Sunday, April 08, 2007

Poincaré's Pleasure

According to Wikipedia, Jules Henri Poincaré:

was one of France's greatest mathematicians and theoretical physicists, and a philosopher of science. Poincaré is often described as a polymath, and in mathematics as 'The Last Universalist', since he excelled in all fields of the discipline as it existed during his lifetime. As a mathematician and physicist, he made many original fundamental contributions to pure and applied mathematics, mathematical physics, and celestial mechanics. He was responsible for formulating the Poincaré conjecture, one of the most famous problems in mathematics.

In his research on the three-body problem, Poincaré became the first person to discover a chaotic deterministic system which laid the foundations of modern chaos theory. He is considered to be one of the founders of the field of topology. Poincaré introduced the modern principle of relativity and was the first to present the Lorentz transformations in their modern symmetrical form. Poincaré discovered the remaining relativistic velocity transformations and recorded them in a letter to Lorentz in 1905. Thus he obtained perfect invariance of all of Maxwell's equations, the final step in the formulation of the theory of special relativity.
And Poincaré apparently came up with this:
The Scientist does not study nature because it is useful to do so. He studies it because he takes pleasure in it; and he takes pleasure in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing and life would not be worth living. . . .