”But underlying all of these modern wonders is something deep and mysteriously powerful
”But underlying all of these modern wonders is something deep and mysteriously powerful. It’s been called the language of the universe and perhaps, it’s civilization’s greatest achievement. It’s named mathematics.”
Indeed, the introductory quote is something difficult to argue with. Mathematics is literally everywhere around us. But as much as that statement is inarguable, questions under that general idea have been raised. For instance, one that has been repeatedly asked throughout the Science Documentary 2016: The Math Mystery Mathematics in Nature and Universe that is: Is mathematics, a discovered part of the universe or a very human invention?
This paper does not intend to provide one unifying and definite answer but rather, a black and white critique and analysis that would hopefully provoke the thoughts of the reader(s).
On the genesis of the documentary, it was mentioned how patterns exist in the physical world. Patterns that cannot only be observed in our surroundings but are also present in the bigger universe out there, which is why it is inevitable for links not to be drawn between the two. From this stemmed the thought that perhaps there is an inherent mathematical nature to reality.
Furthermore, the documentary elaborated how mathematics is in all places. True enough, it is. A progression of numbers particularly called the Fibonacci sequence hides—and probably is the reason behind the beauty—in flowers and plants. The constant pi, from being limitedly believed as something that plays a role in circles, also showed its part in probability. Math and music, numbers and the world—all these deliberately tell us that like the atoms to matter, all living and non-living have mathematics for building blocks. Though it could have been a plus if the Golden Ratio was discussed deeper and the Vitruvian man was at least touched so that the viewers would appreciate the mathematics in their own bodies more.
To quote from the video, “The universe is written in the language of mathematics.” Or a less figurative one, “It’s (Science) more discovered than invented.”
On the other hand, the idea that mathematics is innate in humans and other biotic beings was also drawn forth, supported by a research on a variety of creatures with consciousness and/or instincts which undeniably showed our number sense.
Also, a mathematically inclined person’s brain responses was observed through functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) which showed that a particular portion of the brain, the parietal lobe, glows more whenever put under mathematical activity. Similar study was conducted to others which also yielded similar information. This natural math instinct implies that mathematics comes from humans, instead of being the other way around. Engineers, moreover, were cited as an example of how mathematics comes from man.
In the end, the ends were tied up into saying that it is both. Math is discovered and is invented by humans alike. While this was mentioned in the documentary, it did not clarify how because it rather focused more on the distinctions.
Absolutely, Isaac Newton discovered the concept of gravity but we on earth did not float even before it was not given a name, right? It was already there, only waiting to be realized. Now regarding the math geniuses whose brain regions light up more than the average ones, this tells us that at the same time, our faculty of intelligence and rationality make it possible for us to learn. Modern architecture and scientific inventions (e.g. bridges, space shuttles) that were shown in the video likewise tell us that through math, we are able to build and through our intellect, we can make something concrete out of the numbers that are not readily useful to the mass when they are on paper.
In conclusion, there is more to the sum of knowledge of this discipline, and the video taught us that. There aren’t exactly constants in the consistently fluctuating economics (e.g. stock market) as there are in physics. There is so much to unravel but certainly, math is the absolute truth. Anything can be proven wrong with logic and numbers but logic and numbers could never be wrong, if only we are asking the right questions and looking at the right angles that is.