Page 13

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Title Ivory Ghetto, The
Subject Science
Description The 33rd Annual Frederick William Reynolds Lecture
Creator Dick, Bertram Gale, 1926-
Publisher Division of Continuing Education, University of Utah
Date 1969-02-17
Date Digital 2008-05-29
Type Text
Format image/jpeg
Digitization Specifications Original scanned on Epson Expression 10000XL flatbed scanner and saved as 400 ppi uncompressed tiff. Display images generated in PhotoshopCS and uploaded into CONTENTdm Aquisition Station.
Resource Identifier,898
Source Q171 .D525
Language eng
Relation Digital reproduction of "The Ivory Ghetto," J. Willard Marriott Library Special Collections
Rights Digital Image Copyright University of Utah
Metadata Cataloger Seungkeol Choe; Ken Rockwell
ARK ark:/87278/s62v2d2c
Setname uu_fwrl
Date Created 2008-07-29
Date Modified 2008-07-29
ID 320157
Reference URL

Page Metadata

Title Page 13
Description "THE IVORY GHETTO" 13 with no mathematics whatever seems impossible. Mathematics is the mother tongue of humans trying to understand physics. It is the great method of avoiding having to think out explicidy and repeatedly what has been thoroughly thought out before. I don't mean to imply that physics is mathematics. That would be as misleading as saying that literature is grammar. It's just that mathematics is physics' most essential tool. The interrelationship between mathematics and physics is one of the most remarkable features of nature and of human efforts to understand it. An awareness of the nature of this interrelationship might serve as an example of the sort of thing that should be a part of a common scientific background, a background now lacking but worth developing. Mathematics, in great part, is a playground of the human intellect. It's an area for the display of virtuosity of abstract thought. The more highly developed it is, the more artificial it becomes. Mathematical concepts are most often invented with a view to the variety and novelty of the manipulations they will allow. Surprising interconnections between the concepts give math its zest and its hold on the imagination. Complex numbers are a good example: the introduction of V -1 into a number system seems, at first sight, capricious and artificial. Who would have anticipated the enormous variety of curious and useful things that would follow from it? Among the curious things is the splendid concept of the analytic function about which some of the most striking theorems of mathematics can be proven. Among the useful are tricks of calculation which greatly simplify the treatment of any problem involving periodic oscillations, tricks that are used every day by engineers. Physics, on the other hand, is concerned with regularities in the events of the external world: heavy and light stones fall in the same way, all atoms of oxygen have the same properties. It is not at all obvious that such regularities should exist. It is also not at all clear that we should be able to discover them even if they do exist. If the length of a human life were only a few days instead of a few decades, it is unlikely that humans would have been able to discover the regularity of the motion of the planets. Without knowing about the regularity of those motions, it would have been very hard to discover the laws of motion which Newton discovered. How many examples of unperceived regularities are there? Why should there be any at all that we can detect? Einstein once said that the eternal mystery of the universe is its comprehensibility. The very possibility of physics seems intimately related with surprising features of the external world and accidents of our powers of observation and analysis. If we take this view, how can one believe that there should be any connection at all between the intellectual sport of mathematics and the
Format image/jpeg
Identifier 015-RNLT-DickG_ Page 13.jpg
Source Original Manuscript: The Ivory Ghetto by Bertram G. Dick.
Setname uu_fwrl
Date Created 2008-07-29
Date Modified 2008-07-29
ID 320147
Reference URL