A Fourth Helping Of Random Thoughts About Physics
A Fourth Helping Of Random Thoughts About Physics You’ll often note mathematicians and physicists expressing descriptive words like beauty and elegance when describing some mathematical equation or something that’s symmetrical. Of course this just exhibits evidence that scientists are human. However, there really is no place for such emotive concepts in science. The equation is what it is; the symmetry is what it is; the laws, principles and relations of science are what they are. They are not beautiful; they are not ugly; they are what they are. Beauty and elegance and related concepts are in the mind of the beholder, and science truths are independent of the human mind.
* Superposition of states is just a mental concept that has no bearing on reality. It is a way of enabling us to come to terms with lack of certainty whether you’re wondering about where that electron is or what the next card to be dealt is going to be or what the fate of Schrodinger’s cat is. Since certainty is normally the bedrock of our existence, we deal with uncertainty uneasily by looking at all the variations that are equally possible. But what is that one possibility that will ultimately be – we’d better check. Meantime…
IMHO, the electron is somewhere with precise coordinates even if you can’t pin it down. It’s not in two or more places at the same time. The next card to be dealt is fixed even if you never peek. Schrodinger’s cat is not both dead and alive but dead or alive even before you open the box.
If you really believe there is a real superposition of states, then substitute Schrodinger’s cat for John’s thermonuclear bomb and be willing to stand by the box that houses and conceals that bomb for the duration. I maintain you’d be foolish to do that since a thermonuclear bomb cannot be both in a state of explosion and non-explosion simultaneously.
But if you seriously believe that a thermonuclear bomb can be in a superposition of states, then after a reasonable time interval has elapsed, you can scurry off to the bunker and send in a robot with a video link to open the box and see if the bomb is intact or not. I feel that will prove to be an unnecessary step. Just like the concept of the superposition of states is an abstraction, a mental concept, the associated collapse of the wave function is just the mental satisfaction gained in resolving an either/or dualism or situation into an either this or that reality (or acceptance that resolution is beyond your means through no fault of your own). But in neither case is there a really real superposition of states or a collapse of any wave function.
* Your mind contains all that makes you, you. It is the essence of you. It contains and controls your perceptions, knowledge, memories, creativity, emotions, your thinking, your understanding or comprehension or ability to figure things out, your personality, and it houses your dreams and daydreams. A frequent topic for discussion in philosophical circles is whether or not the mind, specifically your mind, is the be-all-and-end-all of cosmic reality. The answer IMHO is a resounding “no” because the mind cannot be a perpetual motion ‘machine’. In other words, the mind is like all things (assuming other things), a thing subject to deterioration over time or subject to entropy. All things go downhill – dust accumulates, desks get cluttered, stars run out of fuel, cars breakdown and people grow old. It takes a constant supply of external reality energy and matter (same difference) to keep entropy at bay. That renewal of supply might win the battles, but entropy ultimately wins the war.
* Some more about the Simulated (Virtual Reality) Universe: The apparently real world is a quantum world. The cosmos (with perhaps the exception of gravity) isn’t a continuous structure but comes in discrete bits called quanta. You can have this or that or the next thing, like a 5 cent or 10 cent or 20 cent coin (I’m talking Australia here), but no single coin value in-between. That is, there’s no 3 cent coin, no 7 cent coin and no 15 cent coin of the realm. Well ultimately computer software is either/or as well. Built from the ground up, software code starts off by being either a one or a zero. There’s no software code for 0.5 or 0.99 or 1.5. The second and related bit is what happens if you zoom in on what you know is a computer generated (software) simulation, be it your digital watch, a flight simulator or a video game. It’s like when you zoom in on a newspaper photograph. Eventually you get down to irreducible and thus individual dots of differing shades – pixels. Pixels are also the measure used when talking about computer screen or TV monitor resolution. The more pixels you have per unit of area, the sharper the resulting image. Now zoom in on something you think isn’t simulated, like a hair on your head or that diamond on that ring on your finger or that lettuce leaf in your salad.
* Quantum physics may not have to defy common sense, but to date quantum physics DOES defy common sense. Recall Richard Feynman’s famous statement that nobody, not even Feynman himself as he himself admitted, understood quantum physics. Einstein, Schrodinger and even Niels Bohr made similar comments.
* String theory only works if one postulates extra spatial dimensions – six extra dimensions if memory serves. The standard model of particle physics doesn’t postulate or require extra dimensions. Now string theory gets the big thumbs down from me for the reason that the ideas central to string theory go back way over three decades now. In all of that time however, there’s not been one experimental verification of any aspect of string theory. String theorists talk-the-talk but can’t apparently walk-the-walk. Although I only have this as a gut feeling, I think string theory is finally on the wane now. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) should have been able by now to verify one aspect of string theory – super-symmetry (SUSY). Alas, the LHC hasn’t come up with the super-symmetrical goodies. So, methinks string theory is all tied up in untangle-able knots.
* Dimensions just don’t exist as really real reality. You cannot detect dimensions with your five senses. You cannot detect dimensions with any instrumentation at your command that’s known to science, engineering, technology, whatever. Dimensions have all of the same degree of reality as the concept of Wednesday. In fact, I just might claim that there are seven dimensions, one for each corresponding day of the week. It makes just about as much sense. Each concept serves the same general function of assisting us in defining our position in time and space. If it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium! Anyway, since it is clear that dimensions do not have structure or substance (just being mental concepts), scientists should cease referring to them in such ways as to imply that they do.