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  #301  
Old 13.12.2007, 19:15
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Has mathematics reached the end of its life? How much more is there to discover using it? How many major break-throughs have there been since say quantum mechanics and how old is that?

I have been told that there is a lot that remains unanswered, or shall we say there are open issues. But my nderstanding of this is that there are revisions that need to me made, not cracking open doors to new territories.

Is another vehicle or language going to come along and take us to levels of understanding that mathematics is not capable of? If mathematics is based on constants and naturally occurring numbers, is there anything else?
There are still plenty of big unanswered questions out there. It's certainly not the case that we're just making revisions.

A good practical example would be figuring out the procedures that would allow us to build quantum computers.

http://www.physics.ox.ac.uk/al/resea...tuminfo/31.htm

There's a good list of pure maths problems to be solved at

http://mathworld.wolfram.com/UnsolvedProblems.html

There are a few pop-maths books on the Reimann hypothesis. There are a lot of important results that depend on this being true but last I heard noone was close to proving it. If you're interested in finding out more try

http://www.seedmagazine.com/news/200...et_hitched.php

or a book by the same guym Marcus du Sautoy, The Music of the Primes, HarperCollins, 2003

If you want to find out on important developments try following some of the links from here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fields_Medal
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  #302  
Old 13.12.2007, 21:52
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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I think you missed the joke there
I kinda thought so...however, I thought there was something at the beginning of this thread about no question being too simple or stupid, so I erred on the side of being over-zealous. Furthermore, I'm an engineer, trained to take everything literally...
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  #303  
Old 13.12.2007, 22:04
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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There are still plenty of big unanswered questions out there.
My high school Calculus teacher had a Ph.D. in math, and I remember being awed at the thought of him "creating something new in math" for his degree. Well, people get math Ph.D.'s all the time, and surely it's not for reinventing (or tweaking) the wheel. Generally speaking, I think the problem is twofold:
(1) math breakthroughs are at much higher levels than the general populace can easily process
(2) the Media in general has really declined in its coverage of high level math and science research.

So, we would take a long time to understand the new math out there, and the big news agencies aren't reporting on it anyways. Disclaimer: By the way, I'm an engineer/scientist, so don't expect me to tell you exactly what the "new math" is...
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  #304  
Old 14.12.2007, 13:14
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Depends on the set-up. Some urinals are all linked together and have one master flush that is timed.

The second type of automatic flushing urinal has an infrared sensor that detects movement and hence flushes when the person leaves.
And then there's the type which doesn't use water at all... http://urimat.org/
Seen a few around Switzerland (I think it was in some Mc Donald's)
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  #305  
Old 14.12.2007, 13:19
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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And then there's the type which doesn't use water at all... http://urimat.org/
Seen a few around Switzerland (I think it was in some Mc Donald's)
Mcdonald's don't use water in their toilets.
After all, they don't want to dilute the burger mix too much.
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  #306  
Old 14.12.2007, 13:32
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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And then there's the type which doesn't use water at all... http://urimat.org/
Seen a few around Switzerland (I think it was in some Mc Donald's)
Seen in Pickwicks in Baden.
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  #307  
Old 14.12.2007, 13:35
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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here's one....

now, I know this is impossible...but what would happen if:

A large hole was drilled right through the earth, completely, straight through the center...and we jumped in? Would we fall at the same rate the whole way down?

...and once we passed the center, we would then fall "up" for a bit on the other side, then back down...then eventually settle in the center...but could you hold yourself steady or would you rotate and spin around at the center? (no up, no down...just a single point)
Ha ha, this was actually a problem in our first year undergrad physics course. It's one of the few exercises which stuck in my mind...

If I remember correctly, as long as you are "falling" along the axis of rotation of the earth (from North pole to South pole), so that you don't have to worry about the earth's rotation, and as long as you neglect any friction caused by air, etc., then you'll be ("harmonically") oscillating back and forth from one side of the earth to the other. Of course, if you take into account the damping caused by friction, the amplitude of your oscillation will reduce in time until you'll get to a complete stop at the center of the earth.

For those of you who are interested, the whole point of the problem was to calculate and realize that the total gravitational force exerted by the earth when you are at a distance R from the center, is the same as the force exerted by the mass within the sphere of radius R (and is directed towards the center of the earth). It's just a matter of doing some clever integration.
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  #308  
Old 14.12.2007, 14:17
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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I see mathemtics as a language, a naturally occurring language through which we understand concepts our spoken language does not accommodate.
I think I pretty much agree on that. I think of maths as a language which allows us to efficiently discuss concepts which aren't easily dealt with with our spoken language.

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My question is this.

Has mathematics reached the end of its life? How much more is there to discover using it?
If you're wondering whether you're still on time to become a mathematician to make some serious discovery, fear not, as there is a HUGE (infinite?) amount of territory to be explored!

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How many major break-throughs have there been since say quantum mechanics and how old is that?
Quantum mechanics is actually a physics subject. The concept of "quanta" dates back to Einstein's paper of 1905 on the photoelectric effect (now I might be wrong on this); the foundations of quantum mechanics were laid down sometime during the first half of the twentieth century.

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I have been told that there is a lot that remains unanswered, or shall we say there are open issues. But my nderstanding of this is that there are revisions that need to me made, not cracking open doors to new territories.

Is another vehicle or language going to come along and take us to levels of understanding that mathematics is not capable of? If mathematics is based on constants and naturally occurring numbers, is there anything else?
One problem with mathematics is that there is a common popular misunderstanding that maths has to do exclusively with numbers (as in 1,2,3). In fact most "pure" mathematicians barely deal with numbers at all! If I think of mathematics, I think of "abstract structures" (whatever this may mean to you...) rather than numbers, but of course I might be biased due to the kind of work I do. A person involved in modelling or numerical analysis would have more of a "numbers" kind of viewpoint...

As to whether there will ever be any other "language" allowing us to take us to higher level of understanding which may not be reached by continuous extensions or modifications of what we currently think of mathematics, well that's a question ask myself too... I should here point out that I'm not a mathematician, but a theoretical physicist, and not the most philosophically inclined... I should really talk to some of my colleagues and see what their opinion is.
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  #309  
Old 14.12.2007, 14:21
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Re: Ask a Scientist

All sciences are math really. Don't tell the biologists though.
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  #310  
Old 14.12.2007, 14:47
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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All sciences are math really. Don't tell the biologists though.
except that with social sciences they have figured out how to divide by zero
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  #311  
Old 14.12.2007, 14:54
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Right, so when I say 'the sciences' I mean the physical sciences. Not the social "sciences"

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except that with social sciences they have figured out how to divide by zero
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  #312  
Old 14.12.2007, 14:55
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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All sciences are math really. Don't tell the biologists though.
So if you agree with me why did you argue the point last night. Anyway I am so pleased you have seen the light...
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  #313  
Old 14.12.2007, 14:58
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Let's not forget Christian Science (now there's an oxymoron).
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  #314  
Old 14.12.2007, 15:00
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Re: Ask a Scientist

I never said all sciences weren't actually math. My only point was is that we're a long ways away from being able to explain a cell, mathematically. Hell we can't even precisely explain anything other than a Hydrogen atom through math.

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So if you agree with me why did you argue the point last night. Anyway I am so pleased you have seen the light...
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  #315  
Old 14.12.2007, 15:03
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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I never said all sciences weren't actually math. My only point was is that we're a long ways away from being able to explain a cell, mathematically. Hell we can't even precisely explain anything other than a Hydrogen atom through math.
My oh my you are a clever cookie. Ever thought of a career in politics. I seem to recall I said - oh what the hell its science and you are a goddess therefore I am wrong...
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  #316  
Old 14.12.2007, 15:06
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Ja, genau.

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My oh my you are a clever cookie. Ever thought of a career in politics. I seem to recall I said - oh what the hell its science and you are a goddess therefore I am wrong...
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  #317  
Old 14.12.2007, 15:12
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Let's not forget Christian Science (now there's an oxymoron).
more of a moron than an oxy
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  #318  
Old 14.12.2007, 15:17
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Right, so when I say 'the sciences' I mean the physical sciences. Not the social "sciences"
Ah, but the Social Sciences can also be quite mathematically based. Especially the discipline of Geography. Not that I'm bitter about my degree being an 'Arts' degree when all of my classes where all about mathematics, not at all.... ;-)
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  #319  
Old 14.12.2007, 15:23
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Re: Ask a Scientist

How does geography fall under the social sciences?


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Ah, but the Social Sciences can also be quite mathematically based. Especially the discipline of Geography. Not that I'm bitter about my degree being an 'Arts' degree when all of my classes where all about mathematics, not at all.... ;-)
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  #320  
Old 14.12.2007, 15:26
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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How does geography fall under the social sciences?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_sciences 2.4 Geography

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