By Robert Crease
Listed below are the tales of the 10 most well-liked equations of all time as voted for via readers of "Physics World", together with - accessibly defined right here for the 1st time - the favorite equation of all, Euler's equation. every one is an equation that captures with attractive simplicity what can basically be defined clumsily in phrases. Euler's equation [eip + 1 = zero] was once defined through respondents as 'the such a lot profound mathematic assertion ever written', 'uncanny and sublime', 'filled with cosmic attractiveness' and 'mind-blowing'. jointly those equations additionally volume to the world's such a lot concise and trustworthy physique of information. Many scientists and people with a mathematical bent have a smooth spot for equations. This publication explains either why those ten equations are so appealing and critical, and the human tales in the back of them.
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Extra resources for A Brief Guide to the Great Equations: The Hunt for Cosmic Beauty in Numbers
Such equations thus do not simply instruct us how to calculate something, adding new tools to the same world, but do something ‘more’, as Harrison put it. In learning 1 + 1 = 2, his son did not merely input a new data point, but became transformed, possessing a new grip on the world. 7 Harrison’s description, finally, reminds us that equations can inspire wonder. Science is not a robotic activity in which we manoeuvre in or gaze at the world indifferently, but a form of life with a highly nuanced affective dimension.
For with a word or two more, the connection between rule and proof suddenly descends. Four triangles in two different arrangements. That is the unforgettable moment, the kind that we remember – and even long for – as adults. In Quartered Safe Out Here: A Recollection of the War in Burma, the British novelist George MacDonald Fraser tells of showing the Pythagorean theorem to his comrade Duke one night after their regiment had dug in along the road to Rangoon during World War II. Tired of conversation about cigarettes, the war, and the Japanese, Duke is on edge; later that night he will die horribly after a series of accidents and misunderstandings, cut almost in two by a line of friendly machine gun fire as he stumbles in the dark.
The Guinness Book of World Records Web site, under ‘Most Proofs of Pythagoras’s Theorem’, recently named a Greek who, it is claimed, has discovered 520 proofs. By the time you read this, more have surely appeared. Whence the Magic? All these proofs provoke two questions. The first is: Why isn’t one proof enough? We know why one application is not enough: the point of a rule is that it applies to many different circumstances. But proofs? A small number of proofs of the Pythagorean theorem generalize the theorem that Euclid proved, and thus extend what he did.
A Brief Guide to the Great Equations: The Hunt for Cosmic Beauty in Numbers by Robert Crease