VINCENZO BARONE, GIULIO GIORELLO

The Mathematics of Nature

In a letter to his father in 1839, Dostoyevsky wrote that mathematics was a strange science and that is was silly to concern oneself with it. Math is esoteric and secret, perfect and elegant, and – for many of – obscure and puzzling. But reality is fundamentally mathematical. Even the ancient Greeks were aware of this and knew that formulae and theorems were essential tools for understanding the world. “Chaos”, “algorithm”, “infinity”, “numbers”, and “probability” are evocative words that are used in many fields of knowledge and whisper something into our ears even when we care little for mathematics. The books in the series explain mathematics as a sort of alphabet of the world, employ an approach combining philosophy and humanism, and shed light on the role of mathematics in the history of thought. The series offers readers a fascinating adventure leading to a better understanding of the cultural value of mathematics and its impact on civilization.

According to Galileo, the great book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. And, in fact, three centuries of science have taught us that we are surrounded by numbers, geometric shapes, and mathematical relationships. Sometimes they are observable, but usually they are hidden in the universe’s operational mechanisms. But how, and why, do these abstract creations of the human mind manage to describe the material world of natural phenomena, ranging from the most familiar to those that govern the cosmos and, indeed, matter itself? In this book, a philosopher and a mathematician address this topic in simple terms and, casting aside technicalities and formal demonstrations, explore the extensive presence of mathematics in nature, and describe some of its more bizarre and fascinating manifestations.

Vincenzo Barone is a theoretical physicist and teaches at the University of Western Piedmont.

Giulio Giorello is a philosopher of science and teaches at the University of Milan.

Una visita all'Accademia di Lagado
I. I numeri della natura
Contare e misurare
Il numero delle cose
La direzione del tempo
Il catalogo è questo
Immaginari al potere
L'ordine dei fattori
Numeri ubiqui
I conti con l'infinito
II. Le figure della natura
La grandezza del mondo
Le curve dei pianeti
Girare attorno
La taglia giusta
Un racconto a più dimensioni
La geometria delle rughe
I solidi noti
Ricoprire lo spazio
Attraverso lo specchio
La forma dell'universo
III. Le equazioni della natura
Leggere nel libro della natura
Il linguaggio del cambiamento
Sommare gli infinitesimi
Vicino all'equilibrio
Crescite e decrescite
Modelli del reale
Piccolissime cause, grandissimi effetti
Simmetrie infrante e altre catastrofi
Per vias brevissimas
IV. La qualità matematica della natura
La chiave e la porta di tutte le scienze
L'invenzione matematica nella fisica
La relazione inversa
Ipotesi sul futuro
Matematica e realtà
Bibliografia
Indice dei nomi
series "Intersezioni"
"Raccontare la matematica"
pp. 216, 978-88-15-25416-0
publication year 2016