**THE
MATH**
Carl Weierstrass (1815-1897)
The German mathematician Weierstrass was important to the study
of infinitesimal and elliptical functions. His continuous but
nowhere differentiable functions had a great impact on the development
of mathematics, and precipitated a great crisis. Dubois Reymond
wrote that, "The metaphysics of these functions seems to
hide many puzzles, as far as I am concerned, and I cannot get
rid of the thought, that they will lead to the limit of our
intellect." The Weierstrass functions are often used to
argue for a divorce by mutual consent between mathematics and
physics, although Weierstrass himself stressed that the physicist
should not see in mathematics a simple auxiliary discipline,
and the mathematician should not consider the physicist’s
questions a simple collection of examples for his methods. "To
the question of whether it is really possible to extract something
useful from the abstract theories that modern (=1875) mathematics
seems to favor, one could answer that it was only on the basis
of pure speculation that Greek mathematicians derived the properties
of conic sections long before one could guess that they represent
the planets’ orbits."
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