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Thread: The Cosmos and mathematics.

  1. #1

    Arrow The Cosmos and mathematics.

    Would like to get an idea how many people using this forum , agree with the few scientists working
    on the big bang model that mathematics is not the way forward.


    I myself agree. When one considers how old this thinking mechanic really is, is it not time the human
    race developed a more appropriate system to deal with cosmic mechanics?

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    Hi dusthurricane, welcome to BAUT.

    I'm not sure I understand your point, but I suspect I disagree. The Big Bang model isn't only based on mathematics, there is a lot of observational and experimental science to support it, but mathematics gives a tool to describe it in detail. I don't see how you are going to get away from using mathematics, no matter what model you create.

    Can you name a scientist who thinks that mathematics is not the way forward and can you give an idea of what some "more appropriate system" might be?
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    As soon as you can buy food without mathematics, I will agree that science can be done without mathematics.

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    Physics is math. Without math it is so much, well, to stay within forum rules, hand waving.

    Sorry, John M.
    I'm not a hardnosed mainstreamer; I just like the observations, theories, predictions, and results to match.

    "Mainstream isnít a faith system. It is a verified body of work that must be taken into account if you wish to add to that body of work, or if you want to change the conclusions of that body of work." - korjik

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    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    When one considers how old this thinking mechanic really is, is it not time the human
    race developed a more appropriate system to deal with cosmic mechanics?
    The reason we are still using mathematics is that, from the ancient Greeks through Newton to Einstein, it works. What is your alternative?

  6. #6
    Given the enormous and continued success of mathematics in describing the world, proven by the breakneck pace of technological development and growth of scientific knowledge giving us the ability to do everything from slinging probes across the solar system to sending home-made videos of cats in boxes across a global computer network, what does it matter how old it is, and why would you want to abandon it? What do you imagine being a "more appropriate" approach?

  7. #7

    Maths.

    Hi,

    Swift, thankyou for your welcome and perhaps i should of introduced myself from the outset.
    Thanks for replies people.

    My name is Gareth and i work as an IT technician by trade.

    Going with the replies, i also agree mathematics has its use as a tool to better describe the physical
    world - this physical world.

    Swift, i remember some years ago, Horizon covered the big bang and in America, they have a 'city' dedicated to big bang work where a number of scientists were each working on a model.
    One or two of these scientists did say mathematics is not the way to go.

    Mathematics is a result of this world. i very much doubt other intellegent life forms apply mathematics.
    Edward De Bona helped me understand the mind systems - vertical, logical, mathematical and lateral.
    Now, my point is the human brain's development at the time of maths invention/implementation, was at an early stage. Now, the brains development is hampered due to fixation of maths in the minds function set. Lateral thinking helps me better understand cosmic phenomena - coupled with logic
    to form an association.

    I propose a simple model listing the principle laws ( non-mathematic ) which are cause and effect from top to bottom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Mathematics is a result of this world. i very much doubt other intellegent life forms apply mathematics.
    I don't understand the first sentence, and the second sentence is kind of funny (for lack of a better word). Many scientists (such as those in SETI) and many science fiction writers have proposed that mathematics might be the universal language, quite the opposite notion.

    I propose a simple model listing the principle laws ( non-mathematic ) which are cause and effect from top to bottom.
    Are you going to actually present this model?
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    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Mathematics is a result of this world. i very much doubt other intellegent life forms apply mathematics.
    I suppose this is a variation on the "is maths discovered or invented" debate. It seems to me that the general principles are "discovered" (i.e. would be used by any intelligent life) while the details may vary (e.g. different methods or notations might be invented).

    I have no doubt that mathematics would be used by all intelligent (technological) lifeforms.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Going with the replies, i also agree mathematics has its use as a tool to better describe the physical
    world - this physical world.
    And what do you think cosmology is trying to do?


    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Swift, i remember some years ago, Horizon covered the big bang and in America, they have a 'city' dedicated to big bang work where a number of scientists were each working on a model.
    One or two of these scientists did say mathematics is not the way to go.
    I would not call someone expressing such an opinion a scientist. Mathematics and science are inseparable. You can't even begin to make quantitative measurements without mathematics.


    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Mathematics is a result of this world. i very much doubt other intellegent life forms apply mathematics.
    Mathematics is absolutely not a result of this world. And it is virtually certain that other intelligent and technological life forms will use mathematics...perhaps framed in different terms, but quite recognizable as such. Without math, you have no science and no technology of any interest.


    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Edward De Bona helped me understand the mind systems - vertical, logical, mathematical and lateral.
    Now, my point is the human brain's development at the time of maths invention/implementation, was at an early stage. Now, the brains development is hampered due to fixation of maths in the minds function set. Lateral thinking helps me better understand cosmic phenomena - coupled with logic
    to form an association.
    You're talking about a timeframe of a few thousand years. Where is the evidence that we have evolved some better capability in that time? And how can lateral thinking possibly serve as any sort of substitute for mathematics?


    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    I propose a simple model listing the principle laws ( non-mathematic ) which are cause and effect from top to bottom.
    And what form would such a model take, such that it is able to give testable and quantifiable predictions? How do you even express a physical law without mathematics?

    Frankly, I find it bizarre that people go onto the internet, an assortment of technologies dependent on mathematics of every sort and unambiguously demonstrating the success of modern physics, unlike anything that existed a century ago and having an enormous impact all through society, and proclaim that this approach is somehow lacking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    AFrankly, I find it bizarre that people go onto the internet, an assortment of technologies dependent on mathematics of every sort and unambiguously demonstrating the success of modern physics, unlike anything that existed a century ago and having an enormous impact all through society, and proclaim that this approach is somehow lacking.
    And, just as importantly, engineering - which is a highly mathematical discipline. The only alternative is trial and error.

    You might just get away with building a few cathedrals or bridges using trial and error. But they will be more expensive and prone to falling down and killing people.

    You don't design a superscalar microprocessor running at several GHz by trial and error. Or by using a "simple model listing the principal laws which are cause and effect from top to bottom". The real world is more complex than that. You need precision and you need predictability.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    The only alternative is trial and error.
    Even such a process can be described mathematically. Mathematics is after all not just a toolbox of methods to solve equations, at its heart it's more akin to a language with a strict consistency criterion applied, with a syntax that strives to be concise. Sure you could substitute plain English, it'll just take you 5 pages to describe the same thing that you can do in 2 lines using mathematical syntax.

    It seems to me that people that call for a use of something else than mathematics don't seem to understand what mathematics actually is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Edward De Bona helped me understand the mind systems - vertical, logical, mathematical and lateral.
    And his entire theory can be subsumed in a mathematical model, at least as far as it is consistent.

    What has been said sometimes is that we require new mathematics to apply to quantum gravity and the earliest phases of the universe because our current concepts (such as metric spaces or Hilbert spaces) are inadequate for the task. That might be what those scientists you refer to meant? However that is first of all a necessity for new applied mathematics, not new mathematics, though physicists and scientists in general usually say mathematics when they really mean applied mathematics. But it is certainly not a call to do away with mathematics in general, that would be somewhat absurd since it would equate to a call to do away with consistency.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Now, my point is the human brain's development at the time of maths invention/implementation, was at an early stage. Now, the brains development is hampered due to fixation of maths in the minds function set.
    I see the brain's development as enabled rather than hampered by maths. Other Earth lifeforms aren't hampered by maths. How well do they understand the cosmos?

    Mathematics is a result of this world. i very much doubt other intellegent life forms apply mathematics.
    If they only sit and contemplate what the universe might be, you may be right but if they have spacefaring capability, they will need something like maths to accomplish that. Mathematics is part of why humans have become intelligent.


    Lateral thinking helps me better understand cosmic phenomena - coupled with logic to form an association.
    Then add mathematics and you'll understand it even better.

    I propose a simple model listing the principle laws ( non-mathematic ) which are cause and effect from top to bottom.
    Then create that simple model and show it to us.
    "There are powers in this universe beyond anything you know. There is much you have to learn. Go to your homes. Go and give thought to the mysteries of the universe. I will leave you now, in peace." --Galaxy Being

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    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    I propose a simple model listing the principle laws ( non-mathematic ) which are cause and effect from top to bottom.
    You are asking for what scientists would likely would call a list of postulates that our modern theories are based on. This would only work for the axiomatic aspects of our physical models. Such descriptions for general relativity already exist.

    A significant amount of scientific knowledge is empirical. In these cases we don't have an axiomatic solution to the model, but enough experimental data to interpolate and predict the behavior of our model based on past observation. For these cases the cause and effect are what our tables and charts say they are, with no philosophical axiomatic basis beyond that.

    This is particularly true of fluid mechanics and thermodynamics using real fluids. It appears to my novice eye that quantum mechanics and string theories largely exhibits these properties.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Luckmeister View Post
    Then add mathematics and you'll understand it even better.
    Actually, since logic is mathematics, he already did.


    Quote Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
    It seems to me that people that call for a use of something else than mathematics don't seem to understand what mathematics actually is.
    See above point.

    Also, they often have no concept of how much the things around them depend on mathematics. If you don't have math, you don't have even the most basic encoding of data, let alone compression, encryption, error detection and encodings for forward error correction, etc. You don't have algorithms and data structures that allow efficient searching through large data sets. You don't have spread spectrum or software defined radio, or GPS, or accurate maps and global navigation. You don't have anything but the most primitive of electrical technology, and what you have will be unreliable and inefficient..."trial and error" is a poor way to approach power grid design. At best you have some simplistic, inefficient, extremely short range analog radio, and good luck with even that when you don't have any measurement instruments...which take a strong and mathematical understanding of what you're measuring to construct. You can't build any significant structures without wasteful over-use of material, forget about aircraft and spacecraft. You can only build trivial machines, forget about even having useful steam power.

    There's countless things that are just not reasonably achievable with guesswork. Trial and error isn't even going to get started if there's no reason to think that something's possible, which often only comes as a result of a detailed, quantitative understanding of the physics behind a problem. As for lateral thinking, it is a tool for applying mathematics, not a replacement for it. String theory is an example of this in action...a very different approach to a problem, a drastically different way of looking at things, so far out of the box that it has yet to prove its usefulness, but certainly not non-mathematical.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    I propose a simple model listing the principle laws ( non-mathematic ) which are cause and effect from top to bottom.
    The fact you think there are causes and effects, and that they can be ordered, is the beginnings of formalizing your idea. In other words, the beginnings of mathematics.

    I don't understand how you can (usefully) say anything about cause and effect without quantifying it.

    For example we are all familiar with: cause = gravity; effect = falling. It took a long time before Galileo started to quantify this and show that all things fall at the same rate. In this case "same" means "equal"; in other words we are comparing quantities => mathematics.

    Somewhat later Newton came up with a precise description of exactly how much effect a given cause had (F = ma, etc) and from this was able to provide an accurate description of gravity. This allows us to predict the motions of planets, satellites and missiles (so not all good news).

    Einstein improved on this and we have GPS, etc.

    Which aspects of modern society and technology would you give up in order to get rid of mathematics? Computers? Medicine? Clean water? Sewage systems? Efficient food production and distribution?

    Some of the ealiest societies to develop advanced mathematics had to do it as a matter of survival; for example, ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Should they have used a "better" way of thinking (and starved as a result).

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    {Snip!} Swift, i remember some years ago, Horizon covered the big bang and in America, they have a 'city' dedicated to big bang work where a number of scientists were each working on a model. One or two of these scientists did say mathematics is not the way to go. {Snip!}
    Hmm, where is this " 'city' dedicated to big bang work"? I wasn't aware that cosmology has created some kind of crisis requiring a Manhattan Project-style effort. Either you have an honest misunderstanding of what Horizon published/showed, or Horizon is not a credible source of information.

    An entire American city devoted to big bang work -- I need a job soon, maybe I should pull up stakes and hie myself there!

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    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Would like to get an idea how many people using this forum , agree with the few scientists working
    on the big bang model that mathematics is not the way forward.


    I myself agree. When one considers how old this thinking mechanic really is, is it not time the human
    race developed a more appropriate system to deal with cosmic mechanics?
    It doesn't matter how old a thoery/model is. What matters is how useful and accurate it is.
    Currently the Big Bang Theory is the most accurate model of the universe we have. Asking if it should be thrown out and a look for a new model going forward by all s is like saying that current heart transplant surgery is to old and we should look for a better way of fixing hearts and until then people that would have heart surgery will probably just die but it is what is needed to further the field.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    "trial and error" is a poor way to approach power grid design.
    Even that depends. Trial and error can be described mathematically, it's heuristically searching a solution space. The most common implementations would be evolutionary algorithms, and there have been results using genetic programming that designed better working instruments than humans did (it was an antenna design IIRC).

    The "trial and error" approach by itself isn't opposite to "using mathematics", when modelled correctly the approach can give competitive results. Actually i don't even see how one can do "trial and error" without using mathematics. If you use that approach you will need some notion that one design is "better" than another, which implies having a partial order on the solution set, and once you have that notion you have enough to model the process mathematically. You don't even need to quantify how good a design is, just a notion whether it is "better" or "worse" than another design.

  21. #21
    Swift said;
    Many scientists (such as those in SETI) and many science fiction writers have proposed that mathematics might be the universal language, quite the opposite notion.

    Thanks swift, and all the members who have contributed above.
    I get a hint i am on my own here.

    I see much effort in the justification of a simple decimal quantative filter.
    I hope my intellect is not summed up from 0 to 9.

    Swift - a universal language? it is universal in so far as being a 'human scientific mainstream fixation'.

    Please submit the mathematical model which predicts the weather.
    Do you have the mathematical model which explains black hole mechanics, star formation, galactic formation?
    Now what about dark energy and the like - surely maths can pin point these forms and their formation, origin.

    No.... why? because the human brain is limited and mathematics follows that which invented it.

    Cjameshuff said that logic is mathematics. Logic is the managment of 'No' , mathematics is the management of numerical representation - two very different contexts.

    As a world respected expert, i should look up Edward De Bono. His book 'mechanics of mind' covers these differences.

    I think it should be born in mind, i myself am an electronic/computer engineer and do agree ( as i said ) our technological progress is due to maths - human technology = human maths = limitations.
    Example, the intergrated circuit transistor fabrication techniques reach a limit . Then we just ad more cores to improve the performance of the system. The cores are still 'old technology'.

    Other lifeforms will adopt symbolic systems i am sure. But to assume our limitations are common throughout the cosmos is ludicrous. Maths is human - humans are limited because of the animal tendancies we exhibit and aspire to.
    Mathematics was born at a time we were all still very animal.

    I am working on a symbolic system which represents the cosmic sequences observable 'today'.
    This will be available soon. And it is non-numerical in its representaion of the physical universe.

    Thankyou.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Please submit the mathematical model which predicts the weather.
    Do you have the mathematical model which explains black hole mechanics, star formation, galactic formation?
    Actually there are mathematical models for all of those things (and no, I'm not going to reproduce them here). The results of the mathematical models for weather are presented every night on the Weather Channel. A couple of weeks ago they predicted an outbreak of tornadoes a day before they happened. But complex systems require complex mathematics to describe them.

    -----
    OK, now I have to put on my moderator hat.

    dusthurricane, did you read the Advice for ATM Advocates before you started this thread? If you had read that, and the Rules (linked in that first document) you would realize that there are obligations you take on for starting ATM threads, such as answering all questions put to you and presenting evidence.

    I will commend you for actively participating in the conversation, and in a polite manner, but you need to start addressing these other things. There are questions you have not addressed, and frankly I have seen zero evidence for your idea, other than you think it is the way things should work.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Please submit the mathematical model which predicts the weather.
    Do you know how weather forecasting is done? It is highly mathematical - running complex simulations on supercomputers. (Which are also designed using mathematics.)

    Do you have the mathematical model which explains black hole mechanics, star formation, galactic formation?
    Yes. For a non-rotating, uncharged black hole it is:


    Cjameshuff said that logic is mathematics. Logic is the managment of 'No' , mathematics is the management of numerical representation - two very different contexts.
    Logic is far more than "no" (how about, "yes" for starters ). Even first order logic delas with more than simple yes/no or true/false answers. And higher order logic(s) take it even further. (And are used in things like proving that microprocessors work - e.g. your computer).

    And mathematics is far more than arithmetic.

    As a world respected expert, i should look up Edward De Bono. His book 'mechanics of mind' covers these differences.
    He may be a world respected expert on something (I wouldn't know) but what does he know of mathematics? And arguing from authority is not, by itself, very persuasive.

    Is there any scientific research that supports his ideas? Or they like most self-help and pop-psych books; just stuff that someone made up? (I'm not having a dig at him - I know nothing about his work.)

    Example, the intergrated circuit transistor fabrication techniques reach a limit . Then we just ad more cores to improve the performance of the system. The cores are still 'old technology'.
    That is a bit of an oversimplification. But never mind.

    Maths is human
    Prove it.

    I am working on a symbolic system which represents the cosmic sequences observable 'today'.
    We have a symbolic system for these things already. It is called "mathematics".

    This will be available soon. And it is non-numerical in its representaion of the physical universe.
    Mathematics is largely "non numerical".

    If your system is totally non-numerical then, I have to say, it will be totally useless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    mathematics is the management of numerical representation
    It most definitely is not. Well, it is, but is a lot more than that. Number systems and operations on them are only a couple of the, potentially infinite, amount of abstract structures that mathematics can deal with. Many areas in mathematics don't involve number systems, or even have the concept of them.

    As a world respected expert, i should look up Edward De Bono.
    Edward de Bono is a physician, not a mathematician. If you got the previous quote about what mathematics is from him then he is an amateur mathematician at best, and not a very good one at that.

    I am working on a symbolic system which represents the cosmic sequences observable 'today'.
    This will be available soon. And it is non-numerical in its representaion of the physical universe.
    If you have a consistent symbolic system to replace the big bang theory with, i think it will be the physicists who will argue because of falsifiability, predictiveness and other such concerns, not mathematicians. Mathematics is fine with any formal consistent system, physics on the other hand needs a bit more than that.

    In any case, remember that you only have 30 days for this thread.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Please submit the mathematical model which predicts the weather.
    You may want to look up the Navier-Stokes equations that form the foundation for weather models.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    (snip)

    I think it should be born in mind, i myself am an electronic/computer engineer and do agree ( as i said ) our technological progress is due to maths - human technology = human maths = limitations.

    (snip)
    I'm curious about your background. You don't have to answer this, but I would appreciate an acknowledgement. Do you have a degree, and if so, from where?

    Regards, John M.
    I'm not a hardnosed mainstreamer; I just like the observations, theories, predictions, and results to match.

    "Mainstream isnít a faith system. It is a verified body of work that must be taken into account if you wish to add to that body of work, or if you want to change the conclusions of that body of work." - korjik

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    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Hi,

    Swift, thankyou for your welcome and perhaps i should of introduced myself from the outset.
    Thanks for replies people.

    My name is Gareth and i work as an IT technician by trade.

    Going with the replies, i also agree mathematics has its use as a tool to better describe the physical
    world - this physical world.

    Swift, i remember some years ago, Horizon covered the big bang and in America, they have a 'city' dedicated to big bang work where a number of scientists were each working on a model.
    One or two of these scientists did say mathematics is not the way to go.

    Mathematics is a result of this world. i very much doubt other intellegent life forms apply mathematics.
    Edward De Bona helped me understand the mind systems - vertical, logical, mathematical and lateral.
    Now, my point is the human brain's development at the time of maths invention/implementation, was at an early stage. Now, the brains development is hampered due to fixation of maths in the minds function set. Lateral thinking helps me better understand cosmic phenomena - coupled with logic
    to form an association.

    I propose a simple model listing the principle laws ( non-mathematic ) which are cause and effect from top to bottom.
    Oh I misunderstood your question. But I still disagree with you. Even mechanical things can be broken down with maths. I can completely describe a mechanical clock in detail with maths and because of that it be independently tested, verified and duplicated because of maths.

    Maths is just something that is. You can't explain any science I know of with out it. Physics, chemistry, biology (which is just REALLY complicated chemistry), psychology.

    Perhaps you can share some of your non mathematical ideas for cosmology/astronomy with us.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    I see much effort in the justification of a simple decimal quantative filter.
    I hope my intellect is not summed up from 0 to 9.
    Who said anything about decimal numeric representations?


    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Swift - a universal language? it is universal in so far as being a 'human scientific mainstream fixation'.
    It's not a "fixation". It's the only way to get quantitative, quantifiable results, and has been hugely successful. And any alien life form that produces a technological civilization will have a system of mathematics that allows them to do the same. As I said, it may be framed in unfamiliar terms, but it will be quite recognizable for what it is.


    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Please submit the mathematical model which predicts the weather.
    Do you have the mathematical model which explains black hole mechanics, star formation, galactic formation?
    Now what about dark energy and the like - surely maths can pin point these forms and their formation, origin.
    As pointed out, there are mathematical models for all of these things. Known to be incomplete and imperfect and working from limited observations, but working models that no non-mathematical explanation can substitute for.


    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Cjameshuff said that logic is mathematics. Logic is the managment of 'No' , mathematics is the management of numerical representation - two very different contexts.
    That is not what logic is, and not what mathematics is...not even close. Logic is the underpinning of numeric representations, and most of mathematics only operates on abstract symbols, not numbers. Mathematics is fundamentally an extension of logic, a system of rules that is found to be useful in making sense of the universe.


    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    As a world respected expert, i should look up Edward De Bono. His book 'mechanics of mind' covers these differences.
    As pointed out, appeal to authority is a poor way to make an argument. If your argument is an accurate representation of his opinion, than he is just as wrong as you are.


    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    I think it should be born in mind, i myself am an electronic/computer engineer and do agree ( as i said ) our technological progress is due to maths - human technology = human maths = limitations.
    Example, the intergrated circuit transistor fabrication techniques reach a limit . Then we just ad more cores to improve the performance of the system. The cores are still 'old technology'.
    This is not a good analogy...you have nothing to link it to your claim. The existence of physical limits on operating speed of serial computing machines does not show that mathematics is somehow limited in an analogous way. You need to demonstrate some relevant similarity between the two.


    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    Other lifeforms will adopt symbolic systems i am sure. But to assume our limitations are common throughout the cosmos is ludicrous. Maths is human - humans are limited because of the animal tendancies we exhibit and aspire to.
    Mathematics was born at a time we were all still very animal.
    Show evidence that human mentality was significantly different and that mathematics is limited as a result. And explain why logic, which mathematics grew out of, is not affected by these limitations.


    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    I am working on a symbolic system which represents the cosmic sequences observable 'today'.
    This will be available soon. And it is non-numerical in its representaion of the physical universe.
    Then it will be unable to make quantitative predictions and thus both untestable and useless for understanding the universe.

    edit: however, if internally consistent, it'll still be mathematics.

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    BTW dusthurricane, I hope you are not put off by all the feedback you have got so far. I am genuinely interested to see what you come up with...

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    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    [...]the human brain is limited and mathematics follows that which invented it.
    Let's for the sake of the argument assume this is true..

    Quote Originally Posted by dusthurricane View Post
    As a world respected expert, i should look up Edward De Bono.
    Does then anything Edward De Bono can possibly come up with not suffer from the exact same limitations of the human brain? I've never heard of the fella, he is human, right?
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