What is this good for?

Such a cheeky question. Why is it so important? Is it not enough to tame all the the surrounding chaos? At least a little bit, with limited field of applicability. But now is not a good time for thoughts. Let’s quickly put together a shallow and necessarily inaccurate response, which completely misses the point, but hopefully justifies the hours spent in the world of abstract concepts in the eyes of whoever asked this.

Quite a sad reaction to such a basic and essential question. It seems to me, however, that I am not the only one struggling to answer. When I hear scientists talk in the media, the feeling that their answer is a precomposed and easy to explain shorthand is almost inevitable. Frankly, practical application of findings in these fields often has a massive delay and I think that motivation of scientists themselves is often something completely different.

The world is extremely hard to comprehend. Its form seems to be rather random and improbable. What even is all that surrounds us? When we honestly think about this we find out that we don’t have a convincing answer. We don’t understand anything. Yet, through the wonder of evolution intuitive ideas and experience allow us to exist. They make it possible to forget about these problems and make it possible for us to focus on our world at a much larger scale, closer to our everyday experience.

Theoretical sciences offer us another option: To create an abstract space, where everything is clearly defined. Where we know exactly what we are talking about. This abstract notion can then be, under clear conditions, related to reality. By doing so, we can bypass the necessity of having to deal with its ungraspable chaos.

Whether or not we actually understand reality better through this process is up to interpretation and personal opinion. However, the fact that it allows us to navigate it more efficiently in some respects is clear. That is where the importance of what I do lies for me. When we are able to think about physical reality through clearly defined terms of the mathematical one , it allows us to unquestionably describe our findings, convey them easily to others and be able to develop their own work. I have no doubt that practical application of what comes out of this process is inevitable. Maybe not today, but eventually for sure.

This is my honest answer to the question in the title. Thinking about the world mathematically is not the only way. It is however a legitimate one and it offers many advantages. I think it is time for us who chose to pursue it to stop being afraid to point them out. Media coverage of science should not shrink to a vague list of technologies, which current findings could potentially help to develop. In many cases that is impossible to predict and cannot therefore be the ultimate motivation for those, who contribute to them.

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