The other day, four ladies came into our shop and from the cut of the jaw to the way they looked at you, they were clearly Slavic. From the way the brunette accepted my suggestions on her jacket and how it sat on her, without in the least thinking that strange or forward, she was clearly non-English [much as I love my country].
With an English lady, it’s all “well isn’t this fun” but the reserve keeps it in perspective, in the light of her inalienable rights so you just better watch yourself, whereas the Slav tends to think, “Well let’s see where this one goes.”
I learned, in Russia, not to allow a conversation to develop, otherwise there was no knowing where it would end and that can get a person hopelessly entangled. It’s a sort of instant warmth, free from the constraints the Anglo-Saxon places on himself. Now we can be warm and appreciative too and I’ve seen that in the last few days but even in our very warmth there’s a subtle reserve, even when we feel affection for someone. That can be good and bad. The Celt, I find, is more ready to open up but Celts are mingled in with Anglo-Saxons so much now that the exercise is pretty futile.
The exception is the young. Having grown up by different rules, the young Englander doesn’t know much reserve and that came out yesterday when I got back to my notorious junction station and was waiting in the perspex waiting room. In came two girls and they instantly grinned and one asked me, “So did you get it for her then?” We all realized it was a conversation from some months ago, when I’d asked them, on the basis that they were the same age, for help in what I should get a friend’s daughter for a birthday present, not wishing to seem too forward in the choice. Two boys in the same waiting room couldn’t get their heads around this insta-conversation.
There had also been an incident just before that, at the main station of embarkation, where a man was pacing up and down the platform, speaking on his mobile in … Russian. Knowing I could be forward with one such as this, I went up and spoke in Russian, which caused him to shut off the mobile conversation and so we chatted all the way to my junction station, entirely in Russian, which I was very proud of – to keep pace, I mean.
He’s a lecturer in mathematics and that conversation brings me, via a most circuitous route, to today’s post on the mathematical precision of the universe.
In this interesting little article, a computer mathematician says:
In regards to science, in particular physics, the limitations of precision do not have a noticeable effect on predictive measurements if the precision of the Universe is great enough in all computation-cases. However, regardless of the precision of the Universe, it has an effect on our understanding of time, infinity and its inherent limitations. It might also serve to provide us with a more computationally friendly model of the Universe.
While physics currently uses math to model the Universe’s laws, these are not outwardly constrained by time. This is evident by the inclusion the fourth dimension of time in the model of spacetime. But as Alan Turing once said, computers are the advent of the mechanization of mathematics. This outwardly constrains mathematical calculations to the limits of time, and in the case of computers space.
Sir Thomas Browne, in 1643, wrote:
I have often admired the mystical way of Pythagoras and the secret magic of numbers.
Of course, he may well have been referring to the arcane knowledge but from the Wiki Knowledge Dump – that which Wiki rejects – comes this little piece:
A number of famous mathematicians have made comments about mathematics and various notions of God. These mathematicians span different religions and conceptions of deity, including none at all.
Many mathematicians have expressed the view that God is in some way responsible for the rational order described so successfully by mathematics. This often involves likening God to a mathematician. The ancient Greek study of mathematics was closely related to that of religion. Plato is quoted as saying “God ever geometrizes” and Pythagoras as saying “numbers rule the Universe”.
Johannes Kepler stated that “The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony which has been imposed on it by God and which He revealed to us in the language of mathematics.” Leopold Kronecker is quoted as saying “God made the natural numbers, all the rest is the work of man.” However, this was intended more in the Kantian sense that they are given to us in intuition than in the literal sense that God created them.
JD yesterday made reference to the uncanny precision of numbers in the universe, to which one commenter asked, “And all that happened by chance?” to which I replied, “I don’t buy that it is by chance.”
Now I hasten to qualify that statement by saying that it could well have happened by chance and I am perfectly willing to accept that, if the totality of evidence points to it – it doesn’t do to tilt at windmills and there is no place for blind faith – but one should also not constrain oneself to any one discipline in this matter of Truth. Again and again, this blog points out the mental blockage many have in shutting out any notion of the metaphysical in this.
Which brings us back to the quote about mathematicians and how quite a few end up speculating about the notion of G-d and the mysticism of numbers. Xxxl once wrote, on these pages:
A theory held in ancient Egypt … resulted in many pyramids echoing the positions of certain heavenly bodies. This theory can be shown to be have been operative throughout the ancient world….constellations, distinct planets/stars, echoed by ancient structures in their patterns.
No, I do not believe them to be reflections of a “cargo cult”…something more profound.
In Cambodia, there are Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, built 1,000 years after the collapse of the Egyptian civilisation. The Word Angkor, although supposedly a corruption of the sanskrit word “Nagara”, town, has a very precise meaning in the ancient Egyptian language. It means, “The God Horus Lives”. Other acceptable translations of “Ankh-Hor”, or “Ankhhor”, are…. “May Horus Live”, “Horus Lives”, and “Life to the Horus”.
The Prime Meridian passes through Greenwich…0 degrees. Giza is at 31. degrees, 9 minutes East. If we shift the Prime Meridian to Giza, Greenwich moves to 31 degrees, 9 minutes, West, and Giza to 0 degrees. When the Prime Meridian is at Greenwich, Angkor is at 103 degrees, 53 minutes East. When the prime Meridian is at Giza, Angkor is at 72 degrees 44 minutes East.
I am prepared to ignore an error of 44 minutes in 72 degrees 53 minutes, given the facts of translation, and the quality of the terrain. So, there is that number again, 72 degrees, one fifth of a circle of 360 degrees, the five pointed star of Venus, sketched out by its transit, as viewed from Earth.
You can catch the rest of that here and interesting it is.
Significant to me is the “I am prepared to ignore an error”, a point Douglas Adams took up in his thesis that the whole thing is imprecise and prone to error, just as humans are – witness the government and public sector jobsworths [although I’m sure there are many in the private sector as well. Everything we touch, do or observe is prone to error of a few percentile points and after all, “ye are gods” has cropped up in the Bible a number of times. If we have elements of the “divine essence” inside us, if our brains are maps of the universe in microcosm, then we are also so prone to error that that gives us hope in the battle against the globalist automatons.
To me, calculus is a beautiful metaphor for the futility of the Tower of Babel and the LHC pursuit of the Higgs Boson – hell, the philosopher’s stone should be lesson enough there and Swift had much to say on that sort of thing. In calculus, of course, there is always a tendency towards a given number, a limit but it never actually reaches there – you see this in exponential graphs.
You can get awfully close, damned close, within sniffing distance but you never actually get there.
Ha ha. What we have then is infinite precision but as infinity cannot be reached, it is, by definition, imprecise. To me, this is the beauty of pure mathematics and possibly G-d’s little joke on us. I say good luck to Him – I’d prefer He had a black sense of humour than a bleak, soulless nothingness.
My concept of G-d is that He is indeed some sort of mathematical or scientific entity, in a dimension I have no way of ever understanding but enough out there points to It’s existence than to the opposite. The reason I can’t understand it is probably similar to the reason that cats see differently to us and to other creatures – we’re built differently, with limitations of perspective and brain capacity.
The difference between the atheist and me is, it seems to me, that I can just accept it, whereas he says no, no, a thousand times no and then goes about constructing elaborate theories which, if there is a driving force to do so, enshrines them in gobbledegook rhetoric, which impresses the easily impressed and over time, these theories are institutionalized into a new religion, e.g. evolution, which none may gainsay, except in some new heresy.
Just thinking out loud and being insufferable, that’s all.
Filed under: Society & human issues