The Discovery of Mathematics

Before I dive into this topic I just wanted to explain the reason for this post and others to come. “The Hobbyist” tag above on my blog is where I plan on sharing all the hobbies I plan on trying that are on my bucket list.

I have decided to add a sub-category called ” What I learnt today“. I want this section to be a place where I can summarize whatever cool ideas, facts or just random bits of information I learnt that day just as a way of better understanding the topic at hand and by publishing this I also want to open up the door for further comments, corrections and criticism so that I can grow in my understanding as well.

Alrighty onto the good stuff!

Reference book

I recently purchased “The Maths Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained” by DK and Matt Parker. This is the reference book for this post. All my life whenever I think about Mathematics or the idea of solving complex equations my heart starts to palpitate a little faster than normal, my hands may sometimes get a little clammy and the little voice inside my head begins to have a nervous breakdown promptly followed by the internal yelling of profanities. The funny thing is both of my majors are in Engineering and for the most part I’ve done pretty well in Math but I’ve come to realize that the reason I’ve done well is not because I have a true love for Maths but rather my natural curiosity to solve things paired with the logic of maths made understanding it and therefore doing well in it easier. However, one of the things that’s on my bucket list is to actively pursue an in depth understanding of Mathematical history and concepts and hopefully cultivating a fresh new perspective and love for the subject.

So what I learnt today was an introduction to the discovery of mathematics. What fascinates me is how human curiosity, intellect and intuition led to the discovery of the basic principles of maths which further led to the evolution of human society. Mathematics became an essential tool to life, for example, it became a way in which humans could trade and value goods and services.

I think what makes mathematics so appealing is its ability to take big ideas, break them down into smaller parts and explain them simply. What I found quiet interesting in this chapter was when the authors reminded us that maths is not a human invention but that it has infinitely existed unchanged, humans only discovered its principles but they had always existed.

There are 5 major fundamental fields of mathematics:

  1. Arithmetic: which is the simplest concept of numbering (e.g addition, subtraction, multiplication and division)
  2. Algebra: which is the study of how math is organized and structured, it uses symbols to represent variables (unknown numbers)
  3. Geometry: which is the study of the relationship between objects and space, its the study of the size, shape and position of objects.
  4. Calculus: provided answers to the ways in which one could calculate continuous change which opened up the field for the theory of quantum mechanics and chaos (another subject that gives me heart palpitations)
  5. Logic: which sorted to find out the logical foundation of mathematical principles. So the how, what and why of math.

The most interesting part for me was the fundamental field of logic and the link it made between philosophy and maths especially since I’ve recently gotten more interested in studying philosophy seeing this symbiotic link was a great surprise. According to “The Maths book”, many great mathematicians have been philosophers and vice versa and the links between these two subjects exists even today. Honestly I never made a link between the two but it makes so much sense why they work so well together. A Mathematician takes what is abstract, breaks it down and logically simplifies it which is a golden skill for a philosopher to have. Since philosophy looks towards studying and resolving complex questions about existence, life, values, knowledge etc. learning to organize, simplify, think and denote like a mathematician could thus help a philosopher think clearer. How cool is that?

To end this off, I find it so cool the impact that curiosity has on the human experience, the urge to find answers to unsolved problems and the courage that humans have had to find out more about the unknown by further studying an idea or topic just for the purpose of seeing where it will lead them is truly why society has advanced to the level it has.

Mathematics permeates throughout our whole existence and surroundings. Like energy mathematics is at the core of everything that has, is and will exist. I’m truly excited to not only face my fears of learning more about mathematical topics that have scared me in the past but also discovering new concepts and re-learning old concepts that I never paid too much mind of before.

Never forget to Carpe all the diems

Love,

Selma

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