Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A particle, travelling

This afternoon, I wondered what is the trouble with scientific education?

I realized that the study of science has initiated with visualizers, but it's imparted by verbalizers.

For a long time, I never understood the difference between a particle travelling in a straight line, at accelerating speed, and its rising graph. No one could answer the simple question: why was the graph curving when the particle was travelling straight? The teacher, if I heard correctly, was always saying, "This is a particle travelling in a straight line...."

No, darling, this is the mathematical representation of the slowly-swiftly-slowly rising speed of a particle which is travelling in a straight line and there is a difference between this and what you are saying. If you don't believe me, ask the curve about the straight line!

Having a highly visual-artistic mind, I for one could not separate the two... it was perhaps my exceptional geometry that earned me an A in the GCSE Maths, but I got a D in Advance Maths, because my mind always got entangled in the graph.

I know now that it's not a handicap but a talent to visualize. Mathematics is a reductionist branch of knowledge that simplifies the complexity of world. Mathematics is best enjoyed visually, not be verbalizing the formulae. We need, at least in this century, schools that stop preaching and make room for visualization and experimentation.

We need more experiential schools!


  1. why do u find it so hard...visualizing your partical in straight line..its easy for me to see the graph always plotting upwards..unless you are hiding a constant or a varieable..by the way I also do visualization in my mind for almost everything. Nice blog you have here

  2. :) Twin! You've found me! I am blogging alone in a corner and like it this way. Come back again!

  3. A lovely blog, full of insight and interesting posts :)

  4. Mathematics is not entirely verbalization - visualization plays its due role in making people understand and displaying physical phenomena. The thing about the accelerating particle and its graph is that both of them display different "quantities", if I dare to say that. Infact, the particle is a physical existance, while the graph is displaying a quantity characterized by that physical object.

    I would differ when you say that mathematics is a reductionist branch of knowledge. It's only a beautiful tool which you can use to demistify the intricacies of the physical world. But yes, the way maths is taught in schools makes pupils hate it. this is so because, I think, that proper methods are not used. This causes the beauty of the science to get lost. Infact, maths, specially pure maths is really exciting and tends to involve when visualizations are employed.