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August 16, 1965

Education in the Sciences

JAMA. 1965;193(7):583-584. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090070033009

The edifice of scientific knowledge has often been likened to an inverted pyramid: at the point of the pyramid is found that domain of knowledge which is self-contained in the sense that its contents and structure depend on nothing else. Here is to be found pure mathematics, as exemplified in analysis, the theory of sets, topology, mathematical logic, and so on. As we move upward in the pyramid, the area of knowledge widens but is supported by what lies below it. Here we find the inanimate sciences: physics and chemistry, with all their rich ramifications, pure and applied. What is described by Newton's laws or by Maxwell's equations, for example, is not found in the domain of pure mathematics, but it is clear that without mathematics these creations of scientific genius would never have seen the light of day.

In the next stratum of the pyramid we find the life

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