Friday, 30 January 2009

The Beauty of Mathematics

"To those who do not know mathematics it is difficult to get across a real feeling as to the beauty, the deepest beauty, of nature ... If you want to learn about nature, to appreciate nature, it is necessary to understand the language that she speaks in"
-Richard Feynman

"Mathematics is the unshaken Foundation of Sciences, and the plentiful Fountain of Advantage to human affairs."
-Isaac Barrow

As those above rightly put it, nowhere is the beauty of mathematics more evident than in a mathematical equation. 

The most incomprehensible thing about this world is the fact that it is comprehensible. Take life for example. Life exists due to chemical reactions and processes of extreme complexity, the perfect properties of elements. Take the behaviour of an object as it falls towards the earth; the behaviour of objects as the near the speed of light, the wave-particle duality of matter and radiation. All of these and many more display complexity of mountainous proportions. Yet with the scientific method, all these concepts can be broken down and expressed completely in terms of a concise group of facts and a beautiful mathematical equation. 

Whenever we talk about math only numbers come into the mind of most people. What these people don't realize is the fact that there is much more to mathematics than just numbers. The connections beetween numbers and nature is subtle and mind-blowing. Take the ratio of phi, which is approximately equal to 1.6180339887.

The occurence of this ratio in nature is too frequent to be ignored. The ratio has been found to be expressed in the arrangement of leaves on tree branches and the veins in the leaves. The ratio has also been found in the skeletons of animals and the branchings of their veins and nerves,  the proportions of chemical compounds and the geometry of crystals, even. The Golden Ratio is seen to be operating as a universal law.

Many such mathematical constants exist in this world, such as:

  • Pi= ~3.142
  • The Universal Gravitational Constant= 6.67 x 10^-11
  • e=2.718 

et cetera, et cetera....

The existance of such constants and the subtle connections they have with each other leads me to believe that this universe and mathematics are deeply interconnected. 

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