Last night I was trying to teach my daughter algebra and proportional ratios. Her homework involved abstract problems, so to make the learning easier I gave her problems she could imagine — real life problems. Here is one of them (and you’ve already seen the diagram):
Imagine you are standing at the edge of our deck looking at a lady bug on the deck. The ladybug is one inch in front of you. Now, imagine that 12 feet across the deck, you also see Macho (one of our little dogs) and you are astonished to see that the top of their heads line up perfectly! Since we know that Macho is 17 inches tall, how tall is the lady bug?
My daughter (11 years-old) proudly solved the problem right away!
Humans do better understanding things using everyday life objects or events. Abstractions are painful. Realizing this quickly when I taught statistics to my college students, I would often talk about probability using stories related to getting a date, gambling and or horrible accidents. And just as with my daughter, the mathematics sunk in much easier when I “kept the problems real”.
Humans use to stories, metaphors and analogies to persuade each other — we are story tellers. It is the easiest way for us to remember things. So I am excited to see how religious professionals grab the new Quantum Jewel and make it part of their story. For there is a long history of religions grabbing the most recent science discoveries to try and support their cosmologies.
This morning in Quanta Magazine I read a cool article about the “amplituhedron: a newly discovered mathematical object resembling a multifaceted jewel in higher dimensions. Encoded in its volume are the most basic features of reality that can be calculated — the probabilities of outcomes of particle interactions.”
The images of jewels abound in many religions: Buddhism uses a “Three Jewels” (triratna) as a metaphor to communicate its philosophy (see my diagram) — so will they use the quantum jewel? In yoga (shared by both Buddhism and Hinduism) there is a chakra system which describes a jewel in the center of a lotus at the heart of the human spirit (so to speak) — so will they grab the quantum image to empower their philosphy? And the Christian Book of Revelation is filled with imagery of jewels. Early Greek Christians were quick to understand the power of metaphor: The author of the Gospel of John grabbed onto the “Logos” metaphor to persuade listeners of how reasonable his religion was, so I wonder if likewise, Christians will soon start talking about “Jesus: God’s Amplituhedron” as their science metaphor to win converts or make believers feel better about their faith?
My guess: everyone will eventually embrace the amplituhedron — well, if this discovery lasts.
See my similar post: Using Science to Market Buddhism
Questions for Readers:
- How tall is Mach0?
- Can you think of other uses of jewels in religion?