By Sam Kean. Mario Livio makes the case for how these three ideas might be related. He is interested too in the old debate about whether humans discover mathematical theorems that already exist, or merely construct a logical, self-consistent system. Existing subscribers, please log in with your email address to link your account access. Paid annually by Credit Card.
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Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Is God a Mathematician? Is God a Mathematician? From ancient times to the present, scientists and philosophers have marveled at how such a seemingly abstract discipline could so perfectly explain the natural world. More than that—mathematics has often made predictions, for example, about subatomic particles or cosmic phenomena that were unknown at the time, but later were proven to be true.
Is mathematics ultimately invented or discovered? Physicist and author Mario Livio brilliantly explores mathematical ideas from Pythagoras to the present day as he shows us how intriguing questions and ingenious answers have led to ever deeper insights into our world. This fascinating book will interest anyone curious about the human mind, the scientific world, and the relationship between them.
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Jul 26, Ken Roebuck rated it it was amazing. The answer to the question "Is God a Mathematician" depends very much on your world view. Those of faith that believe in a transcendent creator God will surely answer with a resounding YES. But Atheists and other non believers are likely to think mathematics is nothing more than an invention of the human mind.
Nevertheless, it remains that the universe appears to have been designed by a pure mathematician. In my opinion mathematics exists independent of human minds but God for whatever reason has given us mathematical minds with which we have used with great success to uncover the mysteries of the universe. Maybe this is part of what it means to be created in the image of God. View 1 comment. Shelves: philosophy , science , mathematics.
As the title suggests, the main focus of the book is represented by the existence of various paradigms describing how we should approach mathematics, among which two stand out as poles apart: formalism claiming that math is invented by the human mind and Platonism regarding mathematics as an a priori universal language whose truths are merely discovered and otherwise independent from the human reasoning.
Regardless of the preferred approach, one cannot help but marvel at how such a seemingly abstract discipline can so superbly explain the natural world. Furthermore, if mathematics is invented, how come some of its concepts were found practical applications long after their invention? Each chapter discusses important topics like geometry, logic, topology, statistics and probability theory, as well as major breakthroughs in adjacent fields — such as physics or astronomy which I particularly enjoyed.
The transitions are natural, the narrative style is easy to follow and the overall tone is objective. There is poetry in the queen of all sciences and this book succeeds in conveying it, aside from the inherent philosophical considerations surrounding the nature of mathematics. Mar 27, WarpDrive rated it it was amazing Shelves: science-and-maths. Great book, highly recommended to anybody interested in the relationship between mathematics and physical reality. The author demonstrates his wide knowledge and culture, which is not limited only to mathematics and physics, but also to philosophy, cognitive sciences etc.
A very comprehensive account, the only small defect being that the final conclusive part seems a bit rushed. Feb 06, Mazola1 rated it really liked it. In Is God A Mathematician, Mario Livio tries to explain the "unreasonable effectiveness" of mathematics to make sense of nature. Why do so many basic truths of physics, nature and the universe obey mathematical laws?
Livio also tackles the question of whether mathematics is discovered an objective truth independent of human thought or invented the product of human thought and reasoning. Along the way, Livio provides a fascinating mini-history of the development of math, biographies of some o In Is God A Mathematician, Mario Livio tries to explain the "unreasonable effectiveness" of mathematics to make sense of nature.
Along the way, Livio provides a fascinating mini-history of the development of math, biographies of some of the greatest mathematicians and some of the most lovely and puzzling aspects of math.
The book is clearly written, and does not require any advanced or sophisticated understanding of math. If you don't love or understand math, by the time you finish this book, you will have a better understanding and appreciation of math, and you will gain some insight into why math has fascinated and obsessed some of the best thinkers to ever live, and you will understand a little of the power of math to awe the human mind. Jun 02, David rated it really liked it.
In this book, Livio addresses the question of why the principles and laws of mathematics seem so "unreasonably effective" in explaining the physical world. For instance, when Newton deduced the law of gravity, he could hardly have known that these mathematical laws would for six orders of magnitude more precision than the data he originally was trying to match.
In a similar way, there are numerous instances in 20th century physics of mathematical principles, previously discovered by mathematicia In this book, Livio addresses the question of why the principles and laws of mathematics seem so "unreasonably effective" in explaining the physical world.
In a similar way, there are numerous instances in 20th century physics of mathematical principles, previously discovered by mathematicians and considered purely as logical curiosities, turning out to be stunningly accurate as descriptions of physical phenomenon. One notable example here is the magnetic moment of the electron, whose measured value matches mathematical calculations, based on the QED theory, to digit accuracy.
Livio reviews the history of math, from Pythagoras to modern mathematicians such as Lobachevsky, who discovered hyperbolic geometry, and Kurt Godel, who showed that attempts to "prove" the axioms of mathematics consistent are doomed to failure. Indeed, there are many rather interesting mini-biographies of important mathematicians through the ages.
Finally, Livio addresses the fundamental question of what is mathematical reality -- the Platonic view that math really is there somewhere and we just discover it, to more radical interpretations, such as the claims by some that it is only a 'social construct'. In the end, Livio offers no pat answers, only questions.
I personally am mostly a Platonist, although I acknowledge the human element in mathematics. I thoroughly reject the views of cultural relativists in this area. The mere fact that some mathematical results have been found independently by people in different lands speaks against such notions. In my own research work, on numerous occasions myself and colleagues have "discovered" by computer mathematical formulas that had lain hidden. You can't tell me that the computer found "social constructs" Jul 10, Jimmy Ele rated it really liked it.
Interesting for the sections on the Mathematicians such as Archimedes. Did it answer the question? I felt like I was just baited into reading the book. Mario Livio examines the Neoplatonic ideas of the origin of Mathematics as well as the AntiPlatonist argument.
He seems to side with the AntiPlatonist argument in the end. I still really enjoyed the book and it led me to put some other books on my To Read shelf.
All in all, I don't consider it time wasted to have read this book. Mar 10, Jafar rated it liked it. Is nature based on mathematics? And what is mathematics anyway? Is it invented or discovered? All really fascinating questions.
However, most of this book is math history. Spoiler: there are no clear and easy answers. Jul 18, Stephie Williams rated it really liked it. Mario Livio examines the difficult to figure out effectiveness of mathematics in science. He also discusses the nature of mathematics, in particularly is mathematics invented or discovered? The reason for this discussion is that it becomes important to how you view the effectiveness issue, which is the major topic of the book.
Chapters three and four review the work of Archimedes, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton describing how they use mathematics to describe the universe, after which in chapter five covers probability and statistics.
Chapter six discusses the effect of non-Euclidean geometries on the issues. Chapter seven covers the logicians and formalists attempts to secure the foundations of mathematics.
Mario Livio: Is God a Mathematician?
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'Is God a mathematician?'
Is God a Mathematician? From ancient times to the present, scientists and philosophers have marveled at how such a seemingly abstract discipline could so perfectly explain the natural world. More than that—mathematics has often made predictions, for example, about subatomic particles or cosmic phenomena that were unknown at the time, but later were proven to be true. Is mathematics ultimately invented or discovered?
Is God a Mathematician?
Mario Livio born is an Israeli-American astrophysicist and an author of works that popularize science and mathematics. He has published more than scientific articles on topics including cosmology, supernova explosions, black holes, extrasolar planets, and the emergence of life in the universe. Livio was born in Bucharest in Romania , and lived with his grandparents when his mother and father were forced to flee the country for political reasons. Livio earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem , a Master of Science degree in theoretical particle physics at the Weizmann Institute , and a Ph. He was a professor of physics at the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology from to , before moving to the Space Telescope Science Institute. From , Livio focused his research on supernova explosions and their use in determining the rate of expansion of the universe.
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Mathematicians themselves often insist that their work has no practical effect. The British mathematician G. Hardy went so far as to describe his own work this way: "No discovery of mine has made, or is likely to make, directly or indirectly, for good or ill, the least difference to the amenity of the world. The Hardy-Weinberg law allows population geneticists to predict how genes are transmitted from one generation to the next, and Hardy's work on the theory of numbers found unexpected implications in the development of codes. Physicist and author Mario Livio brilliantly explores mathematical ideas from Pythagoras to the present day as he shows us how intriguing questions and ingenious answers have led to ever deeper insights into our world.