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Music, Mathematics, and Machine

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We all like to listen to music and sing a few songs. But, only a privileged few are endowed with the talent to create music that inspires, soothes, and brightens our life. The natural phenomena, the chemistry of life, and the invisible world of the atom all follow the rules and equations of mathematics enabling us to understand how and why things work. The Industrial Revolution ushered in the rise of machines - From farming, transportation, to manufacturing, machines make more food to be available, enable people to move about faster and further, and produce products in large quantities with the same quality, reliability, and durability. Music, mathematics, and machine are created by men to make life more enjoyable, meaningful, and purposeful.

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Music has been with us before the dawn of civilization. Crude instruments were used to generate sound during a religious ceremony and good harvest festival. As time marched on, more sophisticated musical instruments were developed to enrich, enhance, and empower the music. When the musical notes were invented, every music created can then be written down, modified, and reproduced faithfully for future generations. Much different music has been created by many different people. However, only music that makes the general public happy, lift their spirits and soothes their moods will survive the trial of time.

Today, music is an integral part of our life.

Some like to listen to music to calm their nerves so that they can fall asleep. Some like to listen to music while exercising to take physical stress away. We turn on the radio that plays the popular songs of the past and present. There is background melody in the commercials and movies to enhance their effectiveness and there are soft and cheerful tones in the shopping malls, train stations, and some other public places to make them feel alive.


Before the dawn of civilization, we lived day to day facing unpredictable weather and unforgiving environment. But, we were able to see the order in heaven - the daily rising and setting of the Sun, the constant marching of the Moon across the night sky, and the regular appearance of the star constellation. As time went on, we were able to figure out that the Moon orbits around the Earth while the Earth orbits around the Sun in precise motion according to mathematic formulas. We also developed algebra, trigonometry, geometry, calculus to come up with mathematical equations to guide us to build things that will work under Nature’s physical laws. Today, we rely on Mathematics to:

1) Understand how the Universe works, when our solar system was formed and its destiny,

2) See through the matter, find out how the atoms and electrons hold it together and determine its properties,

3) Analyze and predict the weakness, strength, and trend of the local and global economy.


The Industrial Revolution was fueled by the inventions of the steam engine that made locomotives possible and the spinning wheel/weaving loom that turned out fabrics automatically. After the Industrial Revolution, machines began to spring up like weeds around the world. Today, there are machines that can:

1) Mass produce household products repetitiously and automatically,

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2) Transport large group of people from one place to another over land, sea, and air,

3) Analyze, calculate, and store a large number of data in the blink of the eye,

4) Harvest, process, and package food with minimum human intervention, etc.

The machine makes it possible:

1) To provide enough food to feed an ever-increasing human population,

2) For us to live anywhere on Earth,

3) For us to live a comfortable life and have time to pursue our dreams, etc.


Music brightens and enriches our life, Mathematics helps us understand and harness the power of Nature, and Machine frees us to pursue the meaning and purpose of life. We are the only living species on Earth blessed with the talents to bring them to life enabling us to:

1) Turn the once hostile Earth into a playground,

2) Transform Earth’s hidden resources into energy, medicine, and building materials,

3) Make Earth a launchpad to explore Moon, Mars, and stars beyond.

While wolves howl, birds chirp and crickets buzz making sounds to communicate with one another, we make music to entertain and enlighten one another. While the bees are busy pollinating among the flowers, the bears are catching fish in the mountain streams, and the owls are waiting patiently on the tree branches to snatch the unsuspecting critters on the forest floor, we are relying on mathematics to design equipment to study the feeding habits of all those animals. While the bats sleep in the cave during the day and fly out in the night to search for food all their life, the ants work non-stop day and night to keep the colony alive, and the wildebeest live their whole life on the open field moving from place to place where there is grass at the mercy of the inclement weather and the hungry predators, we use machines to grow, harvest, process, and cook food for us so that we can have more times for leisure activities and the pursuit of happiness.

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