What is Geometry For?Date: 03/01/2002 at 12:23:20 From: Sum1 Subject: Math What is geometry really for? Date: 03/01/2002 at 12:53:43 From: Doctor Ian Subject: Re: Math Hi, Geometry is the study of shape. So any time you need to decide what shape something should have (like a car, or an MP3 player), that involves geometry. Materials - like water, or steel, or hair, or proteins, or different kinds of rocks - are made of atoms, and different materials have different properties largely because of the way their atoms are arranged - in other words, the shapes that the atoms form, their distances from each other, the angles at which they connect, and so on. That involves geometry. When you get right down to it, it's hard to think of things that _don't_ involve geometry, at least at some level. The famous scientist Kepler, who figured out that the planets travel in ellipses around the sun, once said that "Where there is matter, there is geometry." He was right. Of course, like all of mathematics, geometry is also a kind of game played by mathematicians, as I've described here: What is Mathematics? http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/erum.09.22.00.html Another famous scientist, Michael Faraday, was cornered by a woman who had just attended one of his lectures on electric and magnetic fields, which were just beginning to be understood. She asked him: What is the _use_ of these theories about fields? He replied: Madam, what is the use of a newborn baby? Of course, now it's hard to go 5 minutes without taking advantage of the products that have been developed as a result of Faraday's investigations! But when asking what any branch of knowledge is _for_, it's important to keep in mind that there is a difference between wanting to _know_, and wanting to _do_. A lot of the things that we're now able to _do_, we can do only because at some time, someone investigated something - which probably seemed pointless to everyone around him - simply because he wanted to _know_ about it. I hope this helps. Write back if you'd like to talk more about this, or anything else. - Doctor Ian, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
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