Unraveling Reality {41}

Laws of Nature

“To be a scientist, you have to have faith that the universe is governed by dependable, immutable, absolute, universal, mathematical laws of an unspecified origin.” ~ Paul Davies

Science attempts to render the order we perceive ironclad by formulating “laws” of Nature. This distillation invariably ends in symbolism: mathematics.

Mathematics

“It was mathematics, the non-empirical science par excellence, wherein the mind appears to play only with itself, that turned out to be the science of sciences, delivering the key to those laws of Nature and the universe that are concealed by appearances.” ~ American theorist Hannah Arendt

Via mathematics, science aims at discovering the laws by which Nature is encoded. Physics models pervasively show extra-dimensionality (ed), and entanglements involving infinities: indicating phenomena beyond our ken. As a compass to the truth, mathematics points to existence as a practically inscrutable complexity. Biology seconds this apprehension.

“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” ~ Albert Einstein

 Srinivasa Ramanujan

“The results I get are termed by the local mathematicians as ‘startling’.”~ Srinivasa Ramanujan in a 1910 letter to English mathematician G.H. Hardy, who befriended Ramanujan

Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887–1920) was a precocious Indian mathematician. Ramanujan’s sketchy education did not deter him from producing a prodigious volume of wondrous equations and theorems. Many were completely novel, opening entirely new areas of exploration.

“Ramanujan made many momentous contributions to mathematics, especially number theory.” ~ American mathematician George Andrews

“So much of what Ramanujan offers comes from mysterious words and strange formulas that seem to defy mathematical sense.” ~ Japanese American mathematician Ken Ono

Modern-day mathematicians still struggle to understand many of the implications of Ramanujan’s insights and discoveries. For one, Ramanujan construed a mathematical form which may explain the physics of black holes.

“Mr. Ramanujan’s methods were so terse and novel, and his presentation so lacking in clearness and precision, that the ordinary mathematical reader, unaccustomed to such intellectual gymnastics, could hardly follow him.” ~ Indian mathematician Narayana Iyengar

A mathematical savant, Ramanujan was inscrutably able to rapidly solve complex problems.

“He combined a power of generalization, a feeling for form, and a capacity for rapid modification of his hypotheses that were often really startling. The limitations of his knowledge were as startling as its profundity. His answers were arrived at by a process of mingled argument, intuition, and induction, of which he was entirely unable to give any coherent account.” ~ G.H. Hardy

In 1943, Austrian pediatrician and medical theorist Hans Asperger identified a profile of individuals who were able to function quite well in society but seemed to operate with a divergent mental model from ordinary folk. Ramanujan may have fit Asperger’s profile. Despite his mathematical brilliance, Ramanujan displayed certain behaviors and absence of practical foresight that marked him as lacking common sense.

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“The real beauty of life is in orderliness.” ~ Ghanaian writer Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

Every event and every object are unique; but our minds have an inexorable inclination to categorize: to view the world through templates. By this tendency we create an order to Nature, which is different than the order Nature creates.

“We should be cautious not to attribute to Nature laws which may perhaps be only of our own invention.” ~ Scottish geologist James Hutton

Most importantly, we do not see the world as a series of interacting processes. Time is a secondary sense. Hence temporal truths – of consequences – are the hardest lessons learned. Instead, strong spatial orientation – toward objects and bodies – issues consequences born of delusions.

“Causality is a complex function. Complexity indicates dynamism and constant change, which makes the habits of categorization and search for universal rules seem dubiously relevant. Rather, an attempt to see the interrelatedness of events will seem important.” ~ American psychologist Richard Nisbett et al

Following the mind’s convention of object orientation, the miracle of Nature having laws invoked a Creator.

“The laws of Nature are but the mathematical thoughts of God.” ~ Greek mathematician Euclid in the 4th century BCE

The urge toward theism is a strong statement of an imperative need to sense a cosmic order and doing so through objectification. An equally poignant declaration was made in believing that Nature has laws.

Whereas natural law has remained a central precept, post-industrial science gave God a special dispensation: banishment. Scientists still have faith, but it has been firmly placed in a natural order without a supernatural cause.

“The ability to reduce everything to simple fundamental laws does not imply the ability to start from those laws and reconstruct the universe.” ~ American physicist Philip Anderson

Like energy that exudes materiality, the only things propping up laws of Nature are abstractions, bridled to our need to render order. Sensing structure makes us feel safe and offers the profitable prospect of predictable exploitation. So we celebrate such laws and consider them real.

“The great delusion of modernity is that the laws of Nature explain the universe for us. The laws of Nature describe the universe, they describe the regularities. But they explain nothing.” ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein