science fiction

How do you know, if you’re right?

A book is to a mind what a whetstone is to a sword – means to keep it sharp. For that reason, reading as a hobby should make up at least a small amount of time in all people’s schedules. I enjoy reading and out of all genres I like to read science fiction novels the most. A good science fiction novel encompasses in itself the most potential for provoking ponderous thoughts. Be it new inventions, philosophies, societal norms, political ideas, or even undiscovered ways of looking at our very own existence.

Time travel is a notoriously difficult subject in fiction as it’s very hard to keep logically consistent. When not contained, the implications of even one minor mistake in logic can ruin the entire book (movie, series, etc.). The ground rules must be solid. But if kept coherent, the maze of complex reasoning can truly inspire awe. And sometimes you read a few lines that just get you on the spot. Isaac Asimov’s „The End of Eternity“ got me with a little gem about his rule for time travel.

The book itself is set in a world where a secret group of people range through past and present Centuries, monitoring and, where necessary, altering time’s countless cause-and-effect relationships. A slight movement of a jar on a shelf can alternate and cumulate in effect until it a noticeable change materializes, like setting a car in an exact spot to take part in an accident, killing one man but delaying the invention of atomic bombs by a few centuries.

pi

Some scholars claim that humans are programmed to find patterns in the world because it’s the only way we can give meaning to the world and ourselves. Hence, the obsessive search to find patterns in π.

The protagonist in the book described the many changes in time he had engineered to have had a calculated effect on the future. With every change, the shift brings forth an alternate course of history and would modify the outlook of things to come. And although each alternate timeline had a unique history, there was one commonality – the rules of math. The history and logical system of math would always be the same.

Math isn’t just numerology. Math has a great influence on philosophy. Math is a way our minds make sense of the universe. We would perceive our surroundings quite differently, if we would not use our mathematical understanding to make sense. From physics and chemistry to music and drawing, we use our arithmetical and geometrical powers. And when it comes to decision making, we usually weigh our options and lean towards the one that adds up to bring in more profit. May the profit be financial, social, in the shape of knowledge or leisure time. That depends on each individual’s philosophies.

The point is that math represents a key monolith that you could hang on to get a grip on the surrounding reality and state of development in the society. Likewise, you should try to find out the key monoliths in your life that you could hang on to. Whether it be your relatives, your best friend, your dog, your birthplace, a lot of ease can come from acknowledging them. A good deal of complications can be avoided if you set perspectives in life and try to develop your personal code of ethics. You should not rely on those rocks to get you through life, but use them to gain a better ground in uncertain situations. In situations where you know that whatever happens, your monolith will be unshaken and you can use its shelter to regain your way.