What We Are Reading Today: How to Fall Slower Than Gravity

Updated 14 November 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: How to Fall Slower Than Gravity

Author: Paul J. Nahin

Paul Nahin is a master at explaining odd phenomena through straightforward mathematics. In this collection of 26 intriguing problems, he explores how mathematical physicists think. Always entertaining, the problems range from ancient catapult conundrums to the puzzling physics of a very peculiar kind of glass called NASTYGLASS— and from dodging trucks to why raindrops fall slower than the rate of gravity. The questions raised may seem impossible to answer at first and may require an unexpected twist in reasoning, but sometimes their solutions are surprisingly simple. Nahin’s goal, however, is always to guide readers— who will need only to have studied advanced high school math and physics— in expanding their mathematical thinking to make sense of the curiosities of the physical world.
The problems are in the first part of the book and the solutions are in the second, so that readers may challenge themselves to solve the questions on their own before looking at the explanations. The problems show how mathematics — including algebra, trigonometry, geometry, and calculus — can be united with physical laws to solve both real and theoretical problems.

Historical anecdotes woven throughout the book bring alive the circumstances and people involved in some amazing discoveries and achievements.
More than a puzzle book, this work will immerse you in the delights of scientific history while honing your math skills.
Paul J. Nahin is the author of many popular math books, including In Praise of Simple Physics, Dr. Euler’s Fabulous Formula, and An Imaginary Tale (all Princeton).


What We Are Reading Today: A Good American Family

Updated 16 July 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: A Good American Family

Author: DAVID MARANISS

A Good American Family is biographer David Maraniss’s look at a subject very close to his heart: His father.
“This is an eye-opening book about an American family that was affected by the Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s,” said a review in goodreads.com.
The author’s father was accused of being a communist. The book traces the effects of this on the Maraniss family and sets the larger context of the Red Scare, according to the review.
The author “does a great job of bringing the impact on people and families labeled as ‘unamerican’ home to the reader,” the review added.
In a review for The New York Times, critic Kevin Baker said: “For all of Maraniss’s research, a mystery remains at the heart of A Good American Family: Just what were his parents, and especially his father, doing in the Communist Party in the first place? This is a question Maraniss cannot answer, because his parents, for one reason or another — shame? embarrassment? an effort to spare their children? — rarely spoke of it.”