The great mathematician, John Conway, discovered a very simple way to create all the numbers we will ever need using very simple rules.
Why is a mathematician being featured on a blog that’s dedicated to studying behavior?
Because math is an aspect of behavior.
Yes, you heard it here first. Math is part of our behavior.
Math doesn’t feel like behavior when we’re in class, dreading the next quiz. However, the whole concept of numbers, shapes, curves, areas and dimensions are all concepts that only live in our mind.
The fact that we can use these concepts to make our lives easier is extremely convenient, but not because we are directly connected to Nature.
We are INDIRECTLY connected to Nature. That’s why it’s so important to study math, and to encourage mathematicians to research all sorts of new math.
Conway’s Surreal Numbers are a better way to construct all the numbers we currently know about. It’s better because it’s simpler and more complete.
Do I understand what he’s created? Hardly. There’s a good chance almost no one alive fully understands what he’s given the rest of us.
But studying history reminds us that many great discoveries can take hundreds of years before SOMEONE figures out a way to use them.
This is where behavior kicks in. As students of behavior we have to study history in general, history of science in particular, and also many aspects of today’s behaviors in order to get an idea as to what will happen in the future.
After all, when all is said and done, isn’t that the real purpose of studying any subject? The ability to predict.
If you don’t think so, let me know. If you’re on board with the idea, stick around. This year is going to be fun, because there are a whole lot of predictions about to be made.
Thanks for sticking around. I knew I could “count” on you.
And Happy New Year everyone!
Don Knuth talking about Surreal Numbers and the book he wrote about them.