Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.
Nov 17

Scientific Controversies No. 25: Is Math Invented or Discovered?

November 17, 2022 @ 7:00 PM - 10:30 PM EST

Visit Pioneer Works on November 17  as Prof. Janna Levin invites Rafael Nuñez and Max Tegmark in a conversation to challenge our beliefs on mathematics–discovered or invented–and to question if mathematics does in fact provide a fundamental, beautiful structure to the universe.

Stargazing with Amateur Astronomers Association 9:00 PM – 10:30 PM, weather permitting. AAA members are encouraged to bring a telescope and set it up in the beautiful garden adjacent to the building!

Tickets: Scientific Controversies No. 25: Is Math Invented or Discovered?

“The enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious… there is no rational explanation for it,” wrote Nobel Laureate Eugene Wigner. There are mathematical descriptions of natural phenomena on all scales: Fibonacci series in flowers, logarithmic spirals in snails, fractals in mountain ranges, parabolas in home runs, and pi in the spherical shape of stars, planets, and bubbles. But is math discovered in nature or is it invented by humans and imposed on an agnostic reality? Will mathematics always be able to unlock the mysteries of the universe, or will we come to an end of its utility?

Physicist Max Tegmark argues in his book, Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality, that mathematics does not simply describe the universe, but that the universe is mathematics and that human beings are self-aware parts of a giant mathematical object. Cognitive scientist Rafael Núñez, who co-authored with George Lakoff the book Where Mathematics Comes From: How the Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics Into Being and invented a new field, the cognitive science of mathematics, argues that approaching mathematics as a transcendental truth feeds a romantic myth and simply is not true. Accepting mathematics as an external entity is a matter of faith, it is a belief that can never be proven scientifically.



November 17, 2022
7:00 PM - 10:30 PM EST
Event Categories:
, ,


Pioneer Works
159 Pioneer St
Brooklyn, NY 11231 United States
+ Google Map
View Venue Website