Is God a Mathematician? Astrophysicist Talks at SMCM Sept. 30 - Southern Maryland Headline News

Is God a Mathematician? Astrophysicist Talks at SMCM Sept. 30


Suggests Alien Encounters Could Resolve Issue

ST. MARY’S CITY, Md. (Sept. 24, 2009) — Mathematicians and philosophers alike have debated the origins of math for centuries: is math a human invention or nature/god? “How,” asks Dr. Mario Livio, “is math as powerful as it is in explaining the workings of the universe?” What would be the implications of discovering extraterrestrial intelligent life for our understanding of mathematics? Dr. Livio will explore these questions and others, and talk about his new book, Is God a Mathematician?, at 4:40 p.m. Wednesday, September 30, in Schaefer Hall, room 106, at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM). There will be a book signing after the lecture.

In his new book, he traces the lives of some of the greatest thinkers throughout history while exploring the true nature of mathematics. To what degree is math part of the natural world, as opposed to a manmade attempt to explain it? Dr. Livio posits, “If we were to discover another intelligent life form with which we could communicate, we could gain invaluable information about the formalisms developed by this civilization to explain the cosmos. Not only would we make unimaginable progress in the understanding of the origin and evolution of life, but we could even compare our logic to the logical system of potentially more advanced creatures.”

Some have found the title of his latest work to be somewhat misleading. Dr. Livio clarifies, “The word ‘God’ is used here in the Einsteinian meaning. When Einstein said, ‘I don't think God plays dice,’ he did not mean to talk about God. He meant to say something about how the universe works.”

Dr. Livio is an astrophysicist at the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, and 2002 Nitze Fellow at St. Mary's College. He has also authored several other books, and conducts research on a broad range of topics in cosmology and astrophysics, primarily focusing on stellar explosions, the expansion of the universe, physical processes near black holes, and the emergence of intelligent life.

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