Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What's wrong with math?

  1. Mar 4, 2006 #1
    i can't get what is mathematic. is it a science or only a scientific language? we know that other sciences are like a medium between nature and us. perhaps we can consider them as a language that let us to understand the nature better, but what we can say about math?:confused:
    on the other hand i really like math. i enjoy alot when i can solve a math problem. i don't get tired if i spend hours solving math problems. sometimes i think i should continue my education in math but there's a problem. it seems that math has a very strange effect on your personality. most of mathematician i've met are very unfriendly, cold and serious. i don't want to end up with such a personality. is it true? even on this board they seem to spend all their hours here. no post in GD, no fun... sounds like math is everything in their life.

    please don't move my thread somewhere else because i want to have mathematicians' oppinions and they usaully just read posts of math forums not gd or other forums.thanks:smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 4, 2006 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I cannot agree with your assessment of the personalities of mathematicians. I have known many mathematicians and found them to be as varied in personality as the general population.

    Time spend in GD is not an indication of any kind.
  4. Mar 5, 2006 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    In my opinion Mathematics is a modeling language which we use to isolate the things that we find relevant so that we can deal with them more directly, in a more abstract manner, free of context. In a metaphor, which may or may not be clear, i feel that if the universe is a picture with all kinds of colors and textures, then mathematics would be the trace of some portion of that picture created by overlaying a transparent sheet on top of the picture and tracing some lines in black. A "trace" can contain any or all of the information in the picture, but it allows us to eliminate the irrelevant information so that we can really focus on what is going on. It gives us kind of a "bare-bones" perspective of the universe. And it turns out that some really different looking pictures can have similar "traces", and that is one benefit of eliminating the unnecessary information, it allows us to contrast, compare, relate, things more efficiently.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2006
  5. Mar 5, 2006 #4


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I don't understand... Maths plays an important part in our life, and science, too.
    How can one count if there appears to be no maths? How will one know how much they've earned and spent in a month without maths? Will there be physic, or even chemistry if there is no maths? Blah, blah, blah... Just think of it.
    So, in conclusion, maths is an important science.
    Do you know Hurkyl? :wink:
  6. Mar 5, 2006 #5
    why you ask? one person can't be enough for proving me wrong.:wink:
  7. Mar 5, 2006 #6
    we can't live without water and food too. no advancement is possible without money... but they're not science. they're just means.:biggrin:
  8. Mar 5, 2006 #7
    You're obviously not a mathematician then, as one counterexample is enough to disprove a claim! :tongue2:
  9. Mar 5, 2006 #8
    lol that's what i was going to say.
  10. Mar 5, 2006 #9

    matt grime

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    So your measure of 'friendliness' and 'fun' is posting in GD, is it? Perhaps using a different criterion might be better, or should we level the claim that 'posting on internet messages boards is everything in your life', which would seem equally unfair and dismissive?
  11. Mar 5, 2006 #10
    I know plenty of mathmos who fall nicely into your notion of 'Maths is their life'. At the same time, I know way more who are normal people.

    Most people who do mathematics by their degree/doctorate/profession are people who happen to do maths, not maths obsessed people who do nothing else.

    I don't mean to sound too rude En_lizard, but it's a pretty silly preconception you've got. Unfortunately you're not alone. I've been talking to people in clubs or pubs and the topic of what we spend our lives doing (work? student? unemployed? etc), and I've had more than one person actually stop talking to me because I've said 'I'm a maths student', despite being in the same club as them (so we like the same music etc) and getting on with them fine until then. There's the usual stereotypes for most subjects in university, but I don't judge people on their subject choice, I judge them on what they are actually like.
  12. Mar 5, 2006 #11
    I think you partly answer your own questions with the first couple of statements quoted above, En_lizard. I, too, can spend hours solving mathematics problems, and not even notice the time pass. When I get focussed on it, mathematics totally absorbs my mind.

    But I don't think this necessarily means it has a very strange effect on personality: this depends on the person, I think, and what other interests they have as well. I am also interested in social issues, and post a lot in the politics section. I do find that when I'm doing a lot of mathematics, because it is so fascinating I spend less time thinking about other things - but then that's my choice. I could (and often do) choose to do less mathematics and more socialising if I want to - the question is whether or not one wants to spend time on other things. Sometimes I deliberately use mathematics to help me stop thinking about other things too (like social problems, because thinking about these too much can be very distressing).

    I would say that if you enjoy it, study mathematics - you are in control of how much you decide to focus your attention on it, after all.
  13. Mar 5, 2006 #12
    I don't understand why it should be bad if people spend most of their time doing mathematics. I think everyone is devoted to some sort of activity in his/her life. It's obsession in its purely positive sense. It's love, which gives their life the grounding purpose. And I'm sure it'll hardly be possible to progress in mathematics without being obsessed by it.

    I fully disagree that mathematicians are lone aliens with their own language and weird life-style. It's again impossible to work in this field without being sociable and communicative. Mathematics requires lots of, if not only, team work. All the recent progress in mathematics has been possilble thanks to collaborative efforts of mathematicians from all over the world. Take the fruitful friendship of Singer and Atiyah as an example! Just for info, Singer plays tennis and Atiyah loves long walks in the mountains. See, it seems that variety has made its contribution!

    I can add from my own experience that most (though there are always exeptions, which are normal) of mathematicians are very friendly, witty and pleasant people, and if you have a chance it's worth to spend your time with them!:smile:
  14. Mar 5, 2006 #13


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Just to add to the other voices here that are all saying pretty much the same thing...
    Getting immersed in doing something that interests you doesn't mean anything is weird about that particular activity, just that it's something that interests you. Some people are the same way about reading books, or painting, or pretty much anything that interests them greatly.

    I also have two very good friends who are both mathematicians, one has her master's and the other has his PhD in the subject. Both are perfectly normal people with healthy social lives, two adorable children, plenty of friends and close bonds with their families. Most of their friends from grad school are the same way (sure, there are a few oddballs in the group, but you find those in any profession).
  15. Mar 5, 2006 #14

    matt grime

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    A good rule of thumb is that the higher up the food chain you go the fewer oddballs there are.
  16. Mar 5, 2006 #15
    My math teacher is one of the best people I have ever met. One of the funniest as well.
  17. Mar 5, 2006 #16


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Consider -
    Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematics - which addresses some of the questions in the OP.
  18. Mar 5, 2006 #17


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Perhaps they look unfriendly because you always have to be careful not to say something illogical orstupid,and don't go to a conclusion base on irrelevant informations!
    They might value their time more than ordinary people. We always have plenty of time to waste since we're sure we have a tomorrow to come. But for them there's only a posibility to be alive tomorrow!:tongue: But hey if I had something more valuable to do I wouldn't spend any time in GD. (right now I have to practise my English first.good excuse for fooling myself!)
    Anyway I don't know what's your definition by being friendly? If friendly people are those who force you to be theirr involuntary listener to their nonsenses, then you might be right. For me the fact that they come here, spend lots of time to solve and answer our questions make me think of them as friendly and nice people.:smile:
  19. Mar 5, 2006 #18
    Yep, I am thankful for the mathematicians that come here and help us out. I think it is nice that they don't waste time in GD, and instead spend time helping out people.
  20. Mar 5, 2006 #19
    yeah Matt has an point ...

    perhaps i think Lizaed,you might have seen that movie Beautiful mind which projected Nash in the way you described.

    But howcome:surprised Matt Grime posted in this thread..
  21. Mar 5, 2006 #20
    I've found that math teachers are my favorite teachers. All the ones I've had have been very nice. My current math teacher is absolutely hilarious. Even more, he's uniformly hilarious. Therefore we know that he is also simply hilarious. He's also peicewise continuous on a closed interval.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: What's wrong with math?
  1. What's wrong with this? (Replies: 18)

  2. What if it is all wrong? (Replies: 15)