Living In A World Without Mathematics

In spite of the many complaints we make on the subject, math is a more integral part of our lives than creditted

'I’ve never liked maths!' or 'My child hates maths' is a statement that has become commonplace today. There are instances where a child has even said, 'I wish there was a world with no maths!' That thought may bring a smile to many faces, but that happiness will be short-lived.

But to amuse you, let’s assume that we have a world without maths. What happens then? How do you set an alarm? How do you know that the average human requires at least 7-8 hours of sleep? How do you know how much oil is too much for a stir fry or too little for onion pakoras? How will the electricity come to your house? Will the wheel be invented? How will you commute to work or school?  How will an aeroplane (if it exists) fly in the sky? Would a surgeon know the 1 mm distance between two organs to make a precise incision? How would the universe have formed? Would there have been a Big Bang? Would Earth exist? All the questions asked have one common answer connecting them all: maths.

As you can see, maths is all around us. Without maths, we would not be able to explain the vastness of the universe or the size of an electron in a hydrogen atom. Between this electron and the size of the universe are infinite ways in which maths is an integral part of our lives. 

In our daily routine

Maths plays a role right from the moment we’re woken up by the morning alarm. From then, we consume ‘x’ number of calories per day, we avail of online discounts to make purchases, we spend ‘y’ hours at the office, and we have ‘z’ number of meetings. In the middle, we ensure that we drink at least 2-3 litres of water, spend one-hour exercising/meditating, and 45 minutes of 'me time.' We turn the fan and lights off when not required to save electricity so that our bills are low at the end of the month. We invest money to save on taxes. We go once a week to buy provisions, fruit and vegetables. And the most important three words at the end of the month is ‘salary is credited.’ All these are different occurrences with one thing in common: maths.

In sport

Maths plays a key role in sport and it’s more than just achieving records. Timing a cricket ball or shooting a basketball into the hoop requires precision. If it wasn’t for maths, we would not know Don Bradman’s batting average is 99.94 nor would we know that Sachin Tendulkar has scored 100 international centuries. But it’s also the beauty of numbers that explains the good from the great. Jamaican Usain Bolt, the fastest man on earth has a world record of 9.58 seconds in a 100-metre race. A runner from Tuvalu, a country in the Pacific islands, has a national record of 11.44 seconds, making Tuvalu the slowest country in the world. But the 1.86-second gap is what separates Bolt from the rest of the world.

In entertainment

‘Lights, camera, action!’ may be a common line used in the entertainment industry, but those three words are all associated with maths. Whether it’s live-action, animated or CGI, there is a math factor playing a role. Filmmaker Christopher Nolan, who is considered one of the best in the world today, says that he uses a ‘mixture of intuition and geometry’ while he makes his movies. Today, people still joke about the final scene in ‘Titanic’ that had Jack and Rose known maths, then they could have both survived on the block of ice.

In medicine

Biostatistics is a popular field of science used by the medical community today. This is used to understand drug trails and understanding vaccine efficacy better. However, maths plays a key role in surgery as it is with exact precision (sometimes as narrow as a millimetre) that a surgeon needs to successfully conduct an operation. 

In science and in space

It is impossible to teach science without maths. In science, maths operates to analyse nature, discover its secrets, and explain its existence. Algebraic balance is necessary for calculating chemical formulas, growth ratios, and genetic matrices. Science is essentially an application of maths hence its absence would simply not lead us to any scientific facts or discoveries.

Similarly, maths plays a role in understanding space better. Thanks to maths, we know that the Earth is a sphere that revolves in an elliptical orbit around the sun in approximately 365 days. Thanks to maths, we are today able to approximately calculate the vastness of the universe, although experts believe that the number will only increase as calculations continue

So, the next time you watch TV, drive in a car or spend money on your favourite book, stop for a minute to appreciate maths and ponder on ways in which it helps you in your everyday lives. Also, spare a moment to appreciate your maths teachers who play an important role in fostering the love and appreciation for the subject in each new generation.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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