Is Math a Feature of the Universe or a Feature of Human Creation? | Idea Channel | PBS
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Durata: 8 minuti 45 secondi
Autore: PBS Idea Channel
Data pubblicazione: 03/06/2013
Voto: 4.908629 su 5
Votanti: 19481
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Math is invisible. Unlike physics, chemistry, and biology we can't see it, smell it, or even directly observe it in the universe. And so that has made a lot of really smart people ask, does it actually even EXIST?!?! Similar to the tree falling in the forest, there are people who believe that if no person existed to count, math wouldn't be around . .at ALL!!!! But is this true? Do we live in a mathless universe? Or if math is a real entity that exists, are there formulas and mathematical concepts out there in the universe that are undiscovered? Or is it all fiction? Whew!! So many questions, so many theories... watch the episode and let us know what you think! All Time 10 Videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFydagCS9fg Veritasium - http://www.youtube.com/1veritasium (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JGSqG8OLjE) Fast, Furious & Funny - http://www.youtube.com/fastfuriousandfunny (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWxub2XhmXM) The Brain Scoop - http://www.youtube.com/thebrainscoop (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNuu0y6ZmAs) ASAPScience - http://www.youtube.com/AsapSCIENCE (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgxJhpLoFFU) The Royal Institute of Great Britain - http://www.youtube.com/TheRoyalInstitution (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gm02Oid8sbs) The Spangler Effect - http://www.youtube.com/TheSpanglerEffect (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fQ4uB-At-c) Minute Physics - http://www.youtube.com/minutephysics (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yHDeKFW8j8) Head Squeeze - http://www.youtube.com/HeadsqueezeTV (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPBJX1SW7AA) Vsauce - http://www.youtube.com/Vsauce (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L45Q1_psDqk) Episode Links: Weezy Waiter's "The Good Stuff" http://www.youtube.com/TheGoodStuff Awesome Math photos from Nikki Graziano http://nikkigraziano.com/index.php/project/found-functions/ Further Reading for the "Online/Offline" Episode: Nathan Jurgenson: http://thenewinquiry.com/author/nathanjurgenson/ http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2011/09/13/digital-dualism-and-the-fallacy-of-web-objectivity/ EA and Guns Article http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/05/no-ea-wont-license-guns-in-its-2013-games-but-it-never-has/ Sources: Eugene Wigner http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc/MathDrama/reading/Wigner.html Velocity of an Unladen Swallow http://style.org/unladenswallow/ Alain Badiou Briefings on Existence Lakoff / Nunez Where Does Math Comes From? Mark Colyvan An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mathematics Tweet of the Week: https://twitter.com/startmyquest/status/339670771460878338 Music: "Europe" by Roglok (http://www.roglok.net) "Carry on Carillon" by Roglok (http://www.roglok.net) "Bouncy Castle" by Roglok (http://www.roglok.net) ":P" by Roglok (http://www.roglok.net) Level 5: Room for the Homeless http://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a101325/level-5 Binarpilot http://www.jamendo.com/en/track/661417/geeks Clockwork - Titan (geometry remix) https://soundcloud.com/wompworthy/clockwork-titan-geometry-remix Let us know what sorts of crazy ideas you have, about this episode and otherwise: Tweet at us! @pbsideachannel (yes, the longest twitter username ever) Email us! pbsideachannel [at] gmail [dot] com Idea Channel Facebook! http://Facebook.com/pbsideachannel Hosted by Mike Rugnetta (@mikerugnetta) Made by Kornhaber Brown (http://www.kornhaberbrown.com) Want some more Idea Channel? Here's Last Week's episode: "Is Developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) Ethical?" http://youtu.be/95KhuSbYJGE Want another one? Here ya go: "Is Sad Music Actually Sad?" http://youtu.be/bWWYE4eLEfk Here's Some More: "Is Buying Call of Duty a Moral Choice?" http://youtu.be/jeIHH0XEs6E
Commenti

An important ( ...
An important (philosophical) question... My worry: Fictional or real, it is a fact that logic (math) is compatible with the functions in the universe to an immense range of scales that surpass human experience (hence, I believe, evolution is not enough to give a satisfactory answer given that this knowledge became available a few hundred years ago - give or take). An this range is reasonable to expect that will become much wider in the next few hundred years. So, what is the relation of the human brain function to the function of physical phenomena that are describable in terms of math (and many of them lie beyond the everyday experience)? Is Math a Feature of the Universe or a Feature of Human Creation? | Idea Channel | PBS
Konstantinos Anagnostopoulos25/10/2014
Math does not exist ...
Math does not exist "out in the universe". At the same time, it does not simply "exist in our brain". It is actually in a layer that is beyond the universe. Math is not in the universe, the universe is in Math. This may sound strange, awfully philosophical, or perhaps even meaningless, until you understand model theory. The idea behind model theory is that mathematical rules can "map" into real-world concepts. Like, similar to the example already given, 2+2=4 can map into the real-world take 2 cats, add 2 more cats, get 4 cats. But the main premise of model theory is that you can map the same mathematical concept into several different elements. For example, 2+2 doesn't have to be about cats. In fact, it doesn't even have to be about physical objects. If you've waited 2 seconds, and immediately after you've waited 2 more seconds, then you've waited for 4 seconds. In the eyes of model theory, then, math is about finding out what's common to different models. It starts by trying to find a minimal list of observable facts that a certain model has to fulfill in order to be "sufficiently similar" to other models. For example, in the case of addition, we require that we don't care about the order of the objects. For instance, if you put 2 black cats right of 2 white cats, then while you have 4 cats, this doesn't represent the fact that you have, right to left, black-black-white-white cats. Only if you decide this latter detail is unimportant, does the model fit. On the other hand, if color does matter, than taking the black cats first, and then putting the white cats right of them, changes the group of cats. The next step is then to figure out what can be inferred based only on these observable facts, without relying on the observations themselves. For instance, 2+2=4 is actually a direct result of 1+1=2, 2+1=3, 3+1=4 and order of operations not mattering. The first 3 can be seen simply as definitions of 2, 3 and 4 (As what happens to the group when you add one more of the smallest group). They are giving names to concepts. The last one is the thing that must be true for a model to fit. Any aspect of this universe, or any other, that fits this requirement, would also fulfill 2+2=4. The ultimate result of model theory lies in Godel's completeness theorem. It states that: 1. If something is true in a purely mathematical sense, then it is true for all models that satisfy the basic required observations. This means that math can be used to reason about the real universe. Another way to look at it, is that math can be used to show that certain types of things cannot exist, in any universe, simply because, in mathematical form, they would result in a contradiction. A good example is that the laws of thermodynamics (conservation of energy) can't be violated without first violating one of the basic laws of mechanics (e.g. every action has an equal and opposite reaction) that mathematically cause them. So long as the basic observations hold, the conclusions must also hold. Conversely, if an observation shows that the conclusion was violated, it implies that one of the basic rules on which it was based was violated as well. 2. If something is true for all models, then there is a finite mathematical proof for it. Or, conversely, if there is no finite mathematical proof for something, then there is a theoretical model in which it is not true. While this fact may not directly relate to this universe, as the "model in which it is not true" may simply be a theoretical universe that doesn't actually exist, it does give us a way to limit the things that must be absolutely true for all possible universes. All of those must have FINITE proof, that is, the proof can be written using mathematical symbols on a finite number of pages. At the same time, every time mathematicians think they've found a model that could only exist in theory, the universe has shown that if it's mathematically possible, then there's some aspect of the universe in which it physically exists. That's not to say that this is always the case, simply that mathematicians are still in search of the case in which it isn't.
Saar Korren17/12/2014
Mathematics is real ...
Mathematics is real and exists independent of the human mind. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't understand math, and is likely getting confused by the human symbols, terms (names), and definitions that we invent in order to comprehend math.
Dagobah 35921/08/2014
To ask whether math ...
To ask whether math exists objectively assumes that there are only two possibilities, either it does exist or does not exist. The problem with this is that the answer may not fall in either category. Perhaps we are asking the wrong question, or seeking an answer by insufficient means.
Tom Nerva19/12/2014
I see math more as ...
I see math more as a meta language that helps us describe physics, geometry and other concepts. Somehow like XML?
Bauzi07/10/2014
i thought of ...
i thought of something funnier then 42...43
Diamond Productions17/12/2014
Math is the mother ...
Math is the mother of all sciences. Except that would be philosophy... No, math is a simply part of our *language*! (it is "universal" in the sense that it exists in every developed language on the globe) But our math system have certain innate flaws. For example we cannot express the exact value of the transcendental numbers. (watch numberphile) In fact we can predict few patterns the digits of Pi. But how is this different from any other scientific concept? We constantly rethink and rework them, and we learn something new! So yes fundamentally I think math is a human creation. But with the possible excetion of natural constants; π (Pi), φ (Phi), e, √2, i, and so on... But as I already stated I math is language, and thus this debate is of semantic nature. Thus not that useful. (But still interesting)
Iorveth19/07/2014
An important ( ...
An important (philosophical) question... My worry: Fictional or real, it is a fact that logic (math) is compatible with the functions in the universe to an immense range of scales that surpass human experience (hence, I believe, evolution is not enough to give a satisfactory answer given that this knowledge became available a few hundred years ago - give or take). An this range is reasonable to expect that will become much wider in the next few hundred years. So, what is the relation of the human brain function to the function of physical phenomena that are describable in terms of math (and many of them lie beyond the everyday experience)? Is Math a Feature of the Universe or a Feature of Human Creation? | Idea Channel | PBS
Ben Bogart26/10/2014
I think it does ...
I think it does exist. If there was water, there was 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom, 1 molecule made by 2+1=3 atoms.
GameGaming18/12/2014
I agree with that ...
I agree with that math doesn't exist outside of the human mind, because 1st, if humans didn't exist: obviously math wouldn't either because of the would be nothing to discover it.However, when that is true you also imply that the same thing goes for electricity, cells and atoms, because since they're invisible, to non-humans they're "nonexistent" 2nd of all I support it because like he said, the bird doesn't need any of that math to fly. Math in my opinion, is more like a measurement system then an existent entity.
Benjamin Mullen17/12/2014
How can math not ...
How can math not exist outside our minds? 3+1=4 has always been true, and will never stop being true. Even if space and time never existed, 3+1 would still equal 4. Numbers themselves are the same. 3=3 works the same way, so the value of 3 has always been 3, and would be without us. Am I wrong?
Nosajsom02/07/2014
Math is a man made ...
Math is a man made tool that helps us understand the laws of the universe because it is constantly evolving with new techniques. Math isn't real because I am convinced that an alien race could come to same conclusions that our mathematical system using a completely different system. Remember that measurements like the foot came from an actual foot which makes it a man made method to understand the universe.
Bulk_Biceps10/11/2014
Math is about ...
Math is about modelling the world. Or making the world more simple than what it actually is. Or you could say math is about abstraction. Language is modelling the world. Therefore language is a part of mathematics.
Vegard Fjeldberg12/12/2014
Have your mind ...
Have your mind blown. :D
KENNETH UDUT04/11/2014
There was a time in ...
There was a time in the remote past when people starting scribbling symbols to represent countings of things in the same way that they did the same to represent words and speech. as time went one and these writings became more sophisticated, people made up rules that would keep those symbols and how they could be used consistent. We call that "Mathematics". Now tell me. Where in this is anything being discovered? I think that math realists should stop living under a rock. True enough that we've been taking real things to serve as a basis for our concepts. That is, for example, the things we count are indeed real things, but the counting itself is something humans invented to help discerning things in nature. If we live in a real world, we make up a story, it's no wonder that this story has got elements taken from the real world or that could be applied in the real world, but that doesn't make James Bond or his missile-firing car any more real.
DigGil322/11/2014
You all realise ...
You all realise your using logic (math) to understand math (logic). Empirically to understand what math is ...... oh wait im only using logic to understand and explain. Outside of logic id have to say everything simply exists the idea of true and false was created by my mind. 
Starz Prod18/12/2014
A very interesting ...
A very interesting question, everything that we believe as a species is as a result of someone conceptualizing it so in that respect yes math too is just something we created. Jewish people associate language with creation, and numbers that correlate with the letters of the alphabet and help form the language itself. The concepts within their beliefs tie language directly to numbers and vice versa. Numbers and mathematical equations have the potential to be conceptualized many different ways. The potential is out there for lets say an exotic alien species to have created a completely different form of math based on the same principles, and we can actually see an example of it in the way people used to do mathematical equations vs. how they are taught to do them today. Lets take the equation 32-12=20, something easily recognizable but todays students are taught the "alien" way of math which for the same equation of 32-12= they would take 12+3=15, 15+5=20, 20+10=30, and 30+2=32 the original number you're subtracting from, then you take all the numbers that you added into the four "new" equations (3, 5, 10, and 2) and create one final equation (3+5+10+2) which just so happens to equal the same solution you got before with (32-2) the number 20 which was reached through two different concepts of math, which both relied upon the same set of principles as one another to get to the same conclusion that 32-12=20. Everything, including language, that we use to conceptualize the world around us has been created through the use of our intellect and our mind, but is not substantiated in any way other than through the observations we individually or collectively make. With that in mind, even our perception itself is up for debate seeing that no light actually makes its way into the part of our brain that processes the signals from our eyes, Every input of information that we acquire from the world around us is first converted into electrical signals and directed through to our brains which act as processors ordering and making sense of the data collected. There is even speculation that we could live in a completely virtual world and never have any way of knowing the truth. The double slit experiment is the only test that gives us potential proof to the possibility of this reality being something different than we perceive it to be, due to the fact that we can direct a particle at a double slit and when we observe the particle it seemingly knows we're watching it and chooses slit A or slit B, but when we don't observe it there is an interference pattern as though the particle is acting like a wave and not a single particle. So to speculate on what is real and what is not, is just that speculation, and there may never be an ability to truly know for sure what is real and not, regardless of how much we try to know about the universe around us, that is unless we find out for sure we are in the Matrix and then, well you'll have to ask Neo what's next.
Chapman Bragg Hester13/11/2014
I think math is a ...
I think math is a human system for understanding and interpreting certain fundamental qualities of the universe. I suppose I'm an anti-realist. We perceive there being 10 figures, but all there really 'is' is the universe and everything it contains. We focus on certain parts and group them rather than having a complete, whole, full understanding and awareness of everything. We're not omniscient.
Gary Alexander Stott24/11/2014
An important ( ...
An important (philosophical) question... My worry: Fictional or real, it is a fact that logic (math) is compatible with the functions in the universe to an immense range of scales that surpass human experience (hence, I believe, evolution is not enough to give a satisfactory answer given that this knowledge became available a few hundred years ago - give or take). An this range is reasonable to expect that will become much wider in the next few hundred years. So, what is the relation of the human brain function to the function of physical phenomena that are describable in terms of math (and many of them lie beyond the everyday experience)? Is Math a Feature of the Universe or a Feature of Human Creation? | Idea Channel | PBS
Gary Rudd26/10/2014
Well Math is like ...
Well Math is like abstraction. Do languages exist ? Does Philosophy exist ? No doubt. Does God exist? Doubt is allowed. Our desire to understand does exist.
Lionel Martin27/11/2014
...no one else got ...
...no one else got the your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberrys reference? (And no I'm not that old I just know this stuff)
Kaboom3610/12/2014
I believe math ...
I believe math comes from a human psychological reaction to imagine "units"; separate one "thing" from another, count each one as 1, group them up together and have 2 of that thing. It's useful and obvious to us to be able to have one thing, and then, separately, another thing, and eventually count, ad, subtract, divide, multiply, etc, with them. The other alternative is way to complicated, and not very intuitive from an evolutionary standpoint; counting all physical space as one thing without making groups within it. That is the main reason I think math is a useful, intuitive invention of the human mind to explain and organize the world, and not a objective true science. It's also kind of typically, humanly egotistical to believe that what your kind considers true is part of the way the universe actually works.
Simon Villagra06/12/2014
I don't think that ...
I don't think that something has to be observed to exist. In my opinion everything, and much more, exists. Literally everything; everything that's possible or impossible, that we can imagine or just can't; pretty much an infinite number of different realities. They have to be different/seperate because they have to logically function, saying that they do not contain a paradoxon. But there is a number of observants (that might be infinite as well but doesn't have to, we just can't tell), and what they observe is their reality. They each observe only one reality. Now this might include maths, or might not. We just have to find out if our reality contains maths or not. Till then whatever we assume is true, or at least true enough.
Daniel Ullrich15/12/2014
I think that math ...
I think that math is how humans describe the universe. As such, it is the language of the universe, from our perspective. The fact that math is our way to describe the universe does not make it right or wrong, but I will say that mathematics tends to be a translation of the Majesty of the Cosmos, so that our minds may begin to comprehend the vast intricacies of reality. If there is other intelligent life in the cosmos, then they may have developed their own ways to understand reality. Or they may use math. Either way, understanding the universe is concept derived or even deciphered by intelligent beings. You do not see frogs counting how many flies they catch. They simply eat until they are full. Alas, math, or it's equivalent, is an expression of explaining reality, stemming from the question "Why, what, and where are we?" To me, that makes math the most eloquent solution to our questions of origin, and ultimately, our definition of reality.
James Koon12/12/2014
Mathematics is ...
Mathematics is logic being quantified... You would better ask does logic exists or is it the invention of humans ?? Logic exists and it is not an invention !! Well logic exists independent of an interpreter (a human or whatever) but math is the language or means by which we (humans) understand or comprehend logic... Math discusses logic not by means of objects (such as apples) but rather by more abstract entities which are numbers... since math is abstract it can be applied in whatever field we would wish to apply it to (biology physic...) !!!!! Logic exists and is embedded into the fabric of the universe... Math is humans' most abstract and comprehensible representation (language/model......) of what they perceive... Hence, Logic exists independently, while Math is humans' creation !!!
Rawad Gharzeddine14/12/2014



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