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But this is not the correct way to define learning. And hence, this is the biggest reason why students don’t find themselves interested in mathematics, science and other fields of education. Because they don’t know what exactly they are learning (or knowing in this case) and why is it important. I always think that there is a big difference between “nyana” and “jankari”. What I am implying here is gap between two words “wisdom” and “knowledge”. And what is this gap I am going to explain here. Learning is basically acquiring knowledge and understanding its importance in practical life. For example, in case of mathematics learning is not just memorizing big mathematical expressions but to understand what big arbitrary mathematical equations are saying to us. In case of science, learning means to understand the laws of science, their practical applications and beauty hidden inside the meaning of them. And above all, learning comes from doubting your understanding and being curious to understand. Famous philosopher Rene Descartes once quoted “Doubt is the origin of wisdom”. But one should first know if he/she has actually understood some particular concept. I am going to show some examples here to elaborate how one should understand and learn. And what is the pleasure of finding things out. So when I used the word “wisdom”, I meant not only knowledge but also the thorough understanding of that knowledge and ability to apply that knowledge. I would start with very fundamental example of mathematics, with which most of you would have come across. I would show you how mathematics can be wonderful. Let us consider, x = 0.999999… Now multiply both sides with 10, we would get, 10x = 9.99999… Subtract x form both sides, 9x = 9.99999.. – 0.99999.. 9x = 9 x = 1 = 0.99999..
Now, how is it possible? We just proved that 1 = 0.999…, which can’t be true. The very fundamental mistake we did here is our wrong understanding of multiplication. Multiplication basically means additions of numerical. When we multiply 9 with 8, we are actually adding number 9 with itself 8 times. So here, when multiply x with 10, we are actually adding x again and again with itself which is not possible. Because as x is tending to infinity, its addition is not possible. In fact, all mathematical operations we know just simply do counting. Their methods and representation of counting can differ, but it’s all about measurement. And that is the reason why mathematics was originated at first place. Another similar example is proving 2 = 3. Let’s see how we would do it. Consider the expression, -6=-6 Then we have, (9-15) = (4-10) Implies, (9-15+25/4) = (4-10+25/4) Implies square(3-5/2) = square (2-5/2) Implies (3-5/2) = (2-5/2) Implies 3 =2 Now, this is ironic. The step where we went wrong was, when we said that if square a = square b , then it implies that a=b. This is not correct. Because correct solution would be a = +/- b. So applying this law in our above example, the correct solution would be, (3-5/2) = - (2-5/2)
One another to prove 2 = 3 is shown below, Let’s consider two equations, 3a-2a=a and a=b+c Now, by using both equations, we have
3a-2a=3(b+c)-2(b+c) Implies Implies Implies 3a-2a=3b+3c-2b-2c 3 a - 3 b - 3c = 2 a - 2 b - 2 c 3(a-b-c)=2(a-b-c)
Now from this, we can deduce, 3=2 Again it may seem strange. There is something went wrong in this deduction. We disobeyed a very fundamental law of mathematics. We canceled (a-b-c) from both sides. Now since we already assumed that a = b+c This implies that a-b-c = 0. Since we divided both sides by 0, this leads the most philosophical argument of mathematics: “What would happen if you have nothing and you want to divide nothing into nothing?” The language of argument may seem arbitrary, but I will explain it. When we talk about mathematical operation division, it was first created by some ancient mathematicians to ease the trading. To provide a platform for buyers and seller to distribute commodities equally. For example, if I have 100 kg of rice and I want to distribute it to 10 peoples equally. I would divide 100 by 10, which is equal to 10. So I would distribute 10 kg to each. Our ancient mathematicians Aryabhata , Bhramagupta, Mahavira etc had the understanding of this operation. Now the interesting question arises, what would happen if I have 100 kg rice and I want to distribute it equally among zero people. Simply, it does not make any sense. There is no way to distribute 100 kg among 0 people. So we would say that the answer would be undefined. In computer language any number divided by 0 is supposed to be equal to infinity. Bhasakara was the first mathematician who discovered this thing. Now, our fundamental argument in the example above is, what would happen if I have 0 kg rice and I want to distribute it among 0 people. Answer would be again undefined. One cannot divide 0 by zero. Thus here, we cannot divide (a-b-c) by (a-b-c).
Moving on, I would like to share some of the wonderful magic of mathematics which are really interesting and logical. One of the very beautiful series of mathematics is Grandi’s series after Italian philosopher, mathematician Guido Grandi. The series is, 1-1+1-1+1-1+1…………………………
One way to treat this series is (by treat, I mean to find the summation of series), (1-1)+(1-1)+(1-1)+…….. = 0+0+0………. = 0 However I can also be treated as, 1-(1+1)-(1+1)-(1+1)…. = 1-0-0-0…. =1
Both seem to be quite accurate. One very interesting method is however described below, Suppose, Implies , Implies, Implies, Implies, x = 1-1+1-1+1……. 1-x = 1-(1-1+1-1……..) =1-1+1-1+1………. 1-x = x 1 = 2x x=½
In other words, 1+1-1+1-1…......... = ½
Another similar interesting mathematical series is 1-2+3-4…………… Now this is paradoxical series because its sum can be proved to be equal to ¼, which is not an integer. Mathematics says that sum of integers should always be equal to an integer, but here it can be proved that this series sum is equal to ¼. How? We will see, If we try to see what this is doing,
1=1 1-2= -1 1-2+3 = +2 1-2+3-4 = -2 1-2+3-4+5 = +3 1-2+3-4+5-6 = -3 Hence, interesting it seems like this sequence would cover up each arithmetic integer as it would go adding more and more its elements. Now, to find the sum of this series, let us assume x = 1-2+3-4……. Thus, 4x = (1-2+3-4…) + (1-2+3-4…) + (1-2+3-4…) + (1-2+3-4) 4x = (1-2+3-4…) + 1+(-2+3-4…)+1+(-2+3-4…) -1+(+3-4+5-6….) 4x = 1+(1-2-2+3)+ (-2+3+3-4)+ (3-4-4+5) + (-4+5+5-6)+….. 4x = 1+0+0+0…. 4x = 1 x =¼ Hence Proved..
And now, comes the greatest story ever told; most magical sequence mathematician came across, and to be precise Italian mathematician Fibonacci came across. It’s the most profound work of mathematics and reflects the nature of universe. It is called Fibonacci sequence named after its inventor. It is defined as follows, First take first two whole numbers 0 and 1. Now start making by adding two consequent numbers and we get, 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89…….. and so on.
The original problem that Fibonacci was trying to solve was about how fast rabbits could breed. Suppose one male and one female rabbits are put in a field. Rabbits are able to mate at the age of one month so that at the end of its second month a female can produce another pair of rabbits. Suppose that our rabbits never die and that the female always produces one new pair (one male, one female) every month from the second month on. The puzzle that Fibonacci posed was.”How many pairs will there be in one year?” At the end of the first month, they mate, but there is still one only 1 pair. At the end of the second month the female produces a new pair, so now there are 2 pairs of rabbits in the field. When third month ends, the original female produces a second pair, making 3 pairs in all in the field. At the end of the fourth month, the original female has produced yet another new pair, the female born two months ago produces her first pair also, making 5 pairs. And this series goes on. Now, from this series if we start dividing two successive numbers such that we divide each number by the number before it, we will see the following results, 1/1 = 1; 2/1 = 2; 3/2 = 1.5; 5/3 = 1.666; 8/5 = 1.6; 13/8 = 1.625; 21/13 = 1.6153; As we go on further, we would realize that this ratio is converging to 1.6181 which is known as “golden ratio”, “golden number” and sometimes “God’s number”. We say two quantities are in golden ratio if the ratio of sum of two smaller quantities to the largest quantity is equal to the ratio of largest quantity to smallest quantity. It’s easy to imagine in a triangle. The sides of a triangle follows golden ratio if the ratio of sum of two smallest sides to the largest side is equal to the ratio of largest side to smallest side.
Enough with the mathematics, now I would like to discuss the most interesting topic known to us; research and discoveries on which lead to all scientific revolution and the modern world we see today. I am talking about the big picture: Our Universe. It was the curiosity of scientists to understand the universe and meaning of its existence which lead to all scientific changes. They want to know about it, so one by one they made different theories, different laws. And due to practical application of these discoveries, we see the world today surrounded by tv, refrigerators, cell phones, cars etc. Thus it becomes very important to understand the world around us. And how modern physicists think the universe operates. And hence, important to understand how these laws, these theories came into the picture to modernize everything. As far as we know we believe that the universe works on certain laws. It follows the characteristics of some laws for the functionality of nature. We don’t know how these laws are created by nature. We have just observed nature and made standard laws on that basis. These laws are called laws of nature or forces of nature. Force is a property by virtue of which certain objects or particles attract each other or repel each other in certain standard fashion. But these laws alone do not describe everything which is happening or has happened in universe. These laws provide the best possible outcomes. They give the probabilistic measurements which are very accurate. But complete theory of universe also includes lots of randomness happening in universe. Thus history of universe is codetermined by these laws and long sequence of random outcomes in addition. The nature of universe or its functionality can be compared to a game say game of chess. Suppose god made this universe and put certain laws which it has to follow like a game of chess where each piece has to follow
certain rules always. Whatever may be the condition, they have to always follow the rule given to them. Now, if someone from other planet comes to earth and start observing the game of chess, he might realize some of the rules by observations. As time goes by, one may realize that bishop maintains its color. He also may conclude that queen moves horizontally and vertically but later one may realize that queen can also move diagonally. This is the same way how scientists work. They try to observe more and more and conclude laws. Then by observing more, modifying their laws or rules. We humans have large opportunities to observe as we are gifted by our perception of seeing, touching, hearing, speaking and taste. And above all, we have the ability to think. We are gifted with intellect which we call intelligence. Now going back to chess example, what might have happened is that, God made universe as a chess game and he is not allowing us to see it directly, but instead we can see it from an edge. We try keep looking again and again and when we observe something strange we start to analyze it and improve our old law. But all we have to do is keep looking and asking. Rules of physics tend to become simpler and beautiful as scientists discover new things. They might seem to be more complicated but they are actually taking elegant and beautiful shape. And by beautiful I mean that they can be expressed in very small and simple mathematical expression. Einstein used to ask himself that If I were God, how would I like to make universe. And then he used to say that God must create universe very simple and elegant though its consequences may appear to be complicated. So he strongly believed that universe must obey a single one inch mathematical law. He tried 30 yrs to find out this law but could not find it. Now scientists have come up with a very profound unification theory called string theory which might be able to give explanation of everything happening in nature. Some scientists also believe that finding the laws of nature is like peeling onion skin. They peel skin of onion to look deeper and deeper which means they go deeper and deeper to find out ultimate truth. Every time a skin is removed, a new law appears which appears to be more accurate. These laws are the unification of the reason behind the lots of different phenomena occurring in nature. Thus one law may be sufficient to explain lots of natural phenomena. These attraction or repulsion is measured
quantitatively using mathematics. That’s when mathematics plays a vital role. It’s the tool to measure characteristics of natural laws. Scientists so far have discovered four natural laws who are supposed to govern whole universe; from stars to planets to us. They are Gravitaional force, Electromagnetic force, Strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force. Gravitaional force is responsible for the formations of large spherical stars and planets. Electromagnetic force is responsible for most of the phenomena happening on the earth and for all the major scientific inventions like electricity, tv, refrigerator, computer etc. Strong nuclear force is responsible for holding together inter-nuclei particles. And weak nuclear force is responsible for the radioactive decay. The first law of physics was Newton’s law of gravitation which was formulated by Newton in 17th century. This law says that two objects who posses mass are attracted to each other by some force called Gravitational force. The force between two massive objects is directly proportional to the multiplication of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of distance between. It means if I have two balls of certain matter and I am trying to calculate the amount or extent by which they attract each other, then that value will be given by the expression:
This means, if I double the mass of one ball, then the force between them would also double; and if I twice the distance between them, then the force between them would decrease to ¼ times the earlier value. This law can be seen everywhere in nature. Remember the story of apple falling on tree, when Newton becomes curious and asks himself why this apple fell downward. This force is noticeable in large masses and that’s why peoples don’t attract to each other like earth attracts apple. This is the reason why we stay on ground. So at each moment we are attracted by everyone around us, but we don’t observe it because gravitational force is quantatively very low. All stars, sun and moon attract us, but the force comes out to be very low because our mass is very low and our distance from sun and stars is very high. Similarly we are attracted by earth’s gravitation pull and in this case since the distance between us and earth is very low, this force works significantly and we fell attracted toward earth. At the very same time, if we are sitting in a classroom with lots of classmates around us; we all attract each other and we are attracted by gravitational force of tables, walls, pen, pencil etc. But we cant observe it. We don’t see ourselves attracted towards wall. This is because our masses are very low, so gravitational pull becomes
very low. This is the reason why earth attracts moon and why sun attracts earth. This observation gives us the idea that the gravitational force works on larger scale which is the reason why planets and stars are large. We need this calculation of this force to send satellites on space. This is the first unified law, because it unifies the reasons behind lots of phenomena. Now one interesting question comes in mind: “If earth attracts apple, why does not it go inside the ground? Why does it stop on ground? Why do we stay on the ground even when such powerful force is attracting us?” The answer lies in the second most fundamental law of nature or force of nature known as electromagnetic force. Its combination of electric and magnetic forces because both forces are codependent of each other. Its says that two charges attract each other or repel each other on the basis of their property of being negative or positive by a strong force (strong in comparison to gravitational force ) which is proportional to the their charges and inversely proportional to square of distance between them. This can be expressed mathematically as,
Where k is the constant of proportionality. Here, we would need to define charge too. A charge is the property of a matter due to which it attracts or repels other matters with charge. This charge can be positive or negative. Two positive or two negative charges repel each other while two opposite charges attract each other. Electrons are supposed to be of negative charge while protons are supposed to carry negative. So at sub atomic level, smaller particles or subatomic particle carry two properties: mass and charge. Due to mass we feel gravitational force while due to charge we feel electromagnetic force. Electromagnetic force is very very strong than gravitational force. Electromagnetic force happens in smaller scales. This is the responsible force for all the natural phenomena happening in nature. This force is responsible for human existence and for existence of all animals and plants. Since this force is a smaller scale force, we humans, plants and all other animals are
smaller than planets and stars where the driving force is gravitation. This force does not cause any significant phenomena in larger bodies because in case of large bodies, their whole charge which is sum of all positive and negative charges turns out to be zero or neutral . This force is responsible for one of the biggest achievement of our scientific history: Electricity. And all the modern science equipments like tv, refrigerator works due to this force. This force is responsible for friction due to which we are able to walk on surface and due to which all vehicles run. Natural phenomena like rainbow, lightning etc happens due to this force. All the chemical reactions, which are basically interchanging of electrons to make other compounds and elements, happen due to application of this force. Now if we come back to our actual problem which was “If earth attracts apple, why does not it go inside the ground? Why does it stop on ground? Why do we stay on the ground even when such powerful force is attracting us?” The answer would be “due to electromagnetic force”. When we stand on the ground, the earth certainly attracts us but at the same time, our legs which are in contact with the surface interact with the surface in a magical way. When we stand on the ground, the atoms on the outer surface of our legs interacts with the atoms on the surface of earth. They are so close to each other that electromagnetic force comes in the power. These atoms and their sub atomic particles collectively interact with each other in such way that they create a repulsive force. Now since electrons and protons of surface interacts with the electrons and protons of our leg, there should be four interactive forces, force of attraction between electrons of surface, protons of legs and force of attraction between protons of surface and electrons of legs, force of repulsion between electrons of surface and electrons of legs and force of repulsion between protons of surface and protons of legs. But the resultant of these all four interactions comes out to be repulsive in nature. And it turns out that these electromagnetic interactions create a repulsive force which is equal but in the opposite direction to gravitational force. So surface of earth pushes us upwards in the same amount of force with which earth pulls us inwards. So the total force is canceled out and we remain on the ground.
By giving these examples and nature of the natural laws, I am trying to show how beautifully and elegantly our world works. Only two mathematical expressions are there to explain lots of mysterious phenomena of nature. And one interesting thing is here that these two laws are very similar to each other mathematically. This tells us how beautiful our nature can be if we try to figure out what is happening out there and why is it happening. It becomes interesting to doubt and then to find out. What we need most importantly is to widen our thinking spectrum and start doubting things. We need to see more to find out hidden beauty. Knowing the names of the things alone does not mean anything. We don’t learn by just memorizing names. Let me explain it to you. When we talk about a flower, if we just know the name of that flower, we don’t know anything about the flower. We just know the name given to it in that language. Knowing the flower means lot more. And to learn more, you need observe the flower. You need to be curious about the flower and start using imagination to find hidden beautiful details in it. One can imagine a complex but elegant web of cells inside the flower; cells collectively forming tissues and then organs. Every organ system has given a structured work. One can think of how flowers interact with nature. Flowers are evolved with colors because they need to attract insects towards them for the reproduction. Different flowers evolved with different shapes and colors so that it becomes easy for insects to differentiate between them. Also it tells us that the insects have ability to see colors. It just need to think differently and learning from the very basic fundamentals.
History of Us Now, I would like to take you on a tour of our history. And by history, I mean history of everything in the universe. I mean history of large galaxies, stars, our solar system, earth and us. I think it’s very important to understand the process of formation of universe to understand the core meaning of our lives. It tells us from where we started, where are we, and where are we going. It would help us to connect with scientific laws. We thus need a broader history of universe. This would reveal a sense of unity among everything around us and put meaning to almost everything. Let’s travel back in time to 13.7 billion years ago. There was nothing. Imagine the darkest silence. There were no existence of space and time. Everything was meaningless because you need to have something to give meaning. And then suddenly universe appears with a huge blast. This is called Big Bang; the bang which started the universe. This universe is very very small and highly dense. It contains tremendous amount of energy. There are not even atoms in this universe. It is vibrating with lots of energy and it is expanding very rapidly. Within a fraction of second, fundamental forces of nature appears. The same forces we talked earlier. Due to these forces energy started to form matter in the form of protons, neutrons and electrons. Still there are no atoms in the universe. Around 400000 years after the big bang first atoms appeared in the form of hydrogen and helium: the atoms with lowest mass. But still this universe is highly dense. Small clouds of hydrogen and helium atoms started to form. This happened due to gravitation force. Since universe is dense, gravitation force is more powerful here. Due to gravitation force, the density of hydrogen-helium clouds start increasing. These clouds became denser and due to high density they started attracting smaller clouds towards them to make even more dense clouds. Due to very high density, these atoms came so close to each other that their fusion occurred. This was very spontaneous and a lot of energy released. This was our first star. After around 200 million years after the big bang, lots of stars began to appear. When a star dies, it releases lots of energy and due to this energy, temperature increases a lot too. So in these highly volatile conditions, the nuclei of hydrogen and helium started to fuse and due to their permutation
and combination different nuclei appeared. These nuclei have more number of protons and neutrons in them. Then at the same these nuclei attracted required number of electrons to neutralize their charges and hence new elements started to appear. First, elements with small masses appeared then elements with large mass began to form. Small clouds of elements started to form around stars. These clouds of elements started to merge with each other due to gravitational pull. Different elements started to react chemically to form different compounds. At this time our universe was highly chemically active. When these clouds of elements and compounds make sufficiently large volume, we call them planet. Our solar system was formed about 4.5 billion years ago.
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