How Many Licks?: Or, How to Estimate Damn Near Anything

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Running Press, Aug 25, 2009 - Mathematics - 176 pages
How many licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop? How many people are having sex at this moment? How long would it take a monkey on a typewriter to produce the plays of Shakespeare? For all those questions that keep you up at night, here's the way to answer them. And the beauty of it is that it's all approximate!

Using Enrico Fermi's theory of approximation, Santos brings the world of numbers into perspective. For puzzle junkies and trivia fanatics, these 70 word puzzles will show the reader how to take a bit of information, add what they already know, and extrapolate an answer.

Santos has done the impossible: make math and the multiple possibilities of numbers fun and informative. Can you really cry a river? Is it possible to dig your way out of jail with just a teaspoon and before your life sentence is up?

Taking an academic subject and using it as the prism to view everyday off-the-wall questions as math problems to be solved is a natural step for the lovers of sudoku, cryptograms, word puzzles, and other thought-provoking games.

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About the author (2009)

Aaron Santos received a Ph.D. in Physics from Boston University in 2007, and is currently a visiting assistant professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department at Oberlin College. He is the author of How Many Licks?: Or How to Estimate Damn Near Anything, and enjoys writing his Diary of Numbers blog ( He lives in Oberlin, Ohio.

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