How math predicts life on Earth and the universe beyond

Math doesn't suck. It is one of humanity's greatest and most mysterious journeys.

  • There is a pervasive cultural attitude against mathematics, but it is actually a mind-blowing tool for analyzing and predicting the world around us—and far beyond. We asked mathematicians Edward Frenkel and Po-Shen Loh, and physicists Michio Kaku, Michelle Thaller, Janna Levin and Geoffrey West to explain the wonders of math.
  • West explains the rule of 'quarter-power scaling' in biology—there is a mathematical equation that predicts how much food an organism needs to eat to survive and it's remarkably consistent, whether you're looking at ladybugs, cats, elephants, and even trees and flowers. Math underpins our lives in incredible ways.
  • Infinitesimal calculus—the math that describes how moving bodies change over time—turns out to predict not just phenomena on Earth but far out in the universe. The 11-dimensional math used by physicists turns out to predict the exact results of particle physics experiments. Humanity is on an incredible journey with mathematics and every day it opens up the world and universe in eye-opening ways.
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Stephen Hawking thought black holes were 'hairy'. New study suggests he was right.

The outer edges of a black hole might be "fuzzy" instead of neat and smooth.

NASA
  • A recent study analyzed observations of gravitational waves, first observed in 2015.
  • The data suggests, according to the researchers, that black holes aren't bounded by smooth event horizons, but rather by a sort of quantum fuzz, which would fit with the idea of Hawking radiation.
  • If confirmed, the findings could help scientists better understand how general relativity fits with quantum mechanics.
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Michio Kaku: 5 fascinating moments from this 1991 interview

From talking about Schrödinger's cat to nuking the South Pole, this decades-old interview shows why Kaku was born to be a science educator.

Harold Channer
  • Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist and renowned science communicator.
  • In 1991, he sat down for an hour-long interview in which he discussed climate change, nuclear weapons, human evolution, and more.
  • Kaku is a regular contributor to Big Think.
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Is panpsychism accurate? Modern physics delivers a reality check.

If philosophers don't try to mesh their long-held views with new scientific insights, then we have a problem.

  • According to panpsychists, all of reality is infused with experience. In other words, the fundamental ingredient of reality, they believe, has the felt quality of experience in it.
  • In this view, the reason that we humans are conscious is that we're configured based on these fundamental experiential ingredients.
  • If philosophers don't try to mesh their long-held views with what we're discovering from good science, then we have a problem. For instance, panpsychism may be due for an update: panprotopsychism, a view that says as these fundamental ingredients combine, they give rise to conscious experience and that those fundamental ingredients are "quasimental."
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Are scientists on the brink of discovering a mirror universe?

New experiments look to the interplay between neutrons and magnetic fields to observe our universal reflection.

Photo credit: Jovis Aloor on Unsplash
  • Science fiction has long speculated about parallel universes and what they may be like.
  • Researchers have devised new experiments to look for how a mirror universe may be influencing our own.
  • If such evidence is found, it could bring to light many of the universe's mysteries, such as the nature of dark matter.
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