Scientific Sense Podcast

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Universal mathematics

Recent news (1) that honeybees can add and substract using colored symbolic representations, indicates that mathematics is a more fundamental concept, integral to any entity. For a biological system to survive and thrive, it appears that the conceptualization of symbolic representations and arithmetic are necessary conditions. It may have broader implications for those seeking life outside Earth. If life is Carbon based, it is possible that they will share a common mathematical language, regardless of the state of their evolution.

The physical discontinuity that led to mass extinctions 65 million years ago on Earth and sent the remaining biological diversity on a tangent, may have resulted in a slower than typical progression on mathematical capabilities. If Honeybees could have performed arithmetic 300 million years before humans arrived, it is possible that the survivors are less competent in conceptualization and symbolic representation. If so, extraterrestrial life is likely substantially more advanced in mathematics. The beauty of math, as a language, is that it is backward compatible. The advanced species, thus, will be able to recognize the crude conceptualization and arithmetic that humans are currently specializing in.

If the current constraints on space-time hold true (which is unlikely), physical transport across coordinates of possible life will be impossible. Assuming we got this reasonably correct, an advanced entity elsewhere will try to communicate using only mathematics and not rigid constraints such as languages. Voyager is carrying recordings of languages from around the world on the premise that when ET picks it up, they will be thrilled by English or Arabic. It is unlikely. Human languages are not backward compatible nor are they mathematically reducible. It is an accumulation of errors, an inelegant misrepresentation of beautiful math. More cynically, the human brain appears to be mathematical in operation, not in use. An advanced entity may ultimately be able to connect directly with the hardware but not to the carrier of it.

Is there free will?


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