Mathematics is Music or Magic – The factors of Fear or Fascination
Mathematics is omnipresent.
Mathematics is the language of universe.
Mathematics is the building block of everything we use in our daily life.
According to Galileo Galilei, the book of nature can be read once we learn the language that it is written and it is written in the language of mathematics. We need to understand the signs, symbols, the variables, the functions, theories and the equations to appreciate the patterns and the phenomena in nature that keep mesmerizing us.
As we learn to walk and we learn to talk and we start with the alphabets and the numbers. The moment we utter the word ‘mother’ or ‘father’, the parent start counting the number. How many times we have uttered the parental word and then start the counter of counting with parent. Once parents are happy with the proficiency of their offspring they shift the ground and the next play is about the number itself. Though it all start with the count of the single digit number but then it goes to multiple digits but there is a saga attached to the factor of multiplication and we all work like machines to produce the product of multiplication and that too with perfection. We keep practicing the multiplication table and a stage comes when we become the master and recite the table with masterly command. There is not much complication and it is all about the processing power of our memory and most of us manage to tame the monster hidden within the hide out of mathematical den.
The thought of any den is dreadful…
In general common mortals like us are afraid of exploring such hidden treasures. But there are few great mathematicians who have entered the den with deep resolute and explored the hide outs with deeper conviction. And they have discovered and deducted the logic behind the magic of nature, the laws of nature, and they have shown to the world outside the den a new world that is full of fascination devoid of any fear. Indeed it is truly fascinating to delve deep into the realms of history and fathom the colossal contributions of great mathematicians of all time.
Euclid has been the most prominent mathematician of Greco-Roman antiquity. His major work on Geometry was known as “Euclidean Geometry”. Rene Descartes worked on Cartesian Coordinates and is considered the father of “Analytical Geometry”. Pythagoras is best known for his proof of the “Pythagorean Theorem” about right angle triangles. Archimedes another great mathematician of antiquity provided the exact value for pi. Hypatia, the only great women mathematician, very rare in this field was a great scholar at the Library of Alexandria. Her legacy was work on Euclid’s “Elements”. With over 900 books under his name, Leonhard Fuler was considered as one of the most prolific mathematician. Eratosthenes the Greek mathematician during the 300 BC provided the concept of simple algorithm to locate the prime number.
It is only the starter…
Many of us tantalizingly enjoy the teaser in the starter unaware of the five course meal to follow and it is imperative, we need to preserve and reserve our appetite. The hunger has a window and if we don’t feed during the window period, it either dies down or it disturbs our engagement with food. Literally there is a food for thought. There is a correlation between the learning of mathematics and the eating of an elaborate course meal. It so happens many of us get full with the platter of starters. Generally, it is tempting and it is about talking well with our taste buds and we then allow the taste buds to take its own decision. They are greedy fellows and they will not budge an inch when they taste the blood. But we have our capacity establishment and we can do a bit here and there, through overtime and enhance the capacity with the same factory premise of our body. And once the starters have utilized the majority of our capacity we are left with little space for the latter half where we needed the bulk of our capacity to come to work.
Mathematics is the study of various things around us including that of the space surrounding us, the structure that holds the matter, the quantity of mass in that matter to the quality of analysis to determine how far and how fast that matter moves when the fire is ignited. The methods developed in mathematics are used to solve the problems faced in physics…the phenomena in physical world. It is not just about the numbers but the way numbers are placed and played in the field of nature to fathom the mystery of nature and history has elaborately established those facts of life.
When we look at the main course with the algebra to geometry to probabilities to statistics we are overloaded. The tanks are full and but the engine is lacking the horse power needed to move the overloaded vehicle. The mind is in a state of puzzle. Little while ago, the ride was a sheer joy and there was enough fun in dividing the pain and multiplying the pleasure. The equation was till then well balanced and we had the factors and variables in place to solve the equation of life. Suddenly, there is a plethora of theorems and formulas and we lose sight of the count that was a child’s play a few years back comes to haunt us without impunity and with the labyrinth of layers and series of knots on the thread. It becomes difficult to unravel the layers and then stitch a tailored fabric out of threads that can fit our frame.
The mind is mapped to the game of thrones and it becomes a battle ground for the theorems to establish their equations.
There are different schools of mathematics and mathematics we learn in our school is necessary but not sufficient condition to understand the complexity behind the laws of nature. Just take the case of the Einstein’s most famous equation e=mc^2, it is like the cherry on a small mountain of cake, the cherry looks good and tells a story to our taste bud which buys the proposition without much argument. The theorem is proven. But when we look behind the scene, it is dramatic and unraveling the mystery wrapped in the basket of assumptions and deduction that is done to place the cherry on the top, we are muddled in the mountain of pastries pasted to cut the cake to its size. These ensuing arguments may appear like a riddle much like the mathematics in the college, confronting us with a barrage of missiles and we are confounded. A stage arises when the attack is pretty severe and we have no protection and we fall flat when want face it fearlessly and are at awe with its fascinating equation solving the mysteries wrapped in the glory of nature.
The human nature is sumptuously soaked in the solvent of curiosity…
Mathematics plays the perfect catalyst where it keeps changing the recipe to get a new flavour though we have many defined and declared flavours to choose from but human mind never gets satiated with the flavours in the menu card. The menu card of mathematics has no dearth of dishes; it is elaborate in spread and wholesome in its composition. Therein lies the catch; the problem is intrinsically linked to the plate of plenty. It is typically the case when the need loses its fundamental identity when greed decides to call the shots.
Similarly, mathematics loses its simplicity when the complex equations command the subject. Complex equation is the house constructed from blocks of simple formulas; the secret resides in the connection and logic of playing with the variables and the constants.
Geometry simply explains the physical nature of world and the Algebra analyzes the complexity of phenomena in nature using the complicated models. Calculus which two sides to it as differential and integral provides connect between geometry and algebra with powerful analytical tools to understand the algebra function related geometry. Newton and Leibniz were behind the creation of Calculus. Descartes combined the analytical power of geometry with the descriptive power known as the “Analytical Geometry”. Archimedes used the calculus thinking to find a tangent to a curve other than circle.
Mathematics is music to some and a noise to many, not that the subject has changed but the subject learning the subject has a mind of his or her own. Those who have fascination for numbers and have smelled the fragrance of notes and have tasted the flavours of tones, mathematics for them is melodious music. Just like music, mathematics is also an art and the art here lies with the tutor who needs to have the art of teaching mathematics it cannot be equated with the rest of the subjects though all subjects belong to same family and they are all siblings but maths is a special child and needs special treatment. Not all are capable of handling such child and it is not the student but it is the teacher who needs special training to make mathematics a child’s play.
Well it sounds like poetry, and that what’s great magician of mathematics have done with mystery of nature when they have phenomena or pattern that have fascinated them, it teases their taste buds, they are famished and they pounce on such pounds of flesh so tender and tantalizing placed in front of them. They are ferocious hunters of the jungle of puzzle and they have honed their skills to catch the prey with perfection and they know it hurts to hunt and they do so with clinical precision and surgical accuracy.
It is the cut without the crack.
It is the hit without the harm.
It is the equation of forces, the pull vs. the push…there is a tug of war between the fear and the fascination of mathematics.
Mathematics is playing the perfect cards behind the big releases we keep hearing every now and then from Artificial Intelligence testing the Human Intelligence to Block Chain Technology unblocking the currency of Banking to Big Data Analytics picking the tiny things to Intergalactic Explorers reaching the farthest planets to Oceanography Technology diving deep to precisely predicting the timing of Tsunami. The equations that make these deadly actions come alive on the big screen and we can feel the reactions from the fascinated audience, these are jaw dropping scenes and the emotions are super charged…the factor of fear is what makes life tad more exciting.
Mathematics as a subject can be passionately nourished and once the subject of maths and the subject learning the subject are in sync it sumptuously flourishes. The theory of maths may provoke fear but when we look at the applied maths we see as fascinating applications of formulas and theorems in a colorful display of pyrotechnic carnival.
Mathematics has the power of magic.
Mathematics empowers the profound logic.
We hear the melodious music when we unravel the logic behind the magic.
Nihar R Pradhan