# Why does math work? Is it the longest ongoing illusion?

1. Oct 23, 2011

### IHazQuestions

I know 1+1=2, and I know that numbers go from 0-9 and repeat until infinity, but why does this work? Why does it make sense, and why do we have faith in it so much? What I'm getting at is, could mathematics just be waiting to be disapproved, or is math trying to answer the ultimate question?

2. Oct 23, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

I have no idea what you mean by "ultimate question". Mathematics is unique amongst the sciences because it is the only one where proof can be absolute. 2+2=4 because it's a logical absolute.

3. Oct 23, 2011

### phinds

This strkes me as philosophy carried to absurdity

Math is internally consistent and that's all it needs to be and all it ever claims to be.

4. Oct 23, 2011

### micromass

Staff Emeritus
There is no way math can be disproved. (it can only be shown inconsistent).

The thing you're getting at is why math can be applied to the real world. The answer is simple. We made math that way. Math came to existence because of our experience to the real world. It came into existence when cavemen noticed that we can count things. So math applies to the real world because we have made it that way.

I also would like you to expand on the "ultimate question". Of course math can't answer everything. This would be silly to expect. But you can still do a lot with it.

5. Oct 23, 2011

### IHazQuestions

I am aware I was all over the place in my post, when I said the ultimate question I was referring to what Einstein was trying to solve when he died. I suppose the question is some series of equations that only he could comprehend.

Regarding math, I feel that it is waiting to be proven inconsistent, I suppose I would need a break down of why these symbols we call numbers mean, what they mean. I'm off the deep end here, I hope you have some idea of what I'm talking about

6. Oct 23, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

This thread is silly. IHazQuestions you should research the topic before posting and make sure you are concise in future.