Shimura Curves

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Unification


So, it looks like the i-D issue with us in it is finally out this week. Hurrah! I still can't really get my head around it.

I've finally been writing new songs, again, though. I didn't really have a choice - the song followed me around Sainsburys and wouldn't leave me alone, beating at my head until I dragged out the MIDI keyboard and sketched it out in Reason.

See, I've been reading a fantastic book about infinities. One of the things it was talking about was the quest for the Grand Unification Theory, and one of the challenges has been that every time people try to recconcile various forces, niggling infinities pop up in the mathematical formulas. Now, the physicist's view on this is that the equations must be wrong because infinities cannot exist in the physical universe. And the infinities aren't real, they are just artefacts of a clumbsy approximation of a reality that can be more finely tuned by better maths and more exact theories. Hence why superstrings are great for the GUT, because being wobbly vibrating strings, they avoid the messy maths brought about by the points and lines of conventional particle-wave conceptions of energy. (This is a vast oversimplification, I know, and if any physicists, e.g. my Dad, want to correct me, please go right ahead.)

So, swinging my shopping bag as I strolled across Streatham Common, I thought, what if infinities weren't just mathematical artefacts, but real things, and our puny human BRANES just weren't equipped to cope? (This is the view that some historical mathematicians have come up with as an explanation for God.) So I started singing:

I'm not afraid of infinities
Artefacts
Of Mathemat...
...ical simplicity!


Pretty clever, huh? Tom Lehrer would be proud.

Anyway, so the song kept expanding, more and more couplets writing themselves, taking in electricity and gravity and strong and weak nuclear force, but then a pesky singularity turned up and I found my silly lyrics sucked into its event horizon and next thing I knew, it turned out to be a song about a poor mathematician being sucked into a black hole, and she was really singing about the GUT to cheer herself up and make herself less afraid because maths would protect her.

Plus, when I started writing a guitar riff to go with it, it suddenly turned into "Rock N Roll" by the Velvet Underground. I have got to curtail those kinds of impulses, or else I'll just start singing "Katie said when she was just five years old, there was nothing going on at all. Till one fine morning, she picked up a Stephen Hawking book, she couldn't believe what she read at all. She started dancing to that fine, fine maths, you know, her life was saved by superstring theory."

I don't know. It might make a pretty cool video, though.

4 Comments:

At 6:45 PM GMT, Blogger Masonic Boom said...

I know. I am such a geek.

 
At 8:56 AM GMT, Blogger AMP said...

can't wait to hear the new song!

 
At 5:58 PM GMT, Blogger Dr Wommm said...

John D. Barrow's book about zero is fucking excellent too, but if you really want to fuck with yr head in a physics kind of way, Micio Kaku's Parallel Worlds, particularly the last third of it, should do the job...

 
At 6:55 PM GMT, Blogger Masonic Boom said...

I really like his writing style, it's clear and beautiful, and he uses easily understood analogies, so I probably will get his other book. Though I need to get Simon Singh's book about the Big Bang... oh no, the books will take over my flat soon!

 

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