In understanding why math matters, writes Dartmouth’s Marcelo Gleiser in his latest post for NPR’s 13.7 Cosmos & Culture blog, it’s helpful to understand that math is pervasive and all-encompassing.
“At a deeper level, much of the natural sciences are about identifying patterns in nature that we then call ‘laws.’ These laws usually have some form of mathematical expression, as in Newton's laws of motion and gravity, or the law of conservation of energy. In fact, such laws are so essential to our understanding of the universe that many scientists believe that math goes beyond human invention, being the fundamental language of nature,” writes Gleiser, a professor of physics and astronomy and the Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy.
“Others are not so convinced and consider mathematics an invention of the human mind and, to a certain extent, of the minds of the few animals capable of performing basic mathematical operations. The question then, and one that has been argued for millennia, is whether mathematics is discovered (that is, part of a universal language out there) or invented (that is, a language particular to the human mind),” he writes.
Read the full opinion piece, published 3/30/16 by NPR.