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Confusing Interpretation of reality

  1. Apr 12, 2010 #1
    Mathematical constructs may or may not agree with reality (that is observed by us through our senses or high-tech instruments).

    What’s the touchstone that a mathematical construct for a theory is the right one and would not be violated in future?

    For example the mathematics that was used in the explanation of atomic phenomenon, that led to the conviction that ‘atom is indivisible’ was correct. But this too was proved false later on.

    What’s the guarantee that the same will not happen with the theories that are considered to be infallible at present?

    Can’t our reliance on mathematics be substituted with something else, or it is only the best method through which nature can be understood.

    Should we suppose that since our brains are made by nature (which is mathematical, symmetrical etc.), we cannot escape from mathematics.

    Should we think that we can't escape from our 'quality' (or demerit) of seeing things being made of other entities and a multiplicity of complementary or supplementary concepts?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 12, 2010 #2
    Well, I'm pretty sure that the atom is still regarded as the fundamental chemical/physical unit. The atom is what gives an element all it's properties, if you divide it further you no longer have those properties. You are right though, the atom is divisible further.
    I don't think this really matters though. Are you saying that because some guys hundreds of years ago created a mathematical model to describe something they don't even know exists, but it turned out that they were sligtly wrong, that it was useless? Or that they could have done a better job and divided that atom further?

    Which theories are considered to be infallible at present? The entire scientific world operates on the premise that all things ARE fallible. So there is absolutely no guarantee that our view of reality won't be changed. Is this a problem for you?

    Well, to understand reality mathematics is not the only tool we utilize. What's wrong with mathematics though!?

    Sooo, science doesn't lay out a good enough foundation for you to judge reality but you want to lose the ability to break things up conceptually? I wonder how many steps back for mankind that would be.
  4. Apr 12, 2010 #3
    Please mind your attitude. This is no way to answer questions.
  5. Apr 12, 2010 #4
    It truly is a shame that instead of answering the questions I posed back to you you claim that I'm giving you attitude.

    Is this a problem for you? Is not attitude, it's a legit question. If you wanna dodge the question because you don't like my 'attitude' then as I said before, that's a shame.

    Why am I giving you attitude now? Because you've had to resort to ad hominen towards me. Instead of dealing with my answer you are dismissing it based on 'how I answered it'. Great job.
  6. Apr 12, 2010 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    There was nothing wrong with the attitude.

    I would like to add one thing on the issue of fallability: the major current theories have been tested to a very high degree of precision, so while an existing theory may yet be proven wrong, it may only be by a tiny fraction of a percent. An as with Newton' gravity, 1% wrong is 99% right and we still use it in a lot of situations because it is mostly right. That's the worst that could ever really be said about our current theories.
  7. Apr 12, 2010 #6
    Scientists never solely rely on mathematics when they study nature. If they only rely on math to study nature, string theory would have been a law of nature already. Scientists rely both on math and observations. Math+ experiments = natural sciences. If you exclude experiments from the expression you get pure math which is completely abstract and independent of mother nature.
    Besides, mathematics is not a natural science like physics, chemistry or biology. It uses deductive reasoning whereas natural sciences use inductive reasoning.
    So, your desire to substitute math is unreasonable because natural scientists use math as a mere tool to ease the study of nature. They do not accept any claim as true from a mathematical construct unless they see the evidence in experiments. All physical theories formulated with the help of mathematics must be tested in laboratory or in an appropriate platform to confirm the truth.
    Yes, that's the characteristic of natural sciences. Any physical theory has more or less risk of being incorrect in the future. Because the truth of the physical theories were confirmed by observations. As the laboratory observations are finite and it’s impossible for human being to test a theory infinitely, there always remains a subtle possibility in future of finding a counter observation. And one counter observation is sufficient enough to snatch the title law of nature from that theory.
    I remember that Einstein once said that many experiments can prove the truth of theory of relativity. But one experiment is enough to disprove it.
    I guess you are trying to connect mathematics with nature. But mathematics has nothing to do with nature. Wherever you go in the universe, may be in Andromeda galaxy or inside a blackhole( that's physically impossible) if you keep the fundamental axioms of math same, your mathematics would be same as that in earth. It's independent of nature. Only axioms can affect mathematics nothing else. But physical theories inside a blackhole might be different outside of it.
    If you have time and opportunity, you might want to read the book A Mathematician's Apology by G.H. Hardy. Give a search in your local library.
  8. Apr 12, 2010 #7
    Yup, completely agree with this.
  9. Apr 13, 2010 #8
    Is this a problem for you?(check your tone)

    Sooo, science doesn't lay out a good enough foundation for you to judge reality but you want to lose the ability to break things up conceptually? (check your attitude)

    People who know more (or at least have such a feeling) are under the impression that they can say anything and still not be ashamed of what they have said.
  10. Apr 13, 2010 #9
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