Mathematical universeFeb 20th, 2014 | By Ivey Ingalls-Rubin
| Category: Columns, Daily Strange, Spring 2014, Web Exclusive
written by: Ivey Ingalls-Rubin
People have long been using mathematics to understand and simplify (depending on your capabilities of math) the universe and its physical properties. Along our road of enlightenment a perplexing notion bobbed its’ head to the surface, “What if the universe itself is merely a giant math function?” You may not be too confident in this, however Max Tegmark, a Swedish-American cosmologist and professor at Massachusetts institute of Technology (MIT) has come to believe just that.
According to Tegmark each and every essence in our known existence- including the human species- falls into an intricate, all-encompassing mathematical equation.
This notion is derived from the observation that the natural world is composed of endless patterns that show themselves everywhere, this is what is known as the Fibonacci sequence, which is a series of numbers in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers. For example, the shell of a chambered nautilus is composed of a logarithmic spiral. Similarly you would find that the seeds of sunflowers are arranged in a pattern that follows the Fibonacci sequence.
This number sequence finds itself present in the non-living world as well. When you shoot a bow and arrow, or toss a ball, these objects follow a parabolic trajectory, and if that still isn’t enough examples, one might even tilt their head up and observe the orbits of the planets and other astrophysical bodies.
Some have disputed Tegmarks’ theory, stating that math was conjured up by humans to aid them in their never ending search for knowledge. That mathematics is merely a tool for information.
Is it not possible that each variable of the universe is part of an alphabet, and math is the tool that arranges those variables into a language in which we can all understand and learn from?
If mathematics does exist in a much more realistic sense than one might imagine, then as Tegmark would say, “Humans have the power not only to understand our world, but to shape and improve it.”