Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Tenth Dimension

In high school, I loved physics. Physics was math come to life. But quickly, physics gets weird. Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, String Theory. All of a sudden, the physical laws that define the world we see no longer apply for some reason. People fault Christianity because of the need for faith--believing without seeing. But some of this stuff seems pretty steeped in faith of some sort.

I found this flash animation a while back, and marveled at how elegantly it described the 10 dimensions of our universe (most theories seem to posit that our universe is defined by 10 dimensions, though others suggest as many as 26).

If you consider the dimensions as they "stack" upon each other, and consider the seemingly contradictory Christian concept of Free Will vs. Pre-Destination, and the fact that God exists outside this 10th dimension and our reality is confined to 4, this all comes together in a weird, yet wonderfully beautiful way.

The 10th Dimension

Saturday, February 13, 2010

From Basic to Baffling

How can anyone dislike math?

I found this on the New York Times website. This is beautiful stuff.

Crazy as it sounds, over the next several weeks I’m going to try to do something close to that. I’ll be writing about the elements of mathematics, from pre-school to grad school, for anyone out there who’d like to have a second chance at the subject — but this time from an adult perspective. It’s not intended to be remedial. The goal is to give you a better feeling for what math is all about and why it’s so enthralling to those who get it.

In his first post, "From Fish to Infinity," Strogatz looks at the idea of numbers. What they are. What they mean. He writes,

[Numbers] apparently exist in some sort of Platonic realm, a level above reality. In that respect they are more like other lofty concepts (e.g., truth and justice), and less like the ordinary objects of daily life. Upon further reflection, their philosophical status becomes even murkier. Where exactly do numbers come from? Did humanity invent them? Or discover them?

A further subtlety is that numbers (and all mathematical ideas, for that matter) have lives of their own. We can’t control them. Even though they exist in our minds, once we decide what we mean by them we have no say in how they behave. They obey certain laws and have certain properties, personalities, and ways of combining with one another, and there’s nothing we can do about it except watch and try to understand.

How beautiful is that?

From Fish to Inifinity

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