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Math, invented or discovered?

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posted on Dec, 14 2007 @ 09:05 AM
Maths are the language of form and dynamic.

posted on Dec, 14 2007 @ 09:09 AM
Like colors in the spectrum...I think math has always existed, and in primitive ways, understood. Even the most primitive human can see quickly that one little rabbit won't feed 20 clan members. "We need a bunch more rabbits!!!" It simply took some time for the concepts, words, and experience to evolve into the language used to attempt understanding.

[edit on 14-12-2007 by MrPenny]

posted on Dec, 14 2007 @ 09:44 AM

Originally posted by malganis
It kind of goes back to the question "why and how did the universe start?".

Was everything always done in maths?, or did a god/creator think "hmm if i'm gonna create a universe I need some way of keeping things in order. hows about we do everything in multiples/divisions/structures/etc"

Actually I think that's when He/It/They decided to create and design fractals, and it was good.

posted on Dec, 14 2007 @ 10:34 AM
If humanity invented it here on Earth then why would we consider it a "universal" language and a means to converse with ET on the Voyager probes?

In consultation with a bunch of other geeks (including Timothy Ferris, who produced the album), Sagan decided that the delivery mechanism for this message should be a golden record, packaged with a cartridge and needle, as well as abstract mathematical instructions for how fast to spin the disc and at what frequencies it would emit sound.


The golden records imply that music, math and images are universal symbolic systems, the best kind for communicating with beings radically different from ourselves.


Also check out this quote by Galileo;

Philosophy is written in this grand book - the universe - which stands continuously open to our gaze. But the book cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and interpret the characters in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures, without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it; without these one is wandering about in a dark labyrinth.
(Galileo Galilei As quoted by Machamer in The Cambridge Companion to Galileo, pp.64f.)

(emphasis mine)


IMHO math is everywhere waiting to be discovered by beings that can comprehend & translate the language.


bad sentence

[edit on 14-12-2007 by 2PacSade]

posted on Dec, 14 2007 @ 11:41 AM
Math is much like time, where as its always been there in essence but required man made limit and structure to define in a meaningful way to our relative understanding. On a side note, I recall reading about a lost tribe of people who had no words for numbers and no real meaning for 'yours' or 'mine'. No concept of basic math led to a culture of equality based on necessity and not math.

[edit on 14-12-2007 by HomeBrew]

posted on Dec, 14 2007 @ 12:27 PM
reply to post by PontiacWarrior

Is there a Math for the BIG Bang. And us into being?

posted on Dec, 14 2007 @ 02:40 PM
Cosmic Fireballs!

Necessity is the Mother of Invention. Math is another Tool invented because of a Need. Play is also the Mother of Invention. The Play comes in to explain concepts better to other people. There can be many forms of Tools invented. Writing is a main Tool with Math like a Writing so as in a Form of Communication others can relate to what is really meant so ambiguity is shown to be less. But Graphics are usually a better form to communicate with, but as of yet, humans have not invented a Graphic that can be used more easily then the primitive form we now use through mathematical symbols and writing language symbols. Like a picture, graphics can be better because of the way the brain and mind works.

The concept of zero though was invented. There was no concept to mean no count or nothing like adding 4 of something and taking 4 of that something away to leave zero or nothing there, but still the next day that same kind of something could again be added to or subtracted from again and again and again.

Necessity is often the reason why something has to be invented. The only way it could be a discovery is to prove that it existed as a concept before thinking of inventing it or having invented it. That also would mean that there would be no other way to communicate about something that is abstract in the first place. Perhaps, the discovery of communicating in another way about math just has not been invented yet due to there not being a necessity to having the Need to communicate it any other way as of yet. When the Need arises to show a math in another form perhaps by using a better graphical interface -- such as with "models" programmed by computers then math will all be shown as 'models' of showing what is preceived of as being reality. The current way of math will become too difficult to show the preception of reality so another way will have to be invented to show the models of mathematics to communicate to others within containing a more comprehensive way through the communications required.

Might as well ask if 'Concepts" are discovered or invented? I still am of the opinion that proving 'discovery' would be harder to prove than stating that the Tool was Invented to show the 'Concept'. Perhaps someday then the words of 'discovery' or the word 'invented' will take on the appropriate properties to discern more the real meaning of both words.

Discovery implies to me something shown as being taken from something else that lead to the practical implementation of something, whereas 'invention' implies that the something was approached from a different kind of point of view that made it less obvious that it could be a discovery instead of being invented. So in my opinion, math had to be invented instead of discovered because invention implies that there can be other ways of showing math as a concept, but discovery may only imply that there is only one way to show something. Invention has many ways to show something discovered which is abstract like math, and discovery implies that there would be only one way to show math. Symbols are symbols though and that depends on the graphical representation that shows the concept in the first place. Then the question becomes why should symbols such as "1, 2, 3, 4" be used instead of some other form of symbols used as graphical reprsentations. The symbols were invented not discovered because graphical symbols can just be about any form of so-called hen-pecking by marks that can be used. In the Past, a "X" was used sometimes to show a signature from a person who could not write the letters used as to 'count' that it was from a person in the first place instead of from some other animal that can exist in the world. The animal in this case marking the "X" was a human which also is suppose to have a higher form of reasoning to begin with.

posted on Dec, 14 2007 @ 08:35 PM
reply to post by PontiacWarrior

Math is the translator and a universal logical language of the natural order of things around us. We derive mathematical formulas of the forces which is around us and has been in existence eversince. With math, we understand that nature has an ordered logical law and that negative x negative equals positive and that force = mass x acceleration. Math is understood by all people, languages, tongues, tribes, and ancient civilizations.

We cannot say math is invented or discovered because it is but a language in logical form just as we cannot say that spoken language is invented or discovered. It is just part of human communication tool to relay our message to the other dude.

posted on Dec, 15 2007 @ 11:56 PM
reply to post by amitheone

We cannot say math is invented or discovered because it is but a language in logical form just as we cannot say that spoken language is invented or discovered.

Yes, mathematics is a language. Like other languages it is used for describing the world we perceive around us. It just does this in an extremely specialized way.

It is not true to say that we cannot tell whether spoken language is invented or discovered. While the capacity for language is probably innate in us, languages - spoken or otherwise are always invented, not discovered.

The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that mathematics is invented. It is a question on which even the experts can't seem to agree; however, the majority seem to think as I do.

Here are some expert answers to the question from the Newton BBS.

And here, some physicists discuss the question.

Interestingly, part of the discussion in the second link concerns the very great mathematician Roger Penrose, who appears to believe that maths is 'discovered'. However, we learn that Penrose is a Platonist, i.e. a believer in Plato's idea that all things exist in the mind before they exist in the external world. Modern science has not been at all kind to Platonism; I suspect only a pure mathematician could still seriously entertain it as a system of belief.

posted on Dec, 16 2007 @ 09:06 AM
Mathematics is neither discovered or invented, and yet it is seemingly both. The universe has always existed in the eternal form of energy, thus everything we learn has always been and always will be. We are remembering the future if you will and this is how we as an intelligent species evolve. Mathematics is a universal concept grounded of the fundamental elements and mechanisms of eternal existence. It has always existed, but before we discovered it we had to "learn it" or observe it and moreso become it through accepting that we are it and are of it. We are the evolution of an evolved energeticm stellar, planetary, solar system and galactic creation (among others), and we evolve the ability to create what created us as we learn that we are it.

Mathematics discovered? Yes, but always had been. Invented? Yes, but always had been.

posted on Dec, 16 2007 @ 09:27 AM
I also think math was discovered, science as a whole also.
I mean I can not picture how man can invent science.
My view is that everything evolves around number 1, from 1 as a singularity there is an infinite.
When some one states that 1+1=2 this might sound far off but the true result would be 1 and 1 rather than 2, I think 2 in this case would be a definition for 1 and 1.
Was number 2 always there? I think we invented it so we can expres our selfs, we took it from 1 and 1 and gave it a definition sort of a shortcut name for it.
What is easier , to count and write number 1 2milion times on a board or to give it a sign that would explain all that in a short way.
We invented the numbers as signs , we only invented shortcuts.

posted on Dec, 17 2007 @ 12:00 PM
I happened to run across this question listed on an eduction website called, Ask A Scientist!. The response was interesting to me because it details some of early man's math.

Question: Who invented math?

Answer: Math was not invented in one day or by some particular person. First people did observations and learned how to cope with everyday problems that might be called "mathematical" like counting (for keeping track of their domestic animals or doing trade), and learning to make different shapes (basket weaving, building shelters, and pottery). Very ancient animal bones with have been found in Africa and Europe containing notches made by human beings, who did some kind of keeping track of counts. These bones are believed to be between 8500 and 11,000 years old. Very old circular structures, which seem to be of astronomical significance, are found all over the world. Perhaps you have heard about Stonehenge in England, for example. This is where first knowledge in arithmetic and geometry comes from.

We do not know when, how, or why operations like addition or multiplication were invented, but they appeared several thousand years ago, apparently independently, in China, India, Mesopotamia, and Egypt. The oldest clay tablets with mathematics on it were found in Mesopotamia (nowadays Iraq) dating about 4000 years ago. The oldest written texts in mathematics - papyruses - come from Egypt, where civilization was already about 2000 years old when those papyruses were written. In ancient Sulba Sutras that come from India and are about 3500 years old one can find rules for building altars.

Among other things there is a famous theorem of Pythagoras about the sides of a right triangle. It is believed that Pythagoras was the first to prove this theorem – which means to answer the question of why this theorem is correct. That is why this fact is known as the Pythagoras theorem. This was happening in ancient Greece about 2500 years ago. From this time on there is a tradition in mathematics to always answer the question of why your result is true.

posted on Dec, 18 2007 @ 08:12 PM
reply to Astyanax

The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that mathematics is invented. It is a question on which even the experts can't seem to agree; however, the majority seem to think as I do.

Its more like seeing the color red for the first time. We don't have any words yet to describe the color. The color red has always existed. This led to the discovery of the new color. Now, we invent a name for it, or create a word for it. So, we named it the color Red.

In light of this, we see the interconnection of the word discovery and invention. Without discovery, you can never have an invention.

Without the discovery of electricity, Thomas Edison can never invent the light bulb.

For languages, its rather difficult to pinpoint how exactly men started to communicate, is it with gestures or verbally? Since Math is interlinked with human communication, therefore it is difficult to pinpoint as well how men started to express mathematically. We need to find the exact cause of communication.

In my humble opinion, I believe the first mathematical expression is "I" mentally expressed.

The moment that we have an awareness of being alive, our senses and reasoning starts to develop. All the things around us starts to be perceivable by our human senses. It is reaching our senses feeding us with information being processed in our minds. The things around us has always been there - the forces which governs nature, the light spectrum, the taste spectrum, the touch spectrum, the audio spectrum, the olfactory spectrum and the human emotional spectrum.

When we started to develop all these senses, we begin to explore our environment. We begin to touch things, see things, smell things, and etc. We develop an emotional derivation of the things we sense in our environment.
We smell and feel the sea breeze and its pleasurable calming effect to our emotions. We see the sunset and the sunrise and beheld its beauty and we start to feel awe and wonder. We started to sample the sweet smelling trees and started to pick its fruit. We bite it and tasted it and smelled it. It was an awesome derivation of a pleasurable feeling which excites the salivary glands of our tongues to water it to enhance the flavorful experience.

We started to hear singing birds chirping away and its uplifting effect to our emotions and we start to smile and derive a pleasurable feeling of entertainment.

We started to count how many birds are singing and how many fruits on a tree and how many times the sun rises and sets. We started to develop an order of things. We started to develop our minds logically. We started to categorize what is sea animals, land animals, and sky animals. We started to know the difference between scales, feathers, furs, and hairs. We started to name all of them to help us set things in order. We started to think.

From then on, math was part and parcel of the development of the senses, whether it may be in the mind, or written expression.

Thus, my conclusion math is neither invented nor discovered. It is but a development.

posted on Dec, 18 2007 @ 08:54 PM

Mathematics is the same in the Milky Way Galaxy as it is in any other galaxy. There's a reason why we look for mathematical based radio signals, it's like a common language.

posted on Dec, 18 2007 @ 08:54 PM
I like simplicity, so this is my opinion:

"Maths, the language/tool, was INVENTED for the understanding of DISCOVERED characteristics of reality."

So, for example, we discovered a very long time ago that if you have 2 rocks and take 1 rocks away, reality suggests that for all future instances of this action, 1 rock will remain. We created maths to represent and communicate this.

But the beauty of maths is that we can use it not only to explain observable events, but to also PREDICT and THEORIZE about events that cannot be observed.

So again, for example, with this rock subtraction formula, we could use it to PREDICT that if we have 2 trillion rocks and took away 1 trillion rocks, 1 trillion would remain. So we have DISCOVERED this new rule of reality. The rule of subtraction can be applied to any number of things and situations. This discovered rule of reality is described using the invented mathematical theory of subtraction.

Maths is just common sense, based on the way our reality works.

Please don't look into quantum physics, because our understanding of reality breaks at that level.

In short: Maths = Invented, Reality = Discovered

[edit on 18-12-2007 by Toasty]

posted on Dec, 18 2007 @ 09:12 PM
It could be both plus undiscovered.

Math requires a measurement. A Bean to count. A inch or A metor.

However what's the core of the measurement?

Who's to say what measurement is correct? It's a matter of personal mankind's perspective. Man broke down the measurement system.

If you're counting beans, where do you draw the line? Do you think every bean has an equal number of atoms that make up each bean? Someone somewhere would have to take a measurement to find what can be counted as a bean in bean counting.

Let us assume there's some magical norm of measurement. What makes mankind believe he has the real and not faulty measurement requirements.

Math is invented by mankind.

Though things do some how and sometimes break down into exacts, so perhaps also the creator has a meausrement system.

and what base should we use to count? Our computers use a binary, humans tend to use base 10 because they like counting on their fingers.

What base system under whoms accountability for measurements can we truly rely on?

Math as mankind knows it is man made.

posted on Dec, 18 2007 @ 09:18 PM
reply to post by Buck Division

Huh?? That was confusing all right
I think it's safe to assume Hammers were invented. Let's not bring god into this one ok? I'm done with that for today...


posted on Dec, 19 2007 @ 12:24 AM
reply to post by jimbo999

actually if you look into the records you'll see tools where handed to mankind by alien forces working for God.


posted on Dec, 19 2007 @ 12:34 AM
I hate math.

I seriously wish I had some help.

Therefore, math hates me. So much.

posted on Dec, 19 2007 @ 01:00 AM

Originally posted by TheoOne
I hate math.

I seriously wish I had some help.

Therefore, math hates me. So much.

the public schooling system is pisspoor at teaching math.

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