Friday, December 03, 2010

The inevitable outcomes from basic research - ?

If you're trying to get into the Christmas mood, I can warmly recommend a recent article in Seed Magazine by Rolf Heuer, Director General of Cern, On Competitive Collaboration. The title is somewhat misleading though; the article is actually a praise of basic research and its merits for our societies. It doesn't really say anything new, and of course for the readers of our blog it's preaching to the choir that basic research was and will continue to be essential for progress. But the essay is such a nice piece of writing I'm sure it will put a smile on your face.
“[A] scientist involved in basic research is by definition motivated: We do what we do because we are passionate about understanding the universe...

Human ingenuity being what it is, the future will undoubtedly bring applications based on discoveries made with the LHC. Although, as with Newton’s gravity, it may be some time before we’re privy to all of them, and to their implications. For our children and grandchildren, however, I am sure that the wait will have been worthwhile.”

In my earlier post Knowledge for the sake of knowledge, I was complaining that all to often to make a case for the relevance of basic research the argument is that eventually some technology will come out of it. This leaves aside the relevance that knowledge itself has, whether or not it results in some new gadget that you'll find under the tree in a decade, despite the fact that most people working in the field are driven by the gain in knowledge since applications are often too remote to be a tangible personal goal. I think that insights on fundamental questions about the nature of reality themselves have a direct influence on our societies. Consider topics like free will or the multiverse-question whether the physics in our universe is the only one possible or just one of many possibilities. I was thus happy to see that Heuer didn't try to sell the LHC as something that obtains its value merely by its rôle in producing new technologies.

In Canada, basic research is doing well: As you might have read on Peter's blog or in the Globe & Mail, the Bank of Montreal has donated CAN $4 million to Perimeter Institute to establish “the BMO Financial Group Isaac Newton Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter Institute.” Bill Downe, President and Chief Executive Officer of the BMO Financial Group said
“The Institute’s ambitious thirst for new knowledge places it at the very frontier of discovery. Its thinkers can change our world by boldly pushing the boundaries of our current understanding of physical laws. We couldn’t be more proud of this association and hope that our unique investment in the BMO Isaac Newton Chair in Theoretical Physics will enhance innovation in Canada and encourage other private sector donors to fund Chairs at PI.”

So, congratulations to PI! In PI's press release, one also finds a quotation from Mike Lazaridis, founder of Perimeter Institute, who repeats the usual justification for basic research with the prospect of technological applications. In fact, he goes so far to say:
“Theoretical physics has driven the most important insights and technological advances in the history of humankind. Although the outcomes from basic research may not be immediate, they are inevitable...”

That's quite a bold statement, don't you think?

I completely agree with Heuer that basic research is instrumental for progress, but I'm far from sure that basic research of any sort “inevitably” leads to technological advances. Take for example the recent media fuzz about the re-recycled idea that the universe did not start with the Big Bang, and consider for a moment this turns out to be correct. The question is clearly of high relevance for us to understand our place in the universe, but since the distinction between bang and bounce lies 14 billion years in the past I'm having some trouble imagining what technology might possibly come out of an experimental distinction. I can easily imagine what it might be good for to find superluminal propagation of information to be possible, and could come up with a dozen applications for antigravitation. I can imagine that the development of quantum gravity and/or string theory will one day be of relevance for quantum computing, and that finding the Higgs or some alternative mechanism to generate particle masses will in the remote future play a role for energy generation. But especially when it comes to cosmology, it seems to me the outcome is mainly in the realm of pure knowledge, addressing the eternal questions where we come from and where we go to.

But hey, my imagination is finite, so let your fantasy fly free and tell me what inevitable application a big bounce scenario might have one day. Even better, tell me what, in your wildest dreams, will be the outcome of some basic research of your choice in theoretical physics that is pursued today.

100 comments:

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

The following is reprinted from a comment to the Nature piece on the new chairs at PI.
---------------------------

This is sort of a follow-up to Robert Matthews’ comment and offers a slightly different take on why there has been so little real progress in theoretical physics for the last 30 years.

Take a look at some recent research in the the study of what is needed for creativity. For example see the following: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201124345.htm

To paraphrase: if you want creativity you need BOTH left hemisphere analytical/abstract reasoning AND the more difficult to measure right hemisphere’s abilities regarding non-verbal pattern recognition, concrete physical reasoning, holism, intuition and context.

After the advent of relativity and quantum mechanics, physics required a much greater mathematical sophistication than ever before, and so the field of physics increasingly selected for students with exceptionally strong left hemispheric abilities in mathematics and abstract reasoning.

Alas, a good thing can be carried too far! At this point the field of theoretical physics is dominated by those who have amazing left hemispheric abilities but also an equally amazing lack of right hemispheric abilities. That is how you get the “landscape” of 10^500 “universes”, egregious “anthropic reasoning”, a whole stable of dark matter particles that have never been observed and probably never will, “Boltzmann brains”, “sparticles”, “unparticles”, 7 to 100s of unobservable dimensions, etc., etc., etc.

What is to be done? Firstly the left-brained wizards have to admit that when it comes to right-brained intuition and pattern recognition, they are neophytes. Secondly, the theoretical physics community needs to restore balance by putting a greater emphasis on experimental work and testing of definitive predictions, the sine qua non of science. Thirdly, the theoretical physics community must identify and welcome students who show right hemisphere abilities.

The genius of Einstein was largely due to the fact that he was blessed with strong left and right hemisphere abilities. Faraday and Maxwell were more “one-sided” but they combined their special talents in a most productive way.

Bottom line: find some Faraday-type thinkers (who emphasize the experimental rather than the theoretical, and are very good at pattern recognition) and listen to them. They will help to put theoretical physics back on track conceptually, and then the left-brained wizards can add the analytical rigor to the new conceptual framework.

RLO

Bee said...

Where's the evidence that "the field of theoretical physics is dominated by those who have amazing left hemispheric abilities but also an equally amazing lack of right hemispheric abilities" and that "welcome[ing] students who show right hemisphere abilities" would be beneficial? Also, I actually don't think there's too few "experimental thinkers" in physics overall. You're extrapolating from some quite small subfields. The vast majority of physicists have absolutely nothing to do with quantum gravity, multiverses or big bounces. They do hands-on stuff like condensed matter physics, solid state physics, stat mech, plasma physics, astrophysics, quantum optics, etc etc. That's where you find the bulk of people. Best,

B.

M*P*Lockwood said...

While a simple either/or answer to the Big Bang/Big Bounce question wouldn't be enough to base some new technology on, I couldn't help thinking of some examples of how it could be linked.

To answer that questions, we'd certainly need to know more about quantum gravity and particle physics, right? That knowledge is likely to have applications in new materials, energy, etc. Any hypothetical evidence of a Big Bounce (or an answer to some other deep cosmology question) could lead to new insights in those QG/particle theories, and then contribute to new technologies.

I am all for finding things out just for the sake of it, but I would have to agree that new understanding always seems to lead to new applications.

Peter Turney said...

But hey, my imagination is finite, so let your fantasy fly free and tell me what inevitable application a big bounce scenario might have one day.

It may be possible to pass information from a parent universe to a child universe, through a bounce. In fact, the pattern of concentric circles mentioned in the NY Times article might encode information from an intelligent life form in our parent universe. If we could decode this information, it might greatly enrich our lives. Likewise, we may be able to pass information on to our child universe(s). We might even be able to download ourselves into our child universe(s).

How's that for free-flying fantasy? :-)

Bee said...

Hi Peter,

Excellent! You mean there might be a message in the sky? So far the message seems to be O-O-o-o-o ;-) Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi M*P*,

Yes, it might be linked. But the bang/bounce question alone is in a regime of such high energy density/curvature that I can't quite see what earthly applications it would be good for. You'd need some low energy relevance for that, no?
Best,

B.

tspin said...

Return on basic research suffers from diminishing returns.

Aaron Sheldon said...

I've been asked about the technological purpose of studying things like Cosmology. I usually give an answer in two parts:

1. Cosmology contributes to placing tighter bounds on the measurements of fundamental physical constants, which in the end gives us a better ability to engineer technology.

2. The methods of Cosmology require the development of technology and in particular computer algorithms and mathematics which do have practical cross field uses.

I personally believe in knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but that stems from my own restless nature and a belief in personal growth and exploration of the Universe.

I have observed that the vast majority of the humans would be content enough knowing what they know, and would really rather not be prodded into learning more, or challenging their own boundaries

Arun said...

One outcome of scientific progress might be better science fiction!

:)

Uncle Al said...

Discovering really big stuff requires accident, for the Official path tolerates no happenstance. Put good people in rich environments, let them get bored. Let them screw around and make mistakes. All discovery is insubordination.

S. Donald Stookey discovered Pyroceram in a SNAFU. Nobel Laureate/Chemistry Charlie Pedersen discovered crown ethers because a very small tuft of wiry white crystals appeared in a 5-liter flask of bolloxed reaction. Pedersen liked crystals. At the dawn of NMR, John D. Roberts made a Grignard reagent in his NMR tube while taking spectra. Some output lines were inverted. He assumed his hardware was wonky, efficiently not discovering CIDNP, Chemically Induced Dynamic Nuclear Polarization.

Research management is the death of the future.

Bee, do opposite shoes vacuum free fall identically? They must - Einstein's elevator Gedankenexperiment, string theory and BRST invariance! Of course they do...

http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/erotor1.jpg
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm

...unless they don't. Somebody should look. The worst it can do is succeed - because enantiomorphic atomic mass distributions do not exist in physics. Remember what parallel lines did to Euclid.

Eric said...

I have to admit that a signal from another universe is intriguing but it certainly does not solve any fundamental problems. It just moves the problem farther down the line. We would then be allowed to ask "then who created that universe?" That way of thinking is a dead end.

There is something in the human psyche that resists thinking that we are all part of a whole that really can not be separated. This is where Robert is absolutely correct about left and right brained physicists. The left brained physicists don't even have the intuition that what they often do is create a world in their mind which by their own rules can not be solved.

What they should really do is always work from the premise that the universe can be solved eventually, even if it can only be done eons from now. And the only way that is even conceivable is using a holistic approach where there a finite amount of information that is embedded in the structure of the universe. The trick is that the information is embedded in a fabulously ingenious way. No outside universe required. That is an idea that is extremely ugly. And Robert is exactly right. If a person can't see that it says something about the way their mind works on a very fundamental level.

Steven Colyer said...

One of the great things about you, Bee, is you know how to spell "Lazaridis" correctly. Unlike Peter Woit. :-)

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

Busy Bee: "Where's the evidence that "the field of theoretical physics is dominated by those who have amazing left hemispheric abilities but also an equally amazing lack of right hemispheric abilities" and that "welcome[ing] students who show right hemisphere abilities" would be beneficial? Also, I actually don't think there's too few "experimental thinkers" in physics overall. You're extrapolating from some quite small subfields."
-------------------------------

So are you recommending another 30 years in the desert mining fool's gold?

Maybe PI should try something a bit different. Perhaps a small group devoted to alternative ideas, like modeling nature in terms of its fractal geometry, or perhaps a radical new aproach to the microcosm along the lines of D. Hestenes, J. Christian, Tim Palmer, A. Connes, etc., etc., etc.

Or is it best to look for the missing clues near the ATM machine, because the light is better there and that's where the money is?

RLO

Steven Colyer said...

If only brain research were as simple as left-brain/right-brain, we'd hire women to run everything, which I believe we should anyway but not just because of that.

It's so annoying when people blend different fields of study that have no business being blended. Brain Biology is in its infancy; far more questions than answers, although thanks to Computers and Microscopy it's advancing in leaps and bounds, much like Quantum Physics once De Broglie introduced his theory of electron waves.

Psychology, perhaps the most important field of all, is younger yet and long from having the central themata it desperately needs to improve our species before some heinous biological organism breaks out of a biological warfare lab and kills us all.

It's a race! Listen to Hawking. Let's work on a self-sustaining lunar colony to give at least some of us a fighting chance.

Eric said...

Robert,
I think Bee is actually more open minded than you think. I think your physics intuition is excellent but you need to work on your intuition of people and what will put them on the defensive. I stick up for you when you need it but you should accept that Bee requires time to integrate information, just as we all do. Don't make it so hard to be on your side. :-)

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

Thanks Eric, but I am not trying to communicate with anyone who posts here - only with the lurkers.

I am not trying to suck up, or curry favor, or sell anything.

I present the new paradigm, and have some fun doing it. If it makes certain posers yammer, all the better.

I think that, among present-day theoretical physicists, the angry Bee is quite open-minded. But...
-----------------------------

"and he saw the tree above him
and the stars
and the veins of the leaf
and the light
and the balance
and he saw magnificent perfection"
--------------------------
"there will be an answer
Let It Be"

Helmut Hansen said...

If we ask for the outcome of basic research we unconsciously ask for a revolution in physics, because contemporary theoretical physics has been in crisis for a long time, as it cannot provide an
answer to the most important question how we can unify relativity and quantum mechanics.
There are deep discrepancies between both theories. Einstein was clearly conscious of them, but he did not want to accept some of the result of quantum mechanics which contradict the cardinal postulates of this theory
of relativity. This includes special relativity as well,
especially the postulate of locality. We know nature is acting in a non-local fashion. But Einstein didn’t believe that. He spoke about spooky actions at a distance. He regarded therefore
quantum description of reality as incomplete.
But may be it is not quantum mechanics that is incomplete.
Perhaps his special relativity
is incomplete. But nowadays it is highly difficult to critize special relativity because it is meanwhile established as a paradigm, which implies a wide range of consequences: It means, no effort is made to call forth new sorts of phenomena, to discover anomalies etc. All these efforts are usually discarded or ignored. In brief, no effort is made to go beyond the relativistic paradigm and no tolerance for those who try.
According to Thomas S. Kuhn paradigm shift is often achieved by scientists who are young or new to the field and thus more open-minded.
And that’s my hope.
It is indeed possible to go beyond relativity just by taking a purely quantum mechanical point of view. We know that light has two faces. It can appear as a particle as well as a wave. But the fundamental parameter of c has only one face. My thesis is: The fundamental constant of c has also two faces! The magnitude of the parameter is the same, f.e. c = 1, but the geometrical expression of it is given twice: as a circle and as a square, which are closeley entangled to each other.
(More Details:About the Dual Parametrization of c)
I admit that this thesis is more a vision than a theory, but it can provide a new look at the universe with some very interesting outcomes.

Steven Colyer said...

Eric, Robert says he "isn't trying to sell anything" but in the next words says "I present the new paradigm" which is his mathematically developed version of Scale Relativity, which he has tried to sell here on BackReAction in the past, contrary to the Comment Rules, and which earned him a one-month banning here last August.

Clicking on Robert's name presents nothing, so he is successful in not selling anything. I have researched his semi-interesting theory, which he lays out on his website, here.

Wikipedia discusses Scale Relativity: here. It's considered a "fringe theory" which doesn't necessarily make it wrong. Doesn't necessarily make it right, either. To be "right" it should, as Wiki sates: Claims must be based upon independent reliable sources. An idea that is not broadly supported by scholarship in its field must not be given undue weight, and reliable sources must be cited that affirm the relationship of the marginal idea to the mainstream idea in a serious and substantial manner.

So where are the reliable sources, Robert? If I were to approach Michael Shara of the American Museum of Natural History and Columbia University or Neil DeGrasse Tyson of the Hayden Planetarium in NYC, what do you think their opinion would be? Have you done so? What did they say, if so?

But you know something Robert? What would it hurt for PI to have a Scale Relativist, such as yourself, maybe? Why don't you apply? The worst they could say is no.

In the meantime, throw your theory through this ringer and tell us your score, luv, which can't be a perfect score of minus-5 as you've already broken #19 by calling your theory "The New Paradigm."

Bee said...

Hi Robert,

You entirely missed my point. I was just telling you what I've tried to get across on this blog numerous times: If you or anybody else claims they know how to improve the process of knowledge discovery, I want evidence that what they suggest will actually work to our benefit rather than make matters worse. Babbling about left- and right-brained people doesn't count as scientific evidence, it's just that: babbling, excuse the open words. That is not to say that I think your suggestion is useless, I am just simply saying you should apply your standards to yourself. Do a study or quote a study or stop pretending you know everything better than everybody else. Don't you think that a lot of smart people, for example those running one or the other institute, have spend a lot of time thinking about these questions?

You see, you might think that research in fundamental questions in theoretical physics has been frustratingly slow during the last decades. And I would agree on that. But the question is whether it is possible at all to move forward faster. I am not at all sure about that. Which, let me emphasize that again, doesn't mean it's not possible.

PI is very open to all sorts of approaches. But if you want to have a creative environment you don't explicitly hire people who work on this or that approach that one or the other person likes for whatever reason. You try to hire the best people, period, and they do whatever it is they are doing. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Greg: In contrast to Phil's mysteriously vanished comments, your comment did not appear neither on my comment list (the one for admin purposes), nor did I receive it by email. I would suggest you try submitting it again.

Greg Sivco said...

Thank you Miss Bee, I'll try again and this time save my work before continuing, most appreciated. We'll see if it works.

Some random thoughts:

- WOW! That is a LOT of money Perimeter is offering! I hope that's a trend. I've long felt the finest minds should be paid the most money, but unfortunately we don't live in a meritocracy, an ideal that may never be accomplished, but one that nevertheless should be aspired to, in my opinion.

- Dr. Oldershaw, I see with a little research that your theory comes under the heading of something called "Scale Relativity." Wikipedia calls it a "fringe science." What do you make of that? And please don't answer directly here, as the Comment Rules are pretty clear on that stuff. Would it be too much trouble if you could read comment #3 in the Comment Rules, and start your own blog? I would love to talk to you about it, but openly and not in private e-mail. Unless you've already started one! If so, please link, thank you in advance, as clicking on your name reveals nothing.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

It true at times it’s often hard to imagine what some theories or particular implications of them can bring. However it’s also true that scientists not always being the best at imagining what their discoveries might give rise to. For instance in 1888 after Heinrich Rudolf Hertz experimentally confirmed James Maxwell’s theory of Electromagnetism (1864), with his creation and detection of radio waves over a distance of 20 feet he was asked what the practical implications might be. His replay being "It's of no use whatsoever ... this is just an experiment that proves Maestro Maxwell was right — we just have these mysterious electromagnetic waves that we cannot see with the naked eye. But they are there." He was later to say "I do not think that the wireless waves I have discovered will have any practical application."

Similarly cosmological theories such Penrose’s seem to present no particular use, yet that’s only because the inventions themselves being emergent and not fundamental, as they are the expressions we form respective of our knowledge of natural potential. That is radios, television sets, automobiles, space ships and light bulbs, don’t simply serve as confirmation of theory respective of natures workings, yet rather how our understanding of them enable us to create, rather than discover, things and application beyond those found to be natural. That’s to say what inventors do being different from what fundamental theorists and experimentalists do, as their creations often being things which exceed nature’s manifestations, as to have us as being supernatural. That is conscious intelligence not simply lending us the ability to understand natures working, yet more importantly its potential, as to have it wilfully directed for our purposes rather than nature’s.

As to Penrose’s theory more generally, its implication being the universe itself being the inevitable product of potential alone, as being void of anything else we now find as being real. Thus I imagine perhaps it will eventually have us to know not simply what potential allows for, yet more importantly how we might be able to create potential(s) itself, so that we may further be able to have it manifest as we will, as to create, anything we might imagine.

Best,

Phil

Georg said...

At the dawn of NMR, John D. Roberts made a Grignard reagent in his NMR tube while taking spectra. Some output lines were inverted. He assumed his hardware was wonky, efficiently not discovering CIDNP,

Hello Uncle Al,
Please help my memory:
CIDNP is connected to radical pair formation, (Typically You heat some
Dibenzoylperoxide solution),bur Grignards?
I thought of CIDNP these days when reading
about cryptochrome in birds eyes used
for magnetic orientation.
Georg

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

Bee says: "But the question is whether it is possible at all to move forward faster."
--------------------------

Yes, yes, I understood exactly where you were coming from. I just like to sometimes use a comment slightly out of context to express a particular idea that I am interested in getting across.

But the answer is really the same. As Einstein said: 'Insanity can be defined as repeating the same thing over and over, and expecting a different answer.'

The amazing mountain of evidence that we need to try something radicaly different stands right in front of you. To wit: 30 years in a desert with only fool's gold to show for it.

All I am trying to get across is that PI could and should, at very little risk: Try Something Radically Different!! Most especially with very different people who have very different talents. It could be an experiment that is limited to relatively low funding and a x-year time limit.

A group specifically devoted to fractals, nonlinear science and chaos (and no other bulls#*@) would probably give you the most bang for the buck.

To my knowledge, it has never been tried before. Everytime they set up an institute, "deep thunk dunk", or fqxi, or the MacArthur foundation, etc., the Platonists decide who gets to play and who does not, and they always pick their fellow Platonists who have about as much natural intuition as a "Boltzmann brain".

Sigh, it cannot possibly work if it is never tried. That is the idea I am trying to get across.
------------------------

Greg: It's private email, existing blog, or nothing.

I would not be caught dead twittering like those CA twits, and I do not have even 0.00001% enough tolerance to run my own blog.

It's the weekend. Pour the booze down the drain, brew up a really fine cup of coffee and smoke a good cigar. Or just let it be.(:-)>

RLO

Steven Colyer said...

A group specifically devoted to fractals, nonlinear science and chaos...

Hear, hear! I'm all for that!

But then you wrote ....

...(and no other bulls#*@) would probably give you the most bang for the buck.

Aw, damn, Robert. You just showed your lack of people skills, as Eric noted. I/we wish you'd work on that. You have passion, you have focus, but if you can't play nice with others, are you not then lost? You just called everyone at Perimeter NOT working on those very subjects that mutually interest you and I ... worthless. I wish you'd stop doing that.

And then there's ...

I do not have even 0.00001% enough tolerance to run my own blog.

So you lack tolerance. How unhappy in all sorts of ways you must be in this life.

Haven't you ever heard the expression "There but for the grace of God go I", or the American Indian "Do not judge a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins"?

It's private email, existing blog, or nothing.

So let it be written, or not, so let it not be done.

I'm more than willing to be the Aaron to your Moses, but without a blog and the give-and-take it provides, who can know your Yahweh?

For starters, stop with the "New Paradigm" stuff, it's embarrassing, and breaks #19 on John Baez' index. Just a tip.

Greg Sivco said...

RLO you wrote: "
It's the weekend. Pour the booze down the drain, brew up a really fine cup of coffee and smoke a good cigar. Or just let it be.(:-)>"

Oh man, did you just call me a drunk? The heck with you man if so. It's been my experience that people who call others such have that exact same problem themselves. Seek professional help. I'm out of here. Back to being a "lurker" as you say, which sounds disgusting, and here's to you getting over yourself, wow. Good frigging luck.

Plato said...

These are what you call a Cosmologist that is not bound by a box?:)

Colliding Branes

Cycle of Birth, Life, and Death-Origin, Indentity, and Destiny by Gabriele Veneziano

It's fitting that R. Penrose and V.G.Gurzadyan should join the club? Turok, as well.:)

Best,

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

Pontificator-In-Chief says: "So you lack tolerance. How unhappy in all sorts of ways you must be in this life."

I am honest and I have a deep and abiding relationship with nature. For me that is what really counts.
To wear my heart on my sleeve for a brief moment: I am in love with the Universe and everything in it, even those whom I criticize.

Your need to tell other people how to be and think is borne of insecurity.
-------------------------------

Greg says: "Oh man, did you just call me a drunk?"

Obviously not! However I cannot help but draw strong negative conclusions from such a leap of inference.

Why do these people think I am talking personally and directly to them. Vanity? Myopia?

RLO

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

PS: 12/21

Winter Solstice

AND

One of the best full eclipses of the Moon in this century (relatively high overhead position).

Now that should put a great big smile on anybody's face.

Awake sleepers?

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

Yes, scientists are not the best at imagining what their research might be good for in the future. I am generally very skeptic about future predictions in pretty much any field. I do however think such speculations are interesting for other reasons than for the purpose to predict the future, that is that they make room for creativity and serve as a picture of today's hopes. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Robert,

"Yes, yes, I understood exactly where you were coming from.... The amazing mountain of evidence that we need to try something radicaly different stands right in front of you. To wit: 30 years in a desert with only fool's gold to show for it."

Actually, I think you still did not understand. Where is the evidence that anything that you suggest would have meant we'd have made progress on one or the other question in less than 30 years? Where's the evidence that what you suggest would be beneficial rather than obstructive in the future?Sorry, but saying yes, yes doesn't amount to evidence. You're just expressing an opinion. Fine, but not particularly interesting and btw off-topic.

"All I am trying to get across is that PI could and should, at very little risk: Try Something Radically Different!!... A group specifically devoted to fractals, nonlinear science and chaos (and no other bulls#*@) would probably give you the most bang for the buck."

You're overestimating your own "radical difference." PI has complex systems in their 5 year plan. And besides that I doubt that anybody at PI cares what some commenter on my blog thinks they should be doing, so you're just wasting your and my time. Please stick to the topic of this post.

Best,

B.

Bee said...

Everybody:

Could we please come back to the topic of this post?

To remind you, it's about the question whether basic research inevitably leads to applications, and what applications you can imagine to come out of basic research in fundamental physics.

Thanks,

B.

Steven Colyer said...

Oldershaw writes:
I am honest and I have a deep and abiding relationship with nature. For me that is what really counts.
To wear my heart on my sleeve for a brief moment: I am in love with the Universe and everything in it, even those whom I criticize.


I love you too, man, good comment. OK, no more on this stuff and I'm off to study your version of ScaleR, bearing in mind I hope you can explain Quantum Entanglement and Chrirality.

Hi Bee! You wrote:
To remind you, it's about the question whether basic research inevitably leads to applications, and what applications you can imagine to come out of basic research in fundamental physics.

I did like the CERN Director's essay very much, but for some reason a lot of it seems self-evident, sort of like the thing you'd expect Management to write. Still, it never hurts to be reminded of the obvious.

If by "basic research" one means experimental Physics, then yes there will be applications down the road someday, assuming the experiment is successful and reproducible, the only question being how far into the future will a big-thinker recognize and apply it. Gordon Moore is the perfect example.

If by "basic research" you mean theoretical Physics and speculation, then the answer is unlikely for any specific one of them, except for those speculations that turn out to be correct. So the odds are low for any specific one, but very high that one of the many will eventually pan out. An analogy would be: the odds of an asteroid someday hitting the Earth are 100%, but of one doing so in our lifetime are infinitesimally remote.

This is why I love Perimeter and other Institutes of Advanced Studies. The more theoreticians, the merrier. IMO.

As far as "what applications?" goes, who knows what the morrow will bring? I'm unique just like everyone else, but I'm not Nostrastevus.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Yes I also find such speculations as interesting. Then again at times things shift the other way, as with only having the invention being realized might the truth become known about the correctness of a certain theory or more accurately what many theorists think they tell us. One such example being the quantum computer , which those such as Seth Lloyd out of MIT, Raymond Laflamme working at PI and many others, all of which are currently struggling to have made a (practical) reality.

This of course being in relation to the actions which occur to been observed in the quantum domain, resultant of being seen as having different potentials, as they relate to their underlying fundamental mechanisms. However this endeavour extends past simply the machinery itself, as it also being crucially related to what logic being applicable to the algorisms currently being developed, respective of the type of queries they imagine such the machines might be capable of having addressed. In fact I find such an invention as so important, that I’m almost certain it will have a profound effect on what theories we are able to in future to develop and what limitations might be placed upon them if any.



Best,

Phil

Phil Warnell said...

Hi All,

Well it seems to have happened again, that a comment being denied by the Blogger Gods :-) This has me now to have to increase my own research efforts in such respect. So my related question being is to ask if any out there having blog posts comments relayed and assembled in there email has received my latest post, which talks about quantum computing as is relates to the subject of Bee’s post. I would have placed the post again, minus the HTML links, yet when I did this recently on Steven’s blog, after posting it first with them included that was also denied. I’m not certain if this be the result of the limitations of artificial intelligence or a consequence of it being already unknowingly realized;-)

Best,

Phil

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

Bee says: "Where is the evidence that anything that you suggest would have meant we'd have made progress on one or the other question in less than 30 years?"
----------------------------

Are you asking for something like evidence for what happened in the alternate universe of a Everett-like splitting? Be real?

Your requests for hypothetical evidence that cannot exist since the attempt was never made is just the typical Platonist red herring.

Whenever the Platonists, or their ficticious worlds, get in trouble they roll out the: "You do not convince. Show us more evidence. Extraordinary ideas require extraordinary proof." SOS everytime.

Note that they do not invoke such unleapably high bars when judging their own Platonic and untestable fantasies. Oh no, then it's anything goes as long as you are one of the in-crowd, or better yet, one of the chosen few who decide what is fashionable and what is not.

I am not even sure that half the Platonists are aware of half their devious devices for deflecting "threats" to their status games.

RLO

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

PS

12/21 is also the anniversary of DSR!

34th, I think

I am a poster-boy for the "In It For The Long Haul" movement.

(:-)>

Steven Colyer said...

Bee and Robert wrote:

Bee says: "Where is the evidence that anything that you suggest would have meant we'd have made progress on one or the other question in less than 30 years?"
----------------------------
Robert's response:
Are you asking for something like evidence for what happened in the alternate universe of a Everett-like splitting? Be real?


Robert, with all due respect, I think you misunderstood Bee's point. The fact is that out of the many theories of the last 30 years, which includes not just String Theory but also Loops, CDT, Causal Sets, AdS/CFT, we simply don't have the data and/or technology yet to prove or disprove.

Some may be right, all may be wrong, or something I forgot to mention may or may not be right.

Not enough information yet, just like the CIA and DHS.

In any event I don't see what the original interpretation of MWI has to do with anything.

Besides, what you wrote Robert sounds like someone who has read Smolin's and Woit's latest books and only those regarding the last 30 years of QG or general theoretical physics. I know you've read more than that; I'm just saying that what it sounds like.

Also Robert you can't get mad at me because I did start this reply off with "with all due respect." ;-)

Finally, what is this emoticon?:

(:-)>

?
Kinda reminds me of Uncle Al. Do you look like everyone's favorite uncle as well?

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Robert,

” I am not even sure that half the Platonists are aware of half their devious devices for deflecting "threats" to their status games.

Consistent with Bee’s contention, that you simply saying something being so doesn’t amount to having it being correct, is your other habit of labelling people and in doing so have this expected to amount as being evidence supported by logic. It’s funny yet such practices I have come to understand represent as being forms of decision making which in the past and present has always plagued the hopeful outcome respective of the human condition.

Also excuse me if I have it incorrect, yet as I understand it, the study of Choas, respective of complex systems, as it relates to fractal mathematics, is the ongoing research to have understood in the attempted discovery of the potential(s) which manifest things as to then being found as to what they are, and then further what they might after become. Now I’m not certain what you would consider being a modern definition for aiding one in determining who be a Platonist, yet I’ve long been convinced that the concept of things seeking to realize perfect form, being the same as a system driven by its potential, which although completely definable, oft times presents first to be hidden or at the very least obscure. Anyway, regardless whether or not I’m correct about this, as for myself, I’ve always found it best to be certain as to who and what I was, before attempting to decide what others might happen to be.

"In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep."

-Albert Einstein

Know Thyself..... The unexamined life is not worth living

-Socrates (Plato's mentor and inspiration)


Best,

Phil

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

I can explain the key missing piece of information in the star formation enigma.

I can explain the simple reason that the different classes of stars have the unusual and unexpected pattern of surface dipole magnetic field strengths that are observed.

Let's see *anything* the Platonists have produced in the last 30 years do that. Oh, wait. They deal only with the abstract shadow world of mathematics, not the real world of nature.

I understand the basic principles of a unified understanding that explains all of nature in one simple paradigm that involves no tooth-fairies or impossible things that you have to believe before breakfast.

The confederacy of dunces and their pet ducks can try their best to ignore and peck me to death, but it is a minor inconvenience and in the long run a really great idea is unstoppable.

(:-)> is a smiling man with a beard. Sorry but tools are limited.

Shall we ignore the fundamental principles of nature and concentrate on name-dropping, trivial pursuits, and posing?

RLO

Steven Colyer said...

Let's see *anything* the Platonists have produced in the last 30 years do that. Oh, wait. They deal only with the abstract shadow world of mathematics, not the real world of nature. Emphasis mine.

Abstract "shadow"? Robert, what is it that you think mathematicians do?! Once they prove a conjecture, they then seek a new conjecture in which their proved conjecture, now a proof, is of a larger part. Then they try to prove that, and if successful, they keep backing up and abstract even more, ad infinitum. You do understand the tripod base of graduate mathematics on up is Real Analysis, Complex Analysis, and Abstract Algebra, don't you? Also, that PURE mathematics, math without any known application whatsoever, is the highest calling, to them? Why do you think Group Theory and Category Theory were developed? It wasn't to help Physics. That it found applications ... great! Mathematicians were pleased. But it wasn't why they developed it.

Well enough, how many times does Bee have to ask you to stay on topic?

Zephir said...

/* the question whether basic research inevitably leads to applications, and what applications you can imagine to come out of basic research in fundamental physics..*/

Basic research could lead into testable predictions with no mercy. If it doesn't, then it can wait without problem to another basic research, which will do its job more reliably. Why?

If some research will become too basic, it falls into risk, it will become obsolete a well before it could lead into some testable predictions, practical application the less.

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

Phil says: "Also excuse me if I have it incorrect, yet as I understand it, the study of Choas, respective of complex systems, as it relates to fractal mathematics, is the ongoing research to have understood in the attempted discovery of the potential(s) which manifest things as to then being found as to what they are, and then further what they might after become. Now I’m not certain what"
-----------------------------

Don't give yourself an aneurysm; I recommend that you take the rest of your life off and collect shells on a beach.

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

Nanny Steve says: yada, yada, yada
--------------------------

Well, I have no argument with pure mathematics, which can be rather exquisite stuff. I especially like geometry.

My issue is with people who confuse abstract Ptolemaic models with the physical reality of nature.

Do you perceive the difference, oh insightful one?

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

Breeze Boy says: "If some research will become too basic, it falls into risk, it will become obsolete a well before it could lead into some testable predictions, practical application the less."
------------------------

May I also recommend that you join Phil on the beach. And Good Luck!

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Robert,

"Don't give yourself an aneurysm; I recommend that you take the rest of your life off and collect shells on a beach."

I wish I could, yet that’s already being done by someone else, that although not actually me is self similar. In respect to aneurysms, I find there being three kinds of people; those that give them, those that get them and those who attempt to repair the damage they incur. For the most part I’d like to think of myself as being the last one noted and I would be curious to learn as to how you find yourself?

Best,

Phil

Steven Colyer said...

Robert, you have distinguished yourself as a troll and a bully of of the worst sort. At this point it doesn't matter if your theory is correct or not, with your negativity you have revealed yourself as the worst promoter of any theory, in fact your attitude anti-sells it. Go bother another weblog, Oldershaw.

Phil, for my part I will ignore him from here on out. Someone is about to give birth and double the size of her family and I see no point in adding unneeded stress to her situation at this crucial time.

Thank you Zephir for trying to keep the discussion going.

Christine said...

aneurysm

Bad taste.

collect shells on a beach.

That was Newton's "basic research" after all! :)

Christine

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

Yes of course you are right and I should be ashamed of myself for even have entered the fray. Howver I do remain somewhat frustrated with my attempts to understand what has blogger auto delete some of my comments and in such regard I’ve included the last one it did minus the HTML links. They may not be ground breaking or earth shattering yet they are on topic and highlight the endeavours of some researchers whom if successful could end many such controversies. .

Hi Bee,

Yes I also find such speculations as interesting. Then again at times things shift the other way, as with only having the invention being realized might the truth become known about the correctness of a certain theory or more accurately what many theorists think they tell us. One such example being the quantum computer, which those such as Seth Lloyd, out of MIT, Raymond Laflamme, working at PI and many others, are currently struggling to have made a (practical) reality.

This of course being in relation to the actions which occur to have been observed in the quantum domain, resultant of being seen as having different potentials, as they relate to their underlying fundamental mechanisms. However this endeavour extends past simply the machinery itself, as it also being crucially related to what logic being applicable to the algorithms currently being developed, respective of the type of queries they imagine such machines might be capable of having addressed. In fact I find such an invention as so important, that I’m almost certain it will have a profound effect on what theories we are able to in future to develop and what limitations might be placed upon them if any.

Best,

Phil

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Christine,

”collect shells on a beach...That was Newton's "basic research" after all! :)”

Interesting, as I never thought of it quite that way before. That is I suspect the shells you mention where those provided by the likes of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and others. This has had me to reconsider that I’ve had Newton's character all wrong, as finding him at times being selfish, when all along he instead was shellfish :-)


Best,

Phil

Bee said...

Hi Robert,

You still misunderstand my point, either because you really don't get it or on purpose. This is the last time I'll try:

"Are you asking for something like evidence for what happened in the alternate universe of a Everett-like splitting? Be real?

Your requests for hypothetical evidence that cannot exist since the attempt was never made is just the typical Platonist red herring."


You're trying to call me a fool, but actually you're calling yourself a fool: You are the one who has claimed that the world would be a better place, and progress in physics would certainly have been faster, if everybody would just listen to Robert Oldershaw. I've just pointed out that's your opinion, which you're entitled to but I'm not very interested in, and you have zero evidence that progress in physics would have been faster if whatever or that hiring left-brained or brown-eyed people would be beneficial. I have asked you to come up with scientific evidence to justify your claims which, needless to say, you can't. The argument one should try what Robert said because it hasn't been tried before is more than weak since there's many ways to make the situation even worse. So I'd suggest you shut up now.

Also, I am very displeased about your impolite conversation with other commenters on this blog. If your further comments continue to be off-topic or insulting, they will be deleted. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Phil, Steven,

I've checked the spam queue once again and this time it indeed contained some of your comments which I've published now. Sorry about that. The spam filter does save me a lot of effort indeed, so I'd like to leave it enabled for now. If you find again that one of your comments doesn't go through, pls let me know and I'll check. Best,

B.

Steven Colyer said...

Hi Bee,

nowhere in Heuer's essay, unless I missed it, does he mention SUSY. He mentions Higgs of course, but as I understand isn't SUSY the big thing they're looking for? Not that that won't deter String Theorists if it's not found, they'll just say they have to adjust their theories to reflect SUSY particles of a higher mass/energy, right?

As far as BigBang/BigBounce, 2 questions.

1) What little I know of Hinduism is that Big Bounce is built into its dogma, in trillion year cycles or something. Hinduism is also the oldest of the 4 major religions, as far as I know, and one whose origins are lost to antiquity. Kinda spooky. Arun? What say you?

2) I scratch my head as to how we'll ever have evidence of Bounce or Bang! Doesn't Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle prevent any knowledge of the very first instant following the big bang?

Don Foster said...

Well, it is comforting that there seems to be such ample room for the curious mind to wander.
I watched the little animation of episodic brane collisions and think it would be nice to see the Disney-Pixar version.
My question is not entirely random or unrelated since it is provoked by Plato’s earlier comment. I am curious if there are any working scenarios in which branes might meet more continuously, interacting along a rolling front of some sort rather than sporadically.
Multiple regards.

Don Foster said...

How does this strike you as philosophical wickerwork?

Science is a bounded region. Experiment, driven by resource and some strange mental quirk, occurs at the interface with “that which is beyond” science. Events that arise in the course of experiment must be admitted into science. Here, according to Gödel, we find truth that we recognize or truth that we do not recognize. Here then is the worry that we will not recognize truth that we do not recognize.

Plato said...

Hi Don,

Glad you were inspired...even if toward a cartoon animation as being more fitting:)What use this research as Bee questions?

"The ekpyrotic theory hypothesizes that the origin of the observable universe occurred when two parallel branes collided."Brane Cosmlogy

Bashing Branes by Gabriele Veneziano

String theory suggests that the big bang was not the origin of the universe but simply the outcome of a preexisting state

The pre–big bang and ekpyrotic scenarios share some common features. Both begin with a large, cold, nearly empty universe, and both share the difficult (and unresolved) problem of making the transition between the pre- and the post-bang phase. Mathematically, the main difference between the scenarios is the behavior of the dilaton field. In the pre–big bang, the dilaton begins with a low value--so that the forces of nature are weak--and steadily gains strength. The opposite is true for the ekpyrotic scenario, in which the collision occurs when forces are at their weakest.

Don Foster:"Here then is the worry that we will not recognize truth that we do not recognize."

This is one of those questions to that puts into perspective for something to be about starting from nothing. How is that possible?

Best,

Plato said...

Hi Steve,

Maybe you will feel better about your perspectives if you knew that such information can come from George Musser too?

A UNIVERSAL CYCLE of birth and rebirth occurs every trillion years or so, according to one new cosmology. Big bangs result when two 10-dimensional "branes" collide (1) and expand (2) and then collide again (4). In this scenario, our universe (3) marks just one phase in this infinite cycle.

A Recycled Universe:Crashing branes and cosmic acceleration may power an infinite cycle in which our universe is but a phase See:Recycling Universes

Best,

Plato said...

Intuition and Logic in Mathematics by Henri Poincaré

"On the other hand, look at Professor Klein: he is studying one of the most abstract questions of the theory of functions to determine whether on a given Riemann surface there always exists a function admitting of given singularities. What does the celebrated German geometer do? He replaces his Riemann surface by a metallic surface whose electric conductivity varies according to certain laws. He connects two of its points with the two poles of a battery. The current, says he, must pass, and the distribution of this current on the surface will define a function whose singularities will be precisely those called for by the enunciation."

Maybe I can rephrase Don's question above?

You do not actually know what your seeing, until you actually see it?:)

The Sound of Billiard Balls

You had to graduate to a non-euclidean way of thinking and that's what the research did from those for bearers who extenuated the 5th postulates of Euclid? Just as Riemann helped us to see in new ways.

Best,

Plato said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert L. Oldershaw said...

If you are interested in honesty more than saving face, you might want to go back and read my original on-topic comment on PI's new chair program.

The bottom line was that PI should do something different that specifically involves bringing in at least some people with right hemisphere skills.

The solid weight of evidence supporting such an argument is the the 30 years lost in the desert and the piles of fool's gold.

To argue that I should provide evidence that the proposal would have worked is an archetypal example of the gross reasoning that typifies the years in the desert. Anyone can logically figure it out that the only way to have any real evidence of this type is to actually DO the experiment. Any other jaw-flapping is just meaningless hand-waving that has no logical basis in reality.
--------------------------

Now, if you do not mind, both of us have more important things to do.

Instead of talking about physics, I need to finish up some very promising astrophysics research that, if true, would be revolutionary.

You have your own agendas that need your full attention.

Over and out for the duration.

Quack on duckies!

Your Pal, Rob

Steven Colyer said...

I have the odd sensation of wanting to wash my hands for some reason. Well, as my English-American grandfather used to say, "one cannot experience the joys of gardening without occasionally running into shit." As an added bonus, he never called people names, and enjoyed taking me out to the local pond with bread to feed the ducks. Funny the thoughts than enter one's head.

Don Foster! That's a refreshing idea, the faster than half-a-quadrillion cycles of the universe. How much have you studied Ekpyrotic? Have you read
Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang - Rewriting Cosmic History
Paul J. Steinhardt & Neil Turok
? I haven't. It's on my bucket list. Not sure if they mention variable universe cycles, sounds as plausible I suppose as anything in cosmology. Thanks for the interesting thought.

Steven Colyer said...

I meant half a quadrillion years. Seems a plausible period of time for matter to dissolve, 250,000,000,000,000 years out, and the same in. Myself, I like the idea of a Big Rip. Everything else dies eventually, why not The Universe? Quack quack.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

As to your first question, I’m not certain about which texts in Hinduism refer to a cyclic universe yet Hinduism itself sprang from what is known as Vedism, whose written scripture being the four Vedas of which the oldest being the Rigveda, being mostly a collection of hymns of an earlier strictly oral tradition. The one dealing with the beginnings of the universe is known as “Nasadiya Sukta” or “Creation Hymn”.

”Not even nothing existed then
No air yet, nor a heaven.
Who encased and kept it where?
Was water in the darkness there?
Neither deathlessness nor decay
No, nor the rhythm of night and day:
The self-existent, with breath sans air:
That, and that alone was there.
Darkness was in darkness found
Like light-less water all around.
One emerged, with nothing on
It was from heat that this was born.
Into it, Desire, its way did find:
The primordial seed born of mind.
Sages know deep in the heart:
What exists is kin to what does not.
Across the void the cord was thrown,
The place of every thing was known.
Seed-sowers and powers now came by,
Impulse below and force on high.
Who really knows, and who can swear,
How creation came, when or where!
Even gods came after creation's day,
Who really knows, who can truly say
When and how did creation start?
Did He do it? Or did He not?
Only He, up there, knows, maybe;
Or perhaps, not even He.”


-Nasadiya Sukta, 129th hymn of the 10th Mandala of the Rigveda (Translation by V. V. Raman, University of Rochester)

Best,

Phil

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

As to your second question there are currently two versions of the big bounce. One being the colliding brane (string inspired) models such as the one proposed by Neil Turok and the one Bee highlighted in this post as proposed by Roger Penrose , which deals with cycles of recreation of the universe with each cycle beginning with essentially nothing but potential resultant of it being initaillly found in a state of high order (low entropy) within a time and space having lost all meaning, as all the information of such being wiped away due to the dilutional action of ever accelerating expansion, black holes and the complete particle decay of what existed before cycle . The only thing which is proposed to have survived from the previous cycles being the signature of gravitational waves.

Now to more directly address your thoughts that the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle would seem to disallow any information regarding the existence of a cycle(s) which preceded it, I suspect that being as thinking as in the big bang model the beginning would both have a defined place and time which could be known to be defined like as perhaps in the Cartesian sense being 000 for place and 0 for time, or simply 0000 for space-time. However in the Penrose model both time and space have been diluted to a point as having no meaning in such respect and so any thought of where or when becomes meaningless. That is as there being no where from which it can be thought to begin, that is at last not in any local sense, and no when, as time no longer having elements to have a sequence of events to give meaning to such a conception. So that would in the end having the circles that Penrose saying being evidence of a previous cycle permissible, as these couldn’t be assigned either a definable place or definable time, which is even a more severe limitation on knowledge then Heisenberg or QM insists upon.

So back to the “Nasadiya Sukta”, Penrose as the same for its sages doesn’t attempt to have answered the where or when, yet only the how and the why; with the how as since there being no where or when and the why as it thus having then only the potential to be.

Best,

Phil

P.S. I was fortunate enough to have been able to attend the PI public lectures regarding both Turok’s proposal and Penrose’s as given by each and would recommend to anyone out there wishing to similarly get acquainted before further exploring them to have a look at their recordings.

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bee said...

Hi Don,

Have never heard of such a scenario. I would guess if you want it to be smooth you need something causing dissipation or some other way to dump energy and momentum. Best,

B.

Plato said...

Robert,

It might be worth your while to read Bee's Blog Book Review entry on Howard Burton

To get a sense of what was involved in setting up that institution.

Also, the diversity of experience/research that has been brought to that institution.

You may find this of interest.

Why self similar? Is it the geometrical propensity with which that geometry may relate too orbitals, that such form in analogy are demonstrated as cosmological events?

Maybe(?) you have an eye for such geometry?:p)

Best,

Don Foster said...

Steven,
Intriguing to find the Klein surface on the cover of: Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang - Rewriting Cosmic History
Paul J. Steinhardt & Neil Turok?

Thanks for the link, time to check with the interlibrary loan folks.
Regards.

Plato said...

Just one more point for consideration.

"No singularities"

Then you will understand the essence of those scenarios?:)

Best,

Bee said...

There's another article on PI today in the Globe & Mail:

"After years of neglect, pure research may be mounting a comeback, because it has figured out how to portray itself as socially and economically advantageous."

See Seeding cash to grow genius: Does it work?

Plato said...

For those interested in Cosmology

THE PRE-BIG BANG SCENARIO

Maurizio Gasperini

Sean Carrol's Cosmology Primer

Don Foster said...

Well, imagine that! My local library (town pop. 1,600) had a copy of Endless Universe. In and out in less than three minutes.
And, keeping in mind that anticipation is sometimes better than what follows, I look forward to reading it.

Very much appreciated Poincaré’s reflections on Klein’s ability to find a physical analog for his abstract mathematics.

Don Foster said...

Phil’s posting of the “Nasadiya Sukta” or “Creation Hymn” brought to mind this twenty-three-hundred-year-old cosmological musing from a time when basic research was on a rice bowl budget.

The Breath of Nature

When great Nature sighs, we hear the winds
Which, noiseless in themselves,
Awaken voices from other beings,
Blowing on them.
From every opening
Loud voices sound. Have you not heard
This rich of tones?

There stands the overhanging wood
On the steep mountain:
Old trees with holes and cracks
Like snouts, maw, and ears,
Like beam-sockets, like goblets,
Grooves in the wood. hollows full of water:
You hear mooing and roaring, whistling,
Shouts of command, grumblings,
Deep drones, sad flutes.
One call awakens another in dialogue.
Gentle winds sing timidly,
Strong ones blast on without restraint.
Then the wind dies down. The openings
Empty out their last sound.
Have you not observes how all then trembles and subsides?

Yu relied: I understand:
The music of earth sings through a thousand holes.
The music of man is made on flutes and instruments.
What makes the music of heaven?

Master Ki said:
Something is blowing on a thousand different holes.
Some power stands behind all this and makes the sounds die down.
What is this power?

Chuang Tzu, The Way of Chuang Tzu, Thomas Merton
New Directions, 1969

For what it's worth, I actually think this is relevant.

Plato said...

Loop Quantum Gravity has no singularity thus it is a discrete measure of how the universe comes into expression.

If you have a topology of expression as continuity in the early universe that is smooth then it must have a singularity?

Eric said...

One thing that troubles me about the string inspired colliding brane scenario is the question of what problem does it really solve? If one accepts that the standard big bang creates a singularity how does the creation of branes, which in turn collided to form our universe, eliminate the logical problem of what created those branes in the first place.

At some point in all genesis accounts one simply has to accept that things originate, period. It could be our universe in the big bang or two or more branes that then collide to form our universe. What created those branes? It seems to be a shell game done by physicists who I would think could see the superficiality of their solutions.

This isn't to say that it isn't a worthy question. But I think physicists are asking it prematurely. There are much more pertinent questions to be solved about the universe first. And my inclination is to expect that when those questions are finally answered we will be much more on Firm ground to ask the ultimate question, which is what that the genesis question finally comes down to. I think in the meantime we could do much worse than use the metaphoric insights in the genesis stories in the worlds great religions to provide some spiritual sustenance until that day arrives.

Eric said...

What I'm saying is that I get a deep sense of tranquility from knowing that it's turtles all the way down. Hee hee.

Steven Colyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Colyer said...

What I'm saying is that I get a deep sense of tranquility from knowing that it's turtles all the way down. Hee hee.

Yes, but only if they're quantic turtles in proportion to the golden ratio phi with teeny tiny wavelengths. :-)

On a lighter note, Assange in is jail.

On a bizarre note, Penrose and Gurzadyan are defending their concentric-circles-in-the-CMB and Sean Carroll presents their arguments nicely and concisely here.

The replies, including Carroll's, are telling. What exactly they're telling I have no clue, and as much as I love Penrose (Quasicrystals!) I can't help thinking this whole discussion is leading to another Science-into-Religion-into-Science discussion, the type of discussion I see as pointless (except here at BackReAction of course).

It's like we're dealing with Fred Hoyle all over again. The Vatican and 99% of other religions would like to see a Big Bang. Atheists would not.

"Can't we all just .... get along?"
... Rodney King

I reckon not.

Bee said...

Hi Eric,

The colliding brane scenario isn't supposed to tackle the question "where does everything come from?" but be an alternative to inflation or, if you wish, more generally dynamics in the early universe, in that case one which avoids the singularity that is, in GR, kinda troublesome. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Plato,

You shouldn't confuse Loop Quantum Gravity with Loop Quantum Cosmology. A lot of people would be very pissed of about that. The former is the, supposedly, fundamental theory, the latter is a simplified model that works with additional assumptions. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

Thanks for that pointer to Sean’s posts regarding Penrose’s proposal, as it also giving reference to those two rebuttal papers and the Penrose-Gurzadyan quick response. The thing I find a little disturbing is Sean having assumed a negative position of this proposal while at the same time admittedly stating he not fully comprehending it.

Now I wouldn’t have it to be believed as having a general understanding of physics anywhere as great as Sean’s, yet it’s pretty clear to me as to what the mechanism of transition being; although I would agree with him it requiring black holes to destroy information as the Hawking model suggests and to have all fundamental particles decay into photons, which of course needs both a theory as to how this is to happen supported by some evidence to suggest this being so. However we do have the relentless ever accelerating expansion of the universe necessary being already observed as to not require further evidence.

The bottom line respective to understanding Penrose’s proposal is to envision the universe from a photon’s perspective, as to how space and time relate to it respective to itself and of all the other photons as to being all that remains. This is not to say I’m totally convinced, yet if I had difficulty with Penrose’s proposal, I would be a little more careful than Sean and the author’s of the two papers he noted so far appear to have been.

Best,

Phil

Steven Colyer said...

You're welcome, but I'm far less interested in Cosmology than those other sub-fields of Physics which can be experimentally verified in the foreseeable future, or barring that, in any future. The simplest questions as you know Phil are often the hardest to answer, and to that end what is most appropo in my opinion is to build up from foundations, a bottom-up approach if you will, rather than a top-down approach.

This is not to say that a top-down approach should not be studied, and studied with great gusto and with the financing provided therewith for those who choose to develop it. All approaches should be on the table and none removed until experiment says otherwise. Intellectual democracy demands it.

But as for me I've had my fill of Cosmology. It is virtually 100% speculation (nothing wrong with that), but when I look up into that great time machine that is the night sky my thoughts turn to the harder Science that is Astronomy, and Phil Plait's blog re same.

So I move forward wishing the grand speculators well but for myself focusing on that beauty which is The Standard Model of Particle Physics, it's genius and development and what its falsifiable yet so far unfalsified predictions imply, rather than its relatively knowledge-poor cousin the "standard model of cosmology." It's only been 80 years since Hubble and the questions have far outpaced the answers.

Don Foster said...

Ah, speculation...

“Have never heard of such a scenario. I would guess if you want it to be smooth you need something causing dissipation or some other way to dump energy and momentum.”

Yes, I was attracted by the image of the animation, but lack the real understanding of the nature of branes or their dynamics. While puzzling along, I tried to press a notion into a place where apparently it does not fit.
However, let me try to describe the shape of the missing piece.
One may come to the perception that the entire arc of our experience is like a conic section that somehow emerges through the interplay of two more implicit geometries (actually one geometry twisted upon itself). This interplay is continual and of the moment. For example, if one is sufficiently fuzzy minded or naive, one can find hints of such a schema in the uncertainty principle where measure made in reference to one geometry dilates the uncertainty of measurement in relation to the other. Or consider the pendulum and the exact accounting of energy in its seesaw segue between potential and kinetic, as if one complimentary surface was continually conforming to a change in the other.
If these vague notions do not serve for enlightenment, perhaps they will suffice for entertainment.
Regards.

Plato said...

Bee:The former is the, supposedly, fundamental theory, the latter is a simplified model that works with additional assumptions

Hi Bee,

I would most certainly apologize if I have offended.:)

I was trying to reduce to the idea, as to what attempts may of been of value toward "discrete versus continuity," based on abstract notions of the geometry in motion(topology)as a continuity of expression, while seeking to observe "measure as a value" in discrete understanding?

Do you think this is a distinctive feature of "the ways" in which one can look at the universe?

I always associated Fermi and the calorimeters "with such an understanding of the discrete function, while strangely I see the universal doing dynamical geometrical motions as if charting not only the collapse of the supernova, but of it's contribution to that much larger dynamics as a type of universal movement.

A ratio then of the numbers of blackholes versus an entropic realization of the state of the universe, now as the "cosmological constant." Seek to understand the deviance of that ration, and we see where the universe may be speeding up?

This is confusion for me in that "no singularity" seems to be a measure of a discrete notion, while continuity, contains it's singularities.

Gaspernini goes into dual understandings of string theory from there?

Best,

Plato said...

Steven,

While you think cosmology being highly speculative there is a definite box that cosmology fits into, as a frame of reference. Ya for sure, each their own as to the state of?:)

The movement of the cosmos is speculated as from the "false vacuum to the true,( what kind of geometry is this?)" how would you not see this expressing itself if not as somehow breaking symmetry and like a ball rolling into a valley?

Is there not a "physics notion" of this?

Best,

Steven Colyer said...

Is there not a "physics notion" of this?

I'm surprised a pro-SuperStringser like yourself embraces BigBounce. Aren't Superstringsers pro-Inflation? Don't they hate BigBouncy? Contradiction?

And what OF Inflation? What of Fecund Universes? What of Randall-Sundrum?

What if "reality" is something else entirely that nobody has thought of yet?

Too many questions, too may opinions, when we venture far into space and far into time.

This is why the world of the very small attracts me so much more than the world of the distant. There are fewer possibilities, far fewer possibilities, of that which constitutes the very small.

Because its a smaller set of things, the odds of figuring it all out are greater. And because they're greater, we're more bloody likely to figure it all out by scuba diving so to speak than launching into the cosmos.

Thar Large in other words, is built up from the Small, not the other way around, so my personal inclination is to explore in that direction. I think doing so gives us the greater chance of discovering significant things, soonest.

Fortunately, Humanity is exploring in both directions. As well we should. But the results from the LHC, soon, and Brookhaven (quarks-gluons ... Stefan's area of expertise), now, interest me more.

Science journalism and the intelligent lay public like us Plato are definitely more prone to be amazed at the Large, however. Hawking's and Penrose's books will always sell more than Yau's and Veltman's, for good, bad or indifferent. People like to "think big." I don't know why, maybe it gives folks comfort to know how insignificant we are. :-)

Plato said...

Hi Steven

Would we not be correct to say that unification with the small would be most apropos indeed with the large?

Pushing through that veil.

My interest with the QGP is well documented, as it presented itself "with an interesting location" with which to look at during the collision process.

Natural Microscopic blackhole creations? Are such conditions possible in the natural way of things? Although quickly dissipative, they leave their mark as Cerenkov effects.

As one looks toward the cosmos this reductionist process is how one might look at the cosmos at large, as to some of it's "motivations displayed" in the cosmos?

What conditions allow such reductionism at play to consider the end result of geometrical propensity as a message across the vast distance of space, so as to "count these effects" here on earth?

Let's say cosmos particle collisions and LHC are hand in hand "as to decay of the original particles in space" as they leave their imprint noticeably in the measures of SNO or Icecube, but help us discern further effects of that decay chain as to the constitutions of LHC energy progressions of particles in examination?

Emulating the conditions in LHC progression, adaptability seen then from such progressions, working to produce future understandings. Muon detections through the earth?

So "modeled experiments" in which "distillation of thought" are helped to be reduced too, in kind, lead to matter forming ideas with which to progress? Measure. Self evident.

You see the view has to be on two levels, maybe as a poet using words to describe, or as a artist, trying to explain the natural world. The natural consequence, of understanding of our humanity and it's continuations expressed as abstract thought of our interactions with the world at large, unseen, and miscomprehended?

Do you think Superstringy has anything to do with what I just told you here?:)

Best,

Plato said...

Steven,

Just to help you out a bit more have a look here.

"We find," Chiao said, "that a barrier placed in the path of a tunneling particle does not slow it down. In fact, we detect particles on the other side of the barrier that have made the trip in less time than it would take the particle to traverse an equal distance without a barrier -- in other words, the tunneling speed apparently greatly exceeds the speed of light. Moreover, if you increase the thickness of the barrier the tunneling speed increases, as high as you please.

"This is another great mystery of quantum mechanics."
( link is dead)

So by providing "a location" with which to advance such observations, we have a "back screen" we developed for which to measure that interaction. You see?

Best,

Steven Colyer said...

Would we not be correct to say that unification with the small would be most apropos indeed with the large?

We would if we knew what the small actually was. But we don't. The LHC will roll back the veil of ignorance greatly. I'm impatient for answers, but patient enough to wait a few years. We shall see said the blind man to the deaf man looking away.

A year ago I would have agreed, now I'm not so sure. And the reason is ...

Marcelo Gleiser. But it's not just him.

I get the feeling that we're at the stage of knowledge re the larger universe where QFT was in its infancy, when Bohr cautioned Dirac it might be fruitless for him to pursue a unification of Special Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, because Klein and Gordon had already done so, which they came close to discovering but hadn't. Thank goodness Dirac didn't listen!

The same today with Glashow and Georgi's thoughts re Grand Unified Theory. Closer, but no cigar. Or a cigar but no match to light it. Where oh where is the new Dirac?

G.U.T, not QG or TOE, should be the immediate concern of theorists, IMHO. But for that we need better data concerning QCD. And we're getting there. Step by step.

If the Astronomical results can add to that knowledge, great! But for my money, I'm betting on Brookhaven and the LHC.

Plato said...

Hi Steven,

Maybe the following will help, and then I will lead up to a modern version for consideration, so you understand the relation.

Keep Gran Sasso in your mind as you look at what I am giving you.

The underground laboratory, which opened in 1989, with its low background radiation is used for experiments in particle and nuclear physics,including the study of neutrinos, high-energy cosmic rays, dark matter, nuclear decay, as well as geology, and biology-wiki


Neutrinos, get set, go!

This summer, CERN gave the starting signal for the long-distance neutrino race to Italy. The CNGS facility (CERN Neutrinos to Gran Sasso), embedded in the laboratory's accelerator complex, produced its first neutrino beam. For the first time, billions of neutrinos were sent through the Earth's crust to the Gran Sasso laboratory, 732 kilometres away in Italy, a journey at almost the speed of light which they completed in less than 2.5 milliseconds. The OPERA experiment at the Gran Sasso laboratory was then commissioned, recording the first neutrino tracks.

Because I am a layman, does not reduce the understanding that I can have, that a scientist may have.

Now for the esoteric :)

Secrets of the Pyramids In a boon for archaeology, particle physicists plan to probe ancient structures for tombs and other hidden chambers. The key to the technology is the muon, a cousin of the electron that rains harmlessly from the sky.

What kind of result would they get from using the muon. What will it tell them?:)

Best,

Plato said...
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Steven Colyer said...

Because I am a layman, does not reduce the understanding that I can have, that a scientist may have.

I hope I didn't give you the impression that I thought less of you than intelligent layman, and nothing wrong with that, eh? Such men have moved mountains. Think: Lincoln, Franklin, and 17-18th century noble dandies with free time and the money to buy lab equipment.

But Cosmology is not Astronomy. Astronomy is a hard science. Cosmology is not. It depends, yes, on the latest finds in Astronomy and Physics to further itself, but it's far too speculative for me personally, at the moment, to fret about.

I'm glad you are though. I'm glad others are too. I have more immediate concerns.

Steven Colyer said...
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Steven Colyer said...

From the Wiki article on Cosmology, a very nice chart includes various cosmologies, including this, the Hindu cosmology, from the Hindu Rigveda (1500-1200 bc)

The universe sustains for around 311 trillion and 40 billion years that is 100 years of the cosmic creator Brahma. There is a smaller period of unmanifestation in around 4 billion years that is one day in the life of Brahma. The universe cycles between expansion and total collapse. After one cycle of the life of Brahma another universe follows up to an infinite number each of which exists for a time period of 311 trillion and 40 billion years. It also speaks of an infinite number of universes at one given point of time. Universe expanded from a concentrated form —a point called a Bindu. The universe, as a living entity, is bound to the perpetual cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.

That freaks me out, because I read somewhere once (probably in Scientific American) that there will be nothing but scarce electrons and random photons in 270 trillion years.

But it's still speculation. :-)

Bee said...

Hi Steve,

Right, he doesn't mention SUSY. Besides the Higgs, the LHC experiments, esp. ATLAS, looks generally for physics beyond the standard model, not SUSY in particular. Arguably though, SUSY is the most popular of such models, if you count popularity by number of papers written on it, but the LHC is by no means an SUSY-search machine. I can understand that Heuer didn't mention any particular model, as it might have been misconstrued in him putting his bets somewhere, whereas in his position he'd better stay on neutral theoretical ground. Best,

B.

Plato said...

Might help to understand types of calorimeters and Particle identification detectors used in LHC.

Dorigo gives a nice presentation. I recorded them as links. Glast, is now Fermi, so we don't forget.

Best,

Plato said...

Many of the physicists from LHCf have reunited from the former SPS experiment UA7, which also focused on forward physics. The LHCf experiment will be simulating cosmic ray collisions nearly 1000 times more energetic than UA7 was able to access. The energy of proton collisions in the LHC will be equivalent to a cosmic ray of 1017 eV smashing into the atmosphere. Therefore, LHCf will use the LHC beams to test the interaction models of cosmic rays to higher accuracy. See:A new LHC experiment is born!

Remember, this is from 2006

Plato said...
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Don Foster said...

Ah, now I’ve got it!
The mason’s plumb line, “|”, and his level line, “—”, meet orthogonally. Surely this is as it should be and how could it be otherwise, but is there any deeper significance here? Is it the lingering trace of some early, elemental twist in nature’s topology?
Freeman Dyson ranked gravity as the only “entropy free” form of energy. Translations along the vertical line, between potential and kinetic, are entropy neutral. This is also the case of translations along the horizontal line of equilibrium.
We live here “\” in the realm of the second law transition between the two geometries.
This may be specious, but does one get points for being outside the box?