Infinite past... with a beginning?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Speakpigeon, Mar 30, 2019.

  1. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Is that not what I have been telling you all this time?
    Time is associated with Pi? How does that work?
    Not really exactly the same value, does it?
    Can you clarify "a universal constant that can be used in any calculation is G=0.00458" ? What universal constant does this refer to? It appears to be meaningless as posited, no different than my example of 2 = 3 is not a true mathematical equation without additional qualifiers.
    An equation is by definition a mathematical construct.
    According to Tegmark there are no universal objects or patterns that do not have a mathematical value or function.
    The video I linked to in post #150
    So you say.
    Counting time doesn't count? That's a new one.
    I'd like to see you fashion a clock without a time counting mechanism.
    Right , it's a meaningless proposition.
    You'd still be counting "one, two, three" forward in time.
    There is time inherent in counting. What numbers you count is irrelevant. My claim is that time emerges simultaneous to change and does not have any measurable (countable) properties in and of itself.
    No, I am claiming that clocks track the emergence of time.
    Of course it does. The Fibonacci sequence is a growth function with duration and as such it creates time in the growth process. Farmers rely on that when planting crops.
    Instant creationism is a religious concept. I am addressing the mathematical chronologies of universal functions.
    Are you suggesting that this sequence exists in reality? Part of sequential shrinkage?
    There is mention of the fibonacci sequence in relation to spacetime....difference. How do spiral galaxies form in spacetime? How do spirals form anywhere inside spacetime? I submit the "golden mean" is a mathematical potential of spacetime.[/quote]
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
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  3. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Not sure where I heard it, but it does make sense to me and sounds logical..."Mathematics is the language of physics".
    Can we extend that to claim that mathematics is the universal language of the universe?
    Write4U likes this.
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    I think I'm wasting my time with this. You're missing half of what I'm telling you and misinterpreting the other half, and nothing I've said has given you pause before making further unsupported and untestable assertions about the universe.

    Read what I wrote. You quoted it. Read it:
    "Its value doesn't change over time."​
    Is there something that confuses you about that statement?


    The number 3.1415926... is given a special symbol that is used in all kinds of different places precisely because it always has the same, fixed value. There are lots of different methods for calculating that value, but all of them give the same value. If they did not, they would not be dealing with the same unique number. We'd have to give the different numbers different names or symbols.

    I'm not going to waste more time on this. It was ridiculous from the start. You asked me for a meaningless equation; I gave you one. I still don't know why you asked for one. I'm going to assume it wasn't important, unless you give me some reason to assume otherwise.

    [quite]According to Tegmark there are no universal objects or patterns that do not have a mathematical value or function.[/quote]
    I don't know what that means.

    All right.

    I'm watched it as I write this. All 45 minutes of it.

    In the first 15 minutes, Tegmark just talks about standard cosmology.
    Then he goes on about radio telescopes for a few minutes.
    In my next post, I'll comment on the rest.

    Please at least try to keep track of your own argument. Try to follow what I write. Don't put words in my mouth. When I'm discussing "counting numbers" (i.e. integers), I'm not discussing time. I explained that to you. I explained in detail why time has nothing to do with the properties of integers.

    No! When you say "Three, two, one, blastoff!", which number do you say first? One or three? Come on, this isn't hard.

    There is no time inherent in integers. Do you agree?

    There's that word "emerge" again. To me, "emerge" implies that time is being created somehow. You seem to be saying that "change" creates time, somehow. You're also claiming that clocks somehow detect that "creation" process.

    I say that clocks measure the passage of time, and that time already existed long before you built a clock to measure it.

    No. The Fibonacci sequence is a static list of numbers.

    It doesn't create time. It doesn't cause growth.

    Define "universal function" for me. What's an example of a "universal function"?

    Yes. It's right there on your screen.

    They don't form out of non-physical mathematics, that's for sure.

    There's the word "potential" again. What does it mean this time?

    What is a "mathematical potential"? What does it mean for "spacetime" to have a "mathematical potential"?

    The golden mean is a number. How can a number cause anything in spacetime?
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  7. Write4U Valued Senior Member

  8. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    OK, if a scientist holds a position of authority in a respected college of science , I assume that I can trust his propositions, especially if they are backed by other scientist in positions of authority. If I cite Peter Higgs as the authority are you going to "accuse" me of making an argument from "authority"?
    Right, but I can also talk about speak about speed in a relative sense as I am going twice as fast and therefore I cover the same distance in half the time (or duration) of travel.
    No, let me address this subtle slight.
    I mentioned CDT twice and quoted the scientists who developed the hypothesis. Again, I post the quote and link
    No, that is not what I was saying. Mario Livio demonstrated that in addition to circles, Pi can be calculated from dropping the needle as I described which does not involve circles at all.
    In fact Livio makes a point to mention that this has nothing to do with circles at all but is a function of probability.
    FYI, I did the research. Precisely as I posited. This should be an area where you agree with me, for a pleasant change.
    In case you are not familiar with Mario Livio.
    He demonstrates the needle experiment in this excellent Nova presentation.

    Don't worry, he appears very early in the video.

    The video itself is a powerful argument for the mathematical nature of th universe.
    p.s Max Tegmark appears in this clip also and presents a little more palatable fare than in the other clip.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Tegmark starts on his own ideas at the 25 minute mark of the 45 minute video.

    He claims that the universe has "only mathematical properties". He admits that the idea sounds "crazy". Whether it is really crazy depends on what he means by this. Unfortunately, it's not clear from the talk. Maybe it's in his book. There are two possibilities:

    1. He is saying that the universe is susceptible to being accurately described at all levels using mathematics.
    2. He is saying that everything in the universe is mathematics, at the most fundamental level.

    In my opinion, things are looking reasonably good for interpretation number 1. On the other hand, I think interpretation number 2 is crazy talk.

    Why is option 2 crazy? For the same reason I've been putting to Write4U for some time now, namely that it mistakes the map for the territory.

    For instance, Tegmark gives the example of the electron in his talk. He says that an electron can be described using a set of numbers - numbers that we refer to using terms like "spin" and "electrical charge" and "mass". This is unproblematic if he is simply referring to our (human) ability to make a mathematical model that describes and predicts how an electron will behave in experiments or similar. We make such models by observing what electrons actually do out there in the world, then we assign mathematical values to various observed features of the electron that can be used to make reliable predictions about future behaviour (using the model).

    On the other hand, if Tegmark is saying that the electron is only that particular set of numbers (without the arbitrary labels that human beings put on them), then the question arises as to how the numbers alone can create something that has physical reality. That is, electrons can and do affect other things in the universe that they share. I can't see how a set of numbers could possibly do that. Numbers, by themselves, can't do anything. We can manipulate numbers, but the numbers themselves do nothing.

    My impression from the talk is that Tegmark is actually seriously advancing idea #2 rather than idea #1. I think that's a mistake.

    I can think of some potential ways around the problem. For instance, suppose our entire universe, including ourselves, is an elaborate simulation in some kind of alien megacomputer. In that case, it would be true to say that all electrons in our universe are "really" just numbers represented in some kind of physical storage that is not part of our universe. But if that were the case, it still wouldn't be the numbers themselves causing events in our universe. The real cause would be found in the computer that is shuffling the numbers around in its storage. Tegmark would then be correct in a sense in saying that our universe has only mathematical properties, but the reason for that would be inaccessible to our investigations. And he would simultaneously be wrong, because the "true", inaccessible, properties of our universe would be found outside our universe and would not be purely mathematical.

    Using Occam's razor, it seems to me that it is more parsimonious for us to believe idea #1 than idea #2, because even if idea #2 is true in some inaccessible universe outside our own, idea #1 can still be true inside our universe. We can, in fact, test idea #1, whereas we can never know if idea #2 is correct.

    Another way to say this is that idea #2 makes for some interesting philosophy, but only idea #1 is scientific.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Tegmark's idea that the universe is entirely mathematical is controversial. Some other scientists might agree with it, but I'm confident that many do not. Therefore, it is prudent to reserve judgment on it unless you're qualified to judge it for yourself.

    Yes. Certainly.

    Scientific theories don't stand or fall depending on the level of renown of the person putting them forward. That's not how science works.

    Why can't you stick to the point? Why introduce irrelevancies like this all the time?

    As far as I can tell, nothing in that is relevant to the idea that the universe is made of mathematics.

    Can a needle move around in a circle as it is dropped? Is that relevant to whether it lands on a line, or not? Think about it.

    I very much doubt that Livio would have said that it has nothing to do with circles. Either that, or he didn't realise that as soon as you start considering rotation you're necessarily in circle territory.

    Look at a derivation of the result. You will find that sine and cosine functions are used in the mathematics. Those are called circular functions for a reason.

    I think the most likely thing that has happened here is that you've misinterpreted something that Livio said or wrote.

    I'm familiar with him.

    I'm not going to watch another 1 hour, 15 minute video to try to find something relevant to your argument. Give me the time stamps of the relevant part and I'll take a look.

    I doubt that it will do any better a job at making the case than the Tegmark video did.
  11. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Yes, he actually appears more digestible in "The Great Math Mystery" post #165.

    He claims that the universe has "only mathematical properties". He admits that the idea sounds "crazy". Whether it is really crazy depends on what he means by this. Unfortunately, it's not clear from the talk. Maybe it's in his book. There are two possibilities:
    1. He is saying that the universe is susceptible to being accurately described at all levels using mathematics.
    2. He is saying that everything in the universe is mathematics, at the most fundamental level. [/quote] I believe he means #2 and cites "crazy" in context of knee-jerk resistance by other scientists, who believe human maths are just tools to describe the universe, without considering that human maths are merely symbolic representations of actual universal relative values and mahematical functions.
    I believe that fundamentally, if we pose the question, what is a "quanta", it can only be described as a value, which can be symbolized by a number.
    Many scientists today speak of mathematics as the "language of the universe" and many cosmologist who use equations to test universal properties describe their findings as "discoveries" of the mathematics that were already present before they even asked the question.
    There you go. Why do you say that? Why should this be a crazy idea?
    Who shall I believe Tegmark who actually has a published hypothesis, or you who is critiquing an enthusiastic layman (myself)?
    I disagree, he submits that electrons, quarks, etc are mathematical patterns with values, which we have given exotic names like "spin" and "electrical charge" and "mass", and even qualifies his posit that these mathematical objects know nothing about spin and charge, but that they are lust mathematical quanta.
    IMO, the term "number" is confusing. This is why I always use the term "relative value", which does away with the symbolism of numbers .
    I agree. that's why I use the generic term "value" to identify a specific mathematical pattern with mathematical potentials.
    I disagree, he unambiguously states #2 as the basis for his hypothesis.
    You cannot mistake his declaration that "most scientists believe that the universe has some mathematical properties, I believe that the universe has only mathematical properties".
    Actually Tegmark does make the claim that if we were sentient beings in a computer simulation we would not know the difference.
    I disagree, if we were sentient being in a simulation we would be able make measurements and use our maths to unlock the relative values and mathematical functions of that universe.
    IMO, the reverse is true. If mathematics are pure human inventions we can never unlock all the unknown mysteries of the universe. OTOH, if we treat the universe as a mathematical construct then we may find the proper maths to unlock the remaining mysteries.
    IMO # 1 is the philosophical approach and #2 is the hard science. It is the maths that have brought us to where we are today, the philosophies are in the past, but already recognized the mathematical properties and potentials of the universe.

    I may be prejudiced in this perspective, but I see more and more scientists beginning to adopt this viewpoint, especially cosmologists. Watch the " The Great math Mystery" it's really a very informative and entertaining presentation, especially for interested laymen like myself.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
  12. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Sorry.... I usually try to indicate the relevant segment.
    Start @ 3:50
  13. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Is it possible that natural selection selects for mathematical order, perhaps of its fundamental repeatable regularities and consistency of resulting behaviors and functions?
    Seems to me something that nature would favor successful mathematical regularities. Easy to duplicate from available physical values, like the elements, which are consistent mathematical patterns.
    Mathematics begets mathematics?
  14. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    What is “mathematical order” as opposed to normal order?
    Evolution favours those that can survive in the environment. If your mutation / adaptation survives in its environment then the species survives... up until the point the environment changes and the species can no longer adapt, or until no mutation is sufficiently beneficial to help it survive. Does this equate to “mathematical order”? I guess it does, if you want to put heavily spun wording around it. If one considers a species being what it is, and doing what it does, surviving in an environment that doesn’t change, as “mathematical order” then go for it.
    But does evolution favour it? Not in an environment that constantly changes. Evolution in such a changing environment will favour those that are either adaptable and/or tolerant, or else species will come and go, will evolve due to mutation that allows them to survive, or die off because they can no longer survive in the environment.

    You can spin almost everything to your agenda of mathematics, if that is your intention, but you risk not making much sense if you do.
  15. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I believe it can be proven that "order" itself is an expression of causal physical functions which are mathematical in essence, IOW "order" emerges from chaos as a result of mathematical ordering functions.
    We can also ask if that does not point to a mathematical ordering. A movement in the direction of greatest mathematical satisfaction? In a most general sense the earth's ecosystem is a self-ordering system.
    I agree.
    I agree, but AFAIK, changes in the environment are a result of mathematical functions in the ecosystem, and always tend toward balance and symmetry.
    Of course you can, if everything in the universe is of a mathematical nature. This is exactly what Tegmark hypothesizes. If everything can be solved with mathematics, it is the only way we can hope to ever solve all of the remaining universal mysteries. IMO, a very logical assumption.
    (The Higgs boson is an wonderful example of a mathematical prediction of what was once a universal mystery)

    But you can certainly not spin theism as part of a mathematical agenda. That's a magical agenda.

    IMO, the greatest argument for a mathematical universe is the fact that all physical events can be descibed as natural mathematical functions, beginning with chaos theory (emergence of order from disorder. ) I believe in philosophy it is called movement in the direction of greatest satisfaction (balance, symmetry, order)
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
  16. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Is your view that every relationship can be expressed in mathematical terms, or that mathematics is the governing force behind everything and actually dictates the relationships, given that you refer to a “mathematical agenda”?

    If theism is part of this mathematical universe, then that, too, is surely part of the “mathematical agenda”, is it not? Do you think some things operate outside of mathematics?

    And why do you insist on trying to squeeze the notion of a mathematical universe into every single thread you enter?
  17. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Yes, I like the simple clarity in that concept which is testable.
    Theism is not part of this universe, thoughts are not mathematical functions. Thoughts are merely "best guesses" derived from secondary information and interpretation. (Anil Seth)
    I understand and it is really not an attempt by me to change or derail discussions on universal properties and functions.

    But if the universe is indeed a mathematical construct with relative mathematical values and mathematical functions, then any discussion of universal properties should be discussed from a mathematical perspective, no?
    It is unavoidable that mathematics become part of any equation or solution (mathematical terms).

    What disturbs me is that all sciences and practising scientists use mathematics to solve universal phenomena, yet resist the notion that the universe could actually be mathematical in essence. Why is that?

    p.s. Tegmark does discuss his mathematical perspective on the emergence of "consciousness", but that is different from the products of consciousness, as these discussions clearly prove....

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    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
  18. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    That statement is true also if time has no value in and of itself.
    Can you tell me this unchanging value of time?

    As I understand it in theory "movement is a function of time". I propose that "time is a function of movement". Perhaps it is an actual two way equation?
  19. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I already explained why that is in some detail, above.
  20. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Yes, maps. And exactly what does that mean? We do not understand anything about the universe and can only approximately guess? The universe has no identifiable mathematical constants? We're only guessing what makes things work? Do we need science at all? Do we need mathematics at all?

    Theists have all the true answers, God explains everything without needing science. Isn't that convenient.
    Do they know what they're talking about? Everyone seems to have plenty patience with theists. I don't.

    A mathematical universe is a perfectly logical proposition. The question is not how much mathematical values and functions exist in nature. The question is if there are only mathematical values and functions in the universe, based on our available knowledge and understanding of identified universal properties. Natural mathematical relative values and functions are testable and falsifiable.

    IMO, that is much more productive discussion than drawing maps, unless you want to discuss the fractal nature of the spacetime fabric.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
  21. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Doesn't it? What then are equations if not mathematical relationships?
    I consider human maths as symbolic representations of real universal values and functions, or in what I call, inherent general universal mathematical potentials as an essence of spacetime itself.
    Don't we begin all discussion of spacetime with "space is a geometric pattern", a mathematical expression which can be symbolized with mathematical notation?
  22. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    NOVA does well-produced documentaries. I didn't watch the whole thing, but in it Tegmark presents the same view as in the other video. That is, he believes that the universe is nothing but mathematics. In the NOVA video he acknowledges what he says is the view of many of his physics colleagues, which is also my view, that mathematics simply describes the universe.

    The real sticking point for me is how mathematics - an abstract subject - could ever create anything tangible. As far as I can tell, there's no way to make "stuff" (matter, for instance) out of mathematics. So that's where I part company with Tegmark.

    I got the numbers mixed up in my earlier post. I wrote #1 where I meant #2. I went back and edited that post to correct my error, but apparently you replied using the original version of my post. Tegmark's view is clearly what I labelled as #2.

    A "quantum" is, literally, an amount of something. Photons of light, for example, are sometimes referred to as "light quanta", which only means they are little chunks of light. The energy of a photon is a number, and we can talk about energy quanta as easily as we can talk about light quanta. But those two things are not the same thing. Photons are physical particles. Energy is just a number. (Which also implies, in case it is not clear, that photons are not energy.)

    Photons are not made of numbers. Various properties of photons can be described using numbers, but you can't create a photon out of numbers. Tegmark apparently thinks you can, but he doesn't say how.

    Note: language of the universe, not the universe itself.

    You can believe whatever you want to believe. I have a published hypothesis that goes against Tegmark's. It's published in this thread. So as far as I can tell he and I are on an even footing when it comes to this particular philosophical argument.

    See my comments about photons as "quanta of light", above. The same applies to electrons and quarks.

    Tegmark is content to talk about numbers. He even reduces the universe to 32 numbers, plus a few equations of physics.

    The problem is that values are not always mathematical. The word "value" has lots of different meanings. Also, why use the word "relative"? Relative to what?

    Tegmark, by the way, doesn't use your term "mathematical potentials" either.

    I agree with him on that.


    Imagine you're Lara Croft in the computer game Tomb Raider, only with far more artificial intelligence. From your point of view, your world consists of ancient temples and bad guys with guns etc. What measurement could you possibly make inside your Tomb Raider world that would even hint at the existence of an Intel processor in our "real" world running the simulation that is the Tomb Raider world? I say there's no way you could ever deduce for yourself the existence of our world from within that Tomb Raider world.

    Similarly, if our "real" world - including you and me - is a simulation in an alien mega-computer somewhere, there's no way we'll ever be able to prove that from within this world.

    So you're arguing for a mathematical universe on the basis of adverse outcomes if it turns out that your hypothesis is false? You might not like the idea, but it might turn out that we can't unlock all the unknown mysteries of the universe.

    I suspect that it is a fringe viewpoint, even among cosmologists. But we'd really need to take a poll to know for sure.

    I watched parts of it. It's well produced and interesting. That doesn't mean I agree with all the views expressed therein, of course.

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    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
  23. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    If for some reason mathematical order (whatever that is) gives an organism a survival and/or reproductive advantage, then natural selection will tend to select for it.

    Order of what?
    What is a "physical function"? Is that different from a mathematical function, or is it the same thing?
    Who do you think has proven this?

    The earth's ecosystems have lots of feedback loops built in. Different parts are interconnected in complex ways to one another and to the natural environment.

    I'm not entirely clear on what kind of order you're talking about here, either. In what way do you think the earth's ecosystem is ordered? What would the alternative, disordered state look like?

    How are you measuring balance and symmetry in an ecosystem? What do you mean by those things?

    Theism is part of the universe. Therefore, according to your theory (or Tegmark's), theism must be mathematical. Right?

    That sounds like a big claim, and not a very well defined one.

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