Life in Mathematics

James P. Wood

For millennia, the study of the physical universe was referred to as Natural Philosophy, the “Philosophy of Nature”. Then, during the 18th and 19th centuries, the cumulative body of knowledge increased to a point where specialization inevitably began to occur and, eventually, to accelerate.  It was during this time that individual disciplines began to develop independently: the chemist, the physicist, the biologist, the astronomer.  Natural philosopher gave way to scientist

Specialization continued. It has proven to be an efficient means of allowing the continued acceleration in knowledge, and with it, a major benefit to society.  But it has come with a cost. “Science” has become more abstract, esoteric, and, to the public, disconnected from the “nature” originally spawning it. Indeed, in the eyes of an uninitiated majority of society, it has become, without a higher specialized education, unapproachable.  It is sad.

This series is a bid to begin bringing back a public perception, a reconnection between science and the philosophy of nature; to begin to re-bridge the gap and make it more approachable and appreciated. It asks the question: How, really, does one observe nature?

Some people are pulled in by the chaotic cacophony of color, form, and dynamics infusing it.

Others are inspired by the elegant, pristine laws describing, predicting, indeed governing it.

What is more compelling: the science of nature or the nature of science?

As this series endeavors to show: they are actually, in the end, two sides of the same coin.  

[Background music: Allegro 1 in E, by James P. Wood]