Page 1 of 2

neutrinos

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 4:28 pm
by jinx
hi all. so i am just a laymen who knows nothing about cosmology or physics or whatever but ive been watching this interesting guys videos on youtube lately and he was pointing out a number of falsifying observations that have been made about einsteins general theory of relativity to do with anomalies out in space( i have seen the movie "young einstein" lol so i loosely understand emc lool). he was pointing out that the scientific "oligarchy" if you will have so much invested in einsteins model of physics/general relativity or whatever that no matter what falsifying observations are made they will never reexamine the model/consider ditching it for something else (i loosely understand this given however many decades worth of research and zillions of dollars or whatever are based on it or have gone into it) so instead they just *tweak* the results or cite some absurd technical reason or some other exotic reason as to why they arnt finding anything his model predicts. so just wanted to stir up a discussion coz id like to learn more about this kind of stuff and also about neutrinos. do they travel faster than light and have they actually been observed? and if they have isnt that kinda devastating to einstens model/theories or whatever? im just a layman wanting to learn so thought id post this... thanks for any replies

jinx.

Re: neutrinos

Posted: Fri May 18, 2012 2:39 pm
by Resha Caner
No, neutrino's have not been observed at FTL speeds. For a time it was thought they had been, but it turned out to be an error in the data.

I share some of your sentiments about the investment of the scientific community in current theory, and I agree there is a certain blindness toward considering what may be the truth of some observations. However, I don't take it to be a conscious conspiracy. There are several credible alternatives that have been proposed to current relativity. The problem is the incredible complexity of answering certain questions.

When faced with that complexity, science takes a "conservative" approach. If scientists jumped to a new theory every time there was a problem with how to interpret the data, there would be a new theory every day. So, scientists tend to stubbornly cling to established theories until the falsifying evidence against them is overwhelming ... and "overwhelming" requires much more for a scientist than what sensationalist television or youtube videos would lead you to believe.

It's a difficult balance. There are good reasons to question current theories, but knowing when exactly they should be abandoned is a tough call.

Re: neutrinos

Posted: Sat May 19, 2012 5:27 pm
by jinx
hay thanks for the reply, also just wondering ( i have a friend whos a physicist and have heard him talk about this kinda stuff but i dont fully understand it) does man kind have instruments to fully "observe" atoms? like inside their nucleas and stuff? and what about their electrons? ok thanks bye

Re: neutrinos

Posted: Sat May 19, 2012 11:49 pm
by Resha Caner
You might have to clarify what you mean by "fully observe."

If you're asking whether pictures have been taken of them, there are some STM (scanning tunneling microscope) images of atoms ... you can search for them on the web. As for electrons, all that can really be observed are the effects of electrons, not the electrons themselves. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle makes it impossible to "fully" know an electron.

As such, that leaves some room for questioning how "real" some of these particles are, but many physicists take the Copenhagen Interpretation of such things - which basically means they don't think it matters.

Re: neutrinos

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 12:01 am
by jinx
You might have to clarify what you mean by "fully observe."

If you're asking whether pictures have been taken of them, there are some STM (scanning tunneling microscope) images of atoms ... you can search for them on the web. As for electrons, all that can really be observed are the effects of electrons, not the electrons themselves. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle makes it impossible to "fully" know an electron.

As such, that leaves some room for questioning how "real" some of these particles are, but many physicists take the Copenhagen Interpretation of such things - which basically means they don't think it matters.
hmm thanks for the response...so..hmm... i always used to hear my friend talking about atoms and electrons molecules etc
and think to myself "is this stuff really real? so there is definitly something their that has mass or whatever but its just to small to actually observe properly? (until man comes up with something even more awesome to do it?) i will read about the copenhagen thing.... so what makes man thinks it is "real" then? and what about that perfectly sweet pic we always see of the an atom with the nucleus with its protons and nuetrons and then the electron orbiting neatly around the outside? that is just imagination i guess is it lol?

thanks
/

Re: neutrinos

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 12:35 am
by Resha Caner
jinx wrote:so there is definitly something their that has mass or whatever but its just to small to actually observe properly? (until man comes up with something even more awesome to do it?)
Not really. The Uncertainty Principle makes it totally impossible. There is absolutely no way to fully observe an electron. In simple terms, you can only know certain properties. So, for example, if you want to know the position of an electron, then it is impossible to know its momentum. It's not a matter of getting more precise measurements or anything like that. It is physically impossible.

And "mass" is largely a "macro" idea. Mass is not something that has much meaning at the quantum level. This stuff can be very difficult to grasp because it's not intuitive.
jinx wrote:what about that perfectly sweet pic we always see of the an atom with the nucleus with its protons and nuetrons and then the electron orbiting neatly around the outside? that is just imagination i guess is it lol?
The pictures of atoms with little balls orbiting another little ball are not real. They are just to help people visualize. Particles at the subatomic level do not have a size or shape. I need to tell you that my philosophy of science is what is called "instrumentalist." That means I don't put any "truth value" on terms like "electron." To me it is just an instrument ... a model ... for describing physical phenomena.
jinx wrote:i will read about the copenhagen thing.... so what makes man thinks it is "real" then?
The Copenhagen Interpretation is about some conversations between Einstein and Neils Bohr. Even though Einstein is the rock star of science, many of Bohr's ideas trumped Einstein and are actually the ones scientists adhere to. There are many things about physics at the extremes ... extremely small, extremely large and massive, extremely fast, etc. that don't make intuitive sense. Bohr took a position that trying to make sense of these things was actually an impediment to science. He felt scientists should follow the math and the data regardless of where it took them. Einstein disagreed, and believed that if science didn't make intuitive sense, then there must be something false about it.

You really want to blow your mind? Read about Schrodinger's Cat.

So what makes them think it is "real"? Well, I am not a physicalist, so I don't agree with their reasons. Nor do they articulate their reasons well (IMO). But, my understanding of the physicalist position is that if a model is phenomenal, then it is real. IOW, if the math for an electron says it will do a certain list of things and that it won't do another certain list of things ... and if we can produce an "electron" effect that matches those lists, then there is no reason to think it's not real.

Re: neutrinos

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 12:51 am
by jinx
hahahahaha im literally loolllin this is the dumbest most smartest thing ive ever heard loool ..... i guess you can understand my position then as a layman hearing this stuff for the first time lmao loool... intuitivly i always looked at it like mmmmmmmm my freinds a bit delusional (lmao lol). so please please tell me a bit more about schrodingers cat ( i have heard of it, which reminds me it is mentioned in the movie with judd law- "repo man" excellent excellent movie btw too (imo))...loool thanks......lol

Re: neutrinos

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 2:49 am
by Resha Caner
Schrodinger's Cat is a thought experiment proposed by Erwin Schrodinger - who is famous for the Schrodinger Equation, one of the fundamental concepts of Quantum Mechanics.

Schrodinger shared Einstein's view that science needs to make sense. So, with all the oddities that were coming out of physics around the turn of the 20th century, people like Schrodinger and Einstein would propose "thought experiments" to test the intuitive nature of their results. One of Einstein's most famous thought experiments was the Twin Paradox. For Schrodinger, it was the Cat Paradox (or Schrodinger's Cat).

It relates to something called "quantum entanglement" that came out of the Copenhagen Interpretation (CI) where a particle does not have a definite state until it is measured. So, Schrodinger proposed (just theoretically) that a cat be put in a box with a particle gun. According to CI, the cat is simultaneously BOTH dead AND alive at the same time until someone opens the box to look at the cat. Once the box is opened (i.e. measured), the particle will "decide" whether the gun fired or not, and, therefore whether the cat is dead or alive. However, until someone looks at the cat, both answers exist in quantum entanglement, and so the cat is both at the same time.

Again, Bohr's response to the Cat Paradox (at least as I understand it) was to agree that it was a silly idea for the cat to be both dead and alive. He considered the paradox a misunderstanding of science, and that the better answer is that we don't know whether the cat is dead or alive until we observe it. It's not that both states exist as a real thing. It's just that we don't know. So, both are possibilities and the result is unpredictable. Again, not to put words in his mouth, but this is my understanding of his position, Bohr was satisified with "I don't know" as an answer. He was OK with saying that there are limitations to what science can do, and people were unnecessarily getting worked up over these silly paradoxes and thought experiments. In his mind it just didn't matter. You do what you can do, and you accept what you can't do.

- - -

So, a question to you. What do you hope to accomplish by learning these things? To confirm whether your friend is sane or not? To find a way to refute him/her? What do you think about all these crazy explanations? To ask it another way, do you expect humans should be able to understand everything about the universe, or do you think we will reach a limit where things are beyond our understanding?

Re: neutrinos

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 2:15 pm
by jinx
Again, Bohr's response to the Cat Paradox (at least as I understand it) was to agree that it was a silly idea for the cat to be both dead and alive. He considered the paradox a misunderstanding of science, and that the better answer is that we don't know whether the cat is dead or alive until we observe it. It's not that both states exist as a real thing. It's just that we don't know. So, both are possibilities and the result is unpredictable. Again, not to put words in his mouth, but this is my understanding of his position, Bohr was satisified with "I don't know" as an answer. He was OK with saying that there are limitations to what science can do, and people were unnecessarily getting worked up over these silly paradoxes and thought experiments. In his mind it just didn't matter. You do what you can do, and you accept what you can't do.

- - -

So, a question to you. What do you hope to accomplish by learning these things? To confirm whether your friend is sane or not? To find a way to refute him/her? What do you think about all these crazy explanations? To ask it another way, do you expect humans should be able to understand everything about the universe, or do you think we will reach a limit where things are beyond our understanding?
hay i tend to like neil bohrs explanation of things then ie "i dont know" i also heard he (or maybe it was some one like him? committed suicide because they couldnt get there head around the stuff youve been describing? (quantum stuff) i will google this and find out more...also would bohrs description or conclusion if you will of shrodingers cat be more inline with what is called "classical mechanics" or "newtonian mechanics" ie- simple cause and effect? (straight away i am attached to this because it is so sensible/lay like if you will and one can come to *reasonable* lay-like actual reality kinda conclusions from it kinda? if you get what im saying?

well about my friend, i just couldnt understand where he was coming from kinda thing? its just that he always used to speak with what i perceived to be kinda absolute certaintity about this "unseen world" if you will? and i was like "mmmmmm i just dont know" but ive never looked down an electron microscope or tunneling electron microscope or whatever so i guess once someone has there views of these kinda things might be changed a little?maybe?

well yeah i guess we are already at a limit of understanding things already...i mean i guess theres what man *thinks* *might* be going on and hasnt been observed (like that dark matter dark energy stuff or whatever *which* may or may not be actually "real") and then theres the stuff man doesnt even know he doesnt even know? lol? if you get what im saying? like man "knows" theres some stuff he doesnt "know" and then theres the next category along which is the stuff man doesnt even know he doesnt even know? lool if you get what i mean?

also with those pic of molecules we see on wikipedia (like just say an amino acid like glycine or something) that comes up in the right hand corner..to what details has this actually been "observed" then...and how does man even know the different elements then? like what there nucleas contains and stuff lol? sorry if too much info just interested.... thanks dude cya

Re: neutrinos

Posted: Thu May 24, 2012 3:51 pm
by Mike Strand
Hi, Resha,

Thanks for your clear, succinct writing within this topic.

Neutrinos of various types appear to be everywhere in the universe, including the background radiation. Do you know of any attempt to develop a theory based on the pervasiveness of neutrinos, using them as the medium for carrying electromagnetic waves? At one point scientists posited an "ether", and I'm just curious as to any attempt to substitute the sea of neutrinos for ether.

Re: neutrinos

Posted: Fri May 25, 2012 1:52 am
by Resha Caner
Mike Strand wrote:Thanks for your clear, succinct writing within this topic.
Thanks for the compliment.
Mike Strand wrote:Neutrinos of various types appear to be everywhere in the universe, including the background radiation. Do you know of any attempt to develop a theory based on the pervasiveness of neutrinos, using them as the medium for carrying electromagnetic waves? At one point scientists posited an "ether", and I'm just curious as to any attempt to substitute the sea of neutrinos for ether.
First, as a disclaimer, though I have a background in science, I'm not a physics PhD. As such, I'm not always up to date on everything that's going on - nor am I an expert at everything. But I'll try to answer your question.

Your idea of using neutrinos as a medium is very interesting, but I don't think it would work. Particles interact based on forces, but not all particles are subject to all forces. The neutrino only responds to the weak nuclear force and gravitational force (another "weak" force). The weak forces, as the name implies, are very limited in their ability to influence particles. The weak nuclear force is only seen inside atomic nuclei (i.e. where the particles are very close to each other). The gravitational force is only seen between objects that are very massive, which is how, even though it is a weak force, it manages to work over large distances.

There is some debate over whether neutrinos actually have mass (i.e. that they are subject to gravity). It is very difficuly to measure the mass of a neutrino because it is so small. That is why people got so excited when the CERN results indicated they might be traveling FTL. If true, it could have also meant they didn't have mass after all. The implications of that are legion.

Anyway, the properties of neutrinos mean that most of the time they pass right through all other forms of matter with barely a noticeable effect (because they only respond to weak forces). Therefore, they wouldn't be very good as an information carrier. The best information carriers are those particles that respond to the strong forces. Elecromagnetism is one of the strong forces, and that is why the electron is so useful as an information carrier.

Now, with respect to the ether, that is another very perceptive question. It's also where I might part ways with standard science a bit. The idea of the ether was supposedly put to rest by the Michelson-Morely experiment. But it's an idea that just won't die. Why? This is where an important breech occurred between Descartes and Newton. In Descartes' physics, "forces" could only be transmitted between particles that "touched." However, a 3rd famous scientist of the time named Leibniz advanced a very convincing argument that the idea of "extent" (which is necessary in order for things to touch) was philosophically untenable. This freed Newton to propose the idea of "force at a distance" (i.e. force without touching). He was still worried about the idea, and so in his Principia he takes great pains to clarify that he doesn't know how force at a distance works, only that it works. This is part of why his theory of gravity was such a big deal. This new idea of force at a distance allowed him to explain what Descartes couldn't.

But it still bugged people. In fact, this irritable little problem was largely what drew Einstein into physics, and it's how he made his name. After Michelson-Morley supposedly disproved the ether, Einstein's explanation for force at a distance was curved space.

But saying that space is curved implies it is a thing rather than emptiness. If space is curved, what exactly is curving? At about the same time, given the success of "discovering" new particles like neutrinos, quarks, leptons, bosons, etc., an idea was proposed that gravity may be transmitted by "gravitons." The graviton is yet to be discovered, but the idea is still alive.

The result was the discovery of quantum foam. IMO this is just the ether reborn with some special properties thrown in to satisfy Michelson-Morley, but scientists bristle at that idea. It's the same as saying that chemistry is just another name for alchemy, or anatomy is just another name for humorism.

I hope that wasn't too long of an answer.

Re: neutrinos

Posted: Fri May 25, 2012 2:48 pm
by Mike Strand
Sincere thanks, Resha, for an interesting and thorough response. Have you ever done any "popular" science writing, other than here in this forum? -- that is, books or articles for general readership? I think you have a knack for writing about science in a clear and engaging way, rarely seen in a public forum like this.

Many of the scientific issues you raise have also interested and puzzled me. I majored in math and minored in physics, and that left me with a little knowledge and a lot of questions, but not enough expertise to avoid getting into trouble when I seriously try to solve the issues. My "sea of neutrinos as carrier of EM waves" is one example, I suspect. Thanks for bringing up "quantum foam" -- I've heard of it, but now I'm more likely to look into it.

Re: neutrinos

Posted: Fri May 25, 2012 3:44 pm
by Resha Caner
Mike Strand wrote:Sincere thanks, Resha, for an interesting and thorough response. Have you ever done any "popular" science writing, other than here in this forum? -- that is, books or articles for general readership? I think you have a knack for writing about science in a clear and engaging way, rarely seen in a public forum like this.
Again, I'm flattered. Writing is one of my hobbies, so you've triggered a passion. A few years back I was publishing a lot of fiction, and I had started working toward a PhD in history with an emphasis on the history & philosophy of science. I had completed my BA and was starting to make the rounds to various conferences, but such a path is very consuming. Family matters required I give it up. Sometimes I pretend I'll be able to pick it up again when the storm passes, but ...
Mike Strand wrote:Many of the scientific issues you raise have also interested and puzzled me. I majored in math and minored in physics, and that left me with a little knowledge and a lot of questions, but not enough expertise to avoid getting into trouble when I seriously try to solve the issues.
I understand. By profession I have an MSME and I played with my own theory of mechanics for a time. I have contacts with some of the world's experts, so I tried to pitch the idea to them. I was told I wouldn't be taken seriously unless I entered a doctoral program as one of their students. Bummer. I just can't do it all. And, as it stands, my math background isn't strong enough to finish the idea.

So, I lurk about places like this to get a little sip from time to time. What are some of your other questions and/or ideas?

Re: neutrinos

Posted: Fri May 25, 2012 7:09 pm
by Mike Strand
Hi again, Resha,

Thanks for telling us about your experience and background. Given you are a published writer of fiction, it's no wonder your writing has clarity and appeal! I hope you stick around for awhile and discuss various philosophical topics in language we can all understand and be entertained by!

As for me, back around 1980 early in my career I published a couple of technical papers on probability sampling theory, and I had to write a lot of reports on study proposals and findings during my career. I enjoy trying to express my thoughts clearly and with some skill in this forum, but I've never earned a dime as a "writer". Lately I write more about philosophy in general than about scientific issues in particular. For example, you might check out my recent posts under "Philosophy of Religion."

As for philosophy of science, I invite you to examine my topic in this forum, "An Open Question on the Quantization of Gravity". I wrote to Lee Smolin and Julian Barbour concerning my findings, best summarized in my May 04, 2011 post (top of page 2 of 2). I got a brief reply from Barbour, but nothing from Lee Smolin. My findings may be trivial, or they may already be known in the physics community, but I couldn't get any real verification or feedback on this from the movers and shakers. Maybe you could check it out and let me know your thoughts, if you get the time.

I'm retired and did the work voluntarily, for fun, at home, with no expectation of getting these well-known physicists interested or involved.

I had a couple of email-exchanges years ago with Julian Barbour after reading his interesting book, "The End of Time".

Best regards and good luck to you, Resha, and I hope you don't get too caught up in the topics that morph into emotional verbal sword-play. I'm thinking the people who do this are having fun, but sometimes the discussions germane to the topic get buried.

Re: neutrinos

Posted: Fri May 25, 2012 7:19 pm
by Mike Strand
To Resha,
I think my best recent contributions under Philosophy of Religion are in the topics, "The Antichrist" and "Where do we stand in relation to God". The first topic is supposed to be examining the book, "The Anti-Christ" (better translated as "The Anti-Christian"), written by Friedrich Nietzsche, referred to as "N". You'll have to wade through a lot of swordplay, however. Also flirtations, I think.

The second topic has gone quiet for a few days, but I think it brings up interesting ideas. So to revive interest, I just posted a challenge regarding how to define "God" before voting in the poll as to belief in God -- God's existence, I assume. I may hope or believe in a great and friendly God, but I may not be able to present strong evidence for existence.

Sorry for the digression away from "neutrinos", but these comments are meant to encourage your further participation as one of the better writers I've seen. Richard Baron, chaz wyman, Arising_uk, Wootah, typist, artisticsolution, and Rick Lewis (editor of Philosophy Now) are some of the others who have, in my view, written well in the past, independent of whether we agree on the issues being discussed.