Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mathematics Then and Now

When Werner Heisenberg worried that human beings might never truly 
understand atoms, Bohr was a bit more optimistic. He replied, “I think we  
may yet be able to do so, but in the process we may have to learn what the 
word understanding really means.”

Today, we use computers to help us 
reason beyond the limitations of our own intuition. In fact, experiments with computers are leading
mathematicians to discoveries and insights never dreamed of before
the ubiquity of these devices. Computers and computer graphics allow
mathematicians to discover results long before they can prove them formally,
thus opening entirely new fields of mathematics. 

Even simple computer tools, such as spreadsheets, give modern mathematicians power
that Heisenberg, Einstein, and Newton would have lusted after. As just
one example, in the late 1990s, computer programs designed by David
Bailey and Helaman Ferguson helped to produce new formulas that
related pi to log 5 and two other constants. As Erica Klarreich reports in
the April 24, 2004, edition of Science News, once the computer had
produced the formula, proving that it was correct was extremely easy.
Often, simply knowing the answer is the largest hurdle to overcome when
formulating a proof.

While at school I was reasonably good at mathematics.
Somehow, I never liked numerals though.
I remember asking the history teacher, what does it matter whether Buddha was born in a particular year or two years that way or this.
What matters is what he said or did.

When I joined biology stream, our beloved maths teacher came to that class and asked me to shift to Math class. He said all my cousins, his earlier students, were very good at mathematics and I should follow them.
I never went.

I did not even continue in biology. I shifted to Language. Then back to biology.
After a good number of years and a doctorate I left the stream once again.
I drifted and drifted.
Where am I now?
Now I want to read and write about Mathematics.
May be to regain the lost fun!!

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