Is there really a universal constant?

In summary, the conversation discusses the concept of universal constants and whether they truly exist. One person argues that math is a constant, while another argues that it is only relevant to human logic and not actual experience. They also discuss the idea of truth and whether it exists as a constant or is relative to an individual's perception. The conversation ends with a mention of postmodernism and a debunking of the concept of a single absolute truth.
  • #1
What do you think, is there something in this universe that does not change, no matter who looks upon it or from where? Is the speed of light the constant that it can be claimed to be?
If there is no constant, then what are we comparing everything to, for example in chemistry, standard electrode potentials are calculated relative to hydrogen, but what is it for hydrogen? surely it can't be zero?
And then language, what i say here could mean different things to different people its all dependant upon where you have come from and possibly even your mood... have you ever read something and found one meaning, but then read it again and found another, or been confronted by someone else who doesn't find your meaning in the same words?
Is your knowledge limited by what your language, or do you know more than what you can say? For instance emotions, having an emotion you cannot find the words to describe.. does that mean it then cannot exist?
History even, cannot be called a constant. People who think otherwise talk to me about this. History seems to be all relative to the historiographer writing that book. For you, an event may have happened like this, to me it happened another way, yet it changes from account to account. Is history thus all a fallacy in the way that it is only one persons interpretation of the past and how their bias' and opinions want things to have happened?
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  • #2
I believe there is no universal constant. Everything is relative. =\
  • #3
easy.. math (in its most simplistic form) is a constant. 1+1 will always equal 2 no matter how you cut it. Since math isn't particular to anyone dimension, it will always be constant.
  • #4
The Phoenix said:
easy.. math (in its most simplistic form) is a constant. 1+1 will always equal 2 no matter how you cut it. Since math isn't particular to anyone dimension, it will always be constant.

That seems only relevant to human logic and not actual experience. We can arbitrarily assign values such as the integer "1" but it is only a mental imagination that two entities become one of exactly twice the original value of those two numbers. In other words, I am going against "if A+A=C, then C is half of A."

Here are my reasons, quantization in nature is something the human mind does. It does this simply because discrete units are easy to work with. But is a whole of two things in nature always the sum of different properties that we can assign? Although this is may not be true or may so after all, it is obvious that human unts are outside of obtaining actual truth of addition.

Just my two cents about this topic.
  • #5
What Regent is talking about sounds logical to me...
  • #6
1 + 1 = 2 has nothing to do with entities, it would be true if there were no entities.
  • #7
so if no human existed at all... would 1+1=2 even exist to be true? isn't mathst just a creation of our minds
  • #8
Monkeys can count, Wellsi. The fact that we created the word "Sun" doesn't mean that the sun wouldn't exist if we didn't.
  • #9
The Phoenix said:
easy.. math (in its most simplistic form) is a constant. 1+1 will always equal 2 no matter how you cut it.

not in base two.
  • #10
not in base two.

This is incorrect. Two and Zwei are the same, right? Similarly, 2 and 11b are the same.
  • #11
in my first post i would like to suggest that "truth" exists as a constant under any circumstance. for egsample, assuming nothing exists it would be true that nothing exists. the truth still exists or put another way, if somthing is true then it is true that it is true, and when somthing is false it is true that it is false. The truth remains constant.

furthermore could the energy that creates all things be "the truth"
  • #12
just adding:

I would be interested if anyone could suggest circumstances in which the truth does not exist.
  • #13
If nothing existed, and it was true that nothing existed, then either nothing existed, or the sentence was false.

There are many circumstances where truth did not necessarily exist.
Truth is a word invented by humans.
You'll also notice you can't have truth without a point of view, and that this point of view naturally lies with a human.
Truth as a word is a value imposed on something based on the perception of the observer, it does NOT state anything about the REAL constant in the universe.
If I say life on Earth has existed for so and so billion years, then all that means is that everything I know tells me that life has existed on Earth for so and so billion years.

In the end, everything I know about reality I know because of my senses, and the way my brain processes the stimuli - I don't really know anything about reality if I assume that my sensory inputs are wrong on every count (just like most assume they are correct).
The discussion about constants is difficult, because everything is in its own right a constant, but only under the assumption that what we perceive is correct.
To me right now, my monitor is a constant, my hands, my heart, my eyes, my father.
So in that sense truth is a constant - but only from within a system where you MUST base it on the assumption that you can never have a constant.
  • #14
Whether any theory is correct or incorrect can only be relative to the truth.
  • #15
What do you mean by "the truth"? How can you be sure there is one set of absolute truths that are the same from every point of view? I would say whether a theory is correct or incorrect may be relative to other things that are hegemonous to a persons worldview.
  • #16
throng said:
Whether any theory is correct or incorrect can only be relative to the truth.

This is postmodernism ran amok, the very same thing that Alan Sokal had decisively stripped down with his infamous hoax in Social Text.

  • #17
The quest for "a grand unified theory" is really a search for a constant.

in math there are a plethera of theoretical constants like 1 to the power of anything will always be 1.

if this theory is in fact untrue one could assume that there is a very high "probability" that 1 squared will equal 1

if there is no constant there is only probability.

the "truth" may be there is no truth, only probability.

it seems to me that no matter what point of veiw or belief one has, it is based on his veiw of "the truth". maybe there is a changing veiw of a constant, the truth.
  • #18
Mathematics is only true in a certain framework of beliefs, beliefs like the law of excluded middle in logic. These truths are not universally true from every point of view, but have certain western beliefs ingrained in them at a fundamental level which you might consider unquestionable. It is a big assumption to assume that there is something out there called "the truth", which we may not know yet, but exists independently in its own right. Another possibility is that truth is a relative concept which depends on the point of view of an individual.
  • #19
maths is like a language. its a metaphor. it is like an expreession of our search for a truth. out of its own "honesty" it must prove itself.

i reckon the truth is unattainable so it is debatable by nature if it exists at all.

if energy can't be created or destroyed wouldn't it be constant in some way?
  • #20
Are you asking if there is something physical which remains constant, or are you asking whether there is some truth which is universally true? It really depends how pedantic you want to be. The speed of light is constant in all inertial frames of reference, is that good enough?
  • #21
light is a changing form of energy. I'm suggesting energy could be a constant in that it can't be created or destroyed. (some light becomes heat) no energy is lost or gained. in a absolute 0 energy is theoretically completely removed from matter. the matter theoretically disintergrates and the energy is transferred to outside the environment. the energy's total "amount" doesn't change.

is there an instance where energy does not remain constant? is there a singular "pure energy" or only heat light matter etc? If everything is of energy can it possibly be many things or is it forms of the same thing? Does energy have a "pure form" that could define it.

Related to Is there really a universal constant?

1. Is there really a universal constant?

Yes, there is a universal constant known as the speed of light, denoted by the symbol 'c'. It is a fundamental physical constant that is the maximum speed at which all matter and information in the universe can travel.

2. What does the speed of light represent?

The speed of light represents the fastest possible speed at which energy, matter, and information can travel in the universe. It plays a crucial role in various theories of physics, including Einstein's theory of relativity.

3. How is the speed of light measured?

The speed of light is measured using various methods, including the use of lasers, mirrors, and precise timing techniques. One of the most accurate methods is using the time it takes for light to travel between two points in a vacuum.

4. Is the speed of light truly constant?

According to Einstein's theory of relativity, the speed of light is constant in all inertial frames of reference. This means that no matter how fast an observer is moving, they will always measure the speed of light to be the same value. However, in extreme conditions, such as in the presence of a strong gravitational field, the speed of light can be affected.

5. Why is the speed of light considered a universal constant?

The speed of light is considered a universal constant because it is the same for all observers, regardless of their relative motion or location in the universe. It is also the maximum speed at which anything in the universe can travel, making it a fundamental constant in many theories of physics.

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