As someone who's found a lifetime of fulfillment in studying mathematics and physics, it's been hard to miss the remarkable ability of these disciplines to provide constant and predictable answers in a world which is anything but. I'm struck by the notion that while chaos and uncertainty reign elsewhere, mathematics and physics seem to offer some blessed form of stability that has endless application to our lives.
For instance, consider the laws of thermodynamics, which have enabled us to build objects as small as the machines of microscopic organisms to as large as the spacecraft which have enabled us to visit other planets. The bedrock of this technology is the fact that regardless of the scale, the same equations and principles of thermodynamics apply without fail.
Such certainty has been especially useful in quantum mechanics, where the consistent behavior of matter at the most minute scale has enabled us to create innovations such as transistors, lasers, and new materials used in the construction of computers. I'm spellbound by the concept that at such a tiny scale, the laws governing the behavior of matter remain constant and reliable.
And at a larger scale, the predictable nature of the universe has been used to calculate the distances between planets and stars, and even to chart our own course across the solar system. Our knowledge of the laws governing planetary physics has enabled our unmanned probes to explore our universe to an ever-growing degree.
But perhaps my favorite example of the power of physics and mathematics is in cosmology, and the ability to make sense of the structure and behavior of the universe as a whole. From the evidence of the cosmic microwave background radiation, to the ability to map galaxies and understand the behavior of dark energy and dark matter, cosmology harkens to the days of ancient Greeks, using abstract mathematics and physical principles to draw conclusions about the universe.
All of this, for me, is what makes mathematics and physics what I call the 'standard bearers' of knowledge. For when everything else in the world fails to provide consistent answers and reliability, these two disciplines offer comfort and progress regardless of the size or scope of the problem at hand. And that's something I intend to keep exploring for as long as I can.