realistic. In one chapter, the author helps us calculate how many individuals have ever existed on Earth. In another, he demonstrates how knowledge of mathematical curves can enable a frugal lover to save money on Valentine’s Day by using construction paper and scissors.

Banks select subjects for his twenty-six chapters that are rather straightforward to investigate mathematically. He explains occurrences that we either experience in our daily lives or may easily picture. How can the most pizza slices be obtained with the fewest cuts, for instance? Should you walk gently, jog moderately, or sprint as quickly as possible in the pouring rain to get as little wet as possible? What is the length of a baseball’s seam? What would happen to Florida, the Mississippi River, and Niagara Falls if the world’s ice sheet melted completely? Why are there six sides on a snowflake?

Banks use fundamental algebra and geometry to tackle issues in a variety of subjects, including geography, environmental studies, and the creation of maps and flags. The author tells the reader about any prominent scientists who have thought about these issues in the past. This book is meant to entertain and provoke thought, but it can also be read for pure pleasure.”