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CMAP (Centre de Mathématiques APpliquées) UMR CNRS 7641, Ecole Polytechnique, CNRS, 91128 Palaiseau Cedex, France
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(CMAP28 WWW site: this page was created on 01/25/2001 and last updated on 02/11/2013
Mathematics play a very particular role in the quest for Knowledge.
Whether mathematicians are involved in invention or discovery, the tools that they develop
have constituted the very basis of Science for more than 2000 years.
Mathematics, which has been considered for too long as a mere language in which to formulate
the laws of nature, is now recognised as a creative thought process
that can be used to discover new entities and phenomena...
The remarkable succes of the Standard Model of
elementary particles and their interactions or
of the General Relativity
confirms this evolution in thinking.
Yet Scientific Knowledge is undoubtedly not the only way of comprehending the infinite wealth of
phenomena in our Universe. Art, the quest for beauty and the indefinable, is another
way forward, a means of progress that is parallel to the means provided by Science,
and we surmise that still more possibilities exist, probably more than we could ever imagine.
Yet it is an undeniable fact that, with a few exceptions (Leonardo da Vinci being the best
known), these two paths seldom cross. Setting aside the frequent lack of pluridisciplinary
knowledge in creators working in specific domains, there are few major works influenced by
the Science of their day and, inversely, very few scientific theories that make use
of the harmony provided by the senses (we exclude, of course, the notion of aesthetics
as expressed in a scientific theory).
Computer science, which has enabled researchers to make
progress to an extent that was inconceivable just a few years ago,
will soon be giving artists the
means of achieving heights and countries that are yet unexplored.
At last, it will reconcile them and place them fairly and squarely on the road to the invention
(or discovery?) of new realities that are at present slumbering in the
memories of our (Virtual Space-Time Travel) Machines...
From the infinitely small to the infinitely big