41: Reality Is More Than Complex (Group Theory and Physics)

07.29.2019 - By Breaking Math Podcast

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Children who are being taught mathematics often balk at the idea of negative numbers, thinking them to be fictional entities, and often only learn later that they are useful for expressing opposite extremes of things, such as considering a debt an amount of money with a negative sum. Similarly, students of mathematics often are puzzled by the idea of complex numbers, saying that it makes no sense to be able to take the square root of something negative, and only realizing later that these can have the meaning of two-dimensional direction and magnitude, or that they are essential to our modern understanding of electrical engineering. Our discussion today will be much more abstract than that. Much like in our discussion in episode five, "Language of the Universe", we will be discussing how math and physics draw inspiration from one another; we're going to talk about what different fields (such as the real, complex, and quaternion fields) seem to predict about our universe. So how are real numbers related to classical mechanics? What does this mean complex numbers and quaternions are related to? And what possible physicses exist?

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