Currently viewing entries from 23 December, 2006

The Importance of Mathmatics?

Scicence Magazine has released a listing of the top scientific breakthroughs in 2006. Included in the list are discoveries in nanoscience relating to the human brain remembers things, a potential cure for vision degradation as a result of ageing, and proving that ice caps are shrinking (thought that is not proof of Global Warming).

But the top breakthrough of 2006 was Russian mathematician Grigory Perelman’s solution to the Poincare Conjecture. Apparently the Poincare Conjecture has been driving some really smart math-geeks nuts for about a century.

The Poincare is a central question in topology, the study of the geometrical properties of objects that do not change when they are stretched, distorted or shrunk.

The surface of the Earth is what topology describes as a two-dimensional sphere. If one were to encircle it with a lasso of string, it could be pulled tight to a point.

On the surface of a doughnut, however, a lasso passing through the hole in the centre cannot be shrunk to a point without cutting through the surface.

BBC News

I gues I just don’t see why that is better than potentially finding a cure for vision degredation, or mapping of the human brain.