An entertaining, eye-opening guide to what math and physics can reveal about sports.
How can sprinter Usain Bolt break his world record without expending any additional effort? What dates of birth give rise to the best professional athletes? Is it better to have the inside or outside lane during a race?
Drawing on vivid, real-life examples, mathematician John D. Barrow entertainingly explores the eye-opening, often counterintuitive, insights into the world of sports that math and physics can give us. For example, we learn that left-handed boxers have a statistical advantage over their right-handed opponents. Through clear, detailed, and fascinating mathematical explanations, Barrow reveals the best techniques and strategies for an incredible range of sports, from soccer and running to cycling, archery, gymnastics, and rowing.
Barrow delivers the math and science goods for every sports fan who's ever wondered how to "Bend It Like Beckham" or what the best positions are to reduce air resistance while sky-diving. The book contains 100 short essays explaining a variety of sports-related topics, such as various applications of statistics, the physics of wheelchair racing, how different scoring methods affect the outcome of multievent sports like the decathlon, and how a new rule led to "the most bizarre soccer match ever played." There's no formal organization, so the two-to-five-page-long essays are perfect for dipping into at the reader's whim. One moment Barrow is elucidating how organizations use math to determine tournament seeds, the next he's calculating whether runner and double amputee Oscar Pistorius's artificial limbs give him an advantage in sprinting events. Not everything is about math, however. Essays on Olympic trivia reveal that the marathon's distance wasn't standardized until 1921. Barrow's writing is accessible and entertaining, just the thing for mathematically minded sports fans. 40 illus.