Weirder and Weirder
In this episode, Hannah explores a paradox at the heart of modern maths, discovered by Bertrand Russell, which undermines the very foundations of logic that all of maths is built on. These flaws suggest that maths isn’t a true part of the universe, but might just be a human language – fallible and imprecise.
However, Hannah argues that Einstein’s theoretical equations, such as E=mc2and his theory of General Relativity, are so good at predicting the universe that they must be reflecting some basic structure in it. It really seems that Einstein was discovering the maths behind our world. This idea is supported by Kurt Gödel who proved that there are parts of maths that we have to take on faith – we will never know how or why they are true.
Hannah then explores what maths can reveal about the fundamental building blocks of the universe - the subatomic, quantum world – and she discovers that it really is much weirder than we might imagine.
We may just have to accept that the world really is weirder than we thought, and Hannah concludes that while we have invented the language of maths, the structure behind it all is something we discover. And beyond that, it is the debate about the origins of maths that has had the most profound consequences: it has truly transformed the human experience, giving us powerful new number systems and an understanding that now underpins the modern world - however weird that world may be!