OO OO so, a few years back i had an idea. a great
OO idea, or so i thought. the best idea of my life
O - the best idea i'll ever have.
OOOO like all good ideas, someone else had it first.
OOO but i'm over that now. and since i still think
OOOOO it's a good idea, i ought to spread the word.
O OOOOO i've discovered where the universe came from.
O obviously, if you're an atheist, this is an
OO important question. but even theists have a
OO problem here: if god created the universe,
OO where did god come from?
OO O OO
OO OOO it's a nasty problem. maybe it was St. Thomas
OO O Aquinas who first found it. but i've got a
OO OOO handle on it now.
OOOO consider the number three. not the digit, nor
OO OOO the symbol, but the number itself. the thing
O OOO that comes after two.
OOOO OOO O
OOOO O where did it come from? who made it?
OO O O OO
O O OO if you're like most people, you'll say "it
O OOO O didn't come from anywhere - it doesn't really
O OOOO exist. it's just a concept. maybe somebody
O OOOO discovered it, but it wasn't really *made*."
O OO mathematicians have a name for this:
OO OOO mathematical existence. unlike physical
OOOO existence, mathematical existence isn't *real*.
OO you can't slam your fist against the number
OOO three. lots of things exist mathematically
OOOOOO O (strange multidimensional singularity fractals,
OOO OO or somesuch) but nobody expects that they really
OOOO OOOO exist.
O O OOOOO so how about the number pi? that's the one that
OO OOOOOO goes "3.141592..." on and on forever. it's
O OOO another number. it has fantastic properties,
O O which is why mathematicians gave it such a good
OO OO name.
OO O but - who made it?
OO "nobody made it, because it doesn't really
OO OOO exist."
O OO OO right. in fact, whenever there's a new
OOOOO mathematical discovery, that's what it's
OOO O called, a *discovery*. did Mandelbrot make the
OO Mandelbrot set? no - he discovered it.
OOOOOOOOO so - what about the people who live inside pi?
OO OOOOOO who made them?
OOO O "excuse me?!"
OOOOOO okay. maybe there aren't people living inside
OO OOO of pi. but there ARE numbers that have people
OO OO living inside of them - as you look down the
OOOO OO O row of digits, if you interpret them right, you
OOOOOO O see people's lives being played out. and i bet
OOOOO OO that people live in pi, too - but that's not
OOOOO OO important.
O OOO what about them?
OO (okay. mathematicians are going to be pissy.
O "what numbers?" they say. consider the rules
OO O for John Conway's game of life. it's been shown
OOOO O O to be Turing complete - i.e. computation can be
O O performed in his worlds. create a Turing machine
O which executes a genetic algorithm - encode it
OO into a life world - and then encode it into a
OOOO number. there.)
O O O
OOOOOOOOO so, what about them?
O OOOOO "they don't really exist. they exist
O O OOOOO mathematically, as you say - but they don't
OOOO exist physically."
OO OOOOOO no - i think they do.
OOOO OO consider for a moment, the perspective of one
OOOO O O of these people living in one of these worlds. to
OO O OOO you, his world is intangible. but to him, his
OOO OOO world is real. when he slams his fist against
OO his world, it hurts.
OOO OOO that is EXACTLY the same criteria that we use to
O OO judge our world as real.
OO O and consider that he can find a number that
OO OOOOOO contains our world. and he says, just like you
O OOOOO do, that our number-world doesn't really exist.
O OO O "so, according to you, do we exist?"
OOOO no, that's just it. physical existence is an
O illusion. we exist mathematically. our universe
OOOOOOO is merely a definition - like the number three.
O granted - our world is quite big. but then, so
O is pi.