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“God used beautiful mathematics in creating the world…”*


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From Yann Pineill & Nicolas Lefaucheux at Parachutes.tv, “Beauty of Mathematics.”

* Paul Dirac

“Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music.”

– Betrand Russell

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As we count our blessings, we might recall that it was on this date in 1869 that the very first issue of Nature was published.  Edited by astronomer Sir Norman Lockyer, the inaugural issue included articles on astronomy, plants, moths, paleontology, science teaching in schools, an obituary for Thomas Graham, and meeting notices.  Lockyer took the journal’s title from a line by Wordsworth: “To the solid ground of nature trusts the Mind that builds for aye.”

Nature was at its inception part of a movement of interdisciplinary (or perhaps better said, pre-disciplinary journals), unique in drawing on a contributor base composed of progressive, and somewhat controversial scientists like Joseph Dalton Hooker, Herbert Spencer, and John Tyndall– all avid supporters of Darwin and his theory of evolution, a very fashion-forward position at the time.  But while most journals have become ever-more specialized, Nature has hewed to its interdisciplinary roots– “a way of creating a sense of community among people who would otherwise be isolated from each other”– and has become pre-eminent: it was ranked the”world’s most cited” scientific publication by the Science Edition of the 2010 Journal Citation Reports.

Nature cover, November 4, 1869

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Written by LW

November 4, 2013 at 1:01 am

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