Publishers have often said that every equation in a book halves its readership (this shows that publishers don’t understand Limits, but we know what they mean).

It now appears that other people’s equations put off even professional scientists -who tend not to read papers which are filled with this notation.

So often, in science, the maths is portrayed as having driven or supported the research. In many cases, it’s really used as a kind of shorthand to render ‘respectable’ and summarise all the thinking that was actually done quite intuitively. The publishing process demands this, but few authors are allowed the space to provide much additional explanation. So, once again the very power of maths makes its power harder to learn about.