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True, and the wiki article for the series 1+1+1+1.... mentions infinity first, before going on to explain the zeta function regularization, which makes more sense as the y axis intercept in the drawings they show:
KnightLight
reply to post by ChaoticOrder
It's just wrong. Every trick messes up the answer. And as for the actual addition of all POSITIVE numbers what do you think you get.. They already have an answer for it. It's called infinity.
The problem arises at the end of the video when he is asked by the speaker that if he put in 1+2+3+4... in his calculator until the end of time, the answer would be -1/12? The physicist quickly clarifies that by the definition of infinity, there would never be an end time to hit the "=" button.
What do we get if we sum all the natural numbers? This was the question we asked in our recent Numberphile video. The answer we gave was, to the surprise of many I'm sure, -1/12. It's by no means obvious, but this is the only sensible value one can attach to this divergent sum. Infinity is not a sensible value. In my opinion, as a physicist, infinity has no place in physical observables, and therefore no place in Nature. David Hilbert, one of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics, described infinity as "a mathematical abstraction that does not have a physical content". I think most physicists would firmly agree with this sentiment. The trouble is that divergent sums like the one we discuss in the video do appear in calculations of physical observables, such as the Casimir energy, or in the dimensionality of the Universe in bosonic string theory. Therefore, only a very brave individual would dream of attaching the value infinity to sums like this. Minus a twelfth is far less crazy a value when you start talking about Physics.
ChaoticOrder
So my conclusion would be that the mathematically correct answer would be infinity for both those equations, however using a special type of mathematical tool to solve the problem can give a finite result which is useful for physical applications.
darrellabbott
This just proves that advanced mathematics has no place in the scientific process. You can make the math say anything you want, just as the dude said about 3 minutes in this video.
Don't think too hard guys.
WeAre0ne
ChaoticOrder
So my conclusion would be that the mathematically correct answer would be infinity for both those equations, however using a special type of mathematical tool to solve the problem can give a finite result which is useful for physical applications.
Is that "special mathematical tool" a balding guy scribbling nonsense on a napkin with a marker by any chance?
ChaoticOrder
He says that "infinity is not a sensible value" because it "has no place in physical observables". It seems he is trying to justify his conclusion with a similar argument. What makes him think that mathematical results must perfectly comply with the physical world? Infinity is a perfectly acceptable answer from a purely mathematical perspective.
mbkennel
darrellabbott
This just proves that advanced mathematics has no place in the scientific process. You can make the math say anything you want, just as the dude said about 3 minutes in this video.
Don't think too hard guys.
It's actually quite the opposite. These bizzare asymptotic techniques ended up being important for doing computations in quantum field theory, dozens to hundreds of years later.