# Is the tetrahedron the building block of the universe?

• ben krempp
In summary, this question does not have a clear answer and relies on a philosophical argument that has not been proven.
ben krempp
I am new to physics, and my studies have taken me to this question. Mathetmatically, the tetrahedron is essentially the building block of geometries, does this make it then the building block of our universe? Though I understand this hasn't been proven and we haven't seen this, if mathematics is the lanuage of nature, it would seem that this would be true.

Thanks in advance for help from some of you more experienced people in answering this question.

Sandman
Axioms are the building block of geometries, not tetrahedrons.

Welcome to PF!

This is a mistaken concept. There is no evidence that supports selecting the simplest geometric shape and saying it must be the building block of nature. Math is a language we use to understand nature. There is no reason to say that nature uses math to do what it does.

Latching onto preconceived ideas can lead one astray as you attempt to fit nature to your idea. What scientists do is to fit the math to nature. In other words, math is good at describing patterns, nature exhibits patterns and so in our describing these patterns with math we discover new things. Some discoveries pop out of the math and some disagree with the math so we find a new way to describe it using math.

Historically Kepler had a similar view of the planetary orbits matching nested geometric solids but it just didn't work. He was smart enough to realize that and discovered the elliptical nature of the orbits. Although he still tried to hold his geometrical view as God's plan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysterium_Cosmographicum

Lastly, here's an article describing various views of the universe and some associated math concepts being applied:

http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/ast123/lectures/lec15.html

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If tetrahedrons were the 'building block' (whatever that means) of reality, what would that imply? What would we be able to predict using that statement?

In contrast, Newton's law of universal gravitation, as a statement, allows us to predict the trajectories of planets to a reasonable accuracy. General relativity allows us to predict macroscopic phenomena to a extremely precise degree, and for all reckoning seems to be our best model.

What you are saying is essentially not science; it has the flavor of popular science e.g. "Hey man... what if the universe was made of little vibrating strings?" or "Hey man... what if the universe was made of a grid with a unit size of Planck's constant?" or yet "Hey man... what if the universe was made of little vibrating tetrahedrons?" All right, now what would that imply?

I think you meant 'tetrahedrons are the building blocks of geometrical shapes'. Electrons and other particles essentially don't have 'shapes' with any real bearing on their function. They have charge, spin, and mass. Position and velocity.

jedishrfu said:
Lastly, here's an article describing various views of the universe and some associated math concepts being applied:

http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/ast123/lectures/lec15.html

Why do articles still say the universe may be infinite? Isn't it obvious there is a finite amount of mass in the universe, if Big Bang cosmology is true? Even if it isn't, the observable universe (the part of the universe where we get light from) is a finite volume.

ellipsis said:
Why do articles still say the universe may be infinite? Isn't it obvious there is a finite amount of mass in the universe, if Big Bang cosmology is true?

No, the big bang theory places no such constraints on the total mass of the universe.

ben krempp said:
I am new to physics, and my studies have taken me to this question. Mathetmatically, the tetrahedron is essentially the building block of geometries, does this make it then the building block of our universe? Though I understand this hasn't been proven and we haven't seen this, if mathematics is the lanuage of nature, it would seem that this would be true.
Ha! This question reminds me of ancient greek philosophy about nature.

zoki85 said:
Ha! This question reminds me of ancient greek philosophy about nature.

All is fire!

I think OPie may have stumbled on a criticism of the Cartesian background conception of space. I have seen a diagram of tetrahedra analogues of space. I'll have to think about which book argues so, likely one of Smolin's, for the topic and timing in the sequence of my reading.

Einstein described, and this is off the top of my head so let me know if I am mis quoting him, essentially that math is natures language. No I'm not saying math in any way should describe patterns or things we visulize in our surroundings as its been proven, for example, by wolfram that extremely simple algorithms, or programs as he says, can show extremely complex phenomena, essentially becoming unpredictable in some cases.

What I am saying however is if Einstein is essentially talking about the building blocks, those same building blocks we are still unearthing the details of, is it theoretically possible that math can be the "language" as he says that describes them, a language that we still don't have the equipment to view in detail enough to understand. Thanks in advance.

Einstein never said anything about tetrahedrons being the building blocks of nature. While math is certainly the language of physics, that fact seems completely unrelated to the whole tetrahedrons thing.

Doug Huffman said:
I have seen a diagram of tetrahedra analogues of space. I'll have to think about which book argues so, likely one of Smolin's, for the topic and timing in the sequence of my reading.
I recognize this too, I think it's part of what is called "Causal dynamical triangulation"; e.g.
I don't know much about it, but I have heard about it. I've also seen an animation of this somewhere on the net, but I can't remember where. But this CDT stuff really belongs in the subforum "Beyond the Standard Model", IMO.

ben krempp said:
Mathetmatically, the tetrahedron is essentially the building block of geometries, does this make it then the building block of our universes?
Rather than making assumptions about what that means, I'd very much like to hear some examples about where you see the tetrahedron being employed as a building block in the universe.

DennisN said:
I recognize this too, I think it's part of what is called "Causal dynamical triangulation"; e.g.
I don't know much about it, but I have heard about it. I've also seen an animation of this somewhere on the net, but I can't remember where. But this CDT stuff really belongs in the subforum "Beyond the Standard Model", IMO.
I would encourage the OP to read the scientific references that are cited in the above articles (not just the above articles) and ask any specific resulting questions. The BSM forum is indeed more appropriate.

## 1. What is a tetrahedron?

A tetrahedron is a three-dimensional geometric shape consisting of four triangular faces, six edges, and four vertices.

## 2. How is a tetrahedron related to the universe?

Some scientists believe that a tetrahedron, due to its unique properties and symmetry, could potentially be the fundamental building block of the universe.

## 3. What evidence supports the idea that the tetrahedron is the building block of the universe?

One piece of evidence is the observation that many natural phenomena, such as crystals and molecular structures, can be described using tetrahedral shapes. Additionally, some theories in physics, such as string theory, suggest that the universe is made up of tiny vibrating strings that can be represented as tetrahedrons.

## 4. Are there any alternative theories to the tetrahedron being the building block of the universe?

Yes, there are many different theories and ideas about the fundamental building blocks of the universe. Some scientists propose different geometric shapes, while others believe that particles or energy fields are the smallest units of the universe.

## 5. How does understanding the tetrahedron as the building block of the universe impact our understanding of the world?

If the tetrahedron is indeed the fundamental building block of the universe, it could potentially lead to a deeper understanding of the laws of physics and how the universe operates. It could also have practical applications in fields such as materials science and technology.

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