As being a physicist people ask about
relationship between mathematics and physics. People ask why they are linked.
Physics beautifully explains laws and rules of universe but when a physicist
try it to explain in detail with equations most of people get bored and lose
their interest in particular topic. So question here is what is the
relationship between physics and mathematics? If you look briefly into the history
of physics and mathematics and evolution of science you may find that sometimes
physics leads, sometimes mathematics and sometimes they come together.

Let me
take you back in 1600s when Isaac newton asked a question that if the apple
falls than does the moon also fall? This question at that time, was the
greatest question ever asked by man. Answer by newton was “yes it does”.
Gravity of earth pulls an apple and moon towards its center. So when he tried
to explain the falling moon than he didn’t find any mathematics to solve this
problem. Isaac newton then invented Calculus in order to explain the falling
moon. Even now when you study calculus you first study the motion of falling
body with the help of calculus and which is exactly how newton calculated motion
of falling moon. Mathematics helped to calculate the motion of celestial
bodies, so in a way we can say that mathematics and physics acted like twins in
order to explain a practical question.

Image Credit- Donald E. Simanek

Einstein’s view of gravity was amazing and he
explained it in a different way. Einstein’s question was “what’s the nature of
origin of gravity?” Einstein explained gravity as a byproduct of curved space.
So you are right now sitting on a chair and reading this article “why sitting
on this chair?” Your answer might be that gravity of earth is pulling you down
towards chair. If your answer is the same as I mentioned then Einstein must doubt
about your answer. Because the reality is, earth has curved the space around
you and curved space all around you is pushing you down on the chair. Pushing
of space and time requires differential calculus. Differential calculus is a
language of curved surfaces. The theory of curved surfaces that is differential
equations came first and Einstein using differential equations explained
physics of curved space-time.

In 1905 when Einstein proposed special
relativity, mathematicians were working on topologies of higher dimension. It was about 100 years ago and mathematics
and physics parted different ways. Mathematics went into hyper space and that
area of mathematics had nothing to do with physics of that time. Physics plotted along for decades and we
worked on atomic bombs, stars and laser beams but recently physicists
discovered string theory. String theory can live in tenth and even eleventh
dimension of hyper space. String theory evolved new kind of numbers that
mathematicians never talked about and that’s why scientists call it super
string theory. So we can say that now suddenly a new form of mathematics has
evolved out of physics.

Goal of physics is to find a small equation
which allows us to unify all the forces in the universe. Using mathematics and
physics together we someday may be able of doing that, but so far it looks
impossible. Both physics and mathematics can help us to reach our goals.
Physics is useless without mathematics and without physics you cannot explain
mathematics. So if you want to study physics and you are afraid of complex
mathematics then keep one thing in mind, both physics and mathematics are the
only keys towards an ultimate understanding of the entire physical universe.

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