Review: Geek Logik

Published on Thursday, August 30, 2007 in , , , ,

Geek Logik bookWant to look at the world through the mind of a geek? Geek Logik is definitely the way to go!

With this book, and the aid of the included calculator, you can finally answer all those seemingly-unquantifiable questions you come across in your life, such as: Should I get a tattoo? Can I still wear tight jeans? Is it time to see a therapist? How many beers should I have at the company picnic?

The author, Garth Sundem, actually has a great knack for taking the abstract, and turning into into somewhat precise calculations. He started out with his own Geek Logik blog, and now has his own Scientific Blogging column that feature these fun calculations.

To give you a better idea of the nature of this book, let's take a look at the example from one of Garth's early columns, which asks the question: Should I take the weekend off to go skiing?. The equation looks like this:

The variables are defined this way:

D= Do you have a doctor’s note? (Enter 1 for “no,” 10 for “yes,” and 5 for “yes, but it’s written in crayon.”)
S=How many inches of new snow fell at your ski area of choice overnight?
R= Degree of responsibility in your job (1-10 with 10 being “last time my sub caused nuclear winter—which is not as good for skiing as it sounds”)
M= How many days have you skipped in the last month? (double any days you then ended up on the A-Basin video clip of the day)
N= The daily amount you pay for a lift ticket
$= Your daily wage in dollars

Garth explains the result you get this way: If SkiersCough is greater than 1, you should hit the slopes, but consider a Groucho Marx moustache disguise in addition to your goggles and helmet.

While you could run these numbers with your calculator, I'll make it even easier for you. Thanks to instacalc, I can provide you with a custom calculator for just this equation. All you have to do is change the numbers (don't change the label names) to suit your particular situation and then hit the tab key! If the calculator isn't showing up below in your browser, you can use the calculator here.

(Note: The original instacalc tour no longer works. However, you can still see it via its Google cache or via its wayback machine cache.)

The fun thing about doing the equations this way is that you can see under what situations you should go skiing! Everything else being accurate, how many inches of snow would have to fall for you to go? How would a lift-ticket discount or coupon affect the situation?

How seriously should you take the results? Garth has an excellent answer for that question. Remember, for any important questions, the responsibility for the final decision is yours alone. Neither Mr. Sundem nor anyone at Grey Matters will take any blame (or credit) for the consequences of your actions.

There's many a geek who wants to see mathematical formulas simplify the problems of daily life. What makes this book so fun is seeing how far one particular geek has taken this desire and seeing the world through his eyes.

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