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Monday, January 12, 2009

Neither physics nor chemistry could have reached its present level without mathematics.

“Neither physics nor chemistry could have reached its present level without mathematics.” Explain from either physics or chemistry.

One of the greatest achievements of science is to find relations and properties and explain them explicitly in the form of a mathematical formula. Relations in physical science cannot be subjective as in the case of humanities. When viewed mathematically, there seems to be a precision in almost all scientific phenomena. Not only qualities but also quantities are involved in science. When we say that H2O stands for a molecule of water; it explains many things; how many atoms of Hydrogen are combined with how many atoms of Oxygen and what is the molecular weight. When physical sciences use formulae, it is nothing but putting things in mathematical pattern. These formulae explain a world of things. Mathematics also has a simple but grand way of explaining things.

A few examples would suffice to prove this statement. Take for example areas of physics. We speak of the atomic weight. It is only a mathematical concept to say that the atomic weight of Hydrogen is 1 and that of oxygen is 16. Indirect measurements made in different ways help to arrive at this conclusion.

Which physics student does not know that F = MA; MA stands for force measured in terms of mass and acceleration. To explain “force” verbally may be very difficult but once the concept of the formula has been caught, force is no more a difficult thing to conceive. The formulae relating to the gas laws are again wonderful. Look at P1V1/T1 = P2V2/T2 . This equation, gas equation, as it is called brings about a holy wedlock between Boyle’s law and Charles’ Laws. Where quantities of gases are involved, this equation is useful. Mathematical reasoning has helped to formulate an Absolute Scale of temperature, though so far nobody has arrived at the formula for Absolute Zero.

One more example is Einsteins formula E=mc2. Where E is energy, m is mass and c is the velocity of light. What a world of potentiality it has! This tiny formula had in it the seed for nuclear physics. It also shows how two entities which were thought to be separate are indeed different phases of the same matter. Mass and energy are no more separate.

There is no are where mathematics has not played its part. Thus, it is safe to conclude that physical sciences have reached their present heights due to mathematics, with all its precision, conciseness and objectivity.

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