Impressive statistics are thrown at us every day - the cost of health care; the size of an earthquake; the distance to the nearest star; the number of giraffes in the world.
We know all these numbers are important - some more than others - and it's vaguely unsettling when we don't really have a clear sense of how remarkable or how ordinary they are. How do we work out what these figures actually mean? Are they significant, should we be worried, or excited, or impressed? How big is big, how small is small?
With this entertaining and engaging book, help is at hand. Andrew Elliott gives us the tips and tools to make sense of numbers, to get a sense of proportion, to decipher what matters. It is a celebration of a numerate way of understanding the world. It shows how number skills help us to understand the everyday world close at hand, and how the same skills can be stretched to demystify the bigger numbers that we find in the wider contexts of science, politics, and the universe.
Entertaining, full of practical examples, and memorable concepts, Is That A Big Number? renews our relationship with figures. If numbers are the musical notes with which the symphony of the universe is written, and you're struggling to hear the tune, then this is the book to get you humming again.
Andrew Elliott grew up in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, and studied statistics and actuarial science at the University of Cape Town. He emigrated to the United Kingdom in the late 1980s to use his actuarial skills in the world of financial systems. After a spell as a management consultant, Andrew launched a series of start-up companies in financial technology, and he continues to work in this field. Frustrated by how quantitative information is presented in the media and public discussion, in 2016 Andrew started "Is That A Big Number?, a project to promote numeracy and the development of intuitive number sense.
Counting Numbers What Counts?: How we get from 1, 2, 3 to "How many fish in the sea?" Numbers in the World: How numeracy connects to everyday life The Second Technique: Visualisation: Paint a picture in your mindMeasuring Up About the Size of It: Numbers to Quantify the Space We Live in The Third Technique: Divide and Conquer: Take one bite at a time Ticking Away: How we measure the fourth dimension An Even Briefer History of Time Multidimensional Measures: Areas and Volumes The Fourth Technique: Rates and Ratios: Knock 'em down to size Massive Numbers: Heavy-duty numbers for weighing up Getting up to Speed: Putting a value on velocityIntermission Numbers in the Wild: Variability and Distribution The Fifth Technique: Log Scales: Comparing the very small to the very bigThe Numbers of Science Heavens Above: Measuring the Universe A Bundle of Energy: Measuring the Spark Bits, Bytes and Words: Measurement for the Information Age Let Me Count the Ways: The Biggest Numbers in the BookNumbers in Public Life The Bluffer's Guide to National Finances Everybody Counts: Population Growth and Decline Measuring How We Live: Inequality and Quality of life Summing Up: Numbers Still Count