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A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper by John Allen Paulos

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Cellular Phones Tied to Brain Cancer

Multiplication, Health, and Business

It is by turns amusing and depressing to track the way descriptions of numerical relations depend on their authors’ intentions. To make a quantity appear large, for example, a consumer group, political group, or business advertiser might stress a linear measure of its size. To make it appear small, it might stress its volume. Thus, although a single tower of nickels stretching from sea level to the height of Mount Everest would contain more than four million coins, you can easily verify that this pile would fit comfortably into a cubical box about 6 feet to a side. And spacious cubical apartments (20 feet on a side) for every human being on Earth could fit comfortably into ...

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