Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mathematics: The Language of the Universe

"Mathematics is the language in which God has written the universe. - Galileo Galilei

Throughout childhood and adolescence, I often questioned why math was important or relevant. Questioning everything is admirable, but I often stopped before arriving at satisfactory answers. After a time, I began to see math as interesting but often irrelevant to daily life, as did many peers.

I did not realize then that mathematical and philosophical logic are deeply intertwined, that math can be both exhilarating and cathartic, or that the cognitive growth acquired by constantly solving more difficult problems than before can be applied to myriad fields, from medicine to business to theatre to national security. Even when one is not actively calculating numbers, the combination of rigorous logic and unrestrained creativity is a powerful cure to boredom and blockage.

Math is also, in a way, flawless: humans make mistakes, and computing systems may glitch from time to time, but pure, intangible numbers and patterns click perfectly--whether or not we are aware.

Students in a classroom may stare out at a lovely autumn afternoon and wish they were outside, away from pedagogical lectures, but math is everywhere. It is the blueprint for physics, after all.

One of my more mathematically-oriented friends suggested that STEM become STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics), as creativity is a crucial element in the sciences.

So instead of convincing children (particularly girls) that math is difficult tedium, adults need to alter our own mindsets to positively influence the new generation.

Math is beautiful. Math is natural.

Math is fun.

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