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Weirder and Weirder
Dr Hannah Fry explores a paradox at the heart of modern maths, discovered by Bertrand Russell, which undermines the very foundations of logic that all of maths is built on. These flaws suggest that maths isn't a true part of the universe but might just be a human language - fallible and imprecise. However, Hannah argues that Einstein's theoretical equations, such as E=mc2 and his theory of general relativity, are so good at predicting the universe that they must be reflecting some basic structure in it. This idea is supported by Kurt Godel, who proved that there are parts of maths that we have to take on faith.
Hannah then explores what maths can reveal about the fundamental building blocks of the universe - the subatomic, quantum world. The maths tells us that particles can exist in two states at once, and yet quantum physics is at the core of photosynthesis and therefore fundamental to most of life on earth - more evidence of discovering mathematical rules in nature. But if we accept that maths is part of the structure of the universe, there are two main problems: firstly, the two main theories that predict and describe the universe - quantum physics and general relativity - are actually incompatible; and secondly, most of the maths behind them suggests the likelihood of something even stranger - multiple universes.
We may just have to accept that the world really is weirder than we thought, and Hannah concludes that while we have invented the language of maths, the structure behind it all is something we discover. And beyond that, it is the debate about the origins of maths that has had the most profound consequences: it has truly transformed the human experience, giving us powerful new number systems and an understanding that now underpins the modern world.
Numbers as God
Mathematician Dr Hannah Fry explores the mystery of maths. It underpins so much of our modern world that it's hard to imagine life without its technological advances, but where exactly does maths come from? Is it invented like a language or is it something discovered and part of the fabric of the universe? It's a question that some of the most eminent mathematical minds have been wrestling with. To investigate this question, Hannah goes head first down the fastest zip wire in the world to learn more about Newton's law of gravity, she paraglides to understand where the theory of maths and its practice application collide, and she travels to infinity and beyond to discover that some infinities are bigger than others.
In this episode, Hannah goes back to the time of the ancient Greeks to find out why they were so fascinated by the connection between beautiful music and maths. The patterns our ancestors found in music are all around us, from the way a sunflower stores its seeds to the number of petals in a flower. Even the shapes of some of the smallest structures in nature, such as viruses, seem to follow the rules of maths. All strong evidence for maths being discovered. But there are those who claim maths is all in our heads and something we invented. To find out if this is true, Hannah has her brain scanned. It turns out there is a place in all our brains where we do maths, but that doesn't prove its invented.
Experiments with infants, who have never had a maths lesson in their lives, suggests we all come hardwired to do maths. Far from being a creation of the human mind, this is evidence for maths being something we discover. Then along comes the invention of zero to help make counting more convenient and the creation of imaginary numbers, and the balance is tilted in the direction of maths being something we invented. The question of whether maths is invented or discovered just got a whole lot more difficult to answer
What is the Universe Made of
2018 Science HD
This series takes viewers on a journey to the frontiers of science, where researchers are tackling some of the biggest questions about life and the cosmos. The universe is hiding something. In fact, it is hiding a lot. Everything we experience on Earth, the stars and galaxies we see in the cosmos—all the 'normal' matter and energy that we understand—make up only 5% of the known universe. The other 95% is made up of two mysterious components: 'dark matter' and 'dark energy.' We can’t see them, but we know they’re there. And what’s more —these two shadowy ingredients are locked in an epic battle to control the very fate of the universe.
Now, scientists are trying to shed light on the so-called 'dark sector' as the latest generation of detectors rev up, and powerful telescopes peer deeper into space than ever before to observe how it behaves. Will the discoveries help reveal how galaxies formed? In the series finale, Nova Wonders journeys to the stars and back to investigate what we know —and don’t know. Find out how scientists are discovering new secrets about the history of the universe, and why they’re predicting a shocking future.
Comet of the Century
Comet ISON can well be the brightest and most spectacular comet for a generation. It appeared above the eastern horizon from December 2013 as a glorious streak across the sky. ISON has been travelling towards the sun for ten thousand years and will make only one orbit through its corona before disappearing off into the outer solar system.
But as well as providing a great spectacle, ISON's tail of vaporised gas and water, hundreds of millions of kilometres long, will give insights into some of the greatest mysteries of science; it will help explain the origins of the solar system, whether earth's water was delivered on comets and even whether we are alone in the universe.
Voyage of Time
The film intends to illustrate the birth and death of an undiscovered universe, with powerful images, from the Big Bang to the Mesozoic era and through the present and beyond. Based on a project conceived decades ago, the documentary is highly experimental and perhaps Terrence Malick's most ambitious film, described by the director himself as 'one of my greatest dreams.'
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