Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Notable E-Book: Encyclopedia of Mathematics & Society

Sawyer Library holds many math textbooks. And we also have plenty of reference books full of tables and formulae related to the various disciplines of mathematics. Frankly, they seldom get touched. Beyond the daily demands of basic finance, many of us try to think of math as little as possible. We often view it as a foreign language with little relationship to our lives.

Au Contraire! Mathematics is a constant in our lives and in every aspect of society. A new three volume encyclopedia from Salem Press seeks to amply illustrate this fact. It is called the Encyclopedia of Mathematics & Society, and we own the paper set, perfect for browsing. But the nice thing about Salem reference works is that they all come with an associated eBook version, too.

The entries are designed to be lively and readable, as well as informative. And those entries run a very wide range of topics from "Accident Reconstruction" to "Zero."

The publisher notes that "The Encyclopedia of Mathematics and Society presents some 490 articles showing the math behind our daily lives, explaining to students how and why math works, and allowing readers to better understand how disciplines such as algebra, geometry, calculus, and others affect what we do every day."

Library Journal named it a Best Reference 2011 title, concluding "This enlightening, well-written set, which has no current competitors, is highly recommended for all public and academic libraries."

Even the mathphobe might find something of interest in this reference set. Have a look. And as a fun symbol of the accessibility that the publishers wanted to embrace, they even designed a quiz that can be answered from entries in the encyclopedia. Check it out below.

From the Publisher's webpage: Just for Fun, A Quiz

The following are true-false questions derived from articles in Encyclopedia of Mathematics & Society where virtually everything has its basis in math.

Today we refer to them as "ah-ha moments." The most famous of which was experienced by Archimedes. He cried, "Eureka!" as a result of spilling bath water. True or False? -- (Click for the answer.)

We like to think we're Bugs Bunny but most of us are really Donald Ducks. Donald is no slouch, though. He mastered billiards by subtraction. False? True? -- (To find out, click here.)

A queen bee has a particularly tedious life. In order to distract her from overwhelming boredom, honey bees dance to entertain their queen. True? False? -- (For the answer, click here.)

Focus now. If there are 23 people in a classroom is it likely (there is a better than 50-50 chance) that two of them have the same birthday? Yes or No? -- (To find out how and why, click here.)


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Notable E-Book: Transnational Migration, Gender and Rights

Did you know that we had eBooks as part of our Emerald database? We do. Although these are neither traditional reference books nor conventional single-author "monographs." They are actually themed volumes that are part of scholarly "annual" series.

Featured this month is a collection of scholarly essays that might appeal to anyone interested in globalization, social justice, or women's studies. The title is Transnational Migration, Gender and Rights, and it is volume in the series Advances in Ecopolitics which "includes a range of publications [that] discuss a significant element in the environmental theory which now represent an important aspect of sustainable living." This includes "insights into real alternatives to the current economic malaise, with an examination of key themes such as transition towns, sustainable utopias, co-operative farming, sustainability and activism, ecofeminism, green protectionism, intentional communities, environmental justice, environmental movements, green philosophies, politics and green economics."

This particular volume examines the "increase in the migration from poor and conflict ridden states to the affluent peaceful north." The summary for the collection states that "there are of course not only push factors causing migrants to leave, but also pull factors as when the middle classes enjoy an increase in their living standards which cause them to employ domestic help in their homes." The book examines the fact that since many females migrate as domestic workers like nannies and au pairs, they are especially vulnerable to exploitation, wage inequity and issues of forced migration/trafficking.

Be aware that these scholarly anthologies don't read like popular books. But as one chapter abstract indicates: "We want to better understand how migrant women negotiate the dynamic intersections of race, gender and citizenship identities in new places in order to survive, prosper and exert influence in new places and economic environments."

That's a topic worth examining!