Counting till the end… Numbers… Infinite… Water and fire…

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.

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)

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.


Don’t be afraid of it.

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, …

Counting parts. Seeing the whole. Small prejudices… [Against numbers?!]

We can assume that children learn to count starting with one and followed by the lists of numbers in ascending order of cardinality (one, two, three). But besides numbers, in languages there are more words that express quantity such as all, some, most, none, etc., the so-called quantifiers.

A recent study into childhood language in 31 languages, in which UPV/EHU researchers have participated, has reached the surprising conclusion that in all the languages studied, children acquire the quantifiers in the same order, irrespective of the properties of the language in question. The children acquire the words referring to totality earlier than the ones covering only one part of the set. (1)

Babies learning the notion of total. Then growing up. Learning the notion of numbers. Then the notion of infinite. How logical is that sequence? We learn numbers and we only meet “infinite” when we are graduate students. And yet, we accept it with no effort against all odds. We find it difficult to understand numbers and yet easy to accept a notion that is not even close to be observed or experienced by our “limited” nature. And yet here we are. Talking about the One, about infinite. Infinite is supposedly a “difficult” advanced notion which is part of university curriculum and yet we had already learnt it. When we were kids. When we thought about “totality” as a notion only because we already knew it…

We are hardwired to see the One.

We are then forced to see the parts.

We fight against ourselves every day.

We learn to deny our nature every day.

In order to learn, we must unlearn what we have learnt.

1, 2, 3, … ∞

1, ∞


Cellular grids, tetractys, geo-locating, identifying…

Scientists say it is remarkably easy to identify a mobile phone user from just a few pieces of location information. Whenever a phone is switched on, its connection to the network means its position and movement can be plotted. This data is given anonymously to third parties, both to drive services for the user and to target advertisements. But a study in Scientific Reports warns that human mobility patterns are so predictable it is possible to identify a user from only four data points. [1]

Only 4 geo-points suffice to identify you…

We are all living in the same world. And we are all unique. But what we cannot easily see, is how similar or close we are to each other. We walk next to each other. Going on our way along with crouds of fellow co-workers. What “separates” us from them are only four points in a cellular phone grid, holding true to what Pythagoras maintains about the power of the number 10 lying in the number 4 – the tetractys (Greek τετρακτύς) (Aetius 1.3.8) [2].

Ancient wisdom, re-discovered…

Numbers – Do they really “exist” ?


One upon a time humans invented numbers. And since then they see numbers everywhere. But do numbers really “exist” ?

Imagine that number do exist. What would that mean for the Universe? As Leibniz postulated (see La Monadologie), if we try to use numbers and fractions, we would always break our head on unsolved paradoxes related to infinity. If something can be divided with everything, then we would end up with everything being consisted of infinite sums of entities with the value zero… And how can you even “know” there is an infinite number of numbers if you can never have an experience of that infinite? Set theory added to the mystery. If a set (and we must remember that a number, e.g. 3, is the set of all sets which have three entities in them – See Frege) is the basis of so many paradoxes like the ones Russel discovered, then how can we relly trust that numbers actually “are” ?

But things described by numbers actually work!, someone might argue.

But everything “worked” before we invented numbers!, someone might answer.

What does “1+3 = 4” mean for Nature anyway?

Things we create do not necessarily exist. And if our creation leads to unsolved dead-ends then one might logically conclude that it is not as “self-evident” as one might want to believe…

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