It’s officially spook season and I couldn’t think of a scarier title.
Oh, the horror that is math.
Growing up, mathematics became my least favorite subject. I just simply hated how it was too perfect and too established which is kind of ironic since I do like perfection and I do prefer certainties over philosophical “maybes”.
I guess I just hated how it was being taught. In most cases, to answer a math problem, one must completely adhere to the teacher’s mental approach to the problem. I have always loved to approach things differently.
This made me love science. I love how you can look at things in different ways. The way you can look at a person both as a complicated network of synapses, muscle and bones in a protein casing or as a cluster of recycled energy-rich molecules and atoms that are as old as the universe itself.
So back to the title. Is it beautiful?
Well, if you asked me two years ago, the closest thing you would get to an answer would be a broken spine and a set of teeth that would be much better off as accents in some quack doctor’s trinket. Two years ago, I had a midterm grade of 5.0. The subject? Advance Mathematics for Chemical Engineering. As if Mathematics alone wasn’t enough. So going all poetic about something so sinister was not going to be appreciated.
Eventually, I passed the subject but my loathing for it continued for a while.
But feelings change and mine certainly did. Math and Science are facets of the same discipline. They are different spoken languages that actually mean the same thing. Science is basically founded on mathematical equations and mathematics was born out of the need to solve scientific problems. Slowly, I began to appreciate the beauty that is mathematics.
It’s often inconceivable to put the words math and beauty in a single sentence. That is because the beauty of math goes beyond the common aesthetic that we grew up with. Take for example Einstein’s E=mc2 . The Law of relativity is one of the most groundbreaking discoveries of man. It’s hard to imagine how can something so simple, be so powerful at the same time. The true beauty of it is reducing all that potency into an equation that is barely five characters long.
If you have an hour to spare, I suggest you watch this documentary about the most beautiful equations by BBC.
I also learned a very interesting fact while reading the Da Vinci Code a few years back. It’s all about the so called Golden Ratio or as Robert Langdon has said, the most beautiful number on earth.
The number takes the symbol phi and has a value of approximately 1.618 and is allegedly embedded in every living thing on earth. This lead scholars to believe that this specific number was God’s basis for his creation of the universe which is why it is oftentimes dubbed as God’s proportion or the Divine Proportion.
This ratio is believed to be the sweetspot for the human eye and is thought to be the ratio which the human brain interprets as beautiful.
Throughout history, it is believed that man has harnessed this beauty. This ratio is found in paintings as well.
The Divine proportion is also interpreted as the Fibonacci Curve and some experts say that even popular companies of today use this as a basis for their logos and websites. Some example of these big companies are Twitter and Apple.
I must admit it is still hard not to cringe looking at mathematical equations that are two blackboards long. But I guess it’s safe to say that Math has an understated beauty of its own, seen only if you take the time to understand it.
Here is an beautiful juxtaposition of real life occurrences and the mathematics behind them in a video by parachutes.tv.