Thursday, June 09, 2011

Math is Badass

In fiction, the use of Math is heavily romanticized.  Like in the TV show “Numb3rs”, where Math is used to aid the FBI against crime.  Then again, I have read that such practices are actually being done in real life!  Also, in Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” books, there is a science called Psychohistory (which I had already discussed in a list of thought provokers), in which actual sociological and historical factors are converted to statistical-probability equations that would make it possible for the prediction of the future of humanity.  Sounds absurd?  But consider that others are actually venturing on mathematical study that are somewhat parallel to some Psychohistorical concepts!

Clearly, Math is badass.  And, believe me, not only in fiction, but in real life as well.

When I was a kid, I hated Math.  And I grew up hating it all throughout my academic life.  (Though, ironically, I was “Best in Math” in Nursery. LOL) However, I have loved mysteries and puzzles and logic (long before I learned that that’s the word for that process or exercise), but have not realized that Math was the most perfect avenue where I can work them out.  When I was about a young adult, I started to see how special Math real is.  And I felt regret, since I haven’t started loving it when I was a kid, when it’s the best time to learn its skills.

I know no real Math.  Yeah, I know basic algebra and such.  I mean the REAL Math.  The mind-blowing Math.  The Math that appears to be the key to the mysteries of the universe.  Math, as much as Science, is not a panacea, nor it can answer everything.  But, still, it is a very invaluable tool in expressing or interpreting seemingly incomprehensible facts of reality into some form of comprehension.  The Mathematical World is magical.  I find it amazing how numbers and equations can interpret reality, even across its visible boundaries; and how numbers and equations can prove a fact before an actual hands-on scientific experimentation, when experimenting about it is still impossible or it hasn’t been figured out how to carry out the experiment.  There are concepts of Quantum Physics (and also in other sciences, but mostly this) that only Math can touch.  Sci-fi concepts like time-travel and alternate universes are not laughable ideas at all because of Math.  Besides, Math can and have proven things that were thought unthinkable before, like for example, establishing that, at the essence, matter and energy are the same thing.

But there are also cases when something that is impossible in the world of reality is only possible in the world of math.  Examples are mindblowing paradoxes (e.g. Zeno’s paradox or the “Achilles and the Tortoise” paradox).  They are sound in paper and equations, but in reality, they are impossible.  Below is an example of a geometrical paradox.

Also consider how Math, without any logical or mathematical fallacy, proved that 1 and 0.9999… are equal.

assume that 
x = 0.999999...

multiply both sides by 10
10x = 9.99999...

subtract both sides by x (which is 0.9999999...)
10x - x = 9.999999... - x


10x - x = 9.99999... - 0.99999...

which becomes,
9x = 9

divide both sides by 9
9x/9 = 9/9

which results to,

1 = 0.999999...

And as we continue to learn more about the world of Math, we see how really mindblowing it is.

Of course, there will be times when it’s impossible for numbers and equation to tell the whole story in a particular case or system (e.g. basketball statistics), since there are some other aspects or factors of the system that can’t be put into equation. However, there might come a day when someone will build a perfect equation that would be able to successfully translate ALL the factors and aspects of a case or study, allowing it to become the perfect and final word on the subject. As I’ve said, Math has already proven some things to be possible which had been thought impossible before. Who knows, maybe in a century or two, people would be doing real-life Psychohistorical analyses.

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