Apparently, there isn't a great deal of difference between theoretical physics and higher mathematics. H. B. G. Casimir, the Dutch physicist once said, “In order to avoid confusion, I do not call a theoretical physicist a mathematician. To do so was  and to a certain extent still is  common practice in England.” And Einstein once halfjokingly remarked, “physicists call me a mathematician, and mathematicians call me a physicist.”
Shortly after WWII, an American airman had the opportunity to interview a resident of northern Korea (where some suspect that the Japan may have attempted to develop the atomic bomb). When they discussed the Korean's background and education he said he studied in Paris for two years, spent fourteen years in the United States, and had attended the University of California. He also said he had “studied mathematics in Germany under [Albert] Einstein."
I'm not sure what my question is, but any comments would be greatly appreciated.
physics vs mathematics
Re: physics vs mathematics
Cool story bro?korea101 wrote:Apparently, there isn't a great deal of difference between theoretical physics and higher mathematics. H. B. G. Casimir, the Dutch physicist once said, “In order to avoid confusion, I do not call a theoretical physicist a mathematician. To do so was  and to a certain extent still is  common practice in England.” And Einstein once halfjokingly remarked, “physicists call me a mathematician, and mathematicians call me a physicist.”
Shortly after WWII, an American airman had the opportunity to interview a resident of northern Korea (where some suspect that the Japan may have attempted to develop the atomic bomb). When they discussed the Korean's background and education he said he studied in Paris for two years, spent fourteen years in the United States, and had attended the University of California. He also said he had “studied mathematics in Germany under [Albert] Einstein."
I'm not sure what my question is, but any comments would be greatly appreciated.
Re: physics vs mathematics
Well, this is certainly a longterm debate..But fact is fact, most of the mathematics that the physicists use is a small portion of "applied mathematics", and applied math is also a tiny fraction of the whole mathematics which is often belittled by real mathematicians..
Surely, as physicists, what we use as a tool is mathematics, yet from a very different vantage point..Thanks to the reductionist idiocy, we now have bunch of specialists (as far as I remember, at the ancient times, one could be a philosopher with only three specialties: logic, ethics and physics, probably that's the reason for being called Doctor of Philosophy). Since you wouldn't call an engineer physicist because of him using physics (because you know, they are 'specialized'), you can't call a man trying to build models for physical phenomena a mathematician either.
I think this debate mostly pisses off mathematicians, and I think they are a bit right. One must befriend a mathematician and have a look at his/her lecture notes to grasp the abstractness level. Math is a gigantic structure built upon a handful of axioms, such that only the abstractness could let you to do math without messing things up. Well, these are my humble observations..
Let me close with a funny issue. Everyone had probably heard of the phrase "...and the rest is algebra", when the prof doesn't want to mess up with the equation on the board. But, most of the time it is an integral or a differential equation, so they should have said "...and the rest is calculus". I think it is the correct way, which could save us from the position as if what we understand from algebra is only the addition and multiplication with linear relations between them..Again, see an algebra text to grasp what it actually looks like.
Surely, as physicists, what we use as a tool is mathematics, yet from a very different vantage point..Thanks to the reductionist idiocy, we now have bunch of specialists (as far as I remember, at the ancient times, one could be a philosopher with only three specialties: logic, ethics and physics, probably that's the reason for being called Doctor of Philosophy). Since you wouldn't call an engineer physicist because of him using physics (because you know, they are 'specialized'), you can't call a man trying to build models for physical phenomena a mathematician either.
I think this debate mostly pisses off mathematicians, and I think they are a bit right. One must befriend a mathematician and have a look at his/her lecture notes to grasp the abstractness level. Math is a gigantic structure built upon a handful of axioms, such that only the abstractness could let you to do math without messing things up. Well, these are my humble observations..
Let me close with a funny issue. Everyone had probably heard of the phrase "...and the rest is algebra", when the prof doesn't want to mess up with the equation on the board. But, most of the time it is an integral or a differential equation, so they should have said "...and the rest is calculus". I think it is the correct way, which could save us from the position as if what we understand from algebra is only the addition and multiplication with linear relations between them..Again, see an algebra text to grasp what it actually looks like.
Re: physics vs mathematics
I think physics is more difficult than Mathematics.

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 Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:16 pm
Re: physics vs mathematics
Mathematics is your mind, physics is your heart.
Khalid Masood
Creator/ Writer: "TIME THEORY OF EVERYTHING"
Khalid Masood
Creator/ Writer: "TIME THEORY OF EVERYTHING"
Re: physics vs mathematics
I always preferred Feynman's "physics is to math as sex is to masturbation" myself if we're doing quotes.
No really, it's just things always get a bit fuzzy at the intersections between fields. I do astronomy now but before I was in a physics department and a lot of the stuff I've been doing both places could be classified on either end of the spectrum, it's just due to the history of the department(s) in question that things are often decided to be "physics" or "astronomy."
The funny thing about mainly for those who live on the border is for my entire career in a physics department everyone kept saying "hey, you're an astronomer..." and now everyone says "hey, you're a physicist..." You can't win.
No really, it's just things always get a bit fuzzy at the intersections between fields. I do astronomy now but before I was in a physics department and a lot of the stuff I've been doing both places could be classified on either end of the spectrum, it's just due to the history of the department(s) in question that things are often decided to be "physics" or "astronomy."
The funny thing about mainly for those who live on the border is for my entire career in a physics department everyone kept saying "hey, you're an astronomer..." and now everyone says "hey, you're a physicist..." You can't win.