PROJECT TO BE COMPLETED SUMMER 2008 MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE HISTORY: During my lecture in class, I have been asked questions such as “Where are these formulas coming from?” or “When, and by whom, were these algebra and calculus concepts developed?” Having graduate degrees in Engineering and Applied Mathematics, I have always had a great interest in these two fields. All of us are affected by, and moved by, the great advances that engineering and science have produced over the centuries. These advances were created by some well-known scientists and engineers who also were great mathematicians. For that reason, I have developed a great interest in learning more about the contribution of mathematics to these fields, and the correlation among them.
As a mathematics professor, I know students often wonder how mathematics actually relates to their lives and the various fields of their interest, particularly those who major in science and engineering. All students who take calculus hear about Sir Isaac Newton and his work in a variety of fields such as mathematics, physics, engineering, and astronomy. He was one of the most distinguished mathematicians and scientists of the 16th century, who developed fundamental theorems in both mathematics and physics. I would like to concentrate my study on learning more about his life and the history of his work and accomplishments in these areas.
As a graduate student I have taken courses in both the mathematics and engineering fields, I regret not having had the opportunity to look at the history of these two fields and their effects on each other. Due to my teaching assignments and work load during my ten years of service at CCCCD, I have had little free time to read about these subjects, thus limiting my knowledge and expertise. By reading appropriate books about the history of mathematics and science, I can fulfill my desire for learning more about these topics and broaden my understanding of their correlation.
By having the opportunity to do this study, I would expand my perspectives of my field of study which ultimately would vastly improve my teaching. Also, in teaching the Calculus and Accelerated Calculus courses, this study would help me to develop new research project ideas for my CASMNS (Center for Advanced Studies in Mathematics and Natural Science) classes. This study would be particularly useful to my students as a guide line to encourage them to do their own research in their field of interest. The outcome of this study will help me to be more prepared to answer questions in regard to the history of mathematics and science and explain how mathematics relates to science and engineering.
For my reading, I will focus on the following areas and answer the following questions:
The general history of calculus paralleled with some general history of science,
The discoveries and breakthroughs in calculus history that parallel breakthroughs in physics and engineering history,
Sir Isaac Newton, his work, significance of his contributions to the field of applied mathematics and his discoveries and developments in the fields of math and physics,
The effect of Newton’s discoveries on the course of math and science history.
The reading list for this study is divided into three categories: