# History revisited

## Climate change? A reality… Both continuous and discrete in geological time

One cannot truthfully claim that climate change on planet earth is just a myth. Fossil and geological evidence in various places have revealed earlier Mediterranean climates as far north as Sweden and massive glacial ice floes as far south as North Dakota. The causes of such colossal transformations on the earth’s surface have been attributed to various solar and planetary changes. These have included increased solar activity, decreased volcanic activity, alterations to ocean circulation and even perturbations in the earth’s orbital parameters. At this juncture, much research has highlighted temperature and precipitation fluctuations as evidence of another impending global climate phenomenon. The heightened rhetoric points in the direction of human intervention into natural processes as one of its major contributors.

However, recent geological and paleontological research into the origins and the history of the Sahara Desert (the hottest and driest region on the planet) have unearthed some interesting theories and facts about climate change which go well beyond human influence and impact on the environment.

**See: “****When the Sahara Desert was Green - Science Documentary 2017****”** (published September 15, 2017 by Documentary film 2017)

## Universal Order or Chaos?

Gottfried Leibniz (1646 - 1716) was a German philosopher, physicist and mathematician. Even as a self-taught mathematician, he is famous for being one of the founders of Calculus, the discoverer of the binary numbers and the invention of an early version of the calculator, the latter two being precursors to the modern computer. However, it was his personal philosophy that led him to probe into the dynamics of the universe around him. Leibniz believed that we were living in a deterministic universe whose rhythm was derived from a ‘pre-established harmony.’ This led him to focus on a formulation of what he called ‘vis viva,’ that unseen ‘life force’ of a moving body, as being a product of its mass times the square of the velocity at which it was moving and that *vis viva* was subject to some kind of law of conservation or state of equilibrium. In mathematical terms, Leibniz considered a body’s *life force* to be = mv^{2}. This is so reminiscent of Einstein’s relativity equation between mass and energy which was introduced to the scientific community some two centuries later. E = mc^{2} where E represents the energy ( ‘life force’) equivalent to a moving body of mass m somewhere in the universe and c is the speed of light. In fact, there is a law of conservation built into this equation. It states that the ratio of a body’s energy over its mass is a constant, implying that energy and mass are in a constant state of equilibrium.

For more on the legacy of Leibniz’s idea of ‘vis viva’ or ‘life force,’ watch the documentary called: Order and Disorder

**Note:** Here the word ‘chaos’ is defined as the infinity of space or formless matter supposed to have preceded the existence of the ordered universe.

## John Forbes Nash Jr.

*Mathematician, Economist and Nobel Prize Laureate 1994*

It is not often that mathematicians win Nobel Prizes because there is no Nobel Prize in Mathematics. This is the autobiography of one who did. He has 'A Beautiful Mind', the central premise of the 2001 Oscar award winning film of the same name.

Of note is that the Field's Medal, sometimes referred to as the 'Nobel Prize of mathematics' and considered by many to be the most prestigious award a mathematician can receive, was founded as a legacy of a Canadian mathematician, John Charles Fields.

## Resurrecting Napier's Bones

John Napier was a Scottish mathematician and inventor who lived in the latter part of the sixteenth and the early seventeenth centuries. Some of his innovative ideas and devices caused a great stir at the time.

## A Winning Lottery Combination: Mathematics, Psychology and Politics

Speaking of thinking differently, some enterprising MIT students apparently used mathematical thinking to win the Massachusetts’ state lottery consistently from 2005 to 2011. Why were they able to “beat the System” for such a long period? A clever combination of number theory and geometry – and the ever-pervasive forces of human psychology and politics – may have been the answers to their success.

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking (published on June 24, 2015 by The Royal Institution)Updated February 10, 2023 by Digital & Web Operations, University Relations (web_services@athabascau.ca)