 # [Discussion] Irrationality and Science

I saw a few signs at the SF science march that incorporated i. "Alt facts are -1^.5"
I thought to myself that nothing sums up "Why science?" than i.
Science isn't about knowing everything and in fact science thrives on isolating the unknowable. And that is what i is, the isolation of the unknowable or the creation of a logical wrapper around the illogical to study and reduce the knowable unknowns related to it.
i seems primed for the catchphrase politics of today.

Clever!

Spoiler:

TIL ^.5 is text editor friendly shorthand for square root

Okay, I'm not a mathematician, and never put the time into math that I should have. But, from what I understand, calling the square root of negative one 'imaginary' was a huge mistake. There *is* a number that, squared, gives us negative one. We just can't write it with the number system we use, and had to create a new one. "imaginary" numbers can be linked to all kinds of interesting real-world phenomena; one area I know they get a lot of use is in radio, where the vibration of photons can be perfectly described with a 'real' and an 'imaginary' component -- but the vibrations in question are most certainly real physical things. Almost all forms of radio past FM use "imaginary" numbers to work!

Alt-facts can't be used in a useful way. They exist only to obscure. That's *actual* imagination. Imaginary numbers aren't imaginary. They're just not like numbers in our usual numeric regime.

Boogle might be able to explain it better.

edit to add a good video:

Depending on your definition of an irrational number (as in not a rational number), i, the square root of -1 is an irrational number. So I took the sign to mean that "alt facts are irrational".

Imaginary numbers are "imaginary" in the same way that negative numbers are. I can't see -3 sheep. But negative numbers are still real and useful. Same with imaginary numbers, they are just on a new plane of numbers instead of a number line. Same with quarternions. Rhey are all complicated things representing new dimensions of numbers.

fangblackbone wrote:

Depending on your definition of an irrational number (as in not a rational number), i, the square root of -1 is an irrational number. So I took the sign to mean that "alt facts are irrational".

i can't be defined as a fraction of two integers, so I think it's always defined as irrational.

fangblackbone wrote:

Depending on your definition of an irrational number (as in not a rational number), i, the square root of -1 is an irrational number. So I took the sign to mean that "alt facts are irrational".

Well, the way I read it was "alt facts are the square root of negative one", which is implying that there is no square root of negative one. They're saying, with a bit of indirection, that imaginary numbers are, well, imaginary. This is not true!

An irrational number is a different concept; it's a fraction that can't be represented by one integer over another integer. Pi is the most famous example, but there are an infinite number of others. I don't know if the square root of negative one is irrational; since you can't put it on the number line, maybe the concept is not applicable? Maybe?

Alt facts are irrational, and many of them are imaginary, but real imaginary, not math imaginary. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square...
The "square root of negative one" refers to
the imaginary unit i=√-1 of the complex numbers, and occasionally to
Jaques Lacan's discussion of the square root of negative one (with respect to his notion of the phallus), which was criticized in Fashionable Nonsense by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont.

I think Malor's point only reinforces mine, that i typifies sciences in the simplest bullet point fashion. That there is a difference between real imaginary and math imaginary means that logical thought can make predictions based on something it doesn't understand or perceive. That you don't deify the impossible, you create broad boundaries of detection, observe, make predictions, chip away at the knowledge of it that lets you narrow the boundaries of detection, share, ask for outside verification and repeat.