Musing over various existential questions may be my preferred past time, I often wonder what would be the one question that fascinates me the most. If Nature allows me a single wish, the one secret that I would want her to tell me about is her apparent love affair with maths.
The first base of knowing Nature is through empirical study of her behavior that we call physics. Physics allows us to form premises through observations, but what happens next is mysterious.
For some unknown reason, our brain is granted a right to convert those premises into axioms and then equations under a system that has its own rules. Axioms identified by physics, once converted into equations following laws of maths acquire a mystical ability. As long as we stick to the rules of maths and develop the equation forward, physics is likely to follow whereever they take us.
Maths is the only know branch of knowledge that not only describes this universe that we can observe, it has power to predict what we can’t observe. It is common to find physical evidences confirming what maths has already suggested after many years. This strange phenomenon has allowed science to reach dimensions of the universe that are far beyond our cognition.
I often get tempted to think about Nature as a highly intelligent and creative being who has built our universe as a game designer. She has created a set of rules to bring a system into existence; but, like any good game designer, she wants her game to be understood, appreciated and cracked. So, she has allowed the components of the system to become not just self-aware but aware of a possibility of existence of a rule-bound system.
Maths is almost like a cheat that Nature has allowed us, presumably after cracking many levels, through which she is giving us clues about the rules of the game. Like any game, if all its rules become known, the game ends in its essence because it becomes predictable. As laws of maths are able to predict behavior of physical world, it is most likely that rules of the game are aligned with rules of maths.
Though, this is an interesting possibilities that allow profound extrapolations, there appear to be many levels that we need to crack before we can close the game set upon us by nature. As we unveil inner workings of nature, we find that we have to build newer and newer types of maths to explain them. And the last maths we have discovered has started showing a very slippery quality of Nature.
The last maths we were forced to invent is connected with probability, as nature seem to abhor maths of certainty. There is a possibility that the game she has set can be appreciated, enjoyed but is provided with just enough amount of randomness so it can’t be cracked using maths as we know it.
The game has reached its most interesting level now. Either we will crack through the probabilistic level and find a deterministic end or we will be stuck forever in quagmire of probabilities.
Till now, we have always managed to find a matching maths to the reality we have become aware of because maths has allowed for logical extrapolation. Unfortunately, the maths of probability, if extrapolated, is not taking us any closer to the end that our deterministic intelligence can fully comprehend.
I feel that now it is the turn of physics to come to the aid of the party. Universe needs extremely intense empirical study to find a new set of patterns and a new maths.
Let us hope that in a game designing studio in an unknown dimension, our simulator is considering about sending yet another cheat. We have come really far in playing the game, so she can’t be mean enough to be throwing dice!