Math is all around us in our daily lives, from grocery shopping, for gas, use a GPS or place a rack on the wall. In 2013, the renowned mathematician and writer of popular books, Ian Stewart he published a book entitled “17 equations that changed the world”. In this article, we explain some of them and why they have been so important for the history of mankind.
1. The Pythagorean Theorem
This famous equation is the basis of geometry as we know it. Dating from 530 BC and describes the relationship between the sides of a right triangle on a flat surface, stating that the sum of the square of the length of the short sides b ( “Hicks”) is equal to the square of the length of (“hypotenuse”) longest side c.
This theorem is particularly useful in the field of construction, but also in navigation to triangulate positions in police investigations to calculate the trajectory of a bullet or determine how close was the shooter or to find the location of a mobile phone triangulation. The GPS we use today could not function without this theorem.
Logarithms, presented by John Napier in 1610, they are the inverse (opposite) of the exponential functions. A logarithm of a given base is the power that we have to raise the base to get a number.The equation log (ab) = log (a) + log (b) is one of the most useful applications of logarithms, converting multiplication sum. Until the development of digital computers and computing, this was the method most common to quickly multiply numbers together large and considerably accelerated the calculations in fields such as physics, astronomy and engineering.
It is currently used in numerous fields such as the economy and banking, where it is used, for example, to measure the growth of deposits in time; on the advertising, to compile statistics of the advertising campaign; in biology, for statistical analysis of how genetic inherit a child of his parents; in geology, to calculate the intensity of earthquakes; in chemistry, for calculating the pH, etc.
3. The law of gravity
This law of classical physics, also called law of universal gravitation, was enunciated by Isaac Newton in 1687 and describes the mutual attractive force F experienced two bodies according to their respective masses m 1 and m 2, the distance separates r and gravitational constant G. Under this law, the greater the mass of bodies and the closer they are to each other, more strongly they attract. This law explains almost perfectly the movement of the planets and is completely universal, ie not only it works on Earth but throughout the universe. In our daily life, explains many things, including why the earth revolves around the sun, why a pendulum swinging movement can keep your forever, because if we launch any object always ends up falling down and why its speed drop increases as it approaches the Earth, etc. the law of gravity Newton remained in force until it was replaced by the theory of general relativity Albert Einstein in the early twentieth century.
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4. The wave equation d’Alembert
The wave equation or d’Alembert equation is a differential equation developed by the French mathematician and philosopher Jean le Rond d’Alembert in 1746. This equation is used to describe the behavior or change shape over time a wide wave range, including water waves, sound and light. For example, a guitar string vibrates, the ripples in a pond after throwing a stone or the light emitted by an incandescent bulb. Hence it is so important in fields such as acoustics, electromagnetism or fluid dynamics, among others. In addition, techniques developed to solve this equation helped others understand differential equations.
5. Theorem of polyhedrons of Euler
The mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1751 published his “Theorem of polyhedrons,” which includes a formula for amazing results. But what is a polyhedron? Because it is a three-dimensional version of a polygon. For example, a cube or a polyhedron would dimensional version of the square polygon. The corners of a polyhedron are called “vertices”, the lines connecting the vertices together are called “edges” and the remaining surfaces between them are the “faces” of the polyhedron. Euler’s genius is to have found a formula valid for all polyhedra and allows us to know if the polyhedron is well constructed. According to Euler, the sum of the vertices (V) and the faces (C) of a polyhedron least its edges (A) must always be equal to two. For example, a cube has eight corners, 6 faces and 12 edges. If we apply Euler’s formula, V – E + F = 2, we see that 8 to 12 + 6 = 2.
Choose any other polyhedron and try to apply the formula. The result will always be 2!
This observation Euler was one of the first examples of what we now call “topological invariant”: a number or property sharing a class of similar shapes to each other; and paved the way for the development of topology, a branch of the essential to modern physics and mathematics 3D mapping.
6. The normal distribution
The normal distribution, also called Gaussian distribution or bell curve describes the behavior of certain properties or independent processes in large groups of people or things. The importance of this distribution is that constantly appears in nature and attitude of the people, allowing modeling many natural, social and psychological phenomena. Its use is very common in fields such as physics, biology, psychology or social sciences, among others.
For example, if we look up to everyone in a sample group will see that most people will be around average height and that as we move away from the average height above or below the number of people decreases, leading to the graphic typical bell-shaped developed by Carl Friedrich Gauss in 1810. the same will happen if we analyze your IQ. This distribution is also a fundamental tool in the laboratory, to see the percentage of effectiveness that has a drug in clinical trials.
7. Maxwell’s equations
Are four differential equations describing the behavior of the electric (E) and magnetic (H) and how they relate to each other. These equations, published by James Clerk Maxwell in 1865 are the basis for explaining how electromagnetism works on a daily basis. In everyday life, we explain to them how information from television, Internet and transmitted mobile phones, how long it takes to reach Earth the starlight or how neurons work. However, today it is known that these equations provide only an approximation to electromagnetism works well in human scale but that is not accurate, hence modern physics has replaced Maxwell’s equations by a quantum mechanical explanation.
8. The 2nd law of thermodynamics
Under this law, formulated by Boltzmann in 1874, in a closed system, entropy (S) is always constant or increasing. But what is the thermodynamic entropy? Generally speaking, entropy determines the amount of disorder in a system there. For example, a system of irregular and orderly like a hot region next to a region cold- always tend to equalize, the heat flow from the hot zone to the cold zone, reaching a uniform distribution state. Unlike most of which are usually reversible physical processes the second law of thermodynamics is irreversible, it only works in this direction and time dependent. Thus, if we prepare an iced coffee, always ice cubes will melt and never coffee freeze.
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9. The theory of relativity
Albert Einstein changed the course of physics in stating his theories of special and general relativity in the early twentieth century. The famous equation E = mc2 implies that mass and energy are equivalent. Special relativity, published in 1905, taught us that the speed of light is a universal speed limit and that the passage of time is different for people who They are moving at different speeds. While the general theory of relativity or general relativity, published in 1915, is a new theory of gravitation replaced Newton’s Law and which describes gravity as a curvature and folding space and time for themselves. General relativity is essential to understanding the origins, structure and ultimate fate of the universe.
10. The Schrödinger equation
This equation, published by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1927, governs the behavior of atoms and subatomic particles and is the basis of quantum mechanics. It is one of the most successful scientific theories of history, along with the general theory of relativity, since all experimental observations to date agrees well with predictions. In everyday life, quantum mechanics is present in the most modern technologies, such as nuclear power, semiconductor-based computers or Laser.
11. Information Theory
This is the equation of the information entropy, Shannon published in 1949. As thermodynamic entropy, this is a measure of disorder, but applied in this case, the information contained in a message, either a book, a picture or anything else that can be represented symbolically. data compression is applied in different fields of information, including. Compressing a message may be the case that there is any loss of content and greater compression, the more likely that losses. In this sense, Shannon entropy indicates the limit compression of a message, that is, to what extent can compress without losing some of its contents. This theory marked the beginning of the mathematical study of the information and results are fundamental today for communication over networks.
12. Chaos theory
Surely you’ve ever heard that a butterfly flapping its wings in one continent can cause a hurricane in another continent. Well, that is basically chaos theory, the idea that a small event or change in initial conditions can cause a chain reaction that results in a completely different result. The Australian mathematician and biologist Robert May developed his equation in 1976 while he is studying the evolution of animal populations. The equation describes a process that evolves over time, where xt would be the amount of studied factor x (in the case of May, the number of children of each individual in the population) at the present time t, K is a constant chosen and xt + 1 would be the evolution of the value x with the passage of time. For certain values of K , the logistics map of May shows a chaotic behavior. According to this theory, if we start at a specific initial value of x, the process will evolve in a way, but if we start from a different initial value, even if it is extremely close to the first value, the process will evolve in a completely different way.
This highly sensitive to initial conditions chaotic behavior is present in many aspects of our daily lives. A very clear example is the weather, where a small change in atmospheric conditions a day can lead to completely different weather systems within days. Today is especially common use in the field of economics, medicine and meteorology.