# Thread: The peculiar math that could underlie the laws of nature

1. ## The peculiar math that could underlie the laws of nature

I think the title is a bit grandiose, but the article is interesting....

IN 2014, A graduate student at the University of Waterloo, Canada, named Cohl Furey rented a car and drove six hours south to Pennsylvania State University, eager to talk to a physics professor there named Murat Günaydin. Furey had figured out how to build on a finding of Günaydin’s from 40 years earlier—a largely forgotten result that supported a powerful suspicion about fundamental physics and its relationship to pure math.

The suspicion, harbored by many physicists and mathematicians over the decades but rarely actively pursued, is that the peculiar panoply of forces and particles that comprise reality spring logically from the properties of eight-dimensional numbers called “octonions.”

As numbers go, the familiar real numbers—those found on the number line, like 1, π and -83.777—just get things started. Real numbers can be paired up in a particular way to form “complex numbers,” first studied in 16th-century Italy, that behave like coordinates on a 2-D plane. Adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing is like translating and rotating positions around the plane. Complex numbers, suitably paired, form 4-D “quaternions,” discovered in 1843 by the Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton, who on the spot ecstatically chiseled the formula into Dublin’s Broome Bridge. John Graves, a lawyer friend of Hamilton’s, subsequently showed that pairs of quaternions make octonions: numbers that define coordinates in an abstract 8-D space.
Fascinating stuff.
I only show a tiny fraction of the article here....go read the rest at https://www.wired.com/story/the-pecu...il_onsiteshare

2. Very educated people sometimes tend to equate the ability of words (in this case, mathematics being able to describe movement and various other natural properties for some mysterious reason, such as... well, mathematics being developed to describe spatial relationshatips and various natural properties, and link them together with a single unifying lingual framework) to describe something with the words being that something.

They aren't- math is nature, nature isn't math. Words might be naturally arising, ratios are most certainly naturally arising, however nature is almost certainly smooth, which means discrete mathematics only approximates it. Although it's cool that it works well enough at our scale.

You can't just write a universal equation that describes something and think that something is following that equation. Equations describe balancing points in nature, they aren't the balancing points they describe.

3. Originally Posted by Kharakov
Very educated people sometimes tend to equate the ability of words (in this case, mathematics being able to describe movement and various other natural properties for some mysterious reason, such as... well, mathematics being developed to describe spatial relationshatips and various natural properties, and link them together with a single unifying lingual framework) to describe something with the words being that something.

They aren't- math is nature, nature isn't math. Words might be naturally arising, ratios are most certainly naturally arising, however nature is almost certainly smooth, which means discrete mathematics only approximates it. Although it's cool that it works well enough at our scale.

You can't just write a universal equation that describes something and think that something is following that equation. Equations describe balancing points in nature, they aren't the balancing points they describe.
Yeah math requires much more fundamental parts: particles to molecules to cells and eventually math (not to mention laws).

But I do still wonder if we need to identify numbers as objects in their own right: things that exist in the universe as 2 objects instead of 3 objects, etc.

4. The true test of both math and science is testing and usage over time without ambiguity or failure.

People tend to conflate what the universe really is with our models to descibe what we percieve,.

Laws Of Nature to me implies the unverse conforms to our science, rather than the other way around.

As I understand it all our math drills down to the definition of counting. To me any equation is in a sense an expression of conservation. Things must always be in balnce before and after a math operation. In that sense math and science are linked.

Everyting inn science reduces to conservation of mass and energy. Math expresses that.

A revolution in math that upsets science would have to demonstrate inconsistencies in experiment. Science is modeling experiment and observation, and extrapolation based on observation and experiment.

5. Mathematics does not explain what anything is.

It only models what it does.

And the mathematics gets to a point where it becomes so complex it can model almost any kind of behavior.

That is a feature of the complexity of mathematics and the genius of rare humans.

It has nothing to do with the universe.

The universe does not use mathematics.

It's behavior can be modeled with mathematics.

6. How many people actually read the article? Jebus! Octonian values?

When math becomes too damn crazy for me.

7. I read it. Dizzying. Makes me feel not quite like a dog trying to puzzle out the LHC, but still in the presence of minds much more capable than my own.

8. Originally Posted by untermensche
Mathematics does not explain what anything is.

It only models what it does.

And the mathematics gets to a point where it becomes so complex it can model almost any kind of behavior.

That is a feature of the complexity of mathematics and the genius of rare humans.

It has nothing to do with the universe.

The universe does not use mathematics.

It's behavior can be modeled with mathematics.
The universe doesn't use kilometres either (or miles if you prefer). And yet, the statement "the earth's diameter is between 12,000 and 13000 km" is a true one and the statement "the earth's diameter is between 23,000 and 24,000 km" is a false one in this universe of ours.

9. Originally Posted by Jokodo
Originally Posted by untermensche
Mathematics does not explain what anything is.

It only models what it does.

And the mathematics gets to a point where it becomes so complex it can model almost any kind of behavior.

That is a feature of the complexity of mathematics and the genius of rare humans.

It has nothing to do with the universe.

The universe does not use mathematics.

It's behavior can be modeled with mathematics.
The universe doesn't use kilometres either (or miles if you prefer). And yet, the statement "the earth's diameter is between 12,000 and 13000 km" is a true one and the statement "the earth's diameter is between 23,000 and 24,000 km" is a false one in this universe of ours.
Numbers and arbitrary units like kilometers have utility for humans that can make use of them.

Geometry has utility.

But the universe is not numbers or equations.

10. Originally Posted by untermensche
But the universe is not numbers or equations.
It does cause them.

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