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The Nature of Reality

Why We’ve Underestimated Not Only the Size of Our Cosmos, But Also Our Ability to Understand It

15 Jan 2014, 18:53 UTC
Why We’ve Underestimated Not Only the Size of Our Cosmos, But Also Our Ability to Understand It Flickr/playful.geometer under a creative commons license.
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The Higgs Boson was predicted with the same tool as the planet Neptune and the radio wave: mathematics. Why does our universe seem so mathematical, and what does it mean? I believe that it means that our universe isn't just described by math, but that it is math in the sense that we're all parts of a giant mathematical object, which in turn is part of a multiverse so huge that it makes the other multiverses debated in recent years seem puny in comparison.
Credit: Flickr/playful.geometer under a creative commons license.
At first glance, our universe doesn't seem very mathematical at all. The groundhog who trims our lawn has properties such as cuteness and fluffiness--not mathematical properties. Yet we know that this groundhog--and everything else in our universe--is ultimately made of elementary particles such as quarks and electrons. And what properties does an electron have? Properties like -1, 1/2 and 1. Physicists call these properties electric charge, spin and lepton number, but those are just words that we've made up; the fundamental properties of an electron are just numbers, which are mathematical properties. All elementary particles, the building blocks of everything around, are purely mathematical objects in the sense that ...

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