Diary of dangerous curves

Contributed by
Aug 31, 2010

Cool news, math dorks: my friend Jennifer Ouellette's new book The Calculus Diaries comes out today!

I've known Jennifer for a couple of years now. She helms the Science and Entertainment Exchange (trying to get better science into movies), she spoke (wonderfully) at TAM 7, she was at SETIcon and Comic Con, and I also know her through her husband, cosmologist Sean Carroll -- he blogs for the Hive Overmind at Cosmic Variance. Jennifer writes the Cocktail Party Physics blog and for the Discovery Channel blogs, too... and I am not ashamed to admit I have a wild crush on her avatar, Jen-Luc Piquant. So I was really excited to get my hands on an advance copy of her book, especially since I knew she could handle the topic well.

It was everything I had hoped for. Yeah, look, I know: it's a book about calculus. But it just so happens to be a really good book about calculus! It's not equations and homework -- well, OK, there are equations -- it's really stories and fun and personal tales punctuated with how calculus gives us insight into the backstory. I know a bit of math, but didn't know that calculus can be used to describe the Dutch tulip boom of the 17th century, or why you may not need to worry about a zombie horde (because by the time you know it's happening, it's too late to do anything about it except start getting used to shambling and eating brains).

Jennifer uses her great writing style to make these ideas easy to read and fun to think about. I suspect that if you like my blog, you'll like this book. If math terrifies you then you can skip over the equations (though honestly, you're missing out), and if you like the math you'll love the way it gets applied here.

All in all, I recommend it. If you hurry, you can still read it on the beach during these last days of summer... or get her to sign it at Dragon*Con next week!

P.S. There's a Facebook page for it, too.

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