6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Very Original and Thought-Provoking,
This review is from: The Mathematical Mechanic: Using Physical Reasoning to Solve Problems (Hardcover)In this unusual book, the author discusses mathematical formulas and theorems using purely physical arguments, thus eliminating the usual detailed mathematical approaches. Some of the mathematical subject areas that are discussed include geometry, conics, integration and complex variables. Some of the physical disciplines that are used are mechanics, electricity, fluid dynamics and statics and optics. I found the level of difficulty to vary throughout the book; much of the material is clear, simple and really quite fascinating, while some of it is rather complex, significantly more challenging and often quite difficult to follow, i.e., real head-scratchers. What didn't help in the latter category were the several editorial mistakes which became rather annoying in the long run. The writing style is friendly, authoritative and generally clear but undoubtedly assumes a certain level of mathematical sophistication on the part of the reader. In my view, this is a book better suited for careful study at one's own pace rather than be leisurely read as one would a popular science/math book or a novel. Consequently, serious math/science buffs could certainly enjoy perusing this book and learn a great deal from it; however, it could also be used by math/physics students as a supplementary reference in an advanced math or physics course (as suggested by the author).
As a final note, I disagree with the author's statement that this book "should appeal to ... many people who are not interested in mathematics because they find it dry or boring". Although I understand (and agree with) the author's implication that mathematics is very far from being dry and boring, I would expect that most of the people he refers to would have avoided mathematics in their lives and would thus be unwilling to read this book in the first place, or be unable to follow most of the discussions presented if they did try to read it.