Mathematics, the Mother Science

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh knows the truth of this, in his tribute to Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan:

“Men and women of such dazzling brilliance and deep intellect are born but rarely,” declared Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Chennai at a function on December 26, to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of Ramanujan (December 22, 1887-April 26, 1920). The Indian government has also announced Ramanujan’s birthday would be celebrated every year as “National Mathematics Day”.

Mathematics, as Manmohan pointed out, is the “mother science”, the universal language of truth through numbers, touching daily use, technology and life – working out time, distance, calendar, the grocery prices and passenger air craft navigation, from algorithms in Internet search engines, to creating secure credit card transactions and planning national budgets.

Where there is a civilization, there are numbers. And whatever happens in this world and to this world, two plus two will always equal four, and will be so for infinity remain as a truth verifiable in the five fingers of one hand.

His Excellency is spot on: mathematics is the mother science.  Without mathematics, science is just a “gee-whiz” toy, which is the way it’s portrayed more often than not in the American media.  With it science and engineering can be understood and, of more immediate interest, applied.

I wonder what our own politicians would designate the “mother science” to be.  Evolution? Global Warming? Environmentalism?  Such is a product of a country which struggles with mathematics and consistently bypasses those educated in the sciences for election to high office.

Muslims will understand the importance of a “mother science,” as noted here.  But they have their own problems in the mix:

Ramanujan is part of a rich, 1,500 years-old Indian heritage of mathematics and astronomy. Luminaries like Brahmagupta in the 6th century AD, Bhaskara (600-680 AD) Sankara Narayana (840-900 AD) and Vijayanandi (940-1010 AD) created and built upon the foundations of science as we know it today.

Perhaps the greatest of them all was Aryabhata (476- 550 AD), who gave the world the concept and number “zero”. He was just 23 years old when the first of his works became known. He calculated the circumference of the Earth, found that the Earth spins on its axis and revolves round the sun. He also realized that the moon was a satellite of the Earth.

It is conventional wisdom that zero was an invention of Muslim scholars, but this has been disputed by those on both sides of Adam’s Bridge.

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