Wulf
I've noticed a lot of threads with arguments entirely based on people being unable to grasp mathematical concepts like infinity, or just rejecting it outright.

Now my question is how can we get this concept across to people?

Now my understanding is that math is a model that we can use to describe something. We establish rules and by working within these rules we come up with a model that is internally consistent. Within those rules the math always works.

Physics is the use of these models to describe reality, Relativity, String Theory, Quantum Mechanics etc... are all mathematical models that allow us to describe the world and make predictions within those models.

We can't say that relativity is wrong, it is consistent, the model works most of the time. That is not to say that it is a complete description, it is not wrong so much as it might not be giving us the complete picure, but it does work.

Now we need to be carefull when using these models, all the formulas and rules are defined within that model, so you can't take equations from say M theory and plug them in to Special Relativity and come up with a meaningfull answer. They are describing the same thing in different lanugages.

The other thing we need to be carefull with is that math is a description of a thing, not the thing itself. When you run into an infinity or some other crazy concept that you can't quite grasp remember that it might just be a feature of the model, you are working in. You can cancel out infinities and come up with a meaningfull and consistent answer, but they are sometimes necessary for the model to work.

Now I have noticed a lot of pet theories floating around, and there are a lot of ideas that I like and agree with. However you can't just pick and choose concepts from different models, thow in a few equations and call it a theory. The amount of math involved in building a model of the universe is mind boggling.

What I would like to suggest is that we make use of the work that has already been done and build on that. Find a model that allows you to describe your concepts, the math is there so you have the tools to model and test your concepts.

I am more of a philosopher than a physicist, I don't have the math to describe my ideas. I do understand a fair bit of what is out there though. Now I like the concept of the Aether, I can't justify creating a model to describe it at this point though. I can however explore the concept within the constraints of existing theories. So I look at it in terms of existing models. I look at what they could be describing, I look for similarities in what they describe.

Something like the aether for example is described in many of the different theories, it might be called a D-Brane or spin quantum foam, or even space-time. My point is this concept is already partially described in existing systems, so why not use these systems to explore these ideas before you dedicate yourself to decades of work creating a whole new model.

For example, take space-time. If you stop thinking of time as a phisical dimension that you can travel through, suddenly space time has substance. It becomes a thing that the mathematical abstraction time helps us describe. Now I haven't changed a thing in the model, I just looked at it differently. This new perspective might lead to insights that allow us to improve our understanding of reality.

Now by approaching the problem this way I can make valid arguments, the math is already consistent and so it is harder to dismiss me as a nutcase who thinks he knows more than the smartest people on earth. I'm not dismissing mathematical truth, I'm just looking at what the math describes from a different point of view.

Precursor562
QUOTE
I've noticed a lot of threads with arguments entirely based on people being unable to grasp mathematical concepts like infinity, or just rejecting it outright.

I know what you mean. Anyone who thinks infinity is some number that a variable can equal to is off the wall.

I really suggest looking up the definition of the word then look it up in some encyclopedias. Infinity means not finite which also means no limit. No where does it say infinity is a number but rather is only a concept. The concept of no limit, not finite, unbounded etc.

QUOTE (->
 QUOTE I've noticed a lot of threads with arguments entirely based on people being unable to grasp mathematical concepts like infinity, or just rejecting it outright.

I know what you mean. Anyone who thinks infinity is some number that a variable can equal to is off the wall.

I really suggest looking up the definition of the word then look it up in some encyclopedias. Infinity means not finite which also means no limit. No where does it say infinity is a number but rather is only a concept. The concept of no limit, not finite, unbounded etc.

So I look at it in terms of existing models. I look at what they could be describing, I look for similarities in what they describe.

Actually that sounds like the next big step that might need to be taken. We have all these physical theories that do the best they can to explain many things but they don't explain everything and in some cases they may conflict with one another.

I think that what needs to be done is sit down with all the theories, go through them and collect what is common amongst them all. Then take was is common amongst most and see why the few others seem to conflict. Where each theory covers something that the others don't even mention, gather them all up. Anything that is conflicting between them all (it is different between each theory so no two has common ground) can be thrown away for now.

Essentially creating one theory that is the sum of all the others. Work out the kinks that may arise and go from there. Burn some bridges, build some new ones and there you have it, a theory everyone can agree on. Will also probably be the most accurate theory yet.
Wulf
QUOTE (Precursor562+Apr 17 2007, 08:15 PM)

I know what you mean. Anyone who thinks infinity is some number that a variable can equal to is off the wall.

I really suggest looking up the definition of the word then look it up in some encyclopedias. Infinity means not finite which also means no limit. No where does it say infinity is a number but rather is only a concept. The concept of no limit, not finite, unbounded etc.

This is a perfect example of why we have to use math instead of a dictionary to describe concepts like infinity.
Precursor562
QUOTE
This is a perfect example of why we have to use math instead of a dictionary to describe concepts like infinity.

Except when the dictionary is published after the concept of infinity has been established in math already and the mathematic term is used when looking it up. Often you will see in the definition a break down of what the word can mean. Some will define it specifically for physics or math. You will see the word physics or mathematics starting the defining statement when that defining statement refers to that specific use of the word.

Same applies for what you will find in encyclopedias. Where such encyclopedias that are more recently published will specify in what why the concept is being used when describing it.

We can use math but clearly someone has already done it for us and published the work. Most likely a "top mind" in the field.
Wulf
Math is a language just as english is a language. You are making arguments in the wrong language.
Euler
The main problem is not with the explanations, but rather, with the particular laypeople who think they know better. Why do they think this? I believe it to be a dangerous mix of ignorance, stupidity and arrogance. An alternative explination might be found in an article rpenner linked to here.

Wulf
QUOTE (Euler+Apr 17 2007, 08:39 PM)
The main problem is not with the explanations, but rather, with the particular laypeople who think they know better. Why do they think this? I believe it to be a dangerous mix of ignorance, stupidity and arrogance. An alternative explination might be found in an article rpenner linked to www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/01/18/MN73840.DTL&type=printable]here.

Let's just hope this research can lead to a cure.
Precursor562
QUOTE
Math is a language just as English is a language. You are making arguments in the wrong language.

You better hope there is a cure.

English:

One plus one equals two.

Math:

1 + 1 = 2

There is no wrong language. Explaining it is explaining it no matter what language you use.
Wulf
QUOTE (Precursor562+Apr 17 2007, 09:04 PM)

You better hope there is a cure.

English:

One plus one equals two.

Math:

1 + 1 = 2

There is no wrong language. Explaining it is explaining it no matter what language you use.

Yeah, nothing is ever lost in translation.

Anyone ever play Zero Wing?

QUOTE

Captain: What happen?

Operator: Somebody set up us the bomb.

Operator: We get signal.

Operator: Somebody set up us the bomb.

Operator: We get signal.

Captain: What!

Operator: Main screen turn on.

Captain: It's You!!

Cats: How are you gentlemen!!

Cats: All your base are belong to us.

Cats: You are on the way to destruction.

Captain: What you say!!

Cats: You have no chance to survive make your time.

Cats: HA HA HA HA! Cats: Take off every "zig."

Captain: You know what you doing.

Captain: Move "zig."

Captain: For great justice.

Precursor562
Oh man is that ever a reach. Don't confuse bad grammar with what I had put. They are not nearly the same.

For someone who talks of laymen sure does seem to use laymen arguments.

QUOTE
Yeah, nothing is ever lost in translation.

Anyone ever play Zero Wing?

QUOTE (->
 QUOTE Yeah, nothing is ever lost in translation.Anyone ever play Zero Wing?

Math is a language just as English is a language. You are making arguments in the wrong language.

I guess if I made the argument in French I would be wrong than if I made it in English. How about Japanese? Would that be right or wrong.

As long as correct spelling and grammar is used then there isn't a problem. Haven't you ever seen math equations expressed as a word problems?
Wulf
QUOTE (Precursor562+Apr 17 2007, 09:36 PM)
Oh man is that ever a reach.  Don't confuse bad grammar with what I had put.  They are not nearly the same.

For someone who talks of laymen sure does seem to use laymen arguments.

I guess if I made the argument in French I would be wrong than if I made it in English.  How about Japanese?  Would that be right or wrong.

As long as correct spelling and grammar is used then there isn't a problem.  Haven't you ever seen math equations expressed as a word problems?

No but if you start plugging words in from different languages where the gramatical rules are different it becomes nonsense.

For math you use math, not pig latin, or japanese, or english. There is too much ambiguity otherwise. A misplaced comma can change the meaning of a sentence, and a word can have dozens of different meanings.

As far as using layman arguments, well it is my way of trying to communicate on a level that you might understand. It is starting to look like I might have to try grunting and poo flinging next.

Nick
QUOTE (Wulf+Apr 17 2007, 07:54 PM)
I've noticed a lot of threads with arguments entirely based on people being unable to grasp mathematical concepts like infinity, or just rejecting it outright.

Now my question is how can we get this concept across to people?

Now my understanding is that math is a model that we can use to describe something. We establish rules and by working within these rules we come up with a model that is internally consistent. Within those rules the math always works.

Physics is the use of these models to describe reality, Relativity, String Theory, Quantum Mechanics etc... are all mathematical models that allow us to describe the world and make predictions within those models.

We can't say that relativity is wrong, it is consistent, the model works most of the time. That is not to say that it is a complete description, it is not wrong so much as it might not be giving us the complete picure, but it does work.

Now we need to be carefull when using these models, all the formulas and rules are defined within that model, so you can't take equations from say M theory and plug them in to Special Relativity and come up with a meaningfull answer. They are describing the same thing in different lanugages.

The other thing we need to be carefull with is that math is a description of a thing, not the thing itself. When you run into an infinity or some other crazy concept that you can't quite grasp remember that it might just be a feature of the model, you are working in. You can cancel out infinities and come up with a meaningfull and consistent answer, but they are sometimes necessary for the model to work.

Now I have noticed a lot of pet theories floating around, and there are a lot of ideas that I like and agree with. However you can't just pick and choose concepts from different models, thow in a few equations and call it a theory. The amount of math involved in building a model of the universe is mind boggling.

What I would like to suggest is that we make use of the work that has already been done and build on that. Find a model that allows you to describe your concepts, the math is there so you have the tools to model and test your concepts.

I am more of a philosopher than a physicist, I don't have the math to describe my ideas. I do understand a fair bit of what is out there though. Now I like the concept of the Aether, I can't justify creating a model to describe it at this point though. I can however explore the concept within the constraints of existing theories. So I look at it in terms of existing models. I look at what they could be describing, I look for similarities in what they describe.

Something like the aether for example is described in many of the different theories, it might be called a D-Brane or spin quantum foam, or even space-time. My point is this concept is already partially described in existing systems, so why not use these systems to explore these ideas before you dedicate yourself to decades of work creating a whole new model.

For example, take space-time. If you stop thinking of time as a phisical dimension that you can travel through, suddenly space time has substance. It becomes a thing that the mathematical abstraction time helps us describe. Now I haven't changed a thing in the model, I just looked at it differently. This new perspective might lead to insights that allow us to improve our understanding of reality.

Now by approaching the problem this way I can make valid arguments, the math is already consistent and so it is harder to dismiss me as a nutcase who thinks he knows more than the smartest people on earth. I'm not dismissing mathematical truth, I'm just looking at what the math describes from a different point of view.

INFINITY IS JUST THAT: A CONCEPT AND HAS NO PLACE IN THE REALM OF QUANTITIES. MATH AS QUANTITATIVE THINKING PRECLUDES THE EXISTENCE OF INFINITY. REAL MATH DOES.

GLAD TO HERE YOU LIKE THE AETHER. YOU KNOW SOME PEOPLE; LIKE THOSE WHO THINK EINSTEIN WAS AN ATHEIST; THINK THAT HE GOT RID OF IT IN 1905. ACTUALLY WHAT HE SAID WAS THAT IT WAS NOT REQUIRED FOR THE CALCULATIONS OF SPECIAL RELATIVITY. BUT WHAT IS INTERESTING IS THAT HE BROUGHT BACK THE CONCEPT IN THE 1920'S AND EVEN LIKENED IT TO HIS CURVED SPACE-TIME.

NOTHING EVER REACHES INFINITY SO I AM NOT SURE THAT IT BELONGS TO REAL MATH.

AS SCIENCE PROGRESSES THE MODELS WILL BE MORE SIMPLE NOT MORE COMPLEX IN MY OPINION. EINSTEIN HAS LEFT A LEGACY OF UNINTELLIGIBILITY WHEN IT COMES TO HIS RELATIVITY. IN MY OPINION THE FUTURE WILL RECTIFY THIS. I WILL.

MITCH RAEMSCH -- LIGHT FELL --
Precursor562
QUOTE
NOTHING EVER REACHES INFINITY SO I AM NOT SURE THAT IT BELONGS TO REAL MATH.

So when you die you are only dead for a finite length of time?
sirfiroth
42
PhysOrg scientific forums are totally dedicated to science, physics, and technology. Besides topical forums such as nanotechnology, quantum physics, silicon and III-V technology, applied physics, materials, space and others, you can also join our news and publications discussions. We also provide an off-topic forum category. If you need specific help on a scientific problem or have a question related to physics or technology, visit the PhysOrg Forums. Here you’ll find experts from various fields online every day.