Imaginary Numbers May Be Essential for Describing Reality

Mathematicians were disturbed, centuries ago, to find that calculating the properties of certain curves demanded the seemingly impossible: numbers that, when multiplied by themselves, turn negative.

All the numbers on the number line, when squared, yield a positive number; 22 = 4, and (-2)2 = 4. Mathematicians started calling those familiar numbers “real” and the apparently impossible breed of numbers “imaginary.”

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