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Physics Mathematics and Analogies

  1. May 10, 2015 #1
    I know physicists are not about analogies. For example there is no real analogy for quantum entanglement or super positions in the real world.

    But the problem is that we dont really have a theory for everything now, and relativity and quantum fields are not consistent right?

    So could it be that the answer is in some math concept that is already discovered (or yet has to be discovered and discarded by some mathematician that is totally uninterested in physics)? We just have not given it that real world meaning yet? So could it be we can actually draw analogies out of various math concepts and give previously very abstract meaningless concepts a connection to the real world (and some actual meaning) and find the answer?

  2. jcsd
  3. May 10, 2015 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    I suppose it's possible.
  4. May 11, 2015 #3


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    Math is a tool. The theory has to be an attempt to explain nature. Models such as string theory and loop quantum gravity are there, but until they can predict something observable, they are simply mathematical exercises.
  5. May 11, 2015 #4


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    What exactly is "real world meaning"? Is this even a well-defined concept? Is this an attempt at philosophy?

    Subjecting science, and physics in particular which has such strict and well-defined formulation, to something vague and subjective, is a cruel and unusual punishment.

  6. May 11, 2015 #5


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    Do you mean that
    there may be some piece of mathematics (possibly yet-undiscovered, or possibly yet-unrecognized, or possibly discarded)
    that has not yet been applied to physics to resolve some deep problem in physics?

    I'd say yes, it's possible.

    Folks have been playing with mathematical models for physics for a long time, and continue to do so.
    Unless one is extremely lucky or insightful, one probably needs experimental results to guide the search.

    Here's any interesting mathematical concept that was briefly considered then discarded by Felix Klein in the late 1800s...
    I believe this is referencing the fact that the Galilean and Lorentz Transformations are not periodic.
    It's possible that Klein (in the 1890s) in his study of hyperbolic and elliptical geometry could have uncovered, by analogy, the mathematics of special relativity before Einstein (1905) and Minkowski (1907).
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