Gaps in the Grammar of the Universe?
All text involves translation. Either from reality or imagination into language, or between languages. Can the language that perfectly fit physics translate every pattern under the sun? Well, nothing in physics chooses...
Jag Bhalla is an entrepreneur, inventor and writer. His current project is Errors We Live By, a series of short exoteric essays exposing errors in the big ideas running our lives, details at www.errorsweliveby.com. His last book was I'm Not Hanging Noodles On Your Ears, a surreptitious science gift book from National Geographic Books, details at www.hangingnoodles.com. That explains his twitter handle @hangingnoodles.
Does our grasp of the grammar of the universe have gaps? Is our chosen language in tune with key patterns?
2. The Bible’s “in the beginning was the Word,” translates the Greek “logos,” = word, speech/language, reason/logic; logos birthed the organizing binary — cosmos vs. chaos: Language-like rules distinguish order from disorder.
3. For Pythagoreans the cosmos (+ order itself) was “made of numbers.” Critical string-length ratios create harmony (original string theory!), likewise the “music of the spheres” — a heavenly harmony still instrumental for Johannes Kepler and Galileo.
4. Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica became the Book of Nature’s rules — enthroning a new mathematical language — natural laws written as algebraic equations. (“Algebra” ... Arabic ... “reunion of broken parts.”)
5. Languages develop to fit the domains they describe. The nouns needed in physics have natural sameness — all neutrons are alike. Its verbs enact four forces, in a realm ruled by equal and opposite reactions (third law). Algebra’s symbols and equations perfectly suit such sameness and unchanging interactions.
6. But do Newton’s equal-and-opposite-reaction patterns cover everything under the sun? Is it all translatable into algebra?
7. Nothing in physics chooses. Or varies its reactions. Life chooses (seemingly, even bacteria). Can life’s not-so-mechanical responses be captured by a language fit for physics? Its flux and fuzziness squeezed into patterns lurking “within equations”)?
9. As algebra is to physics, algorithms are to life — recipes for richer response rules, an open generative language of if-then-else step-by-step logic for choosing.
10. Science presumes intelligible patterns. But its default algebraic language can privilege physics-like pattern types. Game theory (= choosology) paints reliable patterns that can’t be solved for algebraically — they must be played out, algorithmically. Simple, fixed choosing rules can generate un-physics-like seemingly chaotic patterns.
12. Mathematicians (and physicists) fear paradoxes and contradictions, supposedly unsettling “any rational mind.” Less lofty minds routinely handle life’s teeming un-universal, particular, time-bound, partial truths (using algorithm-like scripts).
14. Some believe reality IS mathematics, but mathematics itself isn’t constrained by reality. While physicists imagine a final unifying theory, mathematicians see an endless ladder of abstraction (layers of “avatars” of higher entities).
The issue isn’t the math. It’s presuming that physics-like math is the one true way (the only properly precise language). Mathematics itself needs different languages in its different domains.
“The fault ... is not in our stars, but in ourselves” to think their syntax binds us.
May more life-like language (patterns) keep us from “Single vision & Newton’s sleep."
Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Bernardo Kastrup proposes a new ontology he calls “idealism” built on panpsychism, the idea that everything in the universe contains consciousness. He solves problems with this philosophy by adding a new suggestion: The universal mind has dissociative identity disorder.
There’s a reason they call it the “hard problem.” Consciousness: Where is it? What is it? No one single perspective seems to be able to answer all the questions we have about consciousness. Now Bernardo Kastrup thinks he’s found one. He calls his ontology idealism, and according to idealism, all of us and all we perceive are manifestations of something very much like a cosmic-scale dissociative identity disorder (DID). He suggests there’s an all-encompassing universe-wide consciousness, it has multiple personalities, and we’re them.
Firefighters in California are still struggling to contain several wildfires nearly one week after they broke out.
- Hundreds of people are still missing after three wildfires spread across Northern and Southern California last week.
- 48 of the 50 deaths occurred after the Camp Fire blazed through the town of Paradise, north of Sacramento.
- On Tuesday night, a fourth wildfire broke out, though it's mostly contained.
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