- Education and Science
Numbers: Nature's Paint Brush!
Magic Of Numbers
Cosmos by the Numbers
What is the Meaning of Numbers? Is it Our Reality?
By the Numbers
Numbers corresponds to the aspect of reality (as we experience it) that Greek philosophers called numbers “becoming,” as opposed to the timeless being of numbers, triangles, and circles. Galileo famously stated that the universe is a "grand book" written in the language of mathematics. Mathematical laws underpin the fabric of our Universe. Not just by atoms, but galaxies, stars and people. The properties of atoms such as their sizes and masses, how many different kinds there are, and the forces linking them together determine the chemistry of our everyday world. More recently, the physics Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner argued in the 1960s that "the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences" demanded an explanation. Theorists aim to encapsulate the essence of the physical laws in a unified set of equations and a few numbers.
An external reality independent of humans requires one to believe in the mathematical universe hypothesis: that our physical reality is a mathematical structure. If that is true, then the theory of everything must be purely abstract and mathematical.
Does Our "Reality" of Numbers Present a Dilema?
Perhaps our focus on “numbers” presents a dilema. The human capability to understand the universe is based the fact that we use a concept of describing the universe in terms of numbers that we have created ourselves.
Music by the Numbers
Pythagoras used the mathematical order to music as an example of how Number pervades the universe. Surely, if it could be used to express music, it could be related to all other things. He was also said to have used music for healing or soothing purposes, playing certain harmonies and sequences of sounds to calm people's anger or arouse them from sleep in the morning.
Life by the Numbers
U.K. and Portuguese researchers shone light through sheets of graphene and found that it absorbs a surprising amount of light considering its extreme thinness. They found that the exact value of light absorbed by grapheme gives the value of the fine structure constant. Geim, who was part of the team that discovered graphene in 2004 said, "Change this fine-tuned number by only a few per cent and life would not be here because nuclear reactions in which carbon is generated from lighter elements in burning stars would be forbidden. No carbon means no life."
Cosmos by the Numbers
Pythagoras was the first person to call the universe a kosmos. The Greek term, which is the root of the word cosmetic, refers to an equal presence of order and beauty. The universe is a cosmos because the phenomena of nature embody geometrical form and proportion. These proportions allow things to unfold and function in the most elegant and efficient ways (which is a fact of nature), but also give rise to beauty (which is a value). In this way, the worlds of "fact" and "value" are not separate domains, but inherently related. In a larger sense, all things are related through whole–part and proportional relationships (analogia), as in an ecosystem. Because of this, the classical Pythagorean metaphor likens the universe to a living organism rather than an inanimate machine. Plato describes the Pythagorean view well when he describes the cosmos as "one Whole of wholes" and as "a single Living Creature which encompasses all of the living creatures that are within it" (Timaeus 33 A and 30 D).
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