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Publisher:

Chapman & Hall/CRC

Publication Date:

2011

Number of Pages:

653

Format:

Hardcover

Price:

89.95

ISBN:

9781439834725

Category:

Textbook

[Reviewed by , on ]

Charles Ashbacher

07/31/2011

This book is a combination of mathematics with social and political commentary, but the connection is not always smooth. Such a combination is fine when there is a discussion of an ecological or environmental issue followed by an explanation of the mathematics needed to understand it. However, when it reaches the point where Walter delves into U. S. government intervention in the lives of the citizenry, a line is crossed where it becomes a book on the current state of the relationship between the federal government and the populace. In chapter 22, “Surveillance, Spies, Snitches, Loss of Privacy and Life” Walter sounds very much like a conspiracy theorist.

When it appears, the mathematics is not very difficult; nearly all of it can be understood by anyone in the last year of a college-prep high school mathematics program. The book is heavily referenced and one positive characteristic is that there are many detailed exercises designed to highlight how mathematics can be used to explain natural phenomena and human behavior and its consequences. Topics such as global climate change, the concept of money, centralized decision-making, the power of corporations to control the economy and political activity and energy use are some of the issues examined and mathematically dissected.

Walter clearly has a political and social agenda that is wrapped within the mathematics. While this book could serve as a text for courses in applied mathematics and a resource for study material in many other subject areas, the material of Walter’s agenda has the potential to be distracting at best and controversial at worst.

Charles Ashbacher splits his time between consulting with industry in projects involving math and computers, teaching college classes and co-editing *The Journal of Recreational Mathematics*. In his spare time, he reads about these things and helps his daughter in her lawn care business.

**MATHEMATICS IS CONNECTED TO EVERYTHING ELSEEarth’s Climate and Some Basic Principles **One of the Greatest Crimes of the 20th Century

Feedback

Edison’s Algorithm: Listening to Nature’s Feedback

Fuzzy Logic, Filters, the Bigger Picture Principle

Consequences of the Crime: Suburbia’s Topology

A Toxic Consequence of the Crime

Hubbert’s Peak and the End of Cheap Oil

Resource Wars: Oil and Water

The CO

**Economic Instability: Ongoing Causes **Necessary Conditions for Economic Success

The Mathematical Structure of Ponzi Schemes

Dishonest Assessment of Risk

One Reason Why Usury Should Again Be Illegal

**What Is Mathematics? More Basics **The Definition of Mathematics Used in This Book

The Logic of Nature and the Logic of Civilization

Box-Flow Models

Cycles and Scales in Nature and Mathematics

The Art of Estimating

**We All Soak in a Synthetic Chemical Soup **Thomas Latimer’s Unfortunate Experience

What’s in the Synthetic Chemical Soup?

Synthetic Flows and Assumptions

The Flow of Information about Synthetic Flows

You Cannot Do Just One Thing: Two Examples

**Mathematics: Food, Soil, Water, Air, Free Speech **The "Hour Glass" Industrial Agriculture Machine

Industrial Agriculture Logic vs. the Logic of Life

Fast Foods, Few Foods, and Fossil Fuels

Genetic Engineering: One Mathematical Perspective

Toxic Sludge Is Good for You!

Media Concentration

Oceans: Rising Acidity and Disappearing Life

Stocks, Flows and Distributions of Food

My Definition of Food

Choices: Central vs. Diverse Decision Making

Correlations

**Mathematics and Energy**How Much Solar Energy Is There?

Solar Energy Is There, Do We Know How to Get It?

Four Falsehoods

Nuclear Power: Is It Too Cheap to Meter?

Net Primary Productivity and Ecological Footprints

NPP, Soil, Biofuels, and the Super Grid

**The Brower–Cousteau Model of the Earth**How Heavily Do We Weigh upon the Earth?

Mining and Damming: Massive Rearrangements

Fish, Forests, Deserts, and Soil: Revisited

The Cousteau–Brower Earth Model

**Fuzzy Logic, Sharp Logic, Frames, and Bigger Pictures **Sharp (Aristotelian) Logic: A Standard Syllogism

Measuring Truth Values: Fuzzy/Measured Logic

Definitions, Assumptions and the Frame of Debate

Humans in Denial — Nature Cannot Be Fooled — Gravity Exists

The Bigger Picture Principle

**The Dunbar Number **The Sustainability Hypothesis: Is It True?

The Dunbar Number

Public Relations, Political Power, and the Organization of Society

Political Uses of Fear

Confronting Fear (and Apathy): Organizing Your Community for Self-Preservation and Sustainability

**MATH AND NATURE: THE NATURE OF MATHOne Pattern Viewed via Geometry and Numbers: Mathese **The Square Numbers of Pythagoras

The Language of Mathematics: Mathese

A General Expression in Mathese: A Formula for Odd Numbers

An Important Word in Mathese: Σ

Sentences in Mathese: Equations with Σ and a Dummy Variable

Induction, Deduction, Mathematical Research, and Mathematical Proofs

What Is a Mathematical Proof?

What Is a Deductive System?

**Axioms and Atoms **Molecules and Atoms; the Atomic Number and the Atomic Mass Number of an Atom

Scaling and Our First Two Axioms for Numbers

Our First Axiom for Numbers

Number 1: Its Definition, Properties, Uniqueness

The Definition of Multiplicative Inverse

Our Second Axiom for Numbers

If … , Then … . Our First Proofs

Return to the Problem: How Many Protons in One Gram of Protons?

What Is a Mole? Scaling Up from the Atomic to the Human Scale

**Five More Axioms for Numbers**Associativity, Identity, and Inverses for +

Commutativity of + and *

Distributivity

**What Patterns Can Be Deduced in Our Deductive System? **Playing the Mathematics Game

Rules for Playing the Mathematics Game

The Usual Rules for Fractions Are Part of Our Deductive System

Can You Tell the Difference between True and False Patterns?

More Exercises

**ONE OF THE OLDEST MATHEMATICAL PATTERNSA Short Story and Some Numberless Mathematics **Relations Defined as Collections of Ordered Pairs

Symmetric Relations

Transitive and Reflexive Relations

Equivalence Relations

Relations That Are Functions

**A Set of Social Rules for the Warlpiri People **The Section Rule

The Mother Relation Rules

The Marriage Rules

The Father Relation Rules

Cultural Contexts in Which Mathematics Is Done

**COUNTINGCounting Exactly **Numeracy

Counting Social Security Numbers among Other Things

Permutations: Order Matters

There Are n! Permutations of n Distinct Objects

Counting Connections: Order Does Not Matter

**Equivalence Relations and Counting **Using Equivalence Relations to Count

Combinations: Order Does Not Matter

Additional Counting Problems

DNA Computing

More Exercises

**BOX MODELS: POPULATION, MONEY, RECYCLINGSome Population Numbers **Counting People in the World

A Fundamental Axiom of Population Ecology

Counting People in the United States

**Basic Mathematical Patterns in Population Growth **Schwartz Charts Are Box-Flow Models

Our First Population Model: Simple Boxes and Flows

Three Basic Operations: Addition, Multiplication, and Exponentiation

Defining Logarithm Functions

Computing Formulas for Doubling Times

Natural Logarithms

Logarithms to Any Base

Further Study: More Complicated Models and Chaos Theory

The World’s Human Population: One Box

**Box Models: Money, Recycling, Epidemics**Some Obvious Laws Humans Continue to Ignore

A Linear Multiplier Effect: Some Mathematics of Money

Multiplier Effects Arising from Cycles: The Mathematics of Recycling

A Simple Model of an Influenza Epidemic

**CHANCE: HEALTH, SURVEILLANCE, SPIES, AND VOTINGChance: Health and News **If You Test HIV Positive, Are You Infected?

Chance and the "News

**Surveillance, Spies, Snitches, Loss of Privacy, and Life **Is Someone Watching You? Why?

Living with a Police Escort?

I’m Not Worried, I’ve Done Nothing Wrong

**Identity Theft, Encryption, Torture, Planespotting **Encryption Mathematics and Identity Protection

Extraordinary Rendition = Kidnapping and Torture

Planespotting: A Self-Organizing Countermeasure the CIA Did Not Anticipate

Bigger Pictures and the CIA

**Voting in the 21st Century **Stealing Elections Is a Time Honored Tradition

A Simple Solution Exists

Two Modest Proposals

**ECONOMICSWhat Exactly Is Economics? **It Takes the Longest Time to Think of the Simplest Things

A Preview of Two Laws of Nature

Three Kinds of Economists

The Human Economy Depends on Nature’s Flows of Energy and Entropy

Nature’s Services and Human Wealth: Important Calculations

How We Treat Each Other: How We Treat Nature — The Tragedy of the Commons

**Mathematical Concepts and Economics **Misapplied Mathematics

New Mathematical Patterns: Self-Organizing Systems

Finding a Niche: Habits and Habitats

**The Concept of Money **Financial Wealth and Real Wealth

Is Financial Collapse Possible Now?

Follow the Money

Are You Paying More or Less Than Your Fair Share of Taxes?

Financial Growth vs. Fish Growth

Fractional Reserve Banking: An Amazing Mathematical Trick

**Distributed vs. Centralized Control and Decision Making **Farms: To Be Run by Few or by Many?

Utilities: MUNI or Investor-Owned?

Linux vs. Microsoft

Medicine for People or for Profit or Both?

A Little History

An Example of the Need for Fuzzy Logic: The Definition of Poverty

**Energy and Thermodynamics **Energy and the First Law of Thermodynamics

The First Law of Thermodynamics

Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Early Statements of the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Algebraic Statement of the Second Law of Thermodynamics

So What Is Entropy and Can We Measure It?

Some Applications of the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Power Plants and Hurricanes

Hiking up a Mountain

Understanding Entropy with a Little Mathematics

**The Financial Mathematics of Loans, Debts, and Compound Interest **Simple and Compound Interest: A Review

How Much Does a Debt Really Cost You? Buying on Time and/or Installment Plans. Amortization. The Four Important Numbers: P, R, r, n

Examples of Individual Debt: Rent-to-Own, Credit Cards, and Loans

**MEDIA LITERACYInformation Flow in the 21st Century **Investigative Journalism Requires Cash

Thesis: The Range of Debate is Too Narrow Now

Time Series Test and Multiple Source Test

Measuring the Range of Debate

Distractions and Illusions

**Media Literacy: Censorship and Propaganda **Filters and Censors

Censorship: External and Internal

Conclusion and Epilog: Where Are the Adults?

**References**

**Index**

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