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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Real vs. Imaginary...


Sunday reflection:
…the terminology is misleading, for it suggests that there is some greater ‘reality’ to these so-called real numbers than there is to the so-called imaginary numbers. This impression comes about, I suppose, because there is the feeling that distance measures are, in some sense ‘really’ such real-number quantities. But we do not know this. We know that these real numbers are indeed very good for describing distances and times, but we do not know that this description holds good at absolutely all scales of distance or time."We have no actual understanding of the nature of a physical continuum at a scale of, say, one googolith of a metre or of a second, for example. The so-called real numbers are mathematical constructions, which are, nevertheless immensely valuable for the formulation of the physical laws of classical physics.
— Sir Roger Penrose in Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy


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