Posted by: Alexandre Borovik | April 12, 2008

Shut up and calculate

An extreme Platonist manifesto which reached me via Samizdat: Max Tegmark (MIT), Shut up and calculate, arXiv:0709.4024v1 [physics.pop-ph] 25 Sep 2007. One quote:

I argue that our universe is not just described by mathematics — it is mathematics.


  1. Thanks for posting, Sasha. I took a look at all the papers that the first of the links in your note points to and found the joined paper with with Wheeler, called 100 Years of the Quantum, the most enjoyable of the bunch.

  2. And, speaking of Wheeler…

  3. […] written before about Max Tegmark’s proposition that the universe is mathematics. I just saw it highlighted […]

  4. I particulary enjoyed the title of this post! (Not because I have been told to do so on occasions…)

  5. Yet another interpretation of “shut up and calculate,” meaninig “use numerical analysis and computers,” from Body and Soul: Applied Mathematics Education Reform Project,
    “Dreams of Calculus” and a preliminary version of “Computational Turbulent Incompressible Flow” (feturing an old photo of Kolmogorov on page 55) are downloadable. Enjoy

  6. When I first read Tegmark’s ideas in Scientific American five years ago, I was awestruck. Here is a respected physicist, having his ideas published in leading journals (Annals of Physics, 1998), feted in Scientific American, and offered choice appointment to MIT. In contrast, for proposing a very closely-related idea — that ideas and concepts inhabit some inaccessible but really-existing realm — the biologist Rupert Sheldrake has been ridiculed and snubbed by the scientific establishment. The journal “Nature” even argued that Sheldrake’s book should burnt. Yet Sheldrake, unlike Tegmark (as far as I am aware), has actually proposed and conducted scientific experiments to test his hypothesis (of morphic resonance). Why are these proposals acceptable in physics now when they were rejected in biology two decades ago? Does this say something about the open-mindedness of the two disciplines?

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