Would Aliens Understand Maths?

Maths is found everywhere in our daily lives and is often referred to as ‘the language of nature’, so the big question is would aliens be able to understand it? I spoke to Professor Ian Stewart from the University of Warwick…

  • Maths is not as accurate as you might think – it all depends on how accurate your measurements are in the real world
  • The maths that we use on Earth is likely to have evolved from the environment here on Earth – rigid shapes and lines are common to us, but for an alien living on a gas giant such as Jupiter, things would be very different as everything would flow
  • Counting likely evolved from the need to keep track of objects such as our belongings or livestock
  • Maths is probably more likely to be understood by aliens than things such as culture or language because it transcends the whole universe

You can listen to the full interview for the Naked Scientists here.


  1. […] Ah, I get you now… I suppose you could argue that a ‘perfect circle’ will never exist in reality, just like a ‘perfect right-angle’ will never exist (reference to Navier-Stokes video), as no matter what scale you go down to there will be imperfections. In that case then yes I can see why you might treat such things as only existing in the ‘ideal world’. I interviewed the mathematician and author Prof. Ian Stewart about using maths to communicate with aliens and we touched on some similar concepts – I’ll post the link in case you might find it interesting: https://tomrocksmaths.com/2017/05/18/would-aliens-understand-maths/ […]


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