What do we mean by exponential growth? How quickly does your bank balance grow? How quickly does a cup of tea cool, or radium decay? What shape is a washing line and what is the link with a single mysterious number?
Sometimes a solution can be reduced to a single element.
Pi is one of those constants in the mathematical world. And because of that, it often appears in nature, particularly any that involves curves and spirals. But it would be too easy to derive pi from those very things - they are ordered, unchanging, predictable.
But what if pi can be derived from a series of improbable, unpredictable actions?
In our daily lives, there are two things that we can tell: random event, and those due to cause and effect. However some supposedly random things are simply organized in such a way that we can't help by recognising a cause to their non-coincidental effect.
We see it in nature (the Golden Ratio), and constructs by humans (the movement of share prices). But what about in pure numbers? Especially the most mysterious kind: prime numbers.
It's funny how some of the things we do to stave off boredom tent to be things that stimulate or challenge our minds. Or maybe it's not a coincidence? The Sumerians who developed the first concepts that eventually became mathematics also developed the particularly compelling Royal Game of Ur, and the same can be said with Indians and chess.
Mathematics, the basis of everything from physics to chemistry to biology. And hence, it must be older than any of them. So to understand nature and it's inner workings, we must first understand maths.
And what better way to understand something than to trace its history and development?
The Institution for Science Advancement is a non-profit organisation that promotes inquiry-based science education in Malaysian schools based on the principles of truth, liberty and merit. The Institution for Science Advancement Ⓒ 2019