Gravitational Waves, Big Science, and Mathematics

Another difference — or should I call it similarity — is merely in the level of sophistication. While sharp-edged stones were the outcome of the initial idea of bashing two stones together, GWs are the outcome of the initial mathematical idea encapsulated in the general theory of relativity.

Mathematics is to the evolution of modern humans as the idea of bashing two stones was to the evolution of homo erectus.

Keeping this in mind is important in the teaching of mathematics to our children and the crucial role it plays in our evolution. It also tells us that this teaching ought to impart the skill of mathematical reasoning and know-how to our children just as homo erectus imparted the skill of bashing stones to their children.

If our race does not annihilate itself, two million years from now, our progeny will look at our highly abstract and sophisticated mathematics we are using to invent theories like relativity and the standard model of fundamental particles, and place it in as primitive a category of ideas as we place the stone bashing of our two-million-year old ancestors today.

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