Is God a Mathematician?

Inspired by William Blake's painting The Ancient of Days.
Courtesy of Christine Klicka (STScI), inspired by William Blake’s painting The Ancient of Days.

By Mario Livio

For some inexplicable reason, mathematics does an extraordinary job of explaining the universe.

Many outstanding physicists, most notably Albert Einstein, Eugene Wigner, and James Jeans, remarked that mathematics appears to be just too effective in explaining the universe. Wigner, in particular, wrote a remarkable paper in 1960 titled “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Physical Sciences.” He wrote, “The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics to the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve.”

We may wonder, for example, why all the phenomena encompassed by electromagnetism, from the behavior of electrons to the nature of light, can be explained by a set of four differential equations known as Maxwell’s equations. Equally puzzling is the fact that some geometrical curves like the ellipse, invented/discovered by the Greek mathematician Menaechmus around 350 BC, were found 2,000 years later to describe the orbits of planets around the Sun. Similarly, group theory proved to be essential in the understanding of both the organization of elementary (subatomic) particles, and the structure of solids. What is it that makes mathematics fit the observable universe like a glove?

The attempts to answer this question fall generally into two broad categories. According to one view, mathematics is in some sense the actual “language” of the universe. It exists independent of us humans, and we are merely discovering it in the workings of the cosmos. Proponents of this philosophy like to point out that even some of the more esoteric areas of mathematics, such as non-Euclidean geometries, were eventually found to provide cornerstones to cosmological models.

Source: Astro Society

journal page from Darwin exhibit at New York's American Museum of Natural HistoryTree of life: journal page from Darwin exhibit at New York’s American Museum of Natural HistoryPhoto: © By permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library

Milky Way Galaxy – Our Home

This image from a supercomputer simulation of the evolution of the universe shows a cubic volume of outer space measuring approximately 280 million light years across. At this stage, the universe is 13.4 billion years old (the present). The bright dots correspond with high concentrations of dark matter, which are associated with sites of galaxy formation. The simulation shows how dark matter, an invisible material of unknown composition, herded luminous matter in the universe from its initial smooth state into the cosmic web of galaxies and galaxy clusters that populate the universe. The University of Chicago’s Andrey Kravtsov, Charlie Conroy and Risa Weschlser will describe these findings in a paper published in the June 20 issue of the Astrophysical Journal. (Credit: Image courtesy of Andrey Kravtsov)

Source: Science Daily

Black hole at the center of the universe

The nucleus of the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51). The Cross marks the location of the black hole at the center of the galaxy. The Cross is formed by two dust rings. Bright ionization cones can be seen extending perpindicular to the largest dust ring. – NASA photo from widipediea

Quotes and Musings

Sur comments: The spiral at the behind somewhat like a giant mind map (radiant thinking) and the tree of life of Darwin resemble a mind map too. Imagine also about the shape of our Milky Way Galaxy. The milky way galaxy is just small dot compare to the UNIVERSE. As I wondering the Universe map something like our brain cells.The last picture about At the center of the universe –> reminds me about Ancient of Days as the Saviour! Ancient of Days is truly-truly awesome!