## Friday, May 15, 2020

### Understanding Quantum Mechanics #2: Superposition and Entanglement

If you know one thing about quantum mechanics, it’s that Schrödinger’s cat is both dead and alive. This is what physicists call a “superposition”. But what does this really mean? And what does it have to do with entanglement? This is what we will talk about today.

The key to understanding superpositions is to have a look at how quantum mechanics works. In quantum mechanics, there are no particles and no waves and no cats either. Everything is described by a wave-function, usually denoted with the Greek letter Ψ (Psi). Ψ is a complex valued function and from its absolute square you calculate the probability of a measurement outcome, for example, whether the cat is dead or whether the particle went into the left detector, and so on.

But how do you know what the wave-function does? We have an equation for this, which is the so-called Schrödinger equation. Exactly how this equation looks like is not so important. The important thing is that the solutions to this equation are the possible things that the system can do. And the Schrödinger equation has a very important property. If you have two solutions to the equation, then any sum of those two solutions with arbitrary pre-factors is also a solution.

And that’s what is called a “superposition”. It’s a sum with arbitrary pre-factors. It really sounds more mysterious than it is.

It is relevant because this means if you have two solutions of the Schrödinger equation that reasonably correspond to realistic situations, then any superposition of them also reasonably corresponds to a realistic situation. This is where the idea comes from that if the cat can be dead and the cat can be alive, then the cat can also be in a superposition of dead and alive. Which some people interpret to means, it’s neither dead nor alive but somehow, both, until you measure it. Personally, I am an instrumentalist and I don’t assign any particular meaning to such a superposition. It’s merely a mathematical tool to make a prediction for a measurement outcome.

Having said that, talking about superpositions is not particularly useful, because “superposition” is not an absolute term. It only makes sense to talk about superpositions of something. A wave-function can be a superposition of, say, two different locations. But it makes no sense to say it is a superposition, period.

To see why, let us stick with the simple example of just two solutions, Ψ1 and Ψ2. Now let us create two superpositions, that are a sum and a difference of the two original solutions, Ψ1 and Ψ2. Then you have two new solutions, let us call them Ψ3 and Ψ4. But now you can write the original Ψ1 and Ψ2 as a superposition of Ψ3 and Ψ4. So which one is a superposition? Well, there is no answer to this. Superposition is just not an absolute term. It depends on your choice of a specific set of solutions. You could say, for example, that Schrodinger’s cat is not in a superposition of dead and alive, but that it is instead in the not-superposed state dead-and-alive. And that’s mathematically just as good.

So, superpositions are sums with prefactors, and it only makes sense to speak about superpositions of something. In some sense, I have to say, superpositions are really not terribly interesting.

Much more interesting is entanglement, which is where the quantum-ness of quantum mechanics really shines. To understand entanglement, let us look at a simple example. Suppose you have a particle that decays but that has some conserved quantity. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but let’s say it’s the spin. The particle has spin zero, and the spin is conserved. This particle decays into two other particles, one flies to the left and one to the right. But now let us assume that each of the new particles can have only spin plus or minus 1. This means that either the particle going left had spin plus 1 and the particle going left had spin minus 1. Or it’s the other way round, the particle going left had spin minus 1, and the particle going right had spin plus 1.

In this case, quantum mechanics tells you that the state is in a superposition of the two possible outcomes of the decay. But, and here is the relevant point, now the solutions that you take a superposition of each contain two particles. Mathematically this means you have a sum of products of wave-functions. And in such a case we say that the two particles are “entangled”. If you measure the spin of the one particle, this tells you something about the spin of the other particle. The two are correlated.

This looks like it’s not quite local, but we will talk about just how quantum mechanics is local or not some other time. For today, the relevant point is that entanglement does not depend on the way that you select solutions to the Schrödinger equation. A state is either entangled or it is not. And while entanglement is a type of superposition, not every superposition is also entangled.

A curious property of quantum mechanics is that superpositions of macroscopic non-quantum states, like the dead and alive cat, quickly become entangled with their environment, which makes the quantum properties disappear in a process called “decoherence”. We will talk about this some other time, so stay tuned.

Thanks for watching, see you next week. Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe.

1. Hi Sabine,

you have a typo with &Psi just after the movie. Then you have a superposition of typos in "But now you can write the original psi1 and psi2 as a superposition of psi3 and psi3" where the last one should be psi4; and I guess you mean \&Psi again..

Well, it looks like this at least when I read it :)

Best,
J.

1. Hi akidbelle,

Thanks for pointing out; I had forgotten to fix the formatting. I hope it displays correctly now!

2. Last, I think you also have a typo with the first particle decay (plus one and plus one).

1. Right... I have fixed this. Luckily I said it correctly. Thanks again for your attentive reading!

3. Minor typo?

You say "But now you can write the original psi1 and psi2 as a superposition of psi3 and psi3" but I think the last psi3 should be psi4.

1. Yes, sorry, I have fixed this. Luckily it's correct in the video!

4. Isn't entanglement just a fancy name for correlation? One might think that these unexpected ("weird") correlations require a special name. Alternatively, we could learn to adjust our intuition (expectations). Our intuition is misled by wrong classical pictures that dominate our thinking.

Wave functions (superpositions) are a way to express correlations. For example, the polarization state of a photon characterizes how the x- and y-components of the electric field are correlated. But it is a mistake to think of the wave function as representing an "individual" quantum system. Schrödinger's cat should have demonstrated that long ago, but apparently the message has not really sunk in. The wave function is but a single piece in a bigger statistical machinery, of which the Born rule is another important component.

1. If I tear a movie ticket into two and throw them in opposite directions, then yes, if the left half went in one direction, the right half went in the other.

But in Bee's example, the spin 1 particles that went in the two directions need not be in definite states of spin that you choose to measure.

2. Werner wrote:
>Wave functions (superpositions) are a way to express correlations.

No. Bell's theorem.

If you assume the values exist before they are measured and just happen to be correlated with each other (and, of course, no super-luminal interactions) then the Bell inequality has to be obeyed.

Experimentally, it is violated. No, the wavefunction does not just describe the fact that we are ignorant of the true values until we measure them.

3. Arun wrote: "the spin 1 particles [...] need not be in a definite state of spin"

Exactly. The results of the measurements depend on the detectors as much as on the properties (?) of the particles. Naively, we take spin to be a property of particles. This helps to explain that the measurements are (anti-)correlated. But if we think of properties of particles, Bell's inequality seems to imply superluminal communication between them when they meet the detectors. Yes, that's weird, entangled. Better not think of particles, but just describe the correlations.

4. PhysicistDave wrote: "If you assume the values exist before they are measured ..."

That's precisely what I don't assume. And I don't think a "measurement" by some human is required, but just an interaction with a detector. The values come into existence at the detection event.

5. Werner wrote to me:
>That's precisely what I don't assume. And I don't think a "measurement" by some human is required, but just an interaction with a detector. The values come into existence at the detection event.

Well, unfortunately that does not work.

The way the math works, a “detection event” just entangles the different possible states of the detector with the different possible states of the system. You need another “detection event” to make the values of the first detection event real. And so on and so on.

An infinite regress.

Also, no on has ever managed to figure out what counts as a “detection event.” If every interaction is a “detection event,” you will wreck superposition when you most assuredly need it! And, if not, then which interactions are true “detection events” and which are not?

This stuff has been chewed over now for almost a century, and no one has managed to resolve such issues.

You seem to think you have.

I would suggest that you need to learn more about the failed attempts of the past, and then you will be less sure that your own attempts are not also failing.

They are: you just know too little to see it.

6. PhysicistDave wrote: "unfortunately that does not work"
"you know just too little to see it"

Thank you for your rash assessment, Mr. Know-it-all. You haven't looked at the Schwinger/Keldysh formalism in the meantime, have you?

You mean one should study all attempted answers before considering the possibility that one might be asking the wrong questions?

"a 'detection event' just entangles the different possible states ..."
"no on[e] has ever managed to work out what counts as a 'detection event'"

I thought that physicists could agree on that a detection event is something physical that happens, for example, in a photomultiplier. You mean we don't have a theory how photomultpliers work? Of course, the terms "detector" and "system" carry connotations. Do you think the theory should reflect them? John Bell has warned against their use ("Against Measurement").

Schwinger's paper is more than half a century old, and it did not specifically address the "measurement problem". But a formalism that combines unitary evolution and the Born rule without introducing the ad hoc term "measurement" should be of interest to everybody thinking that wave function collapse is necessary.

"you just know too little to see it"

Is it the wave function collapse that you want to see derived? Is that what makes you dismiss the closed-time-path formalism as one of those failed attempts? I certainly know too little about how you expect the "measurement problem" to be solved.

5. One thing worth mentioning is that quantum superpositions are real states, and not merely a reflection of our ignorance (they are pure, not mixtures). Going in the NW direction means you are going in a linear superposition of both N and W, but that's a real direction. Another interesting thing is that a maximally entangled pair of particles is just a single quantum state. As Susskind nicely put it, one can know everything about a system but nothing about its constituents.

1. No, a superposition of an N and W measurement is not an NW measurement. The one is a superposition of wave-functions which are vectors in Hilbert-space, the other is a sum of vectors that describe directions in space. These are two different things.

2. Sure, normal space is not Hilbert space, I was using a simple analogy. My point was you can create new vectors as linear combinations of basis vectors, in that case N and W (only with Hilbert spaces, the coefficients are complex) and that these states are actual real states, not proper mixtures.

I meant quantum state before collapse. Measurement is a whole different discussion.

6. Entanglement for 2 identical "particles" is about experiments that yield two points in R^3; so, the correct configuration space is R^6/~, where ~ is equivalence under flip.

7. So, entanglement implies that conserved quantities are not conserved until someone makes a measurement.

1. Quantities aren't defined until someone makes a measurement.

2. You probably mean determined rathe
than defined.

3. The language "aren't defined until someone makes a measurement" has always seemed funny to me, since to me "someone" refers to a human (not a a cat, or a rock, or whatever). So if there were no humans ever in the universe, that which "aren't defined until someone makes a measurement" are never defined, because are are no someones. The only way out is to assume that humans appearing in the universe to make measurements is a given.

4. Philip Thrift ,until there were researchers in quantum physics, before that there were billions of humans who could not define it, hahaha; Greetings

8. Somewhere I ran across an argument that there is really nothing objectively "real" about the wave function. It was interpreted as a way to characterize and quantify an observer's state of knowledge, or lack of it, regarding some system prior to measurement. Call that the observer's "epistemic state". This was supposed to trivialize the wave function collapse/measurement problem: what's problematic about, for instance, drawing a black marble out of a bag of multi-colored marbles? Before you draw, or make a measurement you have a known probability of an outcome. You pull a marble out of the bag and now you've got something with a definite color. What's the big deal? But it seems to me that entanglement shoots such ideas down and implies that there is something objectively real about the wave function-- it isn't just a way to characterize an observer's "epistemic state". On the other hand, wouldn't an epistemic state be objectively real?

1. You can view it as determining an objective probabilistic disposition.

2. Rick Lubbock wrote: "there is something objectively real about the wave function"

Yes and no. What is real are physical correlations. But there is no one-to-one correspondence between an individual system and a wave function; the wave function always describes only a class (ensemble) of identically prepared systems. Conversely, an individual system must in general be described by a set of wave functions (a density matrix), and a trace (a sum over all possible states) needs to be taken before the formalism yields results that can be compared with experiment. A wave function by itself is meaningless.

The wave function is a pedagogical device, a quasi-classical surrogate intended to help students absorb quantum theory. It is only half the story. Continuous and deterministic evolution according to Schrödinger's equation doesn't square with the discontinuity and randomness of real physical processes.

3. The Bohr interpretation of QM is ψ-epistemic that says the wave function is non-existent and is only a gadget, largely mathematical, that is used to compute things found in measurements. Sabine's statement about instrumentalism is in line with this. The many worlds interpretation is ψ-ontological that says there is something physically real about the wave or wave function.

I think it is not possible to say which is true. Which ever is the case is a choice made by the analyst or experimenter.

4. I think it is not possible to say which is true. Which ever is the case is a choice made by the analyst or experimenter. (Lawrence Crowell)
Exactly. One can always argue that QM is a belief system. If so, it is an extremely successfull belief system. A beautiful one too, depending on the eye of the beholder.

QM promises action-at-a-distance. A wave function, scattered over space and time, in line with (almost) pointwise action. Einstein was a bit late with his EPR-argument. He had to come up with his objections way sooner.

5. Werner wrote:
>The wave function is a pedagogical device, a quasi-classical surrogate intended to help students absorb quantum theory. It is only half the story.

I have never heard any physicist express that perspective!

In real physics research, yesh, sometimes the density matrix is used, though, frankly, it is very rare in the areas I am interested in.

But the wavefunction is not just pedagogical: it is and long has been used in real research.

6. Lawrence Crowell wrote: "there is something physically real about the [...] wave function" and "it is not possible to say which is true"

That's giving up way too quickly! You seem to be an adherent of Bohr's transcendentalism. :-)
To me, the distinction between epistemic and ontological Psi seems misguided, because the wave function is not the whole story. It is a mere fragment of the theory. MWI says nothing else is required, whereas Copenhagen acknowledges that continuous and deterministic evolution according to Schrödinger's equation isn't everything, although "measurement" remains an undefined (primitive) concept.

Epistemic/ontological is a false dichotomy. A statistical viewpoint may be seen to put me on the "epistemic" side, but I would also say that "there is something physically real about the wave function". Physically real in the same sense that a Maxwellian velocity distribution expresses something physical about the molecules in a gas. What it says about an individual molecule is limited, but it is physical information all the same. What is problematic in quantum theory is that many people are cavalier about the distinction between an ensemble and its members.

7. PhysicistDave wrote: "But the wavefunction is not just pedagogical."

Sure. The wording was perhaps a bit too provocative. (I'm glad you took the bait!)

It is a psychological fact that many physicists think of the wave function as the essence of quantum theory. Schrödinger's equation predicts the continuous and deterministic evolution of "something", whereas discontinuity and randomness are the hallmarks of quantum physics. How does that fit together? Moreover, Schrödinger's equation is a classical equation. If the wave function is the essence of quantum theory, why should second quantization be necessary?

Some people think that quantum theory is beyond human understanding, and quantum field theory even more so. But the fundamental issues emerge more clearly if you turn to QFT.

8. The density matrix is not used a lot in QFT. In fact, in QFT quantum states are not so often used as are the field operators that act on a Fock basis to give states. The density matrix though is heavily used in a range of areas of physics. The density matrix ρ = |ψ⟩⟨ψ| is seen trivially to be a Hermitian operator, which gives real eigenvalues for the measure of observables pertaining a system. In this case the eigenvalues are probabilities. These also correspond on a 1 to 1 manner with other observables in the Born rule. However, that connection is not solidly understood. In a subtle way we can ask what is meant by a probability as an observable. Probabilities often make sense within some ensemble of outcomes. We can take a frequentist perspective on this, or with a succession of measurements a more Bayesian look. In this setting we might be at least somewhat tempted to say that if the density matrix corresponds to observables that this means quantum states have some ontology.

Does the density matrix mean the proper interpretation of QM is ψ-ontic? I would be hasty to conclude such. QM is a theory of the dynamics of wave amplitudes, or a matrix of then in an exterior product we call the density matrix. These obey completely deterministic dynamics, given by the Schrödinger equation. This is not a stochastic theory at all. Things only appear stochastic when a measurement occurs, or in general there is some spontaneous loss of quantum phase into entanglement with a reservoir of states, The probabilities give a distribution of possible outcomes, and those probabilities only make sense in some ensemble or Bayesian updates. This is something outside of the wave dynamics of QM. When a measurement of an observable occurs, there is something outside of what we think of as QM. We have a classical-like process, say a nonlinearity of the quantum system that reduces the quantum state to some stable, or transiently stable, classical outcome. By transiently stable it means a quantum state reduction is rapidly decohered to the same eigenstate in a Zeno machine fashion, so on a large time scale there is some apparently stable classical (like) structure.

The density matrix carries a lot of the geometry of QM and entanglement. The density matrix is a type of projector and this connects the quantum mechanics to a geometry of states with projective spaces and flag manifolds. It is worth noting that Penrose worked a variant of this called twistor theory, which is an aspect of quantum gravitation and will be once some complete theory of that is found.

To say the wave function is real or that it is not requires some sort of strong result. As I see it none exists. We have competing interpretations of QM, or QM measurement, that people gravitate into. The four main camps now are the Bohr CI, QuBism, MWI, and GRW collapse interpretations. The first two of these are ψ-episatemic and the last two are ψ-ontic. There are five if one includes the deBroglie-Bohm theory, but that is a minority perspective. In none of these is there any proof or evidence

9. Werner wrote to me:
>It is a psychological fact that many physicists think of the wave function as the essence of quantum theory. Schrödinger's equation predicts the continuous and deterministic evolution of "something", whereas discontinuity and randomness are the hallmarks of quantum physics. How does that fit together?

Y'know, pretty much all physicists have been aware of that since 1926. Yes, how indeed does it all fit together? An awful lot of us, from de Broglie, Schrödinger, and Einstein, down to Sabine and, indeed, me have been mulling this over for a very, very long time. I myself have been doing so for fifty years -- more than half the time since 1926!

Yes, we know he problem: no one has come up with a solution that satisfies most physicists.

Werner also wrote:
> Moreover, Schrödinger's equation is a classical equation. If the wave function is the essence of quantum theory, why should second quantization be necessary?

Where, oh where, is the "classical" (non-quantum) system satisfying the Schrödinger equation?

And, "second quantization" is not necessary. "Second quantization" is just (first) quantization of Maxwell's equations or other non-quantized field equations. The term is archaic and misleading.

And, yeah, yeah, I know about "second-quantizing" Schrödinger's equation. It's a kludge. You should either deal with the non-relativistic Schrödinger's equation in 3N variables, or, better still, do the moral thing and go to QFT.

What on earth are you reading that still talks about "second quantization"???

10. Lawrence Crowell wrote: "We have competing interpretations of QM"

Actually we don't. We would like to understand QM, but none of the "interpretations" deserve the name, as is evident from the heat of the discussions about them.

"These obey completely deterministic dynamics"
"This is not a stochastic theory at all"

Wouldn't a stochastic theory provide a better fit to reality? We seem to have fundamentally different views on physical theories: should they describe reality, or appeal to theoretical preconceptions? QM is a hugely successful theory, and I've never had any doubt that it is here to stay. But at bottom it's a statistical theory. Only the lopsided view on the "wave function" has led even educated people to think of it as deterministic.

11. PhysicistDave wrote: "Yes, we know [t]he problem"

Yeah, just shrug it off. Couldn't it have some bearing on the question whether the wave function is physically real?
Or has "physical reality" become meaningless, or a taboo-word for you too?

"where is the classical (non-quantum) system satisfying the Schrödinger equation?"

Of course there is no official definition what counts as a classical equation. You can insist that it is classical only if there's no h-bar in it. What I meant was that the equation for the H-atom was of the same kind as the familiar classical equations for drums or organ pipes. That's why wave mechanics immediately became popular.

Mathematically, also the time-dependent Schrödinger equation is not really different from a heat or diffusion equation. If you think that the imaginary "i" makes a fundamental difference, consider the design of AC-circuits. Electrical engineers use the same "i" (or "j"), and for the same reason. Their "quanta" are just so tiny and numerous that it is pointless to count them! Or would you suggest that electrical engineers use quantum physics even at 60 Hz?

"What on earth are you reading that still talks about 'second quantization'?"

I confess that my first encounter with quantum theory was in the year 1972/73. But this shouldn't be held against me. :-) I agree that the term is archaic, but the mathematics is that of QFT. If it's "the moral thing" to go to QFT, don't you agree that it is only for didactic reasons that Psi is introduced as a classical field first?

12. " Schrödinger's equation predicts the continuous and deterministic evolution of "something" "

The Something is Energy and Momentum.

13. No, it is not. How about you stop making ill-informed comments for some while. A long while, preferably.

14. Physicist Dave asks: "What on earth are you reading that still talks about 'second quantization' ???" Allow me to point out that two (very good) pedagogical textbooks refer to "second quantization." First, a 2013 textbook by Stefanucci and Leeuwen entitled Nonequilibrium Many-Body Theory of Quantum Systems (chapter one entitled Second Quantization).
A second example is the 2014 text by Lancaster and Blundell, Quantum Field Theory For The Gifted Amateur (page 19, read: "second quantization, waves behave like particles.").
I prefer Peskin and Schroeder: "This procedure is sometimes called second quantization, to distinguish the resulting Klein-Gordon equation (operators) from the old one-particle Klein-Gordon equation (wavefunctions). In this book we never adopt the later point of view, we start with a classical equation and quantize it exactly once." (1995, footnote, page 19).

9. Typo: "This means that either the particle going left had spin plus 1 and the particle going left had spin minus 1". I think the second "left" should be "right".

10. So, Hamlet is wrong after all...
Many thanks, I love it!
J.

11. Who can show that entanglement cannot be a interaction rhythm of space-time that conserves antipodal states?

Once you measure a state observable you are part of that antipodal rhythm...

12. How should Psi be pronounced? Is it P-Si, Si, or a superposition of the two? Or is the word not pronounceable until it is spoken, like when Prince changed his name.

1. James,

Well, I pronounce it the way that I have heard it most often which in English is "ps-ai" (in German it would be "ps-ee". The easiest way to find out I guess is to listen to the video? I have no idea which one is the "correct" pronunciation, given that it's Greek and I don't speak Greek, but I can tell you that if you pronounce it this way physicists will know what you are talking about.

2. The Greek is ps-ee. I leaned Greek after I learned basic math but before I learned quantum mechanics, so I will pronounce things incosnsistently: pi 'p-ai' but psi 'p-ee'. C'est la vie.

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1. I would appreciate if you would read the book before guessing that the title and subtitle refer to. You got it badly wrong. You, as almost all hobby physicists, most of whom are bad at math, are hoping that I am criticizing the use of mathematics in physics, when in fact I am criticizing that physicists do not take math seriously enough.

And needless to say, the 3rd law of motion is not the same as entanglement.

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3. John,

Let me see, you didn't read my book, but have opinions about it anyway. You didn't bother to actually learn the mathematics of quantum mechanics (that's pretty obvious) but have opinions about it anyway. Then you come here and expect that I answer your questions. Why the heck would I want to do that?

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5. John wrote:
>Superposition of something (Amplitude Modulation)
-> The amplitude of a High Frequency signal varies in proportion to the transmitted message (Low Frequency)
-> Here we have a superposition of a High (Carrier) with a Low Frequency (something) signal.

Which proves that you know as little about the operation of AM radios as you do about physics.

No: AM modulation consists of taking the baseband signal (plus a constant offset normally) and using that to multiply the carrier signal.

Now, you can Fourier analyze, and then you will have "sidebands" at the frequencies fc-fb and fc+fb, where fc is the carrier frequency and fb the modulating frequency.

But, trust me, that is way beyond you.

John also wrote:
>Entanglement of two superpositions of something
-> The first superposition corresponds to one particle (actually particle and something else)
-> The second one to the other particle (actually particle and something else)
-> What does entanglement practically means? It means to find a mechanism to couple those two superpositions with each other
..etc.

All just utter nonsense, John. Most of what you wrote is "not even wrong." It's Jabberwocky.

John also wrote:
>As you may understand, I like to put people to think on their feet (all other arguments are pure preheated food -> see established science) therefore according to my view, the today's description of both phenomena refer to the effect (there is nothing inside those expressions that refer to the cause).

Also meaningless gobbledegook.

John, I do have a question for you: is there any conceivable way to get you to understand that you have no idea what you are talking about at all and that even your questions are quite meaningless?

No, I did not think so. Are you aware of the theological concept of "invincible ignorance"?

6. There is much to pick at in John's writing but I think to cut to the quick, his observation is correct and he just needs to accept it into his heart: Cause and Effect is a feature of story-telling and not of physics. Physics will say, F=ma, and someone will tell a story, a force causes an acceleration. It does not. Aristotle will encourage you to think of one of these as the 'logical prior,' but to heck with Aristotle, what did he know.

There is a sense where beta decay, as a very simple and direct example of an uncased effect, is far more worldview shattering than some of the fancier results.

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8. John wrote to me:
>Thanks for your feedback (a little bit hard, actually) PhysicistDave!

Tough love, John, tough love!

Your latest post does sound as if you, uh, got more sleep than your first post.

John wrote:
>What I tried to share above (maybe in a not clear way) is we have two phenomena where the outcome (namely the effect) is probabilistic.

Yes: the Schrödinger equation is deterministic, but quantum mechanics (and experiment) are probabilistic.

That is one way of stating what the measurement problem is. Almost all physicists agree that somehow this has to be addressed, but they differ as to how to address it.

A number of us physicists today -- including, it seems, Steve Weinberg, Sabine, and me -- feel that none of the widespread approaches for dealing with this really works.

John also wrote:
>The question is very simple and clear: Is the cause of a probabilistic effect also probabilistic? Of course not.

I'm not sure I agree: the result of a roll of the dice is probabilistic; it has a probabilistic effect on whether I win or lose money.

Why can't probabilistic effects have probabilistic causes?

It sounds to me as if you are appealing to something like Einstein's "God does not play dice with the universe." It does seem to me that Bohr's reply is apt: who are you to tell God what he can do?

John also wrote:
>Actually, we could say the cause and the effect are fundamentally entangled with each other that means there is always a mechanism (which is intrinsic to the cause-effect). There is no cause without mechanism that implies no effect, and vice versa.

I do not see why that has to be true either: why can't the laws of physics just be mathematical relationships without anything that strikes humans as a mechanism?

Look: I suspect most physicists get into physics because, when they are young, they learn that some physical phenomena can be explained mechanistically and deterministically, and they have personalities that find this appealing (the word is "Aspergy," I think).

So, yeah, most physicists would probably prefer that the world be as you suggest.

But I do not see how we can insist on it: Nature does as she will, not as we wish.

And thanks for writing more clearly!

Dave

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10. "Look: I suspect most physicists get into physics because, when they are young, they learn that some physical phenomena can be explained mechanistically and deterministically, and they have personalities that find this appealing."

I've definitely met folks like that! I started my journey learning about EPR and inherent randomness in middle school, so this has always been an appeal. The desire to return to a more classical mechanistic view has always seemed weirdly retrograde to me.

11. John wrote to me:
>Quantum Tunneling could be justified (without a Wave function) as a natural effect if and only if, there was an expression that would engage a reduction of the effective inertia (or the total energy of the particle) with barrier's height and width (this is what I call cause/mechanism).

John, part of the problem that physicists, and scientists in general, have communicating with non-scientists is that the non-scientists do not have a broad overview of science nor do they understand the purpose of science.

Our goal as physicists is not to explain one isolated phenomenon with some ad hoc mechanism.

In the case of quantum mechanics, we have one single well-defined theory that does a good job of explaining hundreds (thousands?) of different phenomena. One of those happens to be quantum tunneling.

Quantum theory was not designed to explain quantum tunneling.

It just fell out of the theory after the theooy was created to solve other problems.

That is the key point.

There have been numerous debates among philosophers as to whether science is about prediction or explanation or better parametrizing data or whatever.

And all those discussions miss the point.

A good scientific theory ties together an overwhelming amount of data, phenomena, etc. to such a degree that it becomes silly to think that the theory is not telling us something about reality.

Quantum mechanics does that: the explanation of tunneling is just one of many by-products of the theory.

The same is true of the atomic theory, special relativity, evolution, the heliocentric theory, etc.

The same is most certainly not true of your suggested idea to explain tunneling. We do not need your idea because we already have a perfectly good explanation. But more than that, your theory is just a "one-off": your theory does not also give a quantitative explanation of lasers, molecular bonding, high-energy particle physics, electron energy bands in semiconductors, etc. But quantum mechanics does all of that and more.

John also wrote:
>Mathematical relationships without cause/mechanism that describe natural effects lead to absurd. Natural effects presuppose causes/mechanisms.

Why? How do you know?

Look: when we talk about "mechanisms" we usually mean something somehow similar to the simple machines we know about in real life -- a can opener, say. Solid parts that push or pull on each other through direct contact, etc.

But we know that the subatomic world is not like that. Why should it be? The properties of macroscopic solid objects are weakly emergent from the subatomic world. The parts govern the whole, not the other way around.

And we now understand in substantial detail how that works.

At some level, physics has to reduce to simple brute facts about how the smallest known constituents of matter behave. And those brute facts may indicate that those smallest constituents do not behave much like the parts of a can opener: i.e., they do not meet your criteria for being a "mechanism."

That seems to be what the world is really like.

Now, there is indeed a problem with quantum mechanics, as Sabine and I and many other physicists have pointed out: the measurement problem. But the problem there is not the lack of “mechanism.” The problem is that if you take the theory that works so well for subatomic phenomena and try to explain macroscipic phenomena with the same theory it all works really great with one exception: the measurement postulate – Schrödinger's cat and all that.

We actually have a perfectly consistent theory that solves that problem – Bohm-de Broglie mechanics. But the way that Bohmian mechanics interacts with relativity, while perfectly consistent, is so kludgy that most of us believe that Bohmian mechanics is not true.

Therefore, we consider the measurement problem unsolved.

Otherwise, quantum mechanics is cool, completely cool: we have no need for ad hoc ideas like your tunneling idea.

Dave

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14. John wrote to me:
>Well I picked those two effects because of blog's limitation. There are more inconsistencies in QM (and in general Physics) like the Casimir effect.

Well... about all I can say is that what you think are inconsistencies aren't.

John also wrote:
> I am speaking about something so simple and fundamental that exists in classical physics for centuries but overlooked that potentially may affect all areas of Physics...

John, almost everyone (as far as I know, zero exceptions!) who thinks that way is a crackpot. I do not mean to be rude, but no one that I know of has made a significant contribution to physics for more than a century unless they had pursued physics seriously at least to the level of being a grad student.

If you are a normal person, you should think about that and realize that your belief that you know something that has been overlooked for centuries is more likely to be a delusion than a real insight.

And if you would seriously take that approach in dealing with us physicists and say, "Guys, can you tell me where I am missing the boat in thinking __________" you'd be more likely to get a positive response.

John also wrote:
>Your argumentation (most physicists do this mistake) mixes the measurement problem with the essence of the effect (better cause-effect).

See: again you just assume you know more than professionals in a field you clearly do not understand rather than considering that maybe you are wrong.

Or you insult physicists by saying:
>It seems to those who do not want to think on their feet because they feel/afraid any out of the box proposal is futile and may also cost their career.

John also wrote:
>The easiest answer (that you may probably agree) is such arguments like those I propose (but not exposed yet) are nonsense. Is this scientific? NO. What is scientific is to present a counter-argument that must be consistent.

No, we do not owe you a counter-argument.

Look: do you go online and lecture brain surgeons and tell them that they are full of nonsense and you know their field better than they do?

I very much doubt you do. And you know how they would respond if you did.

But, somehow, you think that you can do this to physicists and they will accept it.

They won't, John. You'll notice that i am engaging you more than any other physicist here, mainly because I am intrigued about whether there is some way to reach out to people who are delusional. I keep thinking there must be, despite all the evidence to the contrary!

But, again, just think about why you do not behave this way to brain surgeons or auto mechanics or airline pilots and then, perhaps, you can see why this behavior is not going to get physicists to listen to you.

Or not.

Dave

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17. John wrote to me:
>I have written a paper and is already under review in the Journal Foundations of Physics (Springer) since mid March. I have faith to expect something good (approved) but as you may understand even if I am right, would they give me the chance (no institutional affiliation as also I am not a Physicist) to publish my paper in their Journal? Or would you?

John, I know of FoP: they are somewhat more open to “speculative” ideas then, say The Physical Review. However, I strongly suspect that your ideas will go far beyond their accepted bounds. The fact that you have no degree in physics, no academic position, and no publishing record in physics is not going to help either.

Odds are they will turn it down.

And that is not unreasonable. Even established physicists such as Max Tegmark or John Wheeler would have trouble getting ideas published that strike the editors as goofy (and Tegmark and Wheeler both have had a few pretty goofy ideas!). But at least, the editors might say to themselves that they know Wheeler or Tegamrk has done some pretty good work and maybe the editor is missing something.

You will not have that benefit of the doubt.

Your list of “discoveries” is also going to spook most physicists.

I mean, when Schrödinger published his famous equation, I do not believe he said, “And this will solve the problem of chemical bonding, explain the behavior of electrons in semiconductors, create a framework for understanding a whole new zoo of elementary particles, etc.” even though it did do all those things.

All physicists know that almost always when someone claims all the discoveries you claim, they are simply wrong. Even worse, much of what you claim goes against very well-established physics.

Why not just start up a blog and post it? It only takes a few minutes. And if you link to the blog in your blogger profile any of us can get to it. Sabine does not want a link here, but if you just say, “Hey, click on my profile and go to my blog” anyone can find it.

If you do that, I'll look at it. I assume that you do know already that my comments will almost certainly consist of: this part disagrees with known empirical facts, that part is meaningless math, etc.

One of the problems that amateurs like you have is failing to understand that even if a professional such as Sabine or Peter Woit were to post an ambitious new theory, almost certainly the rest of us physicists would be able to prove that it was wrong.

Almost all radically new ideas do turn out to be wrong.

Physicists understand and accept that.

I'm afraid most of you amateurs do not. You think that when we “kick the tires” and poke holes in your carefully crafted theories, we are being mean. No, that is how science works. The guy who proves you wrong has shown you a lot more respect than the guy who kindly says “Now that is really interesting!” and nothing more – the latter guy is just being patronizing.

Alas, it seems impossible to get this through to non-scientists.

Dave

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14. I think if I need the wave function to understand the end result in an entangled particle system; so somehow the wave function is something real, or has real components; the phenomenon works as if each of these were the observer of the other, without the need for our consciousness or presence; if there is a mathematical form that describes it; then that form must have something of real; I suppose?.

1. "Each of these the observer of the other"-- yes, and consciousness is absolutely unnecessary. Consciousness really plays no role. It should be regarded as epiphenomenal and merely along for the ride in certain instances. Each the observer of the other might as well be framed as each the cause of the other. It amounts to the same thing. Actually, I think this sort of view fits well into a super deterministic picture.

2. Rick Lubbock hi, i realized that you said something similar; Yes, it seems that nature already has its own "surveillance system" hahaha. I don't know how a superdeterministic theory works; but my belief (it is only belief) is that the particles, the fields and the space are forms of existence of matter, if each one of them could be formulated mathematically, then the equations would be solved in order to preserve the symmetry; Although I do not believe that such a system can be built with fundamental lengths, it is trying to explain quantum physics with a type of classical physics that would not work.

3. Drs Hossenfelder and Palmer have a paper on superdeterminism that is well worth reading. I think she has a link to it somewhere on this blog.

15. Schrodinger writes (1935): "Best possible knowledge of a whole does not include best possible knowledge of its parts--and that is what keeps coming back to haunt us." (page 167, Zurek & Wheeler, Quantum Theory and Measurement). Interestingly enough, in this famous "cat paradox" paper, Schrodinger provides a simple argument for the necessity of discreteness coupled to measurement (page 164).

16. It's never been clear to me that "(e)verything is described by a wave-function," rather than fundamental entities like photons or leptons or whatever. Though saying being fundamental means that you can write a wave function for it is the same thing?

At any rate, it is hard to imagine *a* wave function for a dead cat. But if there are multiple wave functions, questions about reality are not even asked. But then, the mathematically equivalent not superposed not-dead-or-alive clearly has no properties, thus cannot be real. But if you do ascribe some thing you label reality to a part of the wave function, as far as I can see, you get virtual universes...but no singular real universe.

Guessing that the "prefactors," (coefficients in equations according to Google,) are supposed to have something to do with "realistic?" The instrumentalist meaning seems to be, prefactors are coefficients that give correct predictions, since I can't make heads or tails of what point there is to arbitrary prefactors. This sounds like an iron commitment to the proposition that "science" isn't about describing reality but correlating readings on instruments in specified experimental setups. I have no idea how this is reconcilable with the claim predictions aren't everything.

"You could say, for example, that Schrodinger’s cat is not in a superposition of dead and alive, but that it is instead in the not-superposed state dead-and-alive. And that’s mathematically just as good." It is no doubt good mathematics, and good anti-realism too. But the "state dead-and-alive" begs the question of what the body temperature of the dead cat is when the death chamber is opened, doesn't it? Measurement not only determines the state of the cat now, but in the past too!

As to entanglement, the issue with decoherence is, where does the environment come from? If decoherence is what disentangles, how long after the Big Bang did an environment emerge?

1. S Johnson wrote:
>At any rate, it is hard to imagine *a* wave function for a dead cat.

Only for those who lack imagination, or a basic knowledge of physics.

SJ also wrote:
>It's never been clear to me that "(e)verything is described by a wave-function," rather than fundamental entities like photons or leptons or whatever. Though saying being fundamental means that you can write a wave function for it is the same thing?

You are really betraying your ignorance of physics here!

It is routine to (successfully) use wavefunctions for things much, much bigger that a single photon or lepton.

SJ also wrote:
>Guessing that the "prefactors," (coefficients in equations according to Google,) are supposed to have something to do with "realistic?" The instrumentalist meaning seems to be, prefactors are coefficients that give correct predictions, since I can't make heads or tails of what point there is to arbitrary prefactors.

You are babbling meaninglessly.

As you say, you cannot make "heads or tails" of what you are talking about.

SJ also wrote:
>As to entanglement, the issue with decoherence is, where does the environment come from? If decoherence is what disentangles, how long after the Big Bang did an environment emerge?

Just no. Really: no.

Look: if you have read some definite thing that confuses you that you can quote briefly, then politely ask a question.

But for you to make these unbearably silly statements as if you might actually be doing anything except stringing words together, you are just demeaning yourself.

"It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt." Mark Twain.

2. S Johnson wrote: "it is hard to imagine *a* wave function for a dead cat"

I agree. Also for a live cat.

PhysicistDave, in his characteristically outspoken, just "mildly" insulting way wrote: "Only for those who lack imagination, or a basic knowledge of physics."

Of course he cannot imagine such a wave function either. It's an empty claim -- all he can do is write down a rather meaningless string of symbols: |dead>.

S Johnson: "what point there is to arbitrary prefactors"

Very good question! Discussions of Schrödinger's cat invariably involve the most notorious of irrational numbers: the square root of 2. This has to do with unitarity, of course. But one never sees |dead> subtracted from |alive>, or even multiplied with an imaginary "i". According to the rules, those would be different states. Of course, the phase factors could be included in the definitions of |alive> and |dead>. But are these really *two* states that can be coherently superposed?

It is distracting that Schrödinger thought of such a ridiculous case. Instead of the cat he could have chosen a calorimeter, where triggered by the Geiger counter, a small volume of water would be heated from 14°C to 15°C. Would people constructing kets from dead and alive cats dare to write down
|Psi> = (|14°C> + |15°C>) / sqrt(2) ?
This is clearly an abuse of notation. Using Boltzmann's famous formula you find for 1cc of water an entropy increase ln W = S/k of the order of 10**23. And that's just the *logarithm* of the number of states! The sqrt(2) is clearly suspicious. I find these "superpositions" utterly meaningless, but perhaps Mr. Know-it-all can reveal the deeper meaning to us fools.

3. "It is routine to (successfully) use wavefunctions for things much, much bigger that a single photon or lepton." Although I've mentioned both superpositions and entanglements, plainly I am aware that wavefunctions address more than single photons or leptons. The "single" was just made up by you, a hostile mis-reading. No argument will ever survive shameless malice. Thus there is no reason for anyone to value your opinion, though perhaps the host is gratified. If you didn't understand why it was "*a*" wave function, rather than simply "a" wave function, you should have asked.

Your best bet for fame and glory is to write the wave functions for a dead cat and a live cat, respectively. (Not clear that density matrices count as rigorous argument...)

4. S. Johnson wrote to me:
> I am aware that wavefunctions address more than single photons or leptons.

The wavefunction refers also to a whole lot of things besides leptons and photons.

You have no idea what you are talking about, you are just making things up, and you have proven yourself to be completely ignorant on this subject.

SJ also wrote:
> Thus there is no reason for anyone to value your opinion, though perhaps the host is gratified.

As opposed to you who is just spouting silly nonsense?

Look: what I quoted from you is the following:
>SJ also wrote:
>It's never been clear to me that "(e)verything is described by a wave-function," rather than fundamental entities like photons or leptons or whatever. Though saying being fundamental means that you can write a wave function for it is the same thing?

As far as we know, everything is made up of "fundamental entities" such as leptons, quarks, etc. We have not detected anything else in the universe. And, as far as we know, everything can therefore be described by a wavefunction.

I know you are ignorant of that fact, but that just is the basis of modern science.

Chem, astronomy, and geology reduce to physics and, aside from the still unsolved problem of quantum gravity, physics just is quantum mechanics. And biology reduces to chem and physics.

For better or worse, this just is twentieth-century science.

And your silliness about "prefactors" sounds as if you are high or something. For example, I did a search on "prefactor" in Weinberg's Lectures on Quantum Mechanics: nothing came up. This is not a standard issue in quantum mechanics: it is just your weird delusion. (Yes, I know the word "prefctor" will sometimes show up in papers on QM, just as the word "left" sometimes shows up in papers on quantum mechanics -- you want to refer to the left side of an equation, then the word "left" is useful, and if you want to refer to a factor that comes before something else, the word "prefactor" might be useful. But "prefactor" has no deep meaning or relevance in quantum mechanics, contrary to your weird musings.)

Do you do this to brain surgeons or auto mechanics? Do you just spout nonsense about their field of expertise and then insult them when they quite correctly admonish you for spouting nonsense?

Frankly, I really hope you do, because you will then get exactly the amount of help from surgeons or auto mechanics that you truly deserve.

I sincerely hope you have to live with those consequences someday.

5. PhysicistDave wrote: "I sincerely hope you have to live with those consequences someday."

Dave,

what made you so upset? Leaving the content aside, just looking at the language: you have really soiled yourself. It may be too much to expect an apology, but possibly you find the "Delete" button.

Away from ad personam remarks, back to science: As you indicated, it is important to remember the lessons of the past. In an essay, Walter Elsasser wrote (1971):

Within classical physics, symbols may quite legitimately be taken as representing objects, and indeed often representing all available knowledge about the objects. But in quantum mechanics the relationship is not so simple because the most common symbol, a wave function, does not refer to an individual object at all; it describes the statistical distribution of a large number of equivalent objects, a class, and contains very little information about an individual object considered by itself, apart from the class.
("Perspectives in Quantum Theory", p.213, Elsasser's emphasis)

I thought that was common knowledge in the seventies, but it seems largely forgotten now. Concerning the mantra that every physical system is described by a wave function, S Johnson touched a crucial point. Nowadays, many physicists apparently take it to mean: "A wave function represents an individual system." But thinking of the wave function as representing an ensemble of identically prepared systems is the only decent way to dispose of Schrödinger's cat. If you can think of another way, I'd be eager to hear about it.

Sincerely,

Werner

6. Since it was the post that brought up prefactors, you can argue the irrelevance/meaninglessness of prefactors with our host, the author of the post. The question mark and the work "guessing" in my original comment clearly showed to honest eyes that I didn't understand their role in somehow making superpositions easy, common sense ideas either. Trying to take me task for the same problem in understanding what the business about prefactors is an egregious example of meaningless babble.

Worse than meaningless, the assertion everything reduces to physics is aspiration. Astronomy needs General Relativity, so this is witless nonsense on that ground alone. Given the role of thermodynamics in chemistry, not sure that chemistry reduces to quantum mechanics either, inasmuch as I'm shaky on how "information is never lost" implies "information is always lost." Or for that matter how "time reversible" leads to the "arrow of time," which geology uses without thought. As for biology...your real problem is you're using "reduces to" in an incompetent way, a sciency sounding substitute for thought.

The only true thought in this response is the malicious joy in fantasizing physical harm to me, for some offense or other. You have nothing else positive to say, only content free invocation of your personal superiority and malice. You could be Lubos Motl under a pseudonym!

7. Werner wrote to me:

You mean aside from the fact that you arrogantly say things that are not true, indeed that yoou know are not true?

For example, above you said:
>The wave function is a pedagogical device, a quasi-classical surrogate intended to help students absorb quantum theory.

But you later admitted that you knew that was not true:
> The wording was perhaps a bit too provocative. (I'm glad you took the bait!)

No it was not "too provocative" -- it was a lie. And I "took the bait"? Yeah, because I call you out as a liar.

Or when you said:
> Schrödinger's equation is a classical equation.

You clearly know that is a lie, too.

Yeah I know: you consider lying to be a way of being "provocative" and of setting out the "bait."

I don't: I consider it to just be lying.

I hate liars and con artists, Werner. I have hated liars since I was a very young child. And I hope bad things happen to them.

I therefore despise you as a human being.

No doubt, as a liar and con artist yourself, you cannot grasp this, but that is the answer to your question.

I hate and despise people like you. As do all decent human beings.

8. S. Johnson wrote to me:
>You could be Lubos Motl under a pseudonym!

Nah – I lack Lubos' Central European sense of savoir faire! But thanks for the compliment!

SJ also wrote:
>Since it was the post that brought up prefactors, you can argue the irrelevance/meaninglessness of prefactors with our host, the author of the post. The question mark and the work "guessing" in my original comment clearly showed to honest eyes that I didn't understand their role in somehow making superpositions easy, common sense ideas either.

Okay, now I see what you are getting at.

The answer is that in certain situations it is fairly straightforward to prepare a system in such a way that we know what the coefficients (“prefactors”) are. Explaining why is complicated, which is, I suppose, why Sabine did not explain it in detail. Basically, a state that in one representation only has one “prefactor,” basically set equal to “1”, is in another representation, a superposition with a variety of coefficients determined by the theory.

And, indeed, in many cases, one gets that superposition by just waiting for time to pass.

How do we know this “really” happens? Well, the theory predicts that when this happens, certain experimental results will occur, and those predictions have been born out to very high accuracy.

SJ also wrote:
>Worse than meaningless, the assertion everything reduces to physics is aspiration.

It is an aspiration that has been achieved to a stunning degree.

Call it a hypothesis if you will, a hypothesis that has been confirmed again and again and again and, thus far, never refuted.

The reductionist program really has been stunningly successful.

If you are not aware of that, you know almost no science at all.

There are really only three serious current problems with the reductionist program: the quantum measurement problem, the problem of quantizing gravity, and the problem of consciousness. A very large number of physicists – most certainly including Sabine and me – have acknowledged all of those problems. I think most physicists think all three can be solved within the framework of physics. I am a bit of a heretic because I have argued at length in many places, including Sabine's comment section, that the problem of consciousness probably cannot be solved by physics as we know it.

SJ also wrote:
>Given the role of thermodynamics in chemistry, not sure that chemistry reduces to quantum mechanics either...

A good example: modern statistical mechanics is simply applying quantum mechanics to systems with many, many components. Nothing more.

SJ also wrote:
>As for biology...your real problem is you're using "reduces to" in an incompetent way, a sciency sounding substitute for thought.

SJ also wrote:
>The only true thought in this response is the malicious joy in fantasizing physical harm to me, for some offense or other.

Physical harm??? You are paranoid. I merely suggested that if you behave in an obnoxiously contemptuous way towards surgeons or auto mechanics, they will treat you as you deserve. That is, they will not provide you with the services or assistance you might want: as I said above, “you will then get exactly the amount of help from surgeons or auto mechanics that you truly deserve.“

Not “fantaiszing physical harm” to you (!), but just hoping that people treat you as you treat them.

And that is why you probably do not treat surgeons or auto mechanics with contempt.

But you think you can arrogantly make statements to physicist that simply display your ignorance of modern science and the physicists will tolerate it in a way surgeons or auto mechanics would not.

Physicists are not as forgiving as you seem to think, indeed not noticeably more forgiving than surgeons or auto mechanics. Treat us with contempt, and we are happy to return the favor.

9. Dave,

as is evident from your other comments, you know the difference between being dishonest and being deluded. Instead of clearing up my delusions, you attack me as a liar. In my comments I have carefully explained why I believe what I have written -- it is there for everybody to see and read it. Your replies to my comments invariably target the peripheral, irrelevant, or personal. Why is that? The only reason I can think of is that you don't have any scientific arguments to place against mine, and are too vain to admit it.

I bet you have nothing scientific to reply, and it'll be safe to ignore it.

You wrote: "I hate and despise people like you."
I wish you the very best.

Werner

10. PhysicistDave3:04 AM, May 19, 2020

"As far as we know, everything is made up of "fundamental entities" such as leptons, quarks, etc. We have not detected anything else in the universe."

So you do agree that conscious experience is physical, as far as we know! You've checkmated yourself, Dave ;)

11. Physicist Dave lies about how he doesn't fantasize about physical harm to people he can't give sensible answers to. Then it is stated that thermodynamics is simply QM, which rather makes one wonder how thermodynamics preceded QM. The quick answer is that Physicist Dave's hand waving version of "reductionism" pretends there is no question of how thermodynamics quantum mechanically creates the arrow of time. And his insistence that he's already found the fundamental secret of what to reduce to, QM, has already succeeded, hasn't been demonstrated.

And Physicist Dave shows the incompetence of his idiosyncratic version of reductionism even more clearly when he claims there is a grave difficulty in explaining consciousness. No, there is no supernatural explanation. His version of reductionism thinks there is, but he's full of shit.

12. @ Steven Evans,

You're giving a classical description. Quantum theory is best understood as a form of perspectivism.

13. Steven Evans wrote to me:

>[Dave]"As far as we know, everything is made up of "fundamental entities" such as leptons, quarks, etc. We have not detected anything else in the universe."

>[Steve]So you do agree that conscious experience is physical, as far as we know! You've checkmated yourself, Dave ;)

Hey, Steve! Hope you are doing well.

Nope: how consciousness works, as I have said again and again, is not one of the things we know -- that point has, after, all been my major theme on the subject.

Yeah, among all the things we know "as far as we know," leptons, quarks, etc. are all that is there.

But, my whole point is that consciousness is further than we know.

Neither I nor you nor anyone else can say what else is there with consciousness.

In fact, if you recall, I have emphasized again and again that perhaps all that is going on with consciousness is that, in addition to physics, you need a “translation dictionary” to tell you what physical states are associated with what experiential states.

In that case, there would be something physics does not know (the translation dictionary) but no substance there beyond physical objects.

(For our cognoscenti, all I have really done is explain in concrete terms what the theory philosophers call “dual-aspect theory” would mean scientifically.)

So, if my minimalist “translation-dictionary” theory is true, there is nothing there except quarks and leptons, etc., but there are emergent properties of quarks and lepton in bulk in certain unusual situations that cannot be explained by current physics – you need the translation dictionary.

Could even be true – though I doubt it: as you know I doubt all theories of consciousness including my own.

As we have discussed, I slightly prefer my “consciousness is to brain as candle flame is to candle” theory. In that case, I suppose there is something there besides quarks and leptons, but it is not, in philosophical terms, “self-subsistent”: concretely, the mind dies if detached from the brain just as a candle flame cannot exist without a candle.

Pretty metaphor, don't you think?

Of course, it is probably false: have I mentioned that I doubt all theories of consciousness including my own?

I have spun out various other theories, all of which I suspect are false.

The difference between a scientist and a crackpot is that a scientist is skeptical of his own theories.

As my teacher Dick Feynman liked to say, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.“ (I was there in the audience, by the way, when Feynman gave that “cargo-cult science” talk at 'Tech's 1974 commencement.)

Alas, Steve, you are not skeptical of your own theories!

All the best,

Dave

14. PhysicistDave11:53 PM, May 21, 2020

"But, my whole point is that consciousness is further than we know."
That's an assumption. You need to be more critical of your theories, Dave.

"Neither I nor you nor anyone else can say what else is there with consciousness."
The evidence tells us nothing else is there currently.

"In that case, there would be something physics does not know (the translation dictionary) but no substance there beyond physical objects."
An assumption. You need to be more critical of your theories.

"For our cognoscenti, all I have really done is explain in concrete terms what the theory philosophers call “dual-aspect theory” "
Wow! Amazing! I feel like I'm imbibing really deep intellectual knowledge here. So there are 2 aspects to matter. And then? What are the facts derived from this idea? Not a single one. The dual-aspect theory, dear, oh, dear.

15. Prof. David Edwards12:25 PM, May 21, 2020

"You're giving a classical description. Quantum theory is best understood as a form of perspectivism."

Did I. Of what?

16. S. Johnson wrote to me:
>Then it is stated that thermodynamics is simply QM, which rather makes one wonder how thermodynamics preceded QM.

For simple historical reasons: everyone with any serious interest in science knows that thermodynamics was worked out phenomenologically before Maxwell, Boltzmann, et al. figured out how to derive thermodynamics from statistical mechanics. And statistical mechanics was worked out before quantum mechanics was discovered.

But nowadays statistical mechanics really is just figuring out the results of quantum mechanics for systems with a very large number of components.

I know you are too ignorant of science and the history of science to know this, but that is not my fault.

What is your fault is your extreme rudeness to people who point out your egregious errors because they know a lot more than you do. I truly do hope that this is how you treat surgeons and auto mechanics when you need their help.

SJ also wrote to me:
>No, there is no supernatural explanation. [Dave's] version of reductionism thinks there is, but he's full of shit.

A supernatural explanation would not be reductionist at all, quite the opposite in fact. Re-read Sabine's post on reductionism. You are confused.

Consciousness is the one area in which I suspect reductionism will fail.

But, I have no “supernatural explanation” for consciousness – indeed, I have no explanation at all.

There are, quite obviously, some things humans do not know, though the area of human ignorance has shrunk a great deal in the last century.

I merely note that the explanations people have tried to concoct to explain consciousness do not work.

I am just the fellow who comes around after the party, picks up the trash, and tosses it into the dumpster.

And you are the guy who is very badly confused.

And very, very rude.

17. The Shrodinger's cat is as imaginary as the multiverse, or as imaginary as a "universal wavefunction", all these cases are typical examples of how meaningless you can get when your reductionist mindset is unbounded.
Shrodinger's cat is meaningless simply because a real cat is not a quantum object that can be described by a Shrodinger equation, not even in principle.

Sugar molecules of around 40 atoms already exhibit parity symmetry breaking, a living cat is a lot more complex than sugar molecules with lots of dynamic irreducible emergent properties, the "state" of a cat is not a superposition of an assembly of atoms quantum states.

Still many have not internalized that the level of information(complexity) encoded in your assumptions(axioms) bounds the level of information encoded in your conclusions/results.

Chaitin's: "if one has ten pounds of axioms and a twenty-pound theorem, then that theorem cannot be derived from those axioms."

By the same argument any theory always has a limited range of applicability because anything with more information content(complexity) than its assumptions will be irreducible formally from that theory unless its assumptions are modified.

And obviously there is a lot of more information content in a living cat structure than in Quantum Mechanics assumptions. A living cat dynamic structure is well beyond Quantum Mechanics range of applicability.

1. I suppose Bee's punishment for writing engaging and popularly-accessible physics is to be hounded eternally by cranks and know-nothings.

2. Yes! Exactly this!

18. Werner:
"The wave function is a pedagogical device, a quasi-classical surrogate intended to help students absorb quantum theory."

This is not so. Physicists use the wave function in their research all the time. Search 'wave function' in arXiv and you'll see tons of professional researchers using the idea. Just a few weeks ago I attended a talk at an online conference that focused on the wave function of a certain nucleus.

You can argue whether physicists should be doing this if you like, but it's a fact that the wave function is not just a pedagogical device.

1. "First Approximation":

I know all this. You can find my reply in the original thread.

19. The difficulties with understanding quantum mechanics are that it violates so much of our ordinary expectation of things. This is not only from our ordinary experience of the physical world, but from our classical understanding. However, it really has to be pointed out that classical mechanics is not entirely easily understood either and was doubly difficult in the late 17th century and early 18th century. In fact, scientific theories and results often counter human expectations or desires. If one looks at renaissance art it is filled with pictures of people, and even entities presumed to be at the foundations of reality, angels and gods or God, are depicted as people. The scientific revolution came out of the renaissance and put together a mental image of the world that was quite different.

The ideas of medieval physics, say from Oresme, Grosseteste, Averroes etc. tended to see the motion of an object as requiring a constant force. There was some sort of aether or fluid in space that acted on any moving object, say a projectile thrown by a person or a trebuchet. This included the motion of planets, which of course at that time were thought to revolve around Earth. This picture from the time of Copernicus, to Galileo and Kepler and culminating with Newton was a thrown in disarray. Newton said a body remained in a constant state of motion, on a straight path with constant velocity, unless acted on by a force. Gravitation was even stranger, for now there is some invisible net of force emanating from a gravitating body that we directed radially and not angularly. This was hard for people to grapple with. There were following issues with Newton’s “fluxions” in his calculus, which Leibnitz made a bit more exact, but this lead to developments in calculus, mostly in Germany and culminating with Weierstrass which lead to deep mathematics on integration by French mathematicians culminating with Lesbegue.

Classical physics is not that intuitive, and teaching basic physics is hard if one tries to keep as many students on board as possible. Even for those who learn physics and then become astronauts it requires 10s of millions of dollars of education to train them to work in outerspace. The simple fact is that we are on an experiential level Aristotelians. Medieval physics, or really pre-physics, is based on Aristotle’s physics, he even penned a book Physics, that served one of the bases for medieval pre-science. Even Penrose, Witten, as were past luminaries Feynman, Einstein and Hawking, are from an experiential level Aristotelians. Those who have been in prolonged weightlessness in outerspace say the experience has a permanent mental imprint that moves them away from being Aristotelians. I would love to join that club, but my prospects are nearly infinitesimal, even though I learned to pilot airplanes.

Quantum mechanics takes us a step further away from our ordinary experience of things. It is where not only our intuitive experience of the world fails, but now our classical mechanical understanding fails. From a mathematical perspective we shift from a real valued understanding to a complex valued system. In classical physics complex number show up, but the physical observations are all the real part. We have something similar in QM, with the modulus square of amplitudes, but we are more centered in a view of the world that is complex valued or that is given by holomorphic manifolds. Our ordinary intuition is left way behind. This is a problem that continues with quantum physics and has lasted longer than confusions with classical mechanics. By the mid-18th century confusions with classical physics were largely settled. We continue to have problems with QM, and the industry of quantum interpretations is one aspect of this. Quantum interpretations are built up largely to make QM more intuitive. Also the more they satisfy intuitions the more difficult they are, such as the deBroglie-Bohm.

20. follow on from above because of space limit:

Quantum gravitation will take us further in this direction. In particular it will shred our ideas of locality in QFT and the ontology of space and time. I will not go into what I think will occur here, but it will be a further leap away from our understanding of things. It brings forth a sense of Alice in Wonderland and believing 6 impossible things before breakfast.

1. It has lately seemed to me that field theories signaled the end of classical physics. The decline of mechanism and the rise of the field concept and the associated mathematics may have been the beginning of the end.

2. Like Maxwell's Theory, followed by General Relativity, followed by QED, followed by The Standard Model,...

3. This comment has been removed by the author.

4. @ John

"I understand the gist of your speculation, it is most likely nuncupatory"

(Rhialto the Marvellous)

5. Classical mechanics is not going away. Dynamics described by a convex set is determined by an L^p integration measure. One case of this is L^2 that describes a Gaussian interval in relativity, such as proper time. There is also a duality with 1/p + 1/q = 1, which means there is another L^2 system, and physics provides quantum mechanics. This is a part of my motivation for saying that QM and GR are dual or equivalent systems. Now, GR is a classical system. It is though different from standard classical mechanics. We can consider then a p = 1 system, which corresponds to a classical probability system. We have then the summation of probabilities or in a continuous measure L^1 it is a classical probability system. The dual system is q → ∞, which can be interpreted as a classical deterministic system such as Newtonian mechanics or the mechanics of a Turing machine.

There are then the dual systems (½, ½) and (1, ∞) and in both of these the respective systems are not going away any time soon. The trace of a density matrix serves to be a map ½ → 1 for probability theories, and the connection with Zurek we have a connection to the classical system or “q = ∞.” These are matters not yet understood fully,

6. John,

7. This comment has been removed by the author.

8. There are a lot of ways to describe the difficulties with quantizing gravitation. Quantum field theory computes the propagation of a field in space with time. Yet with gravitation the field you are propagating is space and you are propagating space, well … through space. With a source of gravitation, a spherically symmetrical mass etc, if that mass is quantized then it can exist in a superposition so it can occur at different locations in space. But, wait! that means the curvature of space or spacetime associated with that mass is also in a superposition of configurations. We have a sort of entanglement, but where again we have a curious idea of spacetime having "such and such" a configuration in these regions of spacetime.

Quantum mechanics has a nonlocality to it that then means the location of space or spacetime is itself nonlocal. That is a rather odd development and it has a bootstrap aspect to it that seems both tautological and paradoxical. When on looks at this mathematically it does lead to a bit snarl. In particular in a QFT situation it means Feynman diagrams for a graviton couple to all others and there is no scheme for renormalization.

21. Entanglement:

If we want to understand entanglement by physical causality and not merely as a mathematical formalism, then this is a surprising phenomenon indeed. A striking property of it is the fact that it can only be observed statistically. One single measurement does not show any entanglement; the experimenter has to perform a number of measurements and then to analyze these measurement statistically.

Could it be an explanation of this phenomenon that our treatment of statistical processes is at some point erroneous?

1. Physicist doesn't want to understand statistical correlation as causality. I wonder if antipodes are conserved and organized in rhythmical spacetime... ;)

It's more fruitful to focus in mechanisms than in magic philosophy.

2. No! There is no problem!! A quantum theory of two particles simply means a quantum theory whose fundamental observable yields a point in R^6.

3. By a causal explanation I do not mean a formal description as we get it from Quantum mechanics; but a physical explanation where the cause of this phenomenon is visible.

Such cause could be that there is a transmission in space which is not limited to c but is restricted to transmissions which do not mean a transport of energy. To set a spin in free space does not mean a change of the energy of the system.

However, we do not have an independent indication that such a process exists.

4. We do have several independent indications that when entangled correlation there is nothing to do with causality. It's one a phenomenon spreaded by spacetime without cause xand effect.

22. …”we will talk about just how quantum mechanics is local or not some other time.”

I like the article thank you; I am looking forward to the future talks you mentioned.

23. Hi, Sabine, I love your blog!!!! I think you repeated the "left"particle in the first Entanglement paragraph...

Regards, Jose.

24. 19-MAY-2020

I don't surf, but I lived for a short time in southern California,
and would hang out at Huntington Beach or Seal Beach, watching people
ride waves.

The really proficient ones seem to dance on the crests as the water
becomes shallow and the wave rises up. First they catch the mean of
a moving normal distribution called a "swell." There's a "sweet spot"
where you need to be, to be properly accelerated. A surfer wants to
be where the wave can be most precisely "measured." Statistically you
wish to find the mean of the ensemble. We surf information, don't we?

A wave is an ensemble of parcels; same with the atmosphere, measured
in parcels. You can't evade a huge number of samples to find the mean.

You know you're entangled with a wave, when you can stand up and ride
it all the way to shore.

Cheers,
mj horn

25. Dear Sabine,

In Monday lecture you have admitted that superdeterministic models are time-symmetric.
Here is recent Ken Wharton paper showing that, among others, with superdeterminism you cannot escape retrocausality: https://journals.aps.org/rmp/abstract/10.1103/RevModPhys.92.021002

Time-symmetry is in CPT theorem, path integrals, Lagrangian formalism etc., directly gives Born rule: one amplitude from past propagator, second from future (or left/right in Ising), allows for Bell violation constructions, has superdeterminism as a property.

I would say they are basically equivalent - do you see superdeterminism and time-symmetry as essentially different philosophies?

All the best,
Jarek

1. Jarek,

I have not "admitted" that superdeterministic models are "time-symmetric", I have explained that my superdeterministic model is time-reversible.

I am well aware of Wharton's papers. As we have explained in our paper, Wharton uses a notion of causality (Pearl's) that is fundamentally meaningless. There is, for what fundamental physics concerned, nothing "retrocausal" going on in any of these models. In fact, fundamentally the term doesn't even make sense.

"I would say they are basically equivalent - do you see superdeterminism and time-symmetry as essentially different philosophies?"

That a time-evolution can be reversed does not mean it is invariant under time-reversal.

2. Dear Jarek

Greetings.

The deadline for scoring essays in the recent FQXi competition has just passed. I had an essay showing how Bell's Theorem could be circumvented using time reversal, but that reversal required retrocausality. For me that means that a wave travelling from the future causes something to occur in the past/present. In Feynman's QED thesis an advanced wave from the future is (suggested as being?) required to make an emitting electron recoil in the present i.e. exactly at the time of emission. In my paper the effect of time reversal was to cause the paired measurements not be carried out on entangled pairs. A measurement on pairs, yes, but the time reversal meant that one measurement was made before the pair became entangled. That bypassed the conditions for the Bell Inequality to apply.

However, I have my own doubts about it. In my preon model I do not have spontaneous emission of photons, and also weak isospin is conserved in my model of particle interactions. So I wonder about the elephant in the room, the higgs field. In my model, an electron interacts with a higgs and changes the spin of the electron and emits a photon. And maybe the electron gets an instant and local recoil from the higgs, rather than from an advanced wave from the future?

A second problem IMO for my idea is that in my preon model There are antiparticles (antipreons) within all particles so that time reversal should be happening within all particles, and not just for the positrons in my version of the Bell experiment.

A third problem is that although I can imagine antiparticles travelling backwards in time, and particles travelling forwards in time, causality at macroscopic level does seem to be only forwards-in-time along with entropy increase. So I imagine time being level-dependent. The universe has its own (macroscopic) time while the particles acting as quasi universes have their own internal times which can project along or against the universe's time direction. Not sure where that leaves causality?

Austin Fearnley

26. Dr. H, an off-topic question , but the boys are back in town with "The Cosmic Revolutionary's Handbook" by Barnes and Lewis, published by the CUP, bizarrely. How can cranks and fraudsters like this be stopped from polluting physics? The CUP publishes their rubbish, Physics Today praises their nonsense in reviews and every other popular physics author praises the nonsense, presumably in return for having their own nonsense praised.
Are there openings in the market for honest versions of Physics Today and the Cambridge University Press with actual standards do you think? Cranks like Lewis and Barnes undermine the work of real physicists by telling bare-faced lies to the public about physics.

1. Steven Evans,

Concretely, what do you dislike about their book? Glancing through it on amazon, it just looks like a pop-sci book. Am I missing something?

Or do you just trash any book by authors whose religious or political beliefs differ from yours? Certainly a way to shorten your reading list!

Of course, you do give these guys an awful lot of free publicity! Are they paying you? I'm thinking about reading their book myself since you brought it up.

Dave

2. Reading ABOUT the book, and viewing interviews with the authors, it seems to serve a useful purpose: kind of encapsulating the historical/scientific process of understanding how the universe works and is configured, and why modern big bang cosmology is the best model thus far. I don't see anything wrong with that, unless someone has a strong bias against the scientific consensus on issues of cosmology, and doesn't want to be exposed to evidence. I'll probably get the book myself. The title is misleading. The book seems to be anti-crank. I did not get that impression from the title.

3. Rick Lubbock3:29 PM, May 20, 2020

The point is the wider picture. Their first book made the trivially erroneous claims that universal fine-tuning was true and that the multiverse and some primitive fairy tale were possible explanations. Maybe lying like this is not a breach of their employment contracts, but they should have received a hammering in the physics community for the lies. Instead, an actual Physics Nobel Laureate wrote a bizarre, mistake-ridden introduction for the book, Physics Today and the Observatory wrote whitewash reviews failing to point out there was no evidence for the 2 big scientific claims and that positing the truth of a fairy tale as physics is pure insanity. And now their second book is published by the CUP, lauded by the BBC and other popular science authors like Sean Carrol, and while the new book appears to be not complete nonsense like their first book, of course it further drives the anti-scientific agenda of their first book by bringing them further unwarranted publicity.

Physics Today, the BBC and CUP have completely failed in their quality control, and Brian Schmidt has lost all credibility.
What needs to happen is the lies need to be withdrawn by Barnes and Lewis. They have got away with it so far due to the quality control failures of the physics community, but it seems unlikely they can keep these lies up forever.

(The even wider picture is that this is but one example of Templeton Foundation money, which itself is the profits of tax-dodging, corrupting science.)

Do get the book, though. The higher they rise, the bigger will be their ultimate fall, and the bigger the warning to cranks and fraudsters not to try to corrupt science in the future. I look forward to the denouement.

4. From the intro to "Cosmic Revolutionary's Handbook":

"The universe we are told was born almost 14 billion years ago in a hot and fiery event, cheekily named the big bang. At its beginning, everything was compressed into a point of infinite density and infinite temperature."

These 2 guys are absolute cowboys. This is a complete misrepresentation of the actual observations that make up the theory in the title of the book.
The observational evidence tells us that the observable universe has expanded from a tiny dense soup of quarks about 14 billion years ago until today. It is not known empirically that there was a "beginning" and "infinite" temperatures and densities are meaningless in physics. This observation of the expansion will not go away, it will only be added to or made more precise.
They are talking about overthrowing a theory they have got completely wrong. And the observations that have already been made cannot be dismissed - they are encouraging a common misunderstanding among lay people that physics is just theories which can be shown to be completely wrong. And we all know why Luke Barnes is doing this. There is a growing cancer in physics that needs cutting out.

I look forward to Philip Helbig's review of this drivel in The Observatory.

5. @ Steven Evans,

1. The early description of the Big Bang as a quark-gluon plasma is part of a quantum field theory in a curved spacetime model. In such a model the observables are potential phenomena, not actual small objects.

2. Using the super-classical limit of the standard model one gets a cyclic Universe with a big bounce instead of a big bang.

6. Prof. David Edwards9:49 AM, May 22, 2020

David, Yes, gluons, too of course. I am vaguely aware that Physicists describe this situation with QFT. The point I am making is that CUP has published 2 purported Physics books by these cowboys that are riddled with errors and even present primitive fairy tales as Physics:
There is no empirical evidence that the observable universe had a beginning, strictly speaking.
There is no empirical evidence of universal fine-tuning.
Infinite densities and temperatures are physically meaningless.
There is no empirical evidence of a multiverse.
There is no empirical evidence of Gods, demi-gods or angels or whatever other nonsense is swimming around Luke Barnes' muddled mind.

There *is* empirical evidence that the observable universe expanded from a very small but non-zero spacial extent around 14 billion years ago. This is the mis-named Big Bang theory of physics - it is a collection of observations, as with all Natural Science.

2. Yes, famously Hawking and later Turok brought out theoretical papers extrapolating observations backwards in time - Hawking coming up with the smoothed-off universe and Turok coming up with the bouncing universe (presumably Dark Energy would be fatal to the bouncing universe idea). But these are just models, of course, unsupported by observation. Which is another of my complaints about Barnes and Lewis - they are making claims about the nature of the universe based only on noddy models - yes, you can change the value of the Cosmological Constant in a header file in a computer program, but it doesn't mean that change is physically possible. (Of course, Hawking and Turok make clear that their papers are theoretical and their models are extrapolations of observations using GR, QFT and the latest Maths, not a gormless schoolboy misunderstanding of modus ponens as with Lewis and Barnes.)

It's quite bizarre that CUP have published purported Physics books by 2 clowns who don't know the basic facts of their own field, and one of whom is apparently the 13th disciple.

In the end, Dr. H. is right - there is a market for BS. At least, Lewis and Barnes will never, ever publish anything even remotely scientifically significant in a journal. Ever. This is a comfort.

7. @Steven Evans,

I agree! :)

8. This has been the highlight of my week. Please go on. We'll use some of this in the promo material for the second edition.

For the record, you missed the whole point of the quote. It's in the words "we are told" - we are explaining the public's view of the Big Bang theory, as we hear from audiences at our talks, not what cosmologists think. We discuss whether there is empirical support for a beginning in Chapter 10.

But don't let me interrupt. You were railing about some books you haven't read and wouldn't understand.

9. lukebarnes4:18 AM, June 08, 2020

I adore your fake humour. Underneath is a deep rage about being laughed at for believing in primitive fairy tales.

Here's your rap sheet. You are welcome to respond, if you even dare to take me on intellectually. Last time you ran away immediately.

1) You claim the universe is fine-tuned. There is no evidence that the universe can be fundamentally physically any different than observed. Zero. Of course, you can change the value of the Cosm. Const. in a computer model, but that's not physical evidence, chuck.

2) You believe that the universe was created by a "God". But there is no empirical evidence that the observable universe had a beginning. And "Gods" are primitive superstitions. Creation of a universe is not a physical concept. You need to get psychiatric help for your mental delusions - what is in your head is not necessarily real.

3) You announced to the Sydney Morning Herald(?) that you have shown that the universe is fine-tuned but the multiverse is not a likely explanation. But baby Jesus' papa is still a possible explanation, isn't He? On the Physical record, as opposed to in your brainwashed, muddled Iron Age primitive mind, there is no evidence of universal fine-tuning and no evidence of a multiverse or of its negation for that matter. You have confused the noddy models you can create on your sooper-dooper computer with physical reality.

4) All this nonsense is paid for by the tax-evaded funds of the Templeton Foundation who share your agenda of trying to remove the requirement for evidence in natural science.

You are a crank and a liar. If you want to try and sneak your whacko delusions into Physics, you will have a fight. Understand that.

10. lukebarnes4:18 AM, June 08, 2020

"if you even dare to take me on intellectually"

So, no then. The Bible boy runs away again intellectually terrified.

11. lukebarnes4:18 AM, June 08, 2020

" For the record, you missed the whole point of the quote. It's in the words "we are told" - we are explaining the public's view of the Big Bang theory, as we hear from audiences at our talks,"

You cannot stop lying, can you Bible boy? Your Iron Age God is going to be very angry with you.

The "we are told" you refer to clearly means "modern cosmology tells us". It is in Chapter 1 "Understanding Science" which needs to be re-titled "Not Understanding Science":

"Today, cosmology - the study of the universe as a whole - is hailed as a paradigm of scientific success.
But what a strange picture! Many find modern cosomlogy completely unbelievable. The universe, we are told, was born almost 14 billion years ago in a hot fiery event, cheekily named the big bang. At its beginning, everything was compressed into a point of infinite density and infinite temperature."

This, like everything you have ever uttered on the topic of science, is complete nonsense: modern cosmology does not tell us the universe had a beginning; it does not tell us it was either an event or "fiery"; it does not tell us the universe had a "beginning"; and it does not tell us there were infinite densities and temperatures as these are meaningless in Physics.

As usual you have confused a model with physical reality because you are a half-wit.

Keep working hard at the University of Western Sydney, or whatever the name of the billabong is you gather round.

12. Here's a quote. Without googling who said it, do you agree or not?

"Most of the fundamental constants in our theories appear fine-tuned in the sense that if they were altered by only modest amounts, the universe would be qualitatively different, and in many cases unsuitable for the development of life. … The emergence of the complex structures capable of supporting intelligent observers seems to be very fragile. The laws of nature form a system that is extremely fine-tuned, and very little in physical law can be altered without destroying the possibility of the development of life as we know it."

13. lukebarnes,

I don't care who wrote this, it's nonsense. For finetuning to be scientifically meaningful you have to quantify a probability distribution. You cannot and will never be able to get statistics for a probability distribution over parameters that you can, qua definition, not vary. Talking about finetuning of constants of nature is metaphysical. It's unscientific. Scientists should not engage in it, or if they do, at least acknowledge that what they do is not science.

14. lukebarnes1:19 AM, June 09, 2020

"Most of the fundamental constants in our theories appear fine-tuned in the sense that if they were altered by only modest amounts, the universe would be qualitatively different, and in many cases unsuitable for the development of life."

I know English isn't your native language, Bible Boy, but this definitely says "appear" and "if". We don't know that it is physically possible for the fundamental constants to be any different from what they have been measured to be.

Modus Ponens:
1) A is True
2) A => B is True
Conclusion: B is True

1) is a critical premise here, Bible Boy. If you had learned this when you were a student, you wouldn't have spouted nonsense for your whole professional career. Still, the Templeton money clearly keeps you well-supplied with pies and pizza.

Your agenda is known. You are talking nonsense. This is not a path to success in Physics. Bad luck, Bible Boy.

15. lukebarnes1:19 AM, June 09, 2020

"Here's a quote. Without googling who said it, do you agree or not?"

So as well as not understanding modus ponens, you also don't understand the fallacy of arguing from authority. Of course, no-one agrees with it, it's purely speculative garbage unsupported by empirical evidence. Did you not go to primary school?

Is it perchance one of your fellow corrupt "physicists" who has received a lot of money from the Templeton Foundation, maybe the UK Astronomer Royal (received 1 million quid from the tax-evaded funds as a reward for talking unscientific nonsense for years)?

16. lukebarnes4:18 AM, June 08, 2020

"This has been the highlight of my week. Please go on. We'll use some of this in the promo material for the second edition. "

I don't think the CUP will risk further tarnishing their reputation because of you, Bible Boy. You stick to YouTube with your mate.

17. The relevant scientific question should be how renormalization group flow for running parameters in gauge theory terminate at the values they have at the physical vacuum? There are a number of ways we could say this might happen. There are landscape scenarios where there is a vast ensemble of physical vacua. This leads to multiverse considerations. I suspect many of these additional cosmologies may be a quantum cosmological form of off-shell condition in QFT, which reduces the number of cosmologies in the multiverse. This conjecture of mine has the physical vacuum very small so the physics of cosmologies has what we might have classicality. Maybe this means there is only one physical cosmology. This then leads to questions on how it is there are attractor points for RG flows. In some manner there are basins of attractions for physical cosmologies, where the fewer of these that exists the more constrained physics and cosmology is. The case of just one physical cosmology would then be a limiting case.

It is not of course clear to me this necessitates the need for what some call fine tuning. If there are many of these worlds, then we are adapted to one of these that permits our existence. If we think of this in a limiting case of just one cosmology, I think in this limit the same logic holds. I see no reason there is some singular situation in the limit of just one cosmology. Of course, this is tricky, and to draw up grand pronouncements either way is irresponsible.

As such it also means there is no logical demand for a fine tuner. This is not to say I, or anyone else, has a theoretical demonstration against the need for a fine tuner. Yet conversely, there is no logical necessity for the existence of a fine tuner. To make such statement about the need for a fine tuner is the standard “God of the gaps” type of argument. In general such arguments have been found wrong by scientific work later on.

18. Lawrence Crowell6:32 AM, June 09, 2020

Lawrence, String Theory is not known to be a physical theory.

"The relevant scientific question should be how renormalization group flow for running parameters in gauge theory terminate at the values they have at the physical vacuum?"

I suspect the only part of this which has been empirically shown to refer to physical reality is "the physical vacuum"

"There are landscape scenarios where there is a vast ensemble of physical vacua. This leads to multiverse considerations."

The string theory landscape is 10^500 theories none of which are known empirically to refer to physical reality. Of course, if you speculate upon speculations upon speculations about points where models fail you will end up with a lot of theories none of which are known to be empirically true. So you end up with multi-speculation considerations not multiverse considerations.

"I suspect many of these additional cosmologies may be a quantum cosmological form of off-shell condition in QFT, which reduces the number of cosmologies in the multiverse. "

So now you have speculated in the other direction and reduced the number of speculations. Good news, but they are still all speculations.

" Maybe this means there is only one physical cosmology."

This aligns with observation so is good.

"how it is there are attractor points for RG flows."

These are artefacts of all the speculations.

" The case of just one physical cosmology would then be a limiting case."

Right. If you let all your superfluous non-physical speculations tend to zero, you are back at the one observed reality.

"It is not of course clear to me this necessitates the need for what some call fine tuning. "

There is only evidence of one possible physical universe. If only one physical universe is possible, which for all we know is exactly the case, then this is not fine tuning.

"If there are many of these worlds, then we are adapted to one of these that permits our existence."
Why one? Why not two? Why not all of them? Or why not just say what we know empirically - there is only one known physically possible universe.

"Of course, this is tricky, and to draw up grand pronouncements either way is irresponsible. "
It's not tricky at all. There is only one known physically possible universe. People who point out there is no evidence of fine-tuning are not making grand pronouncements.

"As such it also means there is no logical demand for a fine tuner. "
It's 2020. The fairy tales aren't true. We know this.

19. i think you missed the main argument. I am saying, suppose these other cosmologies with larger cosmological constants are a form of quantum gravitational off shell condition. We don't know how many with small CCs are physically real. However, if we vary that my argument is that it is not valid to infer fine tuning, even if we say there is just one cosmology.

20. Fantastic. That quote was from Stephen Hawking. Here are six more non-theists:

Frank Wilczek: Life appears to depend upon delicate coincidences that we have not been able to explain. The broad outlines of that situation have been apparent for many decades. When less was known, it seemed reasonable to hope that better understanding of symmetry and dynamics would clear things up. Now that hope seems much less reasonable. The happy coincidences between life’s requirements and nature’s choices of parameter values might be just a series of flukes, but one could be forgiven for beginning to suspect that something deeper is at work.

Martin Rees: Any universe hospitable to life – what we might call a biophilic universe – has to be ‘adjusted’ in a particular way. The prerequisites for any life of the kind we know about — long-lived stable stars, stable atoms such as carbon, oxygen and silicon, able to combine into complex molecules, etc — are sensitive to the physical laws and to the size, expansion rate and contents of the universe. Indeed, even for the most open-minded science ﬁction writer, ‘life’ or ‘intelligence’ requires the emergence of some generic complex structures: it can’t exist in a homogeneous universe, not in a universe containing only a few dozen particles. Many recipes would lead to stillborn universes with no atoms, no chemistry, and no planets; or to universes too short-lived or too empty to allow anything to evolve beyond sterile uniformity.

Andre Linde: The existence of an amazingly strong correlation between our own properties and the values of many parameters of our world, such as the masses and charges of electron and proton, the value of the gravitational constant, the amplitude of spontaneous symmetry breaking in the electroweak theory, the value of the vacuum energy, and the dimensionality of our world, is an experimental fact requiring an explanation.

Leonard Susskind: The Laws of Physics … are almost always deadly. In a sense the laws of nature are like East Coast weather: tremendously variable, almost always awful, but on rare occasions, perfectly lovely. … [O]ur own universe is an extraordinary place that appears to be fantastically well designed for our own existence. This specialness is not something that we can attribute to lucky accidents, which is far too unlikely. The apparent coincidences cry out for an explanation.

Alan Guth: In the multiverse, life will evolve only in very rare regions where the local laws of physics just happen to have the properties needed for life, giving a simple explanation for why the observed universe appears to have just the right properties for the evolution of life. The incredibly small value of the cosmological constant is a telling example of a feature that seems to be needed for life, but for which an explanation from fundamental physics is painfully lacking.

Lee Smolin: Our universe is much more complex than most universes with the same laws but different values of the parameters of those laws. In particular, it has a complex astrophysics, including galaxies and long lived stars, and a complex chemistry, including carbon chemistry. These necessary conditions for life are present in our universe as a consequence of the complexity which is made possible by the special values of the parameters.

But of course, they're all wrong. Only you and your tinfoil hat have worked out that fine-tuning is a God-bothering conspiracy. Thank goodness you bypassed the fraudulent academic peer-reviewed literature and ignored the 100's of scientific papers on this topic and and saw through the ignorant opinions of actual physicists (including non-theists) and were able to expose the TRUTH with FACTS and LOGIC in the comments section of someone else's blog post about a completely unrelated topic.

21. Lawrence Crowell1:59 PM, June 09, 2020

You are talking about the question of fine tuning in a theory, not in reality.
The attractor points in RG flows are solutions to mathematical equations. They are not known to exactly represent physically possible cosmologies. There is only one known physically possible cosmology.

"We don't know how many with small CCs are physically real. "

Empirically we do, One.

22. lukebarnes,

Yes, of course they are all wrong. I explained above why they are wrong. The only thing you do is quote other people who are wrong. Do you think that is a scientific way of arguing?

23. The multiverse is something which proceeds from inflationary cosmology. Inflationary cosmology has some empirical support, though the jury is still out. In my conjecture about most cosmologies, particularly those with vacuum energy or cosmological constant significantly larger than what we observe as "virtual," there is no conditions placed. There is then no criterion by which we can say there is only one physical cosmology. That might be the case, but the one we observe may not be all.

Other spacetime cosmologies could exist. Further there are some phenomenological figure prints these oosmologies may have on the one we observe. So nothing is settled.

My main point is to show that fine tuning is not a necessary condition for the existence of the universe. I am not particularly arguing it is false.

I am not one to spend time entertaining ideas of disembodied conscious entities of infinite extent. I also do not hold to ideas about a fairy godmother who will turn pumpkins and mice into horse drawn carriages that will save us. We can't prove such does not exist. Also we can't disprove the existence of a fine tuner, or fine tuning. However, we can argue such is not necessary to understand the universe, or multiverse.

24. lukebarnes2:17 AM, June 10, 2020

"But of course, they're all wrong."

I just told you above, Bible Boy, about the fallacy of argument by authority, and here you are again immediately arguing by authority.

You need to provide empirical evidence to support a natural scientific theory, not off-the-record comments. This applies whether I call you Bible Boy or not.

Now provide the empirical evidence for universal fine tuning.

Because as it stands your career is finished, chump.

You have been outed as a liar with an agenda and no evidence. You have tarnished Brian Schmidt's reputation and the CUP's reputation, and on here you are making a bigger fool of yourself with every post.

You are toxic waste, Bible Boy.

25. Lawrence Crowell6:13 AM, June 10, 2020

"Other spacetime cosmologies could exist. "

Pointing out there is currently no empirical evidence for any other cosmologies than the one observed does not contradict this view. But your view is a purely speculative view.

"Further there are some phenomenological figure prints these oosmologies may have on the one we observe. So nothing is settled."
And, again, people have been looking for multiverse fingerprints since at least Rees and Carr, 1979, but there is no empirical evidence of such.

26. Hi Sabine,

My comments were aimed at "Steven Evans". I hadn't realised you'd joined the chat. Should have been paying more attention.

Anyway, of course there is more to this debate than authorities. But Mr Evans is trying to imply that I invented the idea of the fine-tuning of the universe for life for my own nefarious purposes. The authorities are to show that I didn't make this stuff up.

27. Hmmm, I’d’ve guessed over would-be Sir Stephen that it was Sir Roger that said it (having also said his adversary was right before he was wrong (before he was right again)), even in that certain setting whilst defending Dame Laura against Priest Sean of the Orthodoxy (Naïve notwithstanding). And of course our esteemed hostess has otherwise justified -- just-as-if he hadn’t -- everything that that gallant Knight has ever done (or will ever do), so in that sense it matters not whether or not it’s nonsense (so long as it’s true).

28. lukebarnes,

I see. Sorry about Steven Evans' manners; I know he isn't exactly polite. But he is right that fine-tuning arguments of the type that you make are not scientific, they are metaphysical.

I don't write about this in my Synthese paper, but the problem is the same as that with using naturalness arguments in particle physics. It's a virtual variation and not physically possible and hence the probability distribution cannot ever by supported by empirical test.

29. lukebarnes9:23 AM, June 10, 2020

"Anyway, of course there is more to this debate than authorities."

There is nothing to this debate, because you have provided nothing. Don't pretend to be reasonable when you told a blatant lie in your first comment here.
Or were members of the public coming up to you and saying that cosmology showed infinite densities and temperatures at the "beginning" of the universe, and cheekily naming the theory the Big Bang?

This is the blatant lie you wrote above to try to get round the fact you have published schoolboy errors.

Everyone can see you're a liar.

"But Mr Evans is trying to imply that I invented the idea of the fine-tuning of the universe for life for my own nefarious purposes. "

In your first book you claimed there is evidence for universal fine-tuning. There is none.
You then oh-so-coincidentally included in a Physics book a discussion about your beliefs in a primitive Iron Age superstition, to explain the fine tuning which you had provided no evidence for. It's not clear what your mental delusions have to do with Physics. You need to see a psychiatrist.

And, sorry, what are you saying? You don't have an agenda. This is not seriously believable.

You were asked previously here to provide evidence for your nonsense claim in your first book and provided none (you pointed to pages in the book). And you fantasised about killing critics of your books "jokingly". Tee-hee.

Now in your second book, you have written the schoolboy errors I pointed out, and you respond by telling a blatant lie in public which everyone can see. Interesting that your first book includes talk of an Iron Age superstition and your second book is talking about overthrowing scientific theories and misrepresents the Big Bang theory in a way that makes it look barely believable. But sure, you don't have an agenda.

You have also lied to a newspaper in Australia about the likelihood of universal fine tuning and a multiverse. These are both completely open questions in Physics. What you told the newspaper was based on models, which do not necessarily represent reality. So you lied again. But, of course, you have no agenda.

You have provided zero evidence of fine tuning, yet again, deciding instead to provide us with irrelevant off-the-record comments.
You have not explained the schoolboy errors in the 2nd book, deciding instead to lie.

Don't try to pretend you are a reasonable person when you are a lying sociopath. You have failed to address the questions on Physics addressed to you. You remain a crank and a liar. And your career is finished.

30. Sabine Hossenfelder12:46 PM, June 10, 2020

You are right, of course. I should improve my manners. You are well aware though that Luke Barnes is not a good faith actor. Who provides off-the-record comments as empirical evidence but a complete liar?
He's a liar and a crank, and he included a discussion of an Iron Age superstition in a Physics book. But no he doesn't have an agenda. Sure.

31. Steven,

I don't know Luke Barnes and don't like judging people based on some words they type into a comment interface on some blog. Having said that, I constantly deal with scientists who make the same mistakes as he does: arguments from authority and popularity. It's not because they are liars but it's because (a) they never learned how to lead correct arguments and (b) don't care learning it.

This is basically why I wrote my book. They have no idea what they are even doing wrong, but are perfectly sure they can't be wrong because everyone they know agrees with them.

And then they get offended if you tell them that's group think in action. And, yeah, fine-tuning arguments are one example for that, though not the only one.

That's why I keep saying this problem isn't going away just because they drop one of their nutty ideas. This problem goes far deeper.

32. The multiverse is not just idle speculation. It could of course be false. However the atomic theory was unproven as well for a long time. The main point of my argument is that if we think of these other cosmologies with larger vacuum energy, or cosmological constant, are in a sense virtual the fine tuning hypothesis is not a necessary condition.

33. Thanks, Sabine.

Steven: "Who provides off-the-record comments as empirical evidence but a complete liar?"

So, now we can all check who is making things up. Have I provided "off-the-record comments"? Here are the published papers and books in which the quotes appeared:

http://www.frankwilczek.com/Wilczek_Easy_Pieces/391_Enlightment_Knowledge_Ignorance_Temptation.pdf
https://www.amazon.com/Grand-Design-Stephen-Hawking/dp/0553805371
https://arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0401424v1.pdf
https://arxiv.org/abs/0705.0164
https://www.amazon.com/Cosmic-Landscape-String-Illusion-Intelligent/dp/0316155799
https://arxiv.org/pdf/hep-th/0702178v1.pdf
https://arxiv.org/pdf/hep-th/0407213v3.pdf

Now, let's be clear: this isn't evidence for fine-tuning. At all. That evidence is in my book.

But it is sufficient to show that you'll just invent facts for your own purposes. You had no idea where those quotes came from, but instead of finding out, you just accused me of providing "off-the-record comments". This must be what makes you so "intellectually terrifying."

34. lukebarnes9:23 AM, June 10, 2020

As you are coy about providing your argument for fine-tuning I will copy it over from your website. And now we see why you are so coy:

"To that end, we might want to know: what would just any old universe look like? A systematic and practical way of attacking this question is to vary the fundamental constants and initial conditions of our universe. If I just picked just any old universe from this set, what would it be like? And the answer is: almost certainly dead."

And of all the "universes" you consider, only one of them is known to be physically possible.
As to the probability that other universes may be possible there is zero information about this: 0 <= probability other universes are possible <= 1.
That's all that is empirically known. This 2-sentence refutation of your life's work was brought to you by my Primary School education.

35. lukebarnes5:49 AM, June 11, 2020

Yes, I understand you are lying sociopath. I see your tactics of breadcrumbing and lying. It's really impressive. If you were 7 years old.

None of those quotes contain empirical evidence supporting universal fine tuning, and you have not provided any in your book of lies.

You have simply considered toy model "universes" with fundamental constants with values different to the actual measured values, and therefore not known at all to be physically possible.

↑Your life's work refuted in one sentence after 2 minutes' thought.

That feeling you are experiencing right now? It is the utter, abject humiliation of a loser.

36. Lawrence Crowell5:49 AM, June 11, 2020

If empirical evidence is provided for fine tuning or a multiverse, then people will believe it. So far, there is none.

37. Steven Evans: An experiment, timshel. Drop a penny onto a smooth, level, cleared desk. Rather than up or down, I predict it'll come to rest on edge.

38. Just so your blatant lie doesn't get buried in the noise (another of your tactics), here's a summary of your lie here.

The Quote:
"The Cosmic Revolutionary's Handbook" Chapter 1 "Understanding Science":
"Today, cosmology - the study of the universe as a whole - is hailed as a paradigm of scientific success.
But what a strange picture! Many find modern cosmology completely unbelievable. The universe, we are told, was born almost 14 billion years ago in a hot fiery event, cheekily named the big bang. At its beginning, everything was compressed into a point of infinite density and infinite temperature."

Luke Barnes' claim here:
"For the record, you missed the whole point of the quote. It's in the words "we are told" - we are explaining the public's view of the Big Bang theory, as we hear from audiences at our talks, not what cosmologists think. "

Your claim doesn't make sense: members of the public are not informing you that the theory is called the Big Bang, nor are they telling you that "everything was compressed into a point of infinite density and infinite temperature."

"We are told" = "Modern cosmology tells us". It is your description of what cosmology tells us and your description is facilely wrong.

Conclusion:
You came here to set the record straight, but you have just told yet another blatant lie.

You are a liar.

39. lukebarnes9:23 AM, June 10, 2020

"But Mr Evans is trying to imply that I invented the idea of the fine-tuning of the universe for life for my own nefarious purposes. "

You have no agenda, no. Here you are lecturing on those 3 great scientific questions Life, the Multiverse, and God:

"Barnes discussed the laws of the universe and what might happen if they were not followed at his lecture titled, “A Fortunate Universe: Life, the Multiverse, and God,”

http://www.thebatt.com/news/astrophysicist-luke-barnes-talks-intersection-of-universe-religion-in-monday-lecture/article_5fcd6fb4-fd6e-11e6-a56c-3b491e289a90.html

Next week, no-agenda Luke will be lecturing on Mass, Energy and the Virgin Birth.

40. Evans wrote: If empirical evidence is provided for fine tuning or a multiverse, then people will believe it. So far, there is none.

You seem to keep missing the whole point of what I am saying. I am not arguing for or against fine tuning. My argument is just that it is not a necessary condition for the cosmology we live in and observe.

41. Lawrence Crowell8:16 PM, June 12, 2020

Based on the mathematical theory you described with the assumptions you make, you have a theory that fine tuning may not be a necessary condition for the one cosmology we observe.

However, based on empirically verified Physics, we have no idea one way or the other. Fine tuning is not even known to be a sensible scientific concept w.r.t the universe itself.

42. It is what Bohm (on entanglement) said: To clarify the signal, add noise. So, as has been noted, to make a scientific (i.e. overrated) prediction, a PDF is required. On offer: “up” or “down” in equal chance with “neither” being an impossibly small albeit not nothing balance due, which is analogous to the deviation of said sought PDF (e.g. superdeterministic; asymptotic safety, etc.) from statistical independence (true randomness), as needed to correct Schrodinger’s equation to resolve the (eternal) truth of the matter (i.e., to bridle thermodynamic chaos), which ostensibly is equivalent to Evans’s tiresome concern: to corral the multiverse. And too, wasn't the CMB once considered noise?

43. It has come to pass as prophesied. The Templeton-funded pie-eater has taken over Cyberspace and the First Amendment lies in tatters. Religio-fascist, Luke Barnes, has driven feedback for popular science books from the Twitterverse. R.I.P.

"When I am Supreme Emperor of Spacetime, there will be a law that says: on pain of death, the sentence "I haven't read the book" must be followed by "and so I don't have an opinion about it."

http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2018/11/guest-post-phillip-helwig-reviews-lost.html

44. There is an unfortunate trend where people try to discredit some hypothesis because it is not inconsistent with some theological ideology. The big bang was criticized similarly, and even banned in PR China. I am afraid this is similar.

I am not arguing for fine tuning, but only to say there is no logic that makes it a necessary condition. I can't go any further in a criticism against it. The argument is then made against multiverse hypotheses, where we currently have no empirical data to either support of refute it. In fact, what support there is for inflationary cosmology, or data that is at least no inconsistent with inflation. means the multiverse has a small degree of support. Remember, inflation tends to imply the multiverse.

45. Lawrence Crowell7:09 AM, June 16, 2020

But inflation is not a physical theory, so there is no empirical support for a multiverse. Clearly, there is little data about the very early universe, so vague theories like inflation are all that are currently possible, maybe. But compare it to e.g. the Higgs field - this theory filled the gap for an explanation of inertia, the maths was precise, it was an example of a well-known physical object (a field), and all physicists agreed it had to be correct. But even it wasn't a physical theory until the boson was observed at LHC. You can't lower the standards of Physics just because a problem is hard or there's little data to go on. Kidding yourself about the status of a theory will just lead to wasted time and resources. (*It seems to me from outside Physics.)

46. It’s a reasoned rule, often enforced here in her majesty’s realm. Nonetheless, ‘twas her what said: prophesies are overrated; simplest by others before: timshel.

47. Inflation is a physical theory. It has about the same empirical status the big bang had before the Penzias-Wilson find of the CMB. I would disagree with your assessment inflation is not physics.

48. Lawrence Crowell5:08 PM, June 16, 2020

Redshift was first observed in 1929 apparently. So presumably from then it was strongly suspected the universe was expanding.

If you claim inflation is physics then provide solid physical evidence for it. There is none. There are just the 2 observations that the universe is flat and homogeneous. And an idea this might have been caused by an "inflationary field" causing the early universe to expand rapidly. That's pretty much it.

49. I disagree, The CMB data gives support for inflation. Inflation predicts the anisotropy observered. It also predicts the second and third peaks in the ΛCDM. You are wrong about this.

50. Lawrence Crowell6:18 AM, June 17, 2020

It's still a vague narrative, though. What *is* inflation exactly - describe it as a physical concept in the same detail that the Higgs Field is described, and describe the action of the inflation field in the same detail as that of the Higgs Field is described, and describe how the inflation field can be observed (c.f. Higgs boson). I don't think this detail exists.
The Higgs Field was predicted because of a clear lack of a source of inertia in theories of the time. I'm not sure the 2nd and 3rd peaks in ΛCDM can't be explained by other tweaks in cosmological models. Also, there are no clear answers yet on the existence of dark energy or dark matter, so all cosmological models are up in the air to some extent.

51. Lawrence Crowell6:18 AM, June 17, 2020

In fact, if you think about the inputs into a cosmological model - matter and energy distribution, fundamental constants, dark matter and energy, inflation, and whatnot, many of these inputs have been measured and are known precisely or within a range. But inflation hasn't been measured and is completely unknown (probably because it doesn't exist) so you can play about with this dial until the model fits whatever data you want it to like a glove.
Cosmologists would be better off trying to fix known problems like dark matter, dark energy and quantum gravity. Of course they do this, too, but...

52. RA05:55 To correct the record, ‘twas a Belgian Priest that in 1927 first noted the expansion, which ultimately prompted that certain German Physicist to mistakenly correct the mistake that wasn’t (Λ). In further contribution to the round I predict not (as on highest authority I cannot be wrong) these from among many simple though not so self-evident truths •that acceleration of the expansion is myth, as Scribe Sarkar holds perchance (as the one true design be fixed with one less parameter than independent dimensions, but certainly not fourteen nor so abstract as Heterodoxies Weinstein and Wolfram respectively posit) •that inflation is likewise fantasy, as said British Knight too claims (even as said puppy wavered, as sure as dinosaurs are dead) •that per Squire Crowell’s remembered implication, on inflation’s false premise the multiverse is therefore logically nonsensical (again FYI the CDL is at least parametrically correct even as the CMB is systematically misinterpreted such that via a too free concordance model phantom space manifests from phantom mass (CDM) albeit falsely) •and that thus Naïve Evans’s fear of phantoms of that sort is indeed unfounded.

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