Tuesday, April 5, 2011


If you are asked to mention one element in nature that is ambidextrous, I am sure that water will be one of them. The late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti sang about the varied uses that water can be made us of in one of his songs.

water is used in manufacturing various liquid beverages

Elements aside, one subject in life that is as versatile and can serve a trillion uses to human needs, that is as old as man itself, remember my post on counting?, is mathematics. One branch of mathematics that is prime to modern civilization, without which man would never have dreamt big dreams which have revolutionized science and technology, is calculus.

The count of the modern uses of calculus is endless, but I will attempt to mention some uses that will cover every faculty that man has endeavored to spend money and effort in his research endeavors. According to a professional resource on calculus,Calculus and Analytic Geometry by Thomas and Finney, Economists use calculus to forecast global trends, oceanographers use calculus to formulate theories about ocean currents, meteorologists use it to describe the flow of air in the upper atmosphere, biologists use calculus to forecast population size, medical researchers use calculus to design ultrasound and x-ray equipment for scanning the internal organs of the body, psychologists use calculus to understand optical illusions in visual perceptions and finally, drug companies use calculus to determine profitable inventory levels. The list can go on and on; I just have to stop here.

But whether calculus can help you to lose weight, or survive a zombie apocalypse, that is the subject of a book by Jennifer Ouellette, The Calculus Diaries: How math can help you lose weight, Win in Vegas, and survive a Zombie Apocalypse. You can get it from the Amazon.com bookstore online, or even Barnes and Noble.

The varied applications of calculus aside, the history of Calculus is laced with colorful characters lilke Isaac Newton, Baron Leibniz, René Descartes and Pierre de Fermat. The book also presents in vivid details how calculus can fit into your daily life; how you can use calculus to even calculate the stats on your blogger and Facebook Insights dashboard.

According to the reviews posted on the Amazon.com page for the book, I read that Jennifer Ouellette writes with a touch of humor, beauty and elegance. That her stint as a science writer and in physics gave her much material and experience to brace this daunting subject. She covers the basic principles very well. So if you are a student preparing for undergraduate degrees and you think an understanding of calculus is essential to your success, then you should lay hold of this book.

But the subject, calculus, has already defined the readership for the book, right? Don’t be in much of a hurry. Readers who are mathphobic, or afraid of mathematics, can even enjoy reading it. It doesn’t come with much mathematical formulas that could be daunting, one of the negative sides according to another reviewer but the writer did her majors in English and understands what mathphobic concerns her readers might and would surely face.

Why not get a hold of this book. I’d recommend it myself. I followed a link to her website and just subscribed to her blog feed.

So, for those who want to brave the world of calculus, I’d recommend the book:The Calculus Diaries: How math can help you lose weight, Win in Vegas, and survive a Zombie Apocalypse

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