An Investigation Of The Relationship Between Mathematics And Nature In The Context Of Discoveries In Particle Physics
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In his essay The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences, the physicist Eugene Wigner expresses amazement over the fact that mathematical concepts that are created with no regard for any physical application end up applying beautifully to descriptions of physical phenomena. Wigner describes this applicability of mathematics to physics as “a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve.” In a similar vein, Mark Steiner considers the applicability of mathematical concepts in the discovery of physical laws when there is physical interpretation of the mathematical concepts being applied. This thesis formulates responses to both Wigner and Steiner. It first counters Steiner’s claim that the success of purely mathematical analogies in discovering the laws of particle physics implies that the universe is anthropocentric. It then formulates an explanation for the seemingly miraculous way that pure mathematics applies to physics by giving an account of the origin of mathematical concepts in nature, and the way in which this origin dictates their development.