3.14

NATURE and Nature’s Laws lay hid in Night:

 God said, “Let Newton be!” and all was light.

Alexander Pope

Back in my misspent high school days I got extra credit in one of my math classes by giving presentations on Friday each week on the lives of famous mathematicians, my way of compensating for the fact that math and I have always had a tortured relationship.  However, even though higher math will always remain a closed book to me, the history of math is not, and it reminds me that exploration in the realm of pure knowledge can be just as exciting as the exploration of the earth and the stars.  Faith and Reason allow us to explore the glory of God’s creation and what we do with the knowledge we gain thereby makes all the difference, both in time and in eternity.

Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau:
Mock on, mock on: ‘tis all in vain!
You throw the sand against the wind,
And the wind blows it back again.

And every sand becomes a Gem,
Reflected in the beam divine;
Blown back they blind the mocking Eye,
But still in Israel’s paths they shine.

The Atoms of Democritus
And the Newton’s Particles of Light
Are sands upon the Red Sea shore,
Where Israel’s tents do shine so bright.

William Blake

 

More to explorer

6 Comments

  1. Thanks for this fine article, Don. I’ve been listening to an audiobook, “Great Ideas in Philosophy,” (Daniel Robinson). He makes the point, or reiterates the point made by the Greeks, that mathematics contains eternal Truths, and thus confirms that there are things that exist that are immaterial. There is no way that one can point to something that’s pi meters long (except as a limit, like Archimedes method of exhaustion with regular polygons), or “e” (base of natural logarithms) inches wide, or “i” (square root of -1) bushels of apples. Which is to say empiricism and materialism can’t explain the truths of mathematics.

  2. Oh sure, everyone jumps on the bandwagon for pi day, but where will everyone be for Tau Day? Tau is the true mathematical constant not its pale imitator pi. Circles are defines by a radius not diameter. Then there are Fourier Transforms and Cauchy’s Integral which use Tau not pi. Plus Tau has been a Christian symbol since St. Anthony. And Our Lord may have been crucified on a Tau Cross. So let’s celebrate Tau Day not its pale imitator. Plus you can eat two pie since it won’t be Lent. Or I guess you could always celebrate both and then you will have come around full circle.

  3. Bob,
    Will all due respect, what is the periodicity of sin and cos? Tau, not pi.
    And plugging tau into Euler gives the five great constants of the world. e^(tau*i) = 1+ 0 This is sheer mathematical poetry.

    And in Hebrew tau (tav) is the symbol for truth and covenant? Pi(pe) is mouth. Nobody likes a mouthy constant.

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