Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Multiversing around

    multiverse [noun]

    From L. multus “much, many” and L. versare “to busy oneself,” lit. “to turn to.” Tech: A hypothetical collection of different variants of -> universes. Colloq: A large collection of no apparent purpose. Expl: “She has a whole multiverse of shoes,” “His essay received a multiverse of comments.”

I am considering to consider to read Brian Greene’s new book The Hidden Reality on the multiverse. On the pro side there’s a likely readable synopsis of an interesting topic. On the con side there’s two of Greene’s books in my shelf that I never finished reading. A writing therapy exercise I thought might be useful.

First, let’s get over with the terminology. Yes, multiverse is a disingenuous nomenclature. If the universe is by definition all that exists, then anything to the multiverse more than the universe does by the same definition not exist. But it’s moot to complain about terminology that has already become common use. What exactly the multiverse is depends on the context, but in either case it’s something that exists in addition to what the presently most widely accepted theories let physicists expect to observe. Some theories seem to imply the existence of “more,” of a multiverse of “more,” and that in other ways than “more of the same.”

Multi versus uni

The central question is what does it mean “to exist?” As a particle physicist I’d say something that can’t be observed doesn’t exist. (Observation doesn’t necessarily mean a direct interaction.) Talking about the “existence” of something that can’t be observed opens the door to fairy tales. Though my invisible friend disapproves, from a scientific point of view I am interested in the multiverse only if it’s observable. And even then my interest is very limited since I find the presently discussed possibilities of observation remote and implausible. But yes, there are versions of the multiverse that may have observable consequences. Eg. we recently discussed a paper on signatures of bubble collisions in eternal inflation, one possible multiverse scenario, and there’s Laura Mersisni’s superhorizon entanglement giving rise to the giant void, and related stories.

For the more entertaining part I’ll now take off my physicist’s hat (okay, it’s an Einstein wig really) and put on my hobby philosopher hat (if you really want to know, it’s actually a tea pot lid).

    multiversal [adj]

    From noun -> multiverse. Colloq: Of confusing variety. Expl: “By the year 2010, social networking had become multiversal,” “The promises during the election campaign were multiversal.”

A lot of effort has been spent on the search for a “Theory of Everything.” Commonly meant to be a theory unifying General Relativity with the Standard Model of particle physics, it is another misnomer in common use: It is unlikely that a reductionist approach will ever be able to actually explain everything, not in practice and maybe not even in theory. I will however refer here to a TOE in the more general sense as a theory that leaves us with no “Why” questions and reduces all of science to a question of “How” and, knocking on the teapot lid, I’ll refrain from pointing out that we can never know if we’ve found it.

What may such a TOE look like? None of the currently pursued approaches to grand unification or quantum gravity comes even close. Even if string theory or something similar would allow us to compute all the parameters in the Standard Model and in the ΛCDM model, and so on, Nobelprizes would be handed out for certain, but it would just move the Why’s elsewhere, for all these theories have other unexplained assumptions: Why are strings/ loops/ E8/ networks fundamental? Why causality? Why these initial conditions? Why quantization? Why a semi-classical or classical limit? Why matter? Why in fact anything instead of nothing?

For this TOE we cannot use an assumption that constrains the theory to reproduce observation. The only guidance eventually left is mathematical consistency. Most occurrences of the multiverse actually still have additional assumptions, but already the problem is the same: too many possibilities. If you don’t want to settle for a “just because,” a question without answer, an unexplained final cause, you have to swallow that all that can exist, according to current theories, does exist. That doesn’t answer the question, but it removes the need for an answer. That is, in a nutshell, the reason for the recurrence of the multiverse in various branches of theoretical physics: Mathematical consistency just isn’t enough.

(A probabilistic approach for the multiverse with the assumption that our universe is one of the common ones, trying to derive some features of our universe at least as probable, is a reentry into the question-room through the backdoor. It just rephrases the question why our universe is special and what theory allows us to derive the details, to the question why our universe is especially unspecial and what measure allows us to derive the details, and it makes additional assumptions about how to compute probabilities rspt. about the logic used etc. I’m not dismissing the attempts to define a probability measure on the multiverse as useless since sometimes looking at an old problem from a new direction is fruitful. But the attempt in itself isn’t actually progress.)

Mathematical consistency is not a strong requirement. The complex plane and holomorphic functions on it for example are mathematically consistent (unless you insist on some wrong theorem), so is linear algebra on n-dimensional vector spaces. What sort of a universe is that, you might ask. But if mathematical consistency is all that you’re left with, that’s what you get: Everything that’s mathematically consistent “exists” in the same sense as the world around us, a notion of “existence” not in agreement with that put forward by the strange person with the funny wig. This thought then brings us straight to Tegmark’s Mathematical Universe: All of mathematics is real, and all that’s real is mathematics. There is no distinction because there’s no other meaning to “existence.”

My problem with the Mathematical Universe is not that I dislike the idea of being made of math (whatever that might mean). In fact, I quite like the idea (up to a face factor). My problem is that for all I can tell it’s not of use for anything (oops, lid slipped off) and it is based on an assumption I don’t find particularly plausible: That humans in the 21st century have already found the language to describe the fundamental nature of reality.

Formal mathematics is a quite recent achievement in mankind’s evolution. Sure, its precision and usefulness in the description of nature is vastly superior to that of, say, the English language. But 50,000 years ago our ancestors have thought of their precise spoken language as the ultimate tool to describe nature, vastly superior to grunting and waving with paws. So how sure really can we be mathematics is so intimately connected to nature that nature is mathematics?

Versus multi

Now let us turn the argument around. Searching for a TOE we were ultimately left with mathematical consistency as only guidance and it’s not enough of a constraint. It offers too many possibilities and eventually doesn’t explain anything. Unless, that is, mathematical consistency is not the only requirement. (There is of course the requirement to reproduce observation, but that’s too pragmatic for my tea pot.) The only way to avoid a multiverse then seems to be that mathematics is not sufficient to describe the fundamental nature of reality.

So the options are: a) Accept a final cause. b) Accept the multiverse. c) Accept that there’s a way to describe nature better than with mathematics.

If you don’t like a) and b) and therefore have to sympathize with c) you are however left wondering what may describe nature even better than mathematics? Well, you can. Tegmark’s Mathematical Universe irks people because they believe there is a distinction between reality and mathematics, between platonic ideas and the world out there. The common point of view is that the math used in theoretical physics is a description of nature, but humans provide the map between reality and the math. It is possible that this mapping is itself a purely mathematical process. I can imagine there to be an algorithm that searches for mathematical definitions whose properties fit to observed data. Yet presently there is no answer to the question whether there is in fact such an algorithm able to do science like a human. Gödel’s incompleteness theorem is happily waving its tail, waiting for a chance to pee on your leg.

In summary this means if there is neither a final cause nor a multiverse, there likely won’t be any Singularity in 2045 either since no computer algorithm will be able to go beyond math. And vice versa, if a computer algorithm, coded in the language of math, is able to map every aspect of reality to a mathematical structure, then you’re likely stuck with the multiverse, Tegmarkian version, subsuming all other versions. It might then just be that the next revolution in physics comes from neuroscience.
    multiverse [verb]
    From noun -> multiverse. From L. multus “much, many” and versus, pp. of vertere “to turn.” To make many turns. Colloq: To act or talk incoherently. “She spent the afternoon multiversing around,” “His job interview was a disaster; he totally multiversed it.”

I’ll finish with a quotation from a wise physicist, who wants to remain unnamed but reportedly reads this blog: “The multiverse, the simulation hypothesis, modal realism, or the Singularity –it’s all the same nonsense, really.”


  1. Good timing. You wrote:

    I’ll finish with a quotation from a wise physicist, who wants to remain unnamed but reportedly reads this blog: “The multiverse, the simulation hypothesis, modal realism, or the Singularity –it’s all the same nonsense, really.”

    At the conclusion of Peter Woit's newest post this very morning, in which atheist Martin Rees is awarded the 2011 Templeton prize for his belief in anthropic and the multiverse:

    All these multiverse ideas lead to a remarkable synthesis between cosmology and physics…But they also lead to the extraordinary consequence that we may not be the deepest reality, we may be a simulation. The possibility that we are creations of some supreme, or super-being, blurs the boundary between physics and idealist philosophy, between the natural and the supernatural, and between the relation of mind and multiverse and the possibility that we’re in the matrix rather than the physics itself. ... Martin Rees

    Something for future Templeton candidates to keep in mind: no need now to believe in a Christian God, belief in “The Matrix” is good enough. ... Peter Woit

  2. Should you add the part with regard to William James?'s a map of a kind. Okay this was 2007, so he has progressed some?See:Multiverse hypotheses in physics

    Ya, a hypothesis. Is this okay?


  3. There is an alternative for sure Bee.....we are indeed, as a human species, really alone.

    Again from 2006 so it is good to see where such progressions have occurred....?

    In a recent paper, Max Tegmark, Anthony Aguirre, Martin Rees and Frank Wilczek calculated the resulting probability distribution. They found that the observed value of the dark matter density is close to the peak of the bell curve, in excellent agreement with the theory.See:THE PRINCIPLE OF MEDIOCRITY

    Maybe someone knows what paper is being referred?

  4. Great, thanks so much, Bee.
    Wearing a ball cap, I observe that sometimes the longest equation may pivot on one significant variable -- shelter from the wind.
    Multiple regards.

  5. Talking about the "existence" of something that can’t be observed opens the door to fairy tales. Bee, you decry quantum gravitation, SUSY, religion, social advocacy, Enviro-whinerism, Homeland Severity, psychology, and macroeconomics. Brava!

    and put on my hobby philosopher hat Tommy Aquinas was an erudite criminal fraud for proving god. Blessed Spinoza disproved god, candor being followed by Dutch Jewish community expulsion, Catholic Index of banned books, works burned by Dutch Protestants. Philosophers in general and theologians in particular are envious for his arriving one Biblical Day early.

    No theory derived from mirror-symmetries can be correct. The universe is chiral at every scale, and all the worse for chirality being dei ex machina emergent not intrinsic. Wolfram's random cellular automatons are observable but not predictively modelable. Messy.

    The universe is fundamentally non-linear, non-Euclidean, fractal (non-resolvable by magnification, the calculus), and chiral. Strange attractors are not less satisfying than discrete maths, but they benefit from intellectual fluidities pounded out of minds starting in pre-school.

    It might then just be that the next revolution in physics comes from neuroscience. Remember the tragedy of René Descartes who, when offered and apéritif, replied "I think not." Remember the Krell of Altair IV.

  6. One ohno!second later, somebody goes and does this,

  7. Thanks for that quotation Steven.

    "All these multiverse ideas lead to a remarkable synthesis between cosmology and physics…But they also lead to the extraordinary consequence that we may not be the deepest reality, we may be a simulation. The possibility that we are creations of some supreme, or super-being, blurs the boundary between physics and idealist philosophy, between the natural and the supernatural, and between the relation of mind and multiverse and the possibility that we’re in the matrix rather than the physics itself. ..." Martin Rees

    This is NOT testable science.

    To me it seems more like the usual physi-babble by people who have little understanding of nature because they they study Platonic fantasies instead of nature.


  8. /*.. What may such a TOE look like? ...*/

    Such TOE must predict/explain (the postulates of) relativity and quantum mechanics, too - so it cannot depend on these theories at all. Instead of this, these theories would follow from this theory as some low-dimensional slices of the more general hyperdimensional solution (after all, in the same way, like the observable Universe itself). Such theory wouldn't very sensitive to its basic function providing it will be sufficiently hyperdimensional and implicit. I proposed simplest wave equation in infinite number of dimensions, where boundary condition becomes the initial condition, too.

  9. From the above follows, we don't need to seek for multiverses anymore, because we revealed at least two of them already: it's the world of relativity and quantum mechanics (Riemann and Hilbert manifolds). Actually every theory or logically consistent system of ideas is sorta multiverse and because everyone of us can see something different, we are each maintaining our private multiverses, too.

  10. There is a certain appeal to multiverses for individuals who read comic books as youth. Anti-heroes and so forth. Different laws of physics that appeal to the imagination on a comic book level. Here's an example that runs counter to our otherwise earthly equestrian sports.,1518,755419,00.html

    Gotta sign off now. Bessie wants me to take the spurs to her at the local track.

  11. I know Ptolemaic pseudo-science when I see it AND I can define it (untestable; poorly-motivated).

    See Peter Woit's take on the Rees award at Not Even Wrong. Great fun!


  12. In AWT exists a duality between "untestable" and "selfevident". Many (if not all) concepts of contemporary physics (extradimensions, gravitational waves, multiverse) were quantitativelly predicted correctly, but missed conceptually, because contemporary physics is brilliant in formal math, but quite impotent regarding conceptual logics (most of its theories are ad-hoced).

    Therefore it's not so strange, all concepts, which string and LQG theorists introduced into physics were described already in different context. Gravitational waves or gravitons are formed with CMBR photons, extradimension are all around us (they manifest with forces violating inverse square law) and the multiverses are simply different - yet logically pr phenomenologicaly consistent - theories and observational perspectives.

    I'm aware of the fact, physicists consider the multiverse concept a much deeper model, but the particular views of Universe follow the definition of multiverses as well. Every person could be considered as an hyperdimensional soliton floating through extradimensions and revealing the low-dimensional slices of it - exactly in accordance to models of string theorists.

    It means, the most courageous and far-seeing concepts of mainstram physics are the most self-evident and trivial ones at the same moment.

  13. This just in. According to Sean Carroll, LISA, the gravity detector project by NASA, is dead.

    Thanks, Obama, some "Science President" you are.

    Or should we be mad at Lori Garver, frustrated astronaut (she lost out to Lance Bass with the Russians) and NASA # 2? Or the damn Republicans?

  14. /*...that we may not be the deepest reality, we may be a simulation...*/

    I consider Universe random, because it's the least demanding state of Universe with respect to causality and it requires the lowest number of postulates - every other particular state (including the zero or initial state) would introduce more questions than answers.

    Another point is, every hyperdimensional deity is undistinguishable from pure random chaos from our low dimensional perspective. If some system becomes too advanced, its behavior will become completelly unpredictable in the same way, like the sufficiently large system of colliding particles. The well packed computer program with lowest possible entropy is undistinguishable from output of random generator, for example. IMO the archetypal notion of God has its origin just in this phenomenological similarity. This hypothesis is not even wrong, so to say..

    Briefly speaking, currently I don't see any way, how to distinguish the alleged simulation from completelly random Universe and because I consider the later model less demanding in the sense of Occam razor criterion, I don't see any reason for introduction of some Big Simulator, God or whatever else.

  15. /*...According to Sean Carroll, LISA, the gravity detector project by NASA, is dead....*/

    Why to search for gravitational waves, if nobody checked the posibility, whether the notoriously known background noise cannot be formed just with these waves? Without such analysis every search for gravitational waves would be just a waste of money of tax payers, don't you think?

    It's better to end such projects soon, rather than later, after than.

  16. Gardens should be planted, watered, fertilized... open to serendipity, shared with others... and weeded.

  17. Steven says: "This just in. According to Sean Carroll, LISA, the gravity detector project by NASA, is dead.

    Thanks, Obama, some "Science President" you are."

    But maybe there are better ways to do science besides throwing 100s of millions of dollars at it.

    For example, what if the LHC just verifies the heuristic standard model of particle physics?

    I would recommend a complete de novo review of the past 80 years of "progress" before we blunder ahead blindly, i.e., with the received wisdom of that 80 years.

    Maybe then our money would be spent on more productive efforts than these endless searches for the fool's gold at the end of the rainbow.

    Just an inconvenient thought.


  18. Whenever someone starts talking about the peculiar relationship between mathematics and reality, I also ponder a simple question: Is it possible to imagine a universe in which it is impossible to embed a means of describing it? Can a universe in which nothing like language, logic or mathematics is possible exist?

    Of course, since mathematics can be performed in our universe, mathematics itself tells us that there are at least two possible universes that it is describing or there are some things that we can only know empirically. Godel didn't have a problem with fine tuning.

    P.S. Universes tend to get bigger, Give them time. A hundred years ago galaxies were "island universes", now the universe is full of galaxies. Now, we talk of a particular universe in a multiverse, but in a hundred years, it will just be a piece of the universe.

  19. Hi Bee,

    I can tell you’ve been really contemplating this concept of a multiverse a lot, as to have considered as many of the permutations and consequences that one can. However, despite your effort, I think it will all have to wait, until we become multiversaly multiversant in a multiversal language:-)

    More seriously do I enjoy when you take off your Einstein wig to don your teapot lid.

    “ The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it. "No room! No room!" they cried out when they saw Alice coming. "There's plenty of room!" said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

    The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he SAID was, `Why is a raven like a writing-desk?'

    `Come, we shall have some fun now!' thought Alice. `I'm glad they've begun asking riddles.--I believe I can guess that,' she added aloud.

    `Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?' said the March Hare.

    `Exactly so,' said Alice.

    `Then you should say what you mean,' the March Hare went on.

    `I do,' Alice hastily replied; `at least--at least I mean what I say--that's the same thing, you know.'.............

    `Have you guessed the riddle yet?' the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.

    `No, I give it up,' Alice replied: `what's the answer?'

    `I haven't the slightest idea,' said the Hatter.

    `Nor I,' said the March Hare.

    Alice sighed wearily. `I think you might do something better with the time,' she said, `than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.'”

    -Lewis Carrol, “Alice in Wonderland”, Chapter VII ( A Mad Tea Party)



  20. Hi Uncle,

    One could argue SUSY, Strings and LQG in some sense exist at least inside some people's brains. I suppose if you want to understand Brian Greene's neural circuitry studying string theory might be the right thing to do. Best,


  21. Hi Plato,

    I believe Tegmark's map of multiverse levels is still largely the same. It's maybe a little incomplete. One should add e.g. cyclic universes where the cycles aren't identical and Smolin's cosmological natural selection is also some sort of multiverse. What I was trying to say in my post is that the multiverse issue isn't going to go away. It's a problem that necessarily comes with the attempt to try to 'explain everything' if you use only mathematical consistency as a guide. Tegmark got it largely right, except that (as I argued in my post some years back) he stopped at mathematics. The question is whether that really is the final level. If you allow yourself to question whether mathematics is both necessary and sufficient to describe nature, you may find that the tower of multiverses collapses. Much like Bastian learns in the 'Neverending Story' that the boundary he has to find (to get back home) is inside. Best,


  22. Hi Steven,

    Sure, god or programmer, what's the difference? The simulation hypothesis never made a lot of sense to me though. It makes one wonder, what lets people believe that they are able to construct something that can simulate nature to perfection? One could probably invent a version of Lee's cosmological natural selection for that case: The simulation we're most likely to live in is one running on a code that produces the largest number of embedded simulations. It even makes a prediction: All R&D funding will eventually go to the software industry. Best,


  23. Zephir:

    I've explained you like half a dozen times that you have several serious misunderstandings about the nature of the CMB. Yet, you come back every other week and post exactly the same nonsense again. What, really, do you hope to achieve by publicly documenting your ignorance? It seems futile to explain you once again what's wrong with your "idea," so instead I'll do what I should have done long ago: You repeat, I delete. Hope that was clear. Thanks,


  24. Hi Exl Blogger,

    Yes, indeed, that's the right question to ask. And if you ask it, the problem of finding a measure on the multiverse got just infinitely worse... Anyway, as I wrote in my post, I think it is indeed possible that you have a 'mathematical' universe with 'substructures' (us) that are able to 'map' (model) the universe (ie the universe is in some sense self-similar). But there'll also be universes where this isn't the case. Either way however, this doesn't answer the question whether or not mathematics is indeed sufficient to describe the reality we perceive. It merely addresses the question whether one can imagine a mathematical universe in which it is. But then you're stuck with the multiverse issue. Best,


  25. "As a particle physicist I’d say something that can’t be observed doesn’t exist."

    In the words of Ted Nugent: "If I can take a bite out of it, it's real; otherwise it doesn't exist."

  26. "Why is a raven like a writing-desk?"

    Because Poe wrote on both.

  27. Hi Phil,

    Ha, indeed I had the Hatter and the Mad Tea Party in mind when I wrote the above, yet it seemed to invite political jokes and frowns which I was afraid would drift off-topic quickly. In any case, I might put on the tea pot lid some more times ;-) Best,


  28. Hi Bee,

    Yes "The Mad Tea Party" certainly is the appropriate backdrop, as right from the beginning, despite the table being large and the numbers at it small they considered there being no room. This whole subject concerns the attempt to determine whether or not this being true. The other fittingly appropriate thing is as you being the one wearing the teapot lid makes you the dormouse and theirin the only one at the table, other than Alice, not being mad :-)

    ”"If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?”

    -The Mad Hatter



  29. Hi Bee,
    I wish I could put some intellectual weight behind this, but our attempts to explain our consciousness as an information-processing system - a bunch of software modules so to speak - is perhaps rather misguided; the physical properties of the components of our brain are probably just as important as the algorithms they purportedly represent. It is an interaction of physical objects that gives us our mental properties, and we are far from being mathematical or computational.

  30. I hate to disagree with you Arun because I like you and your blog, Musings. In fact I can't disagree with you because you raise a subject where we simply do not have enough information either way, so I'm open to the possibility of your being right. I am also open to the multiverse, String Theory and MWI being right because again, not enough data (although atm I'm leaning away from all of them).

    In any event, I strongly suggest that consciousness is the field of Biologists, not Physicists. Granted we're all entitled to our opinions and we're all multi-dimensional in the sense of having multiple interests, and there's nothing wrong with exploring "Matheophysical Biology" or whatever it's called, which I have done and have concluded thus:

    The specialists in the field are moreso all over the map than Cosmologists! Hoo boy, I thought Cosmology was crazy, try delving into "consciousness" if you think watching experts arguing with each other is exciting! It's like a bottomless pit of argument!

    In short and with all due respect to Roger Penrose, we simply do not have enough information to lean one way or the other, let alone come up with any logical hypotheses to test. But that doesn't stop some people! Even Pauli was enchanted based on his friendship with Carl Jung. :-)

  31. Nearly everyone goes along with the poorly-motivated conjecture that the physical laws and constants in the 10^500 different "universes" MUST be a random assortment, like a vast box of chocolates.

    Obviously there is another possibility that very few seem to be aware of.

    That is: just as the laws of physics and the physical constants are exactly the same for all galaxies, so it would be for all metagalaxies, or "universes" if you want to call them that.

    Why do we prefer the poorly-motivated former conjecture and neglect the more logical later hypothesis which is consistent with everything we have learned about nature from lower scale physics?


  32. Bee:If you allow yourself to question whether mathematics is both necessary and sufficient to describe nature, you may find that the tower of multiverses collapses. Much like Bastian learns in the 'Neverending Story' that theboundary he has to find (to get back home)is inside

    I guess in a way it has been for me about a starting position( a Pascalian position pyramidal in disguise). The logic mathematically has steps in it, and in between those steps you might find inconsistencies which invalidate the process. But also too, new stepping points which direct you to thinking in new theoretical definitions that contain a whole new set of thought processes and concepts which changes the world in a way.

    Allows you to see the world differently? Why adding Lee's position on CNS is a point for sure.

    Of course I do not have to remind you of the alternate realities of mirror world that Alice stepped into and possible pathways? Lewis Carroll's basis of story making mathematically deduced from an idea of story telling as if in a dream telling us, and to have something come out of it?

    That's my point and my observation that the basis of the explorations of mathematics of others comes out of a place that seems incomplete but is truly a place where asymmetrical
    foundation basis of mathematics begins. Is emergent.

    The reference to Carl Jung by Steve and the "collective unconscious" does not seem so far fetched to me in that this place has so many possibilities. It is a pool from which we all draw?

    Your opinion, as well as Phil's about the hat one wears and how to go forward? Gathering at paradoxical table for more confusion and Jabberwoky?

    It is still about piercing the veil? About finding a definition of the basis of the reality as a foundation principal. About looking into that confusion and finding a method of determination for explaining the world as it is shown.

    Artistically this method of Lewis Carroll is one we have here seen in it's many forms as authors we have discussed. Their methodology of approach.

    Again think of Ramanujan here as an


  33. Just a few quotes then too.

    "Observations always involve theory."Edwin Hubble

    There is no branch of mathematics, however abstract, which may not some day be applied to phenomena of the real world.Nikolai Lobachevsky


  34. My look at ALICE. Of course you have to place the first letters for appropriate translation....but to me as ALICE looks very appropriate.

  35. Wow, Bee, what a tour de force. I don't completely agree with all your philosophical framing, but it's well and comprehensively presented and argued. I basically accept your take against MUH (which is a form, perhaps more restrictive, of my old play toy "modal realism.") Many think that I'm a believer in MR, but instead I use it as a "foil" for other things (BTW Bee, can you tell me a German word for that same usage in English?) I agree that "existence" is more subtle than MUH claims, but they do have a point: there is no clear logical way to explain "existing" in the special way we think applies to our world. If you do, it's really a matter of experiential ostension. An AI person could complain that a "program" could claim and believe the same things.) In any case I do love this twilight-zoney metaphysical "masturbation" as the Pharyngulites say to me in complaint.

    I think you miss a point about "observable", since it's debatable sometimes what part of a situation is observable versus "inferred." One could argue, that we just literally find "forces" and not the fields that cause them. I can't imagine the forces happening without something "there" in space, but it is a definitional problem and c.f. Hume etc.

    In any case: since "the universe" may not be the only one, that means that it (like American's "Indians") was misnamed, not there being any real contradiction. (The correctness of a word per convention can't prove the referent having traits implied in the name, that is a gross fallacy. Compare "what we see" abused by naive realist philosophers like Ryle.) Hence, I propose to call our universe "Thisiverse" as a proper name. Per Google I seem to have coined that usage.

  36. Robert O, and re the idea of our laws just being a brute fact and "natural": it just doesn't make any logical sense, it is an existential asymmetry of absurd proportions, for some particular set of laws to inherently deserve an ultimate abstraction like "exist" (said, not even a predicate!) but other other ones. As I've said, that is like the number "137" (inside joke) to be made in brass numerals and not others, for reasons not accessible to math. I think that MUH folks are wrong that all worlds are just Platonic descriptions and equally real, but they are right that if there is something "selecting" then it has to be "mystical" and beyond pure logic. (See my post on Marcello Gleiser.)

    BTW, you really wouldn't want to be made of math. I can't prove it, but in terms of deep credibility I don't think you'd have "real feelings" like nausea, but just the behavior. This is contentious, but consider if being just numbers sits well with experiential richness. Also, see my post on Jaron Lanier.

  37. 'Stages of acceptance of a new paradigm:

    1. This is worthless,

    2. This is interesting, but perverse,

    3. This is interesting, but unimportant,

    4. I always thought so.'

    JBS Haldane (1963)

  38. Steven Colyer,

    What would constitute a complete mathematical description of a rose, so complete that we confuse the mathematical description and the actual object?

  39. Arun, Steve can give his own answer but here is mine: there is no complete mathematical description of a rose. You might be tempted to say, it's the entire wave function of all particles, hence a rundown of all summed up psi states all over as function of space and time. (Giant Schroedinger equation.) But that doesn't work. The WFs don't just keep mushing around, they end up doing something. Some people talk of MWI but there is a contraction e.g. when a momentum or position is measured. Something pulls all that together. Decoherence doesn't work as a fix either, see for example my takedown here.

  40. The confusion part is easy, Arun, as any description would achieve that due to any description's being incomplete.

    For the mathematical part: fractals.

    Your move. :-)

  41. Steven, am trying to convey an idea, not to score points.

    Why do we not yet have software with qualia?


    I think if it were possible we would have a clue how to do it.

    I take this to indicate that the description/simulation and the reality are two different things. The information that our brain (or a fruitfly's brain) has must be in some physically interesting form that has physical properties that lend it additional behavior beyond what it has from being a representation of information. The 1s and 0s on the tape of a Turing machine or in the transistor circuits of our processors can never have these.

  42. Arun: you and I and Jaron Lanier and David Chalmers (philosopher, not the obscure quantum physicist) and more tentatively Roger Penrose; and basically every one I can consider sane are in agreement that our qualitative experience, real nausea and itches and tingles and gorgeous sensations of magenta etc. are not just computations and "data." See my essay referencing Lanier for a similar point (about "existence" per se not qualia. BTW, shouldn't it be OK for me to reference a relevant work of my own? Is that what went wrong last time?)

  43. As I have argued before:

    Mathematics is the artificial description.

    Mathematics is not the actual physical object.

    Atoms, stars and galaxies are not made of mathematics, but they obey mathematical laws, at least approximately.

    This is not meant to question the importance of mathematical descriptions.

    I just think it is crucial in science to differentiate between the description and the physical object.


  44. Hi Robert,

    As I wrote, most people I think share your opinion. But there isn't actually any way of knowing. Best,


  45. Dear Arun,

    It is difficult to say at this point whether it is in fact not possible to re-create a brain in a bit & byte version, or if we've just not managed to do it. If the brain is just an information processing device, then I'm with Kurzweil: I don't see why it should not be possible. But then, we might be missing something fundamental here, and jumping to conclusions based on incomplete information. Future generations might laugh at our naivity. I suppose I'll believe it's possible when the first computer develops an Exploding head syndrom ;-) Best,


  46. Hi Neil,

    Can I tell you a German word for what? Foil? I don't know what you mean with that actually. For all I know a foil is a transparency or some sort of wrapping, but that doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.

    Don't know what's your issue with my use of observation. I didn't say the 'field' in the field theory does actually exist and I didn't mean to say so. That what does exist is whatever you're describing with your theory. That you'll never actually know what it "is" doesn't matter for my statement that something that can't be observed doesn't exist. Best,


  47. Hi Arun,

    I also have to admit to being one of those more than a little convinced that consciousness transcends what can be encompassed by what’s known as a Turing machine. This stems in part from reasoned argumentation, yet more so by way of simple observation, reinforced with some recent physical evidence as what lies at the heart of life’s processes in terms of its efficiencies respective to limits.

    To have it put more simply, it’s one thing to insist that outcome(s) simply being the result of the cancelling and reinforcement of infinite possibility and yet quite another to have it thought it being understood as to how this is done instantaneously; as having time not forming to being a restriction, yet rather completely ignored.

    So this is to point out, that although mathematics has it evident options being infinite, that in respect to certainty, which has what’s decided as possible to be realized has rules (restrictions) as to what that can be. That is I think it’s too often overlooked, that reality being special, since it being distinct from the options for which no such rules would apply to enable them to be real.

    “In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few”

    - Shunryu Suzuki (Japanese Zen priest)



    P.S. Sorry again for the erasers and yet this is what happens when one is hampered by the limitations of time ;-)

  48. Bee: here is a chance to learn a new English word use. As you know (and I think English is very susceptible), the "same world" can have different meanings (and not just variations on the same theme.) So there is indeed "foil" the thin flexible sheet of plastic or metal (often Al, but I have some brass foil.) However, note this, from
    foil (2)
    –noun :
    a person or thing that makes another seem better by contrast: The straight man was an able foil to the comic.
    I wonder if there's a good German word for that.

    Observability: your position is rather common and pragmatic, I can't consider it any kind of mistake as an operational stance. Just pointing out that the concept of "observable" is tricky in deep conceptual terms. In the ideal and abstract, there is "observable" or not. In truth however, we need to combine literal observations (forces, pointer states) with presumed necessary correlates like "something about the region of space which affects things there" etc. Few worry (any more than whether the past really exists or is just a way of talking about what we have now), but someday what if it made a difference.

    RLO: I think you're right. And if this world (Thisiverse) isn't just math, then we have the question why some "math that can describe worlds, more or less" gets to describe at least one "real world", whereas others do not (or do they.) That is, as I said, the foundational question of physics which makes it not just a branch of "mathematics" itself.

    [BTW, as tech feedback: I've been getting lots of "Sorry, we cannot complete your request" from Blogger lately here.]

  49. (Heh, I must have multiverses on my mind, Freudian slip of "world" for "word" up there. Also, I think the bungled sentence is still true!)

  50. Ah yes, the "ghost in the machine" has never had the decency to allow our intrepid philosophers their proper rest.

    It lurks in their minds and causes them to say the most curious things.

    Witness the latent vitalism and supernaturalism of Stuart Kauffman over at the NPR bog "13.7".

    The "ghost in the machine" is a pesky fellow who refuses to play by scientific rules. Talk about a phoenix!


  51. This comment has been removed by the author.

  52. Mind maps and images just part of the process, that if we see advances, then how will you coop?:)

    Mimic "natural processes" and what have you in quantum computing? Can this ever be?

    Here we report the application of the latest photonic quantum computer technology to calculate properties of the smallest molecular system: the hydrogen molecule in a minimal basis. We calculate the complete energy spectrum to 20 bits of precision and discuss how the technique can be expanded to solve large-scale chemical problems that lie beyond the reach of modern supercomputers. These results represent an early practical step toward a powerful tool with a broad range of quantum-chemical applications.Towards quantum chemistry on a quantum computer It's not free.....which I usually don't link. Just a case in point then at revisions on "thinking processes" that are highly subjective.

    Bits and bites, that flow ever so smoothly that one wonders if such a thing is achievable, even to dream?:) Masking emotive content in the body and it flows through your system as an endocrinology of messengers, from place to place, activating release? You are a mechanical machine, but a fluid one?:)


  53. In other words, plants are employing the basic principles of quantum mechanics to transfer energy from chromophore (photosynthetic molecule) to chromophore until it reaches the so-called reaction center where photosynthesis, as it is classically defined, takes place. The particles of energy are behaving like waves. "We see very strong evidence for a wavelike motion of energy through these photosynthetic complexes," Engel says. The results appear in the current issue of Nature.When It Comes to Photosynthesis, Plants Perform Quantum Computation

    What math describes this.....has it been invented? Yet, you know that such processes in nature are being attempted? That's not math...then what is it?

    Am emergent method allows you to exponentially see the universe around you from a simple and yet perfect symmetry?

    How do you describe this social dynamic over top of such processes and you actually see how complicated yet how simple it is.

    We use it all the time...yet we do not understand it? What is that?


  54. (Pardon frequent comments lately, I'll give it a rest for awhile.) RLO, the reason that ghost isn't going to go away is that we have real feelings, not because of ancient prejudices. There can't be any proper rest, it's like an itch keeping someone (honest, not denialist hacks such as Dennett) awake because "the itch" indeed bothers more than mere numbers ever could. Arun is right, and the answer IMHO hinges on that distinction between math v. real physics: computations v. real experience, is a similar inadequacy.

    Indeed, not only is it implausible that our world "is" math, it doesn't even make sense to say that math even completely *describes* our world (Plato just brought that up too.) Look at the wave function problem: we have the WF, supposedly describing the distribution of an electron or photon. Then, it gets detected and "poof" the WF is gone. There isn't any elegant math to describe that. It isn't just the "ugliness" of sudden disappearance, it's that SRT means the pop can't be simultaneous to all observers. So it works as a procedure, but makes so sense as a literal model. (And as I have written, the supposed evasions of that issue don't really work or are at least highly suspect.)

  55. The fact that Quantum Mechanics is a completely heuristic model that was cobbled together by committee and that has some fairly amazing gaps in its conceptual and mathematical framework, is hardly evidence for any "ghost in the machine".

    Nor is the fact that we have feelings, itches or gas.

    Science, please.


  56. RLO: the fact that we can't make sense out of QM shows that "math" is not adequate to describe the universe. And yes, the nature of our feelings is a "ghostly" trait because qualitative differences are not constructible *in principle* out of structured relations of same-quality elements. As for "science": we don't even know what the pointer reads without experiencing it. You do not appreciate the foundational problems of epistemology. Our experience represents everything else, it is absurd to try and measure it externally, then look at that when we already have it as starting point. What you are calling "science" is just an attempt to find order out of what our experiences - what we actually have as empirical front line - *seem* to indicate about the world. Many people just don't get that, but I consider that their loss and no reason for me to chance my views.

    Note that pure empiricism can't even grapple with basic issues like, "do things still exist when we aren't looking at them?" etc. We are making a leap of faith to believe in what we do about the world, more than about our own minds. I am defiantly turning the usual tropes on their heads.

  57. Neil Bates says: "RLO: the fact that we can't make sense out of QM shows that "math" is not adequate to describe the universe. And yes, the nature of our feelings is a "ghostly" trait because qualitative differences are not constructible *in principle* out of structured relations of same-quality elements. As for "science": we don't even know what the pointer reads without experiencing it. You do not appreciate the foundational problems of epistemology."

    I disagree with virtually everything you say. Start with your summary dismissal of QM as a description of atomic scale phenomena. You are wrong. QM does fairly well and has a mountain of predictive and retrodictive successes supporting it. I just think we need to reinterpret the conceptual aspects of it and make it a more complete and physically-motivated theory that is not so observer-dependent.

    If you want to believe in a "ghost in the machine" and that mathematics is inadequate in describing reality, I doubt that I will ever budge your thinking on these issues.

    But I conclude that it is 17th century thinking.


  58. No, RLO, you have it backwards. The idea that the universe is a "machine" that can be fully described by math is the essence of 17th/18th-century age-of-reason/enlightenment thinking. How ironic, now we know they were wrong. QM: you don't know about the issue of split wave functions spreading out towards distant multiple detectors, and one of them pops off and then the others can't? The "collapse" does not make sense. Neither does it make sense for two identical particles to have different durations before decaying. Identical little clockworks would of course go pop after the same waiting time. None of that can be made sense of, regardless of how much else can be.

    You will not budge my thinking - not because I am so stubborn, but because you don't have so much to give me good cause to, and you're not that good at doing it either.

  59. It's The Bates-Oldershaw Wars, and we're all priviledged to be here at the very beginning. Pass the popcorn, pls, kthnx. And how will all of this end? That's what I want to know.

    "And now young Jedi, you will die."

    QM is based on hard experimental data, and the theory, the mathematical physics that was born of these observations, beginning with Max Planck and a thermodynamic problem, is tight, verifiable, falsifiable, and has never been falsified. It's in the can.

    It's called Phenomenology. Theory based on experimental results, regardless of how weird those results are.

    So we know the answer to "How?"

    What we don't know is the answer to "Why?"

    But that doesn't stop the bazillions from speculatin'


    "In the future ... we'll know more."
    ... Lee Smolin

    Uh huh, uh huh, that's my ride.

  60. Perhaps the correct way to consider all this is to reference to them as Maybeverses. Now all we to do is to further discover if they could qualify as Beableverses or rather in the present context Beeableverses :-)

    “Observables” must be made, somehow, out of beables.”

    -J.S. Bell, “The Theory of Local Beables”, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics

  61. I wonder why when the multiverse is discussed people start talking weird all of a sudden mixing various philosophical/metaphysical Mumbo Jumbo. There are so many beautiful physical concepts within the multiverse that someone could discuss; from quantum cosmology, eternal inflation and the dynamics of the landscape to the properties of the underlying fundamental theory. Why not focusing on these concepts for a change? The conditions for the appearance of the multiverse/landscape and its ability to explain measurements in *our* universe are highly non trivial with hard physics at their core.

    I'm sorry to say but I think Bee is trying deliberately to manipulate the unsuspecting reader to conclude that the multiverse is complete nonsense. The closing paragraph, quoting some anonymous "wise physicist", says it all. I don't think that's fair; in my opinion the intentions of the writer should always be transparent to the reader. Otherwise it's like product placement without any warnings to the unsuspecting viewer.

  62. As just to attempt to have clarified what I propose above is to insist in J.S. Bell fashion; ”Maybeverses” must be made, somehow, out of beableverses. :-)

  63. Giotis, I don't think the multiverse is complete nonsense, but pretty darn close.

    If it is not provable or falsifiable, is it Science? Yeah, I know, Peter Woit's mantra.

    But it's a good mantra.

    To date, the only "provable" thing about the multiverse is Penrose's search for bubbles in the the CMB. But we don't have that data yet. We will in a year. We'll see then. So I for one do not see the need to worry about this stuff now. There's plenty more stuff demanding our attention atm.

    Let me put it another way:

    Reality is described, so far so good, by Mathematics.

    Mathematics can describe many realities. But that doesn't make those realities real.

    Epicycles, for example, describe the motions of the planets, the sun, and the moon. It's good mathematics. But it didn't describe Reality. Copernicus showed that.

  64. Hi Glotis,

    “The conditions for the appearance of the multiverse/landscape and its ability to explain measurements in *our* universe are highly non trivial with hard physics at their core.”

    If this is to infer that the multiverse concept reinforces Everettian metaphysics is to ignore Bohmian metaphysics; which can have all maintained without sacrificing the indivisible whole. This is to suggest it all comes down to being what one’s conception of nonsense happens to be:-)



  65. Hi Giotis,

    I must apologize for misspelling your name wrong in my previous post.



  66. Hi Steven,

    To be correct Penrose’s concept is not a multivesre, rather a perpetuating universe, as there is never more than one at any given time or I should say more correctly “now”, as time begins and ends with each cycle; something which I’m not certain if Smolin would like to have evidence serve to reinforce. Then again it depends what one considers as being “time” foundationally :-)

    “Time present and time past
    Are both perhaps present in time future,
    And time future contained in time past.
    If all time is eternally present
    All time is unredeemable”

    T.S Elliot - Burnt Norton (1935)



  67. Giotis:I wonder why when the multiverse is discussed people start talking weird all of a sudden mixing various philosophical/metaphysical Mumbo Jumbo.

    Sorry:) Welcome back anyway.

    But that's the point isn't it, while you have surmised Bee's thought's and those of her ilk with some who share her opinion? Not me, I remain open.

    GiotisThere are so many beautiful physical concepts within the multiverse that someone could discuss:

    Before I went on a tangent....there were thoughts going back to 2007...some sources that spoken of in correlation.

    I do not think in my mind any facts brought to bear would be unwelcome so why not bring those for inspection?

    It's the same with string theory(not Bee) here and the yadda in the face of that, be brave:)


  68. Steven:Mathematics can describe many realities. But that doesn't make those realities real.

    What!:)Then why write it, and why do you try and falsify it? It's either real, or not?


  69. Phil:As just to attempt to have clarified what I propose above is to insist in J.S. Bell fashion; ”Maybeverses” must be made, somehow, out of beableverses.

    Thoughts of Gerard t' Hooft come to mind here as to the idea of observations?

    Perhaps Quantum Gravity can be Handled by thoroughly reconsidering Quantum Mechanics itself?- Gerard t' Hooft

    I do not know if that's where you were going?


  70. Steven: QM does a great job of predicting the probability of what happens (at least, what any "one of me" can find out, if one accepts the messy bongiverse of MWI.) Oh, I'm not getting after MWI for "being weird", but for literally not being logically coherent. Say, two superposed states branch off, making I guess "two worlds." That ought to mean 50/50 chance of "ending up" in one or the other. But no, with unequal amplitudes I need to somehow get e.g. 36% chance of one and 64% chance of the other. How, without extra diddling that's no better anyway than "a miracle happens" at collapse time? That dilemma of unequal probabilities is so carefully hidden from the pop-sci rubes who just think, "oh yeah, I flip a [quantum] coin and one world happens where it's heads and the other, where it's tails!" Sorry, no dice so to speak.)

    However, the conventional model does not make sense as a description of the evolution of "what's there" in space and time, the way that EM field theory does. To reiterate and REM in my essay, forget interference and just consider the split waves approaching widely separated detectors. Why a ping here and not there, and then what happens to the spread - no sense there. It isn't just the results that are weird,. The traditional picture we can try to make of what leads to those results. So Phil isn't left out: yes there is the Bohmian picture which doesn't have those problems per se. However, I don't consider it viable. Consider e.g. decaying nuclei instead of traveling particles. If they were deterministic clockwork, there should be a structure to their decay times based on how they formed. But there isn't. There is IMHO no coherent way to deal with "identical particles" that act differently later - it violates the very essence of determinism, indeed of mathematical modeling itself. So we don't even understand the "how" of it. Sigh, I hoped you'd be more persuaded by my FQXi essay, but thanks for appreciating the good effort.

    And sure, our world doesn't have to make sense. So then let's admit it doesn't. As for "why" - I speculate as I please, pace tinny minimalists like Hume whose entreaties to stop having those dirty thoughts are just as much a bunch of metaphysical words as what they're trying to stop. At the same time, I find no fault with those who steer clear and advise sticking with what we can get a handle on (er, see below.)

    PS: I hoped to have coined it, but speculations like MUH are already called "mathturbation." Perhaps speculation overall can be called "metaturbation." Oh joy (?!), Google says I am indeed first with that, albeit similar words are cited. Multibation? So much more fun than just beating up on gray positivist babbitry. But it's getting out of hand (sorry ...)

  71. Neil Bates: "And sure, our world doesn't have to make sense. So then let's admit it doesn't."

    Correction: Your world may 'not make sense'. I can assure you that mine does.


  72. RLO, "your world" really makes sense? I didn't know that you had resolved all problematical issues such as the quantum measurement problem, the issue of black hole controversies, field infinities, singularities, renormalization, where to apportion energy in the gravitational field, initial parameters etc. Please explain in particular how they all work in a perfectly common-sense way, or did you mean you literally inhabit a classical universe?

  73. Plato, COME ON, man. Mathematics can describe MANY POSSIBLE realities. I can't believe I have to explain that to one as intellectual as us.

    The FACT is there is only ONE "real" reality. A real reality we are all searching for, or you and I wouldn't be here.

    Oh, if only I could get Nima and Simon Donaldson alone in the same room for 5 minutes ... THEN we would be cooking, yeah. ;-)

  74. Neil and Robert, both of you are too certain of your positions. Robert's intuition is correct about scientists prematurely giving up on a more classical approach to quantum mechanics. Neil is correct about the mathematical underpinnings of qm being correct. However, both of you make the mistake of taking a position based on factual evidence and then trying to finesse the evidence into a more comprehensive scientific world than our knowledge presently gives. You both are exagerating our current scientific knowledge.

    My inclination is to believe that there really is a physical thing underpinning our world that is always conserved but is only transmutable. If I were to hazard a guess I'd call these Hidden Variables that we have yet to model accurately. We can't say, as Robert is saying, that just because these hidden variables probably exist that everything is hunky dory. We still aren't that close to understanding how to model those hidden variables mathematically in a way that reduces to the known mathematics in quantum mechanics.

    Similarly, Neil shouldn't say that just because we haven't yet modeled those hidden variables accurately that we shouldn't take them seriously as something that is always conserved. It is way, way, way too early to rely only on the discrete mathematics of qm to assume that the unconserved properties of the MW interpretation has any validity whatsoever.

    If there is anything I would agree with wholeheartedly it is that we need to retrace our steps at the exact place where the mathematics of qm and classical physics diverged. To me this means trying to transmute black box theory of quantum oscillators in three dimensions into something that resembles classical and qm mathematics. And we should try to link how those 3d models change with the temperature of the universe and link it to our local measurement of time.

  75. Eric: hidden variables have been shown to have problems. Barring Bohmian Mechanics, we can't have locality and realism together and likely neither. It's not just the math of the probabilities either, it's the "dynamics" of the waves spreading out and then suddenly being localized. It is absurd, sorry. (Of course I don't mean it is absurd to think it's like that, I mean "it" is absurd. The universe can do whatever She wants because She was "Born This Way," baby!

  76. Like so many people, you don't yet know what you don't know. You are out of your element.

  77. No Eric, this *is* what we found out about nature. I didn't make it all up, although I think I showed a way to disprove a certain popular dodge (decoherence interpretation of measurement problem.) We have the Schroedinger equations and the observed collapses, and they don't jibe - as most able and candid commentators agree. If I'm out of my element, then so are we all - which ironically is just the point I'm making. In our own world, we are "out of our element" (the mathematically neat handle on it, albeit we can for some of it.)

    If you think the issues can be resolved (without cheating like MWI/decoherence), then it's your job to reconcile them. I shouldn't have to remind you (and RLO) of and explain the (most very likely) implications of the entire history of modern physics.

  78. One can only feel a certain amount of sympathy for those who go through life without the life-saver that a sense of humor provides.

    Consider the "multiverse of 10^500 random 'universes'".

    Or Rees' gonzo "matrix" conjecture that we are all part of some simulation.

    Or Tegmark's: "It's all math all the time, baby!"

    Or the many other examples of fashionable but untestable postmodern pseudo-science.

    If those inanities do not bring a smile to your face, what can I say that would possibly help?


  79. RLO I have a sense of humor, and also you have a point: we really don't know if all that other stuff exists, (whatever that means ...), or have a reason to think this stuff is very other than as it appears. And again, I do not scorn the conservative attitude about *what we don't know of*, although I indulge as I please with many laughs to keep me company.

    However my own point stands, which is that *this world, as we actually know it*, is genuinely and unevadeably "weird."

  80. BTW, Bee has multibabies!
    That's something to bring a smile to our faces. Forget all this indulgent metabation for awhile. (Whether you can see the comment depends on your Facebook access. BTW, Add me if you wish and likely I'll accept, even Robert and Eric!)

  81. This comment has been removed by the author.

  82. Hi Neil,

    Neil you said:

    “So Phil isn't left out: yes there is the Bohmian picture which doesn't have those problems per se. However, I don't consider it viable. Consider e.g. decaying nuclei instead of traveling particles. If they were deterministic clockwork, there should be a structure to their decay times based on how they formed. But there isn't. There is IMHO no coherent way to deal with "identical particles" that act differently later - it violates the very essence of determinism, indeed of mathematical modeling itself. So we don't even understand the "how" of it. Sigh, I hoped you'd be more persuaded by my FQXi essay, but thanks for appreciating the good effort.”

    It’s when you make sweeping authoritative sounding statements like the one above which really has me to cringe. That is you should know to be able to criticize something probably, it’s required you first make an honest attempt to have it understood thoroughly. The fact is Bohm did include radioactive decay in his interpretation, which depended upon something he labelled as the quantum potential. However, since then some who might be called the mainstream Bohmian’s, have come up with having this explained without such dependence, as in part them finding its conceptual repercussions even more nonclassical than the standard treatment of the subject.

    Now this is not to claim that Bohmian Mechanics doesn’t have it problems, with the central one having it become consistent with special relativity and thus become extendable to Quantum field theory. However some progress has and continues to be made in respect to this as well by approaching the problem from several different perspectives’; with but one of which is to have better defined what it means to being consistent respective to SR in the first place.

    Just to have myself made clear, this is not to say Bohmian mechanics is the end all and be all on the subject. Never the less it does serve to clearly demonstrate their being still ways to find nature as totally reasonable. It should also be noted there is a distinct difference, between something being non causal and something not knowable as it relates to reasonableness. I would therefore suggest you first at least read both of Bohm’s 1952 seminal papers on the subject, plus all of J.S. Bell’s book ‘Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics” and Goldstein’s synopsis found in the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy before insisting such sweeping statements constitute as being fact.

    “In the causal interpretation of quantum theory of David Bohm and Louis de Broglie, it is in principle possible to predict the decay of a single isotope (single event). In the causal interpretation of quantum theory there is the quantum potential, which leads to highly nonclassical motion of particles.”

    -Klaus von Bloh, “The Causal Interpretation of the Radioactive Decay with Quantum Potential”, Wolfram Demonstrations Project

    “Causal description of quantum radioactive alpha decay in the interpretation of Louis-Victor de Broglie and David Bohm with well-defined particle trajectories.”

    -Klaus von Bloh, “Causal Interpretation of theRadioactive Decay without Quantum Potential”, Wolfram Demonstrations Project



  83. Thanks, Phil. I base my skepticism on rather foundational grounds, something which many thinkers do and which I hope then cannot be so very presumptuous (even if it be "assumptuous" - and again, I failed to coin first.) OK, so Bohm "considered" radioactive decay. But my objection still stands, that if you don't have a mystical something that may or may not go bang, but instead a system that deterministically does what it has to - then indeed the manner of exact coming together of constituents has to matter.

    If there's just a general "function" like in traditional QM, then it's the same old collapse problem over again. We need some kind of "clockwork mechanism" or it's just Copenhagen, whatever they call it. (And inside e.g. a muon?)

    I don't see so far in your little clips (and how curious, to have "with" and "without" versions) anything to resolve the basic problem but I'll look around.

  84. Hi Neil,

    That fact is what those like Einstein, Bohm, Bell, Goldstein and others have and continue to do is to approach things from the foundational perspective. The problem with terms like “foundational” and “fundamental”, has them often appear as since being rudimentary, this in some way makes them easier to have conceived.

    The truth however being, they are among the most difficult things to deal with in all of theoretical physics and yet their study has proven time and time again to often having the greatest effect on the subject. What I have discovered is that the attempt to have understood things on this level being the most humbling of all experiences and has me often just shake my head and wonder as to how such people as I mentioned were able to have things understood as well as they did.



  85. Neil Bates: "However my own point stands, which is that *this world, as we actually know it*, is genuinely and unevadeably "weird."

    Not to be overly argumentative, I merely point out that there is a different possible conclusion.

    The world as understood by Democritus, Spinoza, Einstein and others who have followed in their very large footsteps is a universe of infinite magnificent perfection that is completely rational to those who understand the basic principles and laws.

    If we currently see the world as inherently weird and incomprehensible, it is probably because we are viewing nature through the distorting lenses of the wrong paradigm.

    I see a world that is completely unified and understandable, at least in principle if not in infinite detail.

    But if the purveyors of untestable pseudoscience continue to control what ideas can and cannot be considered, then I am afraid that we are going to be stuck with weird models of nature for some time to come.


  86. Steven:Mathematics can describe MANY POSSIBLE realities.

    Just checking.:)


  87. Hi, Plato. Mathematics can describe ALL possible realities, even the WizardOfOziverse. And if it can't, we can always invent better mathematics. And do.

    Anyone know what Alain Connes has been up to lately?

    (I'm thinking of flying monkeys for some reason. I don't think I'm going to sleep well tonight)

  88. Robert: I'll lay off working it from my end, but then I ask: can you support your depiction with actual description from current science, and with solutions to well and widely appreciated puzzles as posed by modern science, and not pseudoscience? BTW note that Einstein is now considered the loser in his challenge of QM.

  89. Hi Neil,

    “BTW note that Einstein is now considered the loser in his challenge of QM.”

    You really should attempt to expand and diversify your scope as what you rely on as being qualifiers and their related authorities. That being Einstein has never been proven to have been explicitly wrong from his standpoint of EPR as having standard QM to being the way it is, then necessarily non-local and thus incomplete.

    However this is not to suggest that the evidence doesn’t support reality as being non-local, only that the standard treatment doesn’t demand that it be necessarily so and thus in this way could be as considered incomplete; not by way of its formalism’s outcome, yet by way of its interpreted reason for such. So as I’ve attempted to have explained the actual situation is much more subtle than many would like to believe.

    “To go back to the EPR dilemma between locality and completeness, it would appear from the Bell theorem that Einstein's strategy of maintaining locality, and thereby concluding that the quantum description is incomplete, may have fixed on the wrong horn. Even though the Bell theorem does not rule out locality conclusively, it should certainly make one wary of assuming it. On the other hand, since Einstein's exploding gunpowder argument (or Schrödinger's cat) supports incompleteness without assuming locality, one should be wary of adopting the other horn of the dilemma, affirming that the quantum state descriptions are complete and “therefore” that the theory is nonlocal. It may well turn out that both horns need to be rejected: that the state functions do not provide a complete description and that the theory is also nonlocal (although possibly still separable; see Winsberg and Fine 2003). There is at least one well-known approach to the quantum theory that makes a choice of this sort, the de Broglie-Bohm approach (Bohmian Mechanics). Of course it may also be possible to break the EPR argument for the dilemma plausibly by questioning some of its other assumptions (e.g., separability, the reduction postulate, or the eigenvalue-eigenstate link). That might free up the remaining option, to regard the theory as both local and complete. If it were made cogent, perhaps some version of the Everett Interpretation would come to occupy this branch of the interpretive tree.”

    - “The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Argument in Quantum Theory”, Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (2009)



  90. This comment has been removed by the author.

  91. Neil Bates: "can you support your depiction with actual description from current science, and with solutions to well and widely appreciated puzzles as posed by modern science, and not pseudoscience?

    BTW note that Einstein is now considered the loser in his challenge of QM."

    Yes, but the owners of this blog think it is inappropriate for me to promote the new discrete fractal paradigm [Discrete Scale Relativity] here. I understand that and accept their decision, for the most part.

    Einstein is currently considered "the loser" in the QM debate.

    But like I said, if you look at nature through the fogged and distorting lenses of the wrong paradigm, then you get wrong answers.

    No one won the QM debate, or lost it. But in the long run I believe that Einstein will be judged to have had the superior wisdom, judgement and intuition.

    We need to deeply and sincerely reassess all untested and inadequately tested assumptions upon which the old paradigm was based.

    We need to eschew pseudo-science.


  92. This comment has been removed by the author.

  93. Hi Bee,

    The blogger gods have got me again to have my latest comment excluded from its universe; or should that be multiverse. I’ve put up a HTML free version which I hope will hold until you make the final decision as to if any of it should be able to become a reality;-)



  94. Hi Steven,

    There are reasons why I feel as Tegmark does, yet, I should expound these reasons better. Coxeter.

    I mean RLO talks about things self similar and looks at the universe and he see things happening on smaller levels geometrically expressive the same as, on those larger scales. It's all in his head:)

    Okay shall I delve into the why of RLO...ah not, there are bigger fish to catch...then pondering his ghosts in the machine:)

    Your Wizardry?:)

    What exactly is the type of reality of mathematical idealities? This problem remains largely an open question. Any ontology of abstract entities will encounter certain aporia which have been well known for centuries if not millenia. These aporia have led the various schools of contemporary epistemology to increasingly deny any reality to mathematical idealities (objects, structures, constructions, proofs) and to justify this denial philosophically, thus rejecting the spontaneous Platonism of most
    professional mathematicians (however brilliant they may be).
    Remarks on Jean-Pierre Changeux & Alain Connes Conversations on Mind, Matter, and Mathematics by
    Jean Petitot

    For sure I have not read Triangle of Thoughts, but I will to help with my understanding.

    Is it a affliction one ponders so deeply on "the nature of" that one could have a reason why?

    Highly subjective though it may be, but still raising the question from my own perspective for sure about the nature of that mathematics as seen of others?

    Should one forget about surfer dude then and his E8 quest.:)


  95. "Plato": "I mean RLO talks about things self similar and looks at the universe and he see things happening on smaller levels geometrically expressive the same as, on those larger scales. It's all in his head:)"

    We should also eschew Platonism, methinks.


  96. Hi Plato,

    It is not unreasonable to think that mathematics being certainly one way to have reality in part understood. However it’s a completely different thing to believe reality would be biased as having it represented by but one aspect of what it encompasses; that is such as in E8 as being your example. This would have the platonic realm, not needing perfect forms, yet only what one might consider as a single perfect form.

    However it’s true all of it having a common quality known as good; although I would agree with Persig this should rather be expressed as “the good” of something being revealed through its “quality” as demonstrated by its utility. So while I would agree mathematics to have shown to be good, the quality is demonstrated through it reasonableness; although in itself being incomplete. In short I think it unable to encompass all of reality, as although it certainly having utility, it still lacking the utility in having the ability of being the total embodiment of reason.

    ”Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.”

    -Bertrand Russell



  97. Phil:In short I think it unable to encompass all of reality, as although it certainly having utility, it still lacking the utility in having the ability of being the total embodiment of reason.

    We have spoken of what is "self evident," this interaction of deductive/inductive as to defining by recognizing the applicability of the limitations one forces "on themself" by their logic of perception.

    Have I spoken further on what is realized by you?:)Does that not imply their is something greater then what anyone assumes by those acceptances as to the limitations not understood?

    For as complex E8.... it can come as an image?:)


  98. Phil: I've freed your comment from the spam list.

  99. Hi Bee,

    Thanks and delightedly so as you could have just as easily kept it from becoming a reality ;-)



  100. Hi Plato,

    “We have spoken of what is "self evident," this interaction of deductive/inductive as to defining by recognizing the applicability of the limitations one forces "on themself" by their logic of perception.”

    I would ask you to define what being a “logic of perception”, as for me perception not being logic, only at best something it can make use of (tool), in relation to its application. Similarly you might find logic, whether it be inference, deduction or some other manifestation, as to encompass what I mean to represent all of reason and yet you should know that not being the case; that’s as mathematics itself able to combine the two, yet still coming up short in such regard.

    "The law of gravity and gravity itself did not exist before Isaac Newton." ....and what that means is that that law of gravity exists nowhere except in people's heads! It 's a ghost!"
    Mind has no matter or energy but they can’t escape its predominance over everything they do. Logic exists in the mind. numbers exist only in the mind. I don’t get upset when scientists say that ghosts exist in the mind. it’s that only that gets me. science is only in your mind too, it s just that that doesn’t make it bad. or ghosts either."
    Laws of nature are human inventions, like ghosts. Law of logic, of mathematics are also human inventions, like ghosts."
    ...we see what we see because these ghosts show it to us, ghosts of Moses and Christ and the Buddha, and Plato, and Descartes, and Rousseau and Jefferson and Lincoln, on and on and on. Issac Newton is a very good ghost. One of the best. Your common sense is nothing more than the voices of thousands and thousands of these ghosts from the past."

    — Robert M. Pirsig "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"



  101. Phil:I would ask you to define what being a “logic of perception"?

    Yes fair enough. Actually to perceive is to accept what "is" self evident. With all the available data to you, you made a decision(perception).

    Our attempt to justify our beliefs logically by giving reasons results in the "regress of reasons." Since any reason can be further challenged, the regress of reasons threatens to be an infinite regress. However, since this is impossible, there must be reasons for which there do not need to be further reasons: reasons which do not need to be proven. By definition, these are "first principles." The "Problem of First Principles" arises when we ask Why such reasons would not need to be proven. Aristotle's answer was that first principles do not need to be proven because they are self-evident, i.e. they are known to be true simply by understanding them.The Arch of Aristotelian Logic

    This "arche" is your own and one in which you use to ascertain "your own reality." I mean most certainly you want to create a pathway for others who see what you are doing.


    Now I see what the ghosts are all about.:)


  102. hi i am not an expert in this, but I think there are two ways of answering questions such as why this constant and not that. one way is multiverse, another way is all possible constant values may exists in time (I.e. constants evolve in 'time', maybe even in different phases of the universe)
    btw what does it mean to say the universes exist at the same time?

  103. Hi tytung,

    I think both possibilities you mention are a version of the multiverse. That different universes exist at the same time is only meaningful if you have an universal time. Though one should probably call it a multiversal time ;-) I mean, there's a meaningful time that allows you to talk about 'the same time' in different parts of the multiverse. That certainly is not in general the case. If you think about Tegmark's MU, there isn't even anything resembling a time in most parts of it. Best,


  104. Hi Neil,

    I'm not aware of a similar word in German. My dictionary offers "Kontrastfigur" which means lit. figure of contrast. It does however not necessarily mean it makes something seem better by contrast as you write, it could also make something look worse, or neither but just, well, a contrast. You could say eg Obama is a "Kontrastfigure" to Palin and mean that in terms of IQ or in terms of build. Best,


  105. It would be nice if one could formulate "physical consistency" instead of trying to rely on mathematical consistency, which seems to encourage rampant Platonism.

  106. Phil - sure, it's not good to be overconfident about how we should interpret the experimental results, and various interpretations are open (however, the cheesiest alleged result of decoherence is indeed falsifiable, as I have argued at FQXi. Yeah, that's the "hobby horse" I like to ride!) However, most physicists think that the locality/realism issues are genuine and that BM just doesn't cut it. Yes they could be wrong (if indeed there's a way to define "wrong" here) but I shouldn't be the one on the defensive if I'm on the side of the majority (in that particular, relevant sense.)

    Second, I strongly disagree about law of gravity not existing before Newton. In some indulgent post-modernist sense, maybe so. But the phenomena were expressing those regularities all that time. If the law didn't exist before Newton in the sense that mattered, he wouldn't have been able to find it.

    Here is the IMHO (I need to keep using that expression to fight your itch to see excess self-assurance everywhere) proper insight about the unreality of "laws": there are a description of whatever does happen, not separate "things" which make otherwise inert entities behave as they do. The behavior is in effect a feature, like shape etc. So you can't explain things by saying "becasue of the law of ..." since the law is just how we describe whatever it does. We can be thankful to X that the constituents of our world are rather orderly.

    RLO - you go right ahead and try to put forth an idiosyncratic personal theory. I wish you the best but like I said to Phil, I'm not who should be on the defensive - you're the one with an exotic new idea that needs burden of case and proof.

  107. Bee: thanks for suggestions about German use. Cheers to you folks and your multibabies.

    Joel: There is actually a universal or "cosmic time" in a universe like ours. It is the proper-time duration readings at each location since time of the big bang. We can presume some features, such as that observers will note the same effective isotropically red-shifted CMB temperature at the same (roughly, can't be precise) cosmic time. That also gives a way to show that an errant observer is "really moving": finds asymmetric CMB, and presumably if e.g. that showed as if moving 0.6c relative to isotropic CMB, that observer presumably shows CT (cumulative proper time) reading of only 0.8 relative to the cohort she moves beside. (Of course, each relatively perceives the other to have 0.8 immediate time rate, but that's a local SRT symmetry that doesn't apply to cumulative time. Compare to the cumulative PT reading on a rotating disk.)

    Also, it has been argued (e.g. AJP) that in a hypersphere we could fit more rulers all around it if they were "really rotating." That sort of "real motion" is then seen as a limiting great-circle extrapolation (to r = 1/4 circumference) of smaller radii of rotation, see above. Compare also to the example, a box with adjacent test particles "really moves" lateral to them, on a hypersphere. The TPs move back and forth as they follow their own individual great circle routes, along with the box. Since I can imagine this on a featureless idealized sphere, it raises (IMHO insufficiently appreciated) questions about relative motion in the abstract.

    Physical intuition: indeed. One example is looking for overarching principles the universe seems geared to, like conservation laws, principle of least action, simplicity (to a point), symmetries, etc. But it has to be a bit mathematically imperfect or else we couldn't have matter instead of antimatter, right?

  108. Multibabies. Is that anything like Leelu's Multipass in "The Fifth Element"? Sorry, bad joke.

    I'm surprised no one has brought up Leonard Susskind or Joe Polchinski regarding the Multiverse.

    Briefly, this is Susskind's "Big" contribution, after his initial notable achievement being one of the Big 3 of Supersymmetry as it relates to String Theory.

    Polchinski introduced p-branes, or d-branes or something, in SST, Polchinski was dead set against Multiverses in the beginning, and is now one of its greatest proponents.

    David Gross, Nobel laureate in Physics and rightly so for the 2004 Nobel Prize based on discovering the equations that rule Asymptotic Freedom (along with Wilczek and Politizer), that is to the say the relationship between gluons and quarks. That was important, and as far as I'm concerned was the last truly GREAT accomplishment in Theoretical Physics, and in 1973 at that.

    My point is that Gross, in a seminar with Alan Guth, gave a big "Oy VEY!" to Guth's description of the Multiverse. That is to say, when it comes to Strings, I'll listen to the more down-to-earth Gross.

    Mathematics. It can describe anything, but is that what it describes ... REAL?

    And real is important, because that's the job of Physicists, to describe the real.

    So yes Bee, given your background, we would like to see you read it and report. Is it more important than finding a collaborator for you next paper? No. But multibabies = multitasking, and we know you're up to the task, should you choose.

    In any event, it's a subject not going away anytime soon. And Greene's a fine writer, so I bet it won't be much of a chore. :-) Best of luck, and be sure to check the couch if you should ever misplace a baby. Sorry, mybad.

  109. Hi Steven, I've recently changed my assessment of Leonard Susskind. But not on the things you've mentioned about the multiverse and string theory. I've been following several courses he has recorded for that are on YouTube. I have to tell you that he is one great teacher. Wow, what a great thing the Internet is.

    The other thing that is so great about these recorded lectures, besides the very high quality of his teaching, is that they are recorded. When I used to sit in the classroom back in the day, i would always find myself mulling over in my head some new mathematical concept while the teachers lecture was moving on in real time. Once I refocused on what the teacher was saying I had missed some very important piece of information and I'd be lost.
    With a recording I just pause the lecture or rewind and I'm able to have my cake (reflection) and eat it too. I haven't checked out his classes on string theory and probably won't but his lectures on more fundamental physics are excellent.

    So it seems everyone can contribute something of importance. Sometimes people just get credit for the wrong things.

  110. Hi Eric,

    I completely share your views about Susskind as a teacher. And as a man! He may well be THE funniest man in all of Science. Those lectures you mention are fantastic.

    But you see, they are about that which is KNOWN. Lubos is also good as long as we restrict ourselves to the "known," to the experimentally proven. And Feynman was the best.

    On the funny side, I offer:

    When Lenny told his father, a South Bronx plumber, he was going to be a Physicist, his Dad responded; "A Pharmacist?! Is THAT what you want to do with your life, make pills for people?!" Lenny responded, "NO Dad, I said PHYSicist, not Pharmacist." To which Dad said "Oh, like Einstein, huh? Well, good for you!" :-)


    "When I got my rejection letter from Physical Letters re SuperSymmetry, I got so drunk that day another Physicist had to put me to bed!"

    .... Leonard Susskind, PhD.


  111. Yeah, he is funny. At one point he notes that the formal term for the derivative of acceleration is the jerk. However he does not know the name for the derivative of the jerk is but It might be the putz.

  112. Speaking of "supersymmetry" there was yet another NO-SHOW for "supersymmetry" posted to today.

    The CMS Collaboration at the LHC reports a no-show for the predictions of the "minimal supersymmetric extension of the standard model" regarding imaginary "Higgs doublets".

    Nature: "Nope, nope, nope, ... why don't you try a new paradigm? Are you complete dun...?"

    RLO: We are rational beings. We are just a bit SLOW.


  113. Hi Rob,

    Yes, we're all aware of super-symmetry's failure so far to show itself, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be studied, if at the very least to prove it wrong. It will be on the table all our lives, like it or ... not. Even if the VLHC is ever built, and fails to find it as well.

    Hi Eric,

    The derivative of the fourth derivative, Jerk or Jolt, is Snap. The derivative of the fifth derivative is called Crackle, and the derivative of the sixth derivative, is called Pop.

    Feeling hungry yet?

    Wikipedia, in it's usual boring and incomplete way of NOT defining "terms", has the answers.

    Read, Study, and Learn, as always. That's my ride. ;-)

  114. Yes, I ♥ derivatives! Just to show off some irony: circular motion, supposedly the simplest and most basic action in the universe (according to old philosophers) actually is incredibly complex in that it contains the infinite series of derivatives w.r.t. time. So it displays position, velocity, acceleration, jerk, snap, ... ,ad infinitum. But something that looks very complicated, might just have ten levels of derivatives before going to zero. That goes to show, there is hidden complexity in simplicity which should be a "warning" to those trying to construct a simple theory of the universe

  115. Neil Bates: "That goes to show, there is hidden complexity in simplicity which should be a "warning" to those trying to construct a simple theory of the universe"

    There is "simple". There is simplistic. And there is conceptually elegant.

    General Relativity is not simple, but it is conceptually elegant.

    It pays to distinguish.


  116. GR conceptually elegant: so the urban legend has it. In essence perhaps, but there are hidden ambiguities like how to get "field energy" into gravitational waves and the localization of energy even if granted, paradoxes of transport of vectors in curved space and subsequent challenges about conservation of angular momentum, some arbitrary picks that were just assumed (e.g. there is not just a unique "what had to fall out of assuming curved space-time as basis of gravity" etc.)

  117. Hello Steve,

    I am not primarily interested in telling people what they should not be studying. I think every idea should be given the ol' college try, and then some.

    I am much more interested in telling people that they are ignoring a really elegant conceptual paradigm for unifying our understanding of nature.

    Unfortunately they reject the new paradigm purely on the basis of theoretical assumptions, saying: "This is not how we think". Well, that's the point! To think differently and see where it gets you. If they think they can unambiguously rule out the new paradigm on the basis of existing observational data, they are fooling themselves, and are mesmerized by the old paradigm.

    Scientific induction = pattern recognition (in one form or another).

    There is a radical new pattern to be considered. It sounds impossible. It sounds too simple. It sounds weird and wrong.

    Same as it ever was.


  118. While I am at it, I might offer a reason to consider this radical new paradigm that would change our understanding of particles, atoms, stars, galaxies, etc.

    No theory produced on this planet has ever had much to say about why the unbound electron has the mass that it does.

    My webmaster promises that before the end of this month he will put an already completed addition on my website that takes the first big step toward an explanation of the electron mass.

    The physics involved is only a first approximation, but it already retrodicts a mass of 0.513 MeV in a very naural way [GR+EM].

    I think the basic approach shows a high degree of promise for explaining what has heretofore been a complete enigma.

    That alone is reason enough for giving the new paradigm a fair hearing.


  119. Robert: That's enough. You know this isn't the place to promote your "new paradigm."

  120. Hi Joel,

    But what may that be except mathematical consistency + the requirement to reproduce observation? Best,


  121. Hi Neil,

    “..but I shouldn't be the one on the defensive if I'm on the side of the majority”

    Again you make sweeping statements such as the one above, claiming what the majority of opinion being. That is if the majority of theoretical physicists were questioned you’ll find most don’t have a considered opinion in respect to what we’re examining here, as thinking foundational issues simply a complete waste of time, maintaining its the applicability of QM’s formalism being all that essentially matters . On the other hand if you were to ask those that make it their primary business to study such things, you might be surprised to find that most wouldn’t hold the opinion you think they would.

    None the less, this is not the point, as those statements you made previously, which I took issue with, being not matters of opinion, yet rather ones of fact. That is you said Bohmian mechanics doesn’t explain radioactive decay in a realistic, determinist way, which it does and thus why I suggested you study it further, pointing out some of the resources you might use to discover more precisely how that is. Also you said that Einstein is now considered the loser in his challenge of QM, which I agree would again be the case for those that don’t take much heed of such matters. However for those who do, the jury is still out on this, which again being the reason I pointed you to the excellent synopsis of the matter as given by Arthur Fine in the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. One thing I can guarantee, if you bother to look into who he is, you will discover him being no light weight in such regard; which is the reason he was asked to write the entry to begin with.

    However, what I find most surprising is your method of argumentation, being on one hand attempting to find protection behind the consensus of opinion, while on the other thinking your own revelations should be taken seriously when they wouldn’t be satisfied as being so worthy using the same criteria. That is although I would agree this method you’ve incorporated qualifies by way of consensus, as often used, and yet I would deny it being a legitimately logical one.

    As for the problems you have with the quote of Pirsig’s which I offered, your reaction simply shows that here once again you are missing the point. That is the point not being whether there actually being laws of nature, yet rather what we refer as such as being. This is not to suggest we will never discover them in truth, yet only to indicate the amount of stock we should place in what we find as being the truth. This is not intended to ridicule science, yet rather have it seen for what it is, in recognizing and celebrating human potential, instead of giving false assessment respective of human accomplishment.

    “It is a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.”

    -Robert Pirsig, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”



  122. First Principles by Howard Burton?

    Imagine a goal in mind, and what it took to get there? It's just not about what is "self evident" but about the geometry as well?

    As a youth the compass was inspiring for Einstein because of a mystery about the ability of the needle?

    Einstein and Schrödinger never fully accepted the highly abstract nature of Heisenberg's quantum mechanics, says Miller. They agreed with Galileo's assertion that "the book of nature is written in mathematics", but they also realized the power of using visual imagery to represent mathematical symbols. Arthur Miller

    How does one arrive at that point?


  123. This comment has been removed by the author.

  124. Phil - it is a fact that Bohmian mechanics is a very minority view. That doesn't mean it has to be wrong, but it's proponents must accept they've got a tougher row to hoe, seemingly fair or not. Furthermore, I have my own reasons for doubting BM as I explained. I'm not just following the supposed leaders. As for my own ideas, in the case of the DI I am critiquing something that is rather controversial. Its logical inconsistencies have been decried by greats like Roger Penrose.

    Furthermore, I offered an experimental way to show that DI is wrong. By comparison, isn't it so that BM offers no (or no generally accepted as part of its formulation, since theorists always toy with such things on their own) experimental way to justify itself versus other quantum interpretations? Maybe that was the point, to explain (or just "interpret") "all the same things" while bypassing a "distasteful" metaphysical idea - but then the ironic result, is that BM can't be validated!

    If I oversimplify, then please explain what experiments might show that BM is true against other forms of QM ("such as they are") instead of just being a way to imagine all the same events, that is more palatable to certain sensibilities.

    Pirsig: OK, I can appreciate being more tentative in thinking we grasp the laws etc., but that doesn't justify bending over backward in response. Note the irony, that if we should be humble and not assume about nature etc., that undercuts the appeal of BM as a balm against the "creepy weirdness" of the wave function and its ways. For then why feel the need for such a balm?

    BTW I suppose I can justify this re the Topic, from it impinging on whether the MWI version/aspect of the multiverse idea is sound. I do give BM credit for avoiding the grotesque MWI, but think it unconvincing for other reasons.

    [PS: Lately I've been getting so much "sorry, we cannot complete your request" from Blogger.]

  125. No further self-advertisement. I mean it.

  126. Bee,
    130+ comments and counting. You must have said something. Great post. Thank you. I don't hear enough the sentiment that maybe mathematics isn't "it". I don't have much math, but I've read the words in Penrose's "Road to Reality", the recent Yau book, Susskind's black hole basics book, and (bestly) Hofstadter's GEB. All of these left me with that same question you pose: Given Godel, how could reality be described completely by math? Which begs the question, if not math, what? And that's when I find myself seated at the Mad Hatter's tea party. There is a more difficult way out there. I'm looking forward to greater minds than mine discovering this phase-change.

  127. Allow me a bit of artistically-licensed topical levity, and it's not self-promotion: I went to a poetry reading tonight at a coffee house (so hip.) They give us a "challenge" for each Month, a suggested theme. For next month the challenge is:
    "Write a poem that begins with: We were angels, magicians, and gods from another universe."
    Seriously, feed me some lines and I'll read them and give you credit. Send to me via my blog.

  128. "One cannot escape the feeling," Hertz would write of Maxwell's equations, "that these formulae have an independent existence and an intelligence of their own, that they are wiser than we are, wiser even than their discoverers, that we get more out of them than was originally put into them."

  129. I just wanted to say: very good writing. It made me laugh (where I was supposed to, I believe).


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