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Perfect shapes in mathematics

  1. Oct 29, 2012 #1
    Why does mathematics deal with the world of perfect spheres, triangles and squares. I understand how this can be applied to architecture and engineering. But this seems counter-intuitive to 'nature' that surrounds us which is objects that are not perfect in shape. The earth for instance isn't a perfect sphere it budges out at the equator. So why is mathematics always prone to using perfect angles and objects to be measured when nature isn't that way at all.

    Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 29, 2012 #2


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    Mathematics uses other shapes, too. But often, circles, triangles and so on are good approximations. In addition, they are used as introduction as they are easier to treat than other shapes.

    Plus many more corrections to the shape.
  4. Oct 29, 2012 #3
    That is what inspired fractal geometry.

    Natural geometry also follows some more specialised mathematics - spirals, fibonacchi series, and some very complicated equal area shpes.

    Note also that the word geometry derives from 'measurement of the Earth'.
  5. Oct 29, 2012 #4


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    Why should nature guide maths?
  6. Nov 1, 2012 #5
    I guess the way i see it is. I was mainly just wondering why math uses examples from natural world it's perfect objects seems a bit unrealistic. Though I am no mathematician i would think mathematics becomes so approximate that any shape of nature can be imagined.
  7. Nov 1, 2012 #6


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    And what should you approximate reality FROM, if not from the "perfect" shapes???

    You can call a rectangle a perfect, unrealistic figure for all you like, but it is from the rectangle and its associated area formula that you can basically derive the area of any other shape.
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