[ This blog is dedicated to tracking my most recent publications. Subscribe to the feed to keep up with all the science stories I write! ]
Mathematician to know: Emmy Noether
Noether’s theorem is a thread woven into the fabric of the science
For Symmetry Magazine:
We are able to understand the world because it is predictable. If we drop a rubber ball, it falls down rather than flying up. But more specifically: if we drop the same ball from the same height over and over again, we know it will hit the ground with the same speed every time (within vagaries of air currents). That repeatability is a huge part of what makes physics effective.
The repeatability of the ball experiment is an example of what physicists call “the law of conservation of energy.” An equivalent way to put it is to say the force of gravity doesn’t change in strength from moment to moment.
The connection between those ways of thinking is a simple example of a deep principle called Noether’s theorem: Wherever a symmetry of nature exists, there is a conservation law attached to it, and vice versa. The theorem is named for arguably the greatest 20th century mathematician: Emmy Noether.
So who was the mathematician behind Noether’s theorem? [Read the rest at Symmetry…]