Without mathematics there would be no tax returns to file and no interest on home loans, says a Weber State College professor.
"But then," said Lee Badger, associate professor of mathematics, "there would also be no income to tax or geometry to design structurally sound homes."Mathematicians will be trying to bring their world of numbers and calculations into the spotlight during National Mathematics Awareness Week April 24-30.
Badger said a world without mathematics "might be a simpler world, but it would also be less convenient.
"Correct geometry allows one to build more stable buildings and stronger ships. With it and trigonometry one can accurately survey and so establish property boundaries that are lost, and measure distances across inaccessible regions."
Badger said the ancient Greeks used mathematics to chart the stars and develop the calendar. That calendar that increased trade and led to the discovery of the new world and world exploration.
It was 16th-century mathematics that made our 20th-century space exploration possible, said Badger.
"No other mathematical discovery since the mathematics of the Greeks has influenced our lives more than calculus," he said. "Today the laws of calculus allow us to give precise directions for placement of satellites and space probes."
Calculus combined with other sciences resulted in development of weather satellites and forecasting, communications satellites, long-distance telephoning, planet study and photography, airplanes and electronic circuitry.
Mathematics, said Badger, can also be helpful in less-scientific areas such as predicting the roll of a pair of dice, the next claim to an insurance company, how long your microwave oven will last or the reliability of a traffic light.
"Using a branch of mathematics called probability, we can analyze long-term trends in uncertain events.
"This allows us to calculate the odds in a crap game and determine which player those odds favor," he said. "Likewise we can predict the number and type of claims that an insurance company can expect in the coming year and determine what a reasonable insurance rate should be.
"Mathematics saves us millions of dollars every year by determining the most cost-effective way to accomplish such tasks as transporting goods between warehouses and markets, designing meals that meet certain nutritional requirements, or matching workers with jobs for which they are most qualified."
The computer, which Badger calls a child of mathematics, "will surely have the most significant impact on society since the industrial revolution."
Originally used during World War II to crack German codes, the computer has revolutionized bookkeeping, word processing and industry.
"Computers control robots that clean up toxic chemical spills in the work place," he said. "They allow surgeons to see a tumor without exploratory surgery, they allow chemists to develop drugs that promote a healthier life, they enable the blind to read print, and may even enable them to `see.' "
Tomorrow's computers, said Badger, "should be totally voice controlled. You will actually be able to talk to your computer and it will respond."
Badger said that while discoveries in mathematics have been considerable, it is debatable whether or not they have all been beneficial. "The same ability to prescribe orbits for satellites allows us to compute trajectories of cannonballs and intercontinental ballistic missiles," he said. "Mathematics and science developed the atom bomb and nerve gas."
"Because of mathematics, the standard of living and longevity have increased, but so have ulcers."