Is Mathematics the Language of Science? I’m Annoyed.


So, why am I annoyed? Some scientists are using parts of mathematics that lend themselves to describing the natural world, and then throwing the rest out. Then, they call it “the language of science.” I find that annoying; because the idea is both misinformed and very popular. Now, I study mostly applied mathematics, and I take quiet a few science courses. However, I have a healthy appreciation of proofs and theories in pure mathematics. I don’t ignore half of mathematics. Mathematics has much more to it than just being a tool for scientists. It is true that sometimes pure mathematics can turn into applied mathematics, but this is not always the case. Mathematics is its own subject for a very good reason, and there is a lot more to it than just what is used in science.

To be sure, mathematics can certainly be used as a powerful descriptor of the natural world, but that is not all it is. Mathematics is a very unique human activity, and it cannot be summed up as just a language . Mathematics is a special and unique mode of thinking. It can be very logical, but intuition comes into play frequently. It is also creative even artistic. The jury is still out on exactly what mathematics is, and why it happens that some of it happens to be very useful in describing the natural world. However, let’s not cut out huge chunks out of it in order to make it the language of science.

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2 Comments

  1. I think you are getting a little uppity over nothing here. I don’t think any scientist would claim that mathematics is solely the province of science but it is the language of the universe.

    There is no better descriptor of natural processes than mathematical equations, it is unreasonably efficient for something that humans just “plucked” out of their brains to correspond to the natural world.

    Of course there are myriad ways to use mathematics for its original purpose, I fucking love maths!!! We should not detract from what pure mathematics is. However, there is no denying that if we were ever to meet aliens, our best way to establish communications is by mathematics. I’m actually using that idea in a sci-fi novel i’m currently writing. While we may use different symbols from an alien race, their maths would be the same as ours, once we show them what our symbols mean and vice-versa we could exchange complex information using only maths.

    Lets put it this way, if aliens turned up on your door step and you wanted to impress them with your intelligence, what is the first thing you would do? Show them cat videos on your PC? No…. you would show them some differential calculus!

    Like

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