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Reading #17

Discussion questions/keywords/summary from/of:

"Nature's Numbers" by Ian Stewart
pages 1-11

Discussion Questions:

1.) Do you believe that mathematics holds the capability to explain everything?
2.) Do you believe that mathematics can eventually explain our place on Earth and in the universe?


Keywords:

1.)fractals - Fractals are geometric shapes that repeat their structure on ever-finer scales.
2.) chaos - Chaos is a kind of apparent randomness whose origins are entirely deterministic.


Summary:
"We live in a universe of patterns."
Thus is the first line of this article and the basis of its content.
The entire article talks of "nature's pattern" and how it exists around us on every level. The motion of the earth, waves, dunes, and animal stripes are all clues into the laws that govern our world. Mathematics can be used to describe these laws. As Stewart states, "The simplest mathematical objects are numbers, and the simplest of nature's patterns are numerical." In addition to these numbers in nature, there are also geometric shapes like the circles in a rainbow or pond ripples. There are some patterns that are just now being discovered because we are just learning how to recognize them. Previously, we thought them to be completely random and formless, like clouds. However, searching for patterns and numbers in nature can be dangerous and difficult. It is hard to determine whether a pattern or sequence is significant and important or something trivial and coincidental.