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DO THE MATH

Three new books apply mathematics and physics to some unlikely subjects.

Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don't Add Up (Hill and Wang) by John Allen Paulos uses math and logic to tackle such conundrums as the first cause argument and the dilemma of whether a deity can be both omnipotent and benevolent.

Physics for Entertainment (Hyperion) by Yakov Perelman is the first American edition of a quirky, popular book, first published in Russia in the 1930s, that answers questions like why water puts out fire and whether an invisible man could see.

The Physics of NASCAR: How to Make Steel + Gas + Rubber = Speed (Dutton) by Diandra Leslie-Pelecky is a physics professor's analysis of such matters as how to pass on a curve at 190 mph and how to survive a crash or an 1,800-degree fire.

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