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Chapter 8

The Psychology of Numbers

It is important to look at the human aspect behind the achievements in science to

understand the motivational concept. The previous chapters lead up to this point where we
will now look at the human factor, whose mind is the main component used when creating
equations and theories in understanding natural phenomena.
Besides the billions of cells that form muscle, bone and nerves that makes us unique
biological machines that runs on complex chemical and electrical processes, we have the
ability which no other nor form of life that we know of has, which is thought, the ability
amongst things to analyze formulate, compute and understand the space we occupy.
Emotions are also a characteristic we should never forget, for how we feel effects directly
how we will react and what we will do.
In mans attempt t understand why we do things we do and explain the state of mind we
developed theories, this attempt is known today as psychology.
Why do we have to look into the action of man from this perspective as well? It is an
important and relative link in science, mathematical equations and theories has its origin
from the very minds that created it, thus how can we become separated from the ‘equation’.
The human aspect has emotions thus mathematical equation and theories must also have a
purpose from an emotional stand point. We know that geometry came into existence
because there was a need, to establish if one field is let say the same size as another. Note
that these fields are not shaped the same.
What led to this might have been a dispute between two farmers but is generally assumed
that this was to establish how much grain can be derived from a specific field. Whatever the
reason there was a definite human need identifiable from this.
Astronomy had its origins in the ‘mapping’ of the stars through observation in changes. The
desire at first was to establish within time when to start planting crops. But mapping the sky
turned out to be quite useful, not only could man now determine time and seasons but
direction as well. The need thus was time and direction.
Mathematical value systems had its humble origins way back when primitive man swopped
items. The desire to have something the other had led to trading. Finance and trade began
with a simple act of trading to satisfy a desire. Today we walk into a shop take out paper
money to buy genetically engineered food of mass production.
The origins of the banking system is identifiable the requirement of a safe holding place, or
an overseer in loans. Whatever the reason there was a definite need.
We can thus say with certainty that numbers had its origins in the need of man to establish
quantity which lead to the mathematical capability to determine value that overtime
increased in complexity and accuracy as the desire to know all things increased.
Let’s take a look at some of the greatest scientists that ever lived. We have discussed their
findings, we have looked at their theories we have seen their failures as well as their
successes. These scientists are the reason why we have experience incredible advances
and progressed aggressively in all fields of science and technology over the past four
hundred years. They attacked specific problems and avoided great generalization until
enough theories had been tested and verified.
Galileo Galilei laid the foundation for modern mechanics, Roger Bacon insisted that the way
to learn was on careful observation and experimentations, Galileo designed the critical
experiments. Galileo was the first to state that physics and mathematics were going to unite.
When Galileo died in 1642 Isaac Newton was born, who became one of the greatest
scientists of all time. Scientific development was directly as a result from the work done by
the enquiring minds of men, scientific progress evolved from information passed down from
man to man through the centuries. Theories created by one man was proved or disproved,
disproved or adapted through experimentation as 100 years later by another man using
equipment invented by another man.
Thus knowledge was build upon knowledge and some theories had to literally wait for certain
advances to occur before it could be proven.
In 1942 Max Planck, who discovered energy, stated that mankind will rapidly approach self
destruction, unless the progress of science is accompanied by progress in civilization and
moral awareness. This is true if we look closely at the state of affairs especially the impact
pollution had on the environment, and believe me it is still continuing.
Neils Bohr was one of many scientists after World War Two who worked industriously
towards a peaceful use of atomic energy.
Sir Ernest Rutherford who was a teacher to many Nobel Prize Winners had a saying to
never say I tried and it did not work.
It is said in psychology that man lives within a changing world, if we look at the influence of
science and technology life today was very different from life forty years ago. For one the
pace is much faster. As mindset of man changed within time the more became informed, the
result was that scientific knowledge doubled between 1948 and again by 1960 and that
knowledge again doubled by 1970. Today computers placed science, amongst things, at
everyone’s fingertips. Thanks to the information technology the only poor man and those
who will be within the lowest classes of civilization are those that remain uninformed. It is
thus today a fact that learning will never stop not even after the highest possible qualification
has been achieved, since change will never cease either. New findings and advances within
science and technology makes change unavoidable thus learning continues.
We must also keep in mind that these men lived within another time period. We can see that
these men were well educated, they were from a higher class and education was privileged
to these classes. They were also dedicated and possessed enquiring minds, curiosity and an
unmistakable drive to know that which was their desire to know, set us where we are today.
The X-Ray machine invented by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen introduced in 1895, lead to a
public frenzy, we now could see through the human body. If we look at the time frame, how
people lived and where their morals and values were placed, it is not surprising that
manufacturers in London introduced the ‘X-Ray’ proof underwear. From the reaction of the
public we can see that progress was slowed down or even hampered by civilizations in
specific periods. Emotions and misplaced judgments on ethics were caused precisely by
those being uninformed.
The scientists possessed calculative, abstract thinking, their reasoning had to have logical
meaning and there was an air of painstaking accuracy since they would rather not be proven
wrong, there might even have been a competitive race between scientists to have the
answer first. The main reason that drove these men remains the need to know. Any need
leads to definite human emotions, it can even be said that these needs and desires
contributed to science in ways quite unexpected and this is not really considered. It is
evident in the previous chapters, that the hidden motive in every theory was a definite need
and purpose. The most competitive would strive to either better or disprove the theory in
question. Every invention and discovery in the past was important to that particular time and
some, although modified, remained relevant even today.
But all this was constituted through that which was needed. If we look at development
psychology we must remain acutely aware of the here and now, this refers to a specific time,
place, culture and socio-political environment.
Genetically we inherit 50% of our characteristics from the mother and 50% from the father
potentially environment plays a role during development as well.
Both factors however do not play an equal role during stages of development, the effect of
which will differ from person to person thus no fix formula can be applied to attempt to
predict the heredity or environment on any person (Louw EI AI, 1995) We must also
remember that the blueprint within our DNA is far more complex.
Psychologists agree that the interaction between ‘nature’ which refers to characteristics and
abilities which are determent by heredity, also known as genetic determinism and
environment are so complex that it is not sensible to see one as being more important than
the other. It is instinctive for a new born baby to gasp for air, when the baby learns to walk it
is guided by his genetic blueprint (Gormy, 1977). Some see a part of our development as
being genetically predetermined and other se it as gradual and slow, and as experience
increase allows the possibility of change. This change can be quantitative or qualitative.
Quantitative change refers to changes in degree or amount. This can be explained as
follows, a child’s memory improves with each passing year as his knowledge increase, and
how he perceives the world around him will result in him remembering information and past
events. Quantitative changes are changes to structure of organization which has a
fundamental affect or makes a difference to that individual. An adolescent are very different
from a preschooler. There are specific critical time periods by when certain aspects has to be
developed. There is critical time period for language to develop, before puberty. He states
that this period is crucial and the time span when and only when a particular environmental
factor can have an effect, which might also be important, is the concept of readiness or the
point at which an individual can be said to have matured enough to be sufficiently capable of
an particular behaviour.
In contextual terms we cannot separate the individual from their environment and
development must be seen as a dynamic changing process since the individual are always
interacting with his environment.