TED Conversations

Casey Christofaris

Owner, CS3 Inc


This conversation is closed.

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


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Oct 3 2012: We are falling into circular reasoning here. It is clear the the measurement of zero is essential the engineering, architecture, business, etc. explained in the previous discussion. Even for the measurement of distance by a ruler, the counting of inches really can't be based on starting from 1 inch to n inches by whole numbers for any practical purposes without considering fractional inches. And if you begin counting in fractional inches, then you can't avoid the zero as the starting point.
    Furthermore, the definition of the so-called "nature" needs to be clarified. All the measurements used by technology are nothing other than man-modified natural phenomenon. So do you consider zero gravity in a spacecraft as a natural phenomenon? Or zero ampere or charge in a battery as a natural phenomenon? What about the magnetic orientation in a particular place on earth? Even in the much artificial environment, we can't get away,from, say, I have zero shares of XYZ stocks, or have zero dollars in my bank account.
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Oct 3 2012: Mark you are right, that why the only person you cant see is you!! Its like dancing figures in a mirror.

        I think maybe we should talk cs3@email.com
      • thumb
        Oct 4 2012: Re: "Which is why all reasoning is circular, it is self-referential :)."

        There is a special case. It's called "infinite regress". It creates an illusion that we are going somewhere rather than going in circles, an imaginary "sense of direction". But a straight line is just a circle of infinite radius. Practically, the radius is never infinite, it's just much larger than our view, so that we cannot see it. Like the radius of the Earth. How long did it take humans to figure out that the Earth is not flat and that, going in one direction, we will end up where we started? When we see the circularity, it means that our view expanded enough to see it. The sooner we realize that we go in circles, the sooner we can step out and move to a new place - perhaps, a bigger circle.

        I have a gut feeling that this will be the case with our universe. This philosophy, certainly, applies to other circles in our life, e.g., circles of violence, obsessive behaviors, or addictions.

        And this is another gem from you, Mark: "But what is useful and what is true are two entirely different considerations." Thanks.
      • Oct 5 2012: "All reasoning is circular in the end."
        There is a huge difference between self-consistency and circular reasoning.

        "The point is all numbers and measurements are abstracts ... and abstracts don't actually map onto reality"
        If you have a boy and a girl, don't you think you could distribute 6 candies of the same kind evenly between them?

        Is it not a true claim if I claim that I can do that distribution?
      • Oct 5 2012: The "perspective" that you brought up, if you're not hypocritical about it, will shortly leave you hungry and soon after, starving to death. "Hunger" and "starvation" are arbitrary and purely abstract concepts, right? ;-)

        When one asks for a kg of sugar, one doesn't care which grains get selected. The same goes with candies or Samsung Galaxy S IIIs -- as long as they are whole. If one can exchange two objects with each other without making any difference to what happens after that, they are said to be identical. It doesn't matter if we're talking about candies or atoms of Oxygen-16. What difference do you suppose there are between atoms of Oxygen-16 in their ground state?
      • Oct 5 2012: "You might start by questioning the whole notion of identity"
        I even wrote down the definition for you.

        Oxygen atoms, subatomic particles, etc. are not identical like "identical twins". Identical twins still have different fingerprints, epigenetic variations, etc. Subatomic particles are as identical as mathematical abstractions could be. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirac_equation. In that literal sense, even I'm not identical to myself from just one second ago. Atoms (ground state) are not like that.

        "the very fact that there are two makes them different"
        That's just bizarre. Prove it!

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.