Thursday, November 10, 2005

My correspondence with Paul Davies

The attached paper by me deals with precisely this issue. It was recently published in the journal Complexity.

PD

>>> 05/11/05 9:51 PM >>>
I am not a scientist or a scholar, just an inquisitive man who likes to ask questions and know new things. I enjoy reading your books because they seem to answer my unasked questions, at least try to answer. I have a question. Please do not hesitate to ignore this email if you are busy doing something important. My question can wait.

From your book "The Mind of God" it seems to me that you subscribe to the idea that our mathematical model describing the universe works the way it works because the physical world allows it to work that way. I do not know why (probably influenced by your book), but I also like to think that way. It seems wired to me that mathematics should have an independent existence. After all it is only in our brain where mathematics works and our brain is very much dependent on the physical world.

So it seems to me, as you suggested in your book, that our counting system works because we have discrete countable objects to begin with. A natural consequence of our counting theory is the process of exponentiation and this particular mathematical tool works so well with many things that we do. But it does lead us to absurd numbers with no physical significance. For example a number like 9 to the power 9 to the power 9 to the power 9 can hardly have any physical significance, yet they look perfectly normal, even innocuous to us. Is there a contradiction here? If so, where can I find more material that deal with this issue in greater detail, accessible to a man with limited knowledge of physics and mathematics?

Regards,

Subhendu

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