March 2012

The Art of Physics

Many people think of physics as a purely mathematical science where they deal with the forces of the universe using equations and for the most part they are right. Physicists use math in everything that they do, but they can use math to create real world beauty.

One of the most expressive uses of math for art is in the fractal. There are seemingly random shapes creating using mathematical equations. The shapes can change by a small change in one of many variables.

The universe is made up of many beautiful sights from quasars to stars, but they would never have been seen were it not for the creations of physicists. In many ways, mathematics and physics are art forms no different from sculpting and painting. Most great scientists and mathematicians are naturals and have a way of looking at the world that is a little different than everyone else.

When Math Stopped Being About The Answers

Things were so much simpler when I first started learning about math. The goal every problem was about the answer. You had two numbers and add them together to find the answer. When you have two trains going the opposite direction, the goal find out where they’ll be in two hours and yada yada yada.

That all changes as you get older. Suddenly, the numbers get replaced with letters and you start trying to find equations instead of numbers. We had quadratics, angles, sines and eventually derivatives and integrals.

This odd concept first came to me in college my freshman year. I was taking Calculus classes as well as first year physics courses. The physics courses didn’t use Calculus the first year, so we were left actually solving problems.

Math May Predict Future Crime Spots

In Minority Report, physics were used to predict crimes that haven't happened yet and were called future crimes. It used a complex computer and the psychic abilities to find out where and when the crime will take place before it actually happens.


Police are starting to use math and not psychics to do the same thing. Areas of criminal increase may become a criminal hotspot in the future and they are using mathematical calculations to decide if that is likely to occur. For example, if there is an area where crime is slowly, but steadily increasing, then that could mean that a higher police presence may curb that increase from happening.

When Math Doesn’t Mean Anything

The very nature of mathematics is that is a manipulation of number to come to a conclusion. It can be as simple as 2 +2 = 4 or as complex as Schrodinger’s wave equations and the theory of relativity. Math in and of itself is pure. It knows know bias or prejudice and instead exists solely to manipulate numbers and to find the truth.

That doesn’t go for the people using the math. When politicians and big business begin using math to come up with claims or to help boost their bottom line, the truth in math loses its meaning. Math doesn’t lie, but people do. When you see a poll by a particular company or even charity, you can bet that the numbers have been massaged in their favors.