Scientific American presents The Math Dude by Quick & Dirty TipsScientific American and Quick & Dirty Tips are both Macmillan companies.

Have you ever watched the show Survivorman? Or any of the numerous other shows of that ilk? I must admit I went through a phase a few years ago that involved a fair bit of survival expert program binging. Not only were the shows entertaining, but I learned a few things that could come in handy someday.

As it turns out, one of the things I was enlightened to learn involves a lovely combination of math and astronomy (my favorite, exquisitely delicious pairing.)

What could it be? And how can math help you escape a wilderness disaster and survive? Those are exactly the questions we’ll be answering today.

Math to the Rescue?
Here’s the scenario: You're hiking in the remote wilderness with a friend, when one of you gets sick. High fever and fatigue has slowed your walking down to a snail's pace, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that you and your friend are not going to make it back to camp before the sun sets and the temperature drops.

What do you do? You shake yourself awake from that awful dream, get off the couch, turn of the TV, stop watching so many episodes of Survivorman, and go climb into bed.

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