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...

Gaps in the Grammar of the Universe?


Does our grasp of the grammar of the universe have gaps? Is our chosen language in tune with key patterns?

1. The book of the universe is “written in the language of mathematics,” Galileo Galilei declared — God had written two books the Bible and the, “geometrical,” Book of Nature.

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”)?

8. Perhaps different domains have different “freedom quotients” (FQ) ... physics’ FQ = 0 ... life’s FQ > 0 (begetting contingency patterns).

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.

11. In Mathematics Without Apologies, Michael Harris depicts working mathematicians chasing timeless universal “Truths” (≠ just “logic in disguise”).

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).

13. Harris decries seeking an equation for love, his love of mathematics = “ambiguous and resistant to logical formalization” (likewise happiness + much else human).

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 SuitsThe New Yorker cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions

Golden blood: The rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

What is the rarest blood type?

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
Keep reading Show less

How space debris created the world’s largest garbage dump

Since 1957, the world's space agencies have been polluting the space above us with countless pieces of junk, threatening our technological infrastructure and ability to venture deeper into space.

Space debris orbiting Earth

Framestock via Adobe Stock
Technology & Innovation
  • Space debris is any human-made object that's currently orbiting Earth.
  • When space debris collides with other space debris, it can create thousands more pieces of junk, a dangerous phenomenon known as the Kessler syndrome.
  • Radical solutions are being proposed to fix the problem, some of which just might work. (See the video embedded toward the end of the article.)
Keep reading Show less

Looking for something? A team at MIT develop a robot that sees through walls

It uses radio waves to pinpoint items, even when they're hidden from view.

TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
In recent years, robots have gained artificial vision, touch, and even smell.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast