Mathematics is the language of nature

The importance of mathematics is not taught well in schools. There is no emphasis on learning mathematics as a language of nature. Rather, most education systems around the world teach mathematics as a tool to solve scientific and engineering problems. Of course, solving scientific problems using mathematics leads to our understanding of nature but the point I am raising is a subtle but important one. Seeing mathematics as the language of nature than a tool to solve problems trains young minds towards a more precise understanding of nature.

Many people have asked me why we can’t use other human languages to describe nature. After all, human species have been using language in the form of prose and poetry to describe nature since the early days of language-based communication. Why should we learn mathematics when we are comfortable with the language(s) we know? What is the need to learn abstract and mundane mathematics when we can use our languages to poetically describe anything in the universe?

Well, to begin with, human languages are imprecise to describe a more precise universe. The very flexibility that allows human languages to poetically describe anything also makes it imprecise to describe nature. Moreover, human languages easily incorporate human biases into the description. Using an imprecise and bias prone tool like human language to describe nature is the reason why our world is filled with too many belief systems. Just look at the Chinese Whisperers game. In many societies, elementary school kids are taught to play the game to showcase how information travels from one person to another.

The game above is a perfect example of how human expressions (either using sign languages or spoken languages) are imprecise and ridden with their own biases to even describe a simple action. The game shows how the errors creep in, completely changing the final result. Such an imprecise language cannot be used to describe nature. This is where mathematics plays a critical role.

Mathematics is not only a more precise language where we can easily eliminate individual biases, but it is also beautiful. It is time we think seriously about what we teach children in the school. Instead of teaching mathematics as a tool to solve science and engineering problems, let us make them understand that it is a more precise language to describe nature. This means throwing away traditional approaches to teaching mathematics in a STEM-based curriculum and embracing a more creative way to teach mathematics. Not only we have to take a more conceptual approach to teach mathematics (than a problem-solving approach), we need to show the kids how beautiful mathematics is. We need to make them understand that you can achieve poetic beauty with a bunch of equations while also precisely describing nature. Of course, we should put more emphasis on the precision part of the description than the poetic part. Unless we bring this change into our education system, we may do a successful job in mass-producing the engineers but a very bad job at producing future Einsteins.

Mathematics is the language of nature. Period. If anyone wants to understand nature in a rational way, they better fix their mathematics. They better learn mathematics as a language than a tool. Check out this good article on how to develop a good math intuition.

PS: There is another debate where people argue that mathematics defines nature than being a language to describe nature. It is a discussion for another blog post in the future.



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Future Asteroid Farmer, Analyst, Modern Enterprise, Startup Dude, Ex-Red Hatter, Rishidot Research, Modern Enterprise Podcast, and a random walker