Talk:The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences
|WikiProject Physics / Publications||(Rated Start-class, Low-importance)|
|WikiProject Philosophy||(Rated Start-class, Low-importance)|
Does the influence of a paper belong in an article on the paper, or in other articles entirely? The stuff that is not just quoting from the paper could be in the article on Wigner, but it would then need to also be in other places...
Moved this page to properly capitalised title, thus hopefully making clear that this is about a specific work rather than a general article. --Robert Merkel
- Yes, it is, thanks.
- But it's about a very abstract work with many implications. The reason the paper matters is that, in practice since 1960, Wigner was borne out. There is a robust cognitive science investigation of 'is it the experimenter, the experiment, or the experimental phenomenon that is actually described here'. There isa robust discussion of possible alternate cognitions, e.g. other hominid, alien species, artificial life. The dire situation Wigner pointed to as a symptom has also come true: string theorists argue about how real the math or the theory can be since it's untestable and so abstract that very few mathematicians can understand it. So it's still confusing how much to quote and how much to comment, and how much to introduce of the articles very deep significance.
- we should leave a redirect in place since there are other articles that refer to it with the lowercased title - they'll be fixed as time allows. Thanks.
VfD discussion for The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Physical Sciences, which now redirects here.
Text copied from The_Unreasonable_Effectiveness_of_Mathematics_in_the_Natural_Sciences. Markalexander100 03:16, 17 May 2004 (UTC)
- Delete, no reason to have it under this title. --Starx 03:20, 17 May 2004 (UTC)
- I went ahead and speedy deleted it since it was just a copy/paste job. -- Cyrius|✎ 03:25, May 17, 2004 (UTC)
- You might want to go back and take another look. It's back. - Lucky 6.9 21:32, 17 May 2004 (UTC)
- I think you're confused. We've got two pages here, Natural Sciences, and Physical Sciences. The "Physical" one is up for deletion as a bad copy/paste job of the "Natural" version, and has been recreated as a redirect by Eric B. and Rakim, which isn't a problem. The article you put the VfD notice on was the "Natural" version, which isn't at issue. Oh, and keep the redirect, it seems like a reasonable mistake to make. -- Cyrius|✎ 22:15, May 17, 2004 (UTC)
- Ah, so it is. Thanks. - Lucky 6.9 23:44, 17 May 2004 (UTC)
Reference 1 to "Mathematics Under the Microscope, Alexandre Borovik, 2006" is not correct. The first part point to a page that no longer exists. More importantly, the quote "There is only one thing which is more unreasonable than the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in physics, and this is the unreasonable ineffectiveness of mathematics in biology." does not occur in the Borovik's book. Maybe in the article, but that's no longer available. I found one reference that suggests that the quote is from Israel Gelfand instead ( http://10outof10.blogspot.com/2007/02/unreasonable-effectiveness-of.html ). Here one Alexandre Borovik (!) attributes the quote to Gelfland. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 184.108.40.206 (talk) 09:11, 19 November 2009 (UTC) Fixed it. Alexandre Borovik actually qoutes Gelfland in his atricle. The article link now points to www.archive.org, because the original atricle no longer exists. I could not find the original quote by Gelfland, so we have to take Borovik's word for it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 220.127.116.11 (talk) 09:44, 19 November 2009 (UTC)
The article as it now stands with the Gelfland quote and the time-conditioned uncertainty that Wigner expressed concerning heredity and physics propagates a misconception that mathematics and physics have little or no role in biology. This was somewhat true until the discovery of the double helical structure of DNA in 1953 and the blossoming of computational biology over the last 15 years. The idea that life and heredity cannot be explained by physical principles is simply no longer tenable. Vitalism died a long time ago. That being said, the key point raised by Wigner remains completely valid and just as mysterious as when he wrote. Why should abstract rational concepts be able to explain biological systems that evolved haphazardly over million of years. Why should our concepts be able to explain the gross properties of galaxies that existed billions of years in the past? What is it about human thought that allows it to transcend space and time and come up with meaningful answers to questions far removed from everyday experience? We still don't have an answer to Wigner's basic question. Toroid (talk) 04:06, 1 January 2010 (UTC)
- Gelfland quote is still very actual, mathematics is almost useless in biology. Computational biology is a tiny fraction of the field and so far has relatively little impact. The fact is that mathematics fails already in chemistry, we cannot even model simple atoms in a satisfactory way, complex molecules are completely beyond the reach. All we have are very crude "spherical cow" approximations which are mostly useless. Then again I don't find the usefulness of mathematics in natural sciences as a whole particularly surprising, there have long been mutual interaction between mathematicians and physicists. The number of mathematical structures is infinite but there is a strong bias to explore only those which are closely related to physical reality. And despite that effectiveness of mathematics still leaves much to be desired - even a simple 3 body problem cannot be computed exactly. All in all the perception described in the article is more due to bias then anything else.Sergiacid (talk) 08:13, 20 April 2010 (UTC)