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Old 07-15-2013, 12:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mordant View Post
Well, how can you not find air extraordinary? It's everywhere. Water, too (expands instead of shrinks when cold!). Empty space. Right angles. Where does it end? Isn't pi in an important sense ordinary simply because of its ubiquity? If it inspires awe in you that's fine ... I wouldn't want to rain on your parade. But if you find pi extraordinary it's proof only that you find pi extraordinary ... not that it IS in some sense objectively remarkable and certainly not that it is evidence of or for god(s).

I find pi interesting in its own right, though not awesome; others find it utterly boring. If amazement is evidence for god, then how do you account for some people not being amazed? If the failure of some to respond to pi's wonderfulness doesn't disprove god, then in what sense does some people's excitement prove god?
You've missed the point completely.
..... and I never said that that my amazement about pi is evidence for god.

And I suggest you read grade 10 level chemistry and physics books. Your amazement about water (shrinks when cold, right angles) and air, will be answered by simple scientific concepts (discovered 100s of years ago) found in these textbooks. If you cannot understand them, come back to this forum and I am sure I can help you learn some basic chemistry and physics.

Last edited by sandman249; 07-15-2013 at 12:13 PM..
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Old 07-15-2013, 12:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Cruithne View Post
Pi is what it is because it deals with the properties of a circle - if you changed the value of pi you would no longer be dealing with a circle but something else entirely and then we would be sitting here discussing a different shape. On a simplistic level, its like saying that if the angles of a square were all 89° instead of 90° we would no longer have a square. Or if the total angles on a triangle didn't add up to 180° you would no longer have a triangle. The properties are what they are because they describe the properties of the shape mathematically, simple as that.
I guess you are right. There are so many different ways of looking at these things. That's what is truly interesting. And this is exactly what I was getting at in my OP. Ideas like these are truly perplexing.

Quote:
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely understand what you are getting at - the universe is full of such mathematical constants, complicated and puzzling concepts often broken down into simple and elegant equations. Why should this be? I think what you are trying to get is to say is that it must be down to god. Yes it does seem extraordinary that we should be able to explain our universe using mathematical equations. And it certainly is elegant, fascinating, thought provoking and often mysterious, I would certainly agree with you on that. It would be easy to think that because the physical constants are often described so elegantly, mathematically, that god must somehow be 'built-in' to the whole thing. There are all sorts of extraordinary things about the universe and we have historically put down to god. I think as atheists of course we have moved away from that, because so much of what seemed like a good idea to attribute to god in the past, turned out to have another explanation.
Yes of course we could all be wrong, but until proven otherwise I think we would like our scientists to continue to explore 'the reason why' things are the way we are.
I am glad you understand what I am trying to get at ... if nothing, these ideas are truly thought provoking.

Quote:
I mentioned earlier in the thread the book "Why E=mc2" and was going to write a review of it here but honestly on further reading I'm not sure I could write a concise summary, so I strongly recommend you read it yourself. It traces the progress of how Einstein arrived at his famous elegant equation - from Galileo, Faraday, Maxwell and research by other scientists which led to how Einstein arrived at his mathematical description of the universe. It is so well written that it is surprisingly easy to follow. The chapter about the speed of light is fascinating.
Okay ... I will read it! Maybe we can start a thread about the book
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Old 07-15-2013, 12:22 PM
 
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Originally Posted by NoCapo View Post
I would argue that pi's ubiquity is not due to something amazing about pi, but that the concept of circles and cyclical elements are all through the math we use to describe the world. If pi is intrinsically related to a circle, then the interesting thing is how circles and cycles play a part in the world around us, not so much pi itself...

-NoCapo
You are right. But I would say that we use pi, the irrational number in numerous mathematical calculations (and not circles and cylinders themselves). So it is fairly reasonable to ponder over it's utility and widespread application in the most complicated scientific challenges of 2013 (Hadron Collider, particle physics, etc).
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Old 07-15-2013, 12:25 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
You've missed the point completely.
..... and I never said that that my amazement about pi is evidence for god.

And I suggest you read grade 10 level chemistry and physics books. Your amazement about water (shrinks when cold, right angles) and air, will be answered by simple scientific concepts (discovered 100s of years ago) found in these textbooks. If you cannot understand them, come back to this forum and I am sure I can help you learn some basic chemistry and physics.
No need to be either testy or insulting. I was making mostly rhetorical points. If I offended, or misunderstood, I apologize. There has just been so much talk on these forums of late that amount to amazement = wonder = some form of woo that it's getting to me I guess.
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Old 07-15-2013, 12:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mordant View Post
No need to be either testy or insulting. I was making mostly rhetorical points. If I offended, or misunderstood, I apologize. There has just been so much talk on these forums of late that amount to amazement = wonder = some form of woo that it's getting to me I guess.
If I insulted your intelligence, it was not intentional. I apologize.
You should read my remarks about pi in context to my OP (and the question raised).

On a more humorous note:
Your response reminded me about the infamous Bill O'Reilly and Richard Dawkins interview, where O'Reilly said that no one knows why the sun goes up and down, the tide goes in and out. So there must be a god. And Dawkins responded by saying that WE actually do have a fairly good understanding about the sun rising and the high/ low -tides


Bill O'Reilly SCARED by Richard Dawkins - YouTube
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Old 07-15-2013, 01:12 PM
 
3,404 posts, read 2,250,630 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
You are right. But I would say that we use pi, the irrational number in numerous mathematical calculations (and not circles and cylinders themselves). So it is fairly reasonable to ponder over it's utility and widespread application in the most complicated scientific challenges of 2013 (Hadron Collider, particle physics, etc).
To me it doesn't seem odd. If Pi is related to a circle, then pi is related to anything cyclical through that relationship, which basically includes all wave phenomena. So anything that is a propagating wave or has similar properties is intrinsically related to circles, and thus pi. It is because the concept of a circle is so mathematically useful in describing the world around us. It is interesting, but it seems to be definitional. Pi is defined by the relationship of the diameter to the circumference of a circle, so the geometry came first, pi was determined to be a fixed ratio that always describes that particular geometery. Then we found that waves can be represeted as translated circular motion, so now any wave motion is related ( acoustics, vibration, electromagnetism, optics, etc...), then we realize that periodinc phenomena in general can be represented by sums of sinusoids, which are just translated circles. It all comes from the very definition of what it means to be circular.

It is an interesting topic to think on.

-NoCapo
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Old 07-15-2013, 01:18 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
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Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Okay ... I will read it! Maybe we can start a thread about the book
Yay!! I'd love that.


For some further light entertainment, here is Eddie Izzard (my I-Ching for every situation) on Einsteins theory:

To summarise:
Einstein: E=mc2. It works! There you go I'm off to have a sandwich now. I'm going to America to plug my hair into the mains - waoh!

There must have been some physicists going: E=mc2 ? I had F=mc2 ohh I was so close.

Well what does your F stand for?: er..fudge.


Edi Izard - Ajn
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Old 07-15-2013, 09:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
This argument starts to make a lot more sense when you read notable physicists talk about the perplexing nature of these constants. A lot has been written and said about these natural constants, and I cannot really do justice to them on this forum. Whole books have been written just about pi.

At the Risk of Sounding Ridiculous, I will also state that saying "I don't know" to rudimentary ideas in physics and math - speed of light, pi, etc. that we teach to 10 year olds, does not sound like a very satisfactory answer. In a way, all of mathematics, physics and chemistry is based on many of these physical constants. From the complicated idea of the big bang to the simpler idea of the hydrogen atom - they are all highly dependent on our understanding of these constants.

That said, I am glad that you and some others at least acknowledge that this idea makes you stop and think. And I suspect that those that dismiss this idea outright, do not understand it at all.
I agree with you, but recently, physicists have been rethinking the constants. This is a long article, but worth the read, imo.

Are Physical Constants Really Constant?: Scientific American

Quote:
In recent years, however, the status of the constants has grown more muddied, not less. Researchers have found that the best candidate for a theory of everything, the variant of string theory called M-theory, is self-consistent only if the universe has more than four dimensions of space and time—as many as seven more. One implication is that the constants weobserve may not, in fact, be the truly fundamental ones. Those live in the full higher-dimensional space, and we see only their three-dimensional “shadows.”

Meanwhile physicists have also come to appreciate that the values of many of the constants may be the result of mere happenstance, acquired during random events and elementary particle processes early in the history of the universe. In fact, string theory allows for a vast number—10500—of possible “worlds” with different self-consistent sets of laws and *con-
*stants. So far researchers have no idea why our combination was selected. Continued study may reduce the number of logically possible worlds to one, but we have to remain open to the unnerving possibility that our known universe is but one of many—a part of a multiverse—and that different parts of the multiverse exhibit different solutions to the theory, our observed laws of nature being merely one edition of many systems of local bylaws.
So while we still don't know, it is difficult to see how the values point to fine-tuning for life or make an argument for *god did it.*

Quote:
Ever since the 1930s researchers have speculated that the constants may not be constant. String theory gives this idea a theoretical plausibility and makes it all the more important for observers to search for deviations from constancy.
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Old 07-16-2013, 04:14 AM
 
39,083 posts, read 10,842,814 times
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Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Well, I think you are pettifogging the issue by bringing in the snowflake and "godunnit" argument. In a way, I find little to no difference between a theist who says pi is what it is because god made it so, and an atheist who says that pi is what it is cause I don't know or care ....
And it is no only me saying this about the natural constants. Notable physicists and mathematicians are perplexed by these issues.

How can you not find pi to be extraordinary? While pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, it is regarded as the most important yet strange constant in mathematics:

- pi goes on and on for an infinite number of digits (Pi to the 10,000th digit - CNN.com)
- pi is used in astronomy to find other planets
- pi is used in math distributions (normal, gaussian). Think modelling weather, wall street, stocks, tv signals, radio waves
- pi is used in astrophysics (calculations for Big Bang)
- pi in particle physics (basic calculations for Large Hadron Collider)
- pi in simple calculations for Gravity, energy, volume
- pi is found in the coiling of the DNA
I cannot agree that I am pettifoging or dragging in irrelevancies. What i am doing is looking at the Big Picture, which is to say, all evidence that has a bearing on the subject.

What you are doing, I suggest, is cherry -picking the questions to support the conclusion - that a Mind must be involved.

While stacking up a lot of astonishing and puzzling facts about Pi is interesting and puzzling, it is illegitimate to suggest that this somehow is evidence of a Mind at work. That is even if we did not have examples equally astounding things like crystal -growth (including snowflakes) and the hexagon in nature and these do not in any way serve as evidence of a Mind, aka God.

Neither is it irrelevant to point to facts that strongly indicate the absence of a Mind at work where we should expect to find it.

Now, I am no expert in Pi, but I would not be surprised that your list of applications of Pi in all sorts of advanced science (the more Woo the better) is overdone, as is the suggestion that the list of professors who confess their puzzlement at universal constants somehow implies that they have no answer either than goddunnit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruithne View Post
Pi is what it is because it deals with the properties of a circle - if you changed the value of pi you would no longer be dealing with a circle but something else entirely and then we would be sitting here discussing a different shape. On a simplistic level, its like saying that if the angles of a square were all 89° instead of 90° we would no longer have a square. Or if the total angles on a triangle didn't add up to 180° you would no longer have a triangle. The properties are what they are because they describe the properties of the shape mathematically, simple as that....et.
Can't rep you yet, but a very good post.
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Old 07-16-2013, 05:12 AM
 
Location: Florida
19,801 posts, read 19,900,285 times
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Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
I am not sure what is so perplexing about this question!



Why we (humans) form relationships with certain animals (dogs, cats, horses) is very well studied and understood. Also, many of us just get squeamish when we see a deer being attacked by a lion on TV. What is so irrational about that? Bringing god into the picture might be the reason behind all the confusion.
My mind must be working slowly this morning.

My point was that Christians had no explanation as to why animals need to suffer.....those that have no connection to or relationship with humans.

Your underlined makes it seem like you agree with me that the fact that they do can't be defended by any of the usual Christian apologists?
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