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Thread: Mathematical constants in other universes

  1. #1 Mathematical constants in other universes 
    Forum Freshman jmd_dk's Avatar
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    This may sound weird to some…
    All of the basic constants in physics (Planck’s constant, the speed of light, the gravitational constant etc.) are somewhat random. This is the believe we have today. String theory predicts other universes, where all of these constants may be different. In other words, there is no specific reason that they all have the exact value that they have. It's like the values has been given to them at some point in our Universe’ history.
    What about all of the mathematical constants, such as π (pi) or e (Euler's number)? Is it (in any theory) possible that these constants have a different value in other universes? Or is their value bound to be exactly as they are, in any sort of world. That is, are the mathematical constants more fundamental than the physics ones? And if so, how can we prove that they are?
    Has this question ever been discussed by anyone?
    I’ve hard to imagine a circle which has a circumference 5.0 times bigger than its diameter. But on the other hand, I can’t see just exactly why it has to be this weird number 3.1416…

    I’m a little confused about where to post this – In the mathematical or the physics section. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is physics question, about the very basis of mathematics. Besides, even the greatest mathematician, with no knowledge of the world of physics, wouldn’t be able to answer this question. So please, don’t move this thread


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    Forum Radioactive Isotope MagiMaster's Avatar
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    While the physical constants may vary between universes (assuming there is more than one), mathematical constants won't. Those are based on set-in-stone pure math. is not the ratio of the circumference to the diameter in this universe, but in the abstract flat Euclidean space. (This universe is very nearly a flat Euclidean space locally, when ignoring time, so is still important.) In non-Euclidean spaces, the ratio of the circumference to the diameter may not even be a constant, but still manages to show up. All mathematical constants are like this, and none of them will change. That's what makes them constants.


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  4. #3 Re: Mathematical constants in other universes 
    . DrRocket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmd_dk
    This may sound weird to some…
    All of the basic constants in physics (Planck’s constant, the speed of light, the gravitational constant etc.) are somewhat random. This is the believe we have today. String theory predicts other universes, where all of these constants may be different. In other words, there is no specific reason that they all have the exact value that they have. It's like the values has been given to them at some point in our Universe’ history.
    What about all of the mathematical constants, such as π (pi) or e (Euler's number)? Is it (in any theory) possible that these constants have a different value in other universes? Or is their value bound to be exactly as they are, in any sort of world. That is, are the mathematical constants more fundamental than the physics ones? And if so, how can we prove that they are?
    Has this question ever been discussed by anyone?
    I’ve hard to imagine a circle which has a circumference 5.0 times bigger than its diameter. But on the other hand, I can’t see just exactly why it has to be this weird number 3.1416…

    I’m a little confused about where to post this – In the mathematical or the physics section. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is physics question, about the very basis of mathematics. Besides, even the greatest mathematician, with no knowledge of the world of physics, wouldn’t be able to answer this question. So please, don’t move this thread
    1) Your statements regarding physical constants are often found in popularizations of physics. But they are nevertheless pure speculation and are based on the inability of string theorists to find the unique theory that they intially believed they would find. They have no solid basis for those assertions other than that they seem to find string theories with a plethora of sets of physical constants. This needs to be taken with a grain of salt since they are in fact unable to actually clearly produce any string theory that actually describes physics as it is observed.

    String theory actually does not predict other universes. String theory has yet to make any predictions at all. The idea of other universes arose because of the failure of string theorists to actually produce a string theory. They have two basic problems. First they cannot actually define string theory. Second, the iindications are that if they could define a string theory in rigorous terms there would be a plethora (someting in excess of 10^500) of them with virtually any imaginable set of fundamental constants. The original impetus was the belief that string theory would result in a single set of physical constants, a set consistent with physics as it is seen in experiments in our universe. But they have failed completely in this regard, but believe that string theory is so aesthetically compelling that it must respresent physics. So, overcome with the smell of their own perfume they have hypothesized that ALL of these possibilities must exist and that is the source of the "multiple universes". There is zero evidence to support this hypothesis.

    2) Pi, e and other such numbers, are just that, numbers. They are not constants that depend on any physical theory. They are simply numbers. Pi happens to be the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter in Euclidean geometry. e is nothing more and nothing less than


    These are definitions and are quite independent of physics. So your assertion is wrong. Almost any competent mathematician can answer these questions, and they have no dependence whatever on physics.
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  5. #4 Re: Mathematical constants in other universes 
    Forum Bachelors Degree Waveman28's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket
    1) Your statements regarding physical constants are often found in popularizations of physics. But they are nevertheless pure speculation and are based on the inability of string theorists to find the unique theory that they intially believed they would find. They have no solid basis for those assertions other than that they seem to find string theories with a plethora of sets of physical constants. This needs to be taken with a grain of salt since they are in fact unable to actually clearly and produce any string theory that actually describes physics as it is observed.

    String theory actually does not predict other universes. String theory has yet to make any predictions at all. The idea of other universes arose because of the failure of string theorists to actually produce a string theory. They have two basic problems. First they cannot actually define string theory. Second, the iindications are that if they could define a string theory in rigorous terms there would be a plethora (someting in excess of 10^500) of them with virtually any imaginable set of fundamental constants. The original impetus was the belief that string theory would result in a single set of physical constants, a set consistent with physics as it is seen in experiments in our universe. But they have failed completely in this regard, but believe that string theory is so aesthetically compelling that it must respresent physics. So, overcome with the smell of their own perfume they have hypothesized that ALL of these possibilities must exist and that is the source of the "multiple universes". There is zero evidence to support this hypothesis.

    2) Pi, e and other such numbers, are just that, numbers. They are not constants that depend on any physical theory. They are simply numbers. Pi happens to be the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter in Euclidean geometry. e is nothing more and nothing less than


    These are definitions and are quite independent of physics. So your assertion is wrong. Almost any competent mathematician can answer these questions, and they have no dependence whatever on physics.
    Amen.
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