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Gisin, of the University of Geneva, debates the physical reality of real numbers.

His main problem lies with real numbers that consist of a never-ending string of digits with no discernable pattern and that can’t be calculated by a computer. Such numbers (like π for example) contain an infinite amount of information: You could imagine encoding in those digits the answers to every fathomable question in the English language — and more.

But to represent the world, real numbers shouldn’t contain unlimited information, Gisin says, because, “in a finite volume of space you will never have an infinite amount of information”. Instead, Gisin argues that only a certain number of digits of real numbers have physical meaning. After some number of digits, for example, the thousandth digit, or maybe even the billionth digit, their values are essentially random.

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This has big implications for the seemingly unrelated concept of free will. Standard classical physics leaves no room for free will. But if the world is described by numbers that have randomness baked into them, as Gisin suggests, that would knock classical physics from its deterministic perch. That would mean that the behavior of the universe — and everything in it — can’t be predetermined, Gisin says. “There really is room for creativity”. (1)

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From the stars inside bacteria... (literally)

The nature of the world is hidden in shadows.

Behind the coldness of empty space.

Concealed by the massive planets dancing between the stars.

Hidden at the outer rim of the universe.

There lies the source of all numbers.

The source of all existence.

Infinite.

Don’t be afraid of it.

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Because even the smallest drop of water.

Came out of the primordial abyss…

You are the son of water. The daughter of fire.

Sibling and mother and father of chaos.

You can only count because you know the end.

1, 2, 3, …

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