A real miracle (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Tuesday, September 06, 2022, 16:24 (85 days ago)

Why does mathematics explain everything:


"...The first point is that mathematical concepts turn up in entirely unexpected connections.
Moreover, they often permit an unexpectedly close and accurate description of the phenomena in these connections. Secondly, just because of this circumstance, and because we do not understand the reasons of their usefulness, we cannot know whether a theory formulated in terms of mathematical concepts is uniquely appropriate. We are in a position similar to that of a man who was provided with a bunch of keys and who, having to open several doors in succession, always hit on the right key on the first or second trial. He became skeptical concerning the uniqueness of the coordination between keys and door.


"The first point is that the enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious and that there is no rational explanation for it.


"The preceding discussion is intended to remind us, first, that it is not at all natural that "laws of nature" exist, much less that man is able to discover them.


"It is difficult to avoid the impression that a miracle confronts us here, quite comparable in its striking nature to the miracle that the human mind can string a thousand arguments together without getting itself into contradictions, or to the two miracles of the existence of laws of nature and of the human mind’s capacity to divine them. The observation which comes closest to an explanation for the mathematical concepts’ cropping up in physics which I know is Einstein’s statement that the only physical theories which we are willing to accept are the beautiful ones. It stands to argue that the concepts of mathematics, which invite the exercise of so much wit, have the quality of beauty. However, Einstein’s observation can at best explain properties of theories which we are willing to believe and has no reference to the intrinsic accuracy of the theory.


"The preceding three examples, which could be multiplied almost indefinitely, should illustrate the appropriateness and accuracy of the mathematical formulation of the laws of nature in terms of concepts chosen for their manipulability, the "laws of nature" being of almost fantastic accuracy but of strictly limited scope. I propose to refer to the observation which these examples illustrate as the empirical law of epistemology. Together with the laws of invariance of physical theories, it is an indispensable foundation of these theories. Without the laws of invariance the physical theories could have been given no foundation of fact; if the empirical law of epistemology were not correct, we would lack the encouragement and reassurance which are emotional necessities, without which the "laws of nature" could not have been successfully explored. Dr. R. G. Sachs, with whom I discussed the empirical law of epistemology, called it an article of faith of the theoretical physicist,
and it is surely that. However, what he called our article of faith can be well supported by actual examples - many examples in addition to the three which have been mentioned.


"Let me end on a more cheerful note. The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of
mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither
understand nor deserve. We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning."

Comment: For me this is overwhelming proof of a designing mind using Math to build a universe. This is a very long philosophic article from a very famous scientist.

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