If you are aware of an interesting new academic paper (that has been published in a peer-reviewed journal or has appeared on the arXiv), a conference talk (at an official professional scientific meeting), an external blog post (by a professional scientist) or a news item (in the mainstream news media), which you think might make an interesting topic for an FQXi blog post, then please contact us at forums@fqxi.org with a link to the original source and a sentence about why you think that the work is worthy of discussion. Please note that we receive many such suggestions and while we endeavour to respond to them, we may not be able to reply to all suggestions.

Please also note that we do not accept unsolicited posts and we cannot review, or open new threads for, unsolicited articles or papers. Requests to review or post such materials will not be answered. If you have your own novel physics theory or model, which you would like to post for further discussion among then FQXi community, then please add them directly to the "Alternative Models of Reality" thread, or to the "Alternative Models of Cosmology" thread. Thank you.

Please also note that we do not accept unsolicited posts and we cannot review, or open new threads for, unsolicited articles or papers. Requests to review or post such materials will not be answered. If you have your own novel physics theory or model, which you would like to post for further discussion among then FQXi community, then please add them directly to the "Alternative Models of Reality" thread, or to the "Alternative Models of Cosmology" thread. Thank you.

Contests Home

Previous Contests

**Wandering Towards a Goal**

How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?

*December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017*

Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fnd.

read/discuss • winners

**Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics**

*Contest Partners: Nanotronics Imaging, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and The John Templeton Foundation*

Media Partner: Scientific American

read/discuss • winners

**How Should Humanity Steer the Future?**

*January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014*

*Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American*

read/discuss • winners

**It From Bit or Bit From It**

*March 25 - June 28, 2013*

*Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American*

read/discuss • winners

**Questioning the Foundations**

Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?

*May 24 - August 31, 2012*

*Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, SubMeta, and Scientific American*

read/discuss • winners

**Is Reality Digital or Analog?**

*November 2010 - February 2011*

*Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American*

read/discuss • winners

**What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?**

*May - October 2009*

*Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams*

read/discuss • winners

**The Nature of Time**

*August - December 2008*

read/discuss • winners

Previous Contests

How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?

Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fnd.

read/discuss • winners

Media Partner: Scientific American

read/discuss • winners

read/discuss • winners

read/discuss • winners

Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?

read/discuss • winners

read/discuss • winners

read/discuss • winners

read/discuss • winners

Forum Home

Introduction

Terms of Use

RSS feed | RSS help

Introduction

Terms of Use

*Posts by the author are highlighted in orange; posts by FQXi Members are highlighted in blue.*

RSS feed | RSS help

RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

**Aldo Filomeno**: *on* 4/30/15 at 18:28pm UTC, wrote Dear Eckard, thanks for your comments. Your essay looks interesting and...

**Eckard Blumschein**: *on* 4/28/15 at 15:41pm UTC, wrote Dear Aldo Filomeno, While I will not vote and not even comment on your...

**Aldo Filomeno**: *on* 4/8/15 at 20:29pm UTC, wrote Dear Joe, ok I'll read it in a pair of weeks. Thanks, Aldo

**Joe Fisher**: *on* 4/7/15 at 15:37pm UTC, wrote Dear Aldo, I think Newton was wrong about abstract gravity; Einstein was...

**Aldo Filomeno**: *on* 3/8/15 at 21:13pm UTC, wrote Dear Joe Fisher, thanks a lot for reading and criticizing the essay. I'm...

**Aldo Filomeno**: *on* 3/8/15 at 20:51pm UTC, wrote Dear Ed Unverricht, thank you very much for your comments! In principle,...

**Aldo Filomeno**: *on* 3/8/15 at 20:30pm UTC, wrote Dear Eugene Klingman, I very much appreciate your compliments and...

**Ed Unverricht**: *on* 3/8/15 at 2:30am UTC, wrote Dear Aldo Filomeno, Your essay is an interesting and great read. My...

RECENT FORUM POSTS

**kurt stocklmeir**: "em drive metamaterials at 1 end that create negative radiation pressure -..."
*in* Alternative Models of...

**jiya joseph**: "I guess a workshop is conducted by the people that are favorable for the..."
*in* Schrödinger’s Cat...

**mono joli**: "thanks a lot for such a great topic. Scary Maze Games Basketball Legends..."
*in* The Race to Replace the...

**Joe Fisher**: "Dear Dr. Brendan Foster, Of course: “We Are All Connected .” My..."
*in* We Are All Connected

**Caroline v**: "Thanks for informing us about FQXi-sponsored workshop which aim was to..."
*in* Schrödinger’s Cat...

**Yelena Hopper**: "Training is the way toward encouraging learning, or the procurement of..."
*in* Wandering Towards a Goal:...

**Yelena Hopper**: "This article is such a pleasant and intriguing one, I'm exceptionally happy..."
*in* We Are All Connected

**Yelena Hopper**: "Pushing the points of confinement of hypothesis and creative energy in..."
*in* Review of “A Big Bang...

RECENT ARTICLES

*click titles to read articles*

**Our Place in the Multiverse**

Calculating the odds that intelligent observers arise in parallel universes—and working out what they might see.

**Sounding the Drums to Listen for Gravity’s Effect on Quantum Phenomena**

A bench-top experiment could test the notion that gravity breaks delicate quantum superpositions.

**Watching the Observers**

Accounting for quantum fuzziness could help us measure space and time—and the cosmos—more accurately.

**Bohemian Reality: Searching for a Quantum Connection to Consciousness**

Is there are sweet spot where artificial intelligence systems could have the maximum amount of consciousness while retaining powerful quantum properties?

**Quantum Replicants: Should future androids dream of quantum sheep?**

To build the ultimate artificial mimics of real life systems, we may need to use quantum memory.

RECENT FORUM POSTS

RECENT ARTICLES

Calculating the odds that intelligent observers arise in parallel universes—and working out what they might see.

A bench-top experiment could test the notion that gravity breaks delicate quantum superpositions.

Accounting for quantum fuzziness could help us measure space and time—and the cosmos—more accurately.

Is there are sweet spot where artificial intelligence systems could have the maximum amount of consciousness while retaining powerful quantum properties?

To build the ultimate artificial mimics of real life systems, we may need to use quantum memory.

FQXi FORUM

October 18, 2017

CATEGORY:
Trick or Truth Essay Contest (2015)
[back]

TOPIC: Demistifying the astonishing success of mathematics: the case of gauge symmetry by Aldo Filomeno [refresh]

TOPIC: Demistifying the astonishing success of mathematics: the case of gauge symmetry by Aldo Filomeno [refresh]

This paper argues against a strong philosophical interpretation of the leading role of mathematics in all of physics. To do so the paper focuses on a specific case study, that of the truly astonishing success of symmetry groups in modern particle physics. Specifically, I analyze the case of one local gauge symmetry, that of the strong nuclear interaction. I would say this is an especially pertinent case study, as gauge symmetry applies throughout most of our current best fundamental physics and the intimate relation with the physics it describes is particularly astonishing. The paper advocates for an understanding of mathematics only as an (especially appropriate) language which does nothing but describe patterns, a subset of which are instantiated in Nature. With such an understanding I argue that the effectiveness of mathematics is not unreasonable; on the contrary, it is to be expected. Such an explanation undermines the viewpoint that takes gauge symmetry principles as a priori reasonable or as some sort of necessary meta-laws. Likewise, such an explanation weakens the reasons to endorse a strong ontological commitment to the mathematical entities (as the diverse variants that suggest that the universe is fundamentally mathematical, like [Tegmark, 2014] or [French, 2014]).

From March 2015 Aldo Filomeno will join the UNAM at Mexico DF as a postdoctoral researcher in philosophy. He defended last October his PhD in Philosophy of science. His thesis dealt with the notion of law of nature and is entitled: "On the possibility of stable regularities without assuming fundamental laws". Previously he studied engineering of telecommunications and philosophy. More details of his research can be found on: https://unam.academia.edu/AldoFilomeno

Dear Aldo Filomeno,

While many essays speak of Grothendieck's 'dessin d'enfants', or the Langlands program, or the Monster group, etc. in hopes that these will answer some questions, you address probably the most significant mathematics of the last 60 years, gauge theory – and you properly put it in its place.

As no other general field of math has had the impact on physics as has...

view entire post

While many essays speak of Grothendieck's 'dessin d'enfants', or the Langlands program, or the Monster group, etc. in hopes that these will answer some questions, you address probably the most significant mathematics of the last 60 years, gauge theory – and you properly put it in its place.

As no other general field of math has had the impact on physics as has...

view entire post

report post as inappropriate

Dear Eugene Klingman,

I very much appreciate your compliments and especially the comments.

Your point about the inexactitude of the symmetries seems to me particularly appealing: scientific or philosophical research should be carried out pursuing this line. So far I do not know which side I would bet on. I envisage arguments refusing the importance of such inexactitudes as well as arguments that might employ such inexactitudes against a too idealized view of the laws of nature.

I also agree that one could interpret symmetries and conservation principles as you suggest (being the latter more fundamental). Then, we face questions regarding the conservation principles: Are they a plausible unexplained primitive of our ontology, or should the postulation of the conservation of some property be somehow explained?

Finally, I'll read your essay which looks really interesting!

Warm regards,

Aldo Filomeno

I very much appreciate your compliments and especially the comments.

Your point about the inexactitude of the symmetries seems to me particularly appealing: scientific or philosophical research should be carried out pursuing this line. So far I do not know which side I would bet on. I envisage arguments refusing the importance of such inexactitudes as well as arguments that might employ such inexactitudes against a too idealized view of the laws of nature.

I also agree that one could interpret symmetries and conservation principles as you suggest (being the latter more fundamental). Then, we face questions regarding the conservation principles: Are they a plausible unexplained primitive of our ontology, or should the postulation of the conservation of some property be somehow explained?

Finally, I'll read your essay which looks really interesting!

Warm regards,

Aldo Filomeno

Dear Aldo Filomeno,

Your essay is an interesting and great read. My interest started with your question "Why is group theory so central to describing the physical world?" You introduce symmetry and spend time on SU(3) - "The color invariance is represented by the symmetry group SU(3), the Special Unitary group of degree 3". I have always been troubled by the naming these 3 properties "colors" and calling them Red, Blue and Green. Doesn't the subject require a better description of something so important and fundamental to world of hadrons?

My essay takes a very specific look at the SU(3) symmetry and extends the two properties (spin and handedness) of the electrons SU(2) symmetry to the world of hadrons and the SU(3) symmetry by adding a specific property of flow as the third property. I hope you get a chance to comment on it.

Finally, your comment "The ”unreasonable” success of symmetry principles in physics" begs an explanation and your essay makes a big contribution to the subject.

Regards and good luck in the contest.

Ed Unverricht

report post as inappropriate

Your essay is an interesting and great read. My interest started with your question "Why is group theory so central to describing the physical world?" You introduce symmetry and spend time on SU(3) - "The color invariance is represented by the symmetry group SU(3), the Special Unitary group of degree 3". I have always been troubled by the naming these 3 properties "colors" and calling them Red, Blue and Green. Doesn't the subject require a better description of something so important and fundamental to world of hadrons?

My essay takes a very specific look at the SU(3) symmetry and extends the two properties (spin and handedness) of the electrons SU(2) symmetry to the world of hadrons and the SU(3) symmetry by adding a specific property of flow as the third property. I hope you get a chance to comment on it.

Finally, your comment "The ”unreasonable” success of symmetry principles in physics" begs an explanation and your essay makes a big contribution to the subject.

Regards and good luck in the contest.

Ed Unverricht

report post as inappropriate

Dear Ed Unverricht,

thank you very much for your comments!

In principle, the property has been named 'color' as it could have been named in any other way. How we could have a better scientific description of such properties I do not know. Philosophers have historically struggled to better understand what are properties, but it is hard to attain an answer (as usual in philosophical matters). This reminds me of a paper from a great philosopher and physicist called Alyssa Ney entitled: "Are There Fundamental Intrinsic Properties?" (available online). Perhaps you enjoy it. (Let me know!)

I'll read your essay, it looks very pertinent to what I say!

Warm regards,

Aldo Filomeno

thank you very much for your comments!

In principle, the property has been named 'color' as it could have been named in any other way. How we could have a better scientific description of such properties I do not know. Philosophers have historically struggled to better understand what are properties, but it is hard to attain an answer (as usual in philosophical matters). This reminds me of a paper from a great philosopher and physicist called Alyssa Ney entitled: "Are There Fundamental Intrinsic Properties?" (available online). Perhaps you enjoy it. (Let me know!)

I'll read your essay, it looks very pertinent to what I say!

Warm regards,

Aldo Filomeno

Dear Aldo,

I think Newton was wrong about abstract gravity; Einstein was wrong about abstract space/time, and Hawking was wrong about the explosive capability of NOTHING.

All I ask is that you give my essay WHY THE REAL UNIVERSE IS NOT MATHEMATICAL a fair reading and that you allow me to answer any objections you may leave in my comment box about it.

Joe Fisher

report post as inappropriate

I think Newton was wrong about abstract gravity; Einstein was wrong about abstract space/time, and Hawking was wrong about the explosive capability of NOTHING.

All I ask is that you give my essay WHY THE REAL UNIVERSE IS NOT MATHEMATICAL a fair reading and that you allow me to answer any objections you may leave in my comment box about it.

Joe Fisher

report post as inappropriate

Dear Joe,

ok I'll read it in a pair of weeks.

Thanks,

Aldo

ok I'll read it in a pair of weeks.

Thanks,

Aldo

Dear Aldo Filomeno,

While I will not vote and not even comment on your essay because I seem to be at odds with mainstream. You wrote: "the acceptance of (A) is hardly disputable, (B) should be justified". If you had a look into my essays, you may hopefully understand why I consider from the perspective not of a mathematical model but of conjectured reality the acceptance of (A) hardly indisputable. Concerning symmetries, I observed that ideal symmetries tend to be mathematical artifacts that just reflect redundancies. Real symmetries are rarely or maybe never absolutely perfect. Isn't the harmonic oscillator an unphysical ideal? What is wrong with this view?

I should add that I maintain that I consider it unjustified to integrate in case of frequency analysis over available past and not yet written future data. Cosine transformation is evidently as good as Fourier transformation except for it omits an arbitrarily chosen zero.

Genuinely curious,

Eckard Blumschein

report post as inappropriate

While I will not vote and not even comment on your essay because I seem to be at odds with mainstream. You wrote: "the acceptance of (A) is hardly disputable, (B) should be justified". If you had a look into my essays, you may hopefully understand why I consider from the perspective not of a mathematical model but of conjectured reality the acceptance of (A) hardly indisputable. Concerning symmetries, I observed that ideal symmetries tend to be mathematical artifacts that just reflect redundancies. Real symmetries are rarely or maybe never absolutely perfect. Isn't the harmonic oscillator an unphysical ideal? What is wrong with this view?

I should add that I maintain that I consider it unjustified to integrate in case of frequency analysis over available past and not yet written future data. Cosine transformation is evidently as good as Fourier transformation except for it omits an arbitrarily chosen zero.

Genuinely curious,

Eckard Blumschein

report post as inappropriate

Dear Eckard,

thanks for your comments. Your essay looks interesting and original; I'll certainly read it when I have the time. As to your comments, I'm curious to see how you argue that (A), i.e. that the world displays spatiotemporal patterns, is hardly indisputable. How could it be disputed? I took it as a premise of my argument (an obvious statement but it was important to make it explicit for the clarification of my conclusion).

Your view of symmetries as informing of redundancies in the world is clearly one standard possible interpretation of them. I would say it is not incompatible at all with the moral I wanted to highlight in my paper (if any, it's in the same line), namely the lack of any special or necessary status of the laws of current physics.

(By the way I don't understand your last observation!)

When I read your paper I'll let you know, warm regards,

Aldo

thanks for your comments. Your essay looks interesting and original; I'll certainly read it when I have the time. As to your comments, I'm curious to see how you argue that (A), i.e. that the world displays spatiotemporal patterns, is hardly indisputable. How could it be disputed? I took it as a premise of my argument (an obvious statement but it was important to make it explicit for the clarification of my conclusion).

Your view of symmetries as informing of redundancies in the world is clearly one standard possible interpretation of them. I would say it is not incompatible at all with the moral I wanted to highlight in my paper (if any, it's in the same line), namely the lack of any special or necessary status of the laws of current physics.

(By the way I don't understand your last observation!)

When I read your paper I'll let you know, warm regards,

Aldo

Login or create account to post reply or comment.