Einstein's train. All change, please.

How does science work? And what's all this about quantum mechanics?

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uwot
Posts: 4318
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Re: Einstein's train. All change, please.

Post by uwot » Sat May 25, 2019 10:06 am

Greta wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 11:31 pm
uwot wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 8:41 am
Greta wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 2:06 am
How do you mean?
I mighta misunderstood what you mean by "orbital", but I took you to mean the relatively desertified areas between 'shells' where electrons hang out. Even the 3 quarks in a proton (that's yer hydrogen nucleus, after all) generate a series of shells, which take a specific amount of energy to jump between. Hence the precise wavelength, and thus colour, of the photons that are involved.
Ta.
No wackas.
Greta wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 11:31 pm
I was mixed up between shells and orbitals. I need to return to the material ... alas, when I did so, another question cropped up.

Stepping back to before atoms formed. Some of the "sparks" (as per your analogy) were unorganised. We call the organised ones quarks. What are the messy sparks? Virtual particles - not organised enough to persist?
Space. The quantum field(s). Krauss's mathematical 'nothing'. The wibbly-wobbly stuff between the stars in which particles blink in and out of existence. And perhaps, as I suggest, 'dark energy'.
Greta wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 11:31 pm
I have been thinking a lot about the early universe and how different it is to what seems to usually be imagined. In its early years the whole universe would have been basically the same kind of matter as in the centre of black holes, only on large scale. That raises the trippy question - without anything else around to provide context, how big was the universe before it developed internal features to provide context?
F@€ked if I know to be honest, but it's a bloody good question. I think first you have to decide how much credibility you give to Guth's inflationary model.
Greta wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 11:31 pm
Quarks are like small fragments of the early universe, preserved in shells that they construct around themselves.
Gets my vote.

seeds
Posts: 771
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:31 pm

Re: Einstein's train. All change, please.

Post by seeds » Sat May 25, 2019 3:28 pm

Dubious wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 8:50 pm
While what you say is true it only proves that there is no way of referring to it in a way that does it justice.
Agreed.
Dubious wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 8:50 pm
What words could we employ which makes specific the true nature of what's going on at that level? But refer to it we must as Bohr understood and use the best possible approximations in the words and terms we apply to abstractions which have no counterpart to the words we use to describe them. An alien civilization would use different metaphors to denote the same reality.
Again, I agree with your assessment.

I was merely unable to resist offering a light-hearted juxtapositioning of Greta’s and uwot’s conversation next to uwot’s quote from Bohr.
Dubious wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 8:50 pm
Clearly it's possible to play with reality in ways which make it possible to understand it better without approaching it directly which can never be.
I think physicist and author Nick Herbert would agree with you on how we’ll never be able to approach it directly, as is suggested in the following quote:
Nick Herbert wrote: “Legendary King Midas never knew the feel of silk or a human hand after everything he touched turned to gold. Humans are stuck in a similar Midas-like predicament: we can't directly experience the true texture of quantum reality because everything we touch turns to matter.”
In other words, we can never directly know or experience (as it really is) the exact nature of the noumenal-like underpinning of reality because any attempt to do so instantly transforms it into phenomena.

Quite an unfortunate dilemma for physicists, wouldn’t you agree?

Hence their surrender (as mentioned by uwot) in the form of “shut up and calculate.”
_______

Atla
Posts: 1922
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:27 am

Re: Einstein's train. All change, please.

Post by Atla » Sat May 25, 2019 3:57 pm

seeds wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 3:28 pm
Nick Herbert wrote: “Legendary King Midas never knew the feel of silk or a human hand after everything he touched turned to gold. Humans are stuck in a similar Midas-like predicament: we can't directly experience the true texture of quantum reality because everything we touch turns to matter.”
In other words, we can never directly know or experience (as it really is) the exact nature of the noumenal-like underpinning of reality because any attempt to do so instantly transforms it into phenomena.
Assuming that the Copenhagen-like and Kantian-like interpretations of reality are correct.
People often use Kant to justify the Copenhagen, and use the Copenhagen to justify Kant, but that's actually circular reasoning.

uwot
Posts: 4318
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:21 am

Re: Einstein's train. All change, please.

Post by uwot » Sat May 25, 2019 4:22 pm

seeds wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 3:28 pm
Nick Herbert wrote: “Legendary King Midas never knew the feel of silk or a human hand after everything he touched turned to gold. Humans are stuck in a similar Midas-like predicament: we can't directly experience the true texture of quantum reality because everything we touch turns to matter.”
In other words, we can never directly know or experience (as it really is) the exact nature of the noumenal-like underpinning of reality because any attempt to do so instantly transforms it into phenomena.
That's rather good. Thanks for that seeds. I'll check this guy out.
Atla wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 3:57 pm
Assuming that the Copenhagen-like and Kantian-like interpretations of reality are correct.
People often use Kant to justify the Copenhagen, and use the Copenhagen to justify Kant, but that's actually circular reasoning.
Well, all Kant was saying is that there is something causing the phenomena, but we dunno what it is. Kinda weird that, by some measures, the greatest philosopher ever is best known for saying something so trivial, but which most people still don't get. Bohr did. Einstein, total genius that he was and despite Kant being his favourite philosopher, thought he knew better.

Atla
Posts: 1922
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:27 am

Re: Einstein's train. All change, please.

Post by Atla » Sat May 25, 2019 5:05 pm

uwot wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 4:22 pm
Atla wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 3:57 pm
Assuming that the Copenhagen-like and Kantian-like interpretations of reality are correct.
People often use Kant to justify the Copenhagen, and use the Copenhagen to justify Kant, but that's actually circular reasoning.
Well, all Kant was saying is that there is something causing the phenomena, but we dunno what it is. Kinda weird that, by some measures, the greatest philosopher ever is best known for saying something so trivial, but which most people still don't get. Bohr did. Einstein, total genius that he was and despite Kant being his favourite philosopher, thought he knew better.
I haven't found agreement about what Kant was really saying. Are phenomena technically things-in-themselves just like noumena, so there is actually only the noumenal world and phenomena are a weird part of it? Or are phenomena and noumena more fundamentally different, phenomena aren't really things-in-themselves?

Most people seem to go with the latter interpretation, and this kind of duality is also quite compatible with the Copenhagen duality (or at least appears to be, but they are not the same thing upon closer inspection), but connecting the two is actually circular reasoning.

uwot
Posts: 4318
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:21 am

Re: Einstein's train. All change, please.

Post by uwot » Sat May 25, 2019 10:00 pm

Atla wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 5:05 pm
I haven't found agreement about what Kant was really saying.
Nor has anyone else; that's why we're still talking about him.
Atla wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 5:05 pm
Are phenomena technically things-in-themselves just like noumena, so there is actually only the noumenal world and phenomena are a weird part of it? Or are phenomena and noumena more fundamentally different, phenomena aren't really things-in-themselves?
It's not complicated. You see, hear, feel, taste and smell, those are the phenomena - the experiences, even when they are enhanced with state of the art technology. What we don't know is what's causing them - the noumena. Physics is the study of phenomena; the observable, measurable and in most cases repeatable facts. Metaphysics is about the noumena, it is literally the stuff beyond physics, the human impulse to create stories about the facts. And as Faraday said in the OP: "Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature."
Atla wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 5:05 pm
Most people seem to go with the latter interpretation, and this kind of duality is also quite compatible with the Copenhagen duality (or at least appears to be, but they are not the same thing upon closer inspection), but connecting the two is actually circular reasoning.
Tell you what; if you can make a coherent question out of that, I'll have a pop at answering it.

Dubious
Posts: 2206
Joined: Tue May 19, 2015 7:40 am

Re: Einstein's train. All change, please.

Post by Dubious » Sat May 25, 2019 10:22 pm

Nick Herbert wrote: “Legendary King Midas never knew the feel of silk or a human hand after everything he touched turned to gold. Humans are stuck in a similar Midas-like predicament: we can't directly experience the true texture of quantum reality because everything we touch turns to matter.”
Never heard of the fellow but it’s an outstanding metaphor employing an ancient myth to highlight a deep scientific mystery. Must look into it!

seeds wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 3:28 pm
In other words, we can never directly know or experience (as it really is) the exact nature of the noumenal-like underpinning of reality because any attempt to do so instantly transforms it into phenomena.

Quite an unfortunate dilemma for physicists, wouldn’t you agree?
For their inquiries perhaps but fortunate for the rest of us; if that process were reversed we’d probably dissolve back into a quantum or noumenal state. I think of phenomena as the frozen aspect of that which underpins it. The question then becomes what upholds and lies beneath the quantum states which in turn expresses itself as the “the phenomenon” generator of that process.

From those perspectives it’s no wonder we often think of the universe as an illusion. It all seems to default into a reality where “perspectives” are no-longer possible, necessary or feasible.

Atla
Posts: 1922
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:27 am

Re: Einstein's train. All change, please.

Post by Atla » Sat May 25, 2019 10:25 pm

uwot wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 10:00 pm
Atla wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 5:05 pm
I haven't found agreement about what Kant was really saying.
Nor has anyone else; that's why we're still talking about him.
Atla wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 5:05 pm
Are phenomena technically things-in-themselves just like noumena, so there is actually only the noumenal world and phenomena are a weird part of it? Or are phenomena and noumena more fundamentally different, phenomena aren't really things-in-themselves?
It's not complicated. You see, hear, feel, taste and smell, those are the phenomena - the experiences, even when they are enhanced with state of the art technology. What we don't know is what's causing them - the noumena. Physics is the study of phenomena; the observable, measurable and in most cases repeatable facts. Metaphysics is about the noumena, it is literally the stuff beyond physics, the human impulse to create stories about the facts. And as Faraday said in the OP: "Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature."
Atla wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 5:05 pm
Most people seem to go with the latter interpretation, and this kind of duality is also quite compatible with the Copenhagen duality (or at least appears to be, but they are not the same thing upon closer inspection), but connecting the two is actually circular reasoning.
Tell you what; if you can make a coherent question out of that, I'll have a pop at answering it.
Never mind.

seeds
Posts: 771
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:31 pm

Re: Einstein's train. All change, please.

Post by seeds » Sun May 26, 2019 3:46 am

seeds wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 3:28 pm
Nick Herbert wrote: “Legendary King Midas never knew the feel of silk or a human hand after everything he touched turned to gold. Humans are stuck in a similar Midas-like predicament: we can't directly experience the true texture of quantum reality because everything we touch turns to matter.”
In other words, we can never directly know or experience (as it really is) the exact nature of the noumenal-like underpinning of reality because any attempt to do so instantly transforms it into phenomena.
uwot wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 4:22 pm
That's rather good. Thanks for that seeds. I'll check this guy out.
Dubious wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 10:22 pm
Never heard of the fellow but it’s an outstanding metaphor employing an ancient myth to highlight a deep scientific mystery. Must look into it!
Be forewarned, Herbert is of the crowd that included Fred Alan Wolf, so I’m not sure you guys will appreciate his more metaphysical approach to physics.

Nevertheless, his book - “Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics” (1985) was a fun read back in the 80s.
_______

seeds
Posts: 771
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:31 pm

Re: Einstein's train. All change, please.

Post by seeds » Sun May 26, 2019 3:47 am

Atla wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 3:57 pm
Assuming that the Copenhagen-like and Kantian-like interpretations of reality are correct.
People often use Kant to justify the Copenhagen, and use the Copenhagen to justify Kant, but that's actually circular reasoning.
I don’t think its circular reasoning to point out a particularly interesting parallel between deep physics and deep philosophy.

To slightly paraphrase something I have written elsewhere:
seeds wrote: Clearly, I am taking license with the word “noumena” by applying it to Heisenberg’s “raw potentia,” or to the substance delineated by Schrödinger’s equation, or to that implicate level of reality implied in David Bohm’s theories, etc., etc..

However, I don’t think that Kant would have a problem visualizing how well it correlates with the hidden underpinnings of the universe where the “thing-in-itself” resides in the infinitesimal articulations of information written in the invisible script of quantum waveforms.
In other words, in the context of the “particle/wave” duality of an electron, for example, the wave aspect is the noumenon while the particle aspect is the phenomenon, yet they are two features of the same entity.

Does that make any sense?
_______

seeds
Posts: 771
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:31 pm

Re: Einstein's train. All change, please.

Post by seeds » Sun May 26, 2019 3:48 am

seeds wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 6:35 pm
You guys seem to be demonstrating how hard it is to avoid what Bohr was referring to in the quote offered by uwot in the OP:
Niels Bohr wrote: “We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images.”
In other words, it is an exercise in futility to think that the depictions you are working with are truly describing the actual features of the “stuff” from which reality is formed.
uwot wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 9:50 am
Erm, shorter still: having depictions isn't futile, but thinking they "are truly describing the actual features of the “stuff” from which reality is formed" is silly.
Perhaps the phrase “exercise in futility” was a poor choice of words.

Indeed, I didn’t mean to imply that having depictions is futile, for it is obvious that you and I employ a multitude of depictions in our writings.

It was just an awkward prefacing of my point, but I assume you understood what I was getting at (all in good fun, of course).

And as to this:
uwot wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 9:50 am
...with the 'many worlds' interpretation probably in second place. And that is really, really batshit, but quite possibly true.
I suggest that Everett’s “Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics” is perhaps the most ridiculous theory in existence (at least in terms of theories that are actually taken seriously by physicists).

That being said, I’d be interested in hearing why you think it might possibly be true.

(Btw, thanks for the nice history lesson.)
_______

Atla
Posts: 1922
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:27 am

Re: Einstein's train. All change, please.

Post by Atla » Sun May 26, 2019 6:29 am

seeds wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 3:47 am
Atla wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 3:57 pm
Assuming that the Copenhagen-like and Kantian-like interpretations of reality are correct.
People often use Kant to justify the Copenhagen, and use the Copenhagen to justify Kant, but that's actually circular reasoning.
I don’t think its circular reasoning to point out a particularly interesting parallel between deep physics and deep philosophy.

To slightly paraphrase something I have written elsewhere:
seeds wrote: Clearly, I am taking license with the word “noumena” by applying it to Heisenberg’s “raw potentia,” or to the substance delineated by Schrödinger’s equation, or to that implicate level of reality implied in David Bohm’s theories, etc., etc..

However, I don’t think that Kant would have a problem visualizing how well it correlates with the hidden underpinnings of the universe where the “thing-in-itself” resides in the infinitesimal articulations of information written in the invisible script of quantum waveforms.
In other words, in the context of the “particle/wave” duality of an electron, for example, the wave aspect is the noumenon while the particle aspect is the phenomenon, yet they are two features of the same entity.

Does that make any sense?
_______
Annoying rant [ON]

Kant's noumena vs phenomena is irrational in case it doesn't treat phenomena as things-in-themselves, in case it treats the noumena vs phenomena as a fundamental division and not just an apparent one. Heisenberg's raw potentia is irrational because it doesn't treat wavelike behaviour as real or existant. "Potentia" is just a magical idea here.

Both project a duality onto the world that just isn't there. I guess the shortest refution would be to say that atoms can be in two or three or four (or any number) of places at once too. It's not just completely pointlike behaviour versus completely wavelike behaviour, but there is an infinity of "intermediate" behaviour between them as well. QM is demonstrably about an infinite multiplicity of behaviour, not dual behaviour.

Both above ideas are wrong, they look like deep physics and deep phylosophy, but we need to discard duality and go even much "deeper" if we want to make sense of the world. And saying that "wave aspect is the noumenon while the particle aspect is the phenomenon, yet they are two features of the same entity" is popular but just plain wrong, the two ideas aren't talking about the same thing and we couldn't equate them like this even if they were true.

Lazy thinkers have been using the above circular reasoning for nearly a century and that has derailed our trying to figure out the world considerably. (By the way the Copenhagen was mainly influenced by the Vedas anyway, not Kantian ideas, it just looks that way on the surface.)

Anyway now we are indeed moving towards MWI / relative state interpretations, which are compatible with infinite multiplicity and aren't about duality. Seems to be the right direction, even if every current interpretation is still deeply flawed.

(Though the ideas that there never was a particle-wave duality and that there never was a classical vs quantum division may be a little much to stomach as many people have spent their lives coming up with theories based on these.)

Annoying rant [OFF]

uwot
Posts: 4318
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:21 am

Re: Einstein's train. All change, please.

Post by uwot » Sun May 26, 2019 11:52 am

seeds wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 3:48 am
I suggest that Everett’s “Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics” is perhaps the most ridiculous theory in existence (at least in terms of theories that are actually taken seriously by physicists).

That being said, I’d be interested in hearing why you think it might possibly be true.
Er, well because I cannot think of a reason why it's impossible, I suppose. If you take the Faraday quote in the OP seriously, and I do, then "Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature..." The Schrödinger equation is a brilliant description of everything we know happens and as Schrödinger himself said the different outcomes are "not alternatives but all really happen simultaneously".

For all I know, those Hippy physicists you thought could rub me up the wrong way might be right. So might you. So might Atla - Schrödinger was a very experimental thinker and looked seriously at stuff like the Vedas. The study of reality is this magical playground; the fact that there is anything at all is indistinguishable from a miracle. So is the fact that this bonkers stuff can organise itself into living things. So is the fact that at least some configurations are conscious. I mean, how the fuck did that happen?

Ultimately the choices we make are based on our background and education, but the final decision is aesthetic - generally people who haven't had some bullshit hammered into them since childhood will pick a philosophy because it has some 'fittingness', to use a Kantian term - it suits them. Some people like swings, some like roundabouts and some people get proper arsey if you suggest you can play on both. (Fundamentally, this is what Thomas Kuhn was saying in 1962, here's the article wot I wrote about him for the current edition of Philosophy Now https://philosophynow.org/issues/131/Th ... _1922-1996)

So what happens when you play with many worlds? Well, it just depends where you want to go. Suppose for instance some fruitloop tells you that some god of theirs is infinite. Oh yeah? Call that infinite? Try this on for size: every possible quantum event that could ever have happened, actually happened. Everything that could have happened to you did, and it's all out there. Maybe when we shuffle off this mortal coil we are released into the garden, because somewhere in there is the world in which you discover the cure for death and live forever and ever, Amen.

Is that impossible? Not as far as I can tell. But if anyone tells you they know that it's true, back away slowly and look for something heavy to hit them over the head with.
The book this thread is about, as Greta quite rightly pointed out, is simply a composition of the most mainstream models that physicists currently use. I don't pretend to know how reality really works, but it's a fucking trip.
seeds wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 3:48 am
(Btw, thanks for the nice history lesson.)
_______
Hey man; peace.

Univalence
Posts: 492
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Re: Einstein's train. All change, please.

Post by Univalence » Sun May 26, 2019 12:58 pm

uwot wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 11:52 am
Maybe when we shuffle off this mortal coil we are released into the garden, because somewhere in there is the world in which you discover the cure for death and live forever and ever, Amen.

Is that impossible? Not as far as I can tell. But if anyone tells you they know that it's true, back away slowly and look for something heavy to hit them over the head with.
But if you can shuffle off the mortal coil, surely you can don it back on? ;)

So it could totally be true, and they could even know it, but they also ought to know that mere words cannot convince a verificationist.

uwot
Posts: 4318
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:21 am

Re: Einstein's train. All change, please.

Post by uwot » Sun May 26, 2019 2:05 pm

Univalence wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 12:58 pm
But if you can shuffle off the mortal coil, surely you can don it back on? ;)
Well, you can on this forum.

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