A Brief Guide to the Great Equations: The Hunt for Cosmic by Robert Crease

By Robert Crease

Listed here are the tales of the 10 hottest equations of all time as voted for by means of readers of "Physics World", together with - accessibly defined the following for the 1st time - the favorite equation of all, Euler's equation. each one is an equation that captures with appealing simplicity what can simply be defined clumsily in phrases. Euler's equation [eip + 1 = zero] was once defined via respondents as 'the so much profound mathematic assertion ever written', 'uncanny and sublime', 'filled with cosmic good looks' and 'mind-blowing'. jointly those equations additionally volume to the world's so much concise and trustworthy physique of information. Many scientists and people with a mathematical bent have a gentle spot for equations. This ebook explains either why those ten equations are so appealing and demanding, and the human tales in the back of them.

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2 ‘This made him in love with geometry’, writes Aubrey, adding that Hobbes was a changed man. He started obsessively drawing geometrical figures and writing out calculations on his bedsheets and even on his thigh. 3 These episodes are not terribly interesting. What matters is that the theorem transformed him and his scholarship. ’4 Hobbes began to chastise the moral and political philosophers of the day for their lack of rigor and for being unduly impressed by their predecessors. He compared them unfavorably with mathematicians, who proceeded slowly but surely from ‘low and humble principles’ that everyone understood and accepted.

An incident or moment, such as the fall of an apple, becomes a synecdoche that crystallizes the long discovery process. Generations of scholars then earn reputations criticizing the model and complicating this picture. The treasure-hunt picture is useful for everyone! The treasure-hunt picture of the world, however useful, promotes the view that equations are essential features of the world, not created by human beings. And indeed, we are born into a world that already has equations that ‘we’ did not create.

The Guinness Book of World Records Web site, under ‘Most Proofs of Pythagoras’s Theorem’, recently named a Greek who, it is claimed, has discovered 520 proofs. By the time you read this, more have surely appeared. Whence the Magic? All these proofs provoke two questions. The first is: Why isn’t one proof enough? We know why one application is not enough: the point of a rule is that it applies to many different circumstances. But proofs? A small number of proofs of the Pythagorean theorem generalize the theorem that Euclid proved, and thus extend what he did.

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