BSJ

The Butler Scholarly Journal

Category: Mathematics

  1. Simulated Life and Mathematical Abstraction: Emergent Behaviour, Emerging Concepts

    ‘Consider an infinite two-dimensional square grid.’ It does not have the same impact as the old physics joke of ‘assuming a spherical cow in a vacuum’ (1) in terms of humour (or at least, science humour), but the statement may well seem equally absurd. For a start the mind cannot truly visualise anything infinite; we only ever perceive and process a finite part of the universe at any given time. We may have a vague sense of the vastness which exists beyond our perception, whether finite or infinite, but we cannot see it. In trying to understand the original statement,…

  2. Kelvin’s Aethereal Knots – The Origins of the Periodic Table and Knot Theory

    c. 1867, University of Glasgow: William Thomson, or Lord Kelvin (namesake of the temperature scale and the man who coined the term ‘kinetic energy’) as he is today more frequently known, turns his considerable intellectual ability towards the daunting question of how all material in the universe might exist. At this time in scientific history, the idea that matter was composed of individual atoms of varying type was becoming increasingly accepted by academics. However, what remained a complete mystery to all was how these atoms could themselves exist. The person who could suggest a working theory to answer such a…

  3. Why is Mathematics important?

    Firstly, let me clarify what is meant by Mathematics. It isn’t the addition and subtraction that we use every day to work out how much money we’re spending at Tesco – that’s arithmetic and we can all understand how that is important. This article will focus on high level mathematics – really abstract weird stuff – and show that is does affect our lives every single day. Specifically, this article will focus on only one important piece of maths: RSA-Cryptography. RSA stands for Rivest, Shamir, Adleman: the three men credited with its invention at MIT in 1977. (Interestingly, RSA was developed three…