Tag Archives: infinity

A mysterious new shape seems to say something fundamental about the nature of the universe. Can we understand its message?

Plato set out to explain everything with five perfect shapes. His theory died centuries ago. But in 2013 a shape called the amplituhedron burst upon the science scene. Physicists find it performs a miracle. But they don’t know how. The answer may hold a deep truth physics can sense but can’t quite find. Understanding the […]

Taking Lessons from the Universe

Arithmetic is fundamental to science; but we tend to take it for granted. Few realize its foundations are shaky. Now there are exciting ways to firm them up. We are sold a knowledge pyramid like this: Sciences rest on a foundation of physics; physics on math; math on arithmetic. And arithmetic on logic— but, actually, […]

Is Our World Analog or Digital

We need new physics; and new physics needs new math. It won’t be easy but it is a huge opportunity. More than a hundred years ago physics chose to assume the universe is analog. It is now becoming clear that this is wrong: our universe is digital. We took a wrong turn that is having […]

The Origins of Einstein’s Ideas

Albert Einstein is mostly known for physics theories. Or for E=mc2 (though he didn’t write it in that way). But his biggest contribution was the boldness, number, depth, diversity, originality and sometimes sheer courage of his ideas. Every one of these ideas was controversial at the time; now they underpin the world economy. What’s the […]

No Number is Very Large

This week we venture into mathematical philosophy to shine a light on some long-standing mind benders that maybe we can now resolve. And they turn out to be profoundly practical. Does infinity exist or is it a figment of imagination? Are numbers a property of the universe that we discover or are they ideas we […]

Amazing Space

Cosmology is in a crisis state unprecedented in the history of science. Daryl Janzen (2014) Last week’s post looked at two views of space. The tension between them has profound effects on physics that underpins many technologies that affect our lives. Historically, space is seen as either something (often called the æther or ether) or […]

Thinking the Unthinkable: How Big Is the Universe?

It’s a question many ponder. We know the universe is big. But is it finite or infinite? And why does this matter? It’s 1584. Dominican friar and Neapolitan philosopher Giordano Bruno publishes De l’infinito universo et Mondi. He argues that God, being infinite, would create an infinite universe. He has no evidence to back his […]

Not God―Must Be Goldilocks!

Last week we saw leading physicists seducing themselves into a multiverse. Most accomplished their mental gymnastics in one of three weird ways: a many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics; an inflationary cosmology; or a string-theory landscape. All three have in common that they are at best ‘nice ideas’, not physics. So, what’s going on? These physicists […]