Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Go Slower, Get There Faster," by Curtis Rist and Danielle Svetcov. Discover, June 2001.

Despite increases in the number of roads and lanes, traffic delays on American roads have relentlessly grown in recent years, while safety has been a constant concern. This series of articles presents some unexpected proposals for smoothing the flow of traffic. Thinking of cars as molecules leads to the idea of reducing speed limits to 50mph, which has aided traffic flow in parts of Germany. Sophisticated modeling of traffic patterns may let us forecast bad traffic before it happens, and replacing traffic lights with roundabouts has reduced delays and improved safety. Less mathematically inspired are articles on fuel cells, partially human-powered vehicles, and alternatives to the speedbump for slowing traffic through village centers.

--- Rafe Jones