Ever wonder why cats land on their feet? Or what holds a spinning top upright? Or whether it is possible to feel the Earth's rotation in an airplane? Why Cats Land on Their Feet is a compendium of paradoxes and puzzles that readers can solve using their own physical intuition. And the surprising answers to virtually all of these astonishing paradoxes can be arrived at with no formal knowledge of physics.
Mark Levi introduces each physical problem, sometimes gives a hint or two, and then fully explains the solution. Here readers can test their critical-thinking skills against a whole assortment of puzzles and paradoxes involving floating and diving, sailing and gliding, gymnastics, bike riding, outer space, throwing a ball from a moving car, centrifugal force, gyroscopic motion, and, of course, falling cats.
Want to figure out how to open a wine bottle with a book? Or how to compute the square root of a number using a tennis shoe and a watch? Why Cats Land on Their Feet shows you how, and all that's required is a familiarity with basic high-school mathematics. This lively collection also features an appendix that explains all physical concepts used in the book, from Newton's laws to the fundamental theorem of calculus.
Mark Levi is professor of mathematics at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of The Mathematical Mechanic: Using Physical Reasoning to Solve Problems.
"A collection of physical puzzlers, often with counter intuitive manifestations, which, for all that, admit rigorous explanation supported by physical intuition. . . . [H]ugely entertaining and provide hours of brainy activities."--Alexander Bogomolny, CTK Insights
"This book seeks to nurture this physical intuition in readers by analyzing several paradoxes while keeping the math to a minimum. Through examining one puzzle or paradox after another, Levi emphasizes the underlying principles involved and helps foster an intuitive understanding of why things work the way they do. Readers will find themselves coaxed into learning because they want to satisfy their curiosity as they examine each puzzle. . . . [A]n excellent resource for understanding some less-obvious principles of physics."--William Baer, Library Journal
"Each chapter can be read in a few minutes time, say while you are drinking a cup of tea or coffee. It will give you a lot of inspiration to challenge or entertain your friends during a reception or another get-together with some different kind of beverages. Of course you will impress them only when they haven't read the book themselves already. Hence make sure that you are the first."--Adhemar Bultheel, European Mathematical Society
"Mathematician Levi has assembled a fascinating collection of 77 puzzles, some clever new originals and some twists to old ones that challenge physical intuition. . . . [A] pleasurable challenge."--Choice
"Quite how a falling cat manages to land on its feet is a classic conundrum for undergraduate students of physics. Levi presents this and other puzzles, with a few clues to how to go about solving them using only high-school mathematics. He explains all the necessary physics concepts in the appendix too."--Nature Physics
Table of Contents
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Mark Levi: