What life is like when you really understand advanced mathematics

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/08/16/what-life-is-like-when-you-rea.html

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(Late 90’s indie movie spoiler:)


Prove it!


Leaving the theater - I was the only person saying I liked this movie…


No wonder humanity has so much difficulty comprehending the nature of God—He is made out of MATH!

Like, that’s some AP Calculus-level stuff.


Damn. Beat me to it.

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A 216 digit number? That’s only 720 bits, or 90 bytes. That’s shorter than the keys that are used in a lot of encryption schemes.

It’s hard to imagine that all of creation boils down to 720 bits.


That’s just His nickname.


I love that movie.


Mr. Doctorow, thank you so much for posting this. The author hits the nail right on the head.

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I would posit that the explanation (i.e., it’s hard work and you need a lots of mental tools and lots of experience) is true for most any human endeavor. At least to do a good job at it.



If you want to get his attention you should use the @ symbol so @doctorow in this case.

I imagine you can’t buy a single thing with out knowing how badly you are getting fucked on the price.


Why illustrate with a photo from a sophomore-level class?

Can’t trust nicknames

IMHO, matrix algebra is pretty mind-expanding. But, once upon a time I actually felt like I understood it in some modest degree. So it must be trivial.

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It isn’t trivial, but the Gauss-Jordan elimination method is about the most mechanical and straightforward algorithm that exists in mathematics.


My spirituality is somewhat nebulously defined – I can’t take human conceptions of the divine seriously, but I can’t really self-identify as an atheist either – but I actually do feel that math is the human construct that gets closest to divinity, whatever that thing may be.

A beautiful piece of math is kind of like a beautiful cathedral, in that it’s not the divine, but it points at it in ways that humans can experience aesthetically (if such aesthetics float your particular boat).

And apropos – or not – contemplating number theory on high-dose psychedelics is the bomb.


I’m atheist by any practical definition, but I know what you mean. If I were looking for evidence of a designer, I’d take a hard look at the creepy discovered-rather-than-invented language woven into the fabric of the universe. The one whose sentences, when constructed according to strict grammatical rules, are eerily likely to predict real world phenomena.

OTOH, if I were looking for comfort and community, I’d look elsewhere.


Advanced mathematics are not as advanced as one may think.

It starts as an exercise in proving that the things that a student was taught in Calc I, II, III, etc… are actually correct, but in very abstract, formal terms. The language used to describe these proofs are somewhat esoteric and, I feel, a source of dissuasion for those wishing to explore their mathematical education beyond an engineering level requirement.

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