The mathematical precision of the universe

The Higgs Boson

The other day, four ladies came into our shop and from the cut of the jaw to the way they looked at you, they were clearly Slavic.  From the way the brunette accepted my suggestions on her jacket and how it sat on her, without in the least thinking that strange or forward, she was clearly non-English [much as I love my country].

With an English lady, it’s all “well isn’t this fun” but the reserve keeps it in perspective, in the light of her inalienable rights  so you just better watch yourself, whereas the Slav tends to think, “Well let’s see where this one goes.”

I learned, in Russia, not to allow a conversation to develop, otherwise there was no knowing where it would end and that can get a person hopelessly entangled.  It’s a sort of instant warmth, free from the constraints the Anglo-Saxon places on himself.  Now we can be warm and appreciative too and I’ve seen that in the last few days but even in our very warmth there’s a subtle reserve, even when we feel affection for someone.  That can be good and bad.  The Celt, I find, is more ready to open up but Celts are mingled in with Anglo-Saxons so much now that the exercise is pretty futile.

The exception is the young.  Having grown up by different rules, the young Englander doesn’t know much reserve and that came out yesterday when I got back to my notorious junction station and was waiting in the perspex waiting room.  In came two girls and they instantly grinned and one asked me, “So did you get it for her then?”  We all realized it was a conversation from some months ago, when I’d asked them, on the basis that they were the same age, for help in what I should get a friend’s daughter for a birthday present, not wishing to seem too forward in the choice.  Two boys in the same waiting room couldn’t get their heads around this insta-conversation.

There had also been an incident just before that, at the main station of embarkation, where a man was pacing up and down the platform, speaking on his mobile in … Russian.   Knowing I could be forward with one such as this, I went up and spoke in Russian, which caused him to shut off the mobile conversation and so we chatted all the way to my junction station, entirely in Russian, which I was very proud of – to keep pace, I mean.

He’s a lecturer in mathematics and that conversation brings me, via a most circuitous route, to today’s post on the mathematical precision of the universe.

In this interesting little article, a computer mathematician says:

In regards to science, in particular physics, the limitations of precision do not have a noticeable effect on predictive measurements if the precision of the Universe is great enough in all computation-cases. However, regardless of the precision of the Universe, it has an effect on our understanding of time, infinity and its inherent limitations. It might also serve to provide us with a more computationally friendly model of the Universe.

While physics currently uses math to model the Universe’s laws, these are not outwardly constrained by time. This is evident by the inclusion the fourth dimension of time in the model of spacetime. But as Alan Turing once said, computers are the advent of the mechanization of mathematics.  This outwardly constrains mathematical calculations to the limits of time, and in the case of computers space.

Sir Thomas Browne, in 1643, wrote:

I have often admired the mystical way of Pythagoras and the secret magic of numbers.

Of course, he may well have been referring to the arcane knowledge but from the Wiki Knowledge Dump – that which Wiki rejects – comes this little piece:

A number of famous mathematicians have made comments about mathematics and various notions of God. These mathematicians span different religions and conceptions of deity, including none at all.

Many mathematicians have expressed the view that God is in some way responsible for the rational order described so successfully by mathematics. This often involves likening God to a mathematician. The ancient Greek study of mathematics was closely related to that of religion. Plato is quoted as saying “God ever geometrizes” and Pythagoras as saying “numbers rule the Universe”.

Johannes Kepler stated that “The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony which has been imposed on it by God and which He revealed to us in the language of mathematics.” Leopold Kronecker is quoted as saying “God made the natural numbers, all the rest is the work of man.” However, this was intended more in the Kantian sense that they are given to us in intuition than in the literal sense that God created them.

JD yesterday made reference to the uncanny precision of numbers in the universe, to which one commenter asked, “And all that happened by chance?” to which I replied, “I don’t buy that it is by chance.”

Now I hasten to qualify that statement by saying that it could well have happened by chance and I am perfectly willing to accept that, if the totality of evidence points to it – it doesn’t do to tilt at windmills and there is no place for blind faith – but one should also not constrain oneself to any one discipline in this matter of Truth.  Again and again, this blog points out the mental blockage many have in shutting out any notion of the metaphysical in this.

Which brings us back to the quote about mathematicians and how quite a few end up speculating about the notion of G-d and the mysticism of numbers.  Xxxl once wrote, on these pages:

A theory held in ancient Egypt … resulted in many pyramids echoing the positions of certain heavenly bodies.  This theory can be shown to be have been operative throughout the ancient world….constellations, distinct planets/stars, echoed by ancient structures in their patterns.

No, I do not believe them to be reflections of a “cargo cult”…something more profound.

In Cambodia, there are Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, built 1,000 years after the collapse of the Egyptian civilisation.  The Word Angkor, although supposedly a corruption of the sanskrit word “Nagara”, town, has a very precise meaning in the ancient Egyptian language. It means, “The God Horus Lives”. Other acceptable translations of “Ankh-Hor”, or “Ankhhor”, are…. “May Horus Live”, “Horus Lives”, and “Life to the Horus”.

The Prime Meridian passes through Greenwich…0 degrees.  Giza is at 31. degrees, 9 minutes East.  If we shift the Prime Meridian to Giza, Greenwich moves to 31 degrees, 9 minutes, West, and Giza to 0 degrees.  When the Prime Meridian is at Greenwich, Angkor is at 103 degrees, 53 minutes East.  When the prime Meridian is at Giza, Angkor is at 72 degrees 44 minutes East.

I am prepared to ignore an error of 44 minutes in 72 degrees 53 minutes, given the facts of translation, and the quality of the terrain.  So, there is that number again, 72 degrees, one fifth of a circle of 360 degrees, the five pointed star of Venus, sketched out by its transit, as viewed from Earth.

You can catch the rest of that here and interesting it is.

Significant to me is the “I am prepared to ignore an error”, a point Douglas Adams took up in his thesis that the whole thing is imprecise and prone to error, just as humans are – witness the government and public sector jobsworths [although I’m sure there are many in the private sector as well.  Everything we touch, do or observe is prone to error of a few percentile points and after all, “ye are gods” has cropped up in the Bible a number of times.  If we have elements of the “divine essence” inside us, if our brains are maps of the universe in microcosm, then we are also so prone to error that that gives us hope in the battle against the globalist automatons.

To me, calculus is a beautiful metaphor for the futility of the Tower of Babel and the LHC pursuit of the Higgs Boson – hell, the philosopher’s stone should be lesson enough there and Swift had much to say on that sort of thing.  In calculus, of course, there is always a tendency towards a given number, a limit but it never actually reaches there – you see this in exponential graphs.

You can get awfully close, damned close, within sniffing distance but you never actually get there.

Ha ha.  What we have then is infinite precision but as infinity cannot be reached, it is, by definition, imprecise.  To me, this is the beauty of pure mathematics and possibly G-d’s little joke on us.  I say good luck to Him – I’d prefer He had a black sense of humour than  a bleak, soulless nothingness.

My concept of G-d is that He is indeed some sort of mathematical or scientific entity, in a dimension I have no way of ever understanding but enough out there points to It’s existence than to the opposite.  The reason I can’t understand it is probably similar to the reason that cats see differently to us and to other creatures – we’re built differently, with limitations of perspective and brain capacity.

The difference between the atheist and me is, it seems to me, that I can just accept it, whereas he says no, no, a thousand times no and then goes about constructing elaborate theories which, if there is a driving force to do so, enshrines them in gobbledegook rhetoric, which impresses the easily impressed and over time, these theories are institutionalized into a new religion, e.g. evolution, which none may gainsay, except in some new heresy.

Just thinking out loud and being insufferable, that’s all.

28 Responses to “The mathematical precision of the universe”

  1. xxxl September 26, 2010 at 11:13 Permalink

    I said I wouldn’t post here again, because of your treatment.

    Since you are stumbling mightily…..

    The error is the “Fine Structure Constant”..google it!

    The FSC is related to the “freedom of movement of electrons around a nucleus”. Google it!

    And yet there is still an error……

    Go back to my post with all those strange numbers and reciprocals, it contains a hint (ref your post re learning curve being rewarding)

    JD, in the link you provided above, mumbling about numbers, merely interpreted my previous post of strange numbers and reciprocals. Plagiarism!

    I thought you would have had the ability to have managed it.

    There is, of course, much more in my post about strange numbers and reciprocals. Taken to its conclusion it shows a future for mankind and his technology, that we are actively being denied by current events. Whether the PTB are able to assemble the universe as I have, I do not know. (I know certain covert agencies certainly have.)

    The answere to that would tell us more about their intent. Was it pure greed, or a deliberate intent to ruin the future of our species??

    Have you ever read the Asimov novel, “The Gods Themselves”?

    You should!

    It is a story about a few parallel universes, and exchanging energies, and has similarities to the actions of monatomic gold. (Which in turn raises a whole series of questions which I have tickled previously, – unproductively as it happens, sigh))

    That is the obvious message…one which is easily seen.

    The other message, often missed, is the nature of “Life, hinging on “Light”, assembled by the coming together of various peturbations in various carrier waves.

    It carries the ultimate question “Are we the original AI?”

    Hence my mentions of frequencies and harmonics.

    Maybe Tesla understood this.

    Jesus, from his well schooled teachers, judging by his quoted remarks, obviously did!

    If you would drop your crazy obsession with religion, maybe you would.

    There was a specific objective contained in the various Ziggurats in the way they were constructed. This same objective was refined in the Pyramids.

    This objective was also present in the Egyptian geographic placement of the various “Navels of the World”, the “Omphalus”.

    Enough!

    Now think, godamn it!

  2. dearieme September 26, 2010 at 11:51 Permalink

    Why have I never recommended this magnificent old warhorse before?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfFBdViZHzk&feature=related

  3. Kevin Faulkner September 26, 2010 at 14:26 Permalink

    Sir Thomas Browne (1605-82) even wrote a whole discourse upon evidence of the number 5 in art and nature entitled ‘The Garden of Cyrus’ (1658), proof that great minds up until Newton took Kepler’s and Pythagoras’ approach to mathematics.

  4. James Higham September 26, 2010 at 14:31 Permalink

    Ah … Kepler … one of my heroes and detested by Sarpi and the Venetians. This might be of interest, as an aside as well:

    http://aquariumofvulcan.blogspot.com/2010/09/green-man.html

  5. Kevin Faulkner September 26, 2010 at 14:40 Permalink

    That’s my blog you are kindly pointing me in the direction of !

  6. James Higham September 26, 2010 at 14:45 Permalink

    That’s true, sir and it was to point others there, Kevin, rather than you.

    Xxxl – I’d be interested in your interpretation of Feynman’s:

    There is a most profound and beautiful question associated with the observed coupling constant, e the amplitude for a real electron to emit or absorb a real photon. It is a simple number that has been experimentally determined to be close to 0.08542455. (My physicist friends won’t recognize this number, because they like to remember it as the inverse of its square: about 137.03597 with about an uncertainty of about 2 in the last decimal place. It has been a mystery ever since it was discovered more than fifty years ago, and all good theoretical physicists put this number up on their wall and worry about it.) Immediately you would like to know where this number for a coupling comes from: is it related to pi or perhaps to the base of natural logarithms? Nobody knows. It’s one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man. You might say the “hand of God” wrote that number, and “we don’t know how He pushed his pencil.” We know what kind of a dance to do experimentally to measure this number very accurately, but we don’t know what kind of dance to do on the computer to make this number come out, without putting it in secretly!

    Plus the variation in “α” over time.

  7. JD September 26, 2010 at 14:54 Permalink

    Excellent post James but you do flit about don’t you; in the way your brain works, I mean
    so I shall follow your flits
    1) celtic openness v anglo saxon reserve – see ny upcoming post The Singaholics
    2) keeping pace in a foreign language – there is a trick to it which you probably know without realising it
    3)that famous Greek toyshop Pythag-R-us is where I discovered the joys of jeometry but, as you know, both Pythag and Plato were schooled in Egypt which brings me to…
    4) Giza. Having stood there and stared and decided what I saw was impossible I became a Pyramidiot and tried and failed to work out how they did it (germ of an idea for a posting plus an excuse to add a few photos)
    5) imprecision – there cannot be precision in the material world only in the non-material, perhaps it can be found in the implicate of Bohm’s Hologram theory of the universe

    6) er, that’s it

    and for xxxl,
    Plagiarist? Moi?
    I follow Picasso’s example-
    ‘Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.
    If there’s something to be stolen, I steal it’
    :)

    and for dearieme,
    that’s an infuriatingly hummable tune, isn’t it
    :)

  8. JD September 26, 2010 at 14:57 Permalink

    pls excuse spelling, the N and M are too close together for ny/my tired eyes
    :)

  9. James Higham September 26, 2010 at 15:02 Permalink

    you do flit about don’t you; in the way your brain works

    Inherited it from my mother.

  10. Rossa September 26, 2010 at 17:05 Permalink

    Ahhh grasshopper!

  11. xxxl September 26, 2010 at 17:38 Permalink

    James.

    You stumble, I redirect.

    You erect more straw men, including religion.

    You expect an answere while failing to show the intellect required for understanding, as you have failed repeatedly to show…..

    You must be joking.

  12. James Higham September 26, 2010 at 18:49 Permalink

    Perhaps you are the one who stumbles, Xxxl and can’t see it. You have this psychological problem with the word ‘religion’, such a catch-all, always wanting to lay it on me and yet I’m not religious, in the sense of devout or fervent.

    There is a huge difference between someone who has followed a laborious path of research, with a brain quite the equal of yours, having come to a conclusion that there is most certainly an entity. The gnostics like to slate this entity as the demi-urge or whatever name one likes to give it. The other side in the duality is seen as the one leading upwards to the light.

    Utter bullsh. It’s the other way about.

    The mystique of numbers in no way negates this either but must, of course, be incorporated, for the simple reason that it is true.

    Religion is when someone is hardwired into a belief and can see nothing else, a bit like yourself perhaps – maybe it can be said that you are quite religious. Having come to a conclusion via a long and circuitous route is another thing altogether from being religious, because it allows of corrections and adjustments, as knowledge comes to hand.

    I’d think you’d claim that for yourself but won’t allow it in anyone else. As for insulting you, I’ve let this go on for too long. I have never once insulted or mistreated you – I have always appreciated what you’ve offered and it has been great. I would have thought you’d have risen above this, in the interests of truth.

    Stumbling? Yes, in the financial area, for sure – you are the expert there and I am not. In the area of metaphysics or the structure of the world? No, Xxxl – it is you who stumbles, mainly due to this religious fixation of yours.

    Once again, you might storm off, never to sully my door again but I tell you you’re always welcome because considered opinions are always welcome, even if I can show that they are essentially flawed. I asked you to comment on Feynman but instead of doing that, you wrote, ‘You expect an answere while failing to show the intellect required.’

    That’s an a priori cop out. If I can understand 0.08542455, then I’m quite capable of understanding what you write but how will you know if I can understand what you state unless you state it?

    So state it.

  13. Kevin Faulkner September 26, 2010 at 19:48 Permalink

    An interesting argument! It’s a bit sad that people are often far more hostile to each other on-line than face-to-face! Religion to my understanding is simply organized spirituality. It’s said people are becoming less religious but more spiritual, but as the philosopher Montaigne once said ‘What do I know?’

  14. richard September 26, 2010 at 21:15 Permalink

    An enjoyable post. As an atheist animal I don’t need to devise an elaborate double-think to avoid the conclusion that G-d exists, it doesn’t register in the same way Mithras doesn’t impinge on you. As for numbers, they aren’t real. Things are, but numbers aren’t. It’s a human means of describing…. stuff.

  15. CherryPie September 26, 2010 at 22:24 Permalink

    xxxl,

    It might interest you that my visitor tonight started talking about those numbers often discussed here (I didn’t start the conversation). I do get the urge to use the word co-incidence but… ;-)

    He also introduced another number into the equation which I don’t recall being mentioned here yet…

    James,

    The study of the metaphysical can’t be done with text and research alone, there is more.

    I was ‘taught’ two opposing view points when I was younger both of which had adequate texts and research to back them up. I had to step out of that way of thinking to see if I could find the real truth. So I explored the metaphysical for myself without all the interruptions of what other people had thought or said before. Only by doing that can you find the real truth.

    My friend who I mentioned to xxxl (above) is a specialist in the field of metaphysics and I know he would say to you if you were in conversation together. Don’t dismiss the thoughts of xxxl they are connected to what you think.

  16. James Higham September 26, 2010 at 22:33 Permalink

    Cherie, you have just stated what I have been trying to say in many posts – that the metaphysical is something which the empirical method is not adequate to explain.

    I think you might not have read Xxxl’s comment fully nor mine. I was referring to gnostics, not Xxxl. The only issues with Xxxl were intellect and his refusal to answer the question. The reason he did that is that it can’t be answered, as he knows full well.

  17. CherryPie September 26, 2010 at 22:59 Permalink

    I have read both your posts fully. I understand where he is coming from and where you are too.

    But you try and explain what you mean by giving lots lots of sources which are confusing and deflect from what you are saying (rather than putting them in a footnote or an aside for people to check out).

    I fully understand the connectedness between the two thought processes do you?

    You can’t really accuse xxxl of not answering a question when you never did answer mine on this subject just a few weeks ago ;-)

  18. James Higham September 26, 2010 at 23:22 Permalink

    You can’t really accuse xxxl of not answering a question when you never did answer mine on this subject just a few weeks ago

    That’s rubbish and you know it, Cherie. You admitted yourself that there never was a question, after I repeatedly asked you, in comments, to repeat it. I’m most surprised you’d try that on, knowing, as you do, that I have never knowingly failed to answer any question you’ve put.

    As for Xxxl, I very much can ask that question, for the reason that he failed to answer it. The reason he has failed to answer it is that it was a direct intellectual challenge to him and to his credit, he knows it can’t be answered.

    He wants to play intellectual games – bring them on and let’s play.

    The most disappointing aspect to me is that you waded into a dispute between two people and chose to support one side, ignoring the ad hominem and only mentioning my side of it in the second comment [the reply].

    That’s your prerogative of course and I’m happy to fight this corner by myself.

  19. CherryPie September 26, 2010 at 23:47 Permalink

    You can’t really accuse xxxl of not answering a question when you never did answer mine on this subject just a few weeks ago

    That’s rubbish and you know it, Cherie. You admitted yourself that there never was a question, after I repeatedly asked you, in comments, to repeat it. I’m most surprised you’d try that on, knowing, as you do, that I have never knowingly failed to answer any question you’ve put.

    I never play games or try it on. I ask lots of questions, most of which remain unanswered…. Stop playing games with my thoughts it won’t work!

    I am not choosing any side, I see what I see, you see quite a lot but you have also missed something…

    There is something more to this than you have seen which is quite important.

    The most disappointing thing to me is that on the basis of your reply to me you you thought I was trying to take sides in a dispute, I didn’t see a dispute just and exchange of ideas, I have an open mind to explore ideas.

    Oh and just to finish off I am not entering to any dispute I am just exploring ideas, that is what adults do!

  20. James Higham September 27, 2010 at 00:12 Permalink

    “Oh and just to finish off I am not entering to any dispute I am just exploring ideas, that is what adults do!”

    No Cherie, you:

    1. Ignored the ad hominem and still have even now – even now you have not acknowledged that;

    2. Said, “Don’t dismiss the thoughts of Xxxl,” but in searching for your reply to Xxxl, “Don’t dismiss the thoughts of James,” I can’t seem to find it anywhere;

    3. Brought up an old discussion from weeks ago in which you kept asking me to answer a question, I kept asking you to repeat it, then had to conclude that you meant a statement you’d made, then asked you which statement, which you did not answer.

    Those three are far more than just “exploring ideas, which adults do”. It’s more than “asking lots of questions”. Anyone reading it could only conclude that you had taken sides.

    You speak of what adults do. I would suggest that someone coming in would ordinarily ignore the bone of contention between two other parties and not buy into it by naming the correct and incorrect parties but sticking to the issue or else introducing new issues.

    The contention of the post was that mathematics is not precise. Xxxl answered that by saying I did not have the intellect to understand an answer. That turned it into a personal issue. You then bought into it with:

    You can’t really accuse xxxl of not answering a question when you … etc.

    I’m still waiting for your actual contention of what I had missed in the discussion of the issues themselves. [It may be that we might have to postpone this, as it's past midnight and way past bedtime.

    Sleep tight.]

  21. CherryPie September 27, 2010 at 00:36 Permalink

    Firstly I thought you were an enlightened person, but you still resort to rules…

    1. ad hominem – who did that first???

    2. I have always tried to discuss your thoughts on the premise that I agreed with them on principle but there was more to explore. But you have always ignored me trying to engage on that (typical man).

    3. You need to look at that exchange again, I just wanted a simple answer to a thought which I would have enjoyed discussing with you.

    I would still enjoy the discussion, but I am not sure that will ever happen… Because you place dividing lines in thought…

    I will always sleep tight because I know, despite the occasional interruptions from the other side!!!

  22. James Higham September 27, 2010 at 00:54 Permalink

    ad hominem – who did that first???

    If you mean on this post – only Xxxl did it of course. “First” doesn’t come into it because I acknowledged his intellect by using terms like “to his credit” and “equal”. I don’t use ad hominem, as you know. I attack arguments, not the mental powers of the opposing contender.

    Dividing lines

    Cherie, you bought in when you didn’t need to, knowing that there was some stick as a result of that ad hominem. So who created the dividing line? And where do veiled accusations about being “adult” come into it?

    I just wanted a simple answer to a thought which I would have enjoyed discussing with you.

    I’m still awaiting that thought. You mention that there was something I’d missed. What was that? I’d also like to know the question from last time, if you would be so good, so that I might answer it.

  23. CherryPie September 27, 2010 at 01:21 Permalink

    ad hominem – who did that first???

    I don’t see any ad hominem apart from a provoked response!!

    I don’t buy into anything, sorry do disappoint you…

    You will find my thoughts here on your blog in a previous discussion, without an appropriate reply.

  24. james wilson September 27, 2010 at 06:52 Permalink

    I do not understand the significance of the number 0.08542455, but I do understand the significance of Feynman. He was a man of great accomplishment and good temper, for whom it was impossible to become angry. To become angry is usually a sign of our inadequacy, not our confidence. To understand that feeling is to remain mindful of what it means.

  25. James Higham September 27, 2010 at 07:25 Permalink

    Thanks, James.

    Cherie – it’s next morning. What we come down to then [and I'm not going to ask you to acknowledge the ad hominem because you are deadset against doing so, for your own reasons], is that you say:

    1. certain things came up in a discussion you had with a visitor and that there was a hole in my argument;

    2. not that I didn’t answer you but that it was “without an appropriate reply”.

    On 1, please tell us what those holes were, so that it would edify the readers and educate me further, something which is a never-ending process.

    On 2, may I repeat that I’ve never “knowingly” not answered. This refers to answering a question, rather than commenting on a statement.

    You use the word “appropriately”, which of course means a whole different thing to not having answered at all. Appropriately, of course, means in the eyes of your good self, which suggests I’ve given less than adequate answers and therefore, that constitutes a slight.

    If that is so, please accept my most humble apologies. Could you give me an example of where I failed to answer appropriately, in your eyes [and I am perfectly happy to concede this and redress the issue]?

    The only caveat I’d put on this is that often I don’t reply by name but just pick out something in comments in general to address. I tend to reply by name when there are less comments on the topic. Often, if I agree, I’d reply, “Cherie – yes,” or similar and I do that for all.

    So please show me where this has happened.

  26. Sackerson September 30, 2010 at 08:18 Permalink

    Our mathematics cannot even solve the three-body problem, so how is it supposed to account for the whole universe?

  27. James Higham September 30, 2010 at 11:13 Permalink

    The Douglas Adams hypothesis is closest to the truth, it seems to me.

  28. jimmy February 4, 2011 at 20:55 Permalink

    72.

    Who can say the number of hours between crucifixion and resurrections ?

    Who can say the number of degrees revolved through in a Moebius strip ?

    Adaptive cycles: alpha – Omega – alpha (again)

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