• Biology

    Why the Genome Incompletely Describes the Body

    Genetic determinism—or the idea that we are fully determined by our genes taken from our parents—is now a thing of the past. Empirical evidence now shows that genes may exist but may not be expressed. The expression is controlled by some ‘epigenetic’ factors (which are also molecules) but enabled and disabled by the environment. OK, says the geneticist, let’s add the epigenetic stuff into the overall picture, and we can maintain the overall (materialistic) idea that living beings are molecular soups. However, the issue isn’t as straightforward, because there are potentially many things in the genes and the environment which can potentially create different outcomes. How do we select which…

  • Mathematics

    The Reality of Rational and Irrational Numbers

    In the previous post we talked about the problem of mathematical realism of negative and complex numbers; the issue was that you can construct these numbers logically and conceptually, but you will never find them in the real world. The problem of irrational numbers is the opposite: you can easily find irrational numbers such as √2, π, and e in the real world, but they appear to have infinite irreducible complexity. Similarly, many rational numbers such as 1/3 have infinite digits in them. Unlike negative numbers which are fully understood but never seen, rational and irrational numbers are seen but never fully understood. In what sense are these numbers then…

  • Mathematics

    Do Negative and Imaginary Numbers Exist?

    Numbers for the greater part of history have been viewed alternately as concepts and as quantities. Now, this raises problems about many types of numbers, which include negative numbers and imaginary numbers, because these cannot be viewed as quantities although there are compelling theories that can treat them logically as concepts. In what way are these concepts real when they cannot be represented in the real world, now presents a problem of mathematical realism, which remains unresolved today. This post discusses the issues of realism in mathematics outlining how there are two ways of counting, only one of which involves negative numbers, while the other doesn’t. Why both schemes are…