A Mathematics Exhibit

Quantifying the Universe

Quantifying the Universe: A Mathematics Exhibit

Explaining everything through numbers and formulas may seem counter-intuitive to most, however, the very best physicists and mathematicians in history have been able to explain (with mat), most everything that up to 50 years ago had been a mystery. With the rare documents and books within our Math, Astronomy, Science-Chemistry and Physics Collections...you too, can experience the gift of knowledge that great scientists like Albert Einstein, Isaac Asimov, Aristotle and more, have given us.

Indian Mathematicians-Astronomers

In Hindu Achievements in Exact Science, Benoy K. Sarkar writes that Hindu culture advanced in mathematics before western cultures (, Benoy K. Sarkar). Their knowledge was transmitted to the Middle East, China and Europe, and would form the foundations of mathematics that we know of today. Two Indian scholars from the Indus Valley Civilization were Aryabhata and Brahmagupta (“Aryabhata” and “Brahmagupta,” World Heritage Encyclopedia). These contributed to the creation of the decimal number system and the concept of zero as a number, as well as negative numbers, arithmetic and algebra. The earliest use of mathematics among Indian scholars was to use Metrics to define Indian philosophy. According to Kaye, mathematics were embedded into the Sutras (an aphoristic verse) of Vedic texts to describe and practice Indian cosmology (Indian Mathematics, George Rusby Kaye, 3-5). Sutras are oral traditions that memorize what was heard (Merging with Siva Hinduism’s Contemporary Metaphysics, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami).

Early Indian mathematicians used Siksa (Phonetics) and Chhandas (Metrics) to conserve the meaning of the sacred text and participate in ritual and astronomy. Sulba Sutras, or “Aphorisms of the Chords,” list rules for the construction of sacrificial fire altars, which were early expressions of the Pythagorean Theorem ("Indian Mathematics," World Heritage Encyclopedia). Aryabhata was the Indian Astronomer-Mathematician who wrote The Aryabhatiya in 5th-Century. The Aryabhatiya was the first to present Indian cosmology according to large units of time, mensuration, arithmetic and geometric progressions, as well as equations, units of time and methods for determining positions of planets for a given day, and geometric/trigonometric aspects of the celestial sphere (“Aryahbata,” World Heritage Encyclopedia).

Brahmagupta was an Indian astronomer and mathematician who wrote Brāhmasphuṭasiddhānta in 628 and Khandakhadyaka in 665. He was the first to compute with zero (“Brahmagupta,” World Heritage Encyclopedia). Although he was familiar with other astronomers who studied under the Aryabhatiya, Brahmagupta was critical of rival astronomers’ work, which he recorded in Brāhmasphuṭasiddhānta (Indian Mathematics, George Rusby Kaye). This work documented the earliest schisms among Indian mathematicians which debated the application of mathematics to the physical world, or the study of mathematics for math itself (“Brahmagupta,” World Heritage Encyclopedia).

Early Indian mathematicians used Siksa (Phonetics) and Chhandas (Metrics) to conserve the meaning of the sacred text and participate in ritual and astronomy. Sulba Sutras, or “Aphorisms of the Chords,” list rules for the construction of sacrificial fire altars, which were early expressions of the Pythagorean Theorem ("Indian Mathematics," World Heritage Encyclopedia). Aryabhata was the Indian Astronomer-Mathematician who wrote The Aryabhatiya in 5th-Century. The Aryabhatiya was the first to present Indian cosmology according to large units of time, mensuration, arithmetic and geometric progressions, as well as equations, units of time and methods for determining positions of planets for a given day, and geometric/trigonometric aspects of the celestial sphere (“Aryahbata,” World Heritage Encyclopedia).

Brahmagupta was an Indian astronomer and mathematician who wrote Brāhmasphuṭasiddhānta in 628 and Khandakhadyaka in 665. He was the first to compute with zero (“Brahmagupta,” World Heritage Encyclopedia). Although he was familiar with other astronomers who studied under the Aryabhatiya, Brahmagupta was critical of rival astronomers’ work, which he recorded in Brāhmasphuṭasiddhānta (Indian Mathematics, George Rusby Kaye). This work documented the earliest schisms among Indian mathematicians which debated the application of mathematics to the physical world, or the study of mathematics for math itself (“Brahmagupta,” World Heritage Encyclopedia).

Sir Isaac Newton

In the 17th-Century, Sir Isaac Newton was an English physicist and mathematician who played a key role in the European scientific revolution. His book, The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, laid the foundations for classical mechanics and the invention of calculus, which formulated the laws of motions and universal gravitation that dominated scientific view of the physical universe for the next three centuries (“Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica,” World Heritage Encyclopedia).

Newton’s first law was that an object at rest stays at rest. An object stays in uniform motion until it is acted upon by an external force. Newton’s second law is that applied force on an object equals the rate of change and of its momentum with time. Newton’s third law is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction (The Natural Principles of Natural Philosophy, Isaac Newton). In A Catalogue of the Portsmouth Collection of Books and Papers, Newton provided mathematical proof of alchemical research, such as Robert Boyle’s mechanical philosophy which argued that God designed the universe according to rational and universal principles (“Isaac Newton,” World Heritage Encyclopedia). Living in a time when Christianity was a dominant belief system, Newton applied his scientific thinking to research spirituality and other occult sciences. In Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes, Including Letters of Other Eminent Men, Newton receives feedback on his writings on alchemical research (Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes, Including Letters of Other Eminent Men, Isaac Newton). This research pursued the Philosopher’s Stone, a material believed to turn base metals into gold (“Isaac Newton’s Occult Studies,” World Heritage Encyclopedia). Perhaps this research is what led Newton to serve as the Warden of the English Royal Mint later in his life ("Isaac Newton,” World Heritage Encyclopedia).

Newton’s first law was that an object at rest stays at rest. An object stays in uniform motion until it is acted upon by an external force. Newton’s second law is that applied force on an object equals the rate of change and of its momentum with time. Newton’s third law is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction (The Natural Principles of Natural Philosophy, Isaac Newton). In A Catalogue of the Portsmouth Collection of Books and Papers, Newton provided mathematical proof of alchemical research, such as Robert Boyle’s mechanical philosophy which argued that God designed the universe according to rational and universal principles (“Isaac Newton,” World Heritage Encyclopedia). Living in a time when Christianity was a dominant belief system, Newton applied his scientific thinking to research spirituality and other occult sciences. In Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes, Including Letters of Other Eminent Men, Newton receives feedback on his writings on alchemical research (Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes, Including Letters of Other Eminent Men, Isaac Newton). This research pursued the Philosopher’s Stone, a material believed to turn base metals into gold (“Isaac Newton’s Occult Studies,” World Heritage Encyclopedia). Perhaps this research is what led Newton to serve as the Warden of the English Royal Mint later in his life ("Isaac Newton,” World Heritage Encyclopedia).

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was a German Jew who published groundbreaking papers on the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, special relativity, and mass and energy equivalence, which brought him recognition in academia early in his career. In Relativity: The Special and General Theory, Einstein wrote that “the ‘truth’ of a geometrical proposition... bases its validity through a construction with a ruler and compass. Of course the conviction of the ‘truth’ of geometrical propositions...is founded exclusively on rather incomplete experiences… At an alternate stage (in the general theory of relativity) we shall see that this ‘truth’ is limited, and we shall consider the extent of its limitation” (Relativity: The Special and General Theory, Albert Einstein).

Albert Einstein questioned his own sense of truth when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. At the time, Einstein was visiting the United States. Due to Nazi Germany’s genocidal practices against Jewish people and other minorities, Einstein chose to become a part of the Jewish diaspora in the U.S., although he longed to return home (About Zionism, Speeches and Letters, Albert Einstein). German-Jewish and Hungarian scientists Leo Szilard, Edward Teller and Eugene Wigner fled Germany and joined Einstein in the U.S. They wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt that Nazi Germany scientists were building an atomic bomb (“Albert Einstein,” World Heritage Encyclopedia). This letter went against Einstein’s pacifist values because he knew that it would spark U.S. involvement in nuclear weapons research as well. But his decision was based on the concern of Hitler’s use of nuclear technology (“Albert Einstein,” World Heritage Encyclopedia). Lincoln Barnett, author of The Universe and Dr. Einstein, documents Einstein stating: “It is of great importance that the general public be given an opportunity to experience--consciously and intelligently--the efforts and results of scientific research...Restricting the body of knowledge to a small group deadens the philosophical spirit of a people and leads to spiritual poverty” (, Lincoln Barnett).

Albert Einstein questioned his own sense of truth when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. At the time, Einstein was visiting the United States. Due to Nazi Germany’s genocidal practices against Jewish people and other minorities, Einstein chose to become a part of the Jewish diaspora in the U.S., although he longed to return home (About Zionism, Speeches and Letters, Albert Einstein). German-Jewish and Hungarian scientists Leo Szilard, Edward Teller and Eugene Wigner fled Germany and joined Einstein in the U.S. They wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt that Nazi Germany scientists were building an atomic bomb (“Albert Einstein,” World Heritage Encyclopedia). This letter went against Einstein’s pacifist values because he knew that it would spark U.S. involvement in nuclear weapons research as well. But his decision was based on the concern of Hitler’s use of nuclear technology (“Albert Einstein,” World Heritage Encyclopedia). Lincoln Barnett, author of The Universe and Dr. Einstein, documents Einstein stating: “It is of great importance that the general public be given an opportunity to experience--consciously and intelligently--the efforts and results of scientific research...Restricting the body of knowledge to a small group deadens the philosophical spirit of a people and leads to spiritual poverty” (, Lincoln Barnett).

Works Cited

"Albert Einstein." World Heritage Encyclopedia. WorldLibrary.org. Web. 2014.

Aryabhata. The Aryabhatiya. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1874.

Barnett, Lincoln. The Universe and Dr. Einstein. New York: Williams Sloane Associates,1948.

Einstein, Albert. About Zionism, Speeches and Letters. New York: The Macmillian Company, 1931.

Einstein, Albert. Relativity: The Special and the General Theory. New York: H. Holt and Company, 1920.

Kaye, George Rusby. Indian Mathematics. Calcutta: Thacker, Spink and Company, 1915.

Khan, Sal. "Pythagorean Theorem." Khan Academy 2012. Video.

Sarkar, Benoy K. Hindu Achievements in Exact Science. New York: Longmans, Green and Company, 1918.

Subramuniyaswami, Satguru Sivaya. Merging with Siva Hinduism's Contemporary Metaphysics. Himalayan Academy. Web. 2012.

Newton, Isaac Sir. A Catalogue of the Portsmouth Collection of Books & Papers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1888.

Newton, Isaac Sir. Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes. London: J.W. Parker, 1850.

Newton, Isaac Sir. Newton's Principia: The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. New York: Daniel Adee, 1846.

Aryabhata. The Aryabhatiya. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1874.

Barnett, Lincoln. The Universe and Dr. Einstein. New York: Williams Sloane Associates,1948.

Einstein, Albert. About Zionism, Speeches and Letters. New York: The Macmillian Company, 1931.

Einstein, Albert. Relativity: The Special and the General Theory. New York: H. Holt and Company, 1920.

Kaye, George Rusby. Indian Mathematics. Calcutta: Thacker, Spink and Company, 1915.

Khan, Sal. "Pythagorean Theorem." Khan Academy 2012. Video.

Sarkar, Benoy K. Hindu Achievements in Exact Science. New York: Longmans, Green and Company, 1918.

Subramuniyaswami, Satguru Sivaya. Merging with Siva Hinduism's Contemporary Metaphysics. Himalayan Academy. Web. 2012.

Newton, Isaac Sir. A Catalogue of the Portsmouth Collection of Books & Papers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1888.

Newton, Isaac Sir. Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes. London: J.W. Parker, 1850.

Newton, Isaac Sir. Newton's Principia: The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. New York: Daniel Adee, 1846.

Mathematics Collections

Mathematics has made great strides in articulating laws that quantify the universe. The stories of Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, Newton, and Einstein demonstrate how math is not just the measurement of the observable evidence, but mathematicians have used this knowledge to provide spiritual insights. "Quantifying the Value of the Universe: A Mathematics Exhibit" showcases collections authored by mathematicians, as well as humanistic and scientific authors from around the world.

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