Saturday, September 1, 2007

Prime Numbers and Quantum Physics

Prime Numbers and Quantum PhysicsHere's a great story that illustrates why it is good to look into patterns from other fields of study and apply it to another field to gain novel new insights. The pattern discovered from one discipline can then be used to solve problems in another field that may have been unsolvable (or would have taken decades to solve) from within that field alone. In this case, the connection is between Prime Numbers and Physics. This is what I call Archetyping.
The gist is that when prime numbers were plotted as points in some sort of graph (zeta landscape) using Riemann's equation, a pattern emerged that the zeros seemed to be "running in a straight line through the landscape". Hence, Riemann He proposed that all the zeros, infinitely many of them, would be sitting on this critical line — a conjecture that has become known as the Riemann Hypothesis. The connection to Quantum Physics is that "if you compare a strip of zeros from Riemann's critical line to the experimentally recorded energy levels in the nucleus of a large atom like erbium, the 68th atom in the periodic table of elements, the two are uncannily similar". And so, "If one could understand the mathematics describing the structure of the atomic nucleus in quantum physics, maybe the same math could solve the Riemann Hypothesis".
And so, insights from Quantum Physics resulted in great new many discoveries in Mathematics. A formula to predict all the numbers in the sequence, as well as solutions to other math-specific puzzles were gleaned from Quantum Physics largely inspired by the connection and the pattern.
I believe that a great many new things can solved in other fields using this "extra-disciplinary cooperation". Great questions in Science, Spirituality, Theology and Philosophy can be given a new light, specially in questions about the meaning of life and maybe even the afterlife, if we all learned a bit more to correlate and cooperate.

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