Working with the set of real numbers

Steven D'Aprano steve+comp.lang.python at
Wed Mar 5 18:49:32 CET 2014

On Wed, 05 Mar 2014 12:50:06 +0000, Mark Lawrence wrote:

> On 05/03/2014 12:21, Oscar Benjamin wrote:
>> Why the dig at physicists? I think most physicists would be able to
>> tell you that the sum of all natural numbers is not -1/12. In fact most
>> people with very little background in mathematics can tell you that.
> I'll put that one to the test tomorrow morning when the bin men come
> round.

Do you seriously think that garbos (bin men) know more about mathematics 
than mathematicians?

> I fully expect them to dial 999 and ask that the paramedics are
> armed with plenty of sedatives.

You know that rather large piece of machinery in Europe called the Large 
Hadron Collider? The one which is generating some rather extraordinary 
proofs of fundamental physics, such as the Higgs Boson? A lot of that 
physics is based on theory which uses the same logic and mathematics that 
you are mocking.

Laugh away, but the universe behaves as if the sum of the natural numbers 
is -1/12.

Steven D'Aprano

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