“There is a strong relationship between science and mathematics. Science is about exploring, describing, understanding and explaining our Universe. To do this scientists have used mathematical tools for analysis of natural phenomena and describing the relationship between natural phenomena in succinct and predictive ways. Today many of our more abstract advanced ideas of nature can currently only be expressed in mathematical terms e.g. aspects of quantum physics, string theory and Dark Matter/ Dark Energy.” – Neil Taylor
Recently, we had an input in Discovering Maths from Neil Taylor, who is a Science Lecturer at the University of Dundee. He first of all asked us to write down every aspect of maths that we think is used in science. We came up with quite a lot:
Having done Higher Chemistry and Physics myself I felt very aware of the maths used in science, but didn’t quite realise how much! In science, everything is measured. And I mean EVERYTHING; volume, density, speed, temperature and time are all to name a few. All equally studied in maths separately as well as under the term of measurement. The use of formulae in equations, for example in the top right of the photo is Distance=Speed/Time – a very useful and renowned formula that Science wouldn’t work without.
The use of graphs, charts and tables to display data is a huge one. This is important in science as all findings are tend to be shown in the form of a line graph, scatter graph, bar graph, or shown in various types of tables and charts. It is the easiest way for us to understand scientific findings, and its all down to maths! – E.g of my own graph from the input:
Even the use of positive and negative numbers that maths gives us – makes it easy to understand temperature, not only in Celsius but in Kelvin scale. Another couple of big ones are shapes, ratios, and converting numbers. Who could be bothered writing 1nm (nanometre 1×10^-9) as 0.0000001m every time? Not me! Not anyone in fact.
It just goes to show that our knowledge of maths is used in other areas, and are very important in these areas. This links in with a fundamental knowledge of maths, as it is allows us to revisit basic ideas from our early learning in maths and adapt these to suit the situation. For example, we all learned to do a very simple bar graph in primary school, a line graph maybe by p6/7, but never really used them again, or never used them for a purpose, only to answer a question. In science, it is essential these graphs are used to display your OWN findings, so we are conducting a real mathematical activity.
It also allows us to form links between different subjects in maths. I must say I found the use of formulae easy in Higher maths as I had been regularly using it in Physics and Chemistry. Although they were used in completely different contexts, the concept remains the same and allows you to develop your skills in using these specific things.
Maths is extremely important, fundamentally, and every other aspect of it, especially in science. Science is one of the most progressive fields out there, and splits up into hundreds of different categories, where Maths is apparent and important in each. One part that is extremely important to the future of our society is energy – renewable energy. The use of turbines for wind energy, wave turbines for wave energy, and solar panels for solar energy are all on the rise in terms of popularity due to our finite resources such as oil and gas suspected to run out in the next 100 years or less. This means that the most efficient means of renewable energy must be implemented and this is all done by scientists and scientific technicians.
Also, in terms of the health sector, hundred of biologists and chemists research every day in order to find and improve medicines for our society. This could be done by carrying out tests which requires estimation, measuring quantities and displaying results on graphs – all areas of maths.
By having a fundamental awareness of maths we are able to use and apply mathematics in different contexts and relate the different concepts to form one body of knowledge. I feel as though this is done in Science to a degree, and science is crucial to our future. Therefore a knowledge of fundamental maths is also significant to the future of our wider society.