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Book Review: just six numbers


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#1 Tormod

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Posted 03 March 2002 - 03:39 PM

In his book "Just Six Numbers"Read our review Martin Rees states that if any of six fundamental numbers were different, our universe would not be able to foster intelligent life.

Do you believe this is possible? Is it mere speculation that some fundamental values have such "magical" properties that if they were any different, our world would not exist?

Or perhaps the question could be: What if we were able to modify these values ourselves? Could we actually create a new universe by changing fundamental values?

What do you think?

#2 DStahl

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Posted 20 March 2002 - 09:47 AM

tormod, I agree with Rees that if the fundamental constants of our universe were very much different we probably wouldn't be here to worry about it. Fortunately I don't think any latterday Dr. Frankenstein can meddle with these constants in a universal way because they were 'set' shortly after the big bang (according to the some theories, anyway).

#3 Eugene

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Posted 27 April 2002 - 09:35 PM

Though not that much into numerology, I will read the Rees book because, like Pythagoras, I do believe that all things are number and harmony and given sensibility through the 'magic' of mathematics, which is the science of describing exacting relationships. I can say this at the forefront that the number 6 and its multiples makes some significant implications as relevant to describing the natural order of things. Take for example the relationship of area to volume. The sphere and the cube with diameter and base of 6, respectively, is the only configuration giving equality of total surface area to volume. That is to say, a 6-inch diameter sphere has a total surface area of 113.0973 sq in. and volume of 113.0973 cu in.; accordingly, the cube a total surface area of 216 sq in. and volume of 216 cu in. Something has to be said for the Rees observation just in that.

#4 Eugene

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 07:41 PM

As an afterthought - it should be recognized that 6 is a multiple of the 2:3 ratio, which is the closest possible mathematic relationship of one thing to another.

#5 Tormod

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Posted 11 May 2002 - 01:23 PM

Eugene -

I appreciate your interest in the magic of numbers (numerology can indeed be interesting), but I must say I did not get the impression that Rees has any special interest in the actual figure "6". He states in the book that there are indeed many other factors to consider, but he has chosen 6 which he considers to be the most fundamental. So it is a very subjective selection of things he discusses, like the strong and weak forces, and cosmic expansion, and I am sure he could come up with more than those 6 (he actually mentions some in the book).

It seemed to me that he was quite fascinated that by choosing these six numbers, which seem so incredibly fine-tuned, he could explain so much about our Universe. But the six numbers would not in any way cover everything, and I don't believe that they can constitute the basis for a Grand Unified Theory (although I'm out of my league here).

Since it is a book aimed at the mass market the science is quite simplified and I don't think there is any reason to assume that "Just six numbers" is meant as the final word on the matter - my next review of Rees' writings will be his book, "Our Cosmic Habitat", which is a more general book on cosmology and the basis for life in the Cosmos.

Tormod

#6 michaelchang

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Posted 12 May 2002 - 03:21 AM

Hey

Going a LITTLE bit off topic here. I'm a prospective physics undergraduate student and I want to learn more about modern theories like relativity and quantum physics. Are there any books which you guys recommend I read? A lot of them seem a bit over me. I'd like a book which makes these theories (relatively) easy to understand. It'll also be good if they included formulas and the mathematics needed to explain such forumula. I'd rather NOT read books like "A Brief History of Time" as there are no mathematics whatsoever for me to follow through. Thanks guys!