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Why do scientists use formulas?

Every scientist knows that we breathe, smell and live formulas. These range from the simplest mathematical formulas (of which I consider the rectangle- area equation to be the simplest) to the highly complex quantum physics equations, formulas are what we live by. I remember the high school days when our own personal judgement of the tediousness of a topic heavily depended on how clustered it was formula wise.

As students, we cram, we memorise, we swot tons of equations before every scientific exam. I remember what a senior once told me of PHY 113. He said “write out all the formulas and drink them like hot tea every morning.”

But, why? Why do we need formulas at all? Why must every quantity and parameter we have to deal with be expressed in terms of interrelated alphabets & strangled alphabetical jams. Annoyingly, at the end, they usually all translate into numbers. After pages upon pages of paper inking, and endless data crunching by computers and calculators, they usually translate to a single number.


A formula is generally defined as a concise way of expressing information symbolically. It is basically a set form of words, as for stating or declaring something definitely or authoritatively. It indicates procedure to be followed, or for prescribed use in some certain situations.

Formulas originated out of Scientists’ desires to express their thoughts and discoveries with a simplified method of representation. In the earlier days of science, most individual scientists developed personal formulas as a form of shorthand to aid them in their works and save them the stress of writing down all their thoughts in words. As time went on and scientists all around the world began sharing and incorporating their individual knowledge and discoveries, the need arose to have formulas that could be used by all scientists and that would be the same all around the world.


The major reason scientists use formulas is because usually, scientists have very little time to spare. Being very time-conscious requires them to use equations to present in a brief and concise manner. Ordinary, scientific statements or descriptions, if expressed in ordinary words, could cover several pages. This use of symbolic language makes it possible for them to achieve brevity and precision when putting down their thoughts and findings.

Indeed, the scientist has no time for lengthy prose.  Therefore, excessive use of words is avoided and itemization is constantly used. .

As pointed above, it is worthy of note that scientists come from every part of the world and their works have to universally seen and standardized. Given the diversity in languages, writing down their equations, calculations and innovations in words would make their works to only be understood by those who spoke the same language as the scientist. Therefore, formulas provide a universal language of communication.

Common formulas

Most of the formulas in use today can be credited to the Royal Society of London and French Academy of Sciences(which pioneered the use of SI units). These organizations established the standards by which most scientific formulas are examined and proven. All in all, a good scientific formula is expected to be: compact, devoid of ambiguities and also be greater or superior in scope and application when compared to any previous simiar existing standard.

Some of the most common, and most used formulas in the world include:

Well, that is as far as the summary of my research goes. Given the fact that some of us have come to consider them as enemies to their sleep and tormentors of their mental capacity, are we going to see formulas go away very soon? No. As most scientists will probably agree, it sounds implausible to even think of an alternative. If you hate formulas so much, maybe you could think of an alternative. If it works, and it is accepted worldwide, maybe in the next ten, twenty years, I would be an article about it ”. Formulas are here to stay. That is the verdict.

Dear reader, if you are a scientist , you simply can’t dislike formulas, for you cannot do without them. Therefore, my advice to you is, man up, and learn as much as you can, you need or possible.







Ges 101 textbook  (University of Ibadan, pg 194)

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