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Is that a Big Number?

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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.

Edition Number:
Elliott Andrew
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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 mind
Measuring 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 velocity
Numbers in the Wild: Variability and Distribution
The Fifth Technique: Log Scales Comparing the very small to the very big
The 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 Book
Numbers 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