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#1 2013-10-11 01:57:12

bobbym
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From: Bumpkinland
Registered: 2009-04-12
Posts: 86,466

Big scientists know no math?

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 … s_comments

E.O. Wilson shares a secret: Discoveries emerge from ideas, not number-crunching

Many of the most successful scientists in the world today are mathematically no more than semiliterate.

Kaboobly doo! All this from a guy who scored a C at calculus. Successful scientists? What the heck does that mean? I am sorry to use the word "mean" but E.O. drove me to it.

The annals of theoretical biology are clogged with mathematical models that either can be safely ignored or, when tested, fail. Possibly no more than 10% have any lasting value. Only those linked solidly to knowledge of real living systems have much chance of being used.

This really is infuriating. E.O. is really good at making sweeping statements, so let me make one. I will bet most of those models were put together by biologists whose grasp of math was poor.

Darwin had little or no mathematical ability, but with the masses of information he had accumulated, he was able to conceive a process to which mathematics was later applied

Darwin is a particularly bad example because Galton ( mathematician ) was his half cousin and assisted Darwin. Darwin often said that he wished he were better at math.


In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
Of course that result can be rigorously obtained, but who cares?
Combinatorics is Algebra and Algebra is Combinatorics.

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#2 2013-10-11 01:58:59

Nehushtan
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From: London
Registered: 2013-03-09
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Re: Big scientists know no math?

Old Mac Donald had a farm, E.O. E.O. I!


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#3 2013-10-11 02:07:10

bobbym
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From: Bumpkinland
Registered: 2009-04-12
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Re: Big scientists know no math?

I did not think anyone remembered that.


In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
Of course that result can be rigorously obtained, but who cares?
Combinatorics is Algebra and Algebra is Combinatorics.

Online

#4 2013-10-11 04:15:19

Nehushtan
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From: London
Registered: 2013-03-09
Posts: 613
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Re: Big scientists know no math?

I remember reading somewhere that Michael Faraday was one of these big scientists who are mathematically illiterate – that all of his work on electricity was developed without using a single mathematical equation.


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#5 2013-10-11 10:39:11

bobbym
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From: Bumpkinland
Registered: 2009-04-12
Posts: 86,466

Re: Big scientists know no math?

That is true, Maxwell is the one who put all his findings on a solid mathematical basis.

It would be difficult to find someone like him today though. I guess E.O. probably means biology, medicine, archaeology, paleontology...


In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
Of course that result can be rigorously obtained, but who cares?
Combinatorics is Algebra and Algebra is Combinatorics.

Online

#6 2013-10-11 10:52:51

anonimnystefy
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From: The Foundation
Registered: 2011-05-23
Posts: 15,522

Re: Big scientists know no math?

Hi bobbym

Does maths have applications in archaelogy?

Last edited by anonimnystefy (2013-10-11 10:53:15)


“Here lies the reader who will never open this book. He is forever dead.

“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

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#7 2013-10-11 11:28:33

bobbym
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Re: Big scientists know no math?

Without getting into Gizeh I would think math could be applied to most fields.

Darwin wrote:

I attempted mathematics [at Cambridge University ], and even went during the summer of 1828 with a private tutor (a very dull man) to Barmouth, but I got on very slowly. The work was repugnant to me, chiefly from my not being able to see any meaning in the early steps of algebra. This impatience was foolish, and in after years I have deeply regretted that I did not proceed far enough at least to understand something of the great leading principles of mathematics; for men thus endowed seem to have an extra sense. But I do not believe that I should ever have succeeded beyond a very low grade.


In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
Of course that result can be rigorously obtained, but who cares?
Combinatorics is Algebra and Algebra is Combinatorics.

Online

#8 2013-10-11 11:48:55

anonimnystefy
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From: The Foundation
Registered: 2011-05-23
Posts: 15,522

Re: Big scientists know no math?

I know it can, but I am particularly interested in hiw it applies in archaeology.


“Here lies the reader who will never open this book. He is forever dead.

“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

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#9 2013-10-11 11:55:57

bobbym
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From: Bumpkinland
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Posts: 86,466

Re: Big scientists know no math?

To use the standard, uncreative answer ( top of the google page ),

Math allows the archaeologist to collect and interpret data. On site accurate measurements are necessary when setting up a grid system (a system which divides the site into numbered squares) and when measuring the exact location of finds so that they can be plotted on the site plan. In the lab, statistical math is used to study the finds, allowing the archaeologist to calculate artifact density (how many of each artifact type are found in each square), and the average size of artifacts. Dating methods such as radiocarbon dating and thermoluminescence dating are very complicated and require a high mathematical ability.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computational_archaeology

They collect data, statistics and probability are required to analyze it. But in this case as mentioned above I think E.O. is right. You probably do not even a require a human brain to do it.

You did not catch my first comment about Gizeh?

Aristotle wrote:

There are things which seem incredible to most men who have not studied mathematics.

Bacon wrote:

For the things of this world cannot be made known without a knowledge of mathematics.

Like the crest of a peacock, so is mathematics at the head of all knowledge.

My personal favorite.

I advise my students to listen carefully the moment they decide to take no more mathematics courses. They might be able to hear the sound of closing doors.

I really do think E.O. is making a plea for all the lazy, illogical, monkey - brains to become what he calls a successful scientist. That is better than having them entering politics.


In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
Of course that result can be rigorously obtained, but who cares?
Combinatorics is Algebra and Algebra is Combinatorics.

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#10 2013-10-11 12:34:45

anonimnystefy
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From: The Foundation
Registered: 2011-05-23
Posts: 15,522

Re: Big scientists know no math?

That is a load if kaboobly doo!

I did see your comment abiut Gizeh but did not understand it.


“Here lies the reader who will never open this book. He is forever dead.

“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

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#11 2013-10-11 12:45:16

bobbym
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From: Bumpkinland
Registered: 2009-04-12
Posts: 86,466

Re: Big scientists know no math?

That is a load if kaboobly doo!

It has been said that 98.4% of my comments about kaboobly doo are kaboobly doo. Personally, I think that is an exaggeration.

Which did you think was kaboobly doo?

I did see your comment abiut Gizeh but did not understand it.

Heard of Dr. Robert M. Schoch?


In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
Of course that result can be rigorously obtained, but who cares?
Combinatorics is Algebra and Algebra is Combinatorics.

Online

#12 2013-10-11 14:40:37

anonimnystefy
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From: The Foundation
Registered: 2011-05-23
Posts: 15,522

Re: Big scientists know no math?

The first quote in #9 is kaboobly doo.

Who's that guy? The name makes me want to say chemist, because it sounslds like a name that would appear on a hand creme.

Last edited by anonimnystefy (2013-10-11 14:42:39)


“Here lies the reader who will never open this book. He is forever dead.

“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

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#13 2013-10-11 16:20:49

bobbym
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From: Bumpkinland
Registered: 2009-04-12
Posts: 86,466

Re: Big scientists know no math?

One could say he is the beginning of wisdom. More mundanely he is a geologist.

Why do you not like that quote?


In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
Of course that result can be rigorously obtained, but who cares?
Combinatorics is Algebra and Algebra is Combinatorics.

Online

#14 2013-10-11 16:55:31

Agnishom
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From: The Complex Plane
Registered: 2011-01-29
Posts: 16,706
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Re: Big scientists know no math?

Mathematicians are some of the biggest scientists, so some of the biggest scientists understand atleast some good math


'And fun? If maths is fun, then getting a tooth extraction is fun. A viral infection is fun. Rabies shots are fun.'
'God exists because Mathematics is consistent, and the devil exists because we cannot prove it'
'Humanity is still kept intact. It remains within.' -Alokananda

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#15 2013-10-11 20:55:49

bobbym
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From: Bumpkinland
Registered: 2009-04-12
Posts: 86,466

Re: Big scientists know no math?

Hi;

Not according to E.O.


In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
Of course that result can be rigorously obtained, but who cares?
Combinatorics is Algebra and Algebra is Combinatorics.

Online

#16 2013-10-11 21:43:19

anonimnystefy
Real Member
From: The Foundation
Registered: 2011-05-23
Posts: 15,522

Re: Big scientists know no math?

bobbym wrote:

One could say he is the beginning of wisdom. More mundanely he is a geologist.

Why do you not like that quote?

I am talking about the quote about math in archaeology.


“Here lies the reader who will never open this book. He is forever dead.

“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

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#17 2013-10-11 21:54:22

bobbym
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From: Bumpkinland
Registered: 2009-04-12
Posts: 86,466

Re: Big scientists know no math?

That is what I meant.


In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
Of course that result can be rigorously obtained, but who cares?
Combinatorics is Algebra and Algebra is Combinatorics.

Online

#18 2013-10-19 14:23:18

ShivamS
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Registered: 2011-02-07
Posts: 3,531

Re: Big scientists know no math?

I disagree to some extent. Science has as much relation with applied and somewhat pure maths. As far as I have seen, a scientist without a high degree of math ability is rare.

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#19 2013-10-19 19:17:35

Nehushtan
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From: London
Registered: 2013-03-09
Posts: 613
Website

Re: Big scientists know no math?

Faraday was probably one of these rare non-math scientists, in that case.


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#20 2013-10-19 22:07:55

bobbym
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From: Bumpkinland
Registered: 2009-04-12
Posts: 86,466

Re: Big scientists know no math?

Possibly not so rare nowadays. Bumped into a scientist over at UNLV yesterday, after he got up he gave me his card. Yep you guessed it, it said Scientist on the front of it. It was laminated too so this was not a phony. Guy did not look like he could do any math to me.


In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
Of course that result can be rigorously obtained, but who cares?
Combinatorics is Algebra and Algebra is Combinatorics.

Online

#21 2013-10-20 03:20:30

ShivamS
Member
Registered: 2011-02-07
Posts: 3,531

Re: Big scientists know no math?

Well then some people's interpretation of the term 'scientist' is misleading.

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#22 2013-10-20 03:26:30

bobbym
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From: Bumpkinland
Registered: 2009-04-12
Posts: 86,466

Re: Big scientists know no math?

I am forced to agree. E.O.'s interpretation is not mine.

But since he is on this list?

350px-Scientists_montage.jpg

I am sure that his interpretation will get the nod.


In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
Of course that result can be rigorously obtained, but who cares?
Combinatorics is Algebra and Algebra is Combinatorics.

Online

#23 2013-10-20 03:56:54

ShivamS
Member
Registered: 2011-02-07
Posts: 3,531

Re: Big scientists know no math?

Nowadays, a scientist is considered someone who is well-versed in all the sciences and maths, and not merely a specialized field.

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#24 2013-10-20 04:01:39

anonimnystefy
Real Member
From: The Foundation
Registered: 2011-05-23
Posts: 15,522

Re: Big scientists know no math?

ShivamS wrote:

Nowadays, a scientist is considered someone who is well-versed in all the sciences and maths, and not merely a specialized field.

By that definition there are no scientist. I do not see why it is necessary for them to be good in all sciences and in math as well. Many sciences do not need very much knowledge of math, though most require a certain amount of knowledge of a certain mathematical field (calculus in physics, statistics in psychology,...) .


“Here lies the reader who will never open this book. He is forever dead.

“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

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#25 2013-10-20 04:04:39

ShivamS
Member
Registered: 2011-02-07
Posts: 3,531

Re: Big scientists know no math?

I don't mean it that literally such that a mathematician should have knowledge of physics, biology, chemistry, medicine, psychology etc. I mean a basic amount of math, biology, chemistry and biology. Most institute have the requirement of taking courses from the 4 aforementioned categories for graduation. And certain disciplines require a high degree of knowledge from another subject (i.e. physicists need a strong knowledge of analysis).

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