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Scientific Reflections: Selected Multidisciplinary Works

Richard Crandall
Publication Date: 
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[Reviewed by
Charles Ashbacher
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Richard Crandall holds the title of Apple Distinguished Scientist and from his papers in this collection, it is clear that the title was earned many times over. The topics of the papers range from the use of mathematics in biology, to experimental and theoretical physics to experimental mathematics and number theory. Crandall’s range as a scientist is extremely impressive and he is a mathematician of the first rank.

The level of most of the papers is very high; these are papers for the mathematically endowed and a large percentage close with listings of open problems or other pointers to the potential for future work. Some examples of the topics are:

  • “Minimal apparatus for determination of Planck’s Constant”, an explanation of a simple device that could be used to experimentally determine Planck’s constant
  • “A Class of Exactly Soluble Three-Body Systems”, a series of solutions to simpler examples of this complex physics problem.
  •  “The Twenty-fourth Fermat Number is Composite”, an explanation of how this conclusion was derived.
  • “Space-Time Influenza Model with Demographic, Mobility and Vaccine Parameters”, a model developed in cooperation with the local health department.

It has been said many times that mathematics is amazingly and surprisingly effective at describing the real world. In this book, you see an example of why it should not be surprising; this effectiveness is a consequence of the investigations of talented people such as Crandall.

Charles Ashbacher splits his time between consulting with industry in projects involving math and computers, teaching college classes and co-editing The Journal of Recreational Mathematics. In his spare time, he reads about these things and helps his daughter in her lawn care business.

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