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Mathematics descriptions of objects not found in the real world

  1. Feb 6, 2009 #1
    What are some mathematical equations that described patterns and objects that you will not find in the real world, i.e. the physical tangible university. String theory doesn't count since mathematicians are waiting for a detector to be built that will observed the strings that are supposedly the fundamental entities of everything.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2009 #2


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    I'm not sure what you mean. Numbers themselves are not "found in the real world". Geometric figures such as points, lines, triangles, and circles are not "found in the real world".
  4. Feb 7, 2009 #3
    Many high dimensional geometric objects do not currently correspond to physical things. Of course you never know for sure that science will not find some use for a mathematical object.

    How about the sphere in 6000 dimensional Euclidean space? Currently is not associated with any physical theory.
  5. Feb 8, 2009 #4


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    I heard that the physical tangible university (PTU )is even better than the electoral college!. :) (Sorry, Sunday night)

    Anyway; this is more of a phylosophical question, I think (maybe you intended it that
    way). A weird think about mathematics is that, unlike the case with many other areas,
    it does not have a clearly-defined subject matter: Physics ( at least the "meat and
    potatos" , not the theoretical) is the study of the physical world. Biology is the study of
    life, etc.
    But it is not clear what much of the subject area of math is about.
    My personal opinion is that mathematics describes possible worlds, while everyday
    physics describes the observable world, and theoretical physics is close in subject
    matter to mathematics.

    I hope this is the angle you were going for.
  6. Feb 11, 2009 #5


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    Just wanted to add a comment: we do not have full access to the whole
    world out there: we can perceive images only within a certain wave-length,
    same for sounds, etc. So there is a lot out there that seems (at least for
    the moment) outside of our sensory reach. Note, e.g., the fact that dogs
    have an olfactory sense that is many times more powerful than ours. Dogs
    have access to a sensory portion of life that we have no access to at this
    point. So the term 'real world' is maybe innacurate in this context.

    Just note that this is a personal opinion here that I cannot rigorously support at this point:
    Mathematics may be describing portions of the world we have no access to
    at this point in our evolution. We live -- at least at this point -- in a very
    remote, very small corner of the world of possible experiences.
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