By Brian Robinson.
The idea that the universe is a mathematical construct is not a new one. Max Tegmark, a well-known physicist and cosmologist, is probably best known for this type of theory. While many people agree that the universe has at least some mathematical properties, Max Tegmark suggests it has only mathematical properties. The universe he argues is made simply from maths and has no physical substance.
Assuming Mr Tegmark is correct in his theory, it follows that there must be an equation that describes the universe, a bit like Einstein’s equation that describes the relationship between energy and matter. And indeed, if such an equation does exist, then we might be justified in concluding that just like Einstein’s equation it would be fairly simple to understand. After all, you do not have to be a mathematician to appreciate that there is an exquisite beauty in Einstein’s equation. And moreover, Mr Tegmark himself has suggested that the universe equation will one day fit easily on the front of a Tee-shirt.
The problem is where do you start? Well, in this conjecture let’s begin with a focus on two numbers i.e. 259 and 27. And let’s ask if they are connected in any way? Firstly, with the number 27 you can quite easily get to the numbers in 259. For example, 7 + 2 = 9 and 7 – 2 = 5. And perhaps more surprisingly, if you divide 259 by 27, the answer you get is 9.59259259259 recurring. Recurring or repeating patterns in mathematics can be extremely significant. Also, the idea of a number recurring into infinity seems to tie in quite neatly with the idea of an infinite universe.
It is obviously too early to award any significance to this repeating pattern, but let’s speculate anyway. The number 27 seems to act as a dividing or dissecting tool. And, when you dissect into something the chances are you will find out what lies on the inside. So, for example, if you divide an apple in two you will almost certainly find more apple. An apple on the outside is an apple on the inside. But the number 259 isn’t an apple. So, let’s speculate a bit further and suggest that the number 259 somehow relates to or represents the universe. And then perhaps we can go even further and ask, is the truth of the apple also the truth of the universe? In other words, when you dissect into the universe should you find more of the same i.e. more of the number 259?
We might also ask, does the order of the numbers make a difference. For instance, what answer would you get if you divided 592 by 27, or indeed if you divided into any combination of the numbers? 952 :- 27 = 35.259259259, 295 :- 27 = 10.9259259259, 592 :- 27 = 21.9259259259, 925 :- 27 = 34.259259259 and 529 :- 27 = 19.59259259259. Dividing into any permutation of the three numbers throws up the same recurring or repeating pattern. Is this just a coincidence? Or is this a window into some universal mathematical pattern? More questions clearly have to be asked.
We know that numbers are important to the universe and this is true on the grandest of scales and on the smallest of scales: in its geometry; in its nature; in its physics; and at a quantum level. They figure in everything from black holes to sinkholes and we use them increasingly to try and make sense of the world that surrounds us. And, you do not have to be an astrophysicist to be aware that important constants and ratios exist. There are a number of stand-out ratios which appear to be vitally connected to the intrinsic nature of the universe. If these fundamental numbers reveal the same recurring pattern, then perhaps this could be more than pure speculation.
Stars like our sun are the things that light up the heavens and breathe life into our universe. Without these producers of heat and light the universe would be a dark, lifeless place. Critically, during the fusion process that happens in stars not all the mass of Hydrogen converts into Helium and the other elements. 0.07% of the original mass is lost and ends up as heat and light. When you divide 0.07 by 27 the answer you get is 0.0259259259 recurring. This seems to give a more perfect answer than before, as apart from the zeros, only the number 259 figures in the answer. We are still at an early stage, but we have to ask could the universe contain some sort of creator’s signature?
The Fibonacci Sequence of numbers is a pattern well known to science. There are lots of reasons why the sequence is important and it has many applications across a wide range of fields. One of the most interesting aspects is that it points to a natural geometry found repeatedly in nature. This is sometimes referred to as The Golden Ratio and is by far the most important ratio in nature. It is used again and again as the design blueprint for formations in the natural world and it surfaces in the geometry of literally millions of plant species. The Golden Ratio is 1.618 and when you divide it by 27 the answer you get is 0.0599259259259 recurring.
The Golden Ratio has a cousin known as The Golden Angle. Again this has been known about for literally hundreds if not thousands of years. It is often used by artists and photographers as a composition tool for their works as it lends their creations a natural geometry. The Golden Angle is 137.5 degrees and when you divide that by 27 the answer you get is 5.09259259259.
One of the most important characteristics of our universe is the existence of time. It is something that we and the universe are unable to free ourselves from. It hangs over everything. We don’t know a great deal about it, but we do know it is relative. Time passes at different rates depending on where you are in the universe and depending on the speed you are travelling. But we don’t seem to know much more. We don’t know, for example, what it is or why it exists. However, we do know that there exists a time dilatation factor. That tells us that when you travel at the speed of light time slows down by a factor of 7. And when you divide 7 by 27 the answer you get is 0.259259259.
Another prime example of a mathematical fact that pervades the universe is its temperature. We can precisely determine this based on measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation. These measurements tell us that the temperature of the universe is exactly 2.725 degrees above absolute zero. And if you divide 2.725 by 27, guess what answer you get: 0.1009259259259 recurring.
There also exists a constant which is crucial to the nature and existence of the cosmos and that is the Hubble Constant. This relates to the expansion rate of the universe and it is absolutely vital to that expansion. If the ratio falls below a critical point, then the universe will begin to contract towards an inevitable Big Crunch. The Hubble Constant is 70, and dividing by 27 gives the answer 2.59259259259.
I’m not going to suggest that the list of numbers which throw up this 259 recurring pattern is endless but there certainly are many more examples. And indeed, if this really is a cosmic pattern, then it might follow that all numbers that throw up a 259 recurring answer may have a cosmic significance in some way or another. However, to bring this section to a close, I’d like to include what many regard as by far the most important number in mathematics and that is the Pi number. This is involved in the ratio we were all taught at school which allows us to work out the circumference of a circle. And we might well reflect at this point that circles and orbits are a fundamental geometric characteristic of the universe. Indeed, Pi already figures in a number of important formulas and equations and many of those are connected with the nature of our universe. The Pi number is 3.141592. Perhaps the first thing to note is that the number 592 appears in the first six digits. That may be just another coincidence of course, but it may also have some significance. However, more to the point, when you divide the Pi number by 27, lo and behold, the same pattern emerges 0.116355259259259.
It is also worth mentioning that Pi has a brother number and that is Tau. Tau is the lesser know ratio and relates to the diameter rather than the radius of circles. Some mathematicians argue that Tau is the more relevant ratio, and it has even been given a special day by way of celebration in the same way the Pi number has. The Tau number is 6.28, which basically is twice Pi. When you divide Tau by 27 the answer you get is 0.23259259259.
Given these results, it seems difficult to argue anything other than these two numbers 27 and 259 do indeed throw up a definite mathematical pattern. And likewise, that pattern does appear to be inextricably linked with our universe.
It is also worth noting that these dividing exercises have thrown up another pattern which is in itself significant. This appears to revolve around the number 7. All decimal multiples or subtractions of the number 7 throw up the most perfect 259 recurring answers. Regardless of whether you divide into .000007 or 7,000000, you still come up with the same 259 recurring pattern. This seems to indicate that the universe may have a decimal root, and indeed this ties in quite neatly with the idea in Super String Theory which suggests that the universe has ten dimensions and one time dimension.
The question is, where does all this lead in terms of finding an equation which might describe the universe? Well, if the number 259 really is so special, then it might be that this number sits on one side of an equation. In other words, we all might be existing in universe number 259, and, all we have to do now is figure out what sits on the other side of the equivalence. However, this leaves us with a slight problem.
Many of the numbers we have been looking at so far are connected with the physical universe. However, the physical universe, i.e. what we see when we look to the heavens, only represents a small percentage of the known cosmos. Over 95% consists of something we know virtually nothing about. How could we possibly come up with an equation to describe something that is a complete mystery? However, we should at least ask the question what is this other stuff that exists out in the darkness of space.
Well, we do have a name for this other stuff and rather appropriately we refer to it as Dark Energy and Dark Matter. We also know that Dark Energy is spread evenly throughout the universe and that it is the driving force behind the expansion of the cosmos. As for Dark Matter, we know it tends to cluster around galaxies but we don’t really know why that should be.
We can go some way to quantifying these elements though. According to the experts, we know roughly what percentage of the known universe they occupy. We know this because of the effect they have on stars and galaxies and because of the effect they have on the expansion of the universe. The figures quoted vary by a percentage or two, but Dark Energy is generally thought to amount to around 69 point something per cent of the cosmos, and Dark Matter amounts to somewhere around 26-27-28 per cent.
What is striking about these approximate percentages, is their closeness to the numbers we have been looking at so far. The Dark Energy percentage is very close to the Hubble constant of 70, and the Dark Matter percentage might even be exactly the same as the key number 27. Perhaps we are not at the end of the matter after all? Perhaps we can take things a little further.
Every equation requires mathematical operations which link the various elements together. With the view of keeping things as simple as possible, we might look to the four basic operations: multiplication, addition, division and subtraction. And for no other reason than the fact that we live in an expanding universe, it seems to make perfect sense to focus on the expansionist operations i.e. multiplication and addition. It also seems to be the case that in many mathematical applications multiplication takes precedence over addition, so purely on that basis, we might assume that multiplication should come first in the equation.
When thinking about the likely elements of a universe equation it is difficult not to be drawn to the Pi ratio. Therefore we will use Pi as our starting point. The next thing to decide is which might be the next element. The most obvious candidate for that is Dark Energy. There is simply too much of it in the universe to be ignored. This then is our speculative equation: Pi x de + ? = u. And if we transpose that into numbers we get the following: 3.141592 x 69.0732596723 + ? = 259. We also now know what our missing number is. Here then is the complete equation: 3.141592 x 69.0732596723 + 42 = 259. You may have to do this on a scientific calculator to get this precise answer.
Now we have a provisional equation it leaves us with a number of questions. Firstly, to complete the equation we need to know which mathematical symbol links with the number 42? And this is where we leave the facts of the matter and veer slightly towards the fiction. Most people will know that the number 42 is the mystical number Douglas Adams referred to in his now famous book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Mr Adams makes the suggestion that the number 42 is ‘the answer to life, the universe and everything’. The idea that a simple number could provide the answer to so grand a question is such a neat idea that it has captured the imagination of many people. So, what then is the answer?
The trick now, is to put the number 42 to one side and simply ask the question: what is the answer to life, the universe and everything? There can only be one answer to that question and that is love. If we all showed a little more love and respect to one another then it is difficult to see what love could not answer. There would be no wars; people would be lifted from poverty; the world’s resources would be shared more equally; and access to health care would be determined not by the ability to pay but by the needs of the sufferer. And if love has the potential to bring about such dramatic changes on this planet, then there is no reason why the same force could not work throughout the universe. Our missing symbol must therefore be ‘L’.
However, our equation still looks a bit rough around the edges. For example, it would look a lot neater if it read: 3.1 x 70 + 42 = 259. The idea being that the grander the equation the simpler it ought to look. Perhaps this neater equation was the original design blueprint but the percentage of Dark Energy has since reduced? And if that is the case, then we should all be worried.
But could that ever happen? Could Dark Energy, the force behind the expansion of the universe, ever reduce below the critical point and set the universe on a new trajectory towards an inevitable Big Crunch? Well, who knows, but the lesson we learn from the cosmos is that nothing ever stays the same so we should not take anything for granted.
We ought to also ask why doesn’t Dark Matter figure in the equation? If it occupies 27% of the universe, then surely it has to be included? But isn’t it possible for something to be present in the universe without being part of it? For example, if I visit Brighton I can be present there but not part of it. Brighton will still be the same after I’ve left. Indeed Brighton will still be the same after all the visitors have left.
The other thing to ponder, is that the number 27 turned out to be the key to everything. Without it the pattern would never have been uncovered. Perhaps this number is connected with a creating force, the mathematician for example? If that is the case, then it is difficult to see how the mathematician can be part of the sum? Perhaps that explains why Dark Matter seems to be concentrated around galaxies? Perhaps that is where the mathematician’s interest lies?
Now to the most important question of all: is all this fact or fiction. Well, it certainly started off as fiction because this developed from an idea I had for a novel: now, I’m not so sure!