What is the relationship between the number of films Nicolas Cage appears in and the number of deaths by drowning in swimming pools?How in 1850s London did John Snow calculate the relationship between the city's water suppliers and the number of deaths from cholera?Thousands of years ago the inhabitants of Mesopotamia became the first to use numbers. Since then, mathematics has been unstoppable. It's behind almost everything, from search-engines to cruise-control, from coffee-makers to timetables.
But now that we hardly ever need to do arithmetic any longer, how relevant is mathematics to everyday life? Plusses and Minuses demonstrates which role mathematics play in human endeavour. It begins with the mathematical skills we all possess from birth, to arrive at the many applications of mathematics today. It turns out that without knowledge of the ideas behind mathematical calculations we find ourselves sidelined.
Stefan Buijsman answers questions such as: What is life without numbers? Does mathematics add anything? What are mistakes in mathematics? Is it all mere chance? How can we get a grip on uncertainty? Can mathematics help us to treat cancer more effectively? Buijsman makes connections between philosophy, psychology and history, while explaining the wonderful world of mathematics for absolutely everyone.