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Thread: The Language of Mathematics.

  1. #1 The Language of Mathematics. 
    Forum Ph.D.
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    The Irish actor/comedian, Dara O'Briain, often appears on UK television. He is a maths and theoretical physics graduate.
    Recently I read comments he made about maths and I have heard others say much the same things. Quite rightly he states that the discovery/invention of maths is one of the great human achievements. He goes on to say "maths is the language in which the universe is written. It's innate to the human brain-----".
    Is it a bit arrogant to believe we have discovered the language of the universe? I would agree maths is a magnificent human achievement, and perhaps it is not important to draw what might be called irrelevant distinctions, but would it not be more accurate to say that maths is by far the best approximation we have to the "language" of the universe.


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    Mathematics is a model, a theory, like any other model or theory.


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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halliday View Post
    I would agree maths is a magnificent human achievement, and perhaps it is not important to draw what might be called irrelevant distinctions, but would it not be more accurate to say that maths is by far the best approximation we have to the "language" of the universe.
    Don't think so, I can't put my finger on it, but something doesn't add up.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Math is but one thread of the fabric of time which binds us all to the cosmos.
    When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Is mathematics an invention or a discovery?
    If you subscribe to the latter view then it's neither arrogant nor an approximation.
    Despite Einstein's comment 1, mathematics appears to be an entirely valid descriptor for the universe, certainly the only reliable one.
    In other words: it works, bitches.

    1 "As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality." I can find numerous 2 usages of that quote, but not the actual context.
    2 I would have said "innumerable" but Google screws that up by telling me there's just over a quarter of a million instances.
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    Math is certainly not the language of the Universe. There is no language in the human realm that has been able to explain everything in the Universe. I can give numerous instances where mathematical conclusions have contradicted facts. Maybe Math will evolve. Will it evolve to such an extent that it will no longer be called MATH. I just hope no one has defined Math in an absolute manner.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Is mathematics an invention or a discovery?
    If you subscribe to the latter view then it's neither arrogant nor an approximation.
    Despite Einstein's comment 1, mathematics appears to be an entirely valid descriptor for the universe, certainly the only reliable one.
    In other words: it works, bitches.

    1 "As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality." I can find numerous 2 usages of that quote, but not the actual context.
    2 I would have said "innumerable" but Google screws that up by telling me there's just over a quarter of a million instances.
    So which is it then?
    Is it "an entirely valid descriptor of the universe" or the "only reliable one?"
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halliday View Post
    So which is it then?
    Is it "an entirely valid descriptor of the universe" or the "only reliable one?"
    It wasn't an either-or statement.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    mathematics appears to be an entirely valid descriptor for the universe, certainly the only reliable one.
    In other words, there may well be other valid descriptors (art, poetry...) but they don't have the reliability of mathematics.
    It's valid AND reliable, unlike other methods.
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by parag29081973 View Post
    Math is certainly not the language of the Universe. There is no language in the human realm that has been able to explain everything in the Universe.
    The second does not follow from the first.
    The second, while true, does not mean that the first statement is correct.

    I can give numerous instances where mathematical conclusions have contradicted facts.
    Please, go ahead.
    Or withdraw the statement.
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