**From:** Terry W. Colvin (*fortean1@mindspring.com*)

**Date:** Thu Jul 10 2003 - 17:41:22 MDT

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Jay asked:> Is mathematics invented or discovered?

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*> Is mathematics tied to the current state of the Universe (sorta like
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*> physics, where a change in certain constants would produce a different
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*> state) or is it transcendent?
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Those are actually more philosophical questions than mathematical ones, but

I'll take a crack at them. Amongst those who discuss such things,

mathematics is generally considered to independent of the universe and

mathematical concepts are discovered, not invented. A large part of this is

because you can basically derive all of math from a handful of axioms like

"if A is greater than B then B is less than A" that would be difficult to

build any universe without.

The real question is: does mathematics have anything to do with the

universe. Mathematics are a powerful tool for explaining and predicting what

we see around us, but it could all just be a remarkably good approximation.

Think about the Bohr model of the atom: electrons in circular orbits around

the nucleus like tiny planets. It turns out to bear no resemblance to a real

atom, but it worked really well for a lot of cases. All of physics could be

like that at the deepest level. And if it isn't, and the universe really

does run on math, why and how does it do that?

Bill

-- Terry W. Colvin, Sierra Vista, Arizona (USA) < fortean1@mindspring.com > Alternate: < fortean1@msn.com > Home Page: < http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Stargate/8958/index.html > Sites: * Fortean Times * Mystic's Haven * TLCB * U.S. Message Text Formatting (USMTF) Program ------------ Member: Thailand-Laos-Cambodia Brotherhood (TLCB) Mailing List TLCB Web Site: < http://www.tlc-brotherhood.org >[Vietnam veterans, Allies, CIA/NSA, and "steenkeen" contractors are welcome.]

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