Mathematics peels back the semblances of perceived realities that most of us are happy with. Even the Egyptians did fractions with hieroglyphs – not something one thinks about on a daily basis. Mathematics has physics as its muse – the old joke about asking a physicist ‘why did the chicken cross the road’ is met with ‘I can tell you, but it only works for spherical chickens and infinitely long straight roads’. Sometimes it’s fun to think about a world where e is a Napierian exponent and not a recreational drug, where sliced bread doesn’t come in perfectly spherical loaves, and where proverbs become “tautoverbs”. If pigs had wings, they still wouldn’t be able to fly, because aerodynamics has laws putting a stop to that sort of thing. If this cow was a sphere, would its milk yield increase, I wonder?
All this came about because I came across an article that attempts to depose physics as the concubine of mathematics, where she has resided unchallenged for millennia, in favour of the sassy new kid on the block, biology.
I know a man – I happen to have provided half his genes in fact, who is a mathematician and a biologist, a new guru, knowing lots about ‘systems level dynamic analyses of fate change in murine embryonic stem cells’ amongst other things. Catchy isn’t it..and means about as much to me as an iPad would have to Newton.