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Physicists often use "back-of-the-envelope" estimates to check whether or not an idea might be right. This compilation of 101 examples of backof-the-envelope calculations celebrates a quantitative approach to solving physics problems. Drawing on a lifetime of physics research and nearly three decades as the editor of The PhysicsTeacher, Clifford Swartz provides simple, approximate solutions to physics problems that span a broad range of topics. Could you lose weight on a diet of ice cubes ? How can a fakir lie on a bed of nails without getting huit ? Does draining water in the northern hemisphere really swirl in a different direction than its counterpart below the equator ? In each case ; only a few lines of arithmetic and some natural constants are needed to approximate a solution. Covering such subjects as astronomy, magnetism, optics, sound, heat, mechanics, waves, and electricity, the book provides a rich source of material for teachers and anyone interested in the physics of everyday life.
of Physics. 25th February 1999 Background One of the most important skills that any professional astronomer needs is the ability to very quickly get a highly approximate answer to a problem, without getting bogged down in details.
By Lori Ann White . Students estimate their way through pop culture problems to learn a life skill.