Greatest scientists who were bad at math

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,263
Iowa USA
#2
Funny... saw the title and it was Faraday who came to mind.

Good thing he could sketch! He probably expressed his ideas to James Clerk Maxwell primarily with sketches of lines of force?
 

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,263
Iowa USA
#3
In astronomy, I'd suspect that Edwin Hubble might have been oblivious to the details of the proofs of special relativity, set aside general relativity, for the Red Shift which he was the first describe?
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
2,565
Las Vegas, NV USA
#4
Charles Darwin. Most biologist in the past were weak in math mainly because they didn't need much. However if you can master just this one equation you might call yourself a physicist. Actually it's just learning what the symbols mean. The rest is just addition and subtraction (and some calculus).

 
Last edited:
Mar 2018
379
UK
#5
Charles Darwin. Most biologist in the past were weak in math mainly because they didn't need much. However if you can master just this one equation you might call yourself a physicist. Actually it's just learning what the symbols mean. The rest is just addition and subtraction (and some calculus).
There's more to science than naive reductionism
 
Likes: macon

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
4,372
Netherlands
#6
Funny... saw the title and it was Faraday who came to mind.

Good thing he could sketch! He probably expressed his ideas to James Clerk Maxwell primarily with sketches of lines of force?
I doubt that he was that bad at math. After all his concepts and visualization were great. Plus his contemporaries also weren't able to figure out the math of the Maxwell (who most definitely was a genius at math) equations, so it wasn't that simple.

Though I will grant you that he is a bit of an outlier in the math department. A bit like Carnot, who also established the principles without supplying a mathematical "solution".
 
Likes: Kotromanic

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
2,565
Las Vegas, NV USA
#7
There's more to science than naive reductionism
The Standard Model is not naive reductionism. It is incomplete in that it doesn't include gravity. I do agree just memorizing this Lagrangian doesn't make one a physicist. That was a bit of tongue in cheek.;)
 

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,263
Iowa USA
#8
The Standard Model is not naive reductionism. It is incomplete in that it doesn't include gravity. I do agree just memorizing this Lagrangian doesn't make one a physicist. That was a bit of tongue in cheek.;)

When I went back for my mid-life science bachelor's I had an excellent chem instructor who told me that biologists are frustrated chemists and physicists are often frustrated mathematicians. For myself, I can't do real higher math but I did get a B minus in the course that covered Lagrangians. Liked your reply.
 

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,263
Iowa USA
#9
I doubt that he was that bad at math. After all his concepts and visualization were great. Plus his contemporaries also weren't able to figure out the math of the Maxwell (who most definitely was a genius at math) equations, so it wasn't that simple.

Though I will grant you that he is a bit of an outlier in the math department. A bit like Carnot, who also established the principles without supplying a mathematical "solution".
Thank goodness it "wasn't that simple", yes. It even took a long time to figure out a broadband TV antenna that could be made at consumer-friendly wholesale cost. (Deschamps, Mayes, Dyson et al at Illinois-Urbana)
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
4,372
Netherlands
#10
When I went back for my mid-life science bachelor's I had an excellent chem instructor who told me that biologists are frustrated chemists and physicists are often frustrated mathematicians. For myself, I can't do real higher math but I did get a B minus in the course that covered Lagrangians. Liked your reply.
When there is a problem a physicist will make faulty assumptions, a mathematician will make faulty reductions and a chemist will just blow it up.
 

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