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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Not very magical, still... » » Is Reality a mathematical structure? (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

stoneunhinged
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This video is a few years old, but I thought of it again because of the thread on whether the universe is conscious. It's less than four minutes long, so check it out:



Those of you who are serious mathemeticians could perhaps point out some of plausibility or ramifications of the idea that mathematics is not really a human creation, but a human discovery.

As for myself, I think it's very close to saying the universe is conscious: not that the universe thinks[/], but that the universe is [i]idea. Human words can only come so close to describing the existence of idea without thinkers, but we're trying. Hegel said something like "thought thinking itself", and I like that very much; but it still seems too abstract to most people.

(And yes, I'm starting a new thread because the other one took a strange turn.)
landmark
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I wouldn't call myself a serious mathematician, but I would like to add my two cents as someone who has appreciated math throughout his life.

Is math a human creation or a discovery? Both.

The analogy is this: You have a Lego set. In your room you build all kinds of models of what you imagine the garden outside your window looks like. You can see a little bit of the garden outside your window, but not all of it. Nevertheless, you make all kinds of garden models, dozens of them. Some of them are just for fun with purple grass and man-eating flowers, but others are models that look like the part you can see with some guesses about the part you can't see.

You imagine that one of your models seems to be more "correct" than any of the others. In fact, you've learned to stretch your neck out the window to see a little more, and you get very excited, because, yes, that extra part you now see looks just like the model you thought was "correct."

I submit that this is what math is. It can be a purely human creation of the imagination like the model with man-eating flowers; on the other hand it can be an attempt to model the universe around us. For example, mathematicians over the years have in a sense both created and discovered a number of geometries besides the Euclidean geometry we learned (or didn't!) in high school. It turns out that the geometry that "works" for the Universe depends on the shape of the Universe. So when we figure that out, then we'll figure out which geometry to use.

So the empirical project of figuring out what kind of math works in this Universe is in a sense a discovery. However, many mathematicians scoff and leave that kind of drudge work to the physicists. There are, instead, many mathematicians who prefer to think of themselves as creators of imaginary models with no necessary reference to reality. The interesting thing is, though, that it is often the case that years later those models of imaginary worlds turn out to have some correlative in some part of this world. It is as if we had imagined a three-headed dragon and then found its bones.

Anyway, that's a start.
R.S.
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Interesting. I actually have Tegmark's book. Haven't had the time to read it yet though. Been sitting on my shelf for several months. I'll get to it eventually.

Thanks, Stone.

Ron
"It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry." Thomas Paine
stoneunhinged
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Quote:
On Jul 15, 2017, stoneunhinged wrote:
As for myself, I think it's very close to saying the universe is conscious: not that the universe thinks, but that the universe is idea. Human words can only come so close to describing the existence of idea without thinkers, but we're trying. Hegel said something like "thought thinking itself", and I like that very much; but it still seems too abstract to most people.


I wanted to correct the embedded stuff.
Jonathan Townsend
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Waiting for someone to posit that Reality is a soap opera...

Can there be any complete description of reality (watch out Godel) and is there only one description of reality?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Dannydoyle
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Is reality a mathematical structure? Sure why not?
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Magnus Eisengrim
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It's not at all clear what he means by "reality".
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
tommy
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Reality is that which is physical.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
landmark
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Quote:
On Jul 15, 2017, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Waiting for someone to posit that Reality is a soap opera...

Can there be any complete description of reality (watch out Godel) and is there only one description of reality?


In that sense the math-colored glasses is an imaginative creative filter that interacts with whatever is out there and allows mathematicians to describe the world in a particular way, that makes sense to them. Crows might have a different set of glasses, as do poets. Best results in stereo.
stoneunhinged
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Quote:
On Jul 15, 2017, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
It's not at all clear what he means by "reality".


Which reminds me of an ancient thread where I pushed for definitions...
tommy
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The reality is not the universe.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
ed rhodes
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The Universe was sneezed out of a great, green Quarklebeast, and we must all beware the coming of the great white handkerchief!
"There's no time to lose," I heard her say.
"Catch your dreams before they slip away."
"Dying all the time, lose your dreams and you could lose your mind.
Ain't life unkind?"
tommy
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0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, ...

The 0 is a mystery.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
S2000magician
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I believe that reality is not a mathematical structure, but in many respects it behaves like a mathematical structure.

Take that!
landmark
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Hmm... can you say more about that?
Jonathan Townsend
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What evidence is there that colored glasses interact with shared common reality? Do we really need to do "perception/belief" as factor in observing outcomes?? Red glassed, Green Glasses, Magic clear glasss...roll the dice and record data.

The models we abstract from perceptual reality can be useful. The games we abstract from observed patterns can be useful.

Godel and Schrodinger established a nice safety net on confusing models/games with "reality".
...to all the coins I've dropped here
landmark
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It gets interesting when more than one model is combined. The emergence of depth perception from right and left seems like a wonderful surprise to me. What else is in store for the adventurous? Most let themselves live within one model at a time. Magic Eye takes some doing before the picture pops out.
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