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.
"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
"Why Cats Land On Their Feet relies on a novel approach to problem solving that is not based on mathematics, but on models and physical intuition. . . . By looking beyond formulas and equations, Levi's goal is to provide readers who have a familiarity with basic high-school math and physics with critical thinking skills that can be applied to a range of physics problems beyond the book."—Mechanical Engineering-CIME
"Levi uses titillating puzzles and a humorous tone to truly infuse fun into the book. A must have for anyone that likes physics, or for that matter hates. Why Cats Land On Their Feet is a book that introduces the reader to the cool side of physics and then engages for hours."—Sarthak Shankar, Organiser
"The book is written in an accessible style and presumes little mathematical knowledge: a couple of puzzles refer to some basic calculus, but most require only arithmetic. It is suitable for everyone from sixth form students upwards. . . . Teachers and lecturers will particularly appreciate this text, finding in it numerous quirky thought-experiments, actual experiments and trivia to catch their students' attention."—Paul Taylor, Mathematics Today
"This book will cultivate and challenge your physical intuition. Above all, it shows that physics and mathematics can be fun and useful at the same time."—Catherine A. Gorini, Mathematics Teacher
"It is written with a lot of humor, and provides helpful insights without going into unnecessarily complicated physical or mathematical techniques. The style is informal and attractive, which makes the reading of the book a real pleasure."—Kiril Bankov, Mathematical Gazette
"Why Cats Land on Their Feet is a collection of fun physical puzzles that will be attractive to a wide spectrum of readers, from teachers to those looking simply for good reading and educational entertainment. Levi's sense of humor and friendly, informal style add to the pleasure of the book. Each of these puzzles, without exception, kept my attention."—Paul J. Nahin, author of Number-Crunching: Taming Unruly Computational Problems from Mathematical Physics to Science Fiction
"Why Cats Land on Their Feet offers a trove of interesting and varied physical phenomena. Each one is clearly explained and easily understood, but many require an insightful observation for their resolution. There were any number of occasions when I fell into the trap of false assumption and was surprised by the correct reasoning, which always seemed so obvious in retrospect! A most enjoyable read."—Julian Havil, author of Impossible?: Surprising Solutions to Counterintuitive Conundrums