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Who Invented Math?

Date: Wed, 15 Feb 1995 10:47:08 -0600 (CST)
From: Shannon E Sellstrom
Subject: new questions

1. Who invented math?
2. Was Einstein really a genius?
3. What is the most advanced level in math?

1. There are nine brothers in a family.  Each brother has one sister.  
How many children are there in all?

2. What's half of a half of a half?

From: Dr. Ken
Subject: Re: new questions
Date: Wed, 15 Feb 1995 14:04:09 -0500 (EST)

                              WHO INVENTED MATH?

From: Dr. Sydney

        Thanks for writing to Dr. Math!  You asked a great question:  Who
invented math?  Unlike physical objects like the light bulb, the telephone,
and the calculator that were invented by one person or a group of people,
math wasn't really "invented" by anyone in particular.  The theory behind
math has been evolving for a very long time.  People first started doing
math-related things when they counted objects around them.  Math didn't
become a real field of study until sometime around 500 B.C.E. (that is about
2500 years ago!)  I hope this helps answer your question.  Feel free to
write back with any more questions you might have.  

--Sydney, Dr. "Math Rocks"

                        WAS EINSTEIN REALLY A GENIUS?

To answer this question, I guess we really have to know what we mean by the
term "genius."  Some people define the word genius as a person who has an
I.Q. of over 140.  While this gives us a nice simple way of figuring out
whether someone is a genius, many people now think that the I.Q. isn't
really a very accurate measure of intelligence, and that it can be biased
toward certain groups of people.  

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a genius as "someone who possesses
exceptional intellectual and creative power."  

Other people define genius as simply a natural gift for doing certain things
well, as in "a musical genius," or "he has a genius for selling hot dogs."

I think that by all three of these measures, Einstein would be called a
genius.  Although I'm not sure whether he ever actually took an I.Q. test,
he probably would have scored quite well on one, probably over 140.  He
certainly possessed "exceptional intellectual and creative power," as is
evidenced by the theories that he invented.  And he definitely had a natural
gift for doing physics.  So in all of those three senses of the the word, I
would say Einstein was a genius.

However, keep in mind that there are lots and lots of geniuses in the
world.  By any of these measures, I'm sure you know several geniuses
yourself!  And also remember that just because we call someone a genius
doesn't mean that it makes them a better person than the rest of us.

                      THE MOST ADVANCED LEVEL IN MATH

This is an interesting question.  You see, mathematics is a subject that is
still developing, and people don't know all about it yet.  So I guess you
might say that the most advanced levels in math are the ones that people are
working on right now.  I can tell you the names of some fields in math that
are home to some pretty intense research these days:  Differential Geometry,
Number Theory, Algebraic Topology, and Differential Topology.  But this is
(believe me) just a tiny tiny fraction of the work that's going on these
days.  One of the most incredibly exciting things that just happened in
mathematics is the proof by Andrew Wiles of Fermat's Last Theorem.  If you
want to learn more about this one, ask your teacher, but it might be a
little complex.

I hope this interests you!  Thanks for the questions!

-Ken "Dr." Math
Associated Topics:
Elementary Math History/Biography

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