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Posted by Leesa on July 17, 2003 14:23:02 UTC

You should check out a book on the history of mathematics. I read (don't remember the title) in one of them about the ancient Egyptians and how their number's system was very different from ours. There was a part of the book where they showed an Egyptian hyroglyphic, with numbers that added up to 32. It took about five pages to explain how they did it. It was done in fractions, not whole numbers. But to them, they were just as whole as ours. But because we run on a decimal system and they didn't, counting to 32 was immensely different. I wish I could find that book now and quote the english part of the passage. The point is, 2+2 does not equal four in everybody's mathematical system. It is relevant to the system being used.

So is it invented? Yes. And no. The way we percieve it, 2+2 will ALWAYS equal 4. The way we percieve the equation will never be changed, never revolutionized, never questioned. We invented the perception, but I think we've also discovered a law. Mathematical laws are just as real as physical laws, I mean, you couldn't just wake up one morning and decide to flap your arms and fly. Gravity doesn't work that way. But gravity can be expressed in an equation. Does that mean it's invented? Of course not (or personally, I'd reinvent it).

What I'm getting at (I know, it's taking forever) is, our perception and the way we portray a law (mathematical or physical) IS invented. The actual law itself, has always been there. It can't change just because of our perception.


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