"ZOMBIES AND CALCULUS," by Colin Adams, Princeton University Press, $24.95, 222 pages (f)
If you ever wondered if there is a sure formula to surviving a zombie apocalypse, Colin Adams, professor of mathematics at Williams College and humor columnist for the Mathematical Intelligencer, has the answer. Adams combines mathematics and zombies in an exciting, humorous way in "Zombies and Calculus."
When math professor Craig Williams is interrupted in the middle of class by one of his students eating his other students, he joins forces with other professors, staff and students to figure out that a virus has spread and their small group needs to find a way to survive the rising of the undead.
Using mathematical concepts such as tangent vectors, exponential growth and gravitational acceleration, Adams shows readers how to logically assess a zombie situation and survive an attack. Readers learn how fast they need to run to outrun a zombie, how to determine the hibernating temperature of said zombie, and how the zombie virus affects the human body and spreads to others.
Adams includes graphs and formulas, which are expanded on in the appendix, to show the process professor Williams and his friends go through to get the mathematical results they do for outsmarting the zombies. While the formulas aren't simple, they are easy to follow and are an interesting way to look at an apocalyptic situation.
"Zombies and Calculus" would be a helpful supplemental text for a student currently studying calculus as it applies the concepts in a situation — however unrealistic — that makes it easier to understand.
Adams succeeds in interjecting humor and action into what would normally be a hard topic to read about, showing that math can be understood and enjoyed by everyone.
"Zombies and Calculus" contains descriptions of zombies eating humans and of humans beating zombies with bats or shooting them with guns. There is also a moderate amount of swear words throughout the text.