put in a particularly evocative form by the physicist Eugene Wigner as the title of. a lecture in in New York: “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics. On ‘The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences’. Sorin Bangu. Abstract I present a reconstruction of Eugene Wigner’s argument for . Maxwell, Helmholtz, and the Unreasonable Effectiveness of the Method of Physical Bokulich – – Studies in History and Philosophy of Science.

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He then invokes the fundamental law of gravitation as an example. It would give us a deep sense of frustration in our search for what I called ‘the ultimate truth’. Mathematics addresses only wignef part of human experience.

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Wikipedia

Skip to main content. I will rather present some less familiar aspects of the problem itself. The New Zealander-American mathematician Vaughan Jones detected an unexpected relation between knots and another abstract branch of mathematics known as von Neumann algebras. It is difficult to avoid the impression that a miracle confronts us here, quite comparable in its striking nature to the miracle that the effectiveness mind can string a thousand arguments together without getting itself into contradictions, or to the two miracles of laws of nature and of the human mind’s capacity to divine them.

Wigner sums up his argument by saying that “the enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious and that there is no rational explanation for it”.

And if that is not enough, the modern theory of electrodynamics, known as quantum electrodynamics QEDis even more astonishing.

Unreasonable effectiveness

Unfortunately, two knots that have the same Alexander polynomial may still uhreasonable different. The earliest lifeforms must have contained the seeds of the human ability to create and follow long chains of close reasoning.

Suppose that a falling body broke into two pieces. Approximation theory Numerical analysis Differential equations Dynamical systems Control theory Variational calculus.

We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for wivner or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.


We should stop acting as if our goal is to author extremely elegant theories, and instead embrace complexity and make use of the best ally we have: Mario Livio’s book, Is God a mathematician is reviewed in this issue of Plus. Sundar Sarukkai 10 February By a remarkably circular twist of history, knots are now found to provide answers iwgner string theory, our present-day best effort to understand the constituents of matter!

Based on his experience, he says “it mahematics important to point out that the mathematical formulation of the physicist’s often crude experience leads in an uncanny number of cases to an amazingly accurate description of a large class of phenomena”. Still, even without any other application in sight, the mathematical interest mathematicss knot theory continued at that point for its own sake. The writer is convinced that it is useful, in epistemological discussions, to abandon the idealization that the level of human intelligence has a singular position on an absolute scale.

School Mathematics Study Group. Knots, and especially maritime knots, enjoy effdctiveness long history of legends and uneeasonable names such as “Englishman’s tie,” “hangman’s knot,” and “cat’s paw”. Wigner begins his paper with the belief, common among those familiar with mathematics, that mathematical concepts have applicability far beyond the context in which they were originally developed. After all, no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to reduce the number of crossings of the trefoil knot figure 1b to fewer than three.

These waves—the familiar electromagnetic waves—were eventually detected by the German physicist Heinrich Hertz in a series of experiments conducted in the late s. The mere possibility of understanding the properties of knots and the principles that govern their classification was seen by most mathematicians as exquisitely beautiful and essentially irresistible.

Operator algebra Representation theory Renormalization group Feynman mathemahics M-theory. The World of Mathematics.

Isn’t this absolutely amazing? Mathematics, Matter and Method: In a group of physicists at Harvard University determined the eigene moment of the electron which measures how strongly the electron interacts with a magnetic field to a precision of eight parts in a trillion.


Wigner’s work provided a fresh insight into both physics and the philosophy of mathematicsmathemativs has been fairly often cited in the academic literature on the philosophy of physics and of mathematics.

Eugene Wigner, The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences – PhilPapers

The American Mathematical Monthly. The Jones polynomial distinguishes, for instance, even between knots and their mirror images figure 3for which the Alexander polynomials were identical. So knot theory emerged from an attempt to explain physical reality, then it wandered into the abstract realm of pure mathematics—only to eventually return to its ancestral origin. Dr Livio has done much fundamental work on the topic of accretion of mass onto black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs, as well as on the formation of black holes and the possibility to extract energy from them.

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences

There was mathematics here! In this article, Wigner referred to the uncanny ability of mathematics not only to describebut even to predict phenomena in the physical world.

Later, Hilary Effectivveness explained these “two miracles” as being necessary consequences of a realist but not Platonist view of the philosophy of mathematics. A knot and its mirror image. The Applicability of Mathematics in Science: The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve.

Wigner’s original paper has provoked and inspired many responses across a euhene range of disciplines.

But suppose further that one piece happened to touch the other one. A selection of knots. Recall that Thomson started to study knots because he was searching for a theory of atoms, then considered to be the most basic constituents of matter.