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Academic Bulletin Freshman Tutorials - 2008-09 - 8 FT 8

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FT 08-I Aesthetics in Science and Mathematics

Esteban Poffald, Department of Mathematics

“The scientist does not study nature because it is useful. He studies it because he takes pleasure in it and he takes pleasure in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing” (Poincare)

The study of the platonic solids by the early Greeks, the revolutionary Copernican model of the solar system and the discovery of the Theory of Relativity by Einstein are just a few examples of the work of great minds that were to a great extent guided by a sense of an aesthetically pleasing universe. In this tutorial we will explore the aesthetic values and sensibilities of some of the most influential scientists and mathematicians through the ages. We will analyze their descriptions of the pleasures of the scientific endeavor and ways their aesthetic intuitions led to some of the most important breakthroughs in the advance of scientific knowledge. This tutorial is not a science course, but it is an attempt to look at one aspect of the world of science.

Poffald, Esteban I.
Credits: 1