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Q & A: philosophy of mathematics

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Most recent answer: 07/03/2010
Q:
I have heard that the mathematical models such as string theory which describe the smallest subatomic particles and the "singularities" of the cosmos invoke counterintuitive concepts and multiple parallel universes where different realities prevail. My question are- I) Are mathematics reliably valid in environments such as those immediately after the big bang?? i.e. Did 2+2=4 at this moment in time? 2)Is mathematics something which is independent of our universe or are there parallel universes where e.g.Pythagorus theorem does not hold??
- Peter Newsome
London, UK
A:
Deep questions.

Let me take the second one first. We live in one of those non-Euclidean universes. The Pythagorean theorem remains correct, of course, but it is derived from Euclid's postulates. They do not correctly describe our universe. This was a key discovery of General Relativity.

As for the first question, I can't imagine any answer but yes. It's for you to decide if that tells you something about the universe or about the limits of my imagination.

Mike W.



(published on 07/03/2010)

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