Friday, April 21, 2006

The Great Hoax

The academic world is reeling today after an article came out yesterday in which Stephen Hawking is reported to have constructed a proof which invalidates most of mathematics. It has been suppressed here in North America, so I will paste most of the article here for my readers.

"Never has 243 pages said so much. The is the thought that most of the world's mathematicians and academics in general are waking up to today. Rumours have been spreading like wildfire over the past two weeks that world renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has come up with a proof that proves that the number 437 is illusory or non-existent, thereby rendering mathematics incorrect at best.

Late yesterday afternoon the paper appeared on the open access Arxiv website, a popular place for physicists and mathematicians to publish their papers. Although it is difficult for the layman to understand the line of argument, most mathematicians are confident that the proof is solid. Says Princeton mathematician Tom Rubic "I've always been suspicious of the number 437. I mean, have you actually seen 437 of something, anything? The answer is no, you haven't, and neither have I. This is a dark day for the mathematics community. With the elimination of 437, our number system has been destroyed, along with the hopes and dreams of many a mathematician. But worse, the children of this world will now have to grow up in a world without math."

At first glance, it may not appear to be too devastating to simply not have the number 437. However, the number system is built like a house of cards. The reasons are subtle, but if you remove one, the whole thing comes crashing down. Although it is conceivable to build a number system that ends at 436, most mathematicians do not hold out much hope. Says Tom Rubic "I don't hold out much hope."

This enormous finding does not just spell trouble for mathematics, but for science as a whole. Given that most theories in science are based on mathematical models, the proof therefore leads to a destruction of the entire scientific enterprise. Some however are eager to salvage what they can of science. Tennis great Roger Federer suggests that perhaps science will simply have to become much less precise. "For example", say Roger, "When talking about gravity, it is simply meaningless to say the gravitational pull of earth causes objects to accelerate at 9.8 m/s2. We should be thinking more like Aristotle, and teaching our children the same, that objects move toward their natural place at the centre of the earth."

Many scientists have expressed enormous confusion at the findings. For example, the technological advances of the 20th century were directly related to the rise of the scientific method. "It turns out" says Microsoft founder Bill Gates, "that pretty much all of the crap we've created, including computers, cars and manned space missions, were lucky guesses. I want to vomit."

Not all mathematicians though are convinced of the proof. Prof. Ben Brubaker of Stanford states emphatically that the proof is flawed. "Many people read a paper from Hawking and assume it is correct. I would guess most have probably only read the first and last page. If they had read the whole thing they probably would have noted the lack of complete sentences, the interchanging at random between writing in English, German, and Pig Latin, his frequent threats against Israel, and oh look, here's a 25 page quote from 'The Hobbit' right in the middle of the proof. I'm no mathematician*, but something is seriously wrong here." (*Ben was reminded that he is a mathematician, to which he expressed dismay). ......

That is a portion of the article. I haven't gone through the proof yet myself, but I think it is important that I, and you the reader, do this. Although it is true that most people in wheelchairs are smarter than you, it doesn't mean they don't make mistakes. Am I right?

We're Well Into the 21st Century....

Why are we still using vowels?
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