I just finished my first reading of Steven Strogatz's book The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Math From One to Infinity. As an engineering academic I studied a lot of mathematics. For the most part I did very well in most of the courses. I certainly learned enough to answer the test questions. However, after reading Strogatz's book I have discovered I missed a lot of the essence of mathematics. What I did learn were the techniques and procedures that enabled me to solve engineering problems without really appreciating the beauty of mathematics. His book has opened a whole new appreciation of not only the beauty of mathematics but also the broad scope of how mathematics effects our everyday lives. Mathematics is not only a element of engineering practice, but it is an underpinning for medicine, finance, transportation, biology, and you name it. Even though this book is written for the general public to enjoy, I find my ability to fully understand the underlying concepts to be challenged.
I am planning a second reading before I pass this book on to my "mathy" friends. Since this is primarily a geezer skiers blog, I will be looking for math applications to the sport of skiing in my second read. Perhaps I need to calculate the highest speed I will attain schussing the steepest slope at my local ski area. Or perhaps I will need to compute the mean coffee break time as a function of the quality of the snow conditions for the day. And even more perhaps I should calculated the number of permutations of different geezer pairs riding together on the ski lift as a function of the number of geezers present. Oh the wonder of mathematics. Thanks Steve for opening my mind to new possibilities.