The Restless universe | |||

Introduction to The restless Universe 1 The lawful Universe 1.1 Science and regularity 1/2 1.1 Science and regularity 2/2
-------------------- Other titles in the Physical World series | 1 The lawful Universe1.2 Mathematics and quantification Part 1 of 2 | Part 2 For a printable version of '1 The lawful Universe' click here Much of physics is concerned with things that can be measured and quantified, that is, expressed as numbers, multiplied by an appropriate unit of measurement such as a metre or a second. It is natural to turn to mathematics to try to reveal patterns underlying such measured data. This is more than a matter of arithmetic. By Roger Bacon’s time the basic ideas of algebra had been developed, mainly by Arabic mathematicians and astronomers. The idea of representing a quantity by a symbol, such as Mathematics provides a natural medium for rational argument. Given an equation that relates various quantities, the rules of mathematics allow that equation to be re-expressed in a number of different but logically equivalent ways, all of which are valid if the original equation was valid. Given two equations, mathematical reasoning allows them to be combined to produce new equations which are again valid if the original equations were valid. Long chains of reasoning can be put together in this way, all of which are guaranteed to be correct provided that the starting points are correct and no mathematical rules are transgressed. Quite often these arguments are so long and detailed that it would be impossible to follow them in ordinary language, even if it were possible to express them at all. | Relevant Links A note on powers of ten and significant figures Suggestions for further reading | |

S207 The Physical World | |||