Mathematics in the Universe
Math originated as a means of monitoring agricultural activities. Farmers liked to keep track of their sheep and the number of baskets of grain they had piled in their barns. They calculated how much grain they could eat and how much had to be saved for next year's planting. But it was soon found that mathematics had uses beyond mere accounting. It could measure distances and spans. By 1600 AD the Babylonians were applying Mathematics to engineering and the calendar. They even devised a form of algebraic geometry that would not be rediscovered until Descartes, the famous French mathematician and philosopher who delved into "Cartesian Geometry" in the 1600s.
The Greeks also furthered mathematics. Although the Greek mathematician, Pythagoras, coupled mysticism and mathematics, his discoveries would lead to tremendous advancements that would eventually be put to use in a practical way by great minds like Archimedes1 who lived in the 200s BC in Syracuse and developed the water screw (also called an auger), complex pulley systems, and many war machines. Euclid also worked in the theoretical realm He created a whole theory of geometry that is still studied today and also worked extensively with prime numbers.
Mathematics suffered during the "dark ages" because scholarship was not just retarded, but pushed backward by barbarian hordes who took advantage of a general decline in the will of the classical peoples to resist corruption and to fight against the erosion of their culture. Mathematics found only limited use in this environment (mainly in accounting). It also suffered from the fact that the accepted method for enumeration in the West was the Roman Numeral System. Roman Numerals were inefficient and cumbersome when used in complex mathematical problems.
The Crusades brought back more than a taste for spices and luxury to Europe from the Middle East, it began a flow of knowledge that had been preserved by the Arabs. The influx of the Arabic Numbering System coupled with a return of classical knowledge would flower in the hands of a new intelligentsia in Europe, spawning the Renaissance. Math would leap forward into the modern world with the development of Calculus, Set Theory, et al.
There is an interesting relationship among several fields - mathematics, science, and engineering. Mathematics seems to stay in advance of the other two branches of technological endeavor, creating tools for understanding science long before they are called upon. Mathematics can be used to predict behavior, experimental results or the shape of things, such as the Mobius Strip. It has becomes such a useful tool in the modern age that it is absolutely essential in almost every field of endeavor, from economics and accounting to bridge building and physics. A basic understanding of mathematics is vital for individuals to function well in society. From counting change to buying stocks, buying houses and even baking cookies, a person in the adult world constantly finds himself called upon to make mental calculations.
Ultimately, mathematical principles would even spawn computers through giants such as George Boole who developed Boolean operations which would come to underlie much of the logic used in computers, and in programming today.
Reductio Ad Absurdum
History of the RAND Corporation - The first great American Think Tank. Also:
- Rand and Systems Analysis
- Rand and Game Theory
- On Archimedes