T Nation

SETI Project . . .

[quote]boomerlu wrote:
Math and philosophy make my head hurt more…mainly because they don’t deal with reality.[/quote]

Not quite sure what you mean by that… You can use math to model “reality” pretty accurately. For example, if you’re firing artillery at some target, ballistic equations will allow you a lot more precision than guesstimating it…

You’d have to peel it pretty thin. :slight_smile:

[quote]rg73 wrote:
(and won’t have the technology for anything other than really slow space travel for a long, long time–we can’t even get a person back on the moon at the moment). [/quote]

Why can’t we get someone on the moon at the moment ? Is there a shortage of funding ?

[quote]Leeuwer wrote:
rg73 wrote:
(and won’t have the technology for anything other than really slow space travel for a long, long time–we can’t even get a person back on the moon at the moment).

Why can’t we get someone on the moon at the moment ? Is there a shortage of funding ?[/quote]

To get someone back on the moon, we would probably have to get one there in the first place.

[quote]pookie wrote:
larryb wrote:
If FTL information propagation is possible, then I would highly suspect, and hope, that it is SR rather than our concept of causality that is not correct. Thinking about the latter makes my brain hurt and causes* a vague feeling of hopelessness in me.

  • Assuming there is such a thing as a “cause”.

If you ever see the headline “Physicist wins state lottery jackpot for 3rd time in a row” you can start worrying.
[/quote]

lol. You can be sure I’ll be calling up my physicist uncle to get in on the secret.

[quote]pookie wrote:
boomerlu wrote:

I think one of our math TAs proved that if you use one orange, you can peel it such that you can cover the entire surface of the earth with just one orange.

You’d have to peel it pretty thin. :slight_smile:
[/quote]

You’d think so, but as far as I remember, the mathematical theorem basically states that surface area is not conserved. Apparently the example of the orange, while technically true, has no real meaning. My uncle tried explaining it to me, but my head imploded from the strain of trying to keep up with him.

[quote]Aragorn wrote:
pookie wrote:
boomerlu wrote:

I think one of our math TAs proved that if you use one orange, you can peel it such that you can cover the entire surface of the earth with just one orange.

You’d have to peel it pretty thin. :slight_smile:

You’d think so, but as far as I remember, the mathematical theorem basically states that surface area is not conserved. Apparently the example of the orange, while technically true, has no real meaning. My uncle tried explaining it to me, but my head imploded from the strain of trying to keep up with him.[/quote]

This is exactly what I meant.

It has no physical meaning.

Pookie, your example of using mathematical equations to model ballistic trajectories comes from a study of physics. That is, applied math, not math for math’s sake (which is usually what i mean when I speak solely of mathematics)

At the higher levels, math degenerates into what is essentially a wankfest of logic. Much of it does not have anything to do with reality. The orange was merely an example of this.

Sure, math is necessarily inspired by the real world, but the attempt to generalize makes it unrealistic. For example, basic linear algebra simply takes linear equations, puts them into matrices, and tells you how to solve them. When you approach lin al analytically however, you say that “hmm…these properties are useful, now let’s see if I can generalize it!” And then you abstract to transformations, which are then represented by matrices, and these transformations need not be linear equations.

And then once you’re done doing that, you (as a mathematician) say “Hey, that was cool, let’s see if I can generalize this for any arbitrary set of numbers and operations!” at which point you get abstract algebra…

And at which point it has diverged very far from reality

[quote]malonetd wrote:
Leeuwer wrote:
rg73 wrote:
(and won’t have the technology for anything other than really slow space travel for a long, long time–we can’t even get a person back on the moon at the moment).

Why can’t we get someone on the moon at the moment ? Is there a shortage of funding ?

To get someone back on the moon, we would probably have to get one there in the first place.[/quote]

Hasn’t that been accomplished in 1969, by Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong ?

EDIT : this is actually a serious question.

[quote]boomerlu wrote:
It has no physical meaning.

Pookie, your example of using mathematical equations to model ballistic trajectories comes from a study of physics. That is, applied math, not math for math’s sake (which is usually what i mean when I speak solely of mathematics)[/quote]

Well to apply math, you first need to figure out the math. Some math, while appearing at first to be entirely theoritical, later proves to have quite interesting practical applications.

For example, the math involved in finding large prime numbers might appear at first useless. But with computers and clever algorithms, you can use those large primes to create nearly unbreakable encryption.

Similarly, findings in Chaos Theory have been shown to be relevant to climate prediction, or at least, to explain why we can’t forecast the weather accurately for more than a few days.

Some would content that mathematics are a “real” world onto itself. If you met aliens from another galaxy, you could talk math with them because they couldn’t arrive at different conclusions for mathemtical proofs.

That some math has no “real world” application is a given. The question is: does it have no real world application only because no one has figured out where or how to apply it?

Before Paul Graham got the idea to apply Bayesian filtering to the spam problem, no one really thought that Bayesian statistics would be useful in a email program. Now, just about every spam filter in existence uses that method as the first line of defence.

I do understand the immense applicability of much math. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be studying physics or have a slight intention of studying math. It’s just that a lot of the logic used is very seemingly wankish. Also, it is not difficult to concoct a use for some of the very abstracted math.

Your point is well taken that perhaps the math doesn’t conform to the real world simply because we haven’t found a case in which it does. However, the question must be asked that is it really worth all the effort to generalize so that all situations can be considered, when we haven’t discovered 90% of the possible situations?

However, the difficulty and immense density of higher math does not make it easy for the average engineer to apply it.

[quote]Leeuwer wrote:
malonetd wrote:
Leeuwer wrote:
rg73 wrote:
(and won’t have the technology for anything other than really slow space travel for a long, long time–we can’t even get a person back on the moon at the moment).

Why can’t we get someone on the moon at the moment ? Is there a shortage of funding ?

To get someone back on the moon, we would probably have to get one there in the first place.

Hasn’t that been accomplished in 1969, by Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong ?

EDIT : this is actually a serious question.
[/quote]

Depends on if you think the moon landings were a conspiracy.

I personally don’t, but some people do. We call them nut jobs. haha