Essays, Analyses and Meditations

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Equations approximate algorithms

  • Newton and Einstein were influenced by the Christian idea of an absolute perfect god and they focused on formulas to explain the whole working of the universe, from infinite past to infinite future.
  • But they missed important clues. The most obvious is that nature never repeats itself: no two stones are identical, no two lakes are identical, no two mountains are identical, no two faces are identical, etc.
  • Another clue was that it is incredibly difficult to explain something as simple as that Achilles is faster than the turtle (Zeno’s paradox). If space and time are continuous, and can be split into infinitesimally small intervals, it can be proven logically that Achilles can never overtake the turtle.
  • Quantum Mechanics discovered that energy, mass and many other aspects of matter are discrete, not continuous.
  • If time and space are discrete, Zeno's paradoxes are easy to explain.
  • Darwin and Hebb discovered algorithms that govern important phenomena: life and intelligence. Life evolves according to an algorithm (reproduction, variation, selection) and intelligence is due to an algorithm (reinforcement of neural connections in the brain based on use).
  • Newton and Einstein looked for the perfect beautiful equation to explain the universe, but maybe they missed the clues pointing to algorithms, not formulas.
  • Classical physics assumes that algorithms are approximations of equations, but it could be that the opposite is true: Physics’ beautiful equations are approximations of the algorithms that run the universe.