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Casey Christofaris

Owner, CS3 Inc

TEDCRED 10+

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Is our math wrong? Is it our assumption of zero, or absolute nothingness?

There are know phenomena out there such as the gamma ray burst that total destroys(use loosely your ego wants to argue this syntax error not the mind) our current math and physics(e=mc2). But instead of saying well maybe we got a key part of our math wrong we make it so the phenomena matches our math. This is my personal take on what I think might be wrong. I think it has to do with our assumption of zero. Seeing how you can never have absolute nothingness as a base or starting point. Conceptually the idea of zero is great. I want an apple. But i am in a complete void of apples. I don't have a single one. Not even applesauce! I have ZERO apples. But I do not need to know that you have zero apples to know when you have 1 apple. On the other had I do need to know that you have 1 apple to understand that now you have 2 apple. I could be wrong. It just something that bothers me.

Also I am not a math person it has always been something I struggled with in school those pesky numbers. However in College I excelled at Logic, but that has been some time ago.

I am not say this is the answer I just say that I think there is something fundamentally wrong with our math

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  • Oct 3 2012: Perhaps we have all been educated to believe that math is necessary to understand nature. Perhaps that is wrong. Math is necessary to advance technology.

    If and when we do understand nature, perhaps math will be no part of that understanding. Zero will be irrelevant.
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      Oct 3 2012: Thank you that is a perspective I did not notice before about advancing technology. And really the only thing that comes to minded is we should not create AI.....yet .....yet. We need to learn to treat other humans like equals firsts, before we will ever see them as equals. Once we can do this see our fellow living creatures as equals, then we should advanced AI but only then.
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    Oct 2 2012: "Zero quantity" is not quite the same as "nothing". We can have 0 dollars in the pocket. We can visualize that - an empty pocket. We can visualize vacuum - an empty space. We can visualize a 0 on a scale as a point relative to other points. But we cannot visualize "nothing" as a starting point of the universe - no space, no time, no matter, no energy... nothing. We cannot experience it or have evidence of its existence - because "nothing" in this sense, is non-existence itself. It's not even a void. "What is nothing?" is a loaded question. It implies that "nothing is...". We cannot even say "nothing is..." or "nothing is not..." - that would be saying too much about nothing. We cannot explain what is wrong with nothing. We cannot say ANYTHING about nothing. My post on this topic is one paragraph too long.
    • Oct 2 2012: It cannot be visualized but it has to be conceptualized because "nothing" is the opposite of "something".
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        Oct 2 2012: I agree. The problem is that this concept is apriori. It cannot be drawn from any experience. It cannot be drawn from logic. It cannot be defined in a way that makes sense. It's like one of those Zen koans that can only be understood by silent meditation, but cannot be taught or explained, because words or images always describe something, not nothing.
        • Oct 4 2012: You can 'understand' Zen koans if you have a proper context in your mind. Though 'understand' does not describe what you've got. Sufi poets have a word that can be translated into English as ' standing under ' , it brings holistic quality and more related to knowing , than knowing about . But you are right, it has something to do with Zero. It is nothing where something is dimly visible, but can't be fixed by understanding/language .
        • Oct 6 2012: Re : In the world of information...
          Our world is information. The idea that information is prior to matter is millennia old, but only now we seem to be ready to download it into our mind , iow to figure it out :)
      • Oct 4 2012: That's it ! Zero is a concept.
        We tend to separate Math from Philosophy, but they are not separate , nothing is.
        "nothing" is the opposite of "something" and synonymous with 'everything'
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          Oct 5 2012: Good point. In the world of information, an infinite sequence of logical zeroes has the same amount of information as an infinite sequence of logical ones - none. In this informational sense, "nothing" and "everything" are identical. They equally make no sense.

          One bit of information is born when a logical zero switches to one (or vice versa). That's when we have "something" and that's when it starts making sense. The universe is born when all these bits start toggling.
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      Oct 2 2012: Nothing is blackness
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        Oct 2 2012: Is "blackness" same as darkness? When I visualize blackness or darkness, I see a black canvas or a black background with nothing on it, absence of light. But it has spatial characteristics. I can also imagine it for some time. Space only makes sense when matter is present to visualize separation between objects. Time only makes sense when there is a material periodic process, be it only a wave function of an electron. When there is no matter, no space, and no time, it's beyond our understanding. I know, this explanation does not make sense. That's the point.
        It is not blackness, darkness, or silence. It is not huge, not tiny, not black, not white, it has no properties whatsoever. It is nothing. It cannot even be reflected or accurately represented by anything. One can only meditate on it. That's two paragraphs too many about nothing :)
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          Oct 2 2012: Well from my stand point reading your two paragraphs,i just stated blackness,it has no comparison to anything within this physical universe,from the paragraphs,you gave it form,spatial characteristics,"canvas" is there a possible inference to something that exists within this universe? and yes you can imagine blackness behind your eye's for as long as you want,now go into it while still keeping it behind your eye's and look back,there is no distance,no up,no down,no colour variations,light did not exist before it,it's just blackness,it's the emotive backlash that usually stops the mind from accepting it by trying to compare it to something,like you said it's not huge,silent,tiny but blackness is the only thing closest to nothing we have,it is the blackness when you are losing consciousness,it has no measurement until you change it or add to it.

          If this isn't good enough then "nothing' will ever be good enough and the next reply will only mean the word "measurement"
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        Oct 2 2012: Ken, I guess, you just used another word for "nothing". We can create different words or symbols to mean the same ideas. I just did not agree to use "blackness" to mean "nothing" because "blackness" implies color which is a property of something. But, as you explained what you meant, I agree that, perhaps, the only way to understand or experience "nothing" is to stop all brain activity altogether which is to stop experiencing whatsoever. I refer to your phrase that "it is the blackness when you are losing consciousness".
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          Oct 3 2012: That Arkady is a brilliant post,i like it,excellent arrangement,had me stumped,made me think there is no reply to your reply,it stands alone,cool man.
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    Oct 9 2012: Zero is what all this discussing adds up to.

    (To others that might post here. There are already over 400 posts. Read them first so as not to restate comments that have all ready been stated.)
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      Oct 9 2012: Actual it most certainly adds up to 1 at least one conversation. However I am fine with people submitting post. I am always up for a good game of devils advocate. Whether for or against these questions. The problem is most need to leave ego at the login. Ego is whats created when you put self first instead trying to see what the other person is actually talking about or trying to understand it.

      This guys a good example of what talking out of ego does vs using your mind:
      http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/10/05/14203607-video-shows-scientist-in-congress-saying-evolution-is-from-pit-of-hell?lite
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        Oct 9 2012: Yes, I'd read this (I know Alan and follow his blog). Broun is a medical doctor and sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology."
        The same day this story broke there were two similar ones:
        "Arkansas Republicans tried to distance themselves Saturday from a Republican state representative's assertion that slavery was a "blessing in disguise" and a Republican state House candidate who advocates deporting all Muslims.
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          Oct 9 2012: Yeah that is ridiculous that these people would come to some understanding on how that could be truth. That public policy needs to be influenced, for these things is amazing to me and makes me wonder how these people ever got elected in the first place.

          Why is it so hard to see people/all living things as equals? I will never understand. Other then out of pure ego.
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    Sep 30 2012: Re: " This is my personal take on what I think might be wrong. I think it has to do with our assumption of zero'"

    Where is the logic to this argument? You have not defined what it is that you "think might be wrong," nor have you explained a concept of zero that would serve as an assumption.
    Where did the concept of zero originate, what is its history? Let's start there.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=history-of-zero

    "Initially, zero functioned as a mere placeholder—a way to tell 1 from 10 from 100, to give an example using Arabic numerals. "That's not a full zero," Seife says. "A full zero is a number on its own; it's the average of –1 and 1."

    Much ado about nothing
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      Sep 30 2012: First I don't see why you have to add 0+1=1 if you have one of something wouldn't it just be one so 1 apple = 1 apple. I don't need to know that you started at zero to now understand that you have 1 apple. Now to know if you have 2 apples I must first need to know that you have one. So we could write that as 0+1+1= 2 or we could just go with 1+1=2. Also when you are using zero=nothing instead of zero=none when you write out the math problem it would read like this: nothing that is equal to an apple plus one that is equal to an apple equals one that is equal to an apple. Or it can be written like this: none that is equal to an apple plus one that is equal to an apple equals one that is equal to an apple.

      But truly we like to group things (arbitrary units) to make it easier on the brain, for there is no such thing as 2 apples that are the same. They are all individual representation of what is apple. The cave man realized, all is a individual representation. Their math looked like this and also did not have zero, 1=1,11=2,111=3 ect. There are 7 billion individual people on this earth, grouped and categorical as a whole. But really it's 7 billion 1's not 7,000,000,000. For them to be identical they would also have to take up the same space time.

      So if you want the big picture of what I am saying is that in the "physical world" There is no zero, no negative numbers and no 2(of identical things) and all that exist is a bunch of 1's. For we are all one

      also you argued a Straw man
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        Sep 30 2012: Numbers are symbols, they represent ideas and concepts in a way that allow mathematicians to resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures. It's clear that you are not thinking on a higher order of mathematics, say calculating the motion of a physical object. If you're simply adding apples, you are correct, you will never need zero or negatives numbers.

        Did you read the links?

        David Hilbert said of mathematics: 'We are not speaking here of arbitrariness in any sense. Mathematics is not like a game whose tasks are determined by arbitrarily stipulated rules. Rather, it is a conceptual system possessing internal necessity that can only be so and by no means otherwise."
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          Oct 1 2012: Please tell me more on how are math and units of measurements are not arbitrary. How should we measure distances? Miles, feet, nautical mile, yards, meters, Roman mile,Arab mile, Meile? These units are arbitrary! For they can mean anything you want and any distance you want. So how do we measure distance? Use the "lowest common denominator"? The Atom? Then you need to ask how do we measure the the distance between Atom(x) and Atom(y)? Wait I know when we find the Higgs Boson that will tell us why we have mass. So we can use the Higgs or "God partial" to measure the distance between Atom(x) and Atom(y). But wait, how does the higgs have mass and how can we measure the distance between 2 higgs? This is never ending, its a circle discovery. This should lead to infinity and then lead to energy and then thats all there is and all there ever will be is energy in its infinite form.
  • Sep 24 2012: A number of years ago, I had to travel to Detroit for business. While I was there, I heard a very interesting show on CBC Radio (Canada) about zero. The parties on the show also mentioned a book titled "The Nothing that Is:A Natural History of Zero" by Robert and Ellen Kaplan. It is a very fascinating book that talks about how zero came to be and why it is used as it is today. You can find this book on Amazon or probably at your local public library. I encourage you to locate a copy and read about it. The book is not long, but chock full of interesting historical info and tidbits.
  • Oct 10 2012: Just a thought, the concept zero and the numeral 0 are both quite modern additions to western thought, being introduced via the arab world within the last 1000 years.
  • Oct 9 2012: Zero most certainly exists. And there are places all around us where nothing exists. If we freeze time so that not a single molecule in the universe is moving we'll find that none of them are in contact with any other. So then there must be blank spaces. If we were to say that zero doesn't exist then how could we quantify the number of things in those blank spaces? Yes, zero as a number raises logical problems, but that does not mean our math is wrong, it simply means it is incomplete. When Sir Isaac Newton was working on gravity he never really reached a point that made sense, his theory had things being pulled, which nature never does. Does that mean his theory was wrong? No, it means it wasn't done yet. Even today, we don't really know exactly how gravity works but again, that only means we're not done learning about it yet. Math is the same way. We developed math to describe natural phenomena that we already understood (adding 1 apple to 1 apple makes 2 apples). Then as we came to understand new things and wanted to quantify them we developed new types of math, a great example is calculus. We first have to understand a phenomena, then create ways to quantify it.
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      Oct 9 2012: That empty space you talk about is not empty just can not be seen with the naked eye.

      Technically all theory's are wrong and can never be proven right. So any theory is neither right or wrong.

      There are no 2 of anything in the universe, there are groups of thing but each is an individual representation of what is apple(x).
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        Oct 9 2012: "Technically all theory's are wrong and can never be proven right. So any theory is neither right or wrong."

        Is that your theory?
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          Oct 9 2012: That is "theory" it can only ever be proven wrong to some degree or another. So yeah theory's are never right or wrong. Only proven to be able to replicate the same process over and over again. Until proven wrong to some degree.
      • Oct 9 2012: I think you misunderstand the scale I'm talking about. The objects I mean to discuss are smaller than we can see even with aid. You said you excelled at logic so I'll deal only with that. There are varying degrees of sized things in our universe, so there must be a smallest thing. Right now we haven't seen the smallest thing but if there is no smallest thing there cannot be things of varying size (since once things are different sizes there are smallest things). So if everything is built up out of these smallest things and they are not connected (because if they were connected they would be the same thing) then there must be a space between them. If there were no space between these smallest things then motion wouldn't be possible except as a group. That is the blank space I'm talking about, the epically tiny distances between the smallest units of matter.
        You're correct, no two things are identical, but similarities cause things to fit into similar groups. For example: objects that have the quality of existence are things. Any object that can be said to exist falls within this group. Because of this group (which I don't see how it could be denied that objects that exist are things) we can quantify the number of things in a space. Say I have a space in which there are ten things that have the same exact size but every other property is different (thus satisfying that no two things are identical) and in the space there is enough room for 15 things. So there is 5 things-worth of blank space. Our universe is like this. Our observations have shown that 1) matter cannot be created or destroyed and 2) our universe is constantly expanding. Since new matter is never created there is always the same number of things in the universe but the amount of space is getting larger. If one quantity remains static while another rises then after a point the latter will always be larger. So if we don't have more space than things now at some point we will.
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          Oct 9 2012: Good day Kris,

          "So if everything is built up out of these smallest things and they are not connected (because if they were connected they would be the same thing) then there must be a space between them." Would energy count as the connection? For we as organism "human" are not connected.

          "If there were no space between these smallest things then motion wouldn't be possible except as a group." Is this not how the human body function as a group? E pluribus unum.

          "That is the blank space I'm talking about, the epically tiny distances between the smallest units of matter." You that is matter has never touched any other matter ever. Our energy's touch other energy but we do not "touch" anything.

          "Say I have a space in which there are ten things that have the same exact size but every other property is different (thus satisfying that no two things are identical) and in the space there is enough room for 15 things. So there is 5 things-worth of blank space. Our universe is like this. Our observations have shown that 1) matter cannot be created or destroyed and 2) our universe is constantly expanding." Have you heard of filling a glass with, rock, sand, water? Even an empty glass is not empty! Matter does not exist energy can not be created or destroyed. I would suggest that the universe is a torus or at least a double torus (which looks much like a figure 8. Also torus's can be found everywhere.
      • Oct 9 2012: cont. Therefore, if there are not blank spaces now there will be. In these spaces there are zero things and nothingness.
        Now, your point on theory. From an epistemic standpoint it is flawed. Truth is an absolute. My opinion on the best and most concise definition of truth is "an accurate representation of reality". So what's true is true and what's not true is false. Theory's are statements of what the theorist believes to be true. So if the theory accurately represents reality then it is true, if it does not then it is false. A theory is incomplete when it partially reflects reality and partially does not. I'll give a few examples: If my theory predicts that Barack Obama is President of the United States it is true. If my theory predicts that George Washington is secretary of state it is false. If a theory predicts both of the former then it is true in some aspects and false in others and is incomplete. Further, all knowledge begins as a hypothesis, then becomes a theory, and once it is tested its truth is determined and it becomes knowledge. If we add in the stigma that all theory's are wrong and can't be proven right then we can't have knowledge. By that logic nothing this thread, including your initial argument, can be substantiated and then we all have to admit we're wrong. Hume would agree but I take other issues with his theory, which would be a bit lengthy to discuss. The point is, your "theory of theory" has logical flaws that can't be avoided. I hope this is a bit more clear than before. If any premises above seem to be flawed let me know and I'll write another novel for you.
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        Oct 9 2012: Mark,

        Until I find a point at least in this conversation where we greatly disagree, and I mean greatly. You can always talk or post on my behalf (I am always interested in seeing your perspective), your written words are far superior to mine. :) Please just keep doing what you do.

        An no worries I will always join in on the conversation :)
  • Oct 8 2012: since you excelled at Logic, think of it like this Zero = Not.
  • Oct 6 2012: How is this thread still going? Numerous people have pointed out there is nothing magical about zero, that it does not represent absolute nothingness, that it can be moved by a constant and that it is not the starting point of all math, in other words all the OP's questions and claims have been answered/debunked weeks ago.
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      Oct 6 2012: Actually outside out side of context, nobody has proven anything! Zero or "no thing" still does not exist and neither does two of any identical thing. So if you have examples in nature. Please feel free to put forward your argument, otherwise my questions still stand.

      Here might be a helpful video for you to understand that the world you call reality is just as imagined as the dreams you have at night.

      http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/john_lloyd_an_animated_tour_of_the_invisible.html
      • Jon Ho

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        Oct 6 2012: Our maths aren't wrong, its reality itself that defies definition. For example, why is the result of a division by zero is undefined? The reason is the fact that any attempt at a definition leads to a contradiction.

        To begin with, how do we define division? The ratio r of two numbers a and b:
        r=a/b
        is that number r that satisfies
        a=r*b.

        Well, if b=0, i.e., we are trying to divide by zero, we have to find a number r such that r*0=a. (1)
        But r*0=0
        for all numbers r, and so unless a=0 there is no solution of equation (1).

        Now you could say that r=infinity satisfies (1). That's a common way of putting things, but what's infinity? It is not a number! Why not? Because if we treated it like a number we'd run into contradictions. Ask for example what we obtain when adding a number to infinity. The common perception is that infinity plus any number is still infinity. If that's so, then

        infinity = infinity+1 = infinity + 2
        which would imply that 1 equals 2 if infinity was a number. That in turn would imply that all integers are equal, for example, and our whole number system would collapse!

        So, what now? How about 0/0?

        I said above that we can't solve the equation (1) unless a=0. So, in that case, what does it mean to divide by zero? Again, we run into contradictions if we attempt to assign any number to 0/0. Let's call the result of 0/0, z, if it made sense. z would have to satisfy:
        z*0=0. (2)

        That's OK as far as it goes, any number z satisfies that equation. But it means that the result of 0/0 could be anything. We could argue that it's 1, or 2, and again we have a contradiction since 1 does not equal 2.
      • Jon Ho

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        Oct 6 2012: Continued, silly character limitation -

        But perhaps there is a number z satisfying (2) that's somehow special and we just have not identified it? So here is a slightly more subtle approach. Division is a continuous process. Suppose b and c are both non-zero. Then, in a sense that can be made precise. the ratios a/b and a/c will be close if b and c are close. A similar statement applies to the numerator of a ratio (except that it may be zero.)

        So now assume that 0/0 has some meaningful numerical value (whatever it may be - we don't know yet), and consider a situation where both a and b in the ratio a/b become smaller and smaller. As they do the ratio should become closer and closer to the unknown value of 0/0.

        There are many ways in which we can choose a and b and let them become smaller. For example, suppose that a=b throughout the process. For example, we might pick

        a=b = 1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, ....
        Since

        a=b,
        for all choices of a we get the ratio 1 every time! This suggests that 0/0 should equal 1. But we could just as well pick

        b = 1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, ....
        and let a be twice as large as b. Then the ratio is always 2! So 0/0 should equal 2. But we just said it should equal 1! In fact, by letting a be r times as large as b we could get any ratio r we please!

        So again we run into contradictions, and therefore we are compelled to

        let 0/0 be undefined.

        So, yeah, zero does not exist, unless if you studied calculus and learn about Rule of L'Hôpital. Which then gets pretty whacky and my hands are all tired from typing and steering this spaceship at the same time so I am ashamed to tell you to just Wikipedia it. Sorry.
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          Oct 6 2012: Thank you Jon, that was awesome to read mathematically like that. However I would add that 0/0 could never equal 2. For there are no 2 identical things. Close very close but not identical.
        • Oct 6 2012: L'Hôpital rule? Wait till you learn control systems or filter design, and you have to routinely multiply and divide by infinities and zeros to make machines and circuits work. Or wait until you take another path and come across ℵ0 and ℵ1.

          Incidentally, how many digits are there in the decimal expansion of √2 ?
      • Jon Ho

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        Oct 6 2012: EXACTO MUNDO! Love the way how you think, keep it up! ;)
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    Oct 6 2012: On the same theme, it seems that the known universe emerged at one time from no thing into everthing, where is the difference? Here the finite and the infinite, and the nothing are like the snake eating it's own tail, one becomes the one, contains the other. Into the black hole of absolute gravity pours everything. This is the point where science and philosophy come together in don't know
  • Jon Ho

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    Oct 6 2012: Just because you DON'T understand maths, does not mean there is something wrong with it.

    What you describe is just Real Numbers. Have you made friends with Imaginary Numbers yet? ;)

    For example, how many is -3³ apples, compared to 1 apple? How many is ∞ apples compared to 1 apple?

    Once you finally learn more about fundamental mathematics, and mastered the higher level concept of maths, you will become one with maths, because maths is the key that unlocks the door of electromagnetism, fluid dynamics, and quantum mechanics, to name a few.

    Or in lay-human terms, the maths that you think is "fundamentally wrong" is what gives you the television to watch inane politicians spinning lies, wireless communication so you can post on Facebook what you watched on television with your smartphones, et cetera. ;)
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    Oct 6 2012: Zen has a bearing on this. In emptiness is everything. In everything is emptiness. When we look for something we find nothing but empty space, when we look for nothing we find everything. The presence of the universe depends upon the space in which it is manifest so the space is not nothing because it is full of everything. So zero is a nonsense into which everything fits.
    We think of the vastness of the known universe but this is insignificant quite compared to the space that it is existing within, that's not nothing, it's everything.
    • Jon Ho

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      Oct 6 2012: YES! Finally someone gets it! ;)
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        Oct 6 2012: What! The great simulation?

        Sorry John i couldn't resist a bit of good natured humor lol
        • Jon Ho

          • +2
          Oct 6 2012: There is no spoon :D
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      Oct 6 2012: Yes zero and infinity belong in the same "category" for they are both a construct of infinity. Once again I don't think anyone is disputing the usefulness of our current math system. I
  • Oct 4 2012: Humans have a habit of warping phenomena around the systems they have created to model the world around us. This true of a lot of the popular theories in contemporary physics. Dark matter etc.. these theories exist to fill the gaps around phenomena which we find difficult to explain.

    Maths is, however, different. It depends on whether you believe the structure of the universe to be, fundamentally, mathematical, or whether you believe maths is just anothermodel we have created which (unlike physics) isn't designed to gesture out toward anything in particular. There is a great talk about this exact topic here: http://www.iai.tv/video/pythagoras-dream . It sets forth the basic arguments about mathematics and its nature from a variety of perspectives, you will definitely find it useful.
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    Oct 4 2012: Mathematics is a set of logical systems.

    Most of the systems start with a few axioms, and all the rest is derived from it.

    When you apply a kind mathematics to reality, it often works great. Sometimes the chosen set of (mathematical) rules does not apply or cannot answer the question pertaining reality you are asking.

    Math as such is not "right" or "wrong". But you can try and find inconsistencies with certain forms of math and reality.
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      Oct 4 2012: I never said that math in "reality" is wrong:

      This is more along the lines of reasoning I am trying to use quote is via Mark Meijer said "All reasoning is circular in the end.

      Anyhoo... The point is all numbers and measurements are abstracts, zero included, and abstracts don't actually map onto reality, only onto eachother. It's all self-referential. Representation is itself an abstract notion, there is no such thing in reality.

      Which is why all reasoning is circular, it is self-referential :).

      But whatever. Your argument is basically "zero is useful". I don't think anyone is disputing that. But what is useful and what is true are two entirely different considerations."

      Which is why the only "person we can not see is ourselves". you can see parts of our self but not all of it .
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    Oct 3 2012: There is nothing wrong with our math perhaps except for the fact that it is not complete, as in there are things we know exist but cannot yet explain with mathematical models and proofs and there are most probably things that we don't even know exist.

    However, the mathematics that we do understand falls beautifully in place like a glove. So much so that there are scientist that believe the only reality is the mathematical reality or that the only way of communicating with alien civilizations (creatures that we have nothing in common with) would be the language of mathematics: they would understand what zero means, and then one, and from that we can agree on the plus sign and equality and inequality and so on.

    Math is beautiful, we should put more emphasis on teaching it and the way it is being taught.
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    Oct 1 2012: Can you provide an example of where it, zero, is "the starting point of our math system?" I do not see that it is.
    Let's also gain your understanding of what zero is a representation of, since you did not answer the previous questin about whether you read the links.
    Obviously, one example is the use of an XY axis in a graph. The point where X & Y ( and even Z in a three dimensional representation) intersect is "0." But this is not to say that Zero is "the starting point of our math system." That is a complete misunderstand.

    zero |ˈzi(ə)rō; ˈzēˌrō|
    cardinal number ( pl. -ros)
    no quantity or number; naught; the figure 0 : figures from zero to nine | you've left off a zero—it should be five hundred million.
    • a point on a scale or instrument from which a positive or negative quantity is reckoned : the gauge dropped to zero | [as adj. ] a zero rate of interest.
    • the temperature corresponding to 0° on the Celsius scale (32° Fahrenheit), marking the freezing point of water : the temperature was below zero.
    • the temperature corresponding to 0° on the Fahrenheit scale (approximately minus 18° Celsius), considered a very cold temperature, esp. for outdoor activities : thirty below zero! See also subzero ."
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      Oct 1 2012: 0,1,2,3,4 also I don't think negative numbers should exist when look at the natural world or "the collective reality". Right the funny thing is you show very good examples of syntax errors that commonly occur do to language.

      How can zero as defined by nothing be 0 degrees Fahrenheit and 18 degrees Celsius? Those might represent the same temperature but certainly don't mean nothing.

      ze·ro   [zeer-oh] Show IPA noun, plural ze·ros, ze·roes, verb, ze·roed, ze·ro·ing, adjective
      noun
      1.the figure or symbol 0, which in the Arabic notation for numbers stands for the absence of quantity; cipher.
      2.the origin of any kind of measurement; line or point from which all divisions of a scale, as a thermometer, are measured in either a positive or a negative direction.
      3.a mathematical value intermediate between positive and negative values.
      4.naught; nothing.
      5.the lowest point or degree.

      I only have a problem with the #4 definition.

      P.S. try to hit the reply button so that way we can have a conversation thread instead of just posting on the general conversation.
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        Oct 1 2012: Note: One cannot reply to a reply of a reply. No button to hit, hence I added a new comment.

        Progress! We have established agreement on the following:

        1.the figure or symbol 0, which in the Arabic notation for numbers stands for the absence of quantity; cipher.
        2.the origin of any kind of measurement; line or point from which all divisions of a scale, as a thermometer, are measured in either a positive or a negative direction.
        3.a mathematical value intermediate between positive and negative values.

        4.the lowest point or degree.

        I'll stop here and be happy with a partial victory.
      • Oct 1 2012: god I can't bear to watch this.....
        Do you have any clue what a function is?
        Like any clue at all? Do you know how math works?

        If I would write 0 Fahrenheit in math would it not be Fahrenheit(0) or 0*Fahrenheit?
        I've found the conversion function from celcius to fahrenheit on wikipedia btw.
        [°F] = [°C] × 9⁄5 + 32
        If I would want to calculate how much 0 Fahrenheit is in degrees celcius would I not simply need to solve the equation: 0 = [°C] × 9/5 + 32.
        Which means that Unknown * 9/5 = 32.
        Which could also be written as (32/9) * 5 = unknown.
        Which could also be written as Unknown = 17.77777777777777777777777777777.......
        Where 17.777.... represents degrees celcius?
    • Oct 1 2012: Theodore, I generally agree with most of what you're writing here. I suppose you'll understand why I don't want to participate in the discussion here. However, since you were asking about zero being the starting point of our math system, I thought I'd share an interesting aspect of math with you.
      Some people look at all of mathematics as a derivation of logic. An old mathematician called Alonzo Church came up with a way of representing all natural numbers, and operations on them as an implementation of just logic.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_encoding
      Here, zero is the first number that is defined. And all other numbers are defined as successors of some number.
      If you look at the set-theoretic implementation of numbers, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Set-theoretic_definition_of_natural_numbers, again, zero is the first number and all the other numbers are just sets of other numbers.
      It gets weirder from there! Just with logic, they then came up with rules of arithmetic, and the story goes on and on.
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        Oct 1 2012: This is excellent. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

        *****
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    Sep 30 2012: Ok. In your question I couldn't find an actual question that was typed though I think I got the gist of what you're saying. Having read some of the comment and just becoming more confused as to what you're wanting people to talk about I would simply ask for a mroe clarified question for me to get my internet teeth into :)
    • Sep 30 2012: I hope you can keep your patience longer than I did... but I first tried to bring arguments to the table and then tried to explain him... eventually my patience ran out :(

      I wish you all the best of luck though and I hope you can keep being this polite :)
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        Sep 30 2012: I read most of your conversation with OP but I think many of the problems you encountered stemmed from the initial lack of a common direction. A flaw which I've found many internet debates to have. Give a conversation some direction and it will get somewhere :)
        • Sep 30 2012: ye well apparently I'm a straw man consisting of 10 million little straws searching for my 0th straw while being a man searching for my zero point ;)
          Ofcourse at the same time I'm all energy and one is all and all is one :s (insert more mumbo jumbo crap here)
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        Sep 30 2012: I don't want to take sides in your previous discourse with OP so as to actually have mine start off on the right foot. Nothing personal :) thanks though
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      Oct 1 2012: I am saying that if in nature "our collective experience" of what reality is suppose to be. Zero as defined as nothing should not be the starting point of our current math system. For nothing can not be something and as soon as you point to nothing it becomes something simply by use viewing it.
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        Oct 1 2012: Hmmm. I'm going to assume that by " the starting point of our current Math system" you mean the starting point of our current COUNTING system (ie 0,1...). Would that be a fair assumption? From what I can tell our current Math system doesn't have a "starting point" per-se and is more of a collection of proofs, stacked on top of one another which allow us to manipulate and model concepts and ideas and further understand things about the nature of the world around us.

        I would say that you can, indeed, have "none" of something (I have no apples) also I would say that you can have "nothing" in-terms of abstract concepts such as ownership. I would NOT say that you can say that there are NONE of something in existence if it is possible for that thing to exist but no examples have yet been found (ie, ET life). I would say that you can have a region of space which contains "nothing" but only in a few extreme examples like the one I will describe here:

        This situation assumes that Inflationary theory is correct and that "if a tree falls and no-one hears it" it does indeed make a sound (< ie, things occurring outside the observation of an observer do indeed occur)
        Lets say that an infinite time has passed from t=0 in the universe and all of matter is separated from all other matter by the impassable barrier of extreme distance. Also, as a result of the universe now being infinitely large, the CBR is now so spread out that it is negligible. With no masses/fields/particles/energy around I think some areas of space could then be presumed to contain "nothing".
        That is a HIGHLY guess based example about which I do not know all the details. I'm simply offering a possibility off the top of my head. As an aside, I don't think this example of "nothingness" is particularly useful or holds an valuable insights at all.
        I realise I got a bit off topic relative to your thoughts on "Zero as defined as nothing" in our math(/counting?) system but i got a bit carried away :)
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          Oct 1 2012: Yes math/counting system. What are you referring to as CBR?(common based reality?) I googled it and came up with Comic Book Resource. I am fine with labeling something as none of something because that also doesn't imply nothing. So with your example you are suggesting that say "the edge of the universe" is less dense of "energy". So if you went out far enough you could postulate that no energy could be found. As of now the only thing that is coming to mind is if we where in this "no" energy area would we still exist. And if we were able to make a suit or space ship that occupied this Nothingness or witness it. I would then suggest it would be because of our limited tools or equipment that would make this nothingness be perceived as nothing.

          I would suggest that the "center of our universe" is most likely a black hole, simply because that is what the center of every galaxy is, this is not my idea someone else has already postulated this suggestion.

          Also I believe I know why we have matter/mass
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        Oct 1 2012: cbr is cosmic background radiation, a very small but measurable microwave static that permeates all of space. It is essentially the residual "glow" of the big bang. There is no such thing as the "edge" of the universe. I am talking about VERY far in the future (ie, after the universe has been expanding for much MUCH longer than it has currently been around. I just watched this video and apparently, if Dark matter is factualy accurate then I am wrong and there is no such thing as "nothingness" by your deffinition. As a tip i would suggest keeping your definiton of "nothing" to only talk about cenceptual nothing (ie I can own "nothing" or "nothing" in the real world fits your definition of "nothing". The "nothing" in these sentences can be thought of by segmenting the word into "no thing")
        http://www.ted.com/talks/sean_carroll_distant_time_and_the_hint_of_a_multiverse.html
        I am definitely NOT saying that " if you went out far enough you could postulate that no energy could be found". We will definitely NOT exist at this point in the universes life. We will be LONG gone!

        "I would then suggest it would be because of our limited tools or equipment that would make this nothingness be perceived as nothing." This sounds to me like you just want to believe that there would be something as opposed to trusting your data.

        As far as I am aware there is NOT a black hole at the centre of our universe as our universe has no centre. Yes it expanded from a point but you're thinking of expanded in the wrong way.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_expansion_of_space
        NOT exploding, big difference.

        If you know why we have mass then you are more up to date than any physicist presently alive because the jury is currently out on that one. Our best guess so far is Higgs but that is yet to be substantiated :)
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          Oct 2 2012: Good day Alex,

          Thank you for the clarification on the difference between nothing, and no thing your are right no thing is a better verbal idea for the concept of no thing can exist so something has to exist. Simply because there is energy.

          Please watch this video

          http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/bonnie_bassler_on_how_bacteria_communicate.html

          Now here's what I think is going on with the big bang. I would suggest that the big bang did happen and is continuing to happen about 100 per year. Currently we understand them as Gamma Ray Burst but really we have no clue what going on. They completely destroy(use loosely) our current physics (e=mc2) and so scientist have made them fit our current
          physics. To me they are what create the galaxies much on the same thought as the big bang but instead of just one big bang creating the whole universe . Each galaxy is have there own big bang in the form of these gamma ray burst. The truly funny thing is science has already discover that they are coming from billions of light years away from galaxies with rapid star formation. But are to stuck on the idea of destruction, instead of creation.

          Now please ask your self these questions and you can say it out loud if you have to:

          "Do you see your self as 1 being or 10 trillion little self replicating beings? If you see yourself as one being. Please show me your zero point as well as where you become negative of yourself.

          If you see yourself as 10 trillion beings, where should we start counting?"

          And I am hoping you said: "one"
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          Oct 2 2012: Now we haven't discussed this, but several times I am brought up the idea that negative numbers exist also since there is no zero, or no thing. There has to be 1. However I have also discussed how there has to be no 2 of anything either. For they would also have to be identical and also take up the same space time. Which is why we'll always get close to zero but never reach it. Because once nothing is observed it will always become something. All we are doing is trying to shine a light on something and see if we can see something that doesn't bounce back.

          I believe matter exist because we are pattern seekers. Trying to perceive something that might be there or not. I imagine this is how the eye was developed. First the cells were attracted to the light(sun) then they had to imagine or invoke the lights energy wave. I would suggest that the evolving eye(this can be seen as the pituitary gland) they saw all wave lengths of light but was seen(use loosely) as static or white noise. Then from there we (us bacteria and other single celled orgasms) attempted and tried to make patterns out of this static. As these patterns emerged they became our conceptual understanding of reality. As a consciousness we agreed to use these patterns real or otherwise as our collective understanding of the physical world. Just trying to make sense of it all on a fundamental level.
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          Oct 2 2012: First I don't see why you have to add 0+1=1 if you have one of something wouldn't it just be one so 1 apple = 1 apple. I don't need to know that you started at zero to now understand that you have 1 apple. Now to know if you have 2 apples I must first need to know that you have one. So we could write that as 0+1+1= 2 or we could just go with 1+1=2. Also when you are using zero=nothing instead of zero=none when you write out the math problem it would read like this: nothing that is equal to an apple plus one that is equal to an apple equals one that is equal to an apple. Or it can be written like this: none that is equal to an apple plus one that is equal to an apple equals one that is equal to an apple.

          But truly we like to group things (arbitrary units) to make it easier on the brain, for there is no such thing as 2 apples that are the same. They are all individual representation of what is apple. The cave man realized, all is a individual representation. Their math looked like this and also did not have zero, 1=1,11=2,111=3 ect. There are 7 billion individual people on this earth, grouped and categorical as a whole. But really it's 7 billion 1's not 7,000,000,000. For them to be identical they would also have to take up the same space time.

          So if you want the big picture of what I am saying is that in the "physical world" There is no zero, no negative numbers and no 2(of identical things) and all that exist is a bunch of 1's. For we are all one
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          Oct 2 2012: And this is most likely what the universe looks like as well as why the universe has no edge.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torus


          Also disappearing atoms are just eclipsing their sun
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        Oct 2 2012: In response to your first page/slide/what ever you want to call it...

        Interesting video. I have previously been aware of the idea that we (bodily) are not a single entity (using DNA as the determinant for identity) but the new research was good to see, thank you. You should read up on the formation of galaxies. The big bang was formed by the Big Bang which can be thought of as a huge scale expansion of space time, not an explosion, not an out pouring of matter and requires no focal point. The conditions of the early universe are not within the cognitive grasp of the human brain, sure, we can use Math to know exactly what the conditions were like but when we try and visualise or conceptualise the situation we are totally incapable. the big bang contained ALL THE MATTER/ENERGY that is now present in the universe. There are roughly 100 billion galaxies in the visible universe (100,000,000,000) which means that the amount of mass in each Galaxy is roughly
        [ 1 / (10^11) +all the stuff which is not in a galaxy ] the mass of the universe. From this we can assume that their formation was very different. Galaxies are theorised to have formed from small fluctuations in the early universe. No explosion required but it does require a focal point.

        Gamma Ray Bursts are generated in the death of high mass stars as the collapse to form either a neutron star, quark star or black hole. Nothing like the big bang: focal point required, much more like a directed explosion, only in a select range of EM spectrum, does not appear to generate massive expansion of space time etc...

        In answer to you question...
        If by "self" you mean me to take "me", my body. I would say that I am many thousands of creatures. I could also describe my body as one entity (in much the same way that the Earth can be described as one entity).
        If by "self" you mean "I", my mind/personality/the self. I would say that I am one single being.
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          Oct 2 2012: If they collapse to form a black hole would that not be what is at the center of every galaxy? Can you see how and explosion can generate massive expansion for "particulates"? Much like how a blast does it here on earth?

          If you said that you are one single being do you mean that you are for lack of a better terms you are one "blob" of energy?
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        Oct 2 2012: With regard to "pointing to my zero point" I would say that you need to read up on the different sets of numbers and their uses. Pay particular attention to the section on the "status of zero" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_number

        In response to your second slide...

        I will ignore the part about "Because once nothing is observed it will always become something." because it should be readily apparent that one cannot "observe" nothing in the physical world using your definitions the the word "nothing". With regard to your thoughts about observing 2 of something I would say that you can observe 2 of something. (in this room there are two "people", ie in this room there are two objects that satisfy the definitions of the set "people". Those people are not identical but they are both "people"). However if I distinguish one of these people John then I have only one John in the room as the other person is not John. So in the set of "people" I have two objects. In the set of "John" I have one object.

        On your points about why we have matter... You weren't very specific earlier. You said "...why we have matter/mass" not "...why life has evolved to perceive matter/mass". Sadly I think your thinking on this one is well off. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_eye . I think conceptual understanding of the world around us started with the beginnings of conciousness, not the eye.
        I'm not sure I can follow your train of thought on this one. you start off assuming that the rudimentary eye would see static. I think it is more likely that they started off seeing how bright the area around them was with no shapes at all, only light levels. Then evolution comes in and we get the usual prey/predator arms race (in this case we would also get a huge evolutionary jump forwards for the obvious reasons of it being such a huge advantage to be able to see over not being able to see).
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          Oct 2 2012: The idea of perceiving the world around us did start at consciousnesses but not at the understanding of self. Which is where most people think consciousness started. I do not know when where or how consciousness got started. It funny the link you sent me about the evolving eye also said that it was created by a creator. I can also tell you and show you why we need color to perceive this reality. And how all color and this reality is just what light is not directly bouncing back at us and hitting our eye.
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        Oct 2 2012: In response to your third slide...

        I think I already directed you to the wiki article on natural numbers (counting numbers) so I will take the first paragraph as answered.

        In your second you talk about cave man Math. Surely you realise the draw back of having a counting system in which there can be no group greater than one in size. (having to write out 7 billion 1's is a good example of this draw back. I think I touched on this point earlier. You can definitely say that there are ~7 billion people on the planet and that each are not identical but that each satisfy the definition of "people" and therefore the set of "people" has ~7 billion objects in it.

        In your final paragraph you summarise what we are talking about. I would say this...

        In the physical world there is no "0", but that it is a useful concept in our minds (ie, the empty set).
        In the physical world a set of physical objects cannot contain a negative number of items (but, again, in things like ownership and charge(electrical) and spin(particle), negative values have much use and meaning).
        In the physics world you can have 2 of something but not 2 of the same-thing.

        I am afraid to say that in your view of the way counting works in the real world I can see no useful mathematical value and seems almost to be self-proving and therefore unproven and meaningless as a result. Do not take it personally.

        In response to you final slide...

        I would agree that that is a highly possible shape of space-time as viewed from the outside but I would say the universe actually looks like this (ie, when we look into the universe and model what we see from the inside)
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U

        "Also disappearing atoms are just eclipsing their sun" Please explain. I don't understand what you're trying to say or what you said it in answer to...
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          Oct 2 2012: I do not take offense, for I know I do not have everything figured out and I have no problem with being wrong for that is a perception. And yes grouping was created as "pattern seekers" to make it easier on the brain. As well as our current numerical system. I am not sure how saying that our current math system is great at explaining the "conceived reality" of what we are "seeing" but that we need a universal math to understand why we have no mass or why we never touch anything. Is self-proving?


          Ok so Imagine you are kid and you are shining a like into the dark, the only thing that is shining back at you is your own light from the flashlight in that darkness you are trying to make patterns out of the darkness, just so you can see what it is and not be scared of the "darkness". However since you shined that light you created movement of energy. which creates spin, and rotation. Eventually for the "minds eye" to know whats going on you need to be able to see behind that light, simply to pin point its location and direction. So when the atom disappears it is simply eclipsing its sun/son/rah trying to perceive the source from a different angle.
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        Oct 2 2012: God DAMN that's a lot of text :(
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          Oct 2 2012: I am not sure how your video and my torus/double torus or idea differ..... Remember Alex we are all just trying to figure this sh!t out. That why the only truth is perspective. I am not saying that the only truth is "my" perspective. I am saying it is perspective.
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        Oct 2 2012: I am going to respond to you slides in the order in which they appear without refferencing them each time for simplicity's sake...

        Yes a black hole (or "super massive black hole") is what is at the centre of most galaxies.
        No, an explosion of particles is not like an expansion of space time.

        Well if we're getting REALLY technical. I'm more like many small beads of energy (particles) all strung together into one being, made of energy (me). But I suppose I could be though of as a big lump of energy, sure.

        I don't know where conciousness started. I've read a book or two about people's theory's. Julian Jaynes is particularly interesting :) I don't think it's the kind of thing which we can ever know for sure but we shall see what the future yields :)
        I can tell you for sure that link did NOT say that the eye was created by a creator.
        I'm pretty sure that colour is not required to perceive reality but it is remarkably useful.
        "...all color and this reality is just what light is not directly bouncing back at us and hitting our eye."
        It's the other way around, our reality is built from the light which DOES bounce back into our eye.

        Math already tells us why we never touch anything. Also we DO have mass.

        "Eventually for the "minds eye" to know what's going on you need to be able to see behind that light, simply to pin point its location and direction". Kind of right but you also need to know that you can only see light which enters the eye. You cannot see a beam of light headed away from you so if you shone a torch out into the blackness you would only see it if I reflected off something in front of you, other wise the blackness would remain black.
        "when the atom disappears it is simply eclipsing its sun trying to perceive the source from a different angle." I'm sorry but I literally have no idea what you're trying to get across to me here :(

        I didn't mean to sound belligerent if that's how I came across. I just struggle to understand the way you type :(
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          Oct 2 2012: Thank you Alex no it fantastic, This was always my struggle in high school or college. My words were all better heard then trying to translate that via text. One of my first college teacher was actually appalled at how bad my written was compared to what I said in class. If you can do this with my text we are going to have some fantastic conversations. And yes you are right it is the other way around with the light. Ad infinitum
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    Sep 29 2012: hi Casey. I am not arguing, I'm just trying to make your life just a little more simpler. Having said that, It has been a pleasure to see the interest that your question has produced.
    cheers.
  • Sep 29 2012: Ok this is fantastic, you are still ignoring my responses. The real reason why this discussion is stagnant is because you won't read about short and simple wikipedia links related to this discussion.

    "Because I am arguing 0 has no place as the start of our current math system." Oh really? Prove it then. What math system are you referring to? Because whenever I link you the math system that refers to 0 as a reference point it goes ignored.
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      Sep 30 2012: how can nothing be a starting point? please provide links again if you want I will ok at them again.

      Also please hit the reply button so we can have a conversation thread
  • Sep 29 2012: If you are "fine 0 being a number in math," then you are okay when I say you have 0 apples?
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      Sep 30 2012: yes because I know you are changing the syntax to mean none not nothing. 2-2=nothing or 2-2=none
  • Sep 29 2012: I also have a problem with complex numbers, but that doesn't I believe that math is wrong. LOL
    • Oct 1 2012: problems with complex numbers? You must be imagining things ;)
  • Sep 29 2012: Yes, I do everything we know is based on axioms. From Boolean logic to number systems to that has taught us in how to construct arguments is all based on axioms which are essentially "self evident assumptions."

    You keep saying you have a problem 0 in our math system. I am linking you the person who set the standard for the "reference point" of that 0.

    It is based on this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peano_axioms

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiomatic_system

    The person who "invented" the natural number system which made 0 the first number and then other whole positive numbers proceeding to infinity. If you believe there is something wrong with math due to 0 used as a reference point this is where you should be investigating.
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      Sep 30 2012: I keep saying that I have a problem with zero as the starting point of reference in our math system.
      • Oct 1 2012: Hello Casey
        I see my point may not have come across. Zero is not the starting point the creation of the context is.
        Create a context and 0 appears and means not in my context and is automatically the reference point.

        No context no zero and this applies to math engineering physics etc..
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          Oct 1 2012: Good day Ousmane,

          I do not think I understand stand your point could you please explain forth. If I had to guess you might be saying something along the lines that the only truth is perceptive.
  • Sep 29 2012: Then you aren't talking about math. Physics and Metaphysics, but not math's 0. If you refer to 0 as nothing then you are certainly not inferring to anything in mathematics and therefore your statement that math is fundamentally wrong is misleading.

    "Because then you are getting into a syntax argument, how do you put a concrete definition of "close to nothing"
    This is also a syntax argument but rather then ignoring it like you ignorantly do, I'll actually give a reply. "Close" is a subjective term that allows interpretation. For an engineer, if you can build a building where rounding 0.000001 to 0 would allow you to do so then for that engineer 0.000001 is close for practical purposes to be 0.

    We have mass because we are made of matter. Matter has "mass" (inertial the m in F=ma) due to the Higgs Field. If you wish to know more, please consult your local Theoretical Physicist.
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      Sep 30 2012: Less than 5 minutes ago: I am arguing very specific thing here, that zero equals nothing and that it should not be the start of our numerical system. If you would like to argue those topics that would be awesome. I am not arguing that an engineer might if he chooses to round .0000000001 to zero. Why should our numerical number system start at zero=nothing not close to nothing. Which one it close to nothing: .00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 or .0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001
  • Sep 29 2012: Casey dude,

    Why open a question if you don't want to even consider the answers given?

    Every post that shows how idiotic your concept of math is is replied with either by saying that you don't want to have a syntactical debate or by
    "Do you see your self as 1 being or 10 trillion little self replicating beings? If you see yourself as one being. Please show me your zero point as well as where you become negative of yourself.

    If you see yourself as 10 trillion beings, where should we start counting?"

    You should definitely learn how to read and understand people better.

    I'm sorry man but your refusal to consider any other view point than your own has really pissed me off.
    • Sep 29 2012: Thank you for feeling the same way as I do. After numerous responses where the post are simply copy and pasted, I am starting to think that Casy is an internet troll.
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      Sep 29 2012: Richard Sir,

      I don't have a problem with "the other view points" which is also why I am not trying to debate them. I know that the only truth is perspective. But instead of trying to see my perspective you guys want to argue something that I am not arguing. I don't need to see other view point because I am not refuting them for a way to use zero in the practical view point. I also see the use for negative number in economy and statistics (but those are conceptual/context usage of zero and negative numbers) outside of the use of zero as the a starting point. Which I guess I don't see how you don't understand that since you even said that "zero can not be reached" (so why would we start there). If you are arguing one definition/context and I am arguing another definition how are we ever going to get anywhere. So once again prove my definition wrong not bring up other contextual usage of the definition of zero because I am not refuting those definitions.
      • Sep 29 2012: If your definition of zero is nothing then you aren't arguing against any system of math as you have been. You are clearly confused between the distinctions of zero as a abstract number of math and zero as it is used to refer to nothing. When you use zero to refer to nothing you no longer refer to the zero that math uses. Hence why people who read your question that asks if math is fundamentally wrong believe that you are using the zero to refer to a math number.
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          Sep 30 2012: My definition is zero=nothing and that it should be removed from the start of our current math system. 0,1,2,3,4 it should be 1,2,3,4.....8,9,10
      • Sep 29 2012: Like I've said numerous times.
        Having 0 in math is like having "nothing" in English.
        You're supposed to be good at logics. Think about it.

        You cannot have "nothing" in any real life situation because of insanely many reasons which you can all debate if you would wish. You can argue a whole lot about the meaning of "nothing" and 0 as well.

        I say that you cannot reach a true 0 in physics. But physics is not math. Which is why mathematical expressions used within physics usually either are infinite when they are 0 or they can never become 0.

        You should use the "language of math" to describe the world in a limited situation (aka for instance a situation where there are only apples to count). You just refuse to see this.

        I'm sick of having to re-explain myself in this thread. If you are too stupid to see that all your questions are already answered by the nice people who have replied and taken you serious... then well... I dunno what you should do... I can't fathom anyone being that alianated from society. Seek help maybe?
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          Sep 30 2012: What does this have to do with using zero as the starting point in reference to math? 0,1,2,3,4,5 ect I don't see how this argues that zero should stay there as the first reference point.

          Also straw man arguments do nothing but show you are arguing ego and not mind.
      • Sep 30 2012: your whole concept of what 0 is is fubar man...

        Math just has 0 as a valid point because when you isolate everything else (aka real life situation is: you go into outer space and create a laboratorium there of which you can control EVERYTHING (note that according to both of such such a 'real place' should not exist but just assume that it does)).
        And you check in there to see how many apples there are. And you come back to earth and say: There were 0 apples within my space lab.
        Then you go back there but you take 1 apple with you... You'll have 0 + 1 apple.

        If you still want to argue that "there can not be 0 apples in my space station" or "that situation cannot occur" then you should really delete your ted account (at least I won't ever reply to you again). If you can however come up with any sane argument for why that 0 is somehow wrong... yuo might win a nobel prize or smth.

        Basically I'm saying that 0 + 1 = 1 and cannot be anything else than 1.... I know the concept sounds really strange to you.....

        Math is a very exact language. When you say 1 apple = 1 apple in math it means that you only have exactly 1 apple. Not an apple anywhere in the world.
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          Sep 30 2012: No I have never refuted this concept and I am fine with it. Ok so i will give it a shot with your current example.

          First I don't see why you have to add 0+1=1 if you have one of something wouldn't it just be one so 1 apple = 1 apple. I don't need to know that you started at zero to now understand that you have 1 apple. Now to know if you have 2 apples I must first need to know that you have one. So we could write that as 0+1+1= 2 or we could just go with 1+1=2. Also when you are using zero=nothing instead of zero=none when you write out the math problem it would read like this: nothing that is equal to an apple plus one that is equal to an apple equals one that is equal to an apple. Or it can be written like this: none that is equal to an apple plus one that is equal to an apple equals one that is equal to an apple.

          But truly we like to group things (arbitrary units) to make it easier on the brain, for there is no such thing as 2 apples that are the same. They are all individual representation of what is apple. The cave man realized, all is a individual representation. Their math looked like this and also did not have zero, 1=1,11=2,111=3 ect. There are 7 billion individual people on this earth, grouped and categorical as a whole. But really it's 7 billion 1's not 7,000,000,000. For them to be identical they would also have to take up the same space time.

          So if you want the big picture of what I am saying is that in the "physical world" There is no zero, no negative numbers and no 2(of identical things) and all that exist is a bunch of 1's. For we are all one
      • Sep 30 2012: which concept have you never refuted exactly?

        Also: "write out the math problem it would read like this: nothing that is equal to an apple plus one that is equal to an apple equals one that is equal to an apple." NO You say NOTHING OF(!!!) AN APPLE not Nothing equal to an apple. Equal looks like =.
        1Apple = 1*Apple just like 0Apples is 0*Apple.

        If you are so obsessed with your linguistic interpretation of math issues you are already too messed up because language is always been inconsistent while math is not. Therefor you cannot say things with the same detail in language as you can in math.

        You should really consider improving your understanding of things before blurting out crap.
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          Sep 30 2012: I thought you wanted a language argument. Oh and no worries I am starting to talk with partial physicist. Also you realize almost everyone of your comments back is a straw man.

          A straw man, known in the UK as an Aunt Sally, is a type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position.[1] To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

          And we can sit here and argue syntax all day if you would like for it always is a circle argument.
      • Sep 30 2012: I know what the meanings of words are... do you?

        You fail to give any reason other than your own ignorance for the points you are makeing and then tell everyone, who does give a valid argument why you are wrong, that they are stupid for not understanding you. By doing so you keep insulting the intelligence of person after person who reply to you.

        Ofcourse you can talk to anyone, including physicists, it is a free world although it would be a complete waste of their time untill you can actually formulate why you have any argument at all.

        You can say to anyone that they are straw man because you don't have any possition other than "I am right and 0 is wrong".
        You don't want to argue syntacs. You can't understand math. You refuse to answer any post I made by giving me arguments as to why there is any problem at all. You post random crap when I give linguistic arguments about "everything is energy" and "We are one" and more random shit.

        However, according to you, there is a problem with math!

        I know what the problem is.... You can't understand math and refuse to learn it.
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          Oct 1 2012: Richard if you could remove your ego from this conversation and use your mind then I think we could come to some conclusions. I have not insulted anyone. (I did say to you that I have a hard time taking you seriously(but never once insulted your personal intelligence like you have to me here sir). But don't worry my ego is not in this conversation my mind is which has no ego because only the self has ego. Which when you said that it insulted you I Apologized for I did not mean for the CONTEXT/SYNTAX of that comment to insult you out right.) When you said subtracting whole numbers is the same as negative numbers. And then you even gave a syntax or context description on how it could be written 50 different ways. (this is why I have specific definitions of what I am trying to argue). The problem I have with math has nothing to do with perceiving the physical world around us. Which I have said countless times.

          However you have yet to prove why zero should be at the start of our current math system. Instead it is you who wants to argue that you are right and I am wrong instead of arguing the context and definitions that I set up. If you would like to discuss other definition please open your own conversation up. Otherwise prove mine wrong/which once again if you could remove your ego. You would see you already agree with the context and definitions that I have set forth.

          You tell me that you know zero can never be reached, but then you wont tell me why it should be at the starting point to our current math system.
      • Oct 1 2012: it's simple casey,

        0 tells you that there is nothing.
        So when you start adding stuff you get exactly that what you put in as a valid describtion of what is there.
        So if you're on 0 and add 1 you'll end up with exactly one. Nothing more nothing less. No "energy" no "objects" or anything other than 1. And what that 1 represents can be added by a multiplication.

        Like I say math is extremely precise.
        Example:
        If I want to describe how an object behaves when I drop it somewhere.
        Option 1: I could describe wind velocity, air density, gravity, size of the object, shape of the object etc etc etc. Including every factor that influences the trajectory of an object

        Option 2: I could also say that if we start from 0 (in this case you could say that 0 describes a perfect vacuum or "nothing" at least "nothing that influences our describtion"). Then add a describtion of gravity to make the object fall. And you'll end up with Newton's law (F = m*g). If you then also want to add time in order to know how fast it is falling at a given time you can also do that.

        Now could you give any argument as to why that didn't answer your question?
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          Oct 1 2012: So would it be better if we changed one of the definitions of zero from nothing to none?Because it would still get the point across that there is no object there with out also implying nothing.

          Also a vacuum is not nothing and I am going to use a fellow conversationalist for this definition.
          "Vacuum is NOT nothing in the sense that Casey is getting at (I think). due to cosmic background radiation, random neutrinos flying about, any fields that may be present (like the Earth's magnetic field for example)" via Alex French
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          Oct 1 2012: Also check out this video if you get the chance,

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFLkou8NvJo
      • Oct 1 2012: What I don't understand is why you come back to make it a language argument. Now whatever I say will lead to a responce "I don't want to argue syntax".

        Like I said before not all definitions on a word can be true at the same time (aka my brother not being black argument).

        I've explained what the mathematical zero represents numerous times using different examples already so I won't re-iterate that. If you would label that with the word "none" rather than "nothing" it is fine with me although in my eyes it is a linguistic miss-representation of what 0 is.

        Whatever name you put to it the mathematical properties of zero must remain intact. For there is no problem at all with the mathematical properties of 0.

        Also I've already seen that vid... it's pretty funny but it's more showing a property of math than representing anything really usefull. This because it does not describe anything in the real world.
        Also you cannot come around in a circle useing that (at least not unless you use a function like cos in the equation).... dunno how she came up with that using regular numbers.
      • Oct 1 2012: Correction on my previous post it should be: "I don't want to argue syntax with you.".
  • Sep 29 2012: The question is better posed: Where does mathematics, including the number line, come from? The answer to question, given by cognitive science, is clear. All branches of mathematics depend on the particular metaphor one chooses for number. Pertinent to this discussion, the Numbers-are-Points-on-a-Line Metaphor gives rise to zero as a necessary entailment of this metaphor. There are other metaphors for number, each of which gives rise to a different arenas mathematics. Questions about the existence of such things as negative numbers and zero are only meaningful in the context of ones commitment to the ontology of the metaphor undergirding these entailments.
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    Sep 29 2012: Math is not what is wrong, what is wrong is our reverence for it.
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      Sep 29 2012: Good day Sondra,

      This is coming from your ego and not your mind also is a straw man argument as well as syntax. How ever I ask you this as the definition of zero=nothing.

      Also I have a problem with negative numbers :) So I will ask you these questions

      Do you see your self as 1 being or 10 trillion little self replicating beings? If you see yourself as one being. Please show me your zero point as well as where you become negative of yourself.

      If you see yourself as 10 trillion beings, where should we start counting?
    • Sep 29 2012: Firstly, our reverence for it is due to the practical use it has both good and bad. Electricity, Computers, Buildings, Cars and most of science is only useful because it has math to enable predictions. I'll admit it has also enabled much suffering when science uses it for destructive purposes.

      "Do you see your self as 1 being or 10 trillion little self replicating beings? If you see yourself as one being. Please show me your zero point as well as where you become negative of yourself."

      You assume yourself to be 1 being created by many different cells and many more different atoms. While there isn't a negative count, when you count you use natural numbers. Negative numbers operate similarly to subtraction. If I were to say slow down or decrease in velocity, you could argue that I had a negative acceleration.
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        Sep 29 2012: Thang, forgive me for being persnickity about your words, but my point about our reverence does not speak to Math's usefulness... but you make a good point in that Math is a language to allow us understanding and therefore use systems and natural phenomena to our benefit.

        The issue I have with much of science is that that which cannot be understood by our Math must not exist, or is tossed out of consideration when understanding principles of existence that are not finite.

        Casey's point, I believe, is that zero cannot exist in the natural world and therefore it is a fictional character, so to speak. I don't, however, believe this. I do believe there are levels of existence that are less than 1, less than zero. These levels are of the soul that does not know where it belongs. A soul that wanders in apparition is neither a 1 (body) nor a zero (God).

        DEFINITION OF TERM GOD:
        God is what God makes as God becomes. Zero, in this sphere of knowledge, is the point of origin of all that is and ever was. It is the beginning and the end - the alpha and omega. Here too is where less than zero gets really interesting.

        If God is Zero, less than zero is before God was self-aware. It is at the point that God said, "What Am I?" That the inner world that is God became the exterior world that was God. As the God-being looked within, the nucleus split and the big bang occurred. This is the beginning of that which we know and experience as existence of all matter. This is the event horizon. All zeros that derive from this origin will return here after traveling through all space and time and back--reverberation of the original bang.

        We are little, less-than-zeros until we ask ourselves, "what am I?" - the endeavor to answer this riddle forces us to look within and reveal what has made us what we are. This is what Jung called the undiscovered self; a reckoning, recognition of the being you are before birth and after death.
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    Sep 28 2012: Charles Seife's "Zero:The Biography of a Dangerous Idea" and Robert Kaplan's "The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero." They are at the same time very similar and very different. They each follow an almost identical line, presenting the evolution of zero chronologically, and they each make almost identical stops along the way. The difference is in how they treat the steps in zero's evolution which is conditioned by their differing metaphysical views. An illuminating example is how they each treat Aristotle's role in zero's history.
    Charles Seife, from the beginning, reifies zero: the author accepts the misconception that zero is some sort of actually existing mystical force resting at the center of black holes. He doesn't step back to take a look at the concept as concept. Nor does he appear to keep in mind that mathematics is the science of measurement, or that time is not a force or dimension, but merely a measurement of motion. This distorts his perspective, from which he attempts to refute Aristotle's refutation of the existence of the void: for Seife, zero exists and is a force in and of itself. In Seife's hands, zero certainly is a dangerous idea!

    Robert Kaplan, on the other hand, delves deeper. His work is informed by an obvious love for history and classic literature, and while this results in many obscure literary asides, one feels that this book takes part in the Great Conversation. As a result he steps back and takes a critical look at the true meaning and usefulness of the concept as a concept. Is zero a number? Is it noun, adjective, or verb? Does it actually exist outside of conceptual consciousness or is it exclusively a tool of the mind?

    Both authors follow zero's role in the development of algebra and the calculus. As a math "infant", (From Amazon's review of both books. see more there)
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      Sep 28 2012: I had not heard of those books before, I will have to look into them. Thanks
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        Sep 28 2012: yeas they are both available at Amazon, the Kaplan book on kindle too
  • Sep 28 2012: Yep, I've been working on the theoretical underpinnings related to this idea that 'non existence' is an irrational concept. Zero mathematically is derived from our concept of 'empty space' but empty space is an existing STRUCTURE. That what we call 'the absence of value' is actually ALL POSSIBLE VALUES stored overlapping on one another in POTENTIAL FORM. Think of a spring in a box who's lid is closed thereby storing the 'potential energy' of the spring. The same applies to information, information is stored as POTENTIAL in the universe.

    A good way to think about the universe is that our human point of view is incorrect, if you think of the universe as a single bit of information and all of its pieces APPEAR to our human mind (human centered point of view) as many 'seperate objects/pieces/bits'. The truth is the universe is a single entity which only APPEARS separate to our fallacious mind and reasoning.

    But its a giant mindscrew to wrap our minds around the fact that the fragments and pieces of the universe (like atoms/electrons) are FRACTIONAL bits of a single entity, rather then 'separate objects' unto themselves.

    It's much more scientifically parsimonious as well.
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      Sep 28 2012: Good day Bob,

      What if I can extrapolate from your idea of "Zero mathematically is derived from our concept of 'empty space' but empty space is an existing STRUCTURE. That what we call 'the absence of value' is actually ALL POSSIBLE VALUES stored overlapping on one another in POTENTIAL FORM." For why we have mass. As well as this " The truth is the universe is a single entity which only APPEARS separate to our fallacious mind and reasoning."
      • Sep 28 2012: Zero isn't mathematically derived from our concept of empty space. We may have gotten the idea of zero from empty space but it isn't proven through empirical means. Nothing in math is proven or derived from physical observations. That's physics, pure math is proven through proofs built upon other proofs or axioms and not derived from physical observations.
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          Sep 28 2012: ok then were did the concept of one come from if not derived from physical observation. What isn't proven?
        • Sep 29 2012: "e idea of zero from empty space but it isn't proven through empirical means. "

          You just contradicted yourself there. You're trying to argue your case using language, that's a bad idea. It's obvious that we came up with zero to deal with 'asbence' we naturally define absence by empty space. I'm sorry but you're not educated enough to make these calls I work in knowledge representation and these things are important regardless if the mathematical purists finds them offensive.

          Perhaps you should learn that the enlightenment was wrong about how human reasoning works.

          http://bit.ly/dYaWUc
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          Oct 4 2012: I have to agree with Bob Stiglitz and the video saying that 98% of reasoning is unconscious. I only disagree with the 98% figure, because "latest data shows that 43% statistics is meaningless" :)

          There is a book by Julian James "Origin of Consciousness". There is a whole section in this book that shows with research data that:
          - Consciousness Not a Copy of Experience
          - Consciousness Not Necessary for Concepts
          - Consciousness Not Necessary for Learning
          - Consciousness Not Necessary for Thinking
          - Consciousness Not Necessary for Reason

          In this last subsection, there is a paragraph:
          "Reasoning and logic are to each other as health is to medicine, or — better — as conduct is to morality. Reasoning refers to a gamut of natural thought processes in the everyday world. Logic is how we ought to think if objective truth is our goal — and the everyday world is very little concerned with objective truth. Logic is the science of the justification of conclusions we have reached by natural reasoning. My point here is that, for such natural reasoning to occur, consciousness is not necessary. The very reason we need logic at all is because most reasoning is not conscious at all."

          Remarkable. We do not reach conclusions by logic. We use logic to justify conclusions at which we arrive subconsciously.
      • Sep 28 2012: If you want to know more about how math is proven and the axioms it rests on please read:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naive_set_theory

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiomatic_system
        "Example: The Peano axiomatization of natural numbers
        The mathematical system of natural numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, ... is based on an axiomatic system that was first written down by the mathematician Peano in 1889. He chose the axioms (see Peano axioms), in the language of a single unary function symbol S (short for "successor"), for the set of natural numbers to be:
        There is a natural number 0.
        Every natural number a has a successor, denoted by Sa.
        There is no natural number whose successor is 0.
        Distinct natural numbers have distinct successors: if a ≠ b, then Sa ≠ Sb.
        If a property is possessed by 0 and also by the successor of every natural number it is possessed by, then it is possessed by all natural numbers."

        I am an engineering student, not a math major. Even stuff like this is hard for me to grasp.
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          Sep 29 2012: Good day Thang,

          Please point to zero, because as soon as you do it becomes something not nothing. We'll if you use cave man math then they realized that each thing although could be grouped but were individual representations of say apple. So no to apples are alike.
    • Oct 4 2012: Bob Stiglitz !
      Maybe '0' is a kind of 'event horizon'. Where everything is potential, nothing is actual hence not existing for a human mind. Via human consciousness potential becomes actual and it comes through the moment ' now' , it's '1' , where ' yes' and ' no' ,' + ' and ' - ' exist simultaneously , not divided and our mind can't make sense of it. We become conscious of a 'thing' when it becomes '2' and enters into the dual world as opposites ( the very idea of 'Coincidentia oppositorum' is difficult to grasp but it is the truest truth we could possibly get ) and multiply itself in space and time over all domains of human experience/knowledge. It becomes "FRACTIONAL bits of a single entity" and yet it is entangled and remains '1', it exists but belongs to ' 0 ' nonetheless.
      What i am trying to say is that zero is an 'empty space' which is full but we can't make sense of it, we can't know it.
      Something like this ...What do you think ?
      Thanks !
  • Sep 27 2012: There are such things as negative numbers, but there is no such thing as a negative apple. Math is just a model of reality. Negative numbers are said to exist in that system of reason.

    I think that it is great that you are thinking about zero. Consider this. If you have zero apples in one hand, and zero oranges in the other hand, you will notice they they appear to be identical in every possible way except perhaps in name. So in this special case, we can indeed say that apples and oranges are in fact the same thing, but only in this isolated case where you have zero of each. In philosophy there is something called "identity". And having this thing called zero acts very much like a singularity where everything simply loses it's identity and becomes essentially the same thing.

    Zero planets is the same thing as zero apples, same thing as zero skyscrapers, same thing as zero galaxies, etc etc. It all collapses. All of these "identities" essentially collapses into a single thing, which is trivial.

    Triviality is extremely important, and not really very well understood or used in science and even math - that is my personal opinion. So I am glad that you raised the question.

    You also mentioned whether it is possible to have "nothingness" which is an interesting question. You should be careful to specify whether you are referring to tangible nothingness, or a mathematical model of nothingness. These are very different and that should be made clear.
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      Sep 28 2012: Good day William,

      Yes that is why definitions need to be made and make sure that each person is arguing the same definition. However you mainly seem to be talking about syntax, which I'll will define simply as "context of language". An that is what you are pointing out here: "Zero planets is the same thing as zero apples, same thing as zero skyscrapers, same thing as zero galaxies, etc etc. It all collapses. All of these "identities" essentially collapses into a single thing, which is trivial." That's why syntax arguments will always argue in circles.

      An I thought I was being specific about what "nothingness" I was saying by saying "point to it" because if you have a mathematical model of "nothingness" then you can simply point to it but what you are actually pointing to is a computer or a piece of paper and that's not nothing.
      • Sep 28 2012: What do you mean by mathematical model?

        Are you talking about arithmetic and algebra as math models? Or a physics model?
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          Sep 28 2012: All of the above if you made any model of the concept of zero=nothing. You could then point to that model and it would be something, not nothing.
  • Sep 26 2012: This conversation is an excellent (random) example of a waste of the TED intellectual facilities, premised on it's being nonsensical, and then attended to by a large number of responders. See my challenge to the TED organization as of today, 9/26/12.
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      Sep 26 2012: Please explain the nonsensical, just because you don't under stand it does not mean its magical.

      Please advise on how zero=nothing should be the start of everything in math.
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        Sep 27 2012: The fact that you have almost 200 responses shows that your topic is not a waste of time so I wouldn't worry about such statements too much...

        Notice how all the topics about religion never receive such statements and I think its a topic that causes more conflict and balkinzation that anything else.

        all I can say is if someone feel that some topics are a waste of time, then simply don't interact within that forum because your only wasting your time pointing it out...
        • Sep 28 2012: It's not necessarily a waste of time to point out something is a waste of time.

          It may be an indication that the speaker is leaning toward this position, but is not sure. The comment is then meant to invite arguments to help him make a wise choice.

          Also, reflecting on whether any given train of thought is a waste of time is an excellent way to ensure efficient use of your time. We are all limited on our time here on Earth, and we may strive to make the most of it! Without such introspection, we'd all be subject to doodling with crayons until old age - an epidemic of ADD, if you will.

          It's true there are countless topics that various groups find of interest, and yet each one of us must at some point decide which of those topics are worth our time. So.. discussing the value of this conversation may not be such a waste of time :)
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          Sep 28 2012: Orlando, I know that it is and ego argument, however I am always fine with someone playing the "devil's advocate" because that is the only way either one of us can grow.
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          Sep 28 2012: Yes Michael, that is correct :)
      • Sep 27 2012: There is no explaining nonsense, and those who try are operatiing on pure ego with no intelligible support. I guess that implies that they are specializing in exactly nonsense, eh? My proposal for TED is tentatively classified under Applied Science. See if it is intelligible to you, could you? I think TED is a very rich resource to discuss public concerns. And make no mistake, Casey: I respect your humanity, and your lively questioning attitude towards reality; that quality is makes humanity the only hope for a livable future, so i want TED to enlist it; I just suggested a different thing to attempt than has been usual in the past.
        • Sep 28 2012: O'Neil, you've unfairly marginalized this topic. The concept of true zero is as readily questioned as the concept of true infinity. The implications of true zero on the validity of a conventional mathematical model is debatable, and to provide constructive feedback, I would encourage you to challenge how the assumption of true zero affects a specific mathematical model's predictive value.
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          Sep 28 2012: O'Neil,
          Thank you and I do see your point, but please lets do a little back and forth and see if we can come to an agreement. You can talk about the applied applications of zero as a starting point. And leave the "nonsense" to me.
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      Sep 26 2012: Also I could not find your challenge