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THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD About fifteen billion years ago, the universe arose as a cataclysmic eruption of hot, energy-rich

subatomic particles. Within seconds, the simplest elements (hydrogen and helium) were formed. As the universe expanded and cooled, material condensed under the influence of gravity to form stars. Some stars became enormous and then exploded as supernovae, releasing energy needed to fuse simpler atomic nuclei into more complex elements. Thus were produced, over billions of years, Earth itself and the chemical elements found on earth today. About four billion years ago, life arose-simple microorganisms with the ability to extract energy from chemical compounds and, later, from sunlight, which they used to make a vast array of more complex BIOMOLECULES from the simple elements and compounds on Earths surface. When these BIOMOLECULES are isolated and examined individually, they conform to all the physical and chemical laws that describe the behavior of inanimate matter-as do all the processes occurring in living organisms. How is it that collections of inanimate molecules that constitute living organisms interact to maintain and perpetuate life animated solely by the physical and chemical laws that govern the nonliving universe? How is it that the remarkable and extraordinary attributes, properties that distinguish them from other collections of matter, arise from the thousands of different BIOMOLECULES? What are these distinguishing properties? 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) A high degree of chemical complexity and microscopic organization. Existence of systems for extracting, transforming, and utilizing energy from the environment. Defined functions for each of an organisms components and regulated interactions among them. Mechanism for sensing and responding to alterations in their surroundings. A capacity for precise self-replication and self-assembly. A capacity to change over time by gradual evolution.

Every life-form feels its surroundings in one way or another. In response to the feel of the surroundings, it behaves according to a pattern which tends to prolong its existence. A tree is illuminated by the morning sunlight. In response, the leaves of the tree turn on their stems to present full surface to the light. This movement causes the leaves to intercept more light, and light is the source of energy which runs the amazing chemical factory operated by the tree. The tree grows thereby prolonging its existence. A bear feels that the summer season is over-perhaps by the length of the day or by the color of fall leaves, perhaps by some almanac humans cannot see. In response, he seeks a secluded spot and takes a winterlong nap. During this hibernation, his blood pressure and body temperature drop, his digestion closes shop. The bear thus uses minimum energy necessary to stay alive. It is not a coincidence that this occurs during the season when food is most difficult to find and the weather is quite unbearable.

This is what Alexis Carrel writes in "Man, The Unknown": "Glands, such as the thyroid, suprarenal (or adrenal), the pancreas, synthesize new compounds-thyroxin, adrenalin and insulin. They are the true chemical transformers. In this way, substances indispensable for the nutrition of cells and organs, and for physiological and mental activities, are produced. Such a phenomenon is as strange as if certain parts of a motor should create the oil used by other parts of the machine, the substances accelerating the combustion of the fuel, and even the thoughts of the engineer. To these glands is due the existence of the body with its manifold activities. Man is, first of all, a nutritive process. He consists of a ceaseless motion of chemical substances. Matter perpetually flows through all the cells of the body, yielding to tissues the energy they need, and also the chemicals which build the temporary and fragile structure of our organs and humours. Functions of the body are much less precisely located than organs. The skeleton, for example is not merely the framework of the body. It also constitutes a part of the circulatory, respiratory and nutritive systems, since, with the aid of the bone marrow, it manufactures leucocytes and red cells. The liver secretes bile, destroys poisons and microbes, stores glycogen and regulates sugar metabolism in the entire organism. In a like manner, the pancreas, the suprarenals and the spleen do not confine themselves to one function. Each possesses multiple activities and takes part in almost all the events of the body. An organ is not limited by its surface. It reaches out as far as the substance it secretes. Each gland extends, by means of its secretions, over the whole organism. An organ builds itself by techniques foreign to the human mind. It is not made of extraneous material, like a house. Neither is it a cellular construction, a mere assemblage of cells. It is, of course composed of cells, as a house is of bricks. But it is born from a cell that would set about manufacturing other bricks. Those bricks, without waiting for the architect's drawings or the coming of the bricklayers, would assemble themselves and form the walls. They would also metamorphose into window-panes, roofing-slates, coal for heating and water for the kitchen and bathroom. An organ develops by means such as those attributed to fairies in tales told to children. It is engendered by cells which, to all appearances, have knowledge of the future edifice, and synthesize from substances contained in blood plasma the building material and even the workers. When half of the thyroid gland is removed, the remaining half increases in volume. The extirpation of a kidney is followed by the enlargement of the other one. If the secretion of a gland is insufficient, other glands augment their activity to supplement its work. Each element of the body adjusts itself to the others and the others to it through a correlation of the organic fluids and the nervous system. Each part seems to know the present and future needs of the WHOLE, and acts accordingly". Of all the living things, man feels his surroundings and responds to them in the most complex way. He is more curious than the most inquisitive kitten. Through his intellect he uses his senses more effectively than a deer avoiding a stalking tiger. He has developed communication far beyond the warning note of the barking deer. Mans intellect together with his communicative ability, permits him to respond to his environment in uniquely beneficial ways. He ACCUMULATES information about his surroundings, ORGANIZES this INFORMATION and SEEKS REGULARITIES in it, he WONDERS why the REGULARITIES EXIST, and he TRANSMITS his findings to the next generation. These are the basic activities of science: 1. 2. 3. 4. To accumulate information through observation; To organize this information and seek regularities in it; To wonder why the regularities exists; To communicate the findings to others.

So, the activities of science begin with observation. Observation is most useful when the conditions which affect the observation are controlled carefully. A condition is controlled when it is fixed, known, and can be varied deliberately if desired. This control is best obtained in a special locale-a laboratory. When the observation is brought under careful control, it is dignified by a special name-A CONTROLLED SEQUENCE OF OBSERVATIONS IS CALLED AN EXPERIMENT. ALL SCIENCE IS BUILT UPON THE RESULTS OF EXPERIMENTS. The act of observation is not so simple as it is perceived in normal day-to-day observations, in the sense that there is much more to it than mere looking or seeing. It takes concentration, alertness to detail, ingenuity, and often plain patience. It even takes practice! To illustrate these attributes let us take a very familiar example; a burning candle. How much can be written about this object? To be able to do so meaningfully, we have to make careful observations- a careful experiment. This means that the burning candle must be observed in a laboratory, that is, in a place where conditions can be controlled. But, how do we know which conditions can be controlled? Be ready for surprises here! Sometimes the important conditions are difficult to discover. Here are some conditions that are important in some experiments but are not important here. 1) The experiment is done on the second floor. 2) The experiment is done in daytime. 3) The experiment is performed when the room lights are on. 4) The experiment is performed on Monday. 5) The experiment is performed when the music system is on. 6) The experiment is done on an iron table. Here are some conditions that might be important here. 1) The laboratory bench is near the window. 2) The Windows are open. 3) The experimenter is standing close to the burning candle so that he breaths on it. 4) The experiment is performed at the top of Mount Everest. 5) The experiment is performed while the candle is kept in a bell jar. 6) The experiment is performed when there is another experiment in progress, in close proximity, which releases lots of CO2. Why are these conditions important? Do these conditions point towards some common cause which may influence the outcome of the experiment in the sense that (a) the burning candle may not burn normally and, therefore, (b) the outcome of the experiment, if performed at a different time and at the same place, may be different? Important conditions are often not as easily recognized as these. A good experimenter pays much attention to the discovery of conditions that must be controlled. His success is often determined by his ability to control them. Detour: Description of a burning candle: 1. The candle is cylindrical in shape having diameter of about 3/4 and initial length of about 8. 2. The length of the candle was initially about 8 and it changed slowly during observation, decreasing about 1/2 in one hour. 3. The candle is made of a translucent white solid which has slight odor and no taste. It is soft enough to be scratched with fingernail. 4. There is a wick which extends from the top to bottom of the candle and extends about 1/2above the top of the candle. The wick is made of three strands of string braided together. 5. The candle is lit by holding a source of flame close to the wick for a few second, thereafter, this source can be removed and the flame sustains itself at the wick. 3

6. The burning candle makes no sound. 7. While burning, the body of the candle remains cool to touch except near the top. Within about 1/2 from the top the candle is warm but not hot and sufficiently soft to mold easily. 8. The flame flickers in response to air currents and tends to become quite smoky while flickering. In the absence of air currents, the flame has a typical shape, as shown, and retains some movement at all times. The flame initiates at about 1/8 above the top of the candle and at its base the flame has a bluish tint. Immediately around the wick in a region about 1/4 wide and extending about 1/2 above the top of the wick the flame is dark. This dark region is roughly conical in shape. Around this zone and extending about 1/2 above the dark zone is a region which emits yellow light bright but not blinding. The flame has rather sharply defined sides, but a ragged top. The wick is white where it emerges from the candle, but from the base of the flame to the end of the wick it is black, appearing burnt, except for the last 1/16 where it glows red. The wick curls over about1/4 from its end. Heat is emitted by the lame, enough so that it becomes uncomfortable in ten or twenty seconds if one holds his finger 1/4 to the side of the quite flame or 3/4 above the flame. 9. As the candle becomes shorter, the wick shortens too, so as to extend roughly a constant length above the top of the candle. 10. The top of the quietly burning candle becomes wet with a colorless liquid and becomes bowl shaped. If the flame is blow, one side of this bowl-shaped top becomes liquid, and the liquid trapped in the bowl drains down the candle side. As it runs down, the colorless liquid cools, becomes translucent, and gradually solidifies from outside, attaching itself to the side of the candle. In the absence of any cross-drafts, the candle burns for hours without such dripping. Under these conditions, a stable pool of clear liquid remains in the bow-shaped top of the candle. This liquid rises slightly around the wick, wetting the base of the wick as high as the base of the flame. 11. Can you add some observations of your own to this list? Search for regularities Properly taken observations inevitably lead to properly formulated questions. Ability to pose properly formulated questions is a sure shot sign that the individual is on the right track. One such question is do the observations exhibit a regularity/pattern? Regularities/patterns permit simplification of the observations in the sense that Instead of each observation standing alone, several observations can be classified together and, hence, can be used more effectively. Search for pattern/regularities is not without pitfalls. The search is a meandering one, frequently taking wrong turns. This is not at all unusual: It is inherent in the exploration of the unknown that not every step is an advancement. Yet there is no other way to advance than by taking steps. Let us gain first hand insight regarding how a scientist formulates proper questions in his search for regularities/patterns. We do this by creating a hypothetical situation by letting our imagination run free.

Once upon a time a small child became lost. Because the weather was cold, he decided to gather material for fire. As he brought objects back to his resting place, he discovered that some of them burned and some of them did not burn. To avoid collecting useless material, the child began to keep track of those objects that burned and those that did not burn (he ORGANIZED his INFORMATION). After a few trips, his classification contained information as follows: WILL BURN Tree branches Broom handles Chair legs Flagpoles WILL NOT BURN Rocks Marbles Paper weights Mangoes

This organization of information was quite an aid in his quest for warmth. However, as the tree branches, broom handles, chair legs and flagpoles became scarce, the child tried to find a regularity that would guide him to new burnable material. Looking at the pile of objects that failed to burn and comparing it with the pile of objects that would burn, the child noticed that a pattern/regularity appeared. He proposed the following hypothesis to propel his search further CYLINDRICAL OBJECTS BURN. This is an example of a GENERALIZATION and the logical thought process using which the child arrived at this generalization is called INDUCTIVE REASONING. Inductive reasoning is a logical thought process using which a GENERAL RULE IS FRAMED ON THE BASIS OF A COLLECTION OF INDIVIDUAL OBSERVATIONS OR FACTS. The next day the child went looking for burnable materials, but he forgot to bring along his list. However, he remembered his GENERALIZATION. So, he returned to his hearthside hauling a tree branch, an old cane, and two baseball bats (successful predictions!). Whats more he reflected with pleasure that he hadnt bothered to carry some other objects: an automobile engine, drive chain of a motorcycle, a large door and a stack of news papers. Since these objects werent cylindrical there was no reason to expect them to burn. No doubt the reader is ready to complain that this generalization is not true! In fact, it is quite the opposite! The generalization states a regularity discovered among ALL observations available in the list, and as long as we are focusing only on the observations mentioned in the list, the GENERALIZATION IS TRUE! In general, A GENERALIZATION IS RELIABLE WITHIN THE BOUNDS DEFINED BY THE EXPERIMENTS THAT LEAD TO THE RULE. Indeed, as long as we restrict ourselves to the objects of the list it is surely true that all of the cylindrical objects burn! Did the child gain anything from the inductive process and its outcome? Of what practical value was all this to the child? Surely, this helped the child to systematize his information by identification of some pertinent observable characteristics to look for, thereby minimizing his labor. Now let us see what happens further. Because of his successful predictions, the child became confident of his generalization. The next day he deliberately left the list at his campsite. This time, equipped with his generalization, he came heavily laden with three pieces of iron water pipes, two axles from a garage, three soft drink glass bottles and a huge cardboard box full of newspapers. During the long cold night that followed he drew these conclusions: 1. The cylindrical shape of an object may not be associated with flammability at all. 2. Even though the cylindrical rule is no longer useful, tree branches, broom handles, pencils, and the other burnables in the list still burn. 3. Better bring the list tomorrow. 5

Thinking over the longer list, the child saw a NEW regularity that fitted the earlier list and the newly acquired information as well: PERHAPS: WOODEN OBJECTS BURN. What good is this rule in the light of the earlier disappointment? Well, it caused the child to go back and get that door he had passed up two days earlier, but it didnt lead him to go after the motorcycle chain, the automobile engine, etc. This is exactly what science is all about! We make observation, organize them, and seek patters/regularities to aid us in the effective use of our knowledge. These regularities, stated as generalizations, are called THEORIES. Summarily, therefore, "Inductive reasoning" (not to be confused with "mathematical induction" or and "inductive proof", which is something quite different) is the process of reasoning that a general principle is true because the special cases you've seen are true. For example, if all the people you've ever met from a particular town are above six feet in height, you might then say "all the residents of this town are above six feet in height". This is inductive reasoning: constructing a general principle from special cases. Inductive reasoning is NOT LOGICALLY VALID. Just because all the people you happen to have met from a town have heights in excess of six feet is no guarantee that ALL people have heights in excess of six feet. Therefore, this form of reasoning has no part in a mathematical proof. However, inductive reasoning does play a part in the DISCOVERY OF MATHEMATICAL TRUTHS. For example, the ancient geometers looked at triangles and noticed that their angle sums were all 180 degrees. After seeing that every triangle they tried to build, no matter what the shape, had an angle sum of 180 degrees, they would have come to the conclusion that this is something that is true of every triangle. Then they would have looked for a way to prove it using DEDUCTIVE REASONING; that is, deduce it as a consequence of other known general properties of triangles. "DEDUCTIVE REASONING" REFERS TO THE PROCESS OF CONCLUDING THAT SOMETHING MUST BE TRUE BECAUSE IT IS A SPECIAL CASE OF A GENERAL PRINCIPLE THAT IS KNOWN TO BE TRUE. For example, if you know the general principle that the sum of the angles in any triangle is always 180 degrees, and you have a particular triangle in mind, you can then conclude that the sum of the angles in your triangle is 180 degrees. In contrast to inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning IS LOGICALLY VALID and it is the fundamental method by which mathematical facts are demonstrated to be true. It is to be noted that deductive reasoning is application of preconceived ideas, broad generalities and accepted truths to particular problems and many times the outcomes of a deductive reasoning process may be erroneous if the preconceived ideas, broad generalities on which the reasoning is based are incorrect. Agricultural practices that increase crop growth-planting legumes, manuring with animal dung and with litter from forests, rotating crops, and application of lime- were known to the Chinese 3000 years ago. The reasons for their effectiveness, however, were not known. Little or no further progress was made in the Western world for almost 1500 years because of deductive reasoning was used to reason out efficacy of the Chinese method and this reasoning was based on a premise that matter was composed of earth, fire and water-an incorrect premise.

In the second half of the sixteenth century it was thought that the ash, which is generated on burning plants came from the soil and could be reabsorbed when added back to soil. It was also believed that salts arising out of decomposing organic matter dissolved in water and absorbed by plants were responsible for plant growth. Glauber (1650) believed that saltpeter (Sodium/Potassium Nitrates) was the key to plant nutrition by soil. It was also believed that humus was the principal of vegetation. None had experimental proof. Van Helmont (1592) tried to test these ideas. He planted a willow shoot in a pail of soil and covered the pail so that dust could not enter. He carefully measured the amount of water added. After five years the tree had gained 7504 kg. The weight of soli in the pail was still 200 lb less by about two ounces. He disregarded the two ounces as what would be called today as experimental error and he concluded that soil contributed nothing to plant nutrition and plants need only water for their sustenance. Although he followed the scientific method, he unfortunately came to wrong conclusion. Many experiments still go afoul because of incomplete control and measurement of all experimental variables. John Woodruffs experimental design (1699) was much better. He grew plants in rain water, river water, sewage water, and in sewage water plus garden mould. The more solutes and and solids in the growth medium- the dirtier the water- the better the plants grew, implying that something in soli improved plant growth. The idea developed, but without further verification that the organic fraction of the soil supplied the plants needs. That ides persists to this day. Organic substances absorbed by plants from the soil may affect plant growth, but this was difficult to establish. In 1840 Justus von Liebig persuasively advanced the idea that inorganic chemicals were key to plant nutrition and that an input-output chemical budget should be maintained in soil. Liebigs theory was mpst probably based on Carl Sprengels work in 1820-1830 that showed that mineral salts rather than humus or soil organic matter, were the source of plant growth. Liebigs influence was so strong that when Boussingault (1865) measured more nitrogen appearing in plants than he put into the soil, his work was disregarded for many years. MICROBIAL NITROGEN FIXATION DID NOT FIT INTO THE SPRENGEEL-LIEBIG MODEL. Soil chemistry was first recognized as distinct from soil fertility in 1850 when Way and Lawes, at ROTHMSTED (England) discovered CATION EXCHANGE. Their work suggested that SOLIS COULD BE STUDIED INDEPENDENTLY OF PLANTS and yet the results would still have implications for soil fertility. The current period is characterized by INFORMATION. Information is both accurate and inaccurate. From the information available about health and nutrition, for example, one might deduce that life is becoming riskier. In reality, we are living longer and healthier lives than before. To make sense of what we hear and read, we sometimes still resort to deductive reasoning. Science no longer has the certainty that it once seemed to have and can be very complicated. People look for answers and ideas they can understand. Many current ideas about health, nutrition, organic farming, for example, are popular not because they have been tested, but because their simplicity is easily understandable and because notalways-sound logic makes them look good. Although science cannot provide all answers, our lives are healthier and longer because we have broken away from deductive reasoning. The spurious premises and logic which are many times contorted and twisted for pure convenience, oversimplification and rejection of representative, careful and controlled testing are some of the issues which render the deductive process difficult to accept.

In summary, inductive reasoning is part of the discovery process whereby observation of special cases leads one to suspect very strongly (though not know with logical certainty) that some general principle is true. Deductive reasoning, on the other hand, is the method you would use to demonstrate with logical certainty that the principle is true. Both are necessary parts of mathematical thinking. If you just started with the known properties of triangles and played around with them aimlessly using deductive reasoning, it is unlikely you would discover the fact that the angle sum is always 180 degrees (though if you did happen to discover it that way, you'd know it for certain). However, by noticing that it's true in all the examples you've ever seen, inductive reasoning leads you to suspect that this fact is true. Then, once your suspicions have given you a target and a direction for your deductive reasoning, you construct your rigorous logical proof using deductive reasoning.


DEDUCTIVE REASONING PROCESS Deductive reasoning works from the more general to the more specific. Sometimes this is informally called a "top-down" approach. We might begin with thinking up a THEORY about our topic of interest. We then narrow that down into more specific HYPOTHESES that we can test. We narrow down even further when we collect observations to address the hypotheses. This ultimately leads us to be able to test the hypotheses with specific data -- a CONFIRMATION (or not) of our original theories.


Inductive reasoning works the other way, moving from specific observations to broader generalizations and theories. Informally, we sometimes call this a "bottom up" approach (please note that it's "bottom up" and NOT "bottoms up" which is the kind of thing the bartender says to customers when he's trying to close for the night!). In inductive reasoning, we begin with specific observations and measures, begin to detect patterns and regularities, formulate some tentative hypotheses that we can explore, and finally end up developing some general conclusions or theories. Consider the following example: XXX: I've noticed that every time I kick a ball up, it comes back down, so I guess that next time when I kick it up, it will come back down, too. YYY: That's Newton's Law. Everything that goes up must come down. And so, if you the ball up, it must come down.


XXX is using INDUCTIVE REASONING, arguing on the basis of actual observations, while YYY is using DEDUCTIVE REASONING, arguing from the law of gravity. YYY's argument is clearly from the general (the law of gravity) to the specific (this kick); XXX's argument may be less obvious from the specific (each individual instance in which he has observed balls being kicked up and coming back down) to the general (the prediction that a similar event will result in a similar outcome in the future) because he has stated it in terms only of the next similar event--the next time he kicks the ball. As you can see, the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning is mostly in the way the arguments are expressed. In terms of purely structural construction: Any inductive argument can also be expressed deductively, and any deductive argument can also be expressed inductively. Even so, it is important to recognize whether the form of an argument is inductive or deductive, because each requires different sorts of support. XXXs inductive argument, above, is supported by his previous observations, while YYY's deductive argument is supported by his reference to the law of gravity. Thus, XXX could provide additional support by detailing those observations, without any recourse to books or theories of physics, while YYY could provide additional support by invoking Newton's law, even if YYY himself had never seen a ball kicked. These two methods of reasoning have a very different "feel" to them. Inductive reasoning, by its very nature, is more open-ended and exploratory, especially at the beginning. Deductive reasoning is comparatively narrow in nature and is concerned with testing or confirming hypotheses. All most all research involves both inductive and deductive reasoning processes at some time. In fact, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that we could assemble the two flow-sheets given above into a single circular one that continually cycles from theories down to observations and back up again to theories. Even in the most constrained/specialized experiment, the researchers may observe patterns in the data that lead them to develop new theories. A theory, forged through the induction route is retained as long as it is consistent with the known facts of nature or as long as it is an aid in systematization of our knowledge. So, do not be surprised in the case when some of the present day scientific theories will seem as absurd as the theory CYLINDRICAL OBJECTS BURN. But on that day we will be proud of better views that have been substituted. Please do not be discouraged by the childs progress- he hasnt yet decided that the box of news papers will burn: be reassured. This child is a scientist and his faltering steps will lead him to newspapers, do no demean these faltering steps, for, they are, in no measure, less as compared to the steps which led us to the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, the discovery of the polio vaccine and to the moon. 9

Detour (1): Second contact with generalization Observe the following table carefully: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Can you identify a pattern? Yes: 1. Entries on the right column are the cubes of the corresponding entries of the left column, 2. Cubes of the numbers 4, 5, 6 and 9 have, respectively, 4, 5, 6 and 9 in the units place, and, 3. In case of the numbers 2, 3, 7 & 8 the sum of the units digits of the cube and the cube roots add to 10. Having identified this pattern, can we use it to forge a THEORY as a labor saving tool similar to the theory propounded by the lost child? This pattern is also exhibited by the numbers 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 & 20 (the second decade), the third decade and so on Therefore, can we say that the observed pattern is true in case of all integers? May be or may not be UNLESS ESTABLISHED BY THE PROCESS OF DEDUCTIVE REASONING. It turns out that this is indeed so using elementary algebra (care to furnish a slick proof?). Having established a theory consisting of the facts listed as 1, 2, 3 we now forget the list (as was forgotten by the lost child) and hunt for the cube root of the number 250047 (why this particular number, can you identify anything specific about this particular selection?). Clearly our guiding theory tell us that the desired cube root must have 3 in its unit place (using No.3). Moreover, the desired cube root must be a two digit number (why?). Clearly, the units digit will add at most 9^3 = 729, a number less than 1000. In other words, whatever the units digit is, its cube will never carry over into the thousands place when the number is cubed. Therefore, to find the other digit of the cube root we focus on the leading three digits of the number, i.e., 250 which lies between the cubes of 6 and 7. The largest number whose cube does not exceed 250 is 6. Therefore, the cube root is 63. 1 8 27 64 125 216 343 512 729 1000


Having tasted success, one might be prompted to extend our list of positive integers, the cube roots of which could be extracted this way. I urge you to identify the pitfall which lies herein. This is akin to pitfall of the lost childs extended theory all cylindrical objects burn (this will justify choosing the particular and specific number 250047). By the way, the method using which one refutes this extended theory is called disproval by counterexample. This is the same method which is used to disprove the extended theory all the residents of this town are above six feet in height. Therefore, the validity of our theory, namely, the cube roots can be extracted by inspection by following the algorithm outlined above is restricted only to the list of positive integers which are perfect cubes. ABSTRACTION AND IDEALIZATION: A pencil or rock that is dropped from a building exhibits recurring behavior: A patternthey fall toward Earth at the same accelerating rate. Despite having radically different shapes, pencils and rocks exhibit the same behavior when dropped. This recurring behavior has been specified, characterized, documented, and formalized: Near the surface of the Earth, the rate of acceleration due to gravity is equal to 32 feet per second per second, or 9.8 meters per second per second. Mathematical thinking often begins with the process of abstractionthat is, noticing a similarity between two or more objects or events. Aspects that they have in common, whether concrete or hypothetical can be represented by symbols such as numbers, letters, other marks, diagrams, geometrical constructions, or even words. Whole numbers are abstractions that represent the size of sets of things and events or the order of things within a set. The circle as a concept is an abstraction derived from human faces, flowers, wheels, or spreading ripples; the letter A may be an abstraction for the surface area of objects of any shape, for the acceleration of all moving objects, or for all objects having some specified property; the symbol + represents a process of addition, whether one is adding apples or oranges, hours, or kilometers per hour. And abstractions are made not only from concrete objects or processes; they can also be made from other abstractions, such as kinds of numbers (the even numbers, for instance). Detour (1): Process of abstraction: A demonstration.




The similarity between these three shapes is that each contains three objects. Detour (2): Process of abstraction: A second demonstration. By observing the process of usual distance measurement we may abstract the following essential features of the outcome of the distance measuring process: Distance between two objects A & B is never negative. Distance between two objects A & B zero if these objects are kept at the same point. Distance between objects A & B is the same as the distance between objects B & A. The three numerical values of the distance between any three objects A,B,C, namely d(A,B), d(B,C) and d(C,A), exhibits the property that the sum of any two is not less the third value, i.e. d(A,B) + d(B,C) d(C,A)


Detour (3): Process of abstraction: A third demonstration.

Can you identify the individual represented by this line drawing?

One of the functions these abstractions serve is that they provide us with a diagnostic tools using which one can check whether or not a particular set of observations have been correctly taken. In particular, we can check whether or not a particular series of distance measurements have been taken correctly by using the diagnostic tools abstracted above. More importantly, abstractions enable mathematicians to concentrate on some features of things and relieve them of the need to keep other features continually in mind. As far as mathematics is concerned, it does not matter whether a triangle represents the surface area of a sail or the convergence of two lines of sight on a star; mathematicians can work with either concept in the same way. The resulting economy of effort is very usefulprovided that in making an abstraction, care is taken not to ignore features that play a significant role in determining the outcome of the events being studied. After abstractions have been made and SYMBOLIC REPRESENTATIONS of them have been selected: these symbols can be combined and recombined in various ways according to precisely defined rules. Sometimes this is done with a fixed goal in mind; at other times it is done in the context of the experiment, or play, to see what happens. Sometimes an appropriate manipulation can be identified easily from the intuitive meaning of the constituent words and symbols; at other times a useful series of manipulations have to be worked out by trial and error. Typically, strings of symbols are combined into statements that express ideas or propositions. For example, the symbol A for the area of any square may be used with the symbol s for the length of the square's side to form the proposition A = s2. This equation specifies how the area is related to the side-and also implies that it depends on nothing else. The rules of ordinary algebra can then be used to discover that if the length of the sides of a square is doubled, the square's area becomes four times as great. More generally, this knowledge makes it possible to find out what happens to the area of a square no matter how the length of its sides is changed, and conversely, how any change in the area affects the sides. Mathematical insights into abstract relationships have grown over thousands of years, and they are still being extendedand sometimes revised. Although they began in the concrete experience of counting and measuring, they have come through many layers of abstraction and now depend much more on internal logic than on mechanical demonstration. In a sense, then, the manipulation of abstractions is much like a game: Start with some basic rules, then make any moves that fit those ruleswhich includes inventing additional rules and finding new connections between old rules. The test for the validity of new ideas is whether they are consistent and whether they relate logically to the other rules.


Mathematical processes can lead to a kind of model of a thing, from which insights can be gained about the thing itself. Mathematical relationships arrived at by manipulating abstract statements may or may not convey something truthful about the thing being modeled. For example, if 2 cups of water are added to 3 cups of water and the abstract mathematical operation 2+3 = 5 is used to calculate the total, the correct answer is 5 cups of water. However, if 2 cups of sugar are added to 3 cups of hot tea and the same operation is used, 5 is an incorrect answer, for such an addition actually results in only slightly more than 4 cups of very sweet tea. The simple addition of volumes is appropriate to the first situation but not to the secondsomething that could have been predicted only by knowing something pertaining to the physical differences in the two situations. To be able to use and interpret mathematics well, therefore, it is necessary to be concerned with more than the mathematical validity of abstract operations and to also take into account how well they correspond to the properties of the things represented. Sometimes common sense is enough to enable one to decide whether the results of the mathematics are appropriate. For example, to estimate the height 20 years from now of a girl who is 5' 5" tall and growing at the rate of an inch per year, common sense suggests rejecting the simple "rate times time" answer of 7' 1" as highly unlikely, and turning instead to some other mathematical model, such as curves that approach limiting values. Sometimes, however, it may be difficult to know just how appropriate mathematical results arefor example, when trying to predict stock-market prices or earthquakes. All familiar objects have intrinsic properties such as color, weight, charge, etc, and they have relational (or extrinsic) properties such as position, spatial relationships to one another, ownership relations, etc. Now consider some real object such as a blob of metal tied on one end of a thread. From the point of view of mechanics we are not interested in its extrinsic properties such as who owns it. Whereas from the point of view of economics or sociology, whether or not it is owned, or who owns it, is of interest. We say that the dynamist ABSTRACS AWAY or SHIES AWAY FROM OR AVOIDS the irrelevant extrinsic property of ownership. The economist, on the other hand, does not do so because it is part of his study to consider ownership relations; the economist does abstract away from the energy properties of the swinging pendulum. Both the dynamist and the economist will abstract away from its relational property of being remotely located, say for example, from the river Ganges. Neither has an interest in their in their theories with the relational property of the real object. Both will also abstract away from the intrinsic property such as color; what color the pendulum has is not a matter of interest in their theories. On the other hand color is definitely of importance from the point of view of optics, for example. In general, we may say that we make an abstraction from a REAL OBJECT, such as a pendulum when the REAL OBJECT has the property P but it is of no concern to, or it is irrelevant to, some theory T, whether the REAL OBJECT has that property P. The point being emphasized here is that in the case of abstraction an object is still a REAL OBJECT with property P, which is required for a particular investigation and ignored for other purposes. In mechanics we consider objects to be point-like, i.e. they lack volume. Thus, in simple descriptions of the solar system, the sun, moon, and the planets are often considered to be point-like objects with forces either acting from, or acting upon that point. Is there such a thing as a point-sun, point-moon, or a pointplanet? No, but in mechanics they are IDEALIZED objects: they are not the objects to be found in real world. We might be able to demonstrate, along the lines suggested by Newton, that treating an object as point like with its mass concentrated at its centre of gravity is equivalent to a body with its volume in three dimensional space with its mass distributed evenly about its centre of gravity. Such equivalence does not necessarily undermine the main issue that we are still IDEALIZING an object when we treat it as if it were point-like. What such an idealization does show is that we are not making idealization which is at a large distance from reality; in one respect, the idealized and the real object share some common features such as gravitational attraction, etc, which are the objects of investigation. 13

In the case of IDEALIZATION we do not merely ignore a property; we regard it as a property that the object definitely possesses. Thus, we idealize human beings when we consider that they are always just, honest, loving etc, or act with good intentions. It is not merely that we ignore and set aside their unjust behavior, their dishonesty, and their propensity for hatred or their bad intentions. Of course, we could merely abstract from these, in the sense of allowing that we have these negative features but we simply set them aside. WHEN WE IDEALIZE HUMAN BEINGS AND THINK OF BEINGS WITHOUT THESE NEGATIVE ATTRIBUTES, WE ARE NOT TALKING OF REAL HUMANS AT ALL. They have features in common with humans, but are not actual humans, to be found in the actual real world. We abstract from real objects when we still consider them as real objects but ignore some of their properties. We do not say that they lack these properties; we rather set them aside for reasons to do with our theories and what properties of real objects we wish to consider. When we IDEALIZE, we are no longer considering real or actual objects, but non-real or non-actual objects. This is so because we consider the object to lack some of the properties that would be necessary for it to have if it is to have real-world existence. This discussion should make the difference between abstraction and idealization clear without setting out necessary and sufficient conditions/characterizations of what these terms mean in the context. Unabated and unbridled use the principle of Abstraction may lead to erroneous theories. Thus, classical dynamists erroneously thought that they could abstract away the frame of reference in which an object is moving and talk about, say, its absolute mass. Einsteins special theory of relativity pointed out that this was an erroneous abstraction. Similarly, unconstrained use of the principle of abstraction led to a paradoxical situation in the set theory formulated by George Cantor. The principle of abstraction was used by Cantor in his Nave Set Theory to define a set to be a collection of objects which satisfy/exhibit a property P. In other words, in Nave Set Theory, a set is just a collection of objects that satisfy some condition. Any clearly phrased condition is thought to define a set - namely, those things that satisfy the condition. Here are some sets: y The set of all red motorcycles ; y The set of all integers greater than zero; y The set of all blue bananas - which is just the empty set!

Some sets are not members of themselves - for example, the set of all red motorcycles (this is not a member since it is not a motorcycle!) - And some sets are - for example, the set of all non-motorcycles. Now what about the set of all sets which are not members of themselves? Is it a member of itself or not? If it is, then it isn't, and if it isn't, then it is...This is a contradiction!


Suppose you walk past a barber's shop one day, and see a sign that says: "Do you shave yourself? If not, come in and I'll shave you! I shave anyone who does not shave himself, and no one else." This seems fair enough, and fairly simple, until, a little later, the following question occurs to you - does the barber shave himself? If he does, then he mustn't, because he doesn't shave men who shave themselves, but then he doesn't, so he must, because he shaves every man who doesn't shave himself... and so on. Both possibilities lead to a contradiction. This is the BARBER'S PARADOX, discovered by mathematician, philosopher and conscientious objector BERTRAND RUSSELL, at the beginning of the twentieth century. As stated, it seems simple, and you might think a little thought should show you the way around it. At worst, you can just say "Well, the barber's condition doesn't work! He's just going to have to decide who to shave in some different way." But in fact, restated in terms of so-called "nave" set theory, the Barber's paradox exposed a huge problem, and changed the entire direction of twentieth century mathematics. It exposed a severe contradiction at the heart of nave set theory. That is, there is a statement S such that both itself and its negation (not S) are true. The particular statement here is "the set of all sets which are not members of themselves contains itself". But once you have a contradiction, you can prove anything you like, just using the rules of logical deduction! This is how it goes. 1. 2. 3. If S is true, and Q is any other statement, then "S or Q" is clearly true. Since "not S" is also true, so is "S or Q and not S". Therefore Q is true, no matter what it is.

The paradox raises the frightening prospect that the whole of mathematics is based on shaky foundations, and that no proof can be trusted. In essence, the problem was that in nave set theory, it was assumed that ANY COHERENT CONDITION COULD BE USED TO DETERMINE A SET; this is unabated and unbridled use the principle of Abstraction. In the Barber's Paradox, the condition is "shaves himself", but the set of all men who shave themselves can't be constructed, even though the condition seems straightforward enough - because we can't decide whether the barber should be in or out of the set. Both lead to contradictions. Attempts to find ways around the paradox have centered on restricting the sorts of sets that are allowed. Russell himself proposed a "Theory of Types" in which sentences were arranged hierarchically. At the lowest level are sentences about individuals. At the next level are sentences about sets of individuals; at the next level, sentences about sets of sets of individuals, and so on. This avoids the possibility of having to talk about the set of all sets that are not members of themselves, because the two parts of the sentence are of different types - that is, at different levels. But to be a satisfactory philosophy, we have to be able to say why you are not allowed to mix levels. Although, for example, it is not true that the property of being red is itself red, this is surely a wrong statement, rather than actually meaningless. And there are properties that seem reasonably to apply to themselves - the Theory of Types disallows statements such as "It's nice to be nice" but really this seems like a reasonable and true statement!


For this and other reasons, the most favored escape from Russell's Paradox is the so-called ZERMELOFRAENKEL AXIOMATIZATION of set theory. This AXIOMATIZATION restricts the assumption of nave set theory - that, given a condition, you can always make a set by collecting exactly the objects satisfying the condition. Instead, you start with individual entities, make sets out of them, and work upwards. This means you do not have to suppose that there is a set of all sets, which means you don't have to try to divide that set up into those sets that contain themselves and those which don't. You only have to be able to make this division for the elements of any given set, which you have built up from individual entities via some number of steps. To end on a more flippant note, if Russell had been aware of the inbuilt sexism of the language of his day, the course of twentieth century mathematics might have been different. There is an easy solution to the Barber's Paradox, which doesn't require the opening of any nasty cans of set-theoretic worms. Just make the barber a woman...