Cosmologic philosophy (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 16:31 (2058 days ago)

A well thought out commentary on fine-tuning, multiverses,and cosmologic natural selection, which takes an atheistic side, but raises philosophic issues that suggest atheism is not the answer:

"The odds of randomly hitting upon a life-permitting universe seem infinitesimal. When discussing how a relatively small change in the magnitude of dark energy would preclude life, physicist and author Paul Davies wrote, "The cliché that 'life is balanced on a knife-edge' is a staggering understatement in this case: no knife in the universe could have an edge that fine." The problem is to explain why the universe's constants and laws are so precisely fine tuned as to allow for complexity and life. Even if, as another physicist and author Victor Stenger argued, this "fine tuning problem" can largely be explained by established physics, the deep mystery of why our universe has specific parameters and laws that allow complexity and life to emerge in the first place still remains."
................

"The real criticism of cosmological natural selection as a scientific hypothesis is its lack of direct evidence at this point. There is no direct evidence that the universe reproduces. Without that, no natural selection, even before issues of variation and selection come into play. True enough. But keep in mind that from a direct evidence perspective, cosmological natural selection is no worse off at this point than proposed scientific alternatives. There is no direct evidence that universes are created by quantum fluctuations in a quantum vacuum, that we live in a multiverse, that there is a theory of everything, or that string theory, cyclic universes or- brane cosmology even exist.

"And the major proposed alternatives in cosmology do not directly or logically explain the "fine tuning" problem for the existence of complexity and life. Instead, they suggest things like some sort of inevitability, design, unimaginably incalculable luck or an infinite number of multiple universes where every possible universe exists. That last one is enough to make Occam cut his throat with his razor."

............

"If cosmological natural selection proves true, we would not live in a determined world, but in a changing cosmos with an open future. This can be interpreted as optimistic and hopeful. But while processes such as natural selection may allow for the development of life—and there is something spectacularly marvelous about that—there is no evidence that the universe as a whole has consciously planned anything, has life as its conscious goal or consciously cares about our fate. The human tension between the heroic and the humble, this blending of the significant and the insignificant, can be a source for comedy, tragedy or inspiration.

"Ultimately, it will come down to evidence. Science rules by evidence. Our minds expand, while the God of the gaps gasps."


http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2014/06/10/the-logic-and-beauty-of-cosmo...

Cosmologic philosophy

by romansh ⌂ @, Tuesday, July 01, 2014, 23:17 (2038 days ago) @ David Turell

A well thought out commentary on fine-tuning, multiverses,and cosmologic natural selection, which takes an atheistic side, but raises philosophic issues that suggest atheism is not the answer:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2014/06/10/the-logic-and-beauty-of-cosmo...

Interesting, but I don't quite see a philosophical atheism problem here.

Cosmologic philosophy

by GateKeeper @, Tuesday, July 01, 2014, 23:28 (2038 days ago) @ romansh

A well thought out commentary on fine-tuning, multiverses,and cosmologic natural selection, which takes an atheistic side, but raises philosophic issues that suggest atheism is not the answer:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2014/06/10/the-logic-and-beauty-of-cosmo...


Interesting, but I don't quite see a philosophical atheism problem here.

I see no reason to extend what we know about evoulution to universal scales. They do it with math that has no observational evidence. At least multi universe evolution has some evidence. It aint much, but it is ten fold more than even "inflation".

silly math guys. thinking the equation of a human is the answer. Reminds me of a bible thumper. With less adjectives of course.

Cosmologic philosophy

by romansh ⌂ @, Tuesday, July 01, 2014, 23:51 (2038 days ago) @ GateKeeper

A well thought out commentary on fine-tuning, multiverses,and cosmologic natural selection, which takes an atheistic side, but raises philosophic issues that suggest atheism is not the answer:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2014/06/10/the-logic-and-beauty-of-cosmo...


Interesting, but I don't quite see a philosophical atheism problem here.


I see no reason to extend what we know about evoulution to universal scales. They do it with math that has no observational evidence. At least multi universe evolution has some evidence. It aint much, but it is ten fold more than even "inflation".

silly math guys. thinking the equation of a human is the answer. Reminds me of a bible thumper. With less adjectives of course.

If you had a coherent reason not to extend the concept of evolution to cosmological phenomena then I would take your criticism a little more seriously.

Before 1923 we had no evidence of other galaxies either.

Cosmologic philosophy

by GateKeeper @, Wednesday, July 02, 2014, 01:49 (2037 days ago) @ romansh

A well thought out commentary on fine-tuning, multiverses,and cosmologic natural selection, which takes an atheistic side, but raises philosophic issues that suggest atheism is not the answer:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2014/06/10/the-logic-and-beauty-of-cosmo...


Interesting, but I don't quite see a philosophical atheism problem here.


I see no reason to extend what we know about evoulution to universal scales. They do it with math that has no observational evidence. At least multi universe evolution has some evidence. It aint much, but it is ten fold more than even "inflation".

silly math guys. thinking the equation of a human is the answer. Reminds me of a bible thumper. With less adjectives of course.


If you had a coherent reason not to extend the concept of evolution to cosmological phenomena then I would take your criticism a little more seriously.

Before 1923 we had no evidence of other galaxies either.


I can't, I don't agree with what I typed.

I meant ... "I see no reason "NOT" to .." but you knew that.

Cosmologic philosophy

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 02, 2014, 02:54 (2037 days ago) @ GateKeeper

GK: At least multi universe evolution has some evidence. It aint much, but it is ten fold more than even "inflation".

Please give your 'evidence'

Cosmologic philosophy

by GateKeeper @, Wednesday, July 02, 2014, 13:05 (2037 days ago) @ David Turell

GK: At least multi universe evolution has some evidence. It aint much, but it is ten fold more than even "inflation".


Please give your 'evidence'

really David? I will give two pieces. The fish in the rift valley ... cichlids and life of stars. I am not sure as to the reason you needed it though. Also, at these level we have to be precise in what we are saying. The looseness of the energy notions we used before is not comfortable enough for me.. I said, or meant to say, extending evolution to cosmic scales has more evidence than many theoretical math equations at this point. Like inflation. If you need more you can review your many post on the subject.

Cosmologic philosophy

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 02, 2014, 15:06 (2037 days ago) @ GateKeeper

GK: I said, or meant to say, extending evolution to cosmic scales has more evidence than many theoretical math equations at this point. Like inflation. If you need more you can review your many post on the subject.

My many posts in the past have all indicated that I consider multiverse thoeries as pure pie in the sky. It is a cop out trying to explain why this universe is so precise in its organization to allow life. The only possible way of trying to prove multiverses is Penrose's thought that if two universes bumped together we might find circles in the CMB.

Cosmologic philosophy

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 02, 2014, 02:51 (2037 days ago) @ romansh

David: A well thought out commentary on fine-tuning, multiverses,and cosmologic natural selection, which takes an atheistic side, but raises philosophic issues that suggest atheism is not the answer:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2014/06/10/the-logic-and-beauty-of-cosmo...


Romansh:Interesting, but I don't quite see a philosophical atheism problem here.

It is his balanced objection paragraphs, which he then, by his choice, pushes aside:

"The real criticism of cosmological natural selection as a scientific hypothesis is its lack of direct evidence at this point. There is no direct evidence that the universe reproduces. Without that, no natural selection, even before issues of variation and selection come into play. True enough. But keep in mind that from a direct evidence perspective, cosmological natural selection is no worse off at this point than proposed scientific alternatives. There is no direct evidence that universes are created by quantum fluctuations in a quantum vacuum, that we live in a multiverse, that there is a theory of everything, or that string theory, cyclic universes or- brane cosmology even exist.

"And the major proposed alternatives in cosmology do not directly or logically explain the "fine tuning" problem for the existence of complexity and life. Instead, they suggest things like some sort of inevitability, design, unimaginably incalculable luck or an infinite number of multiple universes where every possible universe exists. That last one is enough to make Occam cut his throat with his razor.

I'm with Occam. Bests evidence This flat- space universe ends with the big cold rip.

Cosmologic philosophy

by GateKeeper @, Wednesday, July 02, 2014, 13:12 (2037 days ago) @ David Turell
edited by unknown, Wednesday, July 02, 2014, 13:23

David: A well thought out commentary on fine-tuning, multiverses,and cosmologic natural selection, which takes an atheistic side, but raises philosophic issues that suggest atheism is not the answer:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2014/06/10/the-logic-and-beauty-of-cosmo...


Romansh:Interesting, but I don't quite see a philosophical atheism problem here.


It is his balanced objection paragraphs, which he then, by his choice, pushes aside:

"The real criticism of cosmological natural selection as a scientific hypothesis is its lack of direct evidence at this point. There is no direct evidence that the universe reproduces. Without that, no natural selection, even before issues of variation and selection come into play. True enough. But keep in mind that from a direct evidence perspective, cosmological natural selection is no worse off at this point than proposed scientific alternatives. There is no direct evidence that universes are created by quantum fluctuations in a quantum vacuum, that we live in a multiverse, that there is a theory of everything, or that string theory, cyclic universes or- brane cosmology even exist.

"And the major proposed alternatives in cosmology do not directly or logically explain the "fine tuning" problem for the existence of complexity and life. Instead, they suggest things like some sort of inevitability, design, unimaginably incalculable luck or an infinite number of multiple universes where every possible universe exists. That last one is enough to make Occam cut his throat with his razor.

I'm with Occam. Bests evidence This flat- space universe ends with the big cold rip.

wow, this is what I said and you ask me for evidence. I said "...it aint much ...". But I was implying that we can look around us and see many things evolving. From forces to cosmic webs so it is not a blind leap of faith to extend it to cosmic scales.

exactly how many pieces do we have for inflation? for a flat universe? For the distances we are using in space to be correct? You know the standard model assumes the graviton? What evidence is there for that? for strings?

exactly how many pieces do you have for your god type? So I ask, is cosmic scale evolution any more of a stretch? And you know he uses The word "philosophy" to ease the transition to us thinking it is possible.

BTW, The guy that teaches this puts me to sleep in seconds. But at least if he says it, others will listen.

Cosmologic philosophy

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 02, 2014, 15:16 (2037 days ago) @ GateKeeper


GK: exactly how many pieces do we have for inflation? for a flat universe? For the distances we are using in space to be correct? You know the standard model assumes the graviton? What evidence is there for that? for strings?

Quite correct points. At least Guth claims he has a kind of reverse proof in his book. His predicted curves fit the CMB findings. As for the graviton, gravity is a force field and it should have its own particle, but correct, no evidence. Strings, a complete dead end, with thousands of research careers dependent uppon it. Woit and Smolin both have critical books on it.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 04:21 (1856 days ago) @ GateKeeper

David: A well thought out commentary on fine-tuning, multiverses,and cosmologic natural selection, which takes an atheistic side, but raises philosophic issues that suggest atheism is not the answer:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2014/06/10/the-logic-and-beauty-of-cosmo...

A video to make the point, design is the only reasonable answer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpIiIaC4kRA

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 06:29 (1856 days ago) @ David Turell
edited by dhw, Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 10:46

If it is not falsifiable and the math is superb lets accept it as the truth anyway. Horse feathers! Unbelievable garbage.

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/there-is-still-no-physics-above-science

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by dhw, Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 18:01 (1856 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: If it is not falsifiable and the math is superb lets accept it as the truth anyway. Horse feathers! Unbelievable garbage.

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/there-is-still-no-physics-above-science

QUOTE: "Another voice within this movement is that of philosopher and theorist Richard Dawid. Dawid argues that we can use probability as a stand-in for experiment. That is, using Bayesian analysis, it's possible to determine the probability that a set of facts fits a theory. If the probability is good enough, we can chuck testability. Dawid argues that, because, "no-one has found a good alternative” and “theories without alternatives tended to be viable in the past,” string theory should be assumed legitimate.
In essence, he's arguing that theorized discoveries can be taken as evidence for fundamental theories. If we had the capability of conducting some experiment, it would probably have this outcome because the mathematics works out."


The above argument, which you dismiss as unbelievable garbage, also applies to the God theory.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 00:28 (1855 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "Another voice within this movement is that of philosopher and theorist Richard Dawid. Dawid argues that we can use probability as a stand-in for experiment. That is, using Bayesian analysis, it's possible to determine the probability that a set of facts fits a theory. If the probability is good enough, we can chuck testability. Dawid argues that, because, "no-one has found a good alternative” and “theories without alternatives tended to be viable in the past,” string theory should be assumed legitimate.
In essence, he's arguing that theorized discoveries can be taken as evidence for fundamental theories. If we had the capability of conducting some experiment, it would probably have this outcome because the mathematics works out."


dhw:The above argument, which you dismiss as unbelievable garbage, also applies to the God theory.

He is saying that pure theoretical math is enough proof; no evidence. This math contains multiple assumptions with no basis in experiment or fact. All it is, are 'beautiful' equations. I've presented lots of factual evidence that is strongly inferential.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by GateKeeper @, Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 01:28 (1855 days ago) @ David Turell

Math is just a langue in the end and the equations will fit the philosophy of the writer if we are not careful. No matter how elegant the equations are the experiments have to be done. String theory tries to put physics to the notions that there are no things only events. But space seems to be "something" and wavy strings seem like a fit.

I am not sold on it any more than I am sold on an equation fitting the emotion of "love" yet.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 02:07 (1855 days ago) @ GateKeeper

GK: String theory tries to put physics to the notions that there are no things only events. But space seems to be "something" and wavy strings seem like a fit.

I am not sold on it any more than I am sold on an equation fitting the emotion of "love" yet.

I'm with you. Experimentation is necessary.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 14:04 (1855 days ago) @ David Turell

GK: String theory tries to put physics to the notions that there are no things only events. But space seems to be "something" and wavy strings seem like a fit.

I am not sold on it any more than I am sold on an equation fitting the emotion of "love" yet.


David: I'm with you. Experimentation is necessary.

Yup. With ya on that.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by dhw, Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 21:49 (1855 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/there-is-still-no-physics-above-science

QUOTE: Another voice within this movement is that of philosopher and theorist Richard Dawid. Dawid argues that we can use probability as a stand-in for experiment. That is, using Bayesian analysis, it's possible to determine the probability that a set of facts fits a theory. If the probability is good enough, we can chuck testability. Dawid argues that, because, "no-one has found a good alternative” and “theories without alternatives tended to be viable in the past,” string theory should be assumed legitimate.
In essence, he's arguing that theorized discoveries can be taken as evidence for fundamental theories. If we had the capability of conducting some experiment, it would probably have this outcome because the mathematics works out.

Dhw: The above argument, which you dismiss as unbelievable garbage, also applies to the God theory.

DAVID: He is saying that pure theoretical math is enough proof; no evidence. This math contains multiple assumptions with no basis in experiment or fact. All it is, are “beautiful”equations. I've presented lots of factual evidence that is strongly inferential.

DAVID: If it is not falsifiable and the math is superb lets accept it as the truth anyway. Horse feathers! Unbelievable garbage.

DAVID: (to GateKeeper): Experimentation is necessary.

DAVID: (to dhw): Both arguments [chance and God] have no fallacies. They have no proof.

According to you, accepting theories that are not falsifiable, and not subject to experimentation, and offer no proof amounts to “horse feathers” and “unbelievable garbage”. Unfortunately, the God theory is not falsifiable, is not subject to experimentation, and offers no proof. Ever heard the expression “to shoot oneself in the foot”?

`

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 01, 2015, 00:13 (1854 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: According to you, accepting theories that are not falsifiable, and not subject to experimentation, and offer no proof amounts to “horse feathers” and “unbelievable garbage”. Unfortunately, the God theory is not falsifiable, is not subject to experimentation, and offers no proof. Ever heard the expression “to shoot oneself in the foot”?

I'll be careful with my six-shooter. GK, Tony and I all agree that theories presented by elegant math, from mathematicians' imaginations are just that, fancy imagined dreams. You are correct that God is not falsifiable, but He still remains the best answer to the question of why is there anything? You may stay on your pickets.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Thursday, January 01, 2015, 09:29 (1854 days ago) @ dhw

DHW: According to you, accepting theories that are not falsifiable, and not subject to experimentation, and offer no proof amounts to “horse feathers” and “unbelievable garbage”. Unfortunately, the God theory is not falsifiable, is not subject to experimentation, and offers no proof. Ever heard the expression “to shoot oneself in the foot”?

`

Except that I have argued a means to falsify God. You disagreed. You also disagree that indirect observation qualifies as evidence, apparently. So how do you believe in anything else that can not be directly observed, such as NDE's, cellular intelligence, gravity, etc?

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by dhw, Thursday, January 01, 2015, 14:35 (1854 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

DAVID: I'll be careful with my six-shooter. GK, Tony and I all agree that theories presented by elegant math, from mathematicians' imaginations are just that, fancy imagined dreams. You are correct that God is not falsifiable, but He still remains the best answer to the question of why is there anything? You may stay on your pickets.

I am not defending these elegant maths theories, which may indeed be fancy imagined dreams, but the mathematicians consider them to be the best answer to unanswerable questions. You dismiss them as horse feathers and unbelievable garbage because they are not falsifiable or subject to experimentation, and offer no proof. The God theory is not falsifiable or subject to experimentation, and offers no proof. Remember Hopalong Cassidy? Ah guess ya wasn't careful enurf with that thar six-shooter.

TONY: Except that I have argued a means to falsify God. You disagreed.

The means you proposed was that a false prophecy in the bible would falsify God. I argued that it would falsify the proposal that the bible was the word of God. You kindly produced a quotation from the bible which proved my point, and then you agreed with me, as follows:

Deut 18:22 21"You may say in your heart, 'How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' 22"When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him."

TONY: If a book of the Bible failed in a prophecy, it would certainly falsify the bible as the word of god.

You then went on to insist that the bible WAS the word of God, but that makes no difference to the above argument.

TONY: You also disagree that indirect observation qualifies as evidence, apparently. So how do you believe in anything else that can not be directly observed, such as NDE's, cellular intelligence, gravity, etc?

I'm not sure what you mean by indirect observation. The vast majority of our knowledge comes from things we have learned as opposed to observed directly. If there is a universal consensus that there is a place called Australia, that the Earth goes round the sun, that once upon a time there were dinosaurs but no human beings on our planet, I accept it, and will continue to do so until there is evidence to the contrary. I don't “believe” in NDE's or cellular intelligence - I have an open mind on both, but offer them as possible evidence for different hypotheses which I continue to consider. I haven't thought a great deal about gravity, but since there seems to be scientific consensus that it causes apples to fall downwards, I see no reason to argue (as with my other examples). Evolution is a controversial theory, but with the important proviso that it does NOT exclude God, I find the evidence sufficiently convincing to believe in some aspects of it (common descent and natural selection) but not in others (random mutations and gradualism). There is absolutely no consensus on the existence of God, and I do not find the “evidence” convincing on either side. I am therefore not able to take a decision.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Friday, January 02, 2015, 08:18 (1853 days ago) @ dhw


DHW: I'm not sure what you mean by indirect observation. The vast majority of our knowledge comes from things we have learned as opposed to observed directly. If there is a universal consensus that there is a place called Australia, that the Earth goes round the sun, that once upon a time there were dinosaurs but no human beings on our planet, I accept it, and will continue to do so until there is evidence to the contrary. I don't “believe” in NDE's or cellular intelligence - I have an open mind on both, but offer them as possible evidence for different hypotheses which I continue to consider. I haven't thought a great deal about gravity, but since there seems to be scientific consensus that it causes apples to fall downwards, I see no reason to argue (as with my other examples). Evolution is a controversial theory, but with the important proviso that it does NOT exclude God, I find the evidence sufficiently convincing to believe in some aspects of it (common descent and natural selection) but not in others (random mutations and gradualism). There is absolutely no consensus on the existence of God, and I do not find the “evidence” convincing on either side. I am therefore not able to take a decision.

I mean indirect observation, studying the effects when the cause can not be studied directly. For example, you can't measure gravity directly. You can measure the effect of it, i.e. the degree of attraction between two objects of mass, but you can't actually observe the force itself. This is different than say, electromagnetism, which can be observed directly.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 01, 2015, 15:17 (1854 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained


tony; Except that I have argued a means to falsify God. You disagreed. You also disagree that indirect observation qualifies as evidence, apparently. So how do you believe in anything else that can not be directly observed, such as NDE's, cellular intelligence, gravity, etc?

There are hundreds of verified NDE's in the literature, and gravity is without question.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Friday, January 02, 2015, 08:35 (1853 days ago) @ David Turell


tony; Except that I have argued a means to falsify God. You disagreed. You also disagree that indirect observation qualifies as evidence, apparently. So how do you believe in anything else that can not be directly observed, such as NDE's, cellular intelligence, gravity, etc?


There are hundreds of verified NDE's in the literature, and gravity is without question.

There are LOT's of questions about gravity. It is the least understood of all the fundamental forces, lacking even a single direct observation.

http://www.newscientist.com/special/seven-things-that-dont-make-sense-about-gravity
http://www.scienceclarified.com/Ga-He/Gravity-and-Gravitation.html


https://www.cs.unc.edu/~taylorr/Essays/true_like_gravity.html
"If you ask different physicists about some topics, you get the same answer from each. However, if you ask different physicists about what gravity is, you get different answers. Is it a particle, or a wave, or some sort of field? Does it travel at the speed of light or instantaneously (they really don't know this!)? (They will give the same answer about how gravity behaves at human spatial and time scales, but not about what it is.)"


http://www.icr.org/article/5548/

http://www.universetoday.com/74015/what-causes-gravity/

"That brings us to our current understanding. Gravity still remains one of the biggest mysteries of physics and the biggest obstacle to a universal theory that describes the functions of every interaction in the universe accurately. If we could fully understand the mechanics behind it, new opportunities in aeronautics and other fields would appear."

So many things we "know" that we really don't "know". If someone can 'believe' in gravity, as it is taught in school, a force that can not be detected by any means other than the effect that it has on other objects, why not God?

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by dhw, Friday, January 02, 2015, 12:45 (1853 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

TONY: I mean indirect observation, studying the effects when the cause can not be studied directly. For example, you can't measure gravity directly. You can measure the effect of it, i.e. the degree of attraction between two objects of mass, but you can't actually observe the force itself. This is different than say, electromagnetism, which can be observed directly.

TONY (to David): So many things that we “know” that we really don't “know”. If someone can ‘believe' in gravity, as it is taught in school, a force that can not be detected by any means other than the effect it has on other objects, why not God?

I agree with you totally about things we “know”, and indeed that was the subject of the thread on epistemology. In an absolute sense, we don't “know” anything. But from a practical point of view, I would define as knowledge anything on which there is an almost universal consensus (we have to allow for small minorities, like flat-earthers - though of course they are entitled to their opinion - and what we now count as "knowledge" may well change with new discoveries). Since the universe is so vast and we are so small, we are all restricted in our access to and our interest in “knowledge”, and so we rely on others to keep us informed. You will perhaps be horrified to hear that I couldn't care less about “gravity”. It makes sense to me that if an apple falls, as opposed to floating up into the sky, it must be because there is a force that attracts it downwards, and that force is called gravity. Beyond that, I am not bothered. I am, however, extremely interested in questions about how we got here, an afterlife, the nature of identity and consciousness, and whether there is a greater consciousness than our own. There is no consensus on any of these issues. We have no “knowledge”. Only conjecture. If you say gravity is an issue, I'm happy to let you fight it out with gravity-believers, but whether the theory is true or false won't make the slightest difference to my life or to the fall of the apple. And people won't go round persecuting or killing one another in accordance with their gravity-beliefs, so I'm not alone in my priorities. That is not a defence of my ignorance, but merely an answer to your question. Belief in gravity is not an issue for many of us. Belief in God is.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by David Turell @, Friday, January 02, 2015, 16:08 (1853 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained


Tony: "That brings us to our current understanding. Gravity still remains one of the biggest mysteries of physics and the biggest obstacle to a universal theory that describes the functions of every interaction in the universe accurately. If we could fully understand the mechanics behind it, new opportunities in aeronautics and other fields would appear."

Tony: So many things we "know" that we really don't "know". If someone can 'believe' in gravity, as it is taught in school, a force that can not be detected by any means other than the effect that it has on other objects, why not God?

All true, but your analogy about God does not really fit. We know gravity exists, but cannot fully explain it. Fine. For me God cannot be absolutely proven, but from the evidence I've gathered He must exist. Faith must appear.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Saturday, January 03, 2015, 07:55 (1852 days ago) @ David Turell

David: All true, but your analogy about God does not really fit. We know gravity exists, but cannot fully explain it. Fine. For me God cannot be absolutely proven, but from the evidence I've gathered He must exist. Faith must appear.

Actually, what we know is that objects of mass tend to move towards each other at a very specific rate. We know that size matters, in that particular instance. Gravity is currently just a made up word that we use to explain our observations of the world. We take it on faith that there is a fundamental force that pulls things towards each other, just like we take on faith that there is evolution, or there is a God. We haven't observed evolution any more than we have God or Gravity. We see a bunch of stuff happening that we can not explain without invoking these concepts, and choose to believe in them.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by dhw, Saturday, January 03, 2015, 13:45 (1852 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

David: All true, but your analogy about God does not really fit. We know gravity exists, but cannot fully explain it. Fine. For me God cannot be absolutely proven, but from the evidence I've gathered He must exist. Faith must appear.

TONY: Actually, what we know is that objects of mass tend to move towards each other at a very specific rate. We know that size matters, in that particular instance. Gravity is currently just a made up word that we use to explain our observations of the world. We take it on faith that there is a fundamental force that pulls things towards each other, just like we take on faith that there is evolution, or there is a God. We haven't observed evolution any more than we have God or Gravity. We see a bunch of stuff happening that we can not explain without invoking these concepts, and choose to believe in them.

I agree with all of this, though going back to your original question (“If someone can ‘believe' in gravity [...] why not God?”), I suspect the agreement is based on different premises, so I hope you won't mind if I return to epistemology and the nature of knowledge. ALL our words are made up. The question is whether they denote a reality, and on an absolute level, we have no way of knowing if they do. Even direct observation cannot offer objectivity (people used to see for themselves that the sun moved in the sky). And so you are right that we take explanations on faith, but the next step down from the absolute is the relative, and this is where I would draw a distinction between God, evolution, gravity, the theory that the Earth revolves around the sun, and the theory that if I run full pelt into a lamppost I will hurt myself.

The latter is testable, falsifiable, and definitely observable, and so subjectively I'd say this is not a theory but can be classed as knowledge. There is almost universal consensus on the theory that the earth revolves around the sun, and again subjectively I would class this as knowledge. It appears that there is no universal consensus nowadays on the theory of gravity, in which case what I assumed was knowledge (i.e. there IS an attractive force which we humans call gravity) is not knowledge after all. I'm not that interested, so I'll leave it open. Evolution is a combination of different theories, none of which can be classed as knowledge, because there is nothing like a universal consensus on any of its aspects, but I am sufficiently impressed by certain arguments to believe in common descent and (my interpretation of) natural selection. This constitutes belief, not knowledge.

The God theory is not only divided up literally into thousands of variations (one website actually estimates the number of Hindu gods at 33 million), but it enjoys no consensus. Once again, we are confined to the subjectivity of belief. So I agree with you 100% that we choose to believe or not believe, but in certain instances our beliefs may be upgraded to a relative form of “knowledge” (one step below the absolute, in terms of an almost universal consensus), though this may change with new discoveries. (Might that be the case with gravity?) In my opinion, some beliefs - e.g. God, the multiverse, 11 dimensions, an invisible teapot orbiting the sun - are not open to falsification, experimentation or new discoveries that can raise them to the status of relative “knowledge”. Even BBella's new discoveries still left her with the conclusion that in such cases, “The Truth for us will always be personal.”

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Saturday, January 03, 2015, 15:47 (1852 days ago) @ dhw

DHW: The question is whether they denote a reality, and on an absolute level, we have no way of knowing if they do. Even direct observation cannot offer objectivity (people used to see for themselves that the sun moved in the sky). And so you are right that we take explanations on faith, but the next step down from the absolute is the relative, and this is where I would draw a distinction between God, evolution, gravity, the theory that the Earth revolves around the sun, and the theory that if I run full pelt into a lamppost I will hurt myself.

The latter is testable, falsifiable, and definitely observable, and so subjectively I'd say this is not a theory but can be classed as knowledge. There is almost universal consensus on the theory that the earth revolves around the sun, and again subjectively I would class this as knowledge. It appears that there is no universal consensus nowadays on the theory of gravity, in which case what I assumed was knowledge is not knowledge after all. I'm not that interested, so I'll leave it open. Evolution is a combination of different theories, none of which can be classed as knowledge, because there is nothing like a universal consensus on any of its aspects, but I am sufficiently impressed by certain arguments to believe in common descent and (my interpretation of) natural selection. This constitutes belief, not knowledge.

I'm well aware that you are not interested in gravity, and that lack of interest is of little relevance to the conversation at hand. What is relevant, is that you choose to believe in something which, contrary to your argument, is not testable, falsifiable, or observable, and your willingness to argue its case despite those failings. That my friend, is a small foray into the realm of faith. Faith is the assured expectation of things not beheld. Universal Consensus based on indirect observation is literally no different than universal faith in something. This is the arrogance of science, to think that, as an institution, it is somehow above faith.

DHW: Once again, we are confined to the subjectivity of belief. So I agree with you 100% that we choose to believe or not believe, but in certain instances our beliefs may be upgraded to a relative form of “knowledge” (one step below the absolute, in terms of an almost universal consensus), though this may change with new discoveries. BBella's new discoveries still left her with the conclusion that in such cases, “The Truth for us will always be personal.”

For all that I have said about it, I am not trying to criticize belief. But let me offer a counter to your phrasing here. Belief is think something is true, regardless of evidence (direct or indirect), while faith is based on an abundance of indirect observations for which we find an argument to be an overwhelmingly valid explanation. Knowledge, does not really belong to humanity. As you say, we have consensus, but all that consensus is, really, is faith. Faith that any and all of the assumptions that our knowledge is built upon is also correct, so that the conclusions that we reach are also correct. There is nothing that is not built upon assumptions somewhere.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by dhw, Sunday, January 04, 2015, 22:22 (1851 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

TONY: I'm well aware that you are not interested in gravity, and that lack of interest is of little relevance to the conversation at hand. What is relevant, is that you choose to believe in something which, contrary to your argument, is not testable, falsifiable, or observable, and your willingness to argue its case despite those failings.

I am baffled. My reference to “testable, falsifiable etc.” was in relation to the theory that if I ran full pelt into a lamppost I would hurt myself. As regards gravity, I wrote: “It appears that there is no universal consensus nowadays on the theory of gravity, in which case what I assumed was knowledge (i.e. there IS an attractive force which we humans call gravity) is not knowledge after all. I'm not that interested, so I'll leave it open.” Where have I argued the case for gravity? I wouldn't have a clue!

TONY: That my friend, is a small foray into the realm of faith. Faith is the assured expectation of things not beheld. Universal Consensus based on indirect observation is literally no different than universal faith in something. This is the arrogance of science, to think that, as an institution, it is somehow above faith.

Science cannot be arrogant. It is some scientists who are arrogant. But you are using the word “faith” rather loosely. We make “small forays” into certain kinds of faith all the time. If I didn't have faith in the designers, engineers, mechanics, materials, pilots etc., I'd never step onto a plane. Your next paragraph shows the problem connected with your use of the word.

TONY: For all that I have said about it, I am not trying to criticize belief. But let me offer a counter to your phrasing here. Belief is think something is true, regardless of evidence (direct or indirect), while faith is based on an abundance of indirect observations for which we find an argument to be an overwhelmingly valid explanation. Knowledge, does not really belong to humanity. As you say, we have consensus, but all that consensus is, really, is faith. Faith that any and all of the assumptions that our knowledge is built upon is also correct, so that the conclusions that we reach are also correct. There is nothing that is not built upon assumptions somewhere.

We're back to epistemology: on an absolute level, there is no knowledge. And so on that level, of course science is not “above faith”. Scientists have to have faith that the materials they are examining are real, there is a link between cause and effect etc. As a layman I also have to have faith that not all scientists are arrogant, ignorant deceivers, and that if there is a consensus among them, there is a good chance that their conclusions are correct, e.g. the Earth does go round the sun. These “assumptions” allow us all to function on a lower, relative level and enable us to form beliefs. I agree that belief is something we think is true, and faith can mean exactly the same: regardless of the type of evidence, we regard the argument as valid. But faith can also mean trust or confidence in something or someone - nothing to do with arguments. And as you well know, it is used specifically in a religious context to mean both belief and trust in God. This is where your use of “faith” seems to me to be out of kilter. I can't see any link here with gravity. If an apple falls on my head, and scientists agree that it's because of an attractive force we call gravity, I'll be inclined to believe them. (If they disagree, I'll stay neutral). I'd never call belief in their theory “faith”: I wouldn't trust in gravity, or place my life in the hands of gravity, or think gravity would take care of me, protect me, keep me safe. On this epistemological level, belief in the theory of gravity has nothing to do with faith.

To sum up, I agree that there is nothing that is not built upon assumptions somewhere. If we find that our assumptions are borne out by experience, our own assessment of the evidence, or universal agreement, we are likely to believe them: experience and assessment are subjective, and universal agreement is as close to objectivity as we can get, which is why we may call it knowledge (relative sense, not absolute).

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by David Turell @, Saturday, October 17, 2015, 01:17 (1565 days ago) @ dhw

MASSIMO PIGLIUCCI, an atheist philosopher primarily of evolutionary science, takes on the 'physics wars' now raging over multiverse/string theory as real science or just as math constructs with no way to prove it.:

http://www.philosophersmag.com/index.php/footnotes-to-plato/77-string-theory-vs-the-pop...

"There is trouble within the fundamental physics community, as the title of a popular book by physicist Lee Smolin openly puts it. The trouble in question is rooted in the dominance of so-called superstring theory, despite its utter lack of empirical verifiability (as Peter Woit, another critic, put it in the title of his book, it is “not even wrong”).

"Not so, replies prominent physicist Leonard Susskind in yet another book written for the broader public, accusing colleagues like Smolin of being “Popperazzi,” i.e., rather unthinking followers of the philosopher Karl Popper and his idea that scientific theories ought to be falsifiable (i.e., capable of being shown false on empirical grounds, if they are, in fact, false).

"What's going on here? Welcome to the Physics Wars (TM). Smolin and Susskind are far from the only highly visible players in the physics community to make uncharacteristically, shall we say, bold statements about each other's credentials, intelligence, and more or less base (as seen from the other side) motives.

"When George Ellis and Joe Silk wrote an op-ed in the prestigious Nature magazine, dramatically entitled “Defend the integrity of physics,” cosmologist Sean Carroll responded via Twitter (not exactly a prestigious scientific journal, but much more effective in public discourse) with, and I quote: “My real problem with the falsifiability police is: we don't get to demand ahead of time what kind of theory correctly describes the world.” The “falsifiability police”? Wow.

***

"The focus, of course, is superstring theory and related concepts (such as that of a multiverse), which appear to be dominant in the fundamental physics and cosmology communities at the moment, and yet have gathered an increasingly vociferous number of critics who allege that these mathematical constructs are just that: math (possibly even useful math), but not science."

Comment: I have demonstrated much of the war here. Can the truth be discovered by the use of maths alone? Not likely.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 30, 2015, 15:11 (1491 days ago) @ David Turell

Peter Woit, a strong critic of string theory reviews a new book, Why String Theory?, favorably, as the book admits the theory is not testable:

http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=8214

"The book is explicitly motivated by the desire to answer a lot of the criticism of string theory that has become rather widespread in recent years (wasn't always so…). For a typical example from the last few days, see Why String Theory is Not a Scientific Theory at Starts With a Bang. I have mixed feelings about this sort of thing. It gets the main point quite right, that string theory unification is untestable, having failed to make any predictions, and by the conventional understanding of the scientific method, it's past the time at which most theorists should have abandoned it and moved on. On the other hand, I don't see at all the point to arguing about the term “scientific theory”. Sure, it's a scientific theory, a failed one. I've personally never noticed any consistent usage by physicists of terms like “theory”, “model” and “hypothesis” in ways that accurately indicate degree of experimental support, don't see why some writers insist that there is one. I also very strongly object to the article's standard move of trying to make a failed theory a “mathematical theory”. Mathematics is about well-defined ideas, and there is currently no such mathematical construct as “string theory”. The problems with string theory have nothing do with mathematics, rather have to do with a physical idea that didn't work out.

***


"The most serious problem with the anthropic landscape is that it provides a cheap and lazy explanation that does not come from hard calculation and also has no clear experimental test. It sounds exciting, but does not offer lasting sustenance, and may even act as a deterrent against necessary hard work developing new calculational tools.

"Of course, this does no mean that the anthropic approach is necessarily wrong. However the triumph of science has been not because it contains ideas that are not necessarily wrong, but because it contains ideas that are, in some important sense, known to be true: ideas which have either passed experimental test or are glued together by calculation. The anthropic landscape is neither of these. It represents incontinence of speculation joined to constipation of experiment.

"Instead of Harlow's claims that string theory makes lots of postdictions, coming very close to reproducing the complete standard model, modulo some technical issues, Conlon deals with the situation in a much more honest and straightforward fashion. Of the fourteen chapters of the book, chapter 7 is entitled “Direct Experimental Evidence for String Theory.” Here's the entire content of chapter 7:

"There is no direct experimental evidence for string theory.

***

"Many of his colleagues have adopted the attitude that, while connecting string theory to experiment is hopeless, it deserves investigation purely as an idea about quantum gravity. While Conlon devotes a fair amount of space to the arguments about quantum gravity and string theory claims about them (including some criticism of loop quantum gravity) he avoids much of the usual hype, and also makes it clear that he himself isn't interested in pursuing this because of the lack of any hope of ever testing one's ideas. In some sense I think he and I agree here: it is only if one's idea for quantizing space-time degree of freedom connects up somehow to our successful theories of other quantized degrees of freedom that one will have any hope of ever knowing whether one has the right theory of quantum gravity. Absent a connection of this kind, one is doomed to become just another cog in an endless fruitless ideological argument about whose quantum theory of gravity is better (or at least, whose sucks less)."

Comment: There are cracks appearing ion the façade of string theory.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/inflation theory

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 30, 2015, 15:41 (1491 days ago) @ David Turell

A very long review article on the current state of cosmologic research:

https://aeon.co/essays/will-we-ever-understand-the-beginning-of-the-universe?utm_source...

"'But cosmology's hot streak has stalled. Cosmologists have looked deep into time, almost all the way back to the Big Bang itself, but they don't know what came before it. They don't know whether the Big Bang was the beginning, or merely one of many beginnings. Something entirely unimaginable might have preceded it. Cosmologists don't know if the world we see around us is spatially infinite, or if there are other kinds of worlds beyond our horizon, or in other dimensions. And then the big mystery, the one that keeps the priests and the physicists up at night: no cosmologist has a clue why there is something rather than nothing.

"To solve these mysteries, cosmologists must make guesses about events that are absurdly remote from us. Guth's theory of inflation is one such guess. It tells us that our Universe expanded, exponentially, a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. In most models of this process, inflation's expansive kick is eternal. It might cease in particular parts of the cosmos, as it did in our region, after only a fraction of a second, when inflation's energy transformed into ordinary matter and radiation, which time would sculpt into galaxies. But somewhere outside our region, inflation continued, generating an infinite number of new regions, including those that are roaring into existence at this very moment.

***

"When you read that word cosmos, you might begin to imagine the most expansive physical world your mind can build. Deep fields of glittering, star-filled galaxies stretching out in every direction, and maybe into forever. But even that image represents only the barest sliver of what is meant by ‘cosmos'. To build a cosmos, you have to extend your imagination to all of space and all of time. Only one of Earth's creatures can pull off that cognitive trick. All living things are attuned to their environment: bacteria can sense chemical shifts in their immediate surroundings; migrating birds know our planet well enough to wing annually across its whole face; dung beetles navigate by the light of the Milky Way. But only the human being lives inside a cosmos, and only recently.

***

"Inflation could turn out to be right in the end. Some of its predictions have come true. At the moment, there is no alternative theory of the early Universe that explains more. But cosmologists should be searching for one. They should not be waving away inflation's fine-tuning problems with the multiverse. Until eternal inflation is testable and tested, successfully, again and again, cosmologists should not allow it to monopolise the collective theoretical imagination. Inflation is a speculative theory, and it should be treated as such.

***

"The real trouble with eternal inflation's multiverse is that it can't be tested, at least not yet. We can't put a telescope in the regions outside ours. We have to look for evidence of the multiverse in our region. What should we look for? It's hard to say, because the multiverse explores every combination of cosmic conditions an endless number of times. It's not clear that any combination is likelier than any other. Theorists are trying to determine whether some conditions are more probable than others, but they haven't succeeded yet, and there's no guarantee they will. In the meantime, it's hard to know whether inflation's fine-tuning problems are genuine explanatory gaps that need exploring, or quirky outcomes of the quantum slot machine. The theory's weaknesses can be explained away with the same glib shrug that accompanies the retort: ‘God just made it that way.'"

Comment: Well worth the long read

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/inflation theory

by dhw, Thursday, December 31, 2015, 13:22 (1490 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: A very long review article on the current state of cosmologic research:
https://aeon.co/essays/will-we-ever-understand-the-beginning-of-the-universe?utm_source...

QUOTE:"'But cosmology's hot streak has stalled. Cosmologists have looked deep into time, almost all the way back to the Big Bang itself, but they don't know what came before it. They don't know whether the Big Bang was the beginning, or merely one of many beginnings. Something entirely unimaginable might have preceded it. Cosmologists don't know if the world we see around us is spatially infinite, or if there are other kinds of worlds beyond our horizon, or in other dimensions. And then the big mystery, the one that keeps the priests and the physicists up at night: no cosmologist has a clue why there is something rather than nothing.”

Thank you for this very stimulating article, and for your selection of insightful quotes. I've left the above, because it is such a brilliant summary of our total ignorance on all these matters. There is just one other paragraph I would select, which I found quite surprising in its apparent certainty:

QUOTE: "There are other theories of nature that treat fine-tuning as evidence in this way. Proponents of these theories will often trot out aspects of the natural world that seem too good to be true, and use them as evidence for an entity that can't be sensed directly. Something as marvellous as the human eye could not have simply emerged from nature, they will say. It must have been crafted and honed by a mind like my own. Except it wasn't. Eyes evolved, independently, on more than 40 branches of life's tree. The eye looks designed to you because you do not understand the deeper properties of the world you inhabit. This is what usually happens to evidential fine-tuning. Science dissolves it into the clean, purring operations of nature's fundamental laws. Fine-tuning usually signals weakness in a theory, not strength. When fine-tuning is used as evidence for a grand metaphysical apparatus capable of making anything and everything, it usually means that something has gone amiss."

My agnostic self bridled at this. I am surprised that someone so deeply conscious of the vast gaps in our knowledge should claim to know the deeper properties of the world we inhabit, and feels able to explain the astonishing complexities of evolution simply as the purring operations of nature's fundamental laws. Does anyone know the fundamental law that produced life, reproduction, the ability to evolve, see, hear, think? A strange departure from the admirable open-mindedness that permeates the rest of the article.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/inflation theory

by David Turell @, Thursday, December 31, 2015, 15:06 (1490 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: QUOTE: "There are other theories of nature that treat fine-tuning as evidence in this way. Proponents of these theories will often trot out aspects of the natural world that seem too good to be true, and use them as evidence for an entity that can't be sensed directly. Something as marvellous as the human eye could not have simply emerged from nature, they will say. It must have been crafted and honed by a mind like my own. Except it wasn't. Eyes evolved, independently, on more than 40 branches of life's tree. The eye looks designed to you because you do not understand the deeper properties of the world you inhabit. This is what usually happens to evidential fine-tuning. Science dissolves it into the clean, purring operations of nature's fundamental laws. Fine-tuning usually signals weakness in a theory, not strength. When fine-tuning is used as evidence for a grand metaphysical apparatus capable of making anything and everything, it usually means that something has gone amiss."

My agnostic self bridled at this. I am surprised that someone so deeply conscious of the vast gaps in our knowledge should claim to know the deeper properties of the world we inhabit, and feels able to explain the astonishing complexities of evolution simply as the purring operations of nature's fundamental laws. Does anyone know the fundamental law that produced life, reproduction, the ability to evolve, see, hear, think? A strange departure from the admirable open-mindedness that permeates the rest of the article.

Your reaction is the same as mine. I've read this paragraph several times to see if I misinterpreted it, and didn't include it in my summaries because it seemed so out of step, and I wondered I was confused. Apparently not.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning constants

by David Turell @, Sunday, May 08, 2016, 14:55 (1361 days ago) @ David Turell

This is a long essay on the constants that support the fine tuning of the universe. It starts with a discussion of the speed of light, and the title suggests that is all there is, but it ranges on to explain many aspects of the constants. It explains the virtual vacuum space we exist in. Worth reading for education:

https://aeon.co/essays/why-is-the-speed-of-light-the-speed-of-light?utm_source=Aeon+New...

"What's a quantum fluctuation? Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle states that there is always some indefiniteness associated with physical measurements. According to classical physics, we can know exactly the position and momentum of, for example, a billiard ball at rest. But this is precisely what the Uncertainty Principle denies. According to Heisenberg, we can't accurately know both at the same time. It's as if the ball quivered or jittered slightly relative to the fixed values we think it has. These fluctuations are too small to make much difference at the human scale; but in a quantum vacuum, they produce tiny bursts of energy or (equivalently) matter, in the form of elementary particles that rapidly pop in and out of existence.

***

"It will take a full analysis and some experiments to prove that c can really be derived from the quantum vacuum. Nevertheless, Leuchs tells me that he continues to be fascinated by the connection between classical electromagnetism and quantum fluctuations, and is working on a rigorous analysis under full quantum field theory. At the same time, Urban and colleagues suggest new experiments to test the connection. So it is reasonable to hope that c will at last be grounded in a more fundamental theory. And then - mystery solved?

***

"The speed of light is, of course, just one of several ‘fundamental' or ‘universal' physical constants. These are believed to apply to the entire universe and to remain fixed over time. The gravitational constant G, for example, defines the strength of gravity throughout the Universe. At small scales, Planck's constant h sets the size of quantum effects and the tiny charge on the electron e is the basic unit of electricity.

"The numerical values of these and other constants are known to excruciating precision. For instance, h is measured as 6.626070040 × 10?34 joule-second (to within 10-6 per cent!). But all these quantities raise a host of unsettling questions. Are they truly constant? In what way are they ‘fundamental'? Why do they have those particular values? What do they really tell us about the physical reality around us?

***

"In 1899, Max Planck, who founded quantum physics, examined the relations among h, c and G and the three basic aspects or dimensions of physical reality: space, time, and mass. Every measured physical quantity is defined by its numerical value and its dimensions. We don't quote c simply as 300,000, but as 300,000 kilometres per second, or 186,000 miles per second, or 0.984 feet per nanosecond. The numbers and units are vastly different, but the dimensions are the same: length divided by time. In the same way, G and h have, respectively, dimensions of [length3/(mass x time2)] and [mass x length2/time]. From these relations, Planck derived ‘natural' units, combinations of h, c and G that yield a Planck length, mass and time of 1.6 x 10-35 metres, 2.2 x 10-8 kilogrammes, and 5.4 x 10-44 seconds. Among their admirable properties, these Planck units give insights into quantum gravity and the early Universe.

***

"Perhaps the most intriguing of the dimensionless constants is the fine-structure constant ?. It was first determined in 1916, when quantum theory was combined with relativity to account for details or ‘fine structure' in the atomic spectrum of hydrogen. In the theory, ? is the speed of the electron orbiting the hydrogen nucleus divided by c. It has the value 0.0072973525698, or almost exactly 1/137.....

"But no one has yet explained the value 1/137, a number with no obvious antecedents or meaningful links. The Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman wrote that ? has been ‘a mystery ever since it was discovered… a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man. You might say the “hand of God” wrote that number, and “we don't know how He pushed his pencil”.'

***

"Perhaps it isn't possible for the intellect to overcome a sense of the arbitrariness of things. We are close here to the old philosophical riddle, of why there is something rather than nothing. That's a mystery into which perhaps no light can penetrate."

Comment: Note, no explanation for why things are the way they are.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory

by David Turell @, Saturday, January 03, 2015, 15:18 (1852 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

Tony: We take it on faith that there is a fundamental force that pulls things towards each other, just like we take on faith that there is evolution, or there is a God. We haven't observed evolution any more than we have God or Gravity. We see a bunch of stuff happening that we can not explain without invoking these concepts, and choose to believe in them.

Here we are in full agreement. Faith is a willingness to choose.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory die!

by David Turell @, Friday, January 16, 2015, 15:06 (1839 days ago) @ David Turell

Current math's in physics go no-where. Multiverse, string theory has no proof just beautiful math. Now the objections are getting stronger:

http://bryanappleyard.com/physics-superstitions-and-allegories/

“The idea,” says physicist Lee Smolin, “that the truth about nature can be wrestled from pure thought through mathematics is overdone… The idea that mathematics is prophetic and that mathematical structure and beauty are a clue to how nature ultimately works is just wrong.”

"And in an explosive essay published last week in the science journal Nature astrophysicists George Ellis and Joe Silk say that the wild claims of theoretical physicists are threatening the authority of science itself.

“This battle for the heart and soul of physics,” they write, “is opening up at a time when scientific results — in topics from climate change to the theory of evolution — are being questioned by some politicians and religious fundamentalists. Potential damage to public confidence in science and to the nature of fundamental physics needs to be contained by deeper dialogue between scientists and philosophers….The imprimatur of science should be awarded only to a theory that is testable. Only then can we defend science from attack.

"Unger and Smolin have also just gone into print with a monumental book - The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time - which systematically takes apart contemporary physics and exposes much of it as, in Unger's words, “an inferno of allegorical fabrication.” The book says it is time to return to real science which is tested against nature rather than constructed out of mathematics. Physics should no longer be seen as the ultimate science, underwriting all others. The true queen of the sciences should be history - the biography of the cosmos.

"So when did it all go so horribly wrong? The critics would say in 1984 when a new idea - superstrings - suddenly seemed to offer physicists an escape from a dead end left behind by Einstein.

“As we see it,” write Ellis and Silk about this development, “theoretical physics risks becoming a no-man's-land between mathematics, physics and philosophy that does not truly meet the requirements of any.”

"To the critics, the idea that we should believe solely in the mathematics is, first, a betrayal of science and, secondly, a demonstrable absurdity. It is a betrayal because science has always been the development of hypotheses in the mind or in the lab which are then tested against what we can find in nature - any theory must be falsifiable by nature or it is metaphysics, faith or superstition.

"Does any of this matter to you? All of it does. The rise of physics to the throne of ultimate science since the early twentieth century has, inevitably, affected ordinary life with its assumptions and not just in sci-fi. For example, contemporary determinism - the idea that everything that happens is inevitable and that our free will is an illusion - springs from twentieth century physics and has, most recently, infected neuroscience.(my bold)

"Perhaps more damagingly, the idea that the human mind, unaided except by mathematics, can encompass the universe has downgraded nature and deluded us into thinking we can do anything. We can't. Nature - human or otherwise - is the only standard by which we or our ideas can be tested. The rest is just chalk on a blackboard."

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory die!

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Friday, January 16, 2015, 15:51 (1839 days ago) @ David Turell

Too bad it is not possible to give George a standing ovation for this. <CLAPS AND CHEERS>":-D"

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory die!

by David Turell @, Friday, January 16, 2015, 18:15 (1839 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

Tony: Too bad it is not possible to give George a standing ovation for this. <CLAPS AND CHEERS>":-D"

Some of it is a desperation to save grants and careers from going down a rate hole. too much money chasing too few new ideas.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory die!

by David Turell @, Wednesday, March 04, 2015, 14:49 (1792 days ago) @ David Turell

Another adverse article about the weakness of string theory, all conjecture based on assumptions and is not testable:

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/blogs/philip-ball/world-thinkers-2015-our-lists-duell...

"One of the key predictions specific to string theory is that the three dimensions of space (up-down, left-right and front-back, say) and the one dimension of space (past-future) are not all there is to the fabric of reality. String theory insisted that there are in fact not four but ten dimensions of spacetime—and Witten's M-theory added one more. We don't see these dimensions because they are “compactified:” in effect rolled up and hidden away, much as the three-dimensional form of a hosepipe looks like a one-dimensional strand from far enough away.

"Proposing something as dramatic as seven extra dimensions, without offering the slightest prospect of testing to see if they are there, is a step too far for some physicists. String theory develops its arguments carefully and systematically, extrapolating from the physics we already know using sound mathematical reasoning. But it cannot avoid making many assumptions on the way, which we have no means of validating, and so it can seem to be nothing but a tissue of speculation. That's why nailing your flag to the mast of string theory has come to be seen as an expression of faith rather than reason, and physics has become polarised into believers and sceptics. Those tensions have been ramped up by the fact that, during the past several decades, string theory looked a little like a monopoly that you had to buy into if you wanted to make an impression in fundamental physics. (It's important to remember, though, that this was only one highly specialized enclave of the entire discipline.)"

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory die!

by David Turell @, Wednesday, June 03, 2015, 20:42 (1701 days ago) @ David Turell

Still no real support for string theory:

https://medium.com/starts-with-a-bang/will-the-lhc-be-able-to-test-string-theory-869e6b...

"Unfortunately, the predictions from the string theorists did not agree very well with the data. The quark gluon plasma in the end doesn't seem to be as strongly coupled as it was thought to be, thus moving it out of the regime where using the gauge-gravity duality would work well, or at least almost out. The LHC, thus, has already tested string theory!

"Unfortunately, the predictions from the string theorists did not agree very well with the data. The quark gluon plasma in the end doesn't seem to be as strongly coupled as it was thought to be, thus moving it out of the regime where using the gauge-gravity duality would work well, or at least almost out. The LHC, thus, has already tested string theory!

"As the romance novels teach us, while you were dreaming of the supersymmetric princess, you would have been better off with the nice girl next door who was always there for you, the one who helped you sort out your strongly coupled problems. Maybe then physicists are eventually settling into a stable relationship with string theory, one in which reality replaces dreams. The LHC, then, will test how seriously they take their new commitment."

Cosmologic philosophy:string theory die!

by David Turell @, Thursday, June 11, 2015, 02:53 (1693 days ago) @ David Turell

From a string theorist who is doing something else. Why? 30 years and going nowhere:

http://www.reddit.com/r/Physics/comments/271apx/a_view_from_an_exstring_theorist/

"The main problem within String Theory at the moment is a publish or perish simplification problem. This has arisen because of the lack of String Theory jobs in academia, and the huge amount of PhD String Theorists. I believe that you could fill all faculty positions in String Theory in the USA with just the String Theory PhD graduates from Princeton. It makes competition intense right from the beginning, and means that a vanishingly small number of students will ever get to study String Theory professionally. When you're doing a post-doc or trying to achieve tenure things are even worse. Every result you publish must be verging on Earth-shattering, and you've got to publish a lot of them. This has lead to massive simplifications in the problems being tackled, with a lot of hyperbole heaped on top of them so that they'll appear important. It's made it very important to work with well known people in the field, not because they'll make your work better, but because then at least, your work will be read, and hopefully cited. The really thorny problems in String Theory and Quantum Gravity are not worked on very much, it's suicide at any point in your career unless you're a tenured professor. So we have many people spending the most productive years of their careers doing as much String Theory laundry as possible which strikes the balance between ease and potential importance. It is very very tough.

"Anyone interested in String Theory needs to think very very hard on what they want to do with themselves. They need to get a String Theory textbook and work through it, every problem, however long it takes. They need to make sure they really like it, because, once they start grad school, all they've got to look forward to is eighty hour weeks on very long calculations, with the only payout being the occasional bit of pride when you produce something you're proud of. That doesn't happen very often. Nima Arkani-Hamed once told me that he thinks you're very lucky if you get a good idea once every three years and he's one of the most productive and smartest theorists in the world"

Cosmologic philosophy:string theory die!

by David Turell @, Sunday, July 05, 2015, 15:15 (1669 days ago) @ David Turell

A new conference looks at the necessity for empirical evidence vs. theories going no where:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22730283.900-physicists-launch-fight-to-make-data...

"Last week, the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Canada, hosted its inaugural Convergence conference at the same time as Strings 2015, the world's largest string theory conference, was taking place in Bangalore, India. The timing wasn't entirely accidental, says Perimeter director Neil Turok. Although string theory attempts to describe the universe in one theoretical framework, it makes no attempt to explain experimental results, he says.

"'We've been given these incredible clues from nature and we're failing to make sense of them," he told New Scientist. "In fact, we're doing the opposite: theory is becoming ever more complex and contrived. We throw in more fields, more dimensions, more symmetry - we're throwing the kitchen sink at the problem and yet failing to explain the most basic facts."

"Turok's response: a data buffet. Convergence gave researchers a chance to parade their field's most puzzling experimental results, in areas from why 96 per cent of the universe appears to be missing and cosmic inflation to quantum entanglement and the fate of information when matter falls into black holes. The ultimate goal is to give young theorists alternative paths to pursue - ones guided by empirical evidence.

***
"Other physicists presented even more exotic problems for colleagues to chew on. Matthew Fisher of the University of California, Santa Barbara, suggested theorists in search of a challenge could tackle the human brain's connection to fundamental quantum physics.

"'Our ultimate challenge is to understand the conduit through which we understand what is 'out there'," he said. "Cognition is the ultimate mystery."

"John Preskill of Caltech spoke on the quantum structure of black holes and posed a challenge to fellow theorists: "Does space-time emerge from quantum entanglement?" he asked. "The evidence is building for this."

***

"That is why physics must maintain a tenacious grip on experiment. "The most important thing is to have experimentalists talking about real phenomena," Turok says. "We're at this wonderful stage: we've seen the Higgs boson, we've seen the whole universe, our reach is further than ever before... and we're fundamentally confused. What I think we need now are very simple, radical ideas that will point towards new approaches to the big problems.'"

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory die!

by David Turell @, Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 20:05 (1617 days ago) @ David Turell

Another review article debates the question of currently unprovable theories, string and multiverse:

http://nautil.us/blog/is-it-time-to-embrace-unverified-theories

“'[Last year], debates in physics circles took a worrying turn,” physicists George Ellis and Joseph Silk wrote in an essay in Nature. “Faced with difficulties in applying fundamental theories to the observed universe, some researchers called for a change in how theoretical physics is done. They began to argue—explicitly—that if a theory is sufficiently elegant and explanatory, it need not be tested experimentally.”

"In other words, some scientists are calling for new rules of the game. They're asking the community to put as much faith in math as they historically have in evidence.

"The challenge arises from two ideas prominent in modern theoretical physics. The first is string theory, in which small, vibrating strings make up subatomic particles such as protons and electrons.* The second is the so-called multiverse, which postulates that the Big Bang created not just one universe, but instead an infinite array of universes. Both ideas are beautiful; neither can, as far as we know, be tested.

***
“'There are two ways a theory can fail. It can fail by predicting something wrong, and it can fail by turning into being an empty idea that predicts nothing,” says Woit. He thinks that both string theory and the multiverse fail in that they predict nothing observable.

"As Ellis and Silk wrote in Nature, “the issue boils down to clarifying one question: What potential observational or experimental evidence is there that would persuade you that the theory is wrong and lead you to abandoning it? If there is none, it is not a scientific theory.”

"Have we reached the point in physics where it's time to abandon string theory and the multiverse? David Albert, a philosopher at Columbia University, argues no. “It's true there are worries about string theory that they'll never make any contact with experience,” says Albert. But it's a little too early to be defeated, or assume that “string theory will never produce anything empirically accessible to us.”

***

"Albert draws on the history of science, arguing that it is “full of situations where people thought that something was going to be difficult to get at with technologies envisioned, and then a certain amount of cleverness finds a back door.” Albert is careful to say, however, that he isn't necessarily optimistic. He acknowledges the kinds of worries felt throughout the entire physics community but remains hopeful that physicists will find a new way, as they've always done.

“'A lot of people claim that you can never empirically test a claim like the multiverse because by definition you can only see what's in our universe,” says Albert. “But I think that's much too quick.” He argues that certain fundamental laws, which we can empirically prove in our own universe, might mathematically predict the existence of other universes. These laws would therefore be indirect, but compelling evidence of the existence of other universes.

"So perhaps it isn't accurate to conclusively say that we can't empirically test these theories. “I think the right thing to say is that we don't know yet how to test them,” says Albert. “People shouldn't be so scared of that.'”

Comment: It is right to remember, these two theories are just that, theories, with probably no resemblance to reality.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory die!

by David Turell @, Sunday, September 06, 2015, 14:10 (1606 days ago) @ David Turell
edited by David Turell, Sunday, September 06, 2015, 14:23

Another friendly article on the current state of string theory:

http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/august-2015/looking-for-strings-inside-inflation

"Two theorists recently proposed a way to find evidence for an idea famous for being untestable: string theory. It involves looking for particles that were around 14 billion years ago, when a very tiny universe hit a growth spurt that used 15 billion times more energy than a collision in the Large Hadron Collider.

"Scientists can't crank the LHC up that high, not even close. But they could possibly observe evidence of these particles through cosmological studies, with the right technological advances.

***

“'If new particles existed during inflation, they can imprint a signature on the primordial fluctuations, which can be seen through specific patterns,” says theorist Juan Maldacena of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

"Maldacena and his IAS collaborator, theorist Nima Arkani-Hamed, have used quantum field theory calculations to figure out what these patterns might look like. The pair presented their findings at an annual string theory conference held this year in Bengaluru, India,

***

"As a system of mathematics, string theory makes a tremendous number of predictions. Testable predictions? None so far.

"Strings are thought to be the smallest objects in the universe, and computing their effects on the relatively enormous scales of particle physics experiments is no easy task. String theorists predict that new particles exist, but they cannot compute their masses.

"To exacerbate the problem, string theory can describe a variety of universes that differ by numbers of forces, particles or dimensions. Predictions at accessible energies depend on these unknown or very difficult details. No experiment can definitively prove a theory that offers so many alternative versions of reality.
(wow, how honest!)

***

"Scientists could find the patterns of particles with greater than spin 2 in subtle variations in the distribution of galaxies or in the cosmic microwave background, according to Maldacena and Arkani-Hamed. Observational cosmologists would have to measure the primordial fluctuations over a wide range of length scales to be able to see these small deviations.

"The IAS theorists calculated what those measurements would theoretically be if these massive, high-spin particles existed. Such a particle would be much more massive than anything scientists could find at the LHC.

***

"The patterns proposed by Maldacena and Arkani-Hamed are much subtler and much more susceptible to interference. So any expectation of experimentally finding such signals is still a long way off.

"But this research could point us toward someday finding such signatures and illuminating our understanding of particles that have perhaps left their mark on the entire universe."

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory die!

by David Turell @, Sunday, January 10, 2016, 01:45 (1480 days ago) @ David Turell

Another voice in the chorus that wants string theory abandoned:

http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2016/01/string_theory_has_failed_as_a_scientific_t...

"String theory has been the darling of the theoretical physics community for decades. It has reigned as the dominant theory in prestigious US research institutions since the 1980s. Elegant books, TV shows, and grandiose TED talks have hyped it to the public. Brilliant theoretical physicists tell us that this theory is the best answer to the hardest problem that their field has ever attacked.

"All that is fine, but here's the unequivocal truth: string theory has failed as a scientific theory.

***

"Is it time to change our notions of what science is to accommodate a single spectacularly difficult problem and the decades of struggle by those theories attempting to tackle it?

"Remarkably, this exact question has been hearing open debate among proponents of string theory. String theorists met jointly with academic philosophers at a conference last month to talk about what we require of a theory for it to be held as correct. Do we need to test it experimentally? Or, are the qualities of beauty, consistency, mathematical interest, and greater funding proof enough?

"It is a debate on which of two philosophies science ought to follow: empiricism or rationalism. The choice, to this physicist, is stingingly clear.

***

"A different type of philosophical system describes the new guidelines that string theorists lust for: rationalism.

"Rationalism derives truth via the process of deductive logic. Rationalism is the system of the mathematician. Theorems are logically correct because they can be built logically from a dictionary of axioms followed by deductions. Mathematics, however, need not be true in the external universe that we live in and perceive. Mathematics need only make logical sense in the minds of mathematicians. That's not a dismissal: mathematical tools are fantastically useful not only in physics but in engineering, medicine, accounting and a host of other human endeavors.

"The history of science is littered with theories that sounded rationally simple and logically brilliant but turned out to be utterly false empirically. Meat does not spontaneously grow maggots. The Universe does not revolve around the earth. The bumps on the human skull do not reveal the intelligence of the brain residing within. Light does not travel through a luminiferous aether. The failure of these theories was not found through rationalist logic but through careful experiment upon nature itself.

"The fire igniting critics of string theory is not personal animus or professional jealousy. It's the idea that a single theory has become so entrenched and popular in its field that its failures cannot be addressed truthfully. Now, physicists ask that the rules be bent or changed just to accommodate it. To loosen the principles of our fantastically successful scientific method just to allow for one passing theoretical fad to continue would be a disaster.

"Tom Hartsfield is a physicist and science writer. He holds a PhD in physics from the University of Texas."

Comment: Are we forced to accept beautiful math that is going nowhere?

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory die!

by David Turell @, Monday, June 27, 2016, 14:52 (1311 days ago) @ David Turell

Peter Woit reviews the current conferences to come, flying off in many directions, more indefinite than ever:

http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=8604

"One can read the blog comments mentioned to get some idea of the arguments going on about “phenomenology” vs. “mathematics”. The “phenomenologists” argue that they are the ones doing physics and engaging with data, but don't really point out that the models they work with have no known (i.e. not purely speculative) connection to any known physical phenomenon. They're hopeful someday things will be different, but there's no evidence at all of any progress in that direction.

***

"Phenomenologists like Conlon do battle with their Strings 20XX brethren by accusing them of doing “mathematics”, not “physics”, of in essence really being just an offshoot of the String-Math 20XX crowd. There's an implicit argument that such people don't deserve jobs in a physics department, but should move to a math department. I can report though, that while much of the String-Math 20XX research is more than welcome in the math community, that's not true of most of what goes on at Strings 20XX (a conference that very few mathematicians ever attend).

"If you find the current situation confusing, rest assured that you're not the only one…"

Comment: If strings are your thing, there are jobs available, going nowhere.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse/string theory die!

by David Turell @, Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 02:03 (1226 days ago) @ David Turell

Another essay which attempts to show stringy usefulness, with no real result in combining gravity and quantum mechanics:

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160915-string-theorys-strange-second-life/

"String theory strutted onto the scene some 30 years ago as perfection itself, a promise of elegant simplicity that would solve knotty problems in fundamental physics — including the notoriously intractable mismatch between Einstein's smoothly warped space-time and the inherently jittery, quantized bits of stuff that made up everything in it.

***

"And then physicists began to realize that the dream of one singular theory was an illusion. The complexities of string theory, all the possible permutations, refused to reduce to a single one that described our world. “After a certain point in the early '90s, people gave up on trying to connect to the real world,” Gross said. “The last 20 years have really been a great extension of theoretical tools, but very little progress on understanding what's actually out there.”


"Many, in retrospect, realized they had raised the bar too high. Coming off the momentum of completing the solid and powerful “standard model” of particle physics in the 1970s,
they hoped the story would repeat — only this time on a mammoth, all-embracing scale. “We've been trying to aim for the successes of the past where we had a very simple equation that captured everything,” said Robbert Dijkgraaf, the director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. “But now we have this big mess.” (my bold)

***

"Like many a maturing beauty, string theory has gotten rich in relationships, complicated, hard to handle and widely influential. Its tentacles have reached so deeply into so many areas in theoretical physics, it's become almost unrecognizable, even to string theorists. “Things have gotten almost postmodern,” said Dijkgraaf, who is a painter as well as mathematical physicist.
The mathematics that have come out of string theory have been put to use in fields such as cosmology and condensed matter physics — the study of materials and their properties.

***

"String theory today looks almost fractal. The more closely people explore any one corner, the more structure they find. Some dig deep into particular crevices; others zoom out to try to make sense of grander patterns. The upshot is that string theory today includes much that no longer seems stringy. Those tiny loops of string whose harmonics were thought to breathe form into every particle and force known to nature (including elusive gravity) hardly even appear anymore on chalkboards at conferences.

***

“'The problem is that string theory exists in the landscape of theoretical physics,” said Juan Maldacena, a mathematical physicist at the IAS and perhaps the most prominent figure in the field today. “But we still don't know yet how it connects to nature as a theory of gravity.”

***

"This virtual explosion of new kinds of quantum field theories is eerily reminiscent of physics in the 1930s, when the unexpected appearance of a new kind of particle — the muon — led a frustrated I.I. Rabi to ask: “Who ordered that?” The flood of new particles was so overwhelming by the 1950s that it led Enrico Fermi to grumble: “If I could remember the names of all these particles, I would have been a botanist.”
Physicists began to see their way through the thicket of new particles only when they found the more fundamental building blocks making them up, like quarks and gluons. Now many physicists are attempting to do the same with quantum field theory. In their attempts to make sense of the zoo, many learn all they can about certain exotic species.

***

"Maybe it's not even possible to capture the universe in one easily defined, self-contained form, like a globe,” Dijkgraaf said, sitting in Robert Oppenheimer's many windowed office from when he was Einstein's boss, looking over the vast lawn at the IAS, the pond and the woods in the distance. Einstein, too, tried and failed to find a theory of everything, and it takes nothing away from his genius.
“Perhaps the true picture is more like the maps in an atlas, each offering very different kinds of information, each spotty,” Dijkgraaf said. “Using the atlas will require that physics be fluent in many languages, many approaches, all at the same time. Their work will come from many different directions, perhaps far-flung.'”

Comment: Huge article which tries to justify string theory work, even if it has not achieved its goal. Wishful thinking. Note my bold about the 'powerful solid' standard model!

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning video

by David Turell @, Thursday, March 26, 2015, 14:45 (1770 days ago) @ David Turell

A 30 minute video clearly explaining many of the elements of the fine tuning theory, including how special is this Earth for supporting life:

https://youtu.be/VoI2ms5UHWg

Cosmologic philosophy: more fine tuning

by David Turell @, Friday, March 27, 2015, 00:31 (1769 days ago) @ David Turell

The neutron is slightly heavier than a proton, and must be:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150326151607.htm

"The existence and stability of atoms relies heavily on the fact that neutrons are slightly more massive than protons. The experimentally determined masses differ by only around 0.14 percent. A slightly smaller or larger value of the mass difference would have led to a dramatically different universe, with too many neutrons, not enough hydrogen, or too few heavier elements. The tiny mass difference is the reason why free neutrons decay on average after around ten minutes, while protons -- the unchanging building blocks of matter -- remain stable for a practically unlimited period.

"In 1972, about 40 years after the discovery of the neutron by Chadwick in 1932, Harald Fritzsch (Germany), Murray Gell-Mann (USA), and Heinrich Leutwyler (Switzerland) presented a consistent theory of particles and forces that form the neutron and the proton known as quantum chromodynamics. Today, we know that protons and neutrons are composed of "up quarks" and "down quarks." The proton is made of one down and two up quarks, while the neutron is composed of one up and two down quarks.

"Simulations on supercomputers over the last few years confirmed that most of the mass of the proton and neutron results from the energy carried by their quark constituents in accordance with Einstein's formula E=mc2. However, a small contribution from the electromagnetic field surrounding the electrically charged proton should make it about 0.1 percent more massive than the neutral neutron. The fact that the neutron mass is measured to be larger is evidently due to the different masses of the quarks, as Fodor and his team have now shown in extremely complex simulations."

Cosmologic philosophy: more fine tuning

by David Turell @, Monday, September 21, 2015, 04:43 (1591 days ago) @ David Turell

No one knows why the constants have the value they have. They just ARE:

http://aeon.co/magazine/science/the-universal-constants-that-drive-physicists-mad/

"So, let's assume that these constants really are constant. Are they fundamental? Are some more fundamental than others? What do we even mean by ‘fundamental' in this context? One way to approach the issue would be to ask what is the smallest set of constants from which the others can be derived. Sets of two to 10 constants have been proposed, but one useful choice has been just three: h, c and G, collectively representing relativity and quantum theory.

***
"In 1899, Max Planck, who founded quantum physics, examined the relations among h, c and G and the three basic aspects or dimensions of physical reality: space, time, and mass. Every measured physical quantity is defined by its numerical value and its dimensions. We don't quote c simply as 300,000, but as 300,000 kilometres per second, or 186,000 miles per second, or 0.984 feet per nanosecond. The numbers and units are vastly different, but the dimensions are the same: length divided by time. In the same way, G and h have, respectively, dimensions of [length3/(mass x time2)] and [mass x length2/time]. From these relations, Planck derived ‘natural' units, combinations of h, c and G that yield a Planck length, mass and time of 1.6 x 10-35 metres, 2.2 x 10-8 kilogrammes, and 5.4 x 10-44 seconds. Among their admirable properties, these Planck units give insights into quantum gravity and the early Universe.

"But some constants involve no dimensions at all. These are so-called dimensionless constants - pure numbers, such as the ratio of the proton mass to the electron mass. That is simply the number 1836.2 (which is thought to be a little peculiar because we do not know why it is so large). According to the physicist Michael Duff of Imperial College London, only the dimensionless constants are really ‘fundamental', because they are independent of any system of measurement. Dimensional constants, on the other hand, ‘are merely human constructs whose number and values differ from one choice of units to the next'.

"Perhaps the most intriguing of the dimensionless constants is the fine-structure constant ?. It was first determined in 1916, when quantum theory was combined with relativity to account for details or ‘fine structure' in the atomic spectrum of hydrogen. In the theory, ? is the speed of the electron orbiting the hydrogen nucleus divided by c. It has the value 0.0072973525698, or almost exactly 1/137.

"Today, within quantum electrodynamics (the theory of how light and matter interact), ? defines the strength of the electromagnetic force on an electron. This gives it a huge role. Along with gravity and the strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetism defines how the Universe works. But no one has yet explained the value 1/137, a number with no obvious antecedents or meaningful links. The Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman wrote that ? has been ‘a mystery ever since it was discovered… a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man. You might say the “hand of God” wrote that number, and “we don't know how He pushed his pencil”.'

"Whether it was the ‘hand of God' or some truly fundamental physical process that formed the constants, it is their apparent arbitrariness that drives physicists mad. Why these numbers? Couldn't they have been different?
" (my bold)

Comments: If these constants were any different there would be no humans

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning naturalness concept

by David Turell @, Thursday, September 24, 2015, 15:13 (1588 days ago) @ David Turell

Do the particles in the standard model follow a logical pattern or not? Currently no, and only an appeal to multiverse bails out the problem:

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20150922-nima-arkani-hamed-collider-physics/

"Arkani-Hamed's mission — simple to state, but so all-consuming that he barely sleeps — is to understand the universe. “I don't feel I have any time to lollygag, at all,” he said this summer in Princeton. This obsession takes him in several directions, but in recent years one question about the universe has come to preoccupy him, along with the field as a whole. Particle physicists seek to know whether the properties of the universe are inevitable, predictable, “natural,” as they say, locking together into a sensible pattern, or whether the universe is extremely unnatural, a peculiar permutation among countless other, more mundane possibilities, observed for no other reason than that its special conditions allow life to arise. A natural universe is, in principle, a knowable one. But if the universe is unnatural and fine-tuned for life, the lucky outcome of a cosmic roulette wheel, then it stands to reason that a vast and diverse “multiverse” of universes must exist beyond our reach — the lifeless products of less serendipitous spins. This multiverse renders our universe impossible to fully understand on its own terms.

"As things stand, the known elementary particles, codified in a 40-year-old set of equations called the “Standard Model,” lack a sensible pattern and seem astonishingly fine-tuned for life. Arkani-Hamed and other particle physicists, guided by their belief in naturalness, have spent decades devising clever ways to fit the Standard Model into a larger, natural pattern. But time and again, ever-more-powerful particle colliders have failed to turn up proof of their proposals in the form of new particles and phenomena, increasingly pointing toward the bleak and radical prospect that naturalness is dead."

Comment: Despite Stenger's book, fine tuning is alive and well.

Cosmologic philosophy: why is there anything

by David Turell @, Saturday, October 17, 2015, 14:23 (1565 days ago) @ David Turell

Marcelo Gleiser muses and tells us we have no idea how the Big Bang began:

http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2015/10/15/448839381/could-all-really-come-from-nothing

"The origin of the universe is one of the most difficult realities we ponder.

It bends our logic, straining the words we have to describe it. If one is to say the universe started at the Big Bang some 13.8 billion years ago, the immediate reaction is: "But what came before that? What caused the Big Bang?"

"This is the issue of the "first cause" — the cause at the beginning of the causal chain that caused all else but was itself not caused — that has plagued and inspired philosophers for millennia.

"Before philosophy, religions across the globe dealt with the same issue by positing the existence of deities that are beyond the laws of cause and effect. By existing beyond space and time, deities are, by definition, immune to the shortcomings of being human. They can be the first cause.

"Scientists tend to prefer other kinds of explanation about the world, including those that deal with issues of origins. But when it comes to the Big Bang, our theories hit a hard wall. Readers may enjoy this video featured in Aeon magazine, where philosopher Tim Maudlin from New York University addresses some of the difficulties.

"Despite what physicists like Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss say, we are far from understanding the physics of the Big Bang. In fact, it isn't even clear that we can provide a complete scientific explanation of the origin of the universe.

"Every scientific theory is built upon a set of concepts. For example, we use what we call the laws of nature, which are statements of regularities that we find in the behavior of physical systems, such as the conservation of momentum and energy. It's hard to imagine how to construct a theory of the origin of everything that doesn't make use of such laws. Yet, a theory describing the origin of the universe should, as a matter of principle, also explain the origin of the laws of nature.

"Can we conceive of a science capable of doing that? There is no a priori reason we can't. However, current ideas about there being a multiverse, a collection of universes of which ours is one, will not help on this front. They still use a conceptual structure derivative of present-day physics.

"What seems to be needed is a new way of depicting the laws of nature not as static truths about the world but as emerging behaviors that unfold and take hold as time elapses. Physicist Lee Smolin and philosopher Mangabeira Unger hint at this in their book, but don't offer a working approach. (Who can blame them?)

"Still, any explanation needs to start from something. How can we explain everything without appealing to something? Why the universe? It may be one of those questions that will keep tying us in knots for a very long time.

"Marcelo Gleiser is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist — and professor of natural philosophy, physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College."

Comment: Such clear thinking!

Cosmologic philosophy: why is there anything

by dhw, Sunday, October 18, 2015, 12:42 (1564 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Marcelo Gleiser muses and tells us we have no idea how the Big Bang began:
http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2015/10/15/448839381/could-all-really-come-from-nothing

It's nice to read of a theoretical physicist and cosmologist and professor of natural philosophy, physics and astronomy who asks the same questions as us and admits as I do (and as you don't) that he has no answers. Just one interesting hint of an answer:

QUOTE: “What seems to be needed is a new way of depicting the laws of nature not as static truths about the world but as emerging behaviors that unfold and take hold as time elapses. Physicist Lee Smolin and philosopher Mangabeira Unger hint at this in their book, but don't offer a working approach. (Who can blame them?)”

“Static truths” would fit in with your idea of an eternal know-it-all intelligence creating the laws of nature, whereas “emerging behaviours that unfold and take hold as time elapses” clearly suggests evolution without prior planning. But he doesn't commit himself here either.

David's comment: Such clear thinking!

Yes indeed. It's only faith that can dispense with clear thinking.

Cosmologic philosophy: why is there anything

by David Turell @, Sunday, October 18, 2015, 15:21 (1564 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: “Static truths” would fit in with your idea of an eternal know-it-all intelligence creating the laws of nature, whereas “emerging behaviours that unfold and take hold as time elapses” clearly suggests evolution without prior planning. But he doesn't commit himself here either.

David's comment: Such clear thinking!

dhw: Yes indeed. It's only faith that can dispense with clear thinking.

Faith totally clears up the mystery, solves all.

Cosmologic philosophy: can the constants change

by David Turell @, Saturday, November 28, 2015, 18:20 (1523 days ago) @ David Turell

In our universe can the constants change. Sean Carroll thinks it is possible:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/if-space-and-time-can-change-is-anything-constant/

If Einstein's lesson is that purportedly foundational aspects of reality like space and time are actually dynamical and evolving, it's natural to wonder whether the numerical parameters that specify the laws of physics are similarly flexible. Could Newton's constant, which sets the strength of gravity, or quantities like the mass of the electron, actually change with time?

The answer seems to be: maybe. According to our best current measurements, the numerical values for physical parameters in our world seem to be pretty constant. But the possibility that they could change is very real. In a sense, that's the secret to the Higgs boson, which was discovered at the Large Hadron Collider in 2012. Famously, the Higgs “gives mass” to elementary particles like electrons and the different quarks. It does that because there is a Higgs field filling space, interacting with all of those particles. But that background Higgs field wasn't always there. We believe that in the earliest moments after the Big Bang, the Higgs field was stuck at zero, and quarks and electrons had zero mass. These quantities may look constant to us now, but almost every physicist thinks that they have changed since the universe first started.

The ability for seemingly constant things to evolve and change is an important aspect of Einstein's legacy. If space and time can change, little else is sacred. Modern cosmologists like to contemplate an extreme version of this idea: a multiverse in which the very laws of physics themselves can change from place to place and time to time. Such changes, if they do in fact exist, wouldn't be arbitrary; like spacetime in general relativity, they would obey very specific equations.

We currently have no direct evidence that there is a multiverse, of course. But the possibility is very much in the spirit of Einstein's reformulation of spacetime, or, for that matter, Copernicus's new theory of the Solar System. Our universe isn't built on unmovable foundations; it changes with time, and discovering how those changes occur is an exciting challenge for modern physics and cosmology.

Comment: I don't know why Carroll makes that positive declarative statement in bold above. He makes no case for it. It has changed in the past as he shows, but we don't know that the future holds that probability. At least for the moment he is honest about multiverses.

Cosmologic philosophy: Sean Carroll on cause

by David Turell @, Wednesday, November 02, 2016, 00:56 (1183 days ago) @ David Turell

This is a review critically of Sean Carrol's new book: The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself. Very long so I will cover the discussion on causality:

"Carroll "At the deepest level we currently know about, the basic notions are things like “spacetime,” “quantum fields,” “equations of motion” and “interactions.” No causes, whether material, formal, efficient, or final.

"You cannot get away from Aristotle that easily. The language that physicists use is not really a good guide to the theories that they can justify. Here is a guide to talking about fundamental physics like an Aristotelian. Instead of saying that the universe consists of quantum fields, say that quantum fields are material causes. Instead of saying that fields interact with each other, say that those fields are efficient causes, ones serving to actualize in the real world what is potential in each quantum field. To answer the question, “What is a quantum field?” is to identify its formal cause.

***

"..causes create the pattern of the laws of nature; they are not the pattern itself. Sometimes causes create time-symmetric patterns, and sometimes they don’t. The patterns still need an explanation.

"Carroll is among the physicists who argue that the world is better understood the less it seems to have any transcendent purpose.8 To support this sweeping conclusion, Carroll argues that if the universe had a purpose, it would obey teleological laws; but the laws of nature are not formulated in teleological terms. Therefore, by contraposition, the universe has no purpose.

***

"This argument is valid without being sound. The universe could have a purpose without obeying teleological laws. Purpose can be front-loaded into the special initial conditions of the universe, as an arrow shot for the purpose of hitting the bullseye is carefully aimed before being fired. Carroll is placing an arbitrary restriction on how the universe could be purposeful.

"The problem is that Carroll’s definition of a final cause—“the purpose for which an object exists”—is not Aristotle’s definition: “causes which act for the sake of something.” A conscious purpose is a kind of final cause, but Aristotle’s idea is broader.

"We find Aristotelian teleology in nature wherever an efficient cause is directed towards some particular effect...Aristotelian teleology is intrinsic, not externally imposed. Acorns have the ability—but not the conscious desire—to grow into oaks; oaks do not happen by chance or coincidence.

***

"Must we accept the existence of facts that have no explanation, or so-called brute facts? If not, then naturalism, whether poetic or otherwise, should be rejected. This is the core of versions of the cosmological argument that appeal to the principle of sufficient reason, a restricted version of which states that all explainable true propositions have explanations. For example, the theist will argue that the existence of contingent reality is an explainable true fact, and thus has an explanation. But this explanation cannot be another contingent being, and so must be a necessary being.

"Carroll rejects this conclusion:
[T]here are no such things as necessary beings. All sorts of versions of reality are possible, some of which have entities one would reasonably identify with God, and some of which don’t.

"But this rejection, based on the assumption that what is conceivable is possible, is inconsistent with his reply to the challenge of philosophical zombies in Chapter 41: “[T]he logical possibility of a concept depends on whether this or that ontology turns out to be true.”13 So with God.

***

"It’s a mistake,” Carroll argues, “to start embracing mystery for its own sake.” This is a remark that Carroll might take to heart. The naturalist, when faced with the fact that anything at all exists, must immediately surrender before an unfathomable mystery. The success of science, the existence of natural laws, every fundamental property of the natural world—are all in principle inexplicable:

"Why was the entropy low near the Big Bang? … Why does the universe exist at all? … The secret here is to accept that such questions may or may not have answers. … [F]or some questions, the answer doesn’t go any deeper than “that’s what it is.”

***

"The fine-tuning argument need not assume that our existence is the sole purpose of the universe. The laws of physics, Carroll argues, do not allow us to predict the emergence of life: “if we didn’t know anything about the universe other than the basic numbers of [particle physics] and cosmology, would we predict that life would come about? It seems highly unlikely.”24 But this is the wrong calculation. We do not know the sufficient conditions for life. But fine-tuning is concerned with its necessary conditions."

Comment: There is no getting around first cause

Cosmologic philosophy: Sean Carroll on cause

by David Turell @, Wednesday, November 02, 2016, 00:59 (1183 days ago) @ David Turell

This is a review critically of Sean Carrol's new book: The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself. Very long so I will cover the discussion on causality:

Carroll: "At the deepest level we currently know about, the basic notions are things like “spacetime,” “quantum fields,” “equations of motion” and “interactions.” No causes, whether material, formal, efficient, or final.

"You cannot get away from Aristotle that easily. The language that physicists use is not really a good guide to the theories that they can justify. Here is a guide to talking about fundamental physics like an Aristotelian. Instead of saying that the universe consists of quantum fields, say that quantum fields are material causes. Instead of saying that fields interact with each other, say that those fields are efficient causes, ones serving to actualize in the real world what is potential in each quantum field. To answer the question, “What is a quantum field?” is to identify its formal cause.

***

"..causes create the pattern of the laws of nature; they are not the pattern itself. Sometimes causes create time-symmetric patterns, and sometimes they don’t. The patterns still need an explanation.

"Carroll is among the physicists who argue that the world is better understood the less it seems to have any transcendent purpose.8 To support this sweeping conclusion, Carroll argues that if the universe had a purpose, it would obey teleological laws; but the laws of nature are not formulated in teleological terms. Therefore, by contraposition, the universe has no purpose.

***

"This argument is valid without being sound. The universe could have a purpose without obeying teleological laws. Purpose can be front-loaded into the special initial conditions of the universe, as an arrow shot for the purpose of hitting the bullseye is carefully aimed before being fired. Carroll is placing an arbitrary restriction on how the universe could be purposeful.

"The problem is that Carroll’s definition of a final cause—“the purpose for which an object exists”—is not Aristotle’s definition: “causes which act for the sake of something.” A conscious purpose is a kind of final cause, but Aristotle’s idea is broader.

"We find Aristotelian teleology in nature wherever an efficient cause is directed towards some particular effect...Aristotelian teleology is intrinsic, not externally imposed. Acorns have the ability—but not the conscious desire—to grow into oaks; oaks do not happen by chance or coincidence.

***

"Must we accept the existence of facts that have no explanation, or so-called brute facts? If not, then naturalism, whether poetic or otherwise, should be rejected. This is the core of versions of the cosmological argument that appeal to the principle of sufficient reason, a restricted version of which states that all explainable true propositions have explanations. For example, the theist will argue that the existence of contingent reality is an explainable true fact, and thus has an explanation. But this explanation cannot be another contingent being, and so must be a necessary being.

"Carroll rejects this conclusion:
[T]here are no such things as necessary beings. All sorts of versions of reality are possible, some of which have entities one would reasonably identify with God, and some of which don’t.

"But this rejection, based on the assumption that what is conceivable is possible, is inconsistent with his reply to the challenge of philosophical zombies in Chapter 41: “[T]he logical possibility of a concept depends on whether this or that ontology turns out to be true.”13 So with God.

***

"It’s a mistake,” Carroll argues, “to start embracing mystery for its own sake.” This is a remark that Carroll might take to heart. The naturalist, when faced with the fact that anything at all exists, must immediately surrender before an unfathomable mystery. The success of science, the existence of natural laws, every fundamental property of the natural world—are all in principle inexplicable:

"Why was the entropy low near the Big Bang? … Why does the universe exist at all? … The secret here is to accept that such questions may or may not have answers. … [F]or some questions, the answer doesn’t go any deeper than “that’s what it is.”

***
"The fine-tuning argument need not assume that our existence is the sole purpose of the universe. The laws of physics, Carroll argues, do not allow us to predict the emergence of life: “if we didn’t know anything about the universe other than the basic numbers of [particle physics] and cosmology, would we predict that life would come about? It seems highly unlikely.”24 But this is the wrong calculation. We do not know the sufficient conditions for life. But fine-tuning is concerned with its necessary conditions."

Comment: There is no getting around first cause

Cosmologic philosophy: more fine tuning; water

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 29, 2015, 15:10 (1492 days ago) @ David Turell

Without water and the strange properties it has there would be no life:

http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/151208/ncomms9998/full/ncomms9998.html

"Water is the most important liquid for our existence and plays an essential role in physics, chemistry, biology and geoscience. What makes water unique is not only its importance but also the anomalous behaviour of many of its macroscopic properties. The ability to form up to four hydrogen bonds (H-bonds), in addition to the non-directional interactions seen in simple liquids, leads to many unusual properties such as increased density on melting, decreased viscosity under pressure, density maximum at 4?°C, high surface tension and many more (see, for example, http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/water/index.html). If water would not behave in this unusual way it is most questionable if life could have developed on planet Earth."

Comment: A highly complex physical analysis of the unique properties of water. It is like no other liquid.

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter is or isn't?

by David Turell @, Sunday, January 31, 2016, 01:31 (1459 days ago) @ David Turell

A long essay on trying to find it. It solves many problems rather neatly per Occam's razor, but that does not mean it really exists:

https://aeon.co/essays/will-cosmologists-ever-illuminate-us-about-dark-matter?utm_sourc...

"The world we see is an illusion, albeit a highly persistent one. We have gradually got used to the idea that nature's true reality is one of uncertain quantum fields; that what we see is not necessarily what is. Dark matter is a profound extension of this concept. It appears that the majority of matter in the universe has been hidden from us. That puts physicists and the general public alike in an uneasy place. Physicists worry that they can't point to an unequivocal confirmed prediction or a positive detection of the stuff itself. The wider audience finds it hard to accept something that is necessarily so shadowy and elusive.

***

"Astronomers have continued to find the signature of unseen mass throughout the cosmos. For example, the stars of galaxies also rotate too fast. In fact, it looks as if dark matter is the commonest form of matter in our universe.

"It is also the most elusive. It does not interact strongly with itself or with the regular matter found in stars, planets or us. Its presence is inferred purely through its gravitational effects, and gravity, vexingly, is the weakest of the fundamental forces. But gravity is the only significant long-range force, which is why dark matter dominates the universe's architecture at the largest scales.

***


"This standard model of cosmology is supported by a lot of data, including the pervasive radiation field of the universe, the distribution of galaxies in the sky, and colliding clusters of galaxies. These robust observations combine expertise and independent analysis from many fields of astronomy. All are in strong agreement with a cosmological model that includes dark matter. Astrophysicists who try to trifle with the fundamentals of dark matter tend to find themselves cut off from the mainstream. It isn't that anybody thinks it makes for an especially beautiful theory; it's just that no other consistent, predictively successful alternative exists. But none of this explains what dark matter actually is. That really is a great, unsolved problem in physics."

Comment: A quantum-based universe and dark matter. We don't really know a lot do we?

***

The various proposals to get its measure tend to fall into one of three categories: artificial creation (in a particle accelerator), indirect detection, and direct detection. The last, in which researchers attempt to catch WIMPs in the wild, is where the excitement is. The underground LUX detector is one of the first in a new generation of ultra-sensitive experiments. It counts on the WIMP interacting with the nucleus of a regular atom.

***

Nature plays an epistemological trick on us all. The things we observe each have one kind of existence, but the things we cannot observe could have limitless kinds of existence. A good theory should be just complex enough. Dark matter is the simplest solution to a complicated problem, not a complicated solution to simple problem. Yet there is no guarantee that it will ever be illuminated. And whether or not astrophysicists find it in a conceptual sense, we will never grasp it in our hands. It will remain out of touch. To live in a universe that is largely inaccessible is to live in a realm of endless possibilities, for better or worse.

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter is or isn't?

by dhw, Sunday, January 31, 2016, 13:21 (1459 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: A long essay on trying to find it. It solves many problems rather neatly per Occam's razor, but that does not mean it really exists:

https://aeon.co/essays/will-cosmologists-ever-illuminate-us-about-dark-matter?utm_sourc...

QUOTE: The world we see is an illusion, albeit a highly persistent one. We have gradually got used to the idea that nature's true reality is one of uncertain quantum fields; that what we see is not necessarily what is. Dark matter is a profound extension of this concept. It appears that the majority of matter in the universe has been hidden from us. That puts physicists and the general public alike in an uneasy place. Physicists worry that they can't point to an unequivocal confirmed prediction or a positive detection of the stuff itself. The wider audience finds it hard to accept something that is necessarily so shadowy and elusive.

David's comment: A quantum-based universe and dark matter. We don't really know a lot do we?

You are so right. It could all be very simple: an endless expanse of energy and matter mindlessly doing its own thing. Or dimensions and forms of being we cannot dream of, including your God. But I'll tell you one thing: the world I see is not an illusion for me. In fact, it is the only reality I know and the only one I can sincerely believe in. The quantum world and the world of dark matter (a totally unedifying concept, because all it means is “something we don't know”) - as fascinating and as real or unreal as they may be - are of no substance or significance to me compared to the death of my wife, the love I have for my children and friends, the sheer beauty and the sheer horror of the world we live in, here and now. I am one of the lucky ones, because I have food and shelter, and I can enjoy the good things of life. These may objectively be an illusion, as may the hunger, disease, bloodshed and other tragedies that take place every minute of every day all around us, but there seems to be a fair amount of evidence that what we see IS what it is. And the epistemological insight that reality is a subjective fabrication should not be taken to mean that the fabrication (which encompasses the whole range of human experience) does not correspond to a “true reality”.

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter is or isn't?

by David Turell @, Sunday, January 31, 2016, 15:50 (1459 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: You are so right. It could all be very simple: an endless expanse of energy and matter mindlessly doing its own thing. Or dimensions and forms of being we cannot dream of, including your God. But I'll tell you one thing: the world I see is not an illusion for me. In fact, it is the only reality I know and the only one I can sincerely believe in. The quantum world and the world of dark matter (a totally unedifying concept, because all it means is “something we don't know”) - as fascinating and as real or unreal as they may be - are of no substance or significance to me compared to the death of my wife, the love I have for my children and friends, the sheer beauty and the sheer horror of the world we live in, here and now. I am one of the lucky ones, because I have food and shelter, and I can enjoy the good things of life. These may objectively be an illusion, as may the hunger, disease, bloodshed and other tragedies that take place every minute of every day all around us, but there seems to be a fair amount of evidence that what we see IS what it is. And the epistemological insight that reality is a subjective fabrication should not be taken to mean that the fabrication (which encompasses the whole range of human experience) does not correspond to a “true reality”.

A beautifully written analysis. We came from a weirdly constructed universe that arises from unexplained quantum machinations, on a very unusual planet that protects us from all of the dangerous goings on beyond us. We can study this and ask questions of why and how. Paul Davies is right, a very, very significant circumstance. I would remind you, as a 'lucky one' you made your own luck by your own actions. Luck of this kind is not a lottery result, but a willingness to actively pursue your own ambitions. Having cared for immigrants from some of the disastrous areas of the Earth, I've seen this kind of 'luck' in action. In my view we all have the ability to be lucky. Unfortunately, only some act on this potential drive. The key is finding a way to encourage others to recognize their possibilities. There are ways, but unfortunately they fall on deaf ears. How sympathetic should we be?

Cosmologic philosophy: what is dark matter?

by David Turell @, Monday, February 01, 2016, 14:50 (1458 days ago) @ David Turell

A very long essay hat carefully explains what is known about dark matter and suggests it might be a superfluid formation instead of particles:

https://aeon.co/essays/is-dark-matter-subatomic-particles-a-superfluid-or-both?utm_sour...

:Therefore, to explain what makes up dark matter, physicists instead had to theorise about new, so far undetected, particles. The most widely used ones fall into two broad classes: weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) and much lighter axions, though there is no shortage of more complex hypotheses that combine various types of particles. But all attempts to detect any of these particles directly, rather than inferring their presence from their gravitational pull, have so far been unsuccessful. Instead of solving the mystery, the direct-detection experiments have only deepened it.

***

:When Liberati first learned how successful modifications of gravity are on galactic scales where cold dark matter models fall short, he immediately tried to think of ways to combine the two. ‘It made me think: maybe dark matter at small scales makes a type of phase transition,' he says. ‘Maybe it transforms into a type of fluid, in particular a superfluid. If it forms a condensate at the scale of galaxies, this really solves a lot of problems.'

:Superfluids do not exist in daily human experience, but they are well-known to physicists. They are analogous to superconductors, a class of materials that moves electricity without resistance. When cooled to temperatures near absolute zero, helium likewise starts flowing without resistance. It will creep through the tiniest pores, and even slide out of trays by moving up walls. Such ‘superfluid' behaviour isn't specific to helium; it is a phase of matter that, at low enough temperatures, can be reached by other particles too. First predicted in 1924 by Einstein and the Indian physicist Satyendra Bose, this whole class of ultra-cold superfluids is now known as Bose-Einstein condensates.

***

"We are used to thinking that quantum physics dominates only the microscopic realm. But the more physicists have learned about quantum theory, the more it has become clear that this isn't so. Bose-Einstein condensates are one of the best-studied substances that allow quantum effects to spread widely through a medium. In theory, quantum behaviour can span arbitrarily large distances, provided it isn't disturbed too much.

***

"If dark matter is a superfluid, the particles it is made of must be lightweight, much lighter than the hypothetical dark particles that have been the targets of most of the searches. The superfluid's constituents are probably too slight to show up in the experiments currently running.

"A better and unique prediction of Khoury's model is that a superfluid's quantum behaviour should leave a telltale pattern in galactic collisions. When the dark matter condensate from one galaxy runs into that of another, the collision would create interference patterns - ripples in the distribution of matter and gravity, which would affect how the galaxies settle. Superfluid dark matter also makes predictions for the friction between the dark matter components within galaxy clusters; such friction would again produce distinctive patterns of gravitational attraction. Observations of gravitational lensing could detect these fingerprints of superfluid dark matter, provided we know exactly what we're looking for."


Comment: More quantum weirdness as the basis of the universe's reality

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter is or isn't?

by dhw, Monday, February 01, 2016, 18:30 (1458 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: I would remind you, as a 'lucky one' you made your own luck by your own actions. Luck of this kind is not a lottery result, but a willingness to actively pursue your own ambitions. Having cared for immigrants from some of the disastrous areas of the Earth, I've seen this kind of 'luck' in action. In my view we all have the ability to be lucky. Unfortunately, only some act on this potential drive. The key is finding a way to encourage others to recognize their possibilities. There are ways, but unfortunately they fall on deaf ears. How sympathetic should we be?

We have abandoned dark matter, the quantum world and the subjectivity of reality, and are entering the realms of psychology, sociology and politics. And why not? As always, there are different sides, and I cannot present this issue in the same either/or way that you do. I do not believe that all holocausts, racial cleansing, totalitarian oppression, diseases, natural disasters etc. are the fault of or can be avoided by their victims. The immigrants you cared for got away, but how many of their compatriots were killed, imprisoned, unable to leave their country? My great-grandparents escaped from the pogroms, and so I was lucky enough to be born in a country of relative freedom and political and geological stability. And I was lucky enough to have parents who loved me and gave me a good upbringing. No, we do not all have the ability to be lucky, and we are not always responsible for what happens to us. How sympathetic should we be? No one is denying that there are many cases in which the person himself/herself is responsible for their own “bad luck”, but we should never simply assume, as some of our politicians seem to do, that fakery or lack of personal responsibility are the basis of the problem. Where people are victims of circumstances beyond their own control, we should be very sympathetic indeed. And I have no doubt that you draw the same lines as I do!

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter is or isn't?

by David Turell @, Tuesday, February 02, 2016, 01:06 (1457 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: Where people are victims of circumstances beyond their own control, we should be very sympathetic indeed. And I have no doubt that you draw the same lines as I do!

I believe in safety nets as you do. My black patients who were middle class and upper did not think they should help those who did no rise up economically, in that they didn't work in organizations trying to do that. Interesting.

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter is or isn't? IS?

by David Turell @, Tuesday, April 05, 2016, 20:14 (1394 days ago) @ David Turell

One laboratory keeps seeing it. There are now four others who will try to confirm:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/controversial-dark-matter-claim-faces-ultimat...

"The original claim comes from the DAMA collaboration, whose detector sits in a laboratory deep under the Gran Sasso Massif, east of Rome. For more than a decade, it has reported overwhelming evidence for dark matter, an invisible substance thought to bind galaxies together through its gravitational attraction. The first of the new detectors to go online, in South Korea, is due to start taking data in a few weeks. The others will follow over the next few years in Spain, Australia and, again, Gran Sasso. All will use sodium iodide crystals to detect dark matter, which no full-scale experiment apart from DAMA's has done previously.

"Scientists have substantial evidence that dark matter exists and is at least five times as abundant as ordinary matter. But its nature remains a mystery. The leading hypothesis is that at least some of its mass is composed of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs), which on Earth should occasionally bump into an atomic nucleus.

***

"Could the teams prove DAMA right? “I was unwilling to believe the DAMA results or even take them seriously at first,” says Katherine Freese, a theoretical astroparticle physicist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who with her collaborators first proposed the seasonal modulation technique used by DAMA. But, in part because of a lack of any other explanation for their signal, she is now more hopeful. The fact that many have tried and failed to repeat DAMA's experiment shows that it is not easy, says Elisabetta Barberio at the University of Melbourne, who leads the Australian arm of SABRE. “The more one looks into their experiment, the more one realizes that it is very well done.'”

Comment: Like planet nine search science marches on. Fun.

Cosmologic philosophy: our universe a simulation?

by David Turell @, Sunday, April 24, 2016, 14:27 (1375 days ago) @ David Turell

To me this is the height of Sci-Fi foolishness:

http://www.businessinsider.com/neil-degrasse-tyson-thinks-the-universe-might-be-a-simul...

"So at this year's 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate at the American Museum of Natural History, which addressed the question of whether the universe is a simulation, the answers from some panelists may be more comforting than the responses from others.

"Physicist Lisa Randall, for example, said that she thought the odds that the universe isn't "real" are so low as to be "effectively zero."

"But on the other hand, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who was hosting the debate, said that he thinks the likelihood of the universe being a simulation "may be very high."

***

"But most physicists and philosophers agree that it's impossible to prove definitively that we don't live in a simulation and that the universe is real.

"Tyson agrees, but says that he wouldn't be surprised if we were to find out somehow that someone else is responsible for our universe.

***

"And if that's the case, it is easy for me to imagine that everything in our lives is just the creation of some other entity for their entertainment," Tyson says. "I'm saying, the day we learn that it is true, I will be the only one in the room saying, 'I'm not surprised.'"

Comment: I'm part of the universe. Am I simulated also?

Cosmologic philosophy: our universe a simulation?

by BBella @, Monday, April 25, 2016, 05:05 (1374 days ago) @ David Turell

To me this is the height of Sci-Fi foolishness:

http://www.businessinsider.com/neil-degrasse-tyson-thinks-the-universe-might-be-a-simul...


"...most physicists and philosophers agree that it's impossible to prove definitively that we don't live in a simulation and that the universe is real.

"Tyson agrees, but says that he wouldn't be surprised if we were to find out somehow that someone else is responsible for our universe.

***

"And if that's the case, it is easy for me to imagine that everything in our lives is just the creation of some other entity for their entertainment," Tyson says. "I'm saying, the day we learn that it is true, I will be the only one in the room saying, 'I'm not surprised.'"

Comment: I'm part of the universe. Am I simulated also?

Along with Tyson, I would be one in the room not surprised as well - since I have imagined this very idea since my earliest memories (way before true technology). But one of my favorite top movies of all time, The Thirteenth Floor, gives another spin more to my own thinking on the whole simulation idea. Yes, our bodies would be a part of the whole created simulation, but unlike Tyson's idea, it would not be "for some entity's" entertainment, but for our own.

Cosmologic philosophy: our universe a simulation?

by David Turell @, Monday, April 25, 2016, 05:22 (1374 days ago) @ BBella

Bbella; Along with Tyson, I would be one in the room not surprised as well - since I have imagined this very idea since my earliest memories (way before true technology). But one of my favorite top movies of all time, The Thirteenth Floor, gives another spin more to my own thinking on the whole simulation idea. Yes, our bodies would be a part of the whole created simulation, but unlike Tyson's idea, it would not be "for some entity's" entertainment, but for our own.

Is this your imagination or real thoughts. I guess I'm not on the same plane, too realistic.

Cosmologic philosophy: our universe a simulation?

by dhw, Monday, April 25, 2016, 12:33 (1374 days ago) @ BBella

Dhw: I'm surprised that anyone is surprised by this “dramatic” conclusion. The world as an illusion is as old as philosophy. ... Coincidentally, this ties in with BBella's challenge to find a theory that could explain the (hypothetical) “reality” of psychic experiences. This, she and I have agreed, boils down to the statement: “Reality is whatever the individual thinks it is.”

DAVID: I don't worry about it. I'm simply happy to work with what I have been given.

A good healthy philosophy which I am pleased to share!

DAVID (under “Cosmological philosophy")`: To me this is the height of Sci-Fi foolishness:
http://www.businessinsider.com/neil-degrasse-tyson-thinks-the-universe-might-be-a-simul...
QUOTES: "So at this year's 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate at the American Museum of Natural History, which addressed the question of whether the universe is a simulation, the answers from some panelists may be more comforting than the responses from others.
"Physicist Lisa Randall, for example, said that she thought the odds that the universe isn't "real" are so low as to be "effectively zero."
"But on the other hand, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who was hosting the debate, said that he thinks the likelihood of the universe being a simulation "may be very high."

Same subject, and I'm afraid this made me laugh. All these learned folk gathering together (no doubt at great expense) to discuss whether they are actually there.

Bbella: Along with Tyson, I would be one in the room not surprised as well - since I have imagined this very idea since my earliest memories (way before true technology). But one of my favorite top movies of all time, The Thirteenth Floor, gives another spin more to my own thinking on the whole simulation idea. Yes, our bodies would be a part of the whole created simulation, but unlike Tyson's idea, it would not be "for some entity's" entertainment, but for our own.

As I said earlier, the idea is as old as philosophy, and as always it's Shakespeare who finds the perfect words: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on,” says Prospero. But I am real to myself in the present, and everything in my world is real to me. My past is a dream. My future holds more realities that will turn into dreams. One day, I may have no more realities, and I shall be somebody else's dream.

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by David Turell @, Monday, April 25, 2016, 15:36 (1374 days ago) @ dhw

This neatly follows, an essay on time and does it exist? Not in physics, except as space-time, but time is in our minds and consciousness and for me time is part of the mystery of consciousness:

https://aeon.co/essays/why-doesn-t-physics-help-us-to-understand-the-flow-of-time?utm_s...

"Yet today's physicists rarely debate what time is and why we experience it the way we do, remembering the past but never the future...‘What is time?'

***

"The Newtonian and Einsteinian world theories offer little guidance. They are both eternalised ‘block' universes, in which time is a dimension not unlike space, so everything exists all at once. Einstein's equations allow different observers to disagree about the duration of time intervals, but the spacetime continuum itself, is an invariant stage upon which the drama of the world takes place. In quantum mechanics, as in Newton's mechanics and Einstein's relativistic theories, the laws of physics that govern the microscopic world look the same going forward or backward in time.

***

"For most of the past few centuries, conscious awareness has been considered beyond the pale for physics, a problem too hard to tackle, postponed while we dealt with other urgent business. As scientists drove ever deeper into the nucleus and out to the stars, the conscious mind itself, and the glaring contrast between our experience of time's flow and our eternalised mathematical theories, was left hanging. How did that come to pass? Isn't science supposed to test itself against the ground of experience? This disconnect might help to explain why so many students not only don't ‘get' physics, but are positively repulsed by it. Where are they in the world picture drawn by physicists? Where is life, and where is death? Where is the flow of time?

***

"The phenomenology of experience, such as our internal perception of the passage of time, is an area owned by cognitive science and philosophy. The exterior world is traditionally the playground of physics. Yet to separate the inner and outer realms in this naive way is misleading. It is our brain that does physics, after all. In the end, the two sides strive to find bridges between them, if only through metaphor, to find connections between the myriad ways in which humans experience themselves in the world.

***

"What language can take us into the heart of the atom and beyond the edge of the galaxy, and describe the passage of time that pulls the world inexorably forward on these scales? Heisenberg argued it is the logical and mathematical language used in modern physics, precisely because that language is so rigid and formalised. When building a bridge into the dark, build using careful, sure steps. But we want to understand our own place in the world, not just how the world is out there; we also want to understand how we come to experience the world as we do. That calls for the more fluid and evocative language of poetry and storytelling.

***

"Our experience of the ‘now' is built out of a mix of recent memories and our current sense perceptions, what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell. Those sensory perceptions are not instantaneous, but signals from stimulated nerve endings. Those signals are sent to the brain, a dynamic network that itself has no global clock.

***

"It's possible that our experience of the flow of time is like our experience of colour. A physicist would say that colour does not exist as an inherent property of the world... It is only when our eyes intersect a tiny part of that sea of radiation, and our brain gets to work on it, that ‘colour' emerges. It is an internal experience, a naming process, an activity of our brain trying to puzzle things out.

"So the flow of time might be a story our brain creates, trying to make sense of chaos."

Comment: physics will not explain the flow of time in our consciousness. The author quotes several well-known physicists who have theories.

Cosmologic philosophy: research by analogy?

by David Turell @, Friday, November 11, 2016, 18:38 (1174 days ago) @ David Turell

Some of the proposals in theoretical research puzzle over what black holes really are, do multiverses exist, can quantum gravity be reconciled with general relativity, etc?
So far no test of provability is present. Let's test by analogy as a reasonable substitute? Yipes!

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20161110-physics-analogue-experiments/?utm_source=Quanta...

"Hoping to gain insight into domains of nature that lie beyond experimental reach — the interiors of black holes, the subtleties of the quantum realm, the Big Bang — physicists are experimenting on “analogue” systems made of fluids and other easily manipulable materials that can be modeled by similar equations. Results from these analogue experiments often end up in top scientific journals, with a sense that they say something about the systems of interest. But do they? And how do we know?

"As Stephan Hartmann, philosopher of physics at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich put it, “Under which conditions can evidence that we obtain here in a certain experiment confirm or support claims about a different system, which is far away?”

***

"In a recent case that I wrote about in Quanta this week, a physicist in Israel created a fluid that traps sound much as a black hole traps light; he then detected an effect in this “sonic black hole” that is analogous to Hawking radiation, a hypothetical black hole phenomenon predicted by Stephen Hawking in 1974 with profound consequences for how the universe works. Does the tabletop experiment provide indirect evidence for Hawking’s prediction?

"Hartmann argues that experimenting on sonic black holes may indeed shed light on real ones because there might be a “common cause” underlying their similar mathematics. In the same way, yellow fingers and heart disease are both caused by smoking, and detecting one can be evidence of the other. On the flip side, many black hole experts put no stock in the analogy and consider it potentially misleading, since it isn’t known whether Hawking’s math, upon which the analogy is based, actually does describe black holes.

"Either way, the situation “raises wonderful philosophical questions,” Hartmann said, “because we learn about new types of evidence.” Increasingly, he said, physics theories like string theory and the multiverse describe realms of nature that are inaccessible to experimenters. Direct tests of such theories appear impossible. “So we have to think about alternative ways of testing theories. And whatever we think about these analogue experiments at the moment, I think these works go exactly in the right direction.”

"People are trying to find indirect evidence for scientific theories, he said. “We need more of this, and we will surely see more of this in the future.”
The task now is for scientists to figure out how to interpret this new breed of experiment.
 
“'There’s an intuition that there’s something different about doing an analogue simulation, to doing a computer simulation, to doing a direct experiment, to doing a calculation,” said Karim Thebault, a philosopher of physics at the University of Bristol who has written about the sonic black hole experiments. “But what that difference is isn’t always explained clearly enough.'”

Comment: Just because theoretical physics is stuck for the past 35-40 years to reconcile general relativity and quantum gravity is no reason to panic ,and the analogy approach is panic!

Cosmologic philosophy: Multiverse unproven

by David Turell @, Friday, November 18, 2016, 14:27 (1167 days ago) @ David Turell

The Planck satellite studies the CMB and none of its findings fit the multiverse theories:

http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=8918

"A new paper by Will Kinney has now been published in JCAP, including the following conclusion about such claims:

"It is worthwhile to discuss in general the “concrete predictions” originally claimed by the authors of refs. [1,2], since several key claims do not survive even cursory scrutiny. For example, the discontinuity in the effective potential claimed to be correlated with voids and the CMB cold spot does not appear to in fact exist: for all physically relevant values of the parameters V0, λ, and b, the modulation F(φ) is a smooth function, with no characteristic discontinuities which would explain features in the power spectrum. Perhaps more importantly, the form of the effective potential resulting from landscape entanglement is completely dependent on the choice of inflationary potential V(φ), which is itself an arbitrary free function. One could just as consistently choose the underlying inflationary potential in the absence of landscape corrections to be the same as the effective potential (2.7)! In this sense, the landscape model is no more (or less) predictive than single-field inflation itself, and most of the claimed predictions of the entanglement model turn out not to have been predictions at all. However, any considerations of theoretical consistency are a moot point: even if one takes the claimed predictions at face value, almost all of them are ruled out by Planck. Experiment always supersedes theory, and the model does not match the data. (my bold)

Comment: Note the comment about 'landscape' theory vs. single-field inflation. Planck data doesn't fit! And then Quantum entanglement is supposed to explain multiverse theory:

"Another entanglement story that is getting some press attention this week is this paper by Erik Verlinde, with its associated press release, explaining that we may be “on the brink of a scientific revolution”. I’ll have to avoid trying to give an explanation of the physical argument of the paper, on the grounds that I don’t understand it, partly because there seems to be no underlying physical model here. The basic idea is stated as replacing dark matter by an elastic response due to the volume law contribution to the entanglement entropy in our universe.

"but someone else will have to explain exactly what that means. Maybe I’m missing it, but I don’t see anywhere in the paper a suggested experimental test of the theory. Someone much more expert than me is needed to explain whether the picture of this paper is consistent with the known astrophysical and cosmological evidence usually interpreted as dark matter/dark energy.

Peter Woit's further comment: "Unfortunately all I see in the paper is a bunch of wordy vague analogies claiming a revolutionary new fundamental physics, and little in the way of how to confront these ideas with experiment, or any examination of whether or not they’re already disconfirmed (or even self-consistent). I haven’t computed a John Baez crackpot index for this, but I’d suspect it’s pretty high. Prominent physicists tend to be polite in terms of their public response to things like this, even when privately highly dismissive. Verlinde has been giving lectures about these ideas for several years now, and as far as I can tell his peers have just ignored them. Likely they’ll do the same with this paper, no matter how much press it gets."

Cosmologic philosophy: 5 articles on fine tuning

by David Turell @, Wednesday, November 23, 2016, 21:03 (1162 days ago) @ David Turell

How the universe exists on a knife edge of forces is explored:

https://www.newscientist.com/round-up/cosmic-coincidences

"The more we look at the universe, the stranger it appears. From the geometry of space-time to the masses of the elementary particles, its properties are finely tuned to allow life to exist. More bizarrely, though, it seems to be teetering on the brink of not existing at all. Here we look at five of its seemingly most implausible traits – and ask what might lie behind them

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23230970-600-cosmic-coincidences-matter-and-ener...

"Our cosmos’s five most startling coincidences – and what lies behind them
But the values are still close enough to be perplexing – and according to our standard cosmological model, the similarity is relatively new. The very early universe was dominated by dark matter. “At that time, dark matter density was 95 orders of magnitude larger than the density of dark energy,” says Nicolao Fornengo at the University of Turin, Italy.

"But dark matter’s density has been dropping as the universe expands, while the density of dark energy is widely assumed to remain constant over time, making it steadily more dominant. A few billion years ago, dark energy became denser than dark matter – causing the universe’s expansion to begin racing away (see “The universe is flat as a pancake. Coincidence?“).

"Still, it seems we live in a special time where neither entity is able to dominate the other.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23230970-700-cosmic-coincidences-everything-poin...

"COSMOLOGISTS called it the axis of evil. Spotted in 2005 in the cosmic microwave background, the all-pervading afterglow of the big bang, the axis was a peculiar alignment of features where we would have expected nothing but randomness.
The name was justifiably melodramatic, given that it threatened our established view of the universe. At the heart of that picture is the cosmological principle, which says that the universe appears the same on the largest scales no matter where you happen to be looking. This is what you’d expect in the aftermath of an explosion like our big bang, with all the constituents winding up mixed together in a randomised, homogeneous soup. The reality, it seemed, wasn’t like that – and despite steadily improving measurements, the axis has stubbornly refused to vanish.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23230970-800-cosmic-coincidences-the-universe-is...

"According to Einstein’s general theory of relativity, matter and energy bend space and time, and the amount of stuff the universe contains will determine its ultimate fate. If the universe is dense enough to curve space-time in on itself, all that gravity will eventually collapse it back down to nothing. If the universe’s density is low, it curves outwards – and the weakness of the gravitational pull will mean it expands forever.

But our universe seems to fit in neither camp. The most powerful test of its geometry is the variation in the cosmic microwave background, the radiation emitted shortly after the big bang. According to measurements of this radiation, the density of matter and energy is such that the universe does not curve either way: it is perfectly flat. After an eternity, its expansion should grind to a halt.

"..in the late 1990s, when very distant exploding stars were inexplicably seen to be dimmer than expected. This suggested that the universe’s expansion was accelerating rather than slowing down. The proposed fix was to say that a large proportion of the universe exists as dark energy, a new ingredient allowing it to remain flat yet expand ever ...

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23230970-900-cosmic-coincidences-everythings-at-...

"Space is all the same temperature. Coincidence?

"Distant patches of the universe should never have come into contact. So how come they’re all just as hot as each others?

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23230971-000-cosmic-coincidences-the-universe-is...

"The Higgs boson makes the universe stable – just. Coincidence?

"If the mass-giving particle were much lighter, the cosmos would quickly collapse in on itself. It’s hard to explain how we’re all still here.

Comment: the universe sure looks designed to me. And to you?

Cosmologic philosophy: 5 articles on fine tuning

by dhw, Thursday, November 24, 2016, 13:40 (1161 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: How the universe exists on a knife edge of forces is explored:https://www.newscientist.com/round-up/cosmic-coincidences

QUOTE: The more we look at the universe, the stranger it appears. From the geometry of space-time to the masses of the elementary particles, its properties are finely tuned to allow life to exist.

Life exists, and therefore all the properties for life exist. That is self-evident. But nobody knows the nature or the extent of the universe. We already know that it contains billions of solar systems. It may even extend to infinity, with an infinity of solar systems and galaxies, and there may be other forms of life under different conditions, or there may be no other life because in all this vastness just one tiny blob happened to strike lucky? Then we would have to say that the properties of the rest of the universe are differently tuned for different forms of life, or not tuned at all for life or for anything else but a constant coming and going of mindless matter. We are all groping in the dark here. But yes, the properties of our particular blob are such that life exists.

QUOTE: The very early universe was dominated by dark matter. “At that time, dark matter density was 95 orders of magnitude larger than the density of dark energy,” says Nicolao Fornengo at the University of Turin, Italy.

We don’t even know what dark matter is. You might as well say the universe was dominated by something or the other. How the heck can anyone know that the density of something or the other was 95 orders of magnitude greater than the density of another something or the other? I can’t help feeling that in the next fifty, hundred, thousand years, scientists will have come up with very different observations and explanations.

QUOTE: At the heart of that picture is the cosmological principle, which says that the universe appears the same on the largest scales no matter where you happen to be looking. This is what you’d expect in the aftermath of an explosion like our big bang, with all the constituents winding up mixed together in a randomised, homogeneous soup. The reality, it seemed, wasn’t like that – and despite steadily improving measurements, the axis has stubbornly refused to vanish.

The big bang, if it happened, was – we are told – NOT an explosion. How does anyone know what to expect after an event which – assuming it ever took place – nobody has ever experienced? In all this unfathomable vastness, who knows what else is going on and has gone on and could go on?

David’s comment: the universe sure looks designed to me. And to you?

I can’t see the universe. Nobody can. We can only see part of it. But I agree, the part that affects us directly does look designed. On the other hand, billions of solar systems coming and going to no apparent purpose look pretty un-designed. It’s the same old monkey on a typewriter quandary. Given possible eternity and infinity, maybe anything is possible, and maybe it isn’t. Let’s just be mighty thankful that we are the lucky ones, no matter how it all happened.

Cosmologic philosophy: 5 articles on fine tuning

by David Turell @, Thursday, November 24, 2016, 15:26 (1161 days ago) @ dhw

dhw:But yes, the properties of our particular blob are such that life exists.

Looks like a miracle to me.

dhw: The big bang, if it happened, was – we are told – NOT an explosion. How does anyone know what to expect after an event which – assuming it ever took place – nobody has ever experienced? In all this unfathomable vastness, who knows what else is going on and has gone on and could go on?

Not an explosion but an origin. Something eternal had to cause it.


David’s comment: the universe sure looks designed to me. And to you?

dhw: I can’t see the universe. Nobody can. We can only see part of it. But I agree, the part that affects us directly does look designed. On the other hand, billions of solar systems coming and going to no apparent purpose look pretty un-designed. It’s the same old monkey on a typewriter quandary. Given possible eternity and infinity, maybe anything is possible, and maybe it isn’t. Let’s just be mighty thankful that we are the lucky ones, no matter how it all happened.

Billions of solar systems follow a design for solar systems. Why does that design exist? A reason for their existence is not yet apparent from our scientific observations, but like the human retina which looks totally wrong, reason may be found.

Cosmologic philosophy: 5 articles on fine tuning

by dhw, Friday, November 25, 2016, 12:04 (1160 days ago) @ David Turell

David’s comment: the universe sure looks designed to me. And to you?

dhw: I can’t see the universe. Nobody can. We can only see part of it. But I agree, the part that affects us directly does look designed. On the other hand, billions of solar systems coming and going to no apparent purpose look pretty un-designed. It’s the same old monkey on a typewriter quandary. Given possible eternity and infinity, maybe anything is possible, and maybe it isn’t. Let’s just be mighty thankful that we are the lucky ones, no matter how it all happened.

DAVID: Billions of solar systems follow a design for solar systems. Why does that design exist? A reason for their existence is not yet apparent from our scientific observations, but like the human retina which looks totally wrong, reason may be found.

Sometimes theists and atheists seem to me like mirror images of each other. Here is Dawkins: he says there is nothing beyond the physical world “except in the sense of natural phenomena we don’t yet understand. If there is something that appears to lie beyond the natural world as it is now imperfectly understood, we hope eventually to understand it and embrace it within the natural.” (God Delusion, p. 14)

Not yet apparent…may be found…don’t yet understand…we hope eventually…Faith is a wonderful leveller. However, one of you must be groping through the right fog!

Cosmologic philosophy: 5 articles on fine tuning

by David Turell @, Friday, November 25, 2016, 14:49 (1160 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Not yet apparent…may be found…don’t yet understand…we hope eventually…Faith is a wonderful leveller. However, one of you must be groping through the right fog!

Don't leave yourself out of the mix, groping or not from your picket fence!;-)

Cosmologic philosophy: This summarizes my view

by David Turell @, Saturday, November 26, 2016, 15:04 (1159 days ago) @ David Turell

An article from the Washington Post, a very liberal outpost provides this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/humanity-is-cosmically-special-heres-how-we-kno...

"As we give thanks for our many obvious blessings, let’s reflect on a blessing that is less well known, a gift from modern astronomy: how we view ourselves.

"There was a time, back when astronomy put Earth at the center of the universe, that we thought we were special. But after Copernicus kicked Earth off its pedestal, we decided we were cosmically inconsequential, partly because the universe is vast and about the same everywhere. Astronomer Carl Sagan put it this way: “We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star.” Stephen Hawking was even blunter: “The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet.'”

"An objective look, however, at just two of the most dramatic discoveries of astronomy — big bang cosmology and planets around other stars (exoplanets) — suggests the opposite. We seem to be cosmically special, perhaps even unique — at least as far as we are likely to know for eons.

"The first result — the anthropic principle — has been accepted by physicists for 43 years. The universe, far from being a collection of random accidents, appears to be stupendously perfect and fine-tuned for life.The strengths of the four forces that operate in the universe — gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear interactions (the latter two dominate only at the level of atoms) — for example, have values critically suited for life, and were they even a few percent different, we would not be here. The most extreme example is the big bang creation: Even an infinitesimal change to its explosive expansion value would preclude life. The frequent response from physicists offers a speculative solution: an infinite number of universes — we are just living in the one with the right value. But modern philosophers such as Thomas Nagel and pioneering quantum physicists such as John Wheeler have argued instead that intelligent beings must somehow be the directed goal of such a curiously fine-tuned cosmos.

***

"Paleontologist Peter Ward and astronomer Donald Brownlee summarize the many constraints in their book “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe ” and show why it takes vastly more than liquid water and a pleasant environment to give birth even to simple (much less complex) life. At a minimum, it takes an environment stable for billions of years of evolution, plus all the right ingredients. Biologists from Jacques Monod to Stephen Jay Gould have emphasized the extraordinary circumstances that led to intelligence on Earth, while geneticists have found that DNA probably resulted from many accidents.So although the same processes operate everywhere, some sequences could be unlikely, even astronomically unlikely. The evolution of intelligence could certainly be such a sequence.

"There is, moreover, a well-known constraint: the finite speed of light, which ensures that even over thousands of years we will only be able to communicate with the comparatively few stars (tens of millions) in our cosmic neighborhood. If the combined astronomical, biological and evolutionary chances for life to form and evolve to intelligence are only 1 in 10 million, then we probably have no one to talk to.

"The bottom line for extraterrestrial intelligence is that it is probably rarer than previously imagined, a conclusion called the misanthropic principle. For all intents and purposes, we could be alone in our cosmic neighborhood, and if we expand the volume of our search we will have to wait even longer to find out. Life might be common in the very distant universe — or it might not be — and we are unlikely to know. We are probably rare — and it seems likely we will be alone for eons. This is the second piece of new evidence that we are not ordinary.

"Some of my colleagues strongly reject this notion. They would echo Hawking: “I can’t believe the whole universe exists for our benefit.” Yes, we all have beliefs — but beliefs are not proof. Hawking’s belief presumes that we are nothing but ordinary, a “chemical scum.” All the observations so far, however, are consistent with the idea that humanity is not mediocre at all and that we won’t know otherwise for a long time. It seems we might even serve some cosmic role. So this season let us be grateful for the amazing gifts of life and awareness, and acknowledge the compelling evidence to date that humanity and our home planet, Earth, are rare and cosmically precious. And may we act accordingly."

Comment: Amen. Rare Earth is a superb book. It should be read.

Author: By Howard A. Smith November 25 at 6:34 PM
Howard A. Smith is a lecturer in the Harvard University Department of Astronomy and a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Cosmologic philosophy: This summarizes my view

by dhw, Sunday, November 27, 2016, 12:23 (1158 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: An article from the Washington Post, a very liberal outpost provides this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/humanity-is-cosmically-special-heres-how-we-kno...

QUOTE: “We are probably rare — and it seems likely we will be alone for eons. This is the second piece of new evidence that we are not ordinary.
"Some of my colleagues strongly reject this notion. They would echo Hawking: “I can’t believe the whole universe exists for our benefit.” Yes, we all have beliefs — but beliefs are not proof. Hawking’s belief presumes that we are nothing but ordinary, a “chemical scum.” All the observations so far, however, are consistent with the idea that humanity is not mediocre at all and that we won’t know otherwise for a long time. It seems we might even serve some cosmic role. So this season let us be grateful for the amazing gifts of life and awareness, and acknowledge the compelling evidence to date that humanity and our home planet, Earth, are rare and cosmically precious. And may we act accordingly."

David’s comment: Amen. Rare Earth is a superb book. It should be read.

Many thanks for this. It is indeed a fine summary of your views, and in terms of the facts, there is precious little that I would disagree with. But the judgements need to be separated from the facts. “We all have beliefs – but beliefs are not proof.” Exactly. Judgements are subjective. Perhaps we can all agree that the universe is vast and contains billions of solar systems, and we do not know of any other planet on which there is life such as ours. What is our attitude towards these basic premises? One says we are insignificant or “chemical scum”, another says we are special and must be part of a cosmic plan. There is no known objective system of values here. What is valid for us is valid for us, and that is as far as we can go.

However, I will add my own subjective pennyworth. I regard life and consciousness as mysteries that are a personal source of wonderment and delight. The possibility that we are part of an impersonal universe, in which all things (including myself) pass and are gone forever does not in any way reduce my wonderment or delight. If there were a million Earths with a million forms of life, or there were no other Earths and no other forms of life, Earth and earthly life would still seem special to me, although in cosmic terms they may be insignificant. Might we serve “some cosmic role” (which I take to mean is there some sort of God with a purpose)? How can anyone possibly know?

Cosmologic philosophy: This summarizes my view

by David Turell @, Sunday, November 27, 2016, 15:39 (1158 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: Many thanks for this. It is indeed a fine summary of your views, and in terms of the facts, there is precious little that I would disagree with. But the judgements need to be separated from the facts. ......If there were a million Earths with a million forms of life, or there were no other Earths and no other forms of life, Earth and earthly life would still seem special to me, although in cosmic terms they may be insignificant. Might we serve “some cosmic role” (which I take to mean is there some sort of God with a purpose)? How can anyone possibly know?

I've cut down your comments to the nubbin. "How can anyone possibly know" always comes across to me as pleading for absolute proof. That will never be, and you stay satisfied with that position. For those of us who are not satisfied, we look at the reality we see, assume and conclude logically it requires planning, and reach the point that we develop a faith in our conclusions and accept the position that a planning mind is absolutely required. God. That we are here to debate the point is proof enough, when it is realized our consciousness developed from an inorganic universe that is enormously hostile to living matter, on a tiny, very special planet with a host of built-in protective mechanisms, when the loss of any one of them would be fatal!

Cosmologic philosophy: This summarizes my view

by dhw, Tuesday, November 29, 2016, 09:07 (1156 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Many thanks for this. It is indeed a fine summary of your views, and in terms of the facts, there is precious little that I would disagree with. But the judgements need to be separated from the facts. ......If there were a million Earths with a million forms of life, or there were no other Earths and no other forms of life, Earth and earthly life would still seem special to me, although in cosmic terms they may be insignificant. Might we serve “some cosmic role” (which I take to mean is there some sort of God with a purpose)? How can anyone possibly know?

DAVID: I've cut down your comments to the nubbin. "How can anyone possibly know" always comes across to me as pleading for absolute proof. That will never be, and you stay satisfied with that position.

Firstly, please believe me when I say that I am not so stupid as to believe that absolute proof is possible. Secondly, if I was satisfied with that position, why do you think I wrote the “brief guide” and opened up this forum?

DAVID: For those of us who are not satisfied, we look at the reality we see, assume and conclude logically it requires planning, and reach the point that we develop a faith in our conclusions and accept the position that a planning mind is absolutely required. God.

I have spent most of my life looking at the reality I see, and finding a vast range of ambiguities. I accept the argument that life and the evolutionary mechanism seem too complex to have arisen by chance. But the concept of an eternal consciousness capable of creating, encompassing and manipulating billions of solar systems that come and go for no apparent purpose, while at the same time keeping itself “hidden” (your word), is as unconvincing for me as chance assembling life. I am not satisfied with either explanation, but I am not unhappy with my dissatisfaction. One can learn as much from disagreement as from agreement. At the end of the home page of this website, I wrote: "The truth is out there somewhere, and by combining our discoveries, we may help one another to gain new insights. Will enlightenment emerge from the AgnosticWeb? Watch this space. Better still, fill it." In the last nine years I have gained countless new insights – many of them through you, for which I am immensely grateful. That is reward in itself.

Cosmologic philosophy: This summarizes my view

by David Turell @, Tuesday, November 29, 2016, 19:12 (1156 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: I have spent most of my life looking at the reality I see, and finding a vast range of ambiguities. I accept the argument that life and the evolutionary mechanism seem too complex to have arisen by chance. ... In the last nine years I have gained countless new insights – many of them through you, for which I am immensely grateful. That is reward in itself.

I know you will not change, but I'm sure you know that through this website I'm trying to convince anyone who is convincible of my point of view. I think you and I are making an invaluable contribution to the debate by having our debate.

Cosmologic philosophy: Howard A. Smith again

by David Turell @, Sunday, December 11, 2016, 15:25 (1144 days ago) @ David Turell

He has another article on the subject of humans and their role in the universe:

http://cosmos.nautil.us/short/69/does-science-suggest-humans-have-a-cosmic-role?utm_sou...

"As a research astrophysicist, I can say without exaggeration that a day never goes by when I am not impressed by the amazing explanatory power of modern science. But I am also trained to be open to the world as it presents itself, not just as I would like it to be. So it is worth calling attention to two recent discoveries that suggest our place in the cosmos needs reconsideration. We might not be ordinary at all.

***

"From a purely scientific perspective, recent books and papers have shown that that it takes much more than a hospitable environment for life even to arise, much less to evolve and survive to become intelligent. At a minimum, it takes billions of years of relatively stable conditions. Any putative planet must at least be in a stable orbital system around a star that is neither short-lived nor an emitter of toxic X-rays. Numerous evolutionary biologists, writing on the remarkably contingent nature of the evolution of humanity, have added a biological caution: Even on the Earth, if evolution were repeated, it is not likely to produce intelligent beings again. Thus, even though the processes at work around the universe are more-or-less similar, some events are less likely than others to occur. Until we know more, we must acknowledge that the evolution of intelligent life could be the result of an astronomically unlikely sequence of events.

***

"The remarkable discovery of exoplanets has not increased the chances for finding aliens. Because so many of the known exoplanets are much more complicated than previously imagined, and are complex in ways seemingly detrimental to their evolving intelligence, all the previously rough estimates of the chances for producing intelligence are reduced even further. For all practical purposes we could be alone, with no one to talk to, for a long time.

***

"The second dramatic discovery is usually called the Anthropic Principle. The laws of the universe include fundamental numbers like the strengths of the four forces, the speed of light, Planck’s constant, the masses of electrons or protons, and others. Neither my physicist colleagues nor I have any idea why they take these particular values. They could be anything! But we do know that if those values were slightly different, even by a few percent, we would not be here. Carbon atoms could not exist, for example, or the sun might only burn for millions instead of billions of years. Life, much less intelligent life, could not exist. The most extreme example of precision are the parameters of the big bang creation for which it is estimated even an infinitesimal change would preclude life.

***

"There are so far only three kinds of answers from science. One is just dumb luck. The second answer, proffered and defended by most of my theoretically minded colleagues, is the multiverse: There are an infinite number of universes spanning all logical possibilities. We just live in the one we can. The third answer touches on philosophy, and comes from quantum mechanics. (If you have taken any modern physics course, it is likely you will have heard this notion before.) Matter is composed of wave functions of probability that only become “real entities” when they are measured by a conscious observer. The quantum mechanical pioneer, John Wheeler, is one of several thinkers who have proposed that the unusual nature of the universe suggests it had to evolve conscious beings in order to become real.

***

"The point here is that if some process—perhaps quantum mechanics but maybe something else—steers the universe toward producing intelligence, then we humans are representatives of that teleological endpoint. It suggests that we play some cosmic role. I hope this is an eye-opener for you. It certainly was for me when I first read Wheeler’s paper, and it has become even more pressing today, as we learn more about exoplanets and fine-tuning. Modern philosophers have chimed in too: Thomas Nagel puts it this way in his 2012 book, Mind and Cosmos: “We have not observed life anywhere but on earth, but no natural fact is cosmologically more significant.”

***

"I think the evidence, and the simplest conclusion, is that humanity is not ordinary and we may have a significant cosmic role. There are, therefore, ethical issues to consider, and religion can contribute a meaningful voice to this discussion. We should treat one another as the priceless beings we appear to be, and care for our rare cosmic home, the Earth. Modern science may have prompted this re‐evaluation, but addressing it will require the best of all our human abilities."

Comment: It is very hard to escape the facts he presents that the universe has allowed/caused the appearance of conscious beings who can study and understand to degree how the universe appeared and works.

Cosmologic philosophy: Howard A. Smith again

by dhw, Monday, December 12, 2016, 15:35 (1143 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "I think the evidence, and the simplest conclusion, is that humanity is not ordinary and we may have a significant cosmic role. There are, therefore, ethical issues to consider, and religion can contribute a meaningful voice to this discussion. We should treat one another as the priceless beings we appear to be, and care for our rare cosmic home, the Earth. Modern science may have prompted this re‐evaluation, but addressing it will require the best of all our human abilities."

A nice summary of what we think we know and what we know we don’t know. It’s not clear to me, though, why he thinks we have a significant “cosmic” role, assuming that by cosmos he means all the billions of solar systems that have come and gone and will presumably continue to come and go long after our own disappears. Does he really believe we will be able to control them? And I would question whether we need religion to make us treat one another as priceless beings and care for our home. But I would not question that we need to do both, and I have no doubt that Jesus, Moses, Muhammad,Buddha, Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins would all agree.

Cosmologic philosophy: Howard A. Smith again

by David Turell @, Monday, December 12, 2016, 17:19 (1143 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "I think the evidence, and the simplest conclusion, is that humanity is not ordinary and we may have a significant cosmic role. There are, therefore, ethical issues to consider, and religion can contribute a meaningful voice to this discussion. We should treat one another as the priceless beings we appear to be, and care for our rare cosmic home, the Earth. Modern science may have prompted this re‐evaluation, but addressing it will require the best of all our human abilities."

dhw: A nice summary of what we think we know and what we know we don’t know. It’s not clear to me, though, why he thinks we have a significant “cosmic” role, assuming that by cosmos he means all the billions of solar systems that have come and gone and will presumably continue to come and go long after our own disappears. Does he really believe we will be able to control them? And I would question whether we need religion to make us treat one another as priceless beings and care for our home. But I would not question that we need to do both, and I have no doubt that Jesus, Moses, Muhammad,Buddha, Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins would all agree.

Your question: " It’s not clear to me, though, why he thinks we have asignificant “cosmic” role, " relates to John Wheeler and quantum theory. the idea that without human consciousness to observe the universe it might not exist:

"The third answer touches on philosophy, and comes from quantum mechanics. (If you have taken any modern physics course, it is likely you will have heard this notion before.) Matter is composed of wave functions of probability that only become “real entities” when they are measured by a conscious observer. The quantum mechanical pioneer, John Wheeler, is one of several thinkers who have proposed that the unusual nature of the universe suggests it had to evolve conscious beings in order to become real."

Cosmologic philosophy: Howard A. Smith again

by dhw, Tuesday, December 13, 2016, 12:36 (1142 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: A nice summary of what we think we know and what we know we don’t know. It’s not clear to me, though, why he thinks we have a significant “cosmic” role, assuming that by cosmos he means all the billions of solar systems that have come and gone and will presumably continue to come and go long after our own disappears. Does he really believe we will be able to control them? And I would question whether we need religion to make us treat one another as priceless beings and care for our home. But I would not question that we need to do both, and I have no doubt that Jesus, Moses, Muhammad,Buddha, Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins would all agree.

DAVID: Your question: " It’s not clear to me, though, why he thinks we have a significant “cosmic” role, " relates to John Wheeler and quantum theory. the idea that without human consciousness to observe the universe it might not exist:
"The third answer touches on philosophy, and comes from quantum mechanics. (If you have taken any modern physics course, it is likely you will have heard this notion before.) Matter is composed of wave functions of probability that only become “real entities” when they are measured by a conscious observer. The quantum mechanical pioneer, John Wheeler, is one of several thinkers who have proposed that the unusual nature of the universe suggests it had to evolve conscious beings in order to become real."

Many thanks for explaining the thinking. As with the article under Time’s Arrow, I’m afraid I remain horribly conventional. For me, the very idea that the universe might not exist without human consciousness is anthropocentrism gone crazy.

Cosmologic philosophy: Howard A. Smith again

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 13, 2016, 16:46 (1142 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: The quantum mechanical pioneer, John Wheeler, is one of several thinkers who have proposed that the unusual nature of the universe suggests it had to evolve conscious beings in order to become real."[/i]

Many thanks for explaining the thinking. As with the article under Time’s Arrow, I’m afraid I remain horribly conventional. For me, the very idea that the universe might not exist without human consciousness is anthropocentrism gone crazy.

It has to do with his 'delayed choice' experiment. What the observer does at the end changes the results in the beginning. It is proven!

Cosmologic philosophy: Howard A. Smith again

by dhw, Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 13:44 (1141 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: The quantum mechanical pioneer, John Wheeler, is one of several thinkers who have proposed that the unusual nature of the universe suggests it had to evolve conscious beings in order to become real."

dhw: Many thanks for explaining the thinking. As with the article under Time’s Arrow, I’m afraid I remain horribly conventional. For me, the very idea that the universe might not exist without human consciousness is anthropocentrism gone crazy
DAVID: It has to do with his 'delayed choice' experiment. What the observer does at the end changes the results in the beginning. It is proven!

It is also proven (as far as anything CAN be proven) that the sun and Planet Earth existed in reality before conscious beings evolved. If they hadn’t been real, conscious beings could not have evolved.

Cosmologic philosophy: Howard A. Smith again

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 14:55 (1141 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: The quantum mechanical pioneer, John Wheeler, is one of several thinkers who have proposed that the unusual nature of the universe suggests it had to evolve conscious beings in order to become real."

dhw: Many thanks for explaining the thinking. As with the article under Time’s Arrow, I’m afraid I remain horribly conventional. For me, the very idea that the universe might not exist without human consciousness is anthropocentrism gone crazy
DAVID: It has to do with his 'delayed choice' experiment. What the observer does at the end changes the results in the beginning. It is proven!

dhw: It is also proven (as far as anything CAN be proven) that the sun and Planet Earth existed in reality before conscious beings evolved. If they hadn’t been real, conscious beings could not have evolved.

From my viewpoint. God existed with His consciousness.

Cosmologic philosophy: Howard A. Smith again

by dhw, Thursday, December 15, 2016, 16:38 (1140 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: The quantum mechanical pioneer, John Wheeler, is one of several thinkers who have proposed that the unusual nature of the universe suggests it had to evolve conscious beings in order to become real."

dhw: Many thanks for explaining the thinking. As with the article under Time’s Arrow, I’m afraid I remain horribly conventional. For me, the very idea that the universe might not exist without human consciousness is anthropocentrism gone crazy

DAVID: It has to do with his 'delayed choice' experiment. What the observer does at the end changes the results in the beginning. It is proven!

dhw: It is also proven (as far as anything CAN be proven) that the sun and Planet Earth existed in reality before conscious beings evolved. If they hadn’t been real, conscious beings could not have evolved.

DAVID: From my viewpoint. God existed with His consciousness.

Then let me change the example. Do you believe that the sun and Planet Earth may not have existed in reality before there was conscious life on Earth?

Cosmologic philosophy: Howard A. Smith again

by David Turell @, Thursday, December 15, 2016, 20:26 (1140 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: It is also proven (as far as anything CAN be proven) that the sun and Planet Earth existed in reality before conscious beings evolved. If they hadn’t been real, conscious beings could not have evolved.

DAVID: From my viewpoint. God existed with His consciousness.

dhw: Then let me change the example. Do you believe that the sun and Planet Earth may not have existed in reality before there was conscious life on Earth?

Same answer. As long as God's consciousness is present everything in the universe exists. When we come along we don't take over from Him.

Cosmologic philosophy: Howard A. Smith again

by dhw, Friday, December 16, 2016, 12:14 (1139 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Your question: "It’s not clear to me, though, why he thinks we have a significant “cosmic” role, " relates to John Wheeler and quantum theory. the idea that without human consciousness to observe the universe it might not exist:
The quantum mechanical pioneer, John Wheeler, is one of several thinkers who have proposed that the unusual nature of the universe suggests it had to evolve conscious beings in order to become real."

dhw: Do you believe that the sun and Planet Earth may not have existed in reality before there was conscious life on Earth?

DAVID:…As long as God's consciousness is present everything in the universe exists. When we come along we don't take over from Him.

I am simply trying to bring some common sense into the discussion. I do not accept the view that without human consciousness, the universe might not be real, and I would just like to know whether you agree with me that the sun and Planet Earth existed in reality before humans came on the scene.

Cosmologic philosophy: Howard A. Smith again

by David Turell @, Friday, December 16, 2016, 19:34 (1139 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Your question: "It’s not clear to me, though, why he thinks we have a significant “cosmic” role, " relates to John Wheeler and quantum theory. the idea that without human consciousness to observe the universe it might not exist:
The quantum mechanical pioneer, John Wheeler, is one of several thinkers who have proposed that the unusual nature of the universe suggests it had to evolve conscious beings in order to become real."

dhw: Do you believe that the sun and Planet Earth may not have existed in reality before there was conscious life on Earth?

DAVID:…As long as God's consciousness is present everything in the universe exists. When we come along we don't take over from Him.

dhw: I am simply trying to bring some common sense into the discussion. I do not accept the view that without human consciousness, the universe might not be real, and I would just like to know whether you agree with me that the sun and Planet Earth existed in reality before humans came on the scene.

Your problem is not recognizing that quantum theory brings in the issue of consciousness as a major consideration. It defies common sense. Granted the formulas give the proper results, but don't explain the influence of conscious actions, as in the Wheeler experiment. This is why you had so much trouble in understanding Ruth Kastner's discussions. Of course the universe and our solar system was here before we arrived. I've already said that above! Consciousness is part of the universe. Quantum actions are the basis of the universe.

Cosmologic philosophy: Howard A. Smith again

by dhw, Saturday, December 17, 2016, 13:31 (1138 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Your question: "It’s not clear to me, though, why he thinks we have a significant “cosmic” role, " relates to John Wheeler and quantum theory. the idea that without human consciousness to observe the universe it might not exist:
The quantum mechanical pioneer, John Wheeler, is one of several thinkers who have proposed that the unusual nature of the universe suggests it had to evolve conscious beings in order to become real
."

dhw: Do you believe that the sun and Planet Earth may not have existed in reality before there was conscious life on Earth?

DAVID:…As long as God's consciousness is present everything in the universe exists. When we come along we don't take over from Him.

dhw: I am simply trying to bring some common sense into the discussion. I do not accept the view that without human consciousness, the universe might not be real, and I would just like to know whether you agree with me that the sun and Planet Earth existed in reality before humans came on the scene.

DAVID: Your problem is not recognizing that quantum theory brings in the issue of consciousness as a major consideration. It defies common sense. Granted the formulas give the proper results, but don't explain the influence of conscious actions, as in the Wheeler experiment. This is why you had so much trouble in understanding Ruth Kastner's discussions. Of course the universe and our solar system was here before we arrived. I've already said that above! Consciousness is part of the universe. Quantum actions are the basis of the universe.

I do not doubt that consciousness is part of the universe, since we conscious beings are in the universe, although some - in my view wacky – philosophers tell us there is no such thing as consciousness (but I accept that perception is subjective), and I can well believe that experiments will show that consciousness can influence certain actions. Meanwhile, thank you for now explicitly rejecting the notion that without human consciousness the universe might not exist, and that the universe had to evolve conscious beings in order to become real. You should therefore be able to understand why I have trouble with any argument which suggests that the universe might not exist without human consciousness and that the universe had to evolve conscious beings in order to become real.

Cosmologic philosophy: Howard A. Smith again

by David Turell @, Saturday, December 17, 2016, 14:42 (1138 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: Your problem is not recognizing that quantum theory brings in the issue of consciousness as a major consideration. It defies common sense. Granted the formulas give the proper results, but don't explain the influence of conscious actions, as in the Wheeler experiment. This is why you had so much trouble in understanding Ruth Kastner's discussions. Of course the universe and our solar system was here before we arrived. I've already said that above! Consciousness is part of the universe. Quantum actions are the basis of the universe.

dhw: I do not doubt that consciousness is part of the universe, since we conscious beings are in the universe, although some - in my view wacky – philosophers tell us there is no such thing as consciousness (but I accept that perception is subjective), and I can well believe that experiments will show that consciousness can influence certain actions. Meanwhile, thank you for now explicitly rejecting the notion that without human consciousness the universe might not exist, and that the universe had to evolve conscious beings in order to become real. You should therefore be able to understand why I have trouble with any argument which suggests that the universe might not exist without human consciousness and that the universe had to evolve conscious beings in order to become real.

If the universe is itself conscious, apart from us, that is God's consciousness, which may well be the reason behind the 'real' universe before us.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning is a puzzle

by David Turell @, Friday, December 23, 2016, 01:46 (1132 days ago) @ David Turell

Another article on the problem of understanding it by an expert:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/physics/a-universe-made-for-me-physics-fine-tuning-and-life

"The deeper we look at the universe, the simpler it appears to be. We know that everyday matter is built from about 100 different atoms. They, in turn, are composed of a dense nucleus of close-packed protons and neutrons, surrounded by a buzzing cloud of electrons.

"Peering deeper, we find that protons and neutrons are themselves made of quarks – of which there are six distinct types. But two dominate the universe: the up-quark and the down-quark. There are also six leptons of which the electron is the most famous.

"The four fundamental forces glue matter together. Two of them, the strong and the weak force, only inhabit the sub-atomic world. Everyday life is dominated by the electro-magnetic force and gravity.

***

"These building blocks of the universe come with tight specifications and they never vary. Wherever you are in the universe, the mass of the electron, the speed of light (light is an electromagnetic wave), and the strength of the gravitational force is the same. In physics, we encounter these so-called fundamental constants so often, we barely give them a second thought. We just plug them into our equations and calculate the properties of matter and energy to our heart’s content.

"As a cosmologist, I can use these immutable laws of physics to evolve synthetic universes on supercomputers, watching matter flow in the clutches of gravity, pooling into galaxies, and forming stars. Simulations such as these allow me to test ideas about the universe – particularly to try to understand the mystery of dark energy (more on this later).

***

"Examining the huge number of potential universes, each with their own unique laws of physics, leads to a startling conclusion: most of the universes that result from fiddling with the fundamental constants would lack physical properties needed to support complex life.

***

"No matter which way we turn, the properties of our universe have finely tuned values that allow us to be here. Deviate ever so slightly from them and the universe would be sterile – or it may never have existed at all. What explanation can there be for this fine-tuning?

"Unfortunately, if you are expecting an answer, there is none. But there is much speculation.

"While this is a scientific article, we cannot ignore the fact that to many, the fact that the universe is finely tuned for intelligent life shows the hand of the creator who set the dials. But this answer, of course, leads to another question: who created the creator? Let’s see what alternatives science can offer.

"Could our finely tuned universe be a simulation? Perhaps we are just self-aware programs running on some cosmic computer – how would we know? Supercomputers can simulate the workings of the universe from subatomic to cosmic scales.

"They let scientists predict how individual atoms bond into molecules or observe the formation of stars and galaxies, with finer details revealed as computers grow more powerful. If our own universe is also such a simulation, that could explain why it is so finely tuned.

"But simulations tend to be approximations of the world around them. This suggests that the universe of the simulator is even more complex than the one we inhabit, so we’d then have to ask how the world of the simulator was fine-tuned.
Ultimately this is just another version of a creator theory.

***

"As we have seen, we expect the vast majority of these universes to be stone cold dead, incapable of hosting complexity and life of any form, and, unsurprisingly, we find ourselves inhabiting one of the few where the laws of physics allow us to exist.

"But the multiverse seems so wasteful, producing so many dead, empty universes for each one that could potentially host life. And why did it produce any life-bearing universes at all when it would have been easy for them all to be sterile? The question of fine-tuning seems to have been pushed to a higher level.

"To some, the picture of the multiverse is comforting, naturally explaining the puzzle of our own fine-tuning. But at present, we have no idea whether this immense sea of universes exists, and they may always be beyond the reach of experiment and observation; if this is the case, is the multiverse more philosophical musing than robust science?

"The fine-tuning of our universe for life represents a true mystery of science, a mystery that appears to point to something profound lying at the heart of science. We may never find out why we are living in a “just right” universe, but if we ever do, the universe, and our place in it, will be changed forever."

Comment: a great article covering all the fine points of fine tuning. Worth reading. It is a strong argument for God, but not conclusive. Back to faith as a necesdsity.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning is a puzzle

by dhw, Friday, December 23, 2016, 12:29 (1132 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Another article on the problem of understanding it by an expert:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/physics/a-universe-made-for-me-physics-fine-tuning-and-life
QUOTE: "But the multiverse seems so wasteful, producing so many dead, empty universes for each one that could potentially host life. And why did it produce any life-bearing universes at all when it would have been easy for them all to be sterile? The question of fine-tuning seems to have been pushed to a higher level.”

I don’t think we need the multiverse hypothesis to pose the question of wastefulness. We don’t know whether our own universe is finite or infinite, but the colossal number of solar systems in existence, not to mention the colossal number that must have disappeared, poses the same problem.

QUOTE: "To some, the picture of the multiverse is comforting, naturally explaining the puzzle of our own fine-tuning. But at present, we have no idea whether this immense sea of universes exists, and they may always be beyond the reach of experiment and observation; if this is the case, is the multiverse more philosophical musing than robust science?”

Spot on. The conjuring-up of unprovable multiverses is no more scientific than the unprovable hypothesis that the mechanisms for life and evolution could have assembled themselves by chance, or the unprovable hypothesis that there is a superintelligence that created the universe and life on Planet Earth. Belief in any of these hypotheses is based on faith (as you so rightly conclude, David) and has nothing to do with science.

QUOTE: "The fine-tuning of our universe for life represents a true mystery of science, a mystery that appears to point to something profound lying at the heart of science. We may never find out why we are living in a “just right” universe, but if we ever do, the universe, and our place in it, will be changed forever."
David’s comment: a great article covering all the fine points of fine tuning. Worth reading. It is a strong argument for God, but not conclusive. Back to faith as a necessity.

It is indeed a great article. I have read it all now, and you have done a brilliant job editing it for us. Once again, many thanks. As for “faith as a necessity”, I take it you mean that the only way one can convince oneself that one has found a solution to the mystery is through faith, and that is as true of the atheist as it is of the theist.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning is a puzzle

by David Turell @, Friday, December 23, 2016, 18:23 (1132 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: I don’t think we need the multiverse hypothesis to pose the question of wastefulness. We don’t know whether our own universe is finite or infinite, but the colossal number of solar systems in existence, not to mention the colossal number that must have disappeared, poses the same problem.

Our universe might well be all here is and not infinite. The theories about multiverses put them all outside the CMB, and the hope of documenting them has to do with one or more of them bumping into the CMB and leaving a circle mark! I think the reference is somewhere on our site. That makes the concept like a sink full of contiguous soap bubbles.

David’s comment: a great article covering all the fine points of fine tuning. Worth reading. It is a strong argument for God, but not conclusive. Back to faith as a necessity.

dhw: It is indeed a great article. I have read it all now, and you have done a brilliant job editing it for us. Once again, many thanks. As for “faith as a necessity”, I take it you mean that the only way one can convince oneself that one has found a solution to the mystery is through faith, and that is as true of the atheist as it is of the theist.

And true for the agnostic who has faith in the proposition that nothing discovered as yet approaches absolute proof. He has no faith in the proposition of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning is a puzzle

by dhw, Saturday, December 24, 2016, 12:46 (1131 days ago) @ David Turell

David’s comment: a great article covering all the fine points of fine tuning. Worth reading. It is a strong argument for God, but not conclusive. Back to faith as a necessity.

dhw: It is indeed a great article. I have read it all now, and you have done a brilliant job editing it for us. Once again, many thanks. As for “faith as a necessity”, I take it you mean that the only way one can convince oneself that one has found a solution to the mystery is through faith, and that is as true of the atheist as it is of the theist.

DAVID: And true for the agnostic who has faith in the proposition that nothing discovered as yet approaches absolute proof. He has no faith in the proposition of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Aha, and who, may I ask, decides what is a “reasonable” doubt? You do, and I do. From my cushioned perch on the fence I have explained both a) to theists and b) to atheists the reasons why I still cannot embrace their faith (a) in a being for whose origin and existence there is no evidence other than as a hypothetical explanation for the mystery of life, and b) in the ability of chance to assemble the extraordinarily complex mechanisms for life and evolution. I also remain open-minded in relation to the mysteries of consciousness and psychic experiences. And you have agreed that both hypotheses eventually require the abandonment of reason and the leap which only faith can make. Facing up to reasonable doubts does not require faith. But, as I keep mea-culparing, I am wrong one way or the other, so my fence-sitting does not mean reason should have priority over faith. However, I do feel great sympathy with Bertrand Russell, who variously described himself as an agnostic or an atheist and was once asked what he would say to God if he met him. He replied: “God, you gave us insufficient evidence.”

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning is a puzzle

by David Turell @, Saturday, December 24, 2016, 18:26 (1131 days ago) @ dhw

David’s comment: a great article covering all the fine points of fine tuning. Worth reading. It is a strong argument for God, but not conclusive. Back to faith as a necessity.

dhw: It is indeed a great article. I have read it all now, and you have done a brilliant job editing it for us. Once again, many thanks. As for “faith as a necessity”, I take it you mean that the only way one can convince oneself that one has found a solution to the mystery is through faith, and that is as true of the atheist as it is of the theist.

DAVID: And true for the agnostic who has faith in the proposition that nothing discovered as yet approaches absolute proof. He has no faith in the proposition of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

dhw: Aha, and who, may I ask, decides what is a “reasonable” doubt? You do, and I do. From my cushioned perch on the fence I have explained both a) to theists and b) to atheists the reasons why I still cannot embrace their faith (a) in a being for whose origin and existence there is no evidence other than as a hypothetical explanation for the mystery of life, and b) in the ability of chance to assemble the extraordinarily complex mechanisms for life and evolution. I also remain open-minded in relation to the mysteries of consciousness and psychic experiences. And you have agreed that both hypotheses eventually require the abandonment of reason and the leap which only faith can make. Facing up to reasonable doubts does not require faith. But, as I keep mea-culparing, I am wrong one way or the other, so my fence-sitting does not mean reason should have priority over faith. However, I do feel great sympathy with Bertrand Russell, who variously described himself as an agnostic or an atheist and was once asked what he would say to God if he met him. He replied: “God, you gave us insufficient evidence.”

Russell was correct and is correct to this date. Your position is very clear. I have enough evidence for me to make the leap. I'm sorry you cannot, but I promise to keep trying to convince you that my evidentiary path in correct .

Cosmologic philosophy: conscious universe

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 05, 2017, 00:59 (1119 days ago) @ David Turell

We are back again to John Wheeler and the delayed choice experiment which tells us human consciousness is necessary to understand quantum experimentation and leads to the proposition that the universe is conscious:

http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2017/01/the-conscious-universe-a-radical-theory-th...


" Wheeler suggested that reality is created by observers and that: “no phenomenon is a real phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon.” He coined the term “Participatory Anthropic Principle” (PAP) from the Greek “anthropos”, or human. He went further to suggest that “we are participants in bringing into being not only the near and here, but the far away and long ago.”

"This claim was considered rather outlandish until his thought experiment, known as the “delayed-choice experiment,” was tested in a laboratory in 1984. This experiment was a variation on the famous “double-slit experiment” in which the dual nature of light was exposed (depending on how the experiment was measured and observed, the light behaved like a particle (a photon) or like a wave).

"The results of this experiment, as well as another conducted in 2007, proved what Wheeler had always suspected – observers’ consciousness is required to bring the universe into existence. This means that a pre-life Earth would have existed in an undetermined state, and a pre-life universe could only exist retroactively. (my bold)

"Now it appears that Wheeler was a major influence on New York Times bestselling author Deepak Chopra who joined forces with physicist Menas Kafatos to explore some of the most important and baffling questions about human existence. What happens when modern science reaches a crucial turning point that challenges everything we know about reality? In the coming era, the universe will be completely redefined as a "human universe" radically unlike the cold, empty void where human life and our planet is a mere mote of dust in the cosmos.

"You Are the Universe literally means what it says--each of us is a co-creator of reality extending to the vastest reaches of time and space. This seemingly impossible proposition follows from the current state of science, where outside the public eye, some key mysteries cannot be solved, even though they are the very issues that define reality itself:

"What Came Before the Big Bang?
Why Does the Universe Fit Together So Perfectly?
Where Did Time Come From?
What Is the Universe Made Of?
Is the Quantum World Linked to Everyday Life?
Do We Live in a Conscious Universe?
How Did Life First Begin?"

Comment: the bolded paragraph does away with the philosophic question we had when this was discussed before. It proposes that the universe is in an anticipatory state until we arrive. Another part of the article discusses the brain as a receiver of consciousness from the quantum standpoint, not the NDE research. The whole article is fascinating.

Cosmologic philosophy: conscious universe

by dhw, Friday, January 06, 2017, 13:17 (1118 days ago) @ David Turell

http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2017/01/the-conscious-universe-a-radical-theory-th...

QUOTES: " Wheeler suggested that reality is created by observers and that: “no phenomenon is a real phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon. […] He went further to suggest that “we are participants in bringing into being not only the near and here, but the far away and long ago.”

"The results of this experiment, as well as another conducted in 2007, proved what Wheeler had always suspected – observers’ consciousness is required to bring the universe into existence. This means that a pre-life Earth would have existed in an undetermined state, and a pre-life universe could only exist retroactively. (David’s bold)

"You Are the Universe literally means what it says--each of us is a co-creator of reality extending to the vastest reaches of time and space. This seemingly impossible proposition follows from the current state of science, where outside the public eye, some key mysteries cannot be solved, even though they are the very issues that define reality itself:
"What Came Before the Big Bang?
Why Does the Universe Fit Together So Perfectly?
Where Did Time Come From?
What Is the Universe Made Of?
Is the Quantum World Linked to Everyday Life?
Do We Live in a Conscious Universe?
How Did Life First Begin?"

David’s comment: the bolded paragraph does away with the philosophic question we had when this was discussed before. It proposes that the universe is in an anticipatory state until we arrive. Another part of the article discusses the brain as a receiver of consciousness from the quantum standpoint, not the NDE research. The whole article is fascinating.

I have tried three times to log onto the article, but can’t get beyond the sensationalist headline. However, thank you for these quotes. I can’t see how they do away with the objections I raised before. How on earth this “seemingly” impossible proposition can be said to result from the current state of science is beyond me. Science is a product of human consciousness. Current scientific consciousness has established that there was a pre-life universe. Wheeler’s theory proposes that what current scientific consciousness has established (pre-life universe) is not true, because according to him, current scientific consciousness has established that what current scientific consciousness has established (pre-life universe) did not exist until scientific consciousness established it. Scientific consciousness has therefore established that there was a pre-life universe and there was no pre-life universe, so which of these “truths” is true? It’s a similar philosophical cul de sac to the statement “I am a liar.” (Is the speaker telling the truth?)

I am not the one playing games here. If the sun did not exist until we discovered that the sun existed, we may as well chuck away all our science books and ignore most of the mysteries listed above, because apparently there was no big bang, no universe, no life until we arrived on the scene and then…did what? Invented them all? Here is a counter proposition, which I think has been confirmed by countless billions of experiments and observations: the world we observe exists independently of our observation. That does not mean that our observation is objective. It means that the sun existed even when there were no conscious beings to observe it. And despite my notorious agnosticism, I actually believe that. Sorry to be so boringly conventional.

Cosmologic philosophy: conscious universe

by David Turell @, Saturday, January 07, 2017, 00:53 (1117 days ago) @ dhw


David’s comment: the bolded paragraph does away with the philosophic question we had when this was discussed before. It proposes that the universe is in an anticipatory state until we arrive. Another part of the article discusses the brain as a receiver of consciousness from the quantum standpoint, not the NDE research. The whole article is fascinating.

dhw: I have tried three times to log onto the article, but can’t get beyond the sensationalist headline.

I've added to the quotes below. I've checked with Neil and he has offered help with the links by doing it himself instead of fixing the problem so I don't have to annoy him for help.

dhw: However, thank you for these quotes. I can’t see how they do away with the objections I raised before.

I agree with you, but somehow our consciousness is needed for quantum experimentation.

dhw: the world we observe exists independently of our observation. That does not mean that our observation is objective. It means that the sun existed even when there were no conscious beings to observe it. And despite my notorious agnosticism, I actually believe that. Sorry to be so boringly conventional.

More quotes:

“'The shift into a new paradigm is happening,” the duo writes. “All of us live in a participatory universe. Once you decide that you want to participate fully with mind, body, and soul, the paradigm shift becomes personal. The reality you inhabit will be yours either to embrace or to change.”

"What these two great minds offer is a bold, new understanding of who we are and how we can transform the world for the better while reaching our greatest potential.

"The most distant galaxies billions of light years away, have no reality without you, because everything that makes any galaxy real— with the multitude of stars with their heat, emitted light, and masses, the positions of the distant galaxies in space and the velocity that carries each distant galaxy away at enormous speed—requires a human observer with a human nervous system. If no one existed to experience heat, light, mass, and so on, nothing could be real as we know it. If the qualities of Nature are a human construct arising from human experiences, the existence of the physical universe "out there" must be seriously questioned--and along with it, our participation in such a universe.

"Physics has had decades to process the insight of Wheeler, the eminent American physicist, general relativist and quantum physicist, who originated the notion of a participatory universe, A cosmos in which all of us are embedded as co-creators, replacing the accepted universe "out there," which is separate from us. Wheeler used the image of children with their noses pressed against a bakery window to describe the view that kept the observer separate from the thing being observed. But in a fully participatory universe, the observer and the thing observed are one.

"The brain isn't the seat of consciousness but acts more like a radio receiver, and perhaps emitter, translating conscious activity into physical correlates. (The radio receiver metaphor describes the feedback loop between mind and brain, which are actually not separate but part of the same complementary activity in consciousness.) To understand our true participation in the universe, we must learn much more about awareness and how it turns mind into matter and vice versa.

"These are difficult truths for mainstream scientists to accept, and some would react to them with skepticism, disbelief, or anger. But following the other track of explanation, beginning with physical objects "out there," fails utterly to explain how we are conscious to begin with.

"That's why in scattered pockets, some physicists are beginning to talk about a conscious universe, where consciousness is a given throughout Nature. In fact, the founders of quantum mechanics a century ago agreed more with this view, having understood that quantum mechanics implies observation and agency of mind."

Comment: Please discuss our link problem with Neil. To get around the link problem copy the link in my entries, and paste in Google. Google will give you the article. I firmly believe that our universe is conscious and our consciousness is a part of that overall state of the universe and our brain is a receiver of that ability. But the universe obviously preceded our appearance.

Cosmologic philosophy: Weinberg on quantum theory

by David Turell @, Saturday, January 07, 2017, 01:46 (1117 days ago) @ David Turell

And Steven Weinberg adds his confusion about quantum theory and non-locality:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/01/19/trouble-with-quantum-mechanics/

"Probability enters Newtonian physics only when our knowledge is imperfect, as for example when we do not have precise knowledge of how a pair of dice is thrown. But with the new quantum mechanics, the moment-to-moment determinism of the laws of physics themselves seemed to be lost.

"All very strange. In a 1926 letter to Born, Einstein complained:
Quantum mechanics is very impressive. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory produces a good deal but hardly brings us closer to the secret of the Old One. I am at all events convinced that He does not play dice.

"As late as 1964, in his Messenger lectures at Cornell, Richard Feynman lamented, “I think I can safely say that no one understands quantum mechanics.”3 With quantum mechanics, the break with the past was so sharp that all earlier physical theories became known as “classical.”

***

Today there are two widely followed approaches to quantum mechanics, the “realist” and “instrumentalist” approaches, which view the origin of probability in measurement in two very different ways.9 For reasons I will explain, neither approach seems to me quite satisfactory.

***

"The realist approach to quantum mechanics had already run into a different sort of trouble long before Everett wrote about multiple histories. It was emphasized in a 1935 paper by Einstein with his coworkers Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen, and arises in connection with the phenomenon of “entanglement.”

"We naturally tend to think that reality can be described locally. I can say what is happening in my laboratory, and you can say what is happening in yours, but we don’t have to talk about both at the same time. But in quantum mechanics it is possible for a system to be in an entangled state that involves correlations between parts of the system that are arbitrarily far apart, like the two ends of a very long rigid stick.

***


"Strange as it is, the entanglement entailed by quantum mechanics is actually observed experimentally. But how can something so nonlocal represent reality?

***

"What then must be done about the shortcomings of quantum mechanics? One reasonable response is contained in the legendary advice to inquiring students: “Shut up and calculate!” There is no argument about how to use quantum mechanics, only how to describe what it means, so perhaps the problem is merely one of words.

"On the other hand, the problems of understanding measurement in the present form of quantum mechanics may be warning us that the theory needs modification. Quantum mechanics works so well for atoms that any new theory would have to be nearly indistinguishable from quantum mechanics when applied to such small things. But a new theory might be designed so that the superpositions of states of large things like physicists and their apparatus even in isolation suffer an actual rapid spontaneous collapse, in which probabilities evolve to give the results expected in quantum mechanics.

***

"One difficulty in developing such a new theory is that we get no direction from experiment—all data so far agree with ordinary quantum mechanics. We do get some help, however, from some general principles, which turn out to provide surprisingly strict constraints on any new theory."

Comment: Weinberg is unhappy as we all are about the confusion that is quantum theory but we are stuck with the knowledge that our universe works because of quantum mechanics. Is it God's trick to make us confused? Or perhaps we are not bright enough to understand the answers.

Cosmologic philosophy: Weinberg on quantum theory

by dhw, Saturday, January 07, 2017, 13:43 (1117 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Even our solar system is highly unusual compared to the ones currently discovered. But we can only know what is present in a small corner of our galaxy, two thirds of the way out on the second spiral arm. Of course other galaxies could have Earths, and God could be in charge of all of it.

I’m surprised by your final comment. In the past, you have always insisted that God IS in charge of all of it, indeed that he created all of it, and that all of it was created with a view to producing humans. My complaint has been that I don’t see the relevance of billions of other solar systems that come and go, if all he wanted to do was produce humans. (Though I think you also acknowledge the possibility that there may be other forms of life out there.)

Cosmologic philosophy: Weinberg on quantum theory

by David Turell @, Saturday, January 07, 2017, 15:35 (1117 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Even our solar system is highly unusual compared to the ones currently discovered. But we can only know what is present in a small corner of our galaxy, two thirds of the way out on the second spiral arm. Of course other galaxies could have Earths, and God could be in charge of all of it.

dhw: I’m surprised by your final comment. In the past, you have always insisted that God IS in charge of all of it, indeed that he created all of it, and that all of it was created with a view to producing humans. My complaint has been that I don’t see the relevance of billions of other solar systems that come and go, if all he wanted to do was produce humans. (Though I think you also acknowledge the possibility that there may be other forms of life out there.)

My comment implies that God created the universe but my underlying thought, not expressed, was that He took special interest in our solar system and made sure it was created to allow for the Earth to develop in a way to prepare for life to appear. It is certainly possible that in other galaxies there are other Earths with life developed by Him. I would think those Earths would also be very unusual planets in order to support life. The type of planet and life's presence are tightly related.

Cosmologic philosophy: conscious universe

by dhw, Saturday, January 07, 2017, 12:57 (1117 days ago) @ David Turell

More quotes: "What these two great minds offer is a bold, new understanding of who we are and how we can transform the world for the better while reaching our greatest potential.
"The most distant galaxies billions of light years away, have no reality without you, because everything that makes any galaxy real— with the multitude of stars with their heat, emitted light, and masses, the positions of the distant galaxies in space and the velocity that carries each distant galaxy away at enormous speed—requires a human observer with a human nervous system
.

I’m sorry, but for me this is woolly philosophy masquerading as physics. I can only repeat that I firmly believe the galaxies will still be out there whether we observe them or not, but that shouldn’t stop us from understanding ourselves, doing good deeds, or fulfilling our potential.

If the qualities of Nature are a human construct arising from human experiences, the existence of the physical universe "out there" must be seriously questioned--and along with it, our participation in such a universe.”

A supercolossal IF.

To understand our true participation in the universe, we must learn much more about awareness and how it turns mind into matter and vice versa.”

What does he mean by “true participation in the universe”? Does he believe we can juggle with solar systems? Our being part of the universe seems self-evident to me, and I can sympathize with philosophies that proclaim the oneness of BBella’s “ALL THAT IS”, but that kind of participation is a zillion light years away from our bringing the universe into existence. In my view this is solipsism gone crazy. However, since consciousness itself is an unsolved mystery, to understand consciousness and its effects on us and on the world around us, we do indeed need to understand more about consciousness and its effects on us and on the world around us. Who could possibly disagree?

"These are difficult truths for mainstream scientists to accept, and some would react to them with skepticism, disbelief, or anger. But following the other track of explanation, beginning with physical objects "out there," fails utterly to explain how we are conscious to begin with.

What "truths"? Nobody understands consciousness. That does not mean the world around us is not real (even though our observation of it is subjective). No wonder mainstream scientists react with scepticism, disbelief or anger.

DAVID: I firmly believe that our universe is conscious and our consciousness is a part of that overall state of the universe and our brain is a receiver of that ability. But the universe obviously preceded our appearance.

I have no doubt that our consciousness is part of the universe. I do not know whether the rest of the universe is conscious. Nor does anyone else, but the belief that it is has nothing whatsoever to do with physics. Thank you for your final comment, which is a welcome and devastating rejection of the article’s main thrust.

As regards the links, sometimes I simply can’t get beyond the first page. The computer gets stuck. I will liaise with Neil.

Cosmologic philosophy: conscious universe

by David Turell @, Saturday, January 07, 2017, 18:10 (1117 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: I firmly believe that our universe is conscious and our consciousness is a part of that overall state of the universe and our brain is a receiver of that ability. But the universe obviously preceded our appearance.

dhw:I have no doubt that our consciousness is part of the universe. I do not know whether the rest of the universe is conscious. Nor does anyone else, but the belief that it is has nothing whatsoever to do with physics. Thank you for your final comment, which is a welcome and devastating rejection of the article’s main thrust.

As regards the links, sometimes I simply can’t get beyond the first page. The computer gets stuck. I will liaise with Neil.

I'm sure Neil helped by getting into your computer. As for quantum relationship to our minds, all these wooly ideas go nowhere. It is all John Wheeler's fault with his proven late choice experiments. Our choices, after the fact, do affect what the quanta do.

Cosmologic philosophy: conscious universe

by BBella @, Saturday, January 07, 2017, 20:26 (1117 days ago) @ David Turell

I firmly believe that our universe is conscious and our consciousness is a part of that overall state of the universe and our brain is a receiver of that ability. But the universe obviously preceded our appearance.

At the very least, the universe preceded the appearance of the human form, but not necessarily preceded our conscious awareness. We cannot know how long our consciousness has been aware.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse

by David Turell @, Saturday, January 07, 2017, 20:56 (1117 days ago) @ BBella

Multiverse theory is appealing because it provides solutions to questions we cannot answer, and may never:

http://cosmos.nautil.us/feature/103/even-physicists-find-the-multiverse-faintly-disturbing

"The multiverse explains how the constants in our equations acquire the values they do, without invoking either randomness or conscious design. If there are vast numbers of universes, embodying all possible laws of physics, we measure the values we do because that’s where our universe lies on the landscape. There’s no deeper explanation. That’s it. That’s the answer.

"But as much as the multiverse frees us from the old dichotomy, it leaves a profound unease. The questions we have spent so long pondering might have no deeper answer than just this: that it is the way it is. That might be the best we can do, but it’s not the kind of answer we’re used to. It doesn’t pull back the covers and explain how something works. What’s more, it dashes the theorists’ dream, with the claim that no unique solution will ever be found because no unique solution exists.

"There are some who don’t like that answer, others who don’t think it even qualifies to be called an answer, and some who accept it.

"To Nobel laureate David Gross, the multiverse “smells of angels.” Accepting the multiverse, he says, is tantamount to throwing up your hands and accepting that you’ll never really understand anything, because whatever you see can be chalked up to a “historical accident.” His fellow Nobelist Gerard ’t Hooft complains he cannot accept a scenario where you are supposed to “try all of these solutions until you find a universe that looks like the world we live in.” He says: “This is not the way physics has worked for us in the past, and it is not too late to hope that we will be able to find better arguments in the future.”

"Princeton cosmologist Paul Steinhardt refers to the multiverse as the “Theory of Anything,” because it allows everything but explains nothing. “A scientific theory ought to be selective,” he says. “Its power is determined by the number of possibilities it excludes. If it includes every possibility, then it excludes nothing, then it has zero power.” Steinhardt was one of the early champions of inflation until he realized that it generically gave rise to the multiverse, carving out a space of possibilities rather than making specific predictions. He has since become one of inflation’s most vocal critics. On a recent episode of Star Talk, he introduced himself as a proponent of alternatives to the multiverse. “What did the multiverse ever do to you?” the host joked. “It destroyed one of my favorite ideas,” Steinhardt replied.

"Physics was supposed to be the province of truth, of absolutes, of predictions. Things either are, or aren’t. Theories aren’t meant to be elastic or inclusive, but instead restrictive, rigid, dismissive. Given a situation, you want to be able to predict the likely—ideally, the unique and inevitable—outcome. The multiverse gives us none of that.

"The debate over the multiverse sometimes gets vociferous, with skeptics accusing proponents of betraying science. But it’s important to realize that nobody chose this. We all wanted a universe that flowed organically from some beautiful deep principles. But from what we can tell so far, that’s not the universe we got. It is what it is.

***

"Perhaps, says Giudice, the multiverse implies something similar. Perhaps we need to let go of something we’re holding onto too tightly. Maybe we need to think bigger, refocus, regroup, reframe our questions to nature. The multiverse, he says, “could open up “extremely satisfying, gratifying, and mind-opening possibilities.”

"Of all the pro-multiverse arguments I heard, this is the one that appeals to me the most. In every scenario, for every physical system, we can pose infinitely many questions. We try to strip a problem back to the essentials and ask the most basic questions, but our intuition is built upon what came before, and it is entirely possible that we are drawing upon paradigms that are no longer relevant for the new realms we are trying to probe.

"The multiverse is less like a closed door and more like a key. To me, the word is now tinged with promise and fraught with possibility. It seems no more wasteful than a bower full of roses."

Comment: He is putting the best face he can on a real problem. we cannot test for the multiverse unless we find 'bump circles' in the CMB as they touch each other. None so far, and more than likely in my opinion, never. I find the concept of multiverse as nebulous as the God concept in a sense, but design is just as explanatory as multiverse. We cannot test for either. So it is take your choice, or not.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse

by David Turell @, Sunday, January 08, 2017, 02:23 (1116 days ago) @ David Turell

Another view of this pause in physics not understanding how our universe fits into reality. String theory predicts 10^500 universes using ten dimensions and has not advanced beyond that supposition while trying to combine classical and quantum physics, which are as much apart as ever, into a theory of quantum gravity:

http://cosmos.nautil.us/short/90/we-have-pushed-physics-too-far

"So hope those who pursue a final theory, a theory that would weave together the many layers of physical reality into one mathematical wholeness. We can call this the ultimate Platonic dream, the quest for a single simple and broad-ranging theory of physics. Indeed, during the past four decades, the search for such a theory has inspired many of the brightest physicists in the world. But today we are seeing the limits of this Platonic thrust to mathematize nature, due to a lack of experimental validation and several theoretical obstacles—including the possibility of multiple universes and the troubling questions they pose.

"The modern version of the unifying quest is string theory, which supposes that the fundamental entities in nature are vibrating tubes of energy instead of point-like particles of matter.....The appeal was the uniqueness of the solution—there would be one geometry of the extra dimensions, and this geometry would tell us all. No theory could be simpler and broader-ranging; no theory could be more beautiful.

"Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Fast-forward three decades, and the scenario has changed dramatically. Physicists were shocked to find, instead of a single solution, a huge number of solutions—by some estimates, a 1 followed by 500 zeros, each a different twist in the extra-dimensional space, each generating a different universe.

***

"String theory went from being the theory that would mathematically prove the uniqueness of our universe to a theory that allows a countless number of possible universes, none more compelling than the other.


"We need to reconsider the line of thinking that led us to this moment of crisis. The problem is rooted in a much deeper philosophical issue, that of the First Cause. Being creatures immersed in the passage of time, with a clear beginning and an end, humans have been forever dumbfounded by initial conditions. How could something come out of nothing? And what sets the properties of this something (read “values of fundamental constants”) at the beginning? Who ordered that? Who ordered us?
Our mistake is that, within a scientific context, these are the wrong questions to ask.

"Physics works under a very clear framework. In order to determine the time evolution of a system, we need to state its initial conditions, the state of the system at time zero. This implies knowledge of the system at the beginning, something we obtain through measurement. In cosmology, that becomes impossible. We may restrict the initial conditions and the values of the fundamental constants given what we know about the universe today, but we can’t be sure that our conclusions are in any way final. The clues we gather today about the universe’s distant past can only give us a fragmented picture of what happened. The multiverse only pushes the issue of initial conditions to a higher level, without solving it.

"Any theory that attempts to determine unambiguously the initial conditions of the universe and, with them, the values of the fundamental constants, is doing something physics is not cut out to do. Are we stuck then, having to accept the values of these constants for what they are? Within the current framework, yes. Attempts around this issue, even if inspiring, will amount to not much more than epicycles.

"But all is not lost. The search for a simple all-encompassing theory has eclipsed a more enduring insight about the nature of physics. Physics is the building of an ever-changing, self-correcting description of natural phenomena. In its practice, it sets aside metaphysical expectations about the nature of reality, which have more to do with how we search for meaning as humans than with how nature actually works. In other words, physics is an expression of intellectual humility. We learn to live with ignorance and, in return, gain the ability to make progress incrementally.

"So, it’s okay to live with the seeming arbitrariness of our present laws of physics, moving beyond the aesthetic dogma that simple is beautiful and beauty is truth. If physics is understood as a descriptive mode of explanation, free of the unifying quest, the angst of not knowing it all is exorcised. Maybe our current dilemma is a symptom of something bigger, a deep change in the methodological nature of physical theories. We may have to see them historically, tossing aside First Cause explanations and timeless truths as fruitless pursuits. Quite possibly, the nature of physical theories mirrors their own narrative construction, piecewise and gradual, creations of our imperfect and incomplete grasp on physical reality. And there’s nothing wrong with that."

Comment: Rather than shrug one's shoulders that we cannot know it 'all' through physics, one can consider that God is the creator of life, which is so complex, it cannot be the result of natural chance. There is more than one set of evidence to be considered to answer the question of why we exist.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse

by dhw, Sunday, January 08, 2017, 14:10 (1116 days ago) @ David Turell

First Post

DAVID: Multiverse theory is appealing because it provides solutions to questions we cannot answer, and may never:
http://cosmos.nautil.us/feature/103/even-physicists-find-the-multiverse-faintly-disturbing

David’s comment: He is putting the best face he can on a real problem. we cannot test for the multiverse unless we find 'bump circles' in the CMB as they touch each other. None so far, and more than likely in my opinion, never. I find the concept of multiverse as nebulous as the God concept in a sense, but design is just as explanatory as multiverse. We cannot test for either. So it is take your choice, or not.

A brilliant summing up! Thank you. It amazes me that scientists who scoff at the God theory as unscientific (which it is) can regard the multiverse as scientific (which it is not). Bearing in kind that we don't know the extent of our universe or what happened before the big bang (if there was one), I don't know why the multiversers don't seem to consider the hypothesis of an infinite and eternal universe. Too simple perhaps?

Second post

QUOTE: "But all is not lost. The search for a simple all-encompassing theory has eclipsed a more enduring insight about the nature of physics. Physics is the building of an ever-changing, self-correcting description of natural phenomena. In its practice, it sets aside metaphysical expectations about the nature of reality, which have more to do with how we search for meaning as humans than with how nature actually works. In other words, physics is an expression of intellectual humility. We learn to live with ignorance and, in return, gain the ability to make progress incrementally.

DAVID’s comment: Rather than shrug one's shoulders that we cannot know it 'all' through physics, one can consider that God is the creator of life, which is so complex, it cannot be the result of natural chance. There is more than one set of evidence to be considered to answer the question of why we exist.

The question of why we exist relates to “how we search for meaning as humans”. There is no way physics can answer this question, and there is no way any other scientific or philosophical approach can provide an answer without relying on irrational faith. Just as you find satisfaction in “God”, the atheist can find satisfaction in the claim that we got here by chance and there is no “meaning” as such. I would apply the author’s words concerning physics to this website as well: “Agnosticism is an expression of intellectual humility. We learn to live with ignorance and, in return, gain the ability to make progress incrementally.” Thanks to good folk like yourself and BBella, I can vouch for my own incremental progress!;-)

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse

by David Turell @, Sunday, January 08, 2017, 21:24 (1116 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: A brilliant summing up! Thank you. It amazes me that scientists who scoff at the God theory as unscientific (which it is) can regard the multiverse as scientific (which it is not). Bearing in kind that we don't know the extent of our universe or what happened before the big bang (if there was one), I don't know why the multiversers don't seem to consider the hypothesis of an infinite and eternal universe. Too simple perhaps?

Because their paradigm changed and the Big Bang is now considered a beginning of our universe. During Einstein's early years the universe was thought to be fixed and eternal which is why he ignored the cosmologic constant required by his theory, and later accepted it.


Second post

DAVID’s comment: Rather than shrug one's shoulders that we cannot know it 'all' through physics, one can consider that God is the creator of life, which is so complex, it cannot be the result of natural chance. There is more than one set of evidence to be considered to answer the question of why we exist.

dhw: The question of why we exist relates to “how we search for meaning as humans”. There is no way physics can answer this question, and there is no way any other scientific or philosophical approach can provide an answer without relying on irrational faith. Just as you find satisfaction in “God”, the atheist can find satisfaction in the claim that we got here by chance and there is no “meaning” as such. I would apply the author’s words concerning physics to this website as well: “Agnosticism is an expression of intellectual humility. We learn to live with ignorance and, in return, gain the ability to make progress incrementally.” Thanks to good folk like yourself and BBella, I can vouch for my own incremental progress!;-)

My view is we have to find some 'meaning' for our individual lives and live by those precepts. I don't find life pointless, a concept Steven Weinberg alluded to.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse

by dhw, Monday, January 09, 2017, 12:29 (1115 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: A brilliant summing up! Thank you. It amazes me that scientists who scoff at the God theory as unscientific (which it is) can regard the multiverse as scientific (which it is not). Bearing in kind that we don't know the extent of our universe or what happened before the big bang (if there was one), I don't know why the multiversers don't seem to consider the hypothesis of an infinite and eternal universe. Too simple perhaps?

DAVID: Because their paradigm changed and the Big Bang is now considered a beginning of our universe. During Einstein's early years the universe was thought to be fixed and eternal which is why he ignored the cosmologic constant required by his theory, and later accepted it.

Since nobody knows what happened before the big bang (if the big bang happened), and nobody knows the extent of our universe, that part of the universe which we know could be microscopic, and the big bang (if it happened) could have been a blip. Alternatively, the one universe could have undergone innumerable “big bangs” in its eternal history.

Second post
DAVID’s comment: Rather than shrug one's shoulders that we cannot know it 'all' through physics, one can consider that God is the creator of life, which is so complex, it cannot be the result of natural chance. There is more than one set of evidence to be considered to answer the question of why we exist.

dhw: The question of why we exist relates to “how we search for meaning as humans”. There is no way physics can answer this question, and there is no way any other scientific or philosophical approach can provide an answer without relying on irrational faith. Just as you find satisfaction in “God”, the atheist can find satisfaction in the claim that we got here by chance and there is no “meaning” as such. I would apply the author’s words concerning physics to this website as well: “Agnosticism is an expression of intellectual humility. We learn to live with ignorance and, in return, gain the ability to make progress incrementally.” Thanks to good folk like yourself and BBella, I can vouch for my own incremental progress!

DAVID:My view is we have to find some 'meaning' for our individual lives and live by those precepts. I don't find life pointless, a concept Steven Weinberg alluded to.

I agree with you completely. But our individual meaning does not denote that the universe itself has any meaning.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse

by David Turell @, Monday, January 09, 2017, 17:30 (1115 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Since nobody knows what happened before the big bang (if the big bang happened), and nobody knows the extent of our universe, that part of the universe which we know could be microscopic, and the big bang (if it happened) could have been a blip. Alternatively, the one universe could have undergone innumerable “big bangs” in its eternal history.

All the current evidence says the topography of this universe is flat, will continue expanding and die a heat death. Your scenario requires a contraction of the topography, with no evidence for that this time.


DAVID:My view is we have to find some 'meaning' for our individual lives and live by those precepts. I don't find life pointless, a concept Steven Weinberg alluded to.

dhw: I agree with you completely. But our individual meaning does not denote that the universe itself has any meaning.

The meaning is the presence of us, thinking and debating.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse

by dhw, Tuesday, January 10, 2017, 14:32 (1114 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Since nobody knows what happened before the big bang (if the big bang happened), and nobody knows the extent of our universe, that part of the universe which we know could be microscopic, and the big bang (if it happened) could have been a blip. Alternatively, the one universe could have undergone innumerable “big bangs” in its eternal history.

DAVID: All the current evidence says the topography of this universe is flat, will continue expanding and die a heat death. Your scenario requires a contraction of the topography, with no evidence for that this time.

Current evidence is so full of holes that I’m surprised you are happy to go along with it. If the universe is expanding, we come to the usual question: what is it expanding into? An infinite universe allows for infinite expansion. As far as contraction is concerned, I don’t see how we can ever know what happened before the Big Bang (if that happened), and so I don’t think there will ever be a time when we can be certain that the Big Crunch theory is wrong.

DAVID:My view is we have to find some 'meaning' for our individual lives and live by those precepts. I don't find life pointless, a concept Steven Weinberg alluded to.

dhw: I agree with you completely. But our individual meaning does not denote that the universe itself has any meaning.

DAVID: The meaning is the presence of us, thinking and debating.

You are welcome to think you are the meaning of the universe. I have a horrible feeling that the billions of solar systems coming and going couldn’t care less about you or me. If there is a God, you yourself have warned us many times not to endow him with human attributes (although it’s OK for you to view him “as a very purposeful guy who knows exactly where He is taking things”), but I guess there is no harm in hoping he regards us as meaningful.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse

by David Turell @, Tuesday, January 10, 2017, 17:37 (1114 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: The meaning is the presence of us, thinking and debating.

dhw: You are welcome to think you are the meaning of the universe. I have a horrible feeling that the billions of solar systems coming and going couldn’t care less about you or me. If there is a God, you yourself have warned us many times not to endow him with human attributes (although it’s OK for you to view him “as a very purposeful guy who knows exactly where He is taking things”), but I guess there is no harm in hoping he regards us as meaningful.

Billions of parts of the universe can't think. They can't have a thought of us, but we think about them. Why is that? Because God gave us consciousness. Of course we sre meaningful. Only the appearance of our species could change the planet, which we have.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse

by dhw, Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 12:40 (1113 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: The meaning is the presence of us, thinking and debating.

dhw: You are welcome to think you are the meaning of the universe. I have a horrible feeling that the billions of solar systems coming and going couldn’t care less about you or me. If there is a God, you yourself have warned us many times not to endow him with human attributes (although it’s OK for you to view him “as a very purposeful guy who knows exactly where He is taking things”), but I guess there is no harm in hoping he regards us as meaningful.

DAVID: Billions of parts of the universe can't think. They can't have a thought of us, but we think about them. Why is that? Because God gave us consciousness. Of course we are meaningful. Only the appearance of our species could change the planet, which we have.

I agree that we can think. I don’t know if there is a God who gave us consciousness. If there is a God, I don’t know what meaning he gives to us – we may simply be part of a great passing show. I don’t know what is the point of our “changing the planet”, but Nature has continually changed the planet throughout its history, and in due course Nature will no doubt change the planet in such a way that we shall disappear (if we haven’t already wiped ourselves out before Nature does it for us). The whole concept of human “meaningfulness” is simply what we make it, and you and I have filled our lives with what is meaningful for us. It is the idea of a universal meaning that I question, and that applies even if God exists, because we have no idea about his nature, motives or intentions.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 12, 2017, 01:56 (1112 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: Billions of parts of the universe can't think. They can't have a thought of us, but we think about them. Why is that? Because God gave us consciousness. Of course we are meaningful. Only the appearance of our species could change the planet, which we have.

dhw: I agree that we can think. I don’t know if there is a God who gave us consciousness. If there is a God, I don’t know what meaning he gives to us – we may simply be part of a great passing show. I don’t know what is the point of our “changing the planet”, but Nature has continually changed the planet throughout its history, and in due course Nature will no doubt change the planet in such a way that we shall disappear (if we haven’t already wiped ourselves out before Nature does it for us). The whole concept of human “meaningfulness” is simply what we make it, and you and I have filled our lives with what is meaningful for us. It is the idea of a universal meaning that I question, and that applies even if God exists, because we have no idea about his nature, motives or intentions.

We evolved from an ancestor common to apes and us. They stayed the same. We advanced. Luck or purposeful? I accept that it was a purposeful event. We differ. As part of Nature we have changed the planet, because we have the power to do it. We can uncover the secrets of the universe. I find all of that very meaningful and significant. We could have remained as a branch of apehood.

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse

by dhw, Thursday, January 12, 2017, 12:48 (1112 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Billions of parts of the universe can't think. They can't have a thought of us, but we think about them. Why is that? Because God gave us consciousness. Of course we are meaningful. Only the appearance of our species could change the planet, which we have.

Dhw: […] The whole concept of human “meaningfulness” is simply what we make it, and you and I have filled our lives with what is meaningful for us. It is the idea of a universal meaning that I question, and that applies even if God exists, because we have no idea about his nature, motives or intentions.

DAVID: We evolved from an ancestor common to apes and us. They stayed the same. We advanced. Luck or purposeful? I accept that it was a purposeful event. We differ. As part of Nature we have changed the planet, because we have the power to do it. We can uncover the secrets of the universe. I find all of that very meaningful and significant. We could have remained as a branch of apehood.

There is no disagreement between us. Yes, we could have remained apes, but apes and every other multicellular organism could have remained bacteria, so evolution happened. Certainly meaningful for me, or I wouldn’t have happened. I also ask if our arrival was “luck or purposeful”. You believe it was purposeful, and I don’t know. Yes, we have changed the planet and our powers are meaningful and significant for you and for me too. All of this illustrates the subjectivity of meaningfulness. I don’t think the solar system cares one jot about me. And if God exists, neither you nor I have a clue what he’s thinking. So the only meaningfulness we know of is what is meaningful for us. Don’t you agree?

Cosmologic philosophy: multiverse

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 12, 2017, 23:21 (1111 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: We evolved from an ancestor common to apes and us. They stayed the same. We advanced. Luck or purposeful? I accept that it was a purposeful event. We differ. As part of Nature we have changed the planet, because we have the power to do it. We can uncover the secrets of the universe. I find all of that very meaningful and significant. We could have remained as a branch of apehood.

dhw: There is no disagreement between us. Yes, we could have remained apes, but apes and every other multicellular organism could have remained bacteria, so evolution happened. Certainly meaningful for me, or I wouldn’t have happened. I also ask if our arrival was “luck or purposeful”. You believe it was purposeful, and I don’t know. Yes, we have changed the planet and our powers are meaningful and significant for you and for me too. All of this illustrates the subjectivity of meaningfulness. I don’t think the solar system cares one jot about me. And if God exists, neither you nor I have a clue what he’s thinking. So the only meaningfulness we know of is what is meaningful for us. Don’t you agree?

I still see a meaningfulness in the arrival of powerfully intelligent life (humans), which was not required.

Cosmologic philosophy: conscious universe

by dhw, Sunday, January 08, 2017, 14:19 (1116 days ago) @ BBella

DAVID: I firmly believe that our universe is conscious and our consciousness is a part of that overall state of the universe and our brain is a receiver of that ability. But the universe obviously preceded our appearance.

BBELLA: At the very least, the universe preceded the appearance of the human form, but not necessarily preceded our conscious awareness. We cannot know how long our consciousness has been aware.

For me, consciousness is bound up with identity, and so how can anything exist as a human if no human has ever existed? I think all forms of life have their own identity (and their own particular form and degree of consciousness), and – if we pursue Sheldrake’s theory – their morphic field is initially the product of that identity before it helps to shape the identity of the individuals that follow.

Cosmologic philosophy: conscious universe

by David Turell @, Sunday, January 08, 2017, 21:28 (1116 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: I firmly believe that our universe is conscious and our consciousness is a part of that overall state of the universe and our brain is a receiver of that ability. But the universe obviously preceded our appearance.

BBELLA: At the very least, the universe preceded the appearance of the human form, but not necessarily preceded our conscious awareness. We cannot know how long our consciousness has been aware.

dhw: For me, consciousness is bound up with identity, and so how can anything exist as a human if no human has ever existed? I think all forms of life have their own identity (and their own particular form and degree of consciousness), and – if we pursue Sheldrake’s theory – their morphic field is initially the product of that identity before it helps to shape the identity of the individuals that follow.

True human consciousness began with the first enlargement of the hominin brains. It is a requirement to have some degree of neuronal complexity for our form of consciousness to be received.

Cosmologic philosophy: conscious universe

by David Turell @, Sunday, July 16, 2017, 21:10 (927 days ago) @ David Turell

Another view of a universe that allows consciousness to appear:

https://flipboard.com/@flipboard/-is-the-universe-conscious/f-daca0496dd%2Fnpr.org

"The history of science — in particular the physical sciences, like physics and astronomy — can be told as the incremental realization that there is large-scale coherence in the universe.

"By large-scale coherence, I mean that some of the same physical laws hold at scales as diverse as the atom and the galaxy, and even the universe as a whole. In a sense, the universe speaks one language and scientists act as the interpreters, translating this language in terms that humans can understand and relate to.

***

"Is this coherence an accident, or the product of something deeper, perhaps some kind of proto-consciousness that permeates the universe and gives it purpose? This is the question many physicists, cognitive scientists, and philosophers have been asking lately, leading to a sort of reawakening of panpsychism. Panpsychism is an ancient belief that has been an essential aspect of many religions, from the Old Testament's omniscience and omnipresence God to the Brahman of Hinduism, "the single binding unity behind the diversity in all that exists in the universe"

***

"The possibility of a conscious universe seems to fly in the face of our deep-seated materialist worldview, whereby everything that exists is due to material particles and their mutual interactions, the very successful reductionist view of physics. Philosophers such as Thomas Nagel and David Chalmers have criticized such strict position, beginning with the difficulties we have in understanding our subjective experience of reality from a "it's all about neurons and synapses" mechanistic approach.

"In his book Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, Nagel suggests that the laws of physics are not enough. He argues that there is some kind of "teleological naturalism," a sort of overarching purpose in the universe that the usual reductionist approach cannot capture. Essentially, Nagel defends that the laws of physics cannot be a mere accident, given that they lead from particles to stars to people to minds. It's not that we need to look beyond the natural world, but Nagel believes that we do need to look beyond the laws of physics, as Sean Carroll pointed out in a blog post when Nagel's book came out in 2013.

***

"Panpsychism enthusiasts also like to invoke bizarre effects from quantum physics. Chief among them is nonlocality, what Albert Einstein called "spooky action at a distance," where a particle seems to "know" what another one is doing even if separated by very large distances. Current experiments have convincingly confirmed quantum nonlocality, establishing that such correlations happen faster than the speed of light. Could such effects be the substrate whereupon the cosmic mind is acting?

"Although we still know very little about quantum nonlocality, it's hard to believe it has something to do with a cosmic-wide mind. As far as we know, nonlocal quantum effects don't show any sort of purpose, satisfying instead well-known physical laws such as the conservation of total rotation in a pair of particles (or spin). One could even say that quantum nonlocality is nature's way of preserving such conservation laws at the level of elementary particles, hardly a sign of some deeper volition. Indeed, a defender of pansychism would be hard-pressed to explain how quantum nonlocality would act as the "messenger" for some kind of cosmic purpose. Or, even harder, to propose a test or mechanism for such.

"To me, what's fascinating is that consciousness is what makes the universe exist. Just think that before humans came to be, and discounting other potentially smart creatures out there, the universe was just doing its thing, expanding, stars being born and dying, entropy increasing overall. But as matter organized itself into living things in our planet, it eventually reached a level of complexity that allowed for self-awareness, the ability to know that thyself is a self.

"This emergent picture of animal consciousness is the one that is meaningful to us, as it places humans back in the driver's seat of existence. We will never know all things about the universe, but we have the amazing capacity to always learn more. If the cosmos had us as a plan, it surely hasn't told anyone so far. But now that we are here, everything is different because we are able to figure things out on our own. This surely makes my day."

Comment: This commentary reflects the same view as Paul Davies. Our consciousness is a highly significant development from an inorganic universe. Did consciousness make the universe? I think so.

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by David Turell @, Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 23:35 (706 days ago) @ David Turell

This philosopher uses quantum theory to describe a thinking universe!

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/thinking-outside-the-quantum-box/?utm...

"The counterintuitive predictions of quantum theory have now been experimentally confirmed with unprecedented rigor. Yet, the question of how to interpret the meaning of these predictions remains controversial.

***

"This “spooky action at a distance,” as Einstein called it, contradicts either local causation or the very notion that particles A and B are “real,” in the sense of existing independently of observation. As it turns out, certain statistical properties of the observations, which have been experimentally confirmed, indicate the latter: that the particles do not exist independently of observation. And since observation ultimately consists of what is apprehended on the mental screen of perception, the implication may be that “the Universe is entirely mental,” as put by Richard Conn Henry in his 2005 Nature essay.

***

"If we stick to plain quantum theory, what does it tell us about reality? Physicist Carlo Rovelli tried to answer this question rigorously and the result is now known as relational quantum mechanics (RQM).

"According to RQM, there are no absolute—that is, observer-independent—physical quantities. Instead, all physical quantities—the entire physical world—are relative to the observer, in a way analogous to motion. This is motivated by the fact that, according to quantum theory, different observers can account differently for the same sequence of events. Consequently, each observer is inferred to “inhabit” its own physical world, as defined by the context of its own observations.

"The price of this uncompromising honesty in acknowledging the implications of quantum mechanics is a number of philosophical qualms. First, the idea that the physical world one inhabits is a product of one’s private observations seems to imply solipsism, an anathema in philosophy. Second, RQM entails that “a complete description of the world is exhausted by the relevant [Shannon] information that systems have about each other.” However, according to Shannon, information isn’t a thing unto itself. Instead, it is constituted by the discernible configurations of a substrate.

"Yet, if there is no absolute physical substrate, what then constitutes information? Third—and perhaps most problematic of all—the RQM tenet that all physical quantities are relative raises an obvious question: relative to what? We only see meaning in a relative quantity such as motion because we assume there to be absolute physical bodies that move with respect to one another. But RQM denies all physical absolutes that could ground the meaning of relative quantities.

"Notice that the root of all these philosophical qualms is the assumption that only physical quantities exist. If physical quantities arise from personal observation and they are all there is, then solipsism is indeed implied. If physical quantities are grounded in information and they are all there is, then information indeed lacks a substrate. If physical quantities are relative and they are all there is, then there are indeed no absolutes to ground their meaning.

***

"Stanford physicist Andrei Linde, of cosmic inflation fame, provided an important clue when he observed that “our knowledge of the world begins not with matter but with perceptions.... ....Hence, in the absence of an absolute, observer-independent substrate, the physical world of RQM can only be the contents of perception. There is nothing else for it to be.

***

"So the possibility that presents itself to us is that thoughts are the absolutes that ground the meaning of the relative physical quantities of RQM. In other words, all physical quantities on the screen of perception may arise as relationships between thoughts. Moreover, since both thoughts and perceptions are mental in essence, this line of reasoning points to mind as the primary substrate of nature, the discernible states of which constitute information. (My bold)

"The hypothesis here, which I have elaborated upon in detail elsewhere, is that thought—whose characteristic ambiguities may in fact be what quantum superposition states ultimately represent—underlies all nature and isn’t restricted to living organisms. The physical world of an observing organism may arise from an interaction—an interference pattern—between the organism’s thoughts and the thoughts underlying the inanimate universe that surrounds it. Although each organism—in accordance with RQM—may indeed inhabit its own private world of perceptions, all organisms may be surrounded by a common environment of thoughts, which avoids solipsism at least in spirit."


Comment: this says to me , as I believe, the universe exists in the mind of God, or God is the universal consciousness. Thus our brain receives consciousness to interface with it. I had to omit some of his intermediate reasoning. Worth studying the entire essay.

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by dhw, Thursday, February 22, 2018, 13:15 (706 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTES: "So the possibility that presents itself to us is that thoughts are the absolutes that ground the meaning of the relative physical quantities of RQM. In other words, all physical quantities on the screen of perception may arise as relationships between thoughts. Moreover, since both thoughts and perceptions are mental in essence, this line of reasoning points to mind as the primary substrate of nature, the discernible states of which constitute information. [/b](David's bold)

"The hypothesis here, which I have elaborated upon in detail elsewhere, is that thought—whose characteristic ambiguities may in fact be what quantum superposition states ultimately represent—underlies all nature and isn’t restricted to living organisms. The physical world of an observing organism may arise from an interaction—an interference pattern—between the organism’s thoughts and the thoughts underlying the inanimate universe that surrounds it. Although each organism—in accordance with RQM—may indeed inhabit its own private world of perceptions, all organisms may be surrounded by a common environment of thoughts, which avoids solipsism at least in spirit."

DAVID’s comment: this says to me , as I believe, the universe exists in the mind of God, or God is the universal consciousness. Thus our brain receives consciousness to interface with it. I had to omit some of his intermediate reasoning. Worth studying the entire essay.

One up for panpsychism, but what is the origin of thought? The fact that we humans start out with perception/thought doesn’t mean that the materials we perceive were not there before thought. So maybe materials gave rise to rudimentary thought, which then evolved to its current complexity (bottom-up panpsychism) as opposed to complex thought giving rise to materials (top down, God-came-first theistic panpsychism). Won’t you join me on the fence?

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by David Turell @, Thursday, February 22, 2018, 18:31 (706 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTES: "So the possibility that presents itself to us is that thoughts are the absolutes that ground the meaning of the relative physical quantities of RQM. In other words, all physical quantities on the screen of perception may arise as relationships between thoughts. Moreover, since both thoughts and perceptions are mental in essence, this line of reasoning points to mind as the primary substrate of nature, the discernible states of which constitute information. [/b](David's bold)

"The hypothesis here, which I have elaborated upon in detail elsewhere, is that thought—whose characteristic ambiguities may in fact be what quantum superposition states ultimately represent—underlies all nature and isn’t restricted to living organisms. The physical world of an observing organism may arise from an interaction—an interference pattern—between the organism’s thoughts and the thoughts underlying the inanimate universe that surrounds it. Although each organism—in accordance with RQM—may indeed inhabit its own private world of perceptions, all organisms may be surrounded by a common environment of thoughts, which avoids solipsism at least in spirit."

DAVID’s comment: this says to me , as I believe, the universe exists in the mind of God, or God is the universal consciousness. Thus our brain receives consciousness to interface with it. I had to omit some of his intermediate reasoning. Worth studying the entire essay.

dhw: One up for panpsychism, but what is the origin of thought? The fact that we humans start out with perception/thought doesn’t mean that the materials we perceive were not there before thought. So maybe materials gave rise to rudimentary thought, which then evolved to its current complexity (bottom-up panpsychism) as opposed to complex thought giving rise to materials (top down, God-came-first theistic panpsychism). Won’t you join me on the fence?

We started on a rocky EArth in an inorganic universe. So where did 'thought' come from? Certainly not chance. Your maybe is wishful thinking, with no basis in how we know thought is related to living brains..

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Friday, February 23, 2018, 09:36 (705 days ago) @ dhw

DHW: One up for panpsychism, but what is the origin of thought? The fact that we humans start out with perception/thought doesn’t mean that the materials we perceive were not there before thought. So maybe materials gave rise to rudimentary thought, which then evolved to its current complexity (bottom-up panpsychism) as opposed to complex thought giving rise to materials (top down, God-came-first theistic panpsychism). Won’t you join me on the fence?

And God said, "Let us make man in our image." Why should "our image" not refer to our level of consciousness which undoubtedly surpasses all other life forms on Earth? This would actually explain several phenomenon, including ghosts, nde's, magic, Peter walking on water, faith healing, etc.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by dhw, Friday, February 23, 2018, 12:31 (705 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

dhw: One up for panpsychism, but what is the origin of thought? The fact that we humans start out with perception/thought doesn’t mean that the materials we perceive were not there before thought. So maybe materials gave rise to rudimentary thought, which then evolved to its current complexity (bottom-up panpsychism) as opposed to complex thought giving rise to materials (top down, God-came-first theistic panpsychism). Won’t you join me on the fence?

DAVID: We started on a rocky EArth in an inorganic universe. So where did 'thought' come from? Certainly not chance. Your maybe is wishful thinking, with no basis in how we know thought is related to living brains.

My comment begins with the question: what is the origin of thought? You then ask the same question, to which I have offered two possible answers. There is no wishful thinking! Nobody knows how thought is related to living brains, because nobody knows where thought comes from, and so we offer hypotheses. Bottom-up panpsychism is no more and no less credible than top-down panpsychism – and indeed some would say that the top-down version, which entails an all-powerful being who might just possibly be nice to us, is far more a matter of wishful thinking than the bottom-up one, which does not allow for any such hopes.

TONY: And God said, "Let us make man in our image." Why should "our image" not refer to our level of consciousness which undoubtedly surpasses all other life forms on Earth? This would actually explain several phenomenon, including ghosts, nde's, magic, Peter walking on water, faith healing, etc.

If God exists, I am fully in agreement that the creation may well reflect the creator. And I see no reason why this reflection should not be looked at in reverse: if man reflects God, then it is perfectly reasonable to suppose that what is reflected includes everything you and I love about humans and everything we hate about humans. You don’t need me to draw up a list.

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by David Turell @, Friday, February 23, 2018, 22:28 (705 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: We started on a rocky EArth in an inorganic universe. So where did 'thought' come from? Certainly not chance. Your maybe is wishful thinking, with no basis in how we know thought is related to living brains.

dhw: My comment begins with the question: what is the origin of thought? You then ask the same question, to which I have offered two possible answers. There is no wishful thinking! Nobody knows how thought is related to living brains, because nobody knows where thought comes from, and so we offer hypotheses. Bottom-up panpsychism is no more and no less credible than top-down panpsychism – and indeed some would say that the top-down version, which entails an all-powerful being who might just possibly be nice to us, is far more a matter of wishful thinking than the bottom-up one, which does not allow for any such hopes.

TONY: And God said, "Let us make man in our image." Why should "our image" not refer to our level of consciousness which undoubtedly surpasses all other life forms on Earth? This would actually explain several phenomenon, including ghosts, nde's, magic, Peter walking on water, faith healing, etc.

dhw: If God exists, I am fully in agreement that the creation may well reflect the creator. And I see no reason why this reflection should not be looked at in reverse: if man reflects God, then it is perfectly reasonable to suppose that what is reflected includes everything you and I love about humans and everything we hate about humans. You don’t need me to draw up a list.

Note my comment to Tony: since we have no known proven source for thought, and the universe appears to contain consciousness, I still think God is the universal consciousness and we humans are granted a piece of it. Bottom up panpsychism comes from what?

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by dhw, Saturday, February 24, 2018, 12:26 (704 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: …since we have no known proven source for thought, and the universe appears to contain consciousness, I still think God is the universal consciousness and we humans are granted a piece of it. Bottom up panpsychism comes from what?

From first cause energy and matter. God comes from what?

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by David Turell @, Saturday, February 24, 2018, 14:28 (704 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: …since we have no known proven source for thought, and the universe appears to contain consciousness, I still think God is the universal consciousness and we humans are granted a piece of it. Bottom up panpsychism comes from what?

dhw: From first cause energy and matter. God comes from what?

And WHO is the first cause energy. God

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by dhw, Sunday, February 25, 2018, 11:55 (703 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: …since we have no known proven source for thought, and the universe appears to contain consciousness, I still think God is the universal consciousness and we humans are granted a piece of it. Bottom up panpsychism comes from what?

dhw: From first cause energy and matter. God comes from what?

DAVID: And WHO is the first cause energy. God

Or WHAT is the first cause? Energy and matter. 50/50.
X

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by David Turell @, Sunday, February 25, 2018, 15:20 (703 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: …since we have no known proven source for thought, and the universe appears to contain consciousness, I still think God is the universal consciousness and we humans are granted a piece of it. Bottom up panpsychism comes from what?

dhw: From first cause energy and matter. God comes from what?

DAVID: And WHO is the first cause energy. God

dhw: Or WHAT is the first cause? Energy and matter. 50/50.

The initial Big Bang was pure energy. Matter developed from it

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by dhw, Monday, February 26, 2018, 11:57 (702 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: …since we have no known proven source for thought, and the universe appears to contain consciousness, I still think God is the universal consciousness and we humans are granted a piece of it. Bottom up panpsychism comes from what?

dhw: From first cause energy and matter. God comes from what?

DAVID: And WHO is the first cause energy. God

dhw: Or WHAT is the first cause? Energy and matter. 50/50.

DAVID: The initial Big Bang was pure energy. Matter developed from it.

You are assuming that the Big Bang took place, but it remains a theory and is far from being undisputed. However, even if it did take place, nobody can tell us what existed and happened before the Big Bang, so one speculation is as good or bad as another.

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by David Turell @, Monday, February 26, 2018, 14:19 (702 days ago) @ dhw
edited by David Turell, Monday, February 26, 2018, 14:35

DAVID: …since we have no known proven source for thought, and the universe appears to contain consciousness, I still think God is the universal consciousness and we humans are granted a piece of it. Bottom up panpsychism comes from what?

dhw: From first cause energy and matter. God comes from what?

DAVID: And WHO is the first cause energy. God

dhw: Or WHAT is the first cause? Energy and matter. 50/50.

DAVID: The initial Big Bang was pure energy. Matter developed from it.

dhw: You are assuming that the Big Bang took place, but it remains a theory and is far from being undisputed. However, even if it did take place, nobody can tell us what existed and happened before the Big Bang, so one speculation is as good or bad as another.

Current cosmological theory (Guth et. al.) says that there is no 'before' before the origin of the universe. The universe had an origin.

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by dhw, Tuesday, February 27, 2018, 10:36 (701 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: …since we have no known proven source for thought, and the universe appears to contain consciousness, I still think God is the universal consciousness and we humans are granted a piece of it. Bottom up panpsychism comes from what?

dhw: From first cause energy and matter. God comes from what?

DAVID: And WHO is the first cause energy. God

dhw: Or WHAT is the first cause? Energy and matter. 50/50.

DAVID: The initial Big Bang was pure energy. Matter developed from it.

dhw: You are assuming that the Big Bang took place, but it remains a theory and is far from being undisputed. However, even if it did take place, nobody can tell us what existed and happened before the Big Bang, so one speculation is as good or bad as another.

DAVID: Current cosmological theory (Guth et. al.) says that there is no 'before' before the origin of the universe. The universe had an origin.

Since nobody can possibly know, and since you believe that nothing can come from nothing and that the universe was preceded by a conscious mind, and since you cannot have a clue what that conscious mind got up to before the Big Bang - if the Big Bang actually happened, which is open to doubt - I’m surprised you cling so faithfully to current cosmological theory (Guth et al.)

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by David Turell @, Tuesday, February 27, 2018, 14:45 (701 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: …since we have no known proven source for thought, and the universe appears to contain consciousness, I still think God is the universal consciousness and we humans are granted a piece of it. Bottom up panpsychism comes from what?

dhw: From first cause energy and matter. God comes from what?

DAVID: And WHO is the first cause energy. God

dhw: Or WHAT is the first cause? Energy and matter. 50/50.

DAVID: The initial Big Bang was pure energy. Matter developed from it.

dhw: You are assuming that the Big Bang took place, but it remains a theory and is far from being undisputed. However, even if it did take place, nobody can tell us what existed and happened before the Big Bang, so one speculation is as good or bad as another.

DAVID: Current cosmological theory (Guth et. al.) says that there is no 'before' before the origin of the universe. The universe had an origin.

dhw: Since nobody can possibly know, and since you believe that nothing can come from nothing and that the universe was preceded by a conscious mind, and since you cannot have a clue what that conscious mind got up to before the Big Bang - if the Big Bang actually happened, which is open to doubt - I’m surprised you cling so faithfully to current cosmological theory (Guth et al.)

Spoken like a true agnostic. We are either willing to accept the best research science we have, or we don't. I accept it as the best starting point for thoughtful reflection on cause and effect.

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by dhw, Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 14:01 (700 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Current cosmological theory (Guth et. al.) says that there is no 'before' before the origin of the universe. The universe had an origin.

dhw: Since nobody can possibly know, and since you believe that nothing can come from nothing and that the universe was preceded by a conscious mind, and since you cannot have a clue what that conscious mind got up to before the Big Bang - if the Big Bang actually happened, which is open to doubt - I’m surprised you cling so faithfully to current cosmological theory (Guth et al.)

DAVID: Spoken like a true agnostic. We are either willing to accept the best research science we have, or we don't. I accept it as the best starting point for thoughtful reflection on cause and effect.

Ah well, aren’t you glad you didn’t live in the days when the best research science made the sun go round the Earth? Over and over again you have drawn our attention to those scientists who emphasize how very little we know about the universe. And even you pour scorn on the theory that the universe sprang from nothing. And you pour scorn on string theory and multiverses, because you argue quite rightly that there is no evidence, or that such hypotheses are unprovable. But you believe in the hypothesis of an eternal and universal being whose existence is equally without evidence and equally unprovable. I respect your faith, but no, I don’t agree that we must either accept or reject what you consider to be “the best research we have”, or that it is the best starting point for thoughtful reflection. In view of the colossal scale of our ignorance, I would suggest that the best starting point is an open mind.

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by David Turell @, Thursday, March 01, 2018, 00:42 (699 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Current cosmological theory (Guth et. al.) says that there is no 'before' before the origin of the universe. The universe had an origin.

dhw: Since nobody can possibly know, and since you believe that nothing can come from nothing and that the universe was preceded by a conscious mind, and since you cannot have a clue what that conscious mind got up to before the Big Bang - if the Big Bang actually happened, which is open to doubt - I’m surprised you cling so faithfully to current cosmological theory (Guth et al.)

DAVID: Spoken like a true agnostic. We are either willing to accept the best research science we have, or we don't. I accept it as the best starting point for thoughtful reflection on cause and effect.

dhw: Ah well, aren’t you glad you didn’t live in the days when the best research science made the sun go round the Earth? Over and over again you have drawn our attention to those scientists who emphasize how very little we know about the universe. And even you pour scorn on the theory that the universe sprang from nothing. And you pour scorn on string theory and multiverses, because you argue quite rightly that there is no evidence, or that such hypotheses are unprovable. But you believe in the hypothesis of an eternal and universal being whose existence is equally without evidence and equally unprovable. I respect your faith, but no, I don’t agree that we must either accept or reject what you consider to be “the best research we have”, or that it is the best starting point for thoughtful reflection. In view of the colossal scale of our ignorance, I would suggest that the best starting point is an open mind.

As you should remember I started just that way, a 'soft' agnostic (which means not having given much thought to it), who was bored with the theology of Judaism, bored with the liturgy, and out of medical school with some reading time on my hands. So I looked into particle physics and basic cosmology while all the exciting discoveries of the late 20th century were happening. It occurred to me that the Big Bang theory sounded like the first few chapters of Genesis and someone had written a book on the subject. The rest is history. I reached a conclusion that God had to exist. My open mind reached a conclusion. Is your mind really open to the evidence? The entire issue is the massive evidence of design and no evidence for chance.

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by dhw, Thursday, March 01, 2018, 13:01 (699 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Spoken like a true agnostic. We are either willing to accept the best research science we have, or we don't. I accept it as the best starting point for thoughtful reflection on cause and effect.

dhw: Ah well, aren’t you glad you didn’t live in the days when the best research science made the sun go round the Earth? Over and over again you have drawn our attention to those scientists who emphasize how very little we know about the universe. And even you pour scorn on the theory that the universe sprang from nothing. And you pour scorn on string theory and multiverses, because you argue quite rightly that there is no evidence, or that such hypotheses are unprovable. But you believe in the hypothesis of an eternal and universal being whose existence is equally without evidence and equally unprovable. I respect your faith, but no, I don’t agree that we must either accept or reject what you consider to be “the best research we have”, or that it is the best starting point for thoughtful reflection. In view of the colossal scale of our ignorance, I would suggest that the best starting point is an open mind.

DAVID: As you should remember I started just that way, a 'soft' agnostic (which means not having given much thought to it), who was bored with the theology of Judaism, bored with the liturgy, and out of medical school with some reading time on my hands. So I looked into particle physics and basic cosmology while all the exciting discoveries of the late 20th century were happening. It occurred to me that the Big Bang theory sounded like the first few chapters of Genesis and someone had written a book on the subject. The rest is history. I reached a conclusion that God had to exist. My open mind reached a conclusion. Is your mind really open to the evidence? The entire issue is the massive evidence of design and no evidence for chance.

I have the utmost respect for the manner in which your agnosticism evolved into theism as a result of the design argument. I would expect the same respect from you for the manner in which my childhood theism evolved into adolescent atheism which then evolved into adult agnosticism because of the sheer unanswerability of all the most basic questions. You yourself acknowledge that ultimately the “entire issue” is NOT design versus chance, because belief in an unknown, unknowable, sourceless, eternal, infinite, conscious being requires faith.

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by David Turell @, Friday, March 02, 2018, 00:24 (698 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: As you should remember I started just that way, a 'soft' agnostic (which means not having given much thought to it), who was bored with the theology of Judaism, bored with the liturgy, and out of medical school with some reading time on my hands. So I looked into particle physics and basic cosmology while all the exciting discoveries of the late 20th century were happening. It occurred to me that the Big Bang theory sounded like the first few chapters of Genesis and someone had written a book on the subject. The rest is history. I reached a conclusion that God had to exist. My open mind reached a conclusion. Is your mind really open to the evidence? The entire issue is the massive evidence of design and no evidence for chance.

dhw: I have the utmost respect for the manner in which your agnosticism evolved into theism as a result of the design argument. I would expect the same respect from you for the manner in which my childhood theism evolved into adolescent atheism which then evolved into adult agnosticism because of the sheer unanswerability of all the most basic questions. You yourself acknowledge that ultimately the “entire issue” is NOT design versus chance, because belief in an unknown, unknowable, sourceless, eternal, infinite, conscious being requires faith.

I likewise did start with a belief in God as as child and gradually drifted into a disinterested agnosticism before gaining the information that led to faith. I accept your faith in never being able to know with certainty.

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by dhw, Friday, March 02, 2018, 12:23 (698 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: I have the utmost respect for the manner in which your agnosticism evolved into theism as a result of the design argument. I would expect the same respect from you for the manner in which my childhood theism evolved into adolescent atheism which then evolved into adult agnosticism because of the sheer unanswerability of all the most basic questions. You yourself acknowledge that ultimately the “entire issue” is NOT design versus chance, because belief in an unknown, unknowable, sourceless, eternal, infinite, conscious being requires faith.

DAVID: I likewise did start with a belief in God as as child and gradually drifted into a disinterested agnosticism before gaining the information that led to faith. I accept your faith in never being able to know with certainty.

Thank you, but it is not a faith. I started this website because I was eager to communicate with other people on a subject that has preoccupied me since childhood. I am appalled by the bigotry and arrogance of extremists on both sides of the fence, and wanted to hold rational discussions with others who might share information and insights that would shed some light on all the mysteries. This has actually happened, thanks to yourself above all, but also to others like BBella, Tony, Matt, George and the many theists, atheists and agnostics who have shared their views and then departed. My knowledge has broadened immeasurably, but it has not led to any kind of faith. What it has led to is a deeper understanding of just how great a mystery life is and, to be honest, how ill equipped we are to solve it! But that doesn’t stop us from trying, and I remain immensely grateful to you, and also to every other contributor, for keeping me company on the quest.

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by David Turell @, Friday, March 02, 2018, 14:48 (698 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: I have the utmost respect for the manner in which your agnosticism evolved into theism as a result of the design argument. I would expect the same respect from you for the manner in which my childhood theism evolved into adolescent atheism which then evolved into adult agnosticism because of the sheer unanswerability of all the most basic questions. You yourself acknowledge that ultimately the “entire issue” is NOT design versus chance, because belief in an unknown, unknowable, sourceless, eternal, infinite, conscious being requires faith.

DAVID: I likewise did start with a belief in God as as child and gradually drifted into a disinterested agnosticism before gaining the information that led to faith. I accept your faith in never being able to know with certainty.

dhw: Thank you, but it is not a faith. I started this website because I was eager to communicate with other people on a subject that has preoccupied me since childhood. I am appalled by the bigotry and arrogance of extremists on both sides of the fence, and wanted to hold rational discussions with others who might share information and insights that would shed some light on all the mysteries. This has actually happened, thanks to yourself above all, but also to others like BBella, Tony, Matt, George and the many theists, atheists and agnostics who have shared their views and then departed. My knowledge has broadened immeasurably, but it has not led to any kind of faith. What it has led to is a deeper understanding of just how great a mystery life is and, to be honest, how ill equipped we are to solve it! But that doesn’t stop us from trying, and I remain immensely grateful to you, and also to every other contributor, for keeping me company on the quest.

All we individually can reach is personal opinion and faith or no faith.

Cosmologic philosophy: science resisted the Big Bang theory

by David Turell @, Monday, May 14, 2018, 19:40 (625 days ago) @ David Turell

Atheistic science hated the Big Bang theory:

https://www.realclearscience.com/blog/

" In its most nascent form, the idea was known as the hypothesis of the primeval atom, and it originated from an engineer turned soldier turned mathematician turned Catholic priest turned physicist by the name of Georges Lemaître. When Lemaître published his idea in the eminent journal Nature in 1931, a response to observational data suggesting that space was expanding, he ruffled a lot of feathers. As UC-San Diego professor of physics Brian Keating wrote in his recent book Losing the Nobel Prize, "Lemaître's model... upset the millennia-old orthodoxy of an eternal, unchanging cosmos. It clearly implied that everything had been smaller and denser in the past, and that the universe must itself have had a birth at a finite time in the past."

"Besides questioning the status quo, Lemaître's primeval atom also had some glaring problems. For starters, there were hardly any means of testing it, a must for any would-be scientific theory. Moreover, it essentially suggested that all the matter in the Universe came from nothing, a flabbergasting claim. It also violated an accepted notion known as the perfect cosmological principle, which suggested that the Universe looks the same from any given point in space and time.

"For these reasons, English astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle gathered with a few colleagues to formulate the Steady State theory of the cosmos. The idea kept the observable universe essentially the same in space and time, and it accounted for evidence suggesting that the universe is expanding by hypothesizing that matter is instead being created out of the fabric of space in between distant galaxies. Steady State didn't have the problems inherent to the notion of a primeval atom, and, as Keating wrote "it sure as hell didn't look like the creation narrative in Genesis 1:1."

***

"Many atheist scientists were repulsed by the Big Bang's creationist overtones. According to Hoyle, it was cosmic chutzpah of the worst kind: "The reason why scientists like the 'big bang' is because they are overshadowed by the Book of Genesis." In contrast, the Steady State model was the rightful heir to the Copernican principle. It combined the banality of space with humanity's mediocrity in time. Thanks to Hoyle, humanity had humility.

"Hoyle, however, did not. Over the decades, as more and more evidence lined up in favor of the Big Bang and against Steady State, the aging astronomer dug in his heels. Ironically, he behaved like the believing zealots he scorned, relentlessly defending his debunked theory until his death in 2001. Lemaître, on the other hand, remained humble and equivocal about the Big Bang throughout his life.

"This scientific saga demonstrates that entrenched beliefs affect the nonreligious as well as the religious. In the end, bias should always bow to evidence."

comment: it does look like the creation story in Genesis. It is obvious the universe started from something very small, but the math theorists cannot describe a past before the Big Bang.

Cosmologic philosophy: science resisted the Big Bang theory

by dhw, Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 13:16 (624 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: Lemaître, on the other hand, remained humble and equivocal about the Big Bang throughout his life.
"This scientific saga demonstrates that entrenched beliefs affect the nonreligious as well as the religious. In the end, bias should always bow to evidence."

DAVID’s comment: it does look like the creation story in Genesis. It is obvious the universe started from something very small, but the math theorists cannot describe a past before the Big Bang.

Good for Lemaître, who remained equivocal about his theory. So do I, not that my opinion counts for anything, but it is obvious to me that if there is no consensus among scientists, and there are so many unanswered (possibly unanswerable) questions, even what appears to be evidence cannot be sufficient to justify any entrenched belief. I’m afraid it is not obvious to me that the universe started from something very small, precisely because even if the Big Bang did take place (unproven theory), nobody – as you so rightly observe – can possibly know what happened before it.

Cosmologic philosophy: science resisted the Big Bang theory

by David Turell @, Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 17:41 (624 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: Lemaître, on the other hand, remained humble and equivocal about the Big Bang throughout his life.
"This scientific saga demonstrates that entrenched beliefs affect the nonreligious as well as the religious. In the end, bias should always bow to evidence."

DAVID’s comment: it does look like the creation story in Genesis. It is obvious the universe started from something very small, but the math theorists cannot describe a past before the Big Bang.

dhw: Good for Lemaître, who remained equivocal about his theory. So do I, not that my opinion counts for anything, but it is obvious to me that if there is no consensus among scientists, and there are so many unanswered (possibly unanswerable) questions, even what appears to be evidence cannot be sufficient to justify any entrenched belief. I’m afraid it is not obvious to me that the universe started from something very small, precisely because even if the Big Bang did take place (unproven theory), nobody – as you so rightly observe – can possibly know what happened before it.

The theory about something small is that the universe is expanding from the beginning, so the beginning must be something small. The theory about the 'something' itself is where some of the problem exists. The idea of a singularity is from Einstein's general relativity theory which seems to be proven, but may not be entirely correct at those small sizes. His theory covers the huge universe well, but only that size.

Cosmologic philosophy: theory of everything possible?

by David Turell @, Sunday, June 10, 2018, 18:14 (598 days ago) @ David Turell

Laurence Krauss doubts it is possible:

http://nautil.us//issue/29/scaling/the-trouble-with-theories-of-everything?utm_source=N...

"With the advent of relativity, and general relativity in particular, it became clear that Newton’s law of gravity was merely an approximation of a more fundamental theory. But the general relativity, was so mathematically beautiful that it seemed reasonable to assume that it codified perfectly and completely the behavior of space and time in the presence of mass and energy.

" When quantum mechanics is combined with relativity, it turns out, rather unexpectedly in fact, that the detailed nature of the physical laws that govern matter and energy actually depend on the physical scale at which you measure them. This led to perhaps the biggest unsung scientific revolution in the 20th century: We know of no theory that both makes contact with the empirical world, and is absolutely and always true. Is a universal theory a legitimate goal, or will scientific truth always be scale-dependent?


"The combination of quantum mechanics and relativity implies an immediate scaling problem. Heisenberg’s famous uncertainty principle, which lies at the heart of quantum mechanics, implies that on small scales, for short times, it is impossible to completely constrain the behavior of elementary particles. There is an inherent uncertainty in energy and momenta that can never be reduced. When this fact is combined with special relativity, the conclusion is that you cannot actually even constrain the number of particles present in a small volume for short times.

***

"Richard Feynman shared the Nobel Prize for arriving at a method to consistently calculate a finite residual force after extracting a variety of otherwise ambiguous infinities. As a result, we can now compute, from fundamental principles, quantities such as the magnetic moment of the electron to 10 significant figures, comparing it with experiments at a level unachievable in any other area of science.

"But Feynman was ultimately disappointed with what he had accomplished—He thought that no sensible complete theory should produce infinities in the first place, and that the mathematical tricks he and others had developed were ultimately a kind of kludge.


***

Since our empirical knowledge is likely to always be partially incomplete, the theories that work to explain that part of the universe we can probe will, by practical necessity, be insensitive to possible new physics at scales beyond our current reach. It is a feature of our epistemology, and something we did not fully appreciate before we began to explore the extreme scales where quantum mechanics and relativity both become important.

"This applies even to the best physical theory we have in nature: quantum electrodynamics, which describes the quantum interactions between electrons and light. The reason we can, following Feynman’s lead, throw away with impunity the infinities that theory produces is that they are artificial. They correspond to extrapolating the theory to domains where it is probably no longer valid. Feynman was wrong to have been disappointed with his own success in maneuvering around these infinities—that is the best he could have done without understanding new physics at scales far smaller than could have been probed at the time. Even today, half a century later, the theory that takes over at the scales where quantum electrodynamics is no longer the correct description is itself expected to break down at still smaller scales.

***

"Superstring theory may ultimately produce no infinities at all. Therefore, it has the potential to apply at all distance scales, no matter how small. For this reason it has become known to some as a “theory of everything”—though, in fact, the scale where all the exotica of the theory would actually appear is so small as to be essentially physically irrelevant as far as foreseeable experimental measurements would be concerned.

***

"The recognition of the scale dependence of our understanding of physical reality has led us, over time, toward a proposed theory—string theory—for which this limitation vanishes. Is that effort the reflection of a misplaced audacity by theoretical physicists accustomed to success after success in understanding reality at ever-smaller scales?

"While we don’t know the answers to that question, we should, at the very least, be skeptical. There is no example so far where an extrapolation as grand as that associated with string theory, not grounded by direct experimental or observational results, has provided a successful model of nature. In addition, the more we learn about string theory, the more complicated it appears to be, and many early expectations about its universalism may have been optimistic.

"At least as likely is the possibility that nature, as Feynman once speculated, could be like an onion, with a huge number of layers. As we peel back each layer we may find that our beautiful existing theories get subsumed in a new and larger framework. So there would always be new physics to discover, and there would never be a final, universal theory that applies for all scales of space and time, without modification.

Comment: We may never be able to have a theory of everything, since we don't understand quantum mechanics.

Cosmologic philosophy: theory of everything possible?

by dhw, Monday, June 11, 2018, 10:04 (597 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Laurence Krauss doubts it is possible:
http://nautil.us//issue/29/scaling/the-trouble-with-theories-of-everything?utm_source=N...

DAVID’s comment: We may never be able to have a theory of everything, since we don't understand quantum mechanics.

What a superb article – clear explanations, stripped of obfuscatory gobbledygook, and going straight to the heart of the matter. Once again, David, huge thanks for presenting it to us.

Cosmologic philosophy: theory of everything possible?

by David Turell @, Monday, June 11, 2018, 15:18 (597 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Laurence Krauss doubts it is possible:
http://nautil.us//issue/29/scaling/the-trouble-with-theories-of-everything?utm_source=N...

DAVID’s comment: We may never be able to have a theory of everything, since we don't understand quantum mechanics.

dhw: What a superb article – clear explanations, stripped of obfuscatory gobbledygook, and going straight to the heart of the matter. Once again, David, huge thanks for presenting it to us.

Thank you. It is great.

Cosmologic philosophy: quantum conscious universe

by David Turell @, Friday, February 23, 2018, 21:55 (705 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

DHW: One up for panpsychism, but what is the origin of thought? The fact that we humans start out with perception/thought doesn’t mean that the materials we perceive were not there before thought. So maybe materials gave rise to rudimentary thought, which then evolved to its current complexity (bottom-up panpsychism) as opposed to complex thought giving rise to materials (top down, God-came-first theistic panpsychism). Won’t you join me on the fence?


Tony:And God said, "Let us make man in our image." Why should "our image" not refer to our level of consciousness which undoubtedly surpasses all other life forms on Earth? This would actually explain several phenomenon, including ghosts, nde's, magic, Peter walking on water, faith healing, etc.

I've always thought our consciousness is part of God's consciousness.

Cosmologic philosophy: anthropic principle opinion

by David Turell @, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 23:22 (322 days ago) @ David Turell

Ethan Siegel thinks it is misused:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2019/03/08/the-anthropic-principle-is-what...

"But sometimes, you don't know how to conduct the experiments or gather the observations you'd need. Sometimes, you can only resort to the most basic of assumptions: that however the Universe may behave, it behaved in a way that allowed it to give rise to intelligent observers like us. This line of thinking is known as the Anthropic Principle. While it can serve as a useful starting point, it's no substitute for actual science.

***

"We assume that we're good at identifying which properties are incompatible with intelligent life. We assume that we're good at pointing out which kinds of Universe could not admit our existence, or the existence of some observer like us. And we assume that the philosophical conclusions we'd draw, based on our experience and extrapolations, are meaningful in constraining how the Universe is wired. This is the essence of the Anthropic Principle, and it may not be as correct as we typically accept.

***

"The Anthropic Principle came about in 1973, when physicist Brandon Carter made the following two statements.

"We must be prepared to take account of the fact that our location in the Universe is necessarily privileged to the extent of being compatible with our existence as observers.
The Universe (and hence the fundamental parameters on which it depends) must be as to admit the creation of observers within it at some stage.

"The first statement is now known as the Weak Anthropic Principle, which simply states that the Universe must be such that we could have come into existence within it. The second, more controversial statement is called the Strong Anthropic Principle, which states that if no one arose in the Universe, we'd never be here investigating it.

***

"Unfortunately, the Anthropic Principle has been grossly misinterpreted, and is often misapplied. Claims are common in the scientific literature today that the Anthropic Principle:

"supports a multiverse,
provides evidence for the string landscape,
demands that we have a large gas giant to protect us from asteroids,
and explains why we're located at the distance we are from the galactic center.

In other words, people argue that the Universe must be exactly as it is because we exist the way we do in this Universe, which exists with its presently observed properties.

***

"the Universe is not the way it is because we are here. That line of reasoning is the greatest enemy of the Anthropic Principle of all: a simple logical fallacy.

***

"There can be no doubt that the Universe is governed by laws, constants, and the initial conditions that gave rise to it. This very same Universe then, in turn, gave rise to us. But that does not necessitate the Universe was required to have the exact properties it does in order to admit our existence, nor does it imply that a Universe that was different in some fundamental way would be an impossibility for observers. Most importantly, we cannot use the Anthropic Principle to learn why the Universe is the way we see it, as opposed to any other way.

"The Anthropic Principle may be a remarkable starting point, allowing us to place constraints on the Universe's properties owing to the fact of our existence, but that is not a scientific solution in and of itself. Our goal in science, remember, is to understand how the Universe arrived at its current properties through natural processes. If we replace scientific inquiry with anthropic arguments, we'll never get there. The multiverse may be real, but the Anthropic Principle cannot scientifically explain why our Universe's properties are what they are."

Comment: Exactly how I feel.

Cosmologic philosophy: anthropic principle opinion

by dhw, Sunday, March 17, 2019, 14:46 (318 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: There can be no doubt that the Universe is governed by laws, constants, and the initial conditions that gave rise to it. This very same Universe then, in turn, gave rise to us. But that does not necessitate the Universe was required to have the exact properties it does in order to admit our existence, nor does it imply that a Universe that was different in some fundamental way would be an impossibility for observers. Most importantly, we cannot use the Anthropic Principle to learn why the Universe is the way we see it, as opposed to any other way.

"The Anthropic Principle may be a remarkable starting point, allowing us to place constraints on the Universe's properties owing to the fact of our existence, but that is not a scientific solution in and of itself. Our goal in science, remember, is to understand how the Universe arrived at its current properties through natural processes. If we replace scientific inquiry with anthropic arguments, we'll never get there. The multiverse may be real, but the Anthropic Principle cannot scientifically explain why our Universe's properties are what they are." (dhw's bold)

DAVID: Exactly how I feel.

I’m amazed by your comment. The sections I have bolded are a complete rebuttal of your own arguments. First bold: the fact that we are here does not mean the universe was created for us (“in order to admit our existence”). Second bold: the fact that we are here does not offer any scientific proof that we are the reason for the universe being as it is. Third bold (which I find unacceptable) is that as a scientist Ethan Siegel clearly believes that his goal is to show that the universe is the result of natural processes, which is the very opposite of allowing for your God as the creator. However, I would argue that the goal of every scientist should be first and foremost to get as close as possible to objective truths rather than seek confirmation of their own beliefs (that everything can be explained by "natural processes"). His statement reeks of what you call confirmation bias. But I agree with him that the Anthropic Principle itself proves absolutely nothing about the origin and nature of the universe. (See also under “Big brain evolution.)

Cosmologic philosophy: anthropic principle opinion

by David Turell @, Sunday, March 17, 2019, 18:09 (318 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: There can be no doubt that the Universe is governed by laws, constants, and the initial conditions that gave rise to it. This very same Universe then, in turn, gave rise to us. But that does not necessitate the Universe was required to have the exact properties it does in order to admit our existence, nor does it imply that a Universe that was different in some fundamental way would be an impossibility for observers. Most importantly, we cannot use the Anthropic Principle to learn why the Universe is the way we see it, as opposed to any other way.

"The Anthropic Principle may be a remarkable starting point, allowing us to place constraints on the Universe's properties owing to the fact of our existence, but that is not a scientific solution in and of itself. Our goal in science, remember, is to understand how the Universe arrived at its current properties through natural processes. If we replace scientific inquiry with anthropic arguments, we'll never get there. The multiverse may be real, but the Anthropic Principle cannot scientifically explain why our Universe's properties are what they are." (dhw's bold)

DAVID: Exactly how I feel.

dhw: I’m amazed by your comment. The sections I have bolded are a complete rebuttal of your own arguments. First bold: the fact that we are here does not mean the universe was created for us (“in order to admit our existence”). Second bold: the fact that we are here does not offer any scientific proof that we are the reason for the universe being as it is. Third bold (which I find unacceptable) is that as a scientist Ethan Siegel clearly believes that his goal is to show that the universe is the result of natural processes, which is the very opposite of allowing for your God as the creator. However, I would argue that the goal of every scientist should be first and foremost to get as close as possible to objective truths rather than seek confirmation of their own beliefs (that everything can be explained by "natural processes"). His statement reeks of what you call confirmation bias. But I agree with him that the Anthropic Principle itself proves absolutely nothing about the origin and nature of the universe. (See also under “Big brain evolution.)

My very brief comment is as I meant, agreeing with his main point. I agree with the point that the Anthropic Principle explains nothing. Naturally I think his naturalistic approach is wrong, but his conclusion about its value is right on. My obvious belief system does not change. You take my writing much too literally and pounce every time I leave out the background explanation where the differences are. Just remember I'm not a waffler.

Cosmologic philosophy: anthropic principle opinion

by dhw, Monday, March 18, 2019, 10:02 (317 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: There can be no doubt that the Universe is governed by laws, constants, and the initial conditions that gave rise to it. This very same Universe then, in turn, gave rise to us. But that does not necessitate the Universe was required to have the exact properties it does in order to admit our existence, nor does it imply that a Universe that was different in some fundamental way would be an impossibility for observers. Most importantly, we cannot use the Anthropic Principle to learn why the Universe is the way we see it, as opposed to any other way.
"The Anthropic Principle may be a remarkable starting point, allowing us to place constraints on the Universe's properties owing to the fact of our existence, but that is not a scientific solution in and of itself. Our goal in science, remember, is to understand how the Universe arrived at its current properties through natural processes.If we replace scientific inquiry with anthropic arguments, we'll never get there. The multiverse may be real, but the Anthropic Principle cannot scientifically explain why our Universe's properties are what they are."
(dhw's bold)

DAVID: Exactly how I feel.

dhw: I’m amazed by your comment. The sections I have bolded are a complete rebuttal of your own arguments. First bold: the fact that we are here does not mean the universe was created for us (“in order to admit our existence”). Second bold: the fact that we are here does not offer any scientific proof that we are the reason for the universe being as it is. Third bold (which I find unacceptable) is that as a scientist Ethan Siegel clearly believes that his goal is to show that the universe is the result of natural processes, which is the very opposite of allowing for your God as the creator. However, I would argue that the goal of every scientist should be first and foremost to get as close as possible to objective truths rather than seek confirmation of their own beliefs (that everything can be explained by "natural processes"). His statement reeks of what you call confirmation bias. But I agree with him that the Anthropic Principle itself proves absolutely nothing about the origin and nature of the universe. (See also under “Big brain evolution".)

DAVID: My very brief comment is as I meant, agreeing with his main point. I agree with the point that the Anthropic Principle explains nothing. Naturally I think his naturalistic approach is wrong, but his conclusion about its value is right on. My obvious belief system does not change. You take my writing much too literally and pounce every time I leave out the background explanation where the differences are. Just remember I'm not a waffler.

I am always grateful to you for bringing our attention to such articles, and I take your comments seriously. Since the anthropic principle as Ethan Siegel has presented it supports your belief that the universe was designed specially for humans, and he therefore mounts a direct attack on it, I was amazed that you appeared to agree with him. I don’t think you can reasonably expect me to extrapolate differences from the comment “exactly how I feel”, and I hope you don’t regard my disapproval of his “goal of science” as waffle.

Cosmologic philosophy: anthropic principle opinion

by David Turell @, Monday, March 18, 2019, 15:59 (317 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: There can be no doubt that the Universe is governed by laws, constants, and the initial conditions that gave rise to it. This very same Universe then, in turn, gave rise to us. But that does not necessitate the Universe was required to have the exact properties it does in order to admit our existence, nor does it imply that a Universe that was different in some fundamental way would be an impossibility for observers. Most importantly, we cannot use the Anthropic Principle to learn why the Universe is the way we see it, as opposed to any other way.
"The Anthropic Principle may be a remarkable starting point, allowing us to place constraints on the Universe's properties owing to the fact of our existence, but that is not a scientific solution in and of itself. Our goal in science, remember, is to understand how the Universe arrived at its current properties through natural processes.If we replace scientific inquiry with anthropic arguments, we'll never get there. The multiverse may be real, but the Anthropic Principle cannot scientifically explain why our Universe's properties are what they are."
(dhw's bold)

DAVID: Exactly how I feel.

dhw: I’m amazed by your comment. The sections I have bolded are a complete rebuttal of your own arguments. First bold: the fact that we are here does not mean the universe was created for us (“in order to admit our existence”). Second bold: the fact that we are here does not offer any scientific proof that we are the reason for the universe being as it is. Third bold (which I find unacceptable) is that as a scientist Ethan Siegel clearly believes that his goal is to show that the universe is the result of natural processes, which is the very opposite of allowing for your God as the creator. However, I would argue that the goal of every scientist should be first and foremost to get as close as possible to objective truths rather than seek confirmation of their own beliefs (that everything can be explained by "natural processes"). His statement reeks of what you call confirmation bias. But I agree with him that the Anthropic Principle itself proves absolutely nothing about the origin and nature of the universe. (See also under “Big brain evolution".)

DAVID: My very brief comment is as I meant, agreeing with his main point. I agree with the point that the Anthropic Principle explains nothing. Naturally I think his naturalistic approach is wrong, but his conclusion about its value is right on. My obvious belief system does not change. You take my writing much too literally and pounce every time I leave out the background explanation where the differences are. Just remember I'm not a waffler.

dhw:I am always grateful to you for bringing our attention to such articles, and I take your comments seriously. Since the anthropic principle as Ethan Siegel has presented it supports your belief that the universe was designed specially for humans, and he therefore mounts a direct attack on it, I was amazed that you appeared to agree with him. I don’t think you can reasonably expect me to extrapolate differences from the comment “exactly how I feel”, and I hope you don’t regard my disapproval of his “goal of science” as waffle.

Anthropic Principle is contorted thinking. Thank you for understanding my view.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning, no fine tuner

by David Turell @, Wednesday, January 18, 2017, 00:05 (1106 days ago) @ David Turell

The philosopher's reasoning is opposite that of John Leslie, who concluded fine tuning requires a God and/or a multiverse:

http://nautil.us/blog/the-cosmos-fine_tuning-does-not-imply-a-fine_tuner

"This new fine-tuning design argument claims the imprimatur of physics, and is presented in quantitatively precise terms: among the set of all possible universes, the percentage that could sustain life is so small that the human mind cannot imagine it. By all rights, our universe shouldn’t have existed. What wonder that our universe has given birth to life, especially intelligent life. It seems the only explanation for this wildly improbable outcome is the supposition that there is a Designer.
But could it really be that physics points to God’s existence?

"Let me put my cards on the table. I believe that our universe is the creation of an omnipotent being.

***

" There’s a deep problem lurking in the background of the fine-tuning argument, which rests on two factual claims. One is that a life-conducive universe exists. And the second is that this kind of universe is improbable.* It’s the second fact that is responsible for the resurrection of the design argument, and fine-tuning advocates are so focused on using it as a premise that they’ve failed to see that it needs explanation. That is, why is it the case that it’s unlikely for an arbitrary universe to be conducive to life? It’s not plausible to write it off as a brute necessity, because it’s not obvious that this had to be the case, nor could it have been discovered by pure reason alone. The reason to believe the second fact is because it is a prediction of our best physical theory.

"But even if we do find the much-needed explanation, it will be disastrous for the fine-tuning argument, because it would disconfirm God’s existence. After all, a benevolent God would want to create the physical laws so that life-conducive universes would be overwhelmingly likely. (Comment: A poor argument from religious belief. He may not be benevolent, and He may continuously guide the process until He has his desired result. His argument sounds like Deism: God stated the process and then let it continue on its own.)

"I myself don’t think that the extreme improbability of the existence of life disproves the existence of God. But that’s because I don’t think we understand God well enough to make firm predictions one way or the other about what kind of universe God would create. The problem I’ve raised is only an issue for theists who think that they do understand God to a sufficient degree.

"One could go too far with this sort of skepticism. Surely the so-called fine-tuning evidence is proof of something. But the fact that our current cosmological theory can’t explain it tells us that we have more work to do. When our best science predicts a lifeless universe, and this fails to obtain, what should we do? We could say, “a miracle has occurred!” But that would be intellectually lazy. We need a theory that will make accurate predictions and integrate with other successful physical theories. The fine-tuning argument falls short because it assumes that our current cosmological theory is correct, as long as we invoke a non-scientific principle, God. I advocate a more radical and scientific reading of the fine-tuning data. It’s not a brute fact or a true premise in a theological argument. Rather it’s evidence that we need a new and revolutionary cosmological theory."

Comment: He is twisting his own religiosity into an untenable position. We need a different physics theory of cosmology to make the existence of God more reasonable. Fine tuning is enough reason.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning, by Davies

by David Turell @, Friday, May 05, 2017, 05:20 (999 days ago) @ David Turell

We cannot explain why particles have the values hey have, but if they didn't we wouldn't be here:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/physics/why-is-a-neutron-slightly-heavier-than-a-proton?utm_...

A few numbers do seem to be fundamental to the workings of the universe, however, because they describe the most basic processes of nature. High on this list are the masses of subatomic particles. Dozens of particles are known to physicists, but the most familiar are the constituents of atoms: electrons, protons and neutrons. The proton is about 1,836 times as heavy as the electron; nobody knows why nature picked that particular number. The neutron is very slightly heavier than the proton, by about 0.1%, or 1.00137841887 according to the best measurements. Why is this? Did the Great Cosmic Designer initially intend the proton and neutron to have same mass but then threw in a bit more for the neutron as an afterthought?

"Dozens of particles are known to physicists, but the most familiar are the constituents of atoms: electrons, protons and neutrons. The proton is about 1,836 times as heavy as the electron; nobody knows why nature picked that particular number. The neutron is very slightly heavier than the proton, by about 0.1%, or 1.00137841887 according to the best measurements. Why is this? Did the Great Cosmic Designer initially intend the proton and neutron to have same mass but then threw in a bit more for the neutron as an afterthought?

"The neutron-proton mass difference may seem trivial but it has momentous consequences, because mass is a form of energy (remember E = mc2). The neutron, as it happens, has a little more mass (and thus energy) than a proton and an electron combined. There is a general principle in nature that physical systems, when left alone, seek out their lowest energy state. Sure enough, an isolated neutron will soon, within about 15 minutes on average, spontaneously turn into an electron and a proton, a process known as beta decay....The only reason that any neutrons still exist is because, within a few minutes after the hot big bang that made the universe, some neutrons stuck themselves to protons. The strong neutron-proton binding force changes the energy balance – not by much, but enough to stabilise the neutron.

"The fact that the universe we know, including our own existence within it, hinges so delicately on the precise value of the neutron-to-proton mass ratio has led to heated debate among scientists. Was it just a lucky fluke that the laws of physics turned out this way? Or does it suggest something more profound?

"Scientists are disinclined to believe in luck, so there has been a surge of interest in the multiverse theory, according to which our universe, with its neutron-to-proton mass ratio of 1.00137841887, is but one among many.

"The foregoing argument hinges on the possibility that the masses of the neutron and proton are “free parameters” – that is, they could have been different. That seemed to be the case back in the 1950s when the critical value of the mass ratio was first discussed. However, we now know that neutrons and protons are not in fact elementary particles (unlike the electron, which seems to be). Rather, they are composite bodies with smaller particles inside them. Known as quarks, these subnuclear constituents have their own masses. There is also an enormous quantity of energy inside neutrons and protons due to the immensely strong force that glues the quarks together, and this contributes to the overall mass too (E = mc2 again!). This structural complexity makes it nigh on impossible to work out accurate values for the masses of the proton and neutron by analysis of their constituents – let alone figure out what it would take for the mass contribution of this quark or that quark to shift enough to upset that crucial neutron-to-proton mass ratio.

"So for now, 1.00137841887 is just “one of those numbers” that nature has settled on for no reason humans can fathom. If the value were off just a tad, there would be no humans – Galileo or otherwise – to even attempt the fathoming. "

Comment: We do not know why the very exact ratios and numbers are the way they are. We simply have to accept them.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning, of carbon

by David Turell @, Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 15:28 (505 days ago) @ David Turell

Without the immensity of the universe and the way carbon is distributed, life would not exist:

http://www.salvomag.com/new/articles/salvo46/the-miracle-element.php

"the fact that carbon exists at all is nothing short of a miracle. And for Earth to have been blessed with neither too much nor too little carbon, either of which would preclude the existence of advanced life, is another miracle. And the fact that Earth has its stores of carbon distributed into the just-right locations for the thriving of human civilization ranks as yet another miracle of divine design.

***

"One of the more frequent challenges I get from non-theists is the following: "If there is a God who wanted to create a home for human beings, why would he create hundreds of billions of useless galaxies?" The quick answer is that, given the laws of physics God chose for the universe, it is not possible to make a planet on which humans can live and thrive without the hundreds of billions of galaxies. In fact, it is not possible for any kind of physical life to exist without hundreds of billions of galaxies.

***

"If it were not for the near equivalences or resonances of the nuclear energy levels of two helium nuclei relative to a beryllium nucleus, and of a beryllium nucleus plus a helium nucleus relative to a carbon nucleus, the universe would contain very little or no carbon and very little or no elements heavier than carbon. Life would be impossible.
Furthermore, unless the difference in the nuclear energy levels between a carbon nucleus and an oxygen nucleus were precisely 0.53 million electron volts, the universe would contain either a lot of carbon and no oxygen or a lot of oxygen and no carbon. Either way, physical life would be impossible in the universe.

"In the early 1950s, astronomer Fred Hoyle and physicist Willy Fowler were the first to understand how critical the relative nuclear energy levels of helium, beryllium, carbon, and oxygen were for making life possible in the universe. Commenting on the highly fine-tuned nature of these nuclear energy levels, Hoyle wrote in an article he published in Engineering & Science,

"A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion beyond question. (my bold)

"Without carbon, life is impossible. However, fine-tuning the universe for the existence of carbon is not sufficient; unless the quantity of carbon in and on a planet is also fine-tuned, physical life—and certainly advanced physical life—will not be possible. A planet with too little carbon will not have a sufficient supply for life chemistry to function. A planet with too much carbon will possess a life-suffocating atmosphere (lung failure occurs at air pressures exceeding three times Earth's) filled with powerful greenhouse gases.

***

"As I describe in my book Improbable Planet, extrasolar planets that are the most similar to Earth, and whose carbon amounts astronomers have been able to measure, or at least estimate, have been found to possess about 1,200 times as much carbon-based atmospheric gas as Earth does.3 This much carbon-based atmospheric gas would rule out photosynthetic life, all animals, and likely all physical life on those planets.

"How did Earth become so extremely—and advantageously—carbon-poor? The answer is that it likely was born in a very different location in the Milky Way Galaxy from where it presently resides. Evidence shows that Earth's birth occurred in a dense cluster of more than 10,000 stars (see Figure 2 for an example) located much closer to the center of the Milky Way than Earth is today. There, the primordial Earth was exposed to several nearby supernovae and to the winds of several nearby Wolf-Rayet stars (evolved massive stars that have exhausted their source of hydrogen for fusion burning and are fusing helium and heavier elements in their nuclear furnaces). Consequently, the primordial Earth was bathed in huge quantities of radiation from the radiometric decay of aluminum-26.

"The radiation from the decay of aluminum-26 (half-life = 717,000 years; a half-life is the time it takes for a given quantity of a radioactive substance to be reduced by half) blasted away most of the volatiles (gases and liquids) that the primordial Earth possessed. The Moon-forming event—in which a planet at least twice the size of Mars collided with the primordial Earth (see Figure 3)—that occurred a few tens of millions of years later removed all or virtually all of the volatiles that remained. Later, comets restored a tiny fraction of the volatiles that Earth had lost.

"The end result of this unique early history is that Earth ended up with exactly the right amount of carbon to optimally sustain advanced life. But even that is not the end of the story. The exactly right amount of carbon that Earth came to possess is optimally distributed throughout our planet's environment to give the greatest possible benefit to human life and human civilization. "

Comment: Fred Hoyle was an atheist, but he recognized the design. Design requires a mind to plan the design. That is logic.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning, of carbon

by dhw, Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 11:20 (504 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "One of the more frequent challenges I get from non-theists is the following: "If there is a God who wanted to create a home for human beings, why would he create hundreds of billions of useless galaxies?" The quick answer is that, given the laws of physics God chose for the universe, it is not possible to make a planet on which humans can live and thrive without the hundreds of billions of galaxies. In fact, it is not possible for any kind of physical life to exist without hundreds of billions of galaxies.

How the heck does he know?

DAVID's comment: Fred Hoyle was an atheist, but he recognized the design. Design requires a mind to plan the design. That is logic.

But in the words of his fellow atheist, Richard Dawkins: who designed the designer? And in the words of I know not who: You don’t solve one mystery by creating another. Maybe Hoyle should have been an agnostic.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning, of carbon

by David Turell @, Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 14:55 (504 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "One of the more frequent challenges I get from non-theists is the following: "If there is a God who wanted to create a home for human beings, why would he create hundreds of billions of useless galaxies?" The quick answer is that, given the laws of physics God chose for the universe, it is not possible to make a planet on which humans can live and thrive without the hundreds of billions of galaxies. In fact, it is not possible for any kind of physical life to exist without hundreds of billions of galaxies.

dhw: How the heck does he know?

The entire article covers the need for an exact level of carbon created by how carbon was formed in stars and then distributed, noting that too much carbon dos not allow for life, and all those galaxies gave the right mix. Hugh Ross is a believing scientist who follows exact science in his thinking.


DAVID's comment: Fred Hoyle was an atheist, but he recognized the design. Design requires a mind to plan the design. That is logic.

dhw: But in the words of his fellow atheist, Richard Dawkins: who designed the designer? And in the words of I know not who: You don’t solve one mystery by creating another. Maybe Hoyle should have been an agnostic.

I'll bet you are right and he ended up as an agnostic.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning, of carbon

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 18:46 (504 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "One of the more frequent challenges I get from non-theists is the following: "If there is a God who wanted to create a home for human beings, why would he create hundreds of billions of useless galaxies?" The quick answer is that, given the laws of physics God chose for the universe, it is not possible to make a planet on which humans can live and thrive without the hundreds of billions of galaxies. In fact, it is not possible for any kind of physical life to exist without hundreds of billions of galaxies.

dhw: How the heck does he know?


The entire article covers the need for an exact level of carbon created by how carbon was formed in stars and then distributed, noting that too much carbon dos not allow for life, and all those galaxies gave the right mix. Hugh Ross is a believing scientist who follows exact science in his thinking.


DAVID's comment: Fred Hoyle was an atheist, but he recognized the design. Design requires a mind to plan the design. That is logic.

dhw: But in the words of his fellow atheist, Richard Dawkins: who designed the designer? And in the words of I know not who: You don’t solve one mystery by creating another. Maybe Hoyle should have been an agnostic.

Almost every mystery we solve presents new mysteries to solve.


David: I'll bet you are right and he ended up as an agnostic.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning, of carbon

by David Turell @, Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 21:04 (504 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

QUOTE: "One of the more frequent challenges I get from non-theists is the following: "If there is a God who wanted to create a home for human beings, why would he create hundreds of billions of useless galaxies?" The quick answer is that, given the laws of physics God chose for the universe, it is not possible to make a planet on which humans can live and thrive without the hundreds of billions of galaxies. In fact, it is not possible for any kind of physical life to exist without hundreds of billions of galaxies.

dhw: How the heck does he know?


The entire article covers the need for an exact level of carbon created by how carbon was formed in stars and then distributed, noting that too much carbon dos not allow for life, and all those galaxies gave the right mix. Hugh Ross is a believing scientist who follows exact science in his thinking.


DAVID's comment: Fred Hoyle was an atheist, but he recognized the design. Design requires a mind to plan the design. That is logic.

dhw: But in the words of his fellow atheist, Richard Dawkins: who designed the designer? And in the words of I know not who: You don’t solve one mystery by creating another. Maybe Hoyle should have been an agnostic.


Tony: Almost every mystery we solve presents new mysteries to solve.

But God is a logical solution to the mysteries

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning, of carbon

by dhw, Thursday, September 13, 2018, 11:08 (503 days ago) @ David Turell

TONY: Almost every mystery we solve presents new mysteries to solve.

DAVID: But God is a logical solution to the mysteries.

If he exists, your God is the greatest mystery of all.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning, of carbon

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Thursday, September 13, 2018, 13:04 (503 days ago) @ dhw

TONY: Almost every mystery we solve presents new mysteries to solve.

DAVID: But God is a logical solution to the mysteries.

DHW: If he exists, your God is the greatest mystery of all.

Neither of us have claimed otherwise.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning, of carbon

by David Turell @, Thursday, September 13, 2018, 15:44 (503 days ago) @ dhw

TONY: Almost every mystery we solve presents new mysteries to solve.

DAVID: But God is a logical solution to the mysteries.

dhw: If he exists, your God is the greatest mystery of all.

But more logical than chance.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning of early sun rotation

by David Turell @, Wednesday, September 26, 2018, 21:45 (490 days ago) @ David Turell

A slowly rotating sun early on its life would have prepared the Earth for life. This is a theory suggested by findings but not yet proven:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucedorminey/2018/09/23/early-suns-goldilocks-rotation-ra...

"Our early Sun’s rate of rotation may be one reason we’re here to talk about it, astrobiologists now say. The key likely lies in the fact that between the first hundred million to the first billion years of its life, our G-dwarf star likely had a ‘Goldilocks’ rotation rate; neither too slow nor too fast.

"Instead, its hypothetical ‘intermediate’ few days rate of rotation guaranteed our Sun was active enough to rid our newly-formed Earth of its inhospitable, hydrogen-rich primary atmosphere. This would have enabled a more habitable, secondary atmosphere composed of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and oxygen to eventually form.

"If it had been a ‘fast’ (less than one day rotator), our Sun might have continually stripped our young planet of its secondary atmosphere as well. However, if it took more than 10 days to rotate, it might not have been active enough to strip Earth of its hypothetical primary atmosphere.

***

"Researchers are able to roughly pinpoint the Sun’s early rotation rates by studying the isotopic ratios of neon, argon, potassium, and uranium here in Earth’s crust. That is, elements which have atoms that have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons. The researchers also considered such isotopic ratios from decades’-old Venus surface samples taken by Soviet Venus lander missions.

"Isotopic ratios are changed by stellar activity, with less active and more active stars having different elemental effects.

"When very early Venus and Earth accreted, potassium was also in the primordial atmosphere and could escape, says Lammer. In contrast, he says the much heavier element of uranium remained fixed in our planet’s crust.

***

"There’s one big puzzle, however. Was our Sun truly a Goldilocks rotator, or did our Earth need the Moon-forming impact to get rid of our planet’s primordial atmosphere?
To explain our existence without our Moon-forming impact, we need to be a ‘Goldilocks’ intermediate rotator, says Luftinger.

"That’s because a secondary atmosphere cannot evolve in the presence of a primordial atmosphere , says Luftinger.

"Yet to better constrain the Sun’s young rotation rate, researchers need new isotope samples from Venus. Luftinger estimates that about a third of all sunlike stars are Goldilocks intermediate rotators."

Comment: with all the other signs of fine tuning I wouldn't be surprised to find the sun developed in the way this article discusses.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning of early sun rotation

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Wednesday, September 26, 2018, 23:04 (490 days ago) @ David Turell

A slowly rotating sun early on its life would have prepared the Earth for life. This is a theory suggested by findings but not yet proven:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucedorminey/2018/09/23/early-suns-goldilocks-rotation-ra...

"Our early Sun’s rate of rotation may be one reason we’re here to talk about it, astrobiologists now say. The key likely lies in the fact that between the first hundred million to the first billion years of its life, our G-dwarf star likely had a ‘Goldilocks’ rotation rate; neither too slow nor too fast.

"Instead, its hypothetical ‘intermediate’ few days rate of rotation guaranteed our Sun was active enough to rid our newly-formed Earth of its inhospitable, hydrogen-rich primary atmosphere. This would have enabled a more habitable, secondary atmosphere composed of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and oxygen to eventually form.

"If it had been a ‘fast’ (less than one day rotator), our Sun might have continually stripped our young planet of its secondary atmosphere as well. However, if it took more than 10 days to rotate, it might not have been active enough to strip Earth of its hypothetical primary atmosphere.

***

"Researchers are able to roughly pinpoint the Sun’s early rotation rates by studying the isotopic ratios of neon, argon, potassium, and uranium here in Earth’s crust. That is, elements which have atoms that have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons. The researchers also considered such isotopic ratios from decades’-old Venus surface samples taken by Soviet Venus lander missions.

"Isotopic ratios are changed by stellar activity, with less active and more active stars having different elemental effects.

"When very early Venus and Earth accreted, potassium was also in the primordial atmosphere and could escape, says Lammer. In contrast, he says the much heavier element of uranium remained fixed in our planet’s crust.

***

"There’s one big puzzle, however. Was our Sun truly a Goldilocks rotator, or did our Earth need the Moon-forming impact to get rid of our planet’s primordial atmosphere?
To explain our existence without our Moon-forming impact, we need to be a ‘Goldilocks’ intermediate rotator, says Luftinger.

"That’s because a secondary atmosphere cannot evolve in the presence of a primordial atmosphere , says Luftinger.

"Yet to better constrain the Sun’s young rotation rate, researchers need new isotope samples from Venus. Luftinger estimates that about a third of all sunlike stars are Goldilocks intermediate rotators."

Comment: with all the other signs of fine tuning I wouldn't be surprised to find the sun developed in the way this article discusses.

It would make sense.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning of earth's core

by David Turell @, Tuesday, October 30, 2018, 19:06 (456 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained
edited by David Turell, Tuesday, October 30, 2018, 19:27

An inner part of the core rotates at a different rate than an outer part, creating the magnetic filed that protects us and our oceans:

https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2018/09/calculating_life_on_mars.html

"Seismic data, taken over a period of several years (Zhang, et al., Science 2005), suggest that the (innermost, solid iron) core is rotating slightly faster than the rest of the Earth, at 0.3-0.5 degrees/yr. We don't know if this super-rotation is constant or varies over time. The analysts did not suggest a cause, hence relatively little attention has been devoted to the phenomenon.

"If I invert the question and ask, "Why is the Earth rotating slower than its core?," then the answer becomes clear to me, and I can even calculate and estimate its magnitude. The slowing down may be caused by tidal friction, produced by the Moon. This also means that the super-rotation has been going on for billions of years.

"We may assume that the differential rotation at the inner-core boundary with the (still liquid) outer core "winds up" the magnetic lines of force and thus produces and strengthens the geomagnetic field. I have calculated that the geomagnetic field has a decay time of only about 20,000 years, based on the likely conductivity of the iron core. Clearly, some kind of energy source is required to maintain the magnetic field. I suggest that the source is kinetic energy of rotation.

"This is the standard explanation for the existence of the magnetosphere, the outermost layer of the Earth's atmosphere, consisting mostly of ions of atomic hydrogen, protons, magnetically trapped and spiraling around the lines of force, produced as the Earth neutral exosphere is dissociated and ionized by solar UV radiation.

" The magnetosphere shields the Earth's lower atmosphere from the direct impact of the "solar wind," consisting mainly of high-speed protons and some heavier nuclei. The solar wind would help to ionize the atmosphere and also "sweep away" the outer portions – thus speeding up the "escape" of this outermost atmosphere, the exosphere, as it is labeled, where the density is so low that the mean free path between collisions becomes long enough that one can ignore collisions. The concept of temperature loses significance.

"We may assume that similar processes happened on Mars. I believe that its core was liquefied by tidal friction, but it has cooled and is no longer liquid. Mars no longer has a general magnetic field like the Earth. Its magnetosphere has now disappeared, but its shielding effect may have lasted long enough, I believe, to maintain an ocean on Mars's surface for some time.

"Lundin and others have measured the removal of the Martian upper atmosphere by the sweeping action of the solar wind. The crucial question is this: did the Mars atmosphere and surface ocean exist long enough to permit the creation of life forms – as it did on Earth?

"I can calculate a "survival time" for the ocean using available physical theory. However, this calculation is complicated by the greenhouse effect and possible freezing over of the ocean surface, which would stop its evaporation. In addition, covering up the ocean, or the remaining puddles of water, affects survival. But I don't know how long it takes for living forms to come into being; I assume that this interval is fairly short."

Comment: Although this article has as a main thrust the issue of life on Mars, it clearly shows how the design of the Earth has protected this planet and the life it supports by a special rotation of part of its core. Without the magnetic envelop around the Earth its oceans would have disappeared and any life would have been fried by the radiation that would have reached the surface. The Earth is strikingly special.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning, of carbon

by David Turell @, Monday, May 13, 2019, 17:05 (261 days ago) @ David Turell

A new study of the Hoyle prediction, as to how carbon formed:

https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/34997011.pdf

"The Hoyle state plays a crucial role in the helium burning of stars that have reached the red giant stage. The close proximity of this state to the triple-alpha threshold is needed for the production of carbon, oxygen, and other elements necessary for life. We investigate whether this life-essential condition is robust or delicately fine-tuned by measuring its dependence on the fundamental constants of nature, specifically the light quark mass and the strength of the electromagnetic interaction. We show that there exist strong correlations between the alpha-particle binding energy and the various energies relevant to the triple-alpha process. We derive limits on the variation of these fundamental parameters from the requirement that sufficient amounts of carbon and oxygen be generated in stars.

Rob Shelton explains:

https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/rob-sheldon-researchers-showed-that-the-...

"Hoyle argued that there must be a secret path to Carbon, one that involved not the addition of protons but the triple collision of three helium atoms. But any collision that was strong enough to make the helium stick (overcome the Coulomb repulsion) had too much energy to keep them stuck together. What he needed was an energy resonance in the Carbon nucleus that converted He + He ->Be +He -> Carbon with no leftover energy that might tear the new nucleus apart. And he knew that this secret path had to be there or he wouldn’t exist. It took several years of pleading, but finally Willy Fowler did the measurement and found it just as Hoyle had predicted.

***

"Epelbaum et al., 2013 think that the earlier refutations were poorly done. Having just invented a highly accurate numerical technique, they propose to test it on the fine-tuning of Hoyle’s state. So they take Hoyle’s prediction and ask “Just how fine-tuned is this resonance?” Or restating the question, “Was Hoyle lucky, or is the universe truly fine-tuned for carbon life?”

***

"If Hoyle is correct that the universe is fine-tuned for life, then the independent measures will likewise be fine-tuned. Contrariwise, if we are just lucky, then only the “Hoyle state” is fine-tuned, but everything else would be “broadly” tuned.

"This paper grabs some other, unconstrained nuclear constants like the Coulomb repulsion strength and the “mass of the light quark” and tweaks them in a model to see whether it destroys the ability of the Hoyle state to make Carbon-12. If nothing much changes, then we were just lucky–if there’s a sharp peak, then it appears the universe is fine-tuned to make C-12.

"When they are all done, they find that 3 independent variables in nuclear physics all have to be correlated within 2%. If we crank up the Coulomb force, then we have to crank up the light quark mass or we lose our C-12 production.

***

"Well, it could mean that there are “hidden correlations” in nuclear physics that no one knew were there. Or it might mean that these three quantities have been assigned arbitrary values based on their outcome–which is to say–designed.

"How is this different from the usual “fine tuning” arguments made by, for example, Luke Barnes? Luke argues that each fine-tuning variable is independent of the others, so for example, if variable-(a) gives 1:100 and variable-(b) gives 1:10, the combined statistic is 1:1000. This argument is rather that (a) and (b) are correlated, so their combined statistic is not 1000, but say, 200. This could mean either that we’ve found an explicit requirement of the designer (making C-12), or we’ve found a hidden theoretical connection between (a) & (b). What do they report?

“'Beyond such relatively small changes [2%], the anthropic principle appears necessary at this time to explain the observed reaction rate of the triple-alpha process. In order to make more definitive statements about carbon and oxygen production for larger changes in the fundamental parameters, a more precise determination of A_s and A_t is needed from future lattice QCD simulations.'”

"So their conclusion is that previous debunking is wrong and the Hoyle state really is fine-tuned,"

Comment: Great example of fine tuning. Carbon is the key to life.

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by David Turell @, Tuesday, January 17, 2017, 20:51 (1107 days ago) @ David Turell

Another essay on the meaning of 'time'. It is all in our minds:

http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2017/01/what-came-before-the-big-bang-intruiging-n...

 
 
"Time pervades our lives — we keep track of it, lament its loss, put it to good use. The rhythms of our clocks and our bodies let us measure the passage of time, as a ruler lets us measure the distance between two objects. But unlike distances, time has a direction, pointing from past to future.

"The arrow of time is easy to perceive, much harder to understand. Physicists appeal to the idea of entropy, the disorderliness of a system, which tends to increase according to the celebrated Second Law of Thermodynamics.

"The only way to understand the origin of entropy is to understand the origin of the universe — by asking what happened at the Big Bang, and even before.... Modern discoveries in cosmology — dark energy and the accelerating universe — and quantum gravity — the possibility of time before the Big Bang — come together to suggest a picture of a multiverse in which the arrow of time emerges naturally from the laws of physics.
 
""Before" and "after" have a meaning only in time, and linear time at that. There is no evidence of any kind that time existed before the big bang. Moreover, what we typically think of as time--the tick tock on a clock face--depends on having a human nervous system. Einstein broke free of this model, where we think we intuitively know what time is, when he introduced the concepts in his theories of relativity.
 
"The relativity of time depended upon a new theory, and if we stand back, we discover that all views of time are human constructs. If time seems linear, that's because we humans have modeled it that way in accord with our nervous system. It is just as viable to construct other models of time. For example, your body obeys natural rhythms in accord with the planetary, lunar, and solar cycles. The very notion of "time passing" fits with the firing of neurons in the brain, which have a beginning, middle, and end.

"If you drop every model, something surprising happens. They are not needed. For example, you can view your daily life as occurring entirely in the present moment. The present moment is not a clock phenomenon. Clocks measure intervals--seconds, minutes, hours--while the present moment has no interval. It's always here, endlessly renewing itself, unmeasurable, and fleeting. Because the instant you try to capture it, it's gone. This implies that the "now" is actually outside time. It can be defined either as instantaneous or eternal. Both are valid as verbal descriptions but in the end invalid, since the vocabulary of time doesn't apply to the timeless.
The same is true of the big bang or the potential end of the universe. Time doesn't begin or end in an absolute way. It is a convenient way of using words. Time is simply a concept that fits various physical models. But its origin is as much in metaphysics as in physics.

"When someone believes he will die and go to Heaven for eternity, the typical, casual definition of "eternity" is a long, long time. But that's not true, because whatever is eternal must be outside time. Ultimately, the only participation we can have in time, outside time, or with a dimension of inconceivable time, occurs in our consciousness. Whatever we can experience determines the nature of time. It is just as true to say that the big bang is occurring right now as to date it back to 13.8 billion years, because only when we think about the event do we draw the big bang into the world of human experience, and thinking happens in the now. (my bold)

"None of these conclusions are speculative--quantum physics and cosmology deal with them--and cosmologists and quantum physicists argue over them--every day. Without settling the vexing questions of "What came before the big bang?" "Where did time originate?" and "What is the timeless like?" we only want to point out that time has no meaning outside a specific frame of reference.

"There is no "real" time, only models of time constructed in human awareness. Once we realize this simple fact, the capacity to move beyond all models, to truly lose our fear of death, come alive. The spiritual concept that we were never born and will never die then becomes viable, too."

Comment: This fits our previous discussions. Time is a linear series of 'nows'. In relativity theory everything is in motion and changing. The 'nows' document that constant changing reality and are a construct of our conscious recognition to the change. Our consciousness, therefore, creates time as a concept. Time materially does not exist. Change exists and is constantly happening. God exists outside time, and our consciousness may well come from outside time.

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by dhw, Wednesday, January 18, 2017, 13:01 (1106 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Another essay on the meaning of 'time'. It is all in our minds:
http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2017/01/what-came-before-the-big-bang-intruiging-n...

QUOTE: ""Before" and "after" have a meaning only in time, and linear time at that".

Why “only in time”? That is what most of us mean by time!

DAVID’S comment: This fits our previous discussions. Time is a linear series of 'nows'. In relativity theory everything is in motion and changing. The 'nows' document that constant changing reality and are a construct of our conscious recognition to the change. Our consciousness, therefore, creates time as a concept. Time materially does not exist. Change exists and is constantly happening. God exists outside time, and our consciousness may well come from outside time.

It doesn’t fit my view of the discussion at all. You can’t have change without a before and an after, and as far as I am concerned, time is indeed a linear series of ‘nows’, that is to say a now that becomes a ‘then’, or a present that becomes a past. The words to describe the concept, and the various divisions we make, are certainly a human invention, but it is my firm belief that changes took place even before humans were around, i.e. that the history of the universe and life really have taken place, and that before, now and after represent a sequence that goes on even without our consciousness of them. In other words, time materially does exist if you accept this definition. I don’t know what you mean by “God exists outside time”. If your God created the universe and life and evolution, you cannot escape the same sequence. This whole argument is a game, and it depends on definition. If you really and truly reject the sequence of before, now and after, please give me your own definition of time.

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by David Turell @, Wednesday, January 18, 2017, 18:28 (1106 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Another essay on the meaning of 'time'. It is all in our minds:
http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2017/01/what-came-before-the-big-bang-intruiging-n...

QUOTE: ""Before" and "after" have a meaning only in time, and linear time at that".

Why “only in time”? That is what most of us mean by time!

DAVID’S comment: This fits our previous discussions. Time is a linear series of 'nows'. In relativity theory everything is in motion and changing. The 'nows' document that constant changing reality and are a construct of our conscious recognition to the change. Our consciousness, therefore, creates time as a concept. Time materially does not exist. Change exists and is constantly happening. God exists outside time, and our consciousness may well come from outside time.

dhw: It doesn’t fit my view of the discussion at all. You can’t have change without a before and an after, and as far as I am concerned, time is indeed a linear series of ‘nows’, that is to say a now that becomes a ‘then’, or a present that becomes a past. The words to describe the concept, and the various divisions we make, are certainly a human invention, but it is my firm belief that changes took place even before humans were around, i.e. that the history of the universe and life really have taken place, and that before, now and after represent a sequence that goes on even without our consciousness of them. In other words, time materially does exist if you accept this definition. I don’t know what you mean by “God exists outside time”. If your God created the universe and life and evolution, you cannot escape the same sequence. This whole argument is a game, and it depends on definition. If you really and truly reject the sequence of before, now and after, please give me your own definition of time.

Of course there is a sequence of before, now and after. That is understood. If God is eternal, He exists out of any time concept. Time begins as the universe starts, without question. We study and find the before sequences of events in time leading to us, even if we did not personally experience those events.

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by dhw, Thursday, January 19, 2017, 13:35 (1105 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID’S comment: [...] Time is a linear series of 'nows'. In relativity theory everything is in motion and changing. The 'nows' document that constant changing reality and are a construct of our conscious recognition to the change. Our consciousness, therefore, creates time as a concept. Time materially does not exist. Change exists and is constantly happening. God exists outside time, and our consciousness may well come from outside time.

dhw: [...] You can’t have change without a before and an after, and as far as I am concerned, time is indeed a linear series of ‘nows’, that is to say a now that becomes a ‘then’, or a present that becomes a past. The words to describe the concept, and the various divisions we make, are certainly a human invention, but it is my firm belief that changes took place even before humans were around, i.e. that the history of the universe and life really have taken place, and that before, now and after represent a sequence that goes on even without our consciousness of them. In other words, time materially does exist if you accept this definition. I don’t know what you mean by “God exists outside time”. If your God created the universe and life and evolution, you cannot escape the same sequence. This whole argument is a game, and it depends on definition. If you really and truly reject the sequence of before, now and after, please give me your own definition of time.

DAVID: Of course there is a sequence of before, now and after. That is understood. If God is eternal, He exists out of any time concept. Time begins as the universe starts, without question. We study and find the before sequences of events in time leading to us, even if we did not personally experience those events.

You accept that time exists as a sequence of before, now and after, and nobody has a clue what happened before the big bang (if the big bang happened), but if there was a before the big bang, you still have a sequence of before and after. If there is a God who caused the big bang, he must have existed before he caused it, and unless he had been totally inactive throughout eternity until then, he may well have created other causes and effects, or befores and afters. In any case, how can he make the changes from non-universe and non-life to universe and life without being “inside” time – unless you reject my before-and-after definition? All of this, as well as your own last sentence, clearly shows that time is NOT a human construct which is “all in our minds”, so why do I get the impression that you are trying to disagree with me?!

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 19, 2017, 15:13 (1105 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Of course there is a sequence of before, now and after. That is understood. If God is eternal, He exists out of any time concept. Time begins as the universe starts, without question. We study and find the before sequences of events in time leading to us, even if we did not personally experience those events.

dhw:You accept that time exists as a sequence of before, now and after, and nobody has a clue what happened before the big bang (if the big bang happened), but if there was a before the big bang, you still have a sequence of before and after. If there is a God who caused the big bang, he must have existed before he caused it, and unless he had been totally inactive throughout eternity until then, he may well have created other causes and effects, or befores and afters. In any case, how can he make the changes from non-universe and non-life to universe and life without being “inside” time – unless you reject my before-and-after definition? All of this, as well as your own last sentence, clearly shows that time is NOT a human construct which is “all in our minds”, so why do I get the impression that you are trying to disagree with me?!

Yes, we disagree. God is eternal, unchanging. Time involves sequences of change. He creates change in producing this universe and the time within it as it evolves and changes. He may well have created other events at points in eternity. Note I used the word 'points'. I view eternity as outside of time as humans construct it.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning or not?

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 19, 2017, 18:44 (1105 days ago) @ David Turell

This physicist says it doesn't exist:

http://nautil.us/issue/44/luck/the-not_so_fine-tuning-of-the-universe?utm_source=Nautil...

"Over the past several decades, many scientists have argued that, had the laws of physics been even slightly different, the cosmos would have been devoid of complex structures. In parallel, cosmologists have come to realize that our universe may be only one component of the multiverse, a vast collection of universes that makes up a much larger region of spacetime. The existence of other universes provides an appealing explanation for the apparent fine-tuning of the laws of physics. These laws vary from universe to universe, and we live in a universe that allows for observers because we couldn’t live anywhere else.

***

"But in fact the fine-tuning has never been rigorously demonstrated. We do not really know what laws of physics are necessary for the development of astrophysical structures, which are in turn necessary for the development of life. Recent work on stellar evolution, nuclear astrophysics, and structure formation suggest that the case for fine-tuning is less compelling than previously thought. A wide variety of possible universes could support life. Our universe is not as special as it might seem.

***

"Putting it all together, the strengths of the fundamental forces can vary by several orders of magnitude and still allow planets and stars to satisfy all the constraints (as illustrated in the figure below). The forces are not nearly as finely tuned as many scientists think.

***

:physicist Fred Hoyle predicted in 1953 that the carbon nucleus has to have a resonant state at a specific energy, as if it were a little bell that rang with a certain tone. Because of this resonance, the reaction rates for carbon production are much larger than they would be otherwise—large enough to explain the abundance of carbon found in our universe. The resonance was later measured in the laboratory at the predicted energy level.

"The worry is that, in other universes, with alternate strengths of the forces, the energy of this resonance could be different, and stars would not produce enough carbon. Carbon production is compromised if the energy level is changed by more than about 4 percent. This issue is sometimes called the triple-alpha fine-tuning problem.

"Fortunately, this problem has a simple solution. What nuclear physics takes away, it also gives. Suppose nuclear physics did change by enough to neutralize the carbon resonance. Among the possible changes of this magnitude, about half would have the side effect of making beryllium stable, so the loss of the resonance would become irrelevant. In such alternate universes, carbon would be produced in the more logical manner of adding together alpha particles one at a time. Helium could fuse into beryllium, which could then react with additional alpha particles to make carbon. There is no fine-tuning problem after all.

(Here I skip other aspects of his argument since our space is not large enough. I suggest reading them.)


"In short, the parameters of our universe could have varied by large factors and still allowed for working stars and potentially habitable planets. The force of gravity could have been 1,000 times stronger or 1 billion times weaker, and stars would still function as long-lived nuclear burning engines. The electromagnetic force could have been stronger or weaker by factors of 100. Nuclear reaction rates could have varied over many orders of magnitude. Alternative stellar physics could have produced the heavy elements that make up the basic raw material for planets and people. Clearly, the parameters that determine stellar structure and evolution are not overly fine-tuned.

"Given that our universe does not seem to be particularly fine-tuned, can we still say that our universe is the best one for life to develop? Our current understanding suggests that the answer is no. One can readily envision a universe that is friendlier to life and perhaps more logical. A universe with stronger initial density fluctuations would make denser galaxies, which could support more habitable planets than our own. A universe with stable beryllium would have straightforward channels available for carbon production and would not need the complication of the triple-alpha process. Although these issues are still being explored, we can already say that universes have many pathways for the development of complexity and biology, and some could be even more favorable for life than our own. In light of these generalizations, astrophysicists need to reexamine the possible implications of the multiverse, including the degree of fine-tuning in our universe."

Comment: This is a minority opinion. I don't have enough knowledge to refute him; the article is filled with if's, but should be read.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning or not?

by dhw, Friday, January 20, 2017, 17:49 (1104 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: This physicist says it doesn't exist:

http://nautil.us/issue/44/luck/the-not_so_fine-tuning-of-the-universe?utm_source=Nautil...

David’s comment: This is a minority opinion. I don't have enough knowledge to refute him; the article is filled with if's, but should be read.

This is a devastating rebuttal of the fine-tuning argument, and thank you yet again for your integrity in presenting it. The argument is far too technical for me, but it will be very interesting to see the response from the establishment. (The overturning of established views always begins with minority opinions, though that doesn’t mean minority opinions are always right. Let us keep an open mind.)

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning or not?

by David Turell @, Friday, January 20, 2017, 21:34 (1104 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: This physicist says it doesn't exist:

http://nautil.us/issue/44/luck/the-not_so_fine-tuning-of-the-universe?utm_source=Nautil...

David’s comment: This is a minority opinion. I don't have enough knowledge to refute him; the article is filled with if's, but should be read.

dhw: This is a devastating rebuttal of the fine-tuning argument, and thank you yet again for your integrity in presenting it. The argument is far too technical for me, but it will be very interesting to see the response from the establishment. (The overturning of established views always begins with minority opinions, though that doesn’t mean minority opinions are always right. Let us keep an open mind.)

Vic Stenger, now deceased, presented a book with much of these same arguments. I reviewed the objections a while ago here. There was little general acceptance. Presented because an open mind is required.

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by dhw, Friday, January 20, 2017, 17:40 (1104 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Of course there is a sequence of before, now and after. That is understood. If God is eternal, He exists out of any time concept. Time begins as the universe starts, without question. We study and find the before sequences of events in time leading to us, even if we did not personally experience those events.

dhw:You accept that time exists as a sequence of before, now and after, and nobody has a clue what happened before the big bang (if the big bang happened), but if there was a before the big bang, you still have a sequence of before and after. If there is a God who caused the big bang, he must have existed before he caused it, and unless he had been totally inactive throughout eternity until then, he may well have created other causes and effects, or befores and afters. In any case, how can he make the changes from non-universe and non-life to universe and life without being “inside” time – unless you reject my before-and-after definition? All of this, as well as your own last sentence, clearly shows that time is NOT a human construct which is “all in our minds”, so why do I get the impression that you are trying to disagree with me?!

DAVID: Yes, we disagree. God is eternal, unchanging. Time involves sequences of change. He creates change in producing this universe and the time within it as it evolves and changes. He may well have created other events at points in eternity. Note I used the word 'points'. I view eternity as outside of time as humans construct it.

You have agreed that time exists independently of humans, and so it is not a human “construct”. I have no idea what authority enables you to state that your eternal God is unchanging. Is it impossible for him to learn anything? But even if he knows absolutely everything in advance, do you think he is unaware that all the changes he makes entail a before and after, and do you think he thinks the before and after have no reality? You may believe he himself is not changed by the sequence of before and after (you can impose any characteristic you like on him), but that does not mean he is “outside time”, even if you think he twiddles his immaterial thumbs for a few billion chunks of eternity between his befores and afters.

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by David Turell @, Friday, January 20, 2017, 21:23 (1104 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: Yes, we disagree. God is eternal, unchanging. Time involves sequences of change. He creates change in producing this universe and the time within it as it evolves and changes. He may well have created other events at points in eternity. Note I used the word 'points'. I view eternity as outside of time as humans construct it.

dhw: You have agreed that time exists independently of humans, and so it is not a human “construct”. I have no idea what authority enables you to state that your eternal God is unchanging. Is it impossible for him to learn anything? But even if he knows absolutely everything in advance, do you think he is unaware that all the changes he makes entail a before and after, and do you think he thinks the before and after have no reality? You may believe he himself is not changed by the sequence of before and after (you can impose any characteristic you like on him), but that does not mean he is “outside time”, even if you think he twiddles his immaterial thumbs for a few billion chunks of eternity between his befores and afters.

So you have an anthropomorphic God who watches his wristwatch? Did He make a series of universes and count time that way? What if He did nothing in eternity? Does time pass for Him? Only an evolutionary process has before and after as in our universe.

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by dhw, Saturday, January 21, 2017, 13:28 (1103 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Yes, we disagree. God is eternal, unchanging. Time involves sequences of change. He creates change in producing this universe and the time within it as it evolves and changes. He may well have created other events at points in eternity. Note I used the word 'points'. I view eternity as outside of time as humans construct it.

dhw: You have agreed that time exists independently of humans, and so it is not a human “construct”. I have no idea what authority enables you to state that your eternal God is unchanging. Is it impossible for him to learn anything? But even if he knows absolutely everything in advance, do you think he is unaware that all the changes he makes entail a before and after, and do you think he thinks the before and after have no reality? You may believe he himself is not changed by the sequence of before and after (you can impose any characteristic you like on him), but that does not mean he is “outside time”, even if you think he twiddles his immaterial thumbs for a few billion chunks of eternity between his befores and afters.

DAVID: So you have an anthropomorphic God who watches his wristwatch? Did He make a series of universes and count time that way? What if He did nothing in eternity? Does time pass for Him? Only an evolutionary process has before and after as in our universe.

I have already agreed that the divisions of time are man-made. You don’t have to “count” time! You have agreed that time is a sequence of before and after. You can sit and do nothing for an hour, but before still changes into after. God can sit and do nothing for a billion chunks of eternity, but before still changes into after, and every time your God does or even thinks anything at all, there is a before and an after the deed or the thought. Unless you come up with a different definition, the only way your God can be “outside time” is if he is non-existent.

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by David Turell @, Saturday, January 21, 2017, 15:26 (1103 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: So you have an anthropomorphic God who watches his wristwatch? Did He make a series of universes and count time that way? What if He did nothing in eternity? Does time pass for Him? Only an evolutionary process has before and after as in our universe.

dhw: I have already agreed that the divisions of time are man-made. You don’t have to “count” time! You have agreed that time is a sequence of before and after. You can sit and do nothing for an hour, but before still changes into after. God can sit and do nothing for a billion chunks of eternity, but before still changes into after, and every time your God does or even thinks anything at all, there is a before and an after the deed or the thought. Unless you come up with a different definition, the only way your God can be “outside time” is if he is non-existent.

Let me put it another way. God exists outside human concepts of time, which you are still applying to him.

Cosmologic philosophy:multiworld quantum theories?

by David Turell @, Sunday, January 22, 2017, 01:40 (1102 days ago) @ David Turell

Another review article covering and questioning the various approaches to the strange finding in quantum research and theory:

https://aeon.co/essays/is-the-many-worlds-hypothesis-just-a-fantasy?utm_source=Aeon+New...

"But experiments in quantum physics have been obstinately silent on what it means. All we can do is develop hunches, intuitions and, yes, cherished ideas. Of these, the survey offered no fewer than 11 to choose from (as well as ‘other’ and ‘none’).

"The most popular (supported by 42 per cent of the very small sample) was basically the view put forward by Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and their colleagues in the early days of quantum theory. Today it is known as the Copenhagen Interpretation. Maybe you haven’t heard of the Copenhagen Interpretation either. But in third place (18 per cent) was the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI), and I suspect you do know something about that, since the MWI is the one with all the glamour and publicity. It tells us that we have multiple selves, living other lives in other universes, quite possibly doing all the things that we dream of but will never achieve (or never dare).

"We should resist not just because MWI is unlikely to be true, or even because, since no one knows how to test it, the idea is perhaps not truly scientific at all. Those are valid criticisms, but the main reason we should hold out is that it is incoherent, both philosophically and logically.

"Despite its shaky foundations, quantum mechanics is extraordinarily successful. In fact you’d be hard pushed to find a more successful scientific theory. It can predict all kinds of phenomena with amazing precision, from the colours of grass and sky to the transparency of glass, the way enzymes work and how the Sun shines.

***

"We are left with what’s called the Measurement Problem, which really comes down to this: between the rainbow-smear of probabilities in our equations and the matter-of-fact determinacy of everything we can actually measure, what on Earth is going on?

" The dominant view, the Copenhagen Interpretation, just shrugs and accepts wavefunction collapse as an additional ingredient of the theory, a clumsy fudge that we don’t understand but which we seem forced to make do with, at least for now.

***

"And then there’s the Many Worlds option – though its proponents, who include heavyweights such as Stephen Hawking and the Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek, are oddly reluctant to concede that their preferred view admits of any rivals. As far as they are concerned, the MWI is the only way of taking quantum theory seriously.
***

"What are these parallel worlds like? In the ‘multiverse’ of the Many Worlds view, says Tegmark, ‘all possible states exist at every instant’. That’s quite an ambiguous statement, since it might either mean all states that could evolve from some initial configuration, or all imaginable arrangements of all particles. But, either way, we face some nonsensical implications. You see, the MWI does some radical stuff to you and me.

"‘The act of making a decision,’ says Tegmark – a ‘decision’ here being interchangeable with an experiment or measurement – ‘causes a person to split into multiple copies.’ Brian Greene, another prominent MWI advocate, tells us gleefully that ‘each copy is you’. In other words, you just need to broaden your mind beyond your parochial idea of what ‘you’ means. Each of these individuals has its own consciousness, and so each believes he or she is ‘you’ – but the real ‘you’ is their sum total. This means that Greene and Tegmark don’t support the MWI at all – it’s only these particular copies (and presumably some others) who do.
***

"The conceit of ‘multiple selves’ isn’t at all what the MWI, taken at face value, is proposing. On the contrary, it is dismantling the whole notion of selfhood – it is denying any real meaning of ‘you’ at all.

***

"That its supporters refuse to engage in any depth with the questions the MWI poses about the ontology and autonomy of self is lamentable. But this is (speaking as an ex-physicist) very much a physicist’s blind spot: a failure to recognise – or perhaps to care – that problems arising at a level beyond that of the fundamental, abstract theory can be anything more than a minor inconvenience.

"If the MWI were supported by some sound science, we would have to deal with it – and to do so with more seriousness than the merry invention of Doppelgängers to measure both quantum states of a photon. But it is not. It is grounded in a half-baked philosophical argument about a preference to simplify the axioms. Until Many Worlders can take seriously the philosophical implications of their vision, it’s not clear why their colleagues, or the rest of us, should demur from the judgment of the philosopher of science Robert Crease that the MWI is ‘one of the most implausible and unrealistic ideas in the history of science’. Here, after all, is a theory that seems to allow everything conceivable to happen."

Comment: Very long essay. Many other objections are presented. Superposition and particle connections across the universe have other more reasonable theories to cover them, i.e., Kastner's transactional postulate. The Copenhagen convention is simply shut up and calculate, but it works. Why invent shadow worlds ad nauseum, explaining nothing?

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by dhw, Sunday, January 22, 2017, 13:00 (1102 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: So you have an anthropomorphic God who watches his wristwatch? Did He make a series of universes and count time that way? What if He did nothing in eternity? Does time pass for Him? Only an evolutionary process has before and after as in our universe.

dhw: I have already agreed that the divisions of time are man-made. You don’t have to “count” time! You have agreed that time is a sequence of before and after. You can sit and do nothing for an hour, but before still changes into after. God can sit and do nothing for a billion chunks of eternity, but before still changes into after, and every time your God does or even thinks anything at all, there is a before and an after the deed or the thought. Unless you come up with a different definition, the only way your God can be “outside time” is if he is non-existent.

DAVID: Let me put it another way. God exists outside human concepts of time, which you are still applying to him.

What does that mean? I do not believe that your God wears a wristwatch. However, I can’t see any possible way in which he can create something or even think a thought without a before and an after. If you can’t either, then how can you say he does not exist within that concept of time, to which you have already agreed?

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by David Turell @, Sunday, January 22, 2017, 15:08 (1102 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: Let me put it another way. God exists outside human concepts of time, which you are still applying to him.

dhw: What does that mean? I do not believe that your God wears a wristwatch. However, I can’t see any possible way in which he can create something or even think a thought without a before and an after. If you can’t either, then how can you say he does not exist within that concept of time, to which you have already agreed?

God existing in eternity is unchanging. No time passes. The universe is started and time begins. Simple concept.

Cosmologic philosophy: gaia is back

by David Turell @, Sunday, January 22, 2017, 15:41 (1102 days ago) @ David Turell

An essay supporting the concept of a living Earth:

http://nautil.us//issue/44/luck/why-most-planets-will-either-be-lush-or-dead?utm_source...

"Studying Earth’s global biosphere together, Margulis and Lovelock realized that it has some of the properties of a life form. It seems to display “homeostasis,” or self‐regulation. Many of Earth’s life‐sustaining qualities exhibit remarkable stability. The temperature range of the climate; the oxygen content of the atmosphere; the pH, chemistry, and salinity of the ocean—all these are biologically mediated. All have, for hundreds of millions of years, stayed within a range where life can thrive. Lovelock and Margulis surmised that the totality of life is interacting with its environments in ways that regulate these global qualities. They recognized that Earth is, in a sense, a living organism. Lovelock named this creature Gaia.

"Margulis and Lovelock showed that the Darwinian picture of biological evolution is incomplete. Darwin identified the mechanism by which life adapts due to changes in the environment, and thus allowed us to see that all life on Earth is a continuum, a proliferation, a genetic diaspora from a common root. In the Darwinian view, Earth was essentially a stage with a series of changing backdrops to which life had to adjust. Yet, what or who was changing the sets? Margulis and Lovelock proposed that the drama of life does not unfold on the stage of a dead Earth, but that, rather, the stage itself is animated, part of a larger living entity, Gaia, composed of the biosphere together with the “nonliving” components that shape, respond to, and cycle through the biota of Earth. Yes, life adapts to environmental change, shaping itself through natural selection. Yet life also pushes back and changes the environment, alters the planet. This is now as obvious as the air you are breathing, which has been oxygenated by life. So evolution is not a series of adaptations to inanimate events, but a system of feedbacks, an exchange. Life has not simply molded itself to the shifting contours of a dynamic Earth. Rather, life and Earth have shaped each other as they’ve co-evolved.

"The truth is, despite its widespread moniker, Gaia is not really a hypothesis. It’s a perspective, an approach from within which to pursue the science of life on a planet, a living planet, which is not the same as a planet with life on it—that’s really the point, simple but profound. Because life is not a minor afterthought on an already functioning Earth, but an integral part of the planet’s evolution and behavior. Over the last few decades, the Gaians have pretty much won the battle.

***

"We’re realizing that it is not enough to determine basic physical properties of a planet, its size and distance from a star, in order to determine its habitability. Life itself, once it gets started, can make or keep a planet habitable. Perhaps, in some instances, life can also destroy the habitability of a planet, as it almost did on Earth during the Great Oxygenation Event (sometimes called the oxygen catastrophe) of 2.1 billion years ago. As my colleague Colin Goldblatt, a sharp young climate modeler from the University of Victoria, once said, “The defining characteristic of Earth is planetary scale life. Earth teaches us that habitability and inhabitance are inseparable.”

***

"Organisms and species do not have cosmological life spans. Gaia does, and this is perhaps a general property of living worlds. Influenced greatly by Lovelock and Margulis, I’ve argued that we are unlikely to find surface life on a planet that has not severely and flagrantly altered its own atmosphere. According to this idea, a planet cannot be “slightly alive” any more than a person can (at least not for long), and an aged planet such as Mars, if it is not obviously, conspicuously alive like Earth, is probably completely dead.

***

"When we stop thinking of planets as merely objects or places where living beings may or may not be present, but rather as themselves living or nonliving entities, it can color the way we think about the origin of life. Perhaps life is something that happens not on a planet but to a planet: It is something that a planet becomes.

***

" The earliest stages of life may be extremely vulnerable, and there may be a point where, once life becomes a planetary phenomenon, enmeshed in the global flows that support and fuel it, it feeds back on itself and becomes more like a self‐sustaining fire, one that not only draws in its own air supply, but turns itself over and replenishes its own fuel. A mature biosphere seems to create the conditions for life to continue and flourish.

***

"The scientific revolution has revealed us, as individuals, to be incredibly tiny and ephemeral, and our entire existence, not just as individuals but even as a species, to be brief and insubstantial against the larger temporal backdrop of cosmic evolution. If, however, we choose to identify with the biosphere, then we, Gaia, have been here for quite some time, for perhaps 3 billion years in a universe that seems to be about 13 billion years old. We’ve been alive for a quarter of all time. That’s something."

Comment: I agree.

Cosmologic philosophy: gaia is back

by dhw, Monday, January 23, 2017, 16:16 (1101 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: An essay supporting the concept of a living Earth:

http://nautil.us//issue/44/luck/why-most-planets-will-either-be-lush-or-dead?utm_source...

QUOTES: "Studying Earth’s global biosphere together, Margulis and Lovelock realized that it has some of the properties of a life form. It seems to display “homeostasis,” or self‐regulation. Many of Earth’s life‐sustaining qualities exhibit remarkable stability. The temperature range of the climate; the oxygen content of the atmosphere; the pH, chemistry, and salinity of the ocean—all these are biologically mediated. All have, for hundreds of millions of years, stayed within a range where life can thrive. Lovelock and Margulis surmised that the totality of life is interacting with its environments in ways that regulate these global qualities. They recognized that Earth is, in a sense, a living organism. Lovelock named this creature Gaia."

"The scientific revolution has revealed us, as individuals, to be incredibly tiny and ephemeral, and our entire existence, not just as individuals but even as a species, to be brief and insubstantial against the larger temporal backdrop of cosmic evolution. If, however, we choose to identify with the biosphere, then we, Gaia, have been here for quite some time, for perhaps 3 billion years in a universe that seems to be about 13 billion years old. We’ve been alive for a quarter of all time. That’s something."

DAVID'S comment: I agree.

I’m not quite sure what you agree with, but this whole concept ties in very nicely with BBella’s view of the interdependence of ALL THAT IS. The rather grandiose idea that "we” have been here for a quarter of all time means nothing more than the fact that there has been life on Earth for some 3 billion years.(Not sure that I agree with "all time" either, but that's a different subject!) Margulis – to whose work you first introduced me – was a pioneer in the field of evolutionary cooperation and bacterial intelligence, and the Gaia concept seems to me to be a natural extension of these two lines of thought, as intelligence interacts with the environment. None of this, I feel honour bound to point out, has any bearing on the existence of God. Margulis was an agnostic. ;-)

Cosmologic philosophy: gaia is back

by David Turell @, Monday, January 23, 2017, 19:02 (1101 days ago) @ dhw


"The scientific revolution has revealed us, as individuals, to be incredibly tiny and ephemeral, and our entire existence, not just as individuals but even as a species, to be brief and insubstantial against the larger temporal backdrop of cosmic evolution. If, however, we choose to identify with the biosphere, then we, Gaia, have been here for quite some time, for perhaps 3 billion years in a universe that seems to be about 13 billion years old. We’ve been alive for a quarter of all time. That’s something."

DAVID'S comment: I agree.

dhw: I’m not quite sure what you agree with, but this whole concept ties in very nicely with BBella’s view of the interdependence of ALL THAT IS. The rather grandiose idea that "we” have been here for a quarter of all time means nothing more than the fact that there has been life on Earth for some 3 billion years.(Not sure that I agree with "all time" either, but that's a different subject!) Margulis – to whose work you first introduced me – was a pioneer in the field of evolutionary cooperation and bacterial intelligence, and the Gaia concept seems to me to be a natural extension of these two lines of thought, as intelligence interacts with the environment. None of this, I feel honour bound to point out, has any bearing on the existence of God. Margulis was an agnostic. ;-)

I'm agreeing with the gaia concept that the presence of life models changes in the Earth. And life has been here for a quarter of all time.

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by dhw, Monday, January 23, 2017, 16:09 (1101 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Let me put it another way. God exists outside human concepts of time, which you are still applying to him.

dhw: What does that mean? I do not believe that your God wears a wristwatch. However, I can’t see any possible way in which he can create something or even think a thought without a before and an after. If you can’t either, then how can you say he does not exist within that concept of time, to which you have already agreed?

DAVID: God existing in eternity is unchanging.

I don’t know where you get your information from. God never learns, God never experiences anything, doesn’t realize that when he creates something there is a before and after, and when he thinks something there is a before the thought and after the thought.

DAVID: No time passes.

So God doesn’t realize there is a before and after.

DAVID: The universe is started and time begins.

God starts the universe and doesn’t realize there was a before the universe and an after the universe. And you also happen to know that God never did or thought a darned thing before he started the universe.

DAVID: Simple concept.

Perhaps you should give me your own definition of time.

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by David Turell @, Monday, January 23, 2017, 20:33 (1101 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: God existing in eternity is unchanging.

dhw: I don’t know where you get your information from. God never learns, God never experiences anything, doesn’t realize that when he creates something there is a before and after, and when he thinks something there is a before the thought and after the thought.

DAVID: No time passes.

So God doesn’t realize there is a before and after.

If religions' suppositions are correct God knows the past the present and the future. time doesn't have to pass for him to recognize all parts of time.


DAVID: The universe is started and time begins.

dhw: God starts the universe and doesn’t realize there was a before the universe and an after the universe. And you also happen to know that God never did or thought a darned thing before he started the universe.

Pf course He recognizes His progress in His plans, but knowing what will happen does not create a passage of time for Him.


DAVID: Simple concept.

dhw: Perhaps you should give me your own definition of time.

You've made Him human. My definition is just as we have agreed, a human recognition of a passage from moment to moment, a series of 'nows'.

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by dhw, Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 14:40 (1100 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: God existing in eternity is unchanging.
dhw: I don’t know where you get your information from. God never learns, God never experiences anything, doesn’t realize that when he creates something there is a before and after, and when he thinks something there is a before the thought and after the thought.
DAVID: No time passes.

So God doesn’t realize there is a before and after.

DAVID: If religions' suppositions are correct God knows the past the present and the future. time doesn't have to pass for him to recognize all parts of time.

Why bring in religion? If you think he knows the past, the present and the future, do you think he doesn’t know the difference between them? How do you recognize all parts of time if there is no such thing as time?

DAVID: The universe is started and time begins.
dhw: God starts the universe and doesn’t realize there was a before the universe and an after the universe. And you also happen to know that God never did or thought a darned thing before he started the universe.
DAVID: Of course He recognizes His progress in His plans, but knowing what will happen does not create a passage of time for Him.

I envy you your knowledge of what goes on in your God’s mind. He recognizes the difference between before and after, but what he recognizes does not exist. Why not?

DAVID: Simple concept.
dhw: Perhaps you should give me your own definition of time.
DAVID: You've made Him human.

I don’t see how recognition of before, now and after makes him human.

DAVID: My definition is just as we have agreed, a human recognition of a passage from moment to moment, a series of 'nows'.

Of course all definitions are “human”. The word “God” is a human term for some unknown force which you think exists. Does the fact that it is a human term mean God doesn’t exist? The series of ‘nows’ means a movement from past to present to future. Please present your evidence for your claim that your God can create a universe and yet not accept the reality of there having been a before and after the act of creation.

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by David Turell @, Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 15:12 (1100 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: So God doesn’t realize there is a before and after.

Of course He does, but it doesn't matter to Him in our human terms.

dhw:I envy you your knowledge of what goes on in your God’s mind. He recognizes the difference between before and after, but what he recognizes does not exist. Why not?

It does exist. Before and after is of no consequence to Him. He is not human.


dhw: I don’t see how recognition of before, now and after makes him human.

Because it matters to us, not Him.


DAVID: My definition is just as we have agreed, a human recognition of a passage from moment to moment, a series of 'nows'.

dhw: Of course all definitions are “human”. The word “God” is a human term for some unknown force which you think exists. Does the fact that it is a human term mean God doesn’t exist? The series of ‘nows’ means a movement from past to present to future. Please present your evidence for your claim that your God can create a universe and yet not accept the reality of there having been a before and after the act of creation.

Explained above.

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by dhw, Wednesday, January 25, 2017, 13:43 (1099 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: So God doesn’t realize there is a before and after.

DAVID: Of course He does, but it doesn't matter to Him in our human terms.

dhw:I envy you your knowledge of what goes on in your God’s mind. He recognizes the difference between before and after, but what he recognizes does not exist. Why not?

DAVID: It does exist. Before and after is of no consequence to Him. He is not human.

dhw: I don’t see how recognition of before, now and after makes him human.

DAVID: Because it matters to us, not Him.

I think we can agree that God is not human. And since we have also agreed on a definition of time, we should be able to agree now that it is meaningless to say God is “outside time”, and wrong to say time does not exist. You simply happen to know that although time exists, and God participates in its passing by creating befores and afters, he doesn’t care about it. I wonder what else you happen to know about what matters and doesn't matter to your God!

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by BBella @, Wednesday, January 25, 2017, 22:45 (1099 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: So God doesn’t realize there is a before and after.

DAVID: Of course He does, but it doesn't matter to Him in our human terms.

dhw:I envy you your knowledge of what goes on in your God’s mind. He recognizes the difference between before and after, but what he recognizes does not exist. Why not?

DAVID: It does exist. Before and after is of no consequence to Him. He is not human.

dhw: I don’t see how recognition of before, now and after makes him human.

DAVID: Because it matters to us, not Him.

I think we can agree that God is not human. And since we have also agreed on a definition of time, we should be able to agree now that it is meaningless to say God is “outside time”, and wrong to say time does not exist. You simply happen to know that although time exists, and God participates in its passing by creating befores and afters, he doesn’t care about it. I wonder what else you happen to know about what matters and doesn't matter to your God!

Seems to me, the question should be where is time not what is time?

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 26, 2017, 01:40 (1098 days ago) @ BBella

DAVID: Because it matters to us, not Him.

dhw: I think we can agree that God is not human. And since we have also agreed on a definition of time, we should be able to agree now that it is meaningless to say God is “outside time”, and wrong to say time does not exist. You simply happen to know that although time exists, and God participates in its passing by creating befores and afters, he doesn’t care about it. I wonder what else you happen to know about what matters and doesn't matter to your God!


BBella: Seems to me, the question should be where is time not what is time?

A 'where' for time in a material sense, a reality sense? I'm not following.

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 26, 2017, 01:45 (1098 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: I don’t see how recognition of before, now and after makes him human.

DAVID: Because it matters to us, not Him.

dhw: I think we can agree that God is not human. And since we have also agreed on a definition of time, we should be able to agree now that it is meaningless to say God is “outside time”, and wrong to say time does not exist. You simply happen to know that although time exists, and God participates in its passing by creating befores and afters, he doesn’t care about it. I wonder what else you happen to know about what matters and doesn't matter to your God!

Humans matter to God

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time

by dhw, Thursday, January 26, 2017, 11:31 (1098 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: I don’t see how recognition of before, now and after makes him human.

DAVID: Because it matters to us, not Him.

dhw: I think we can agree that God is not human. And since we have also agreed on a definition of time, we should be able to agree now that it is meaningless to say God is “outside time”, and wrong to say time does not exist. You simply happen to know that although time exists, and God participates in its passing by creating befores and afters, he doesn’t care about it. I wonder what else you happen to know about what matters and doesn't matter to your God!

DAVID: Humans matter to God

Since you think he created the universe just for us, I guess that’s a logical conclusion!

Cosmologic philosophy: no dark matter

by David Turell @, Thursday, May 18, 2017, 17:23 (986 days ago) @ dhw

Dark matter is a theory based on Newtonian physics, and it may not exist:

http://nautil.us/issue/48/chaos/the-physicist-who-denies-dark-matter?utm_source=Nautilu...

"If you’re going to change the laws of nature that work so well in our own solar system, you need to find a property that differentiates solar systems from galaxies. So I made up a chart of different properties, such as size, mass, speed of rotation, etc. For each parameter, I put in the Earth, the solar system and some galaxies. For example, galaxies are bigger than solar systems, so perhaps Newton’s laws don’t work over large distances? But if this was the case, you would expect the rotation anomaly to grow bigger in bigger galaxies, while, in fact, it is not. So I crossed that one out and moved on to the next properties.

"I finally struck gold with acceleration: The pace at which the velocity of objects changes.

"The same goes for celestial merry-go-rounds. And it’s in acceleration that we find a big difference in scales, one that justifies modifying Newton: The normal acceleration for a star orbiting the center of a galaxy is about a hundred million times smaller than that of the Earth orbiting the sun.

"For those small accelerations, MOND introduces a new constant of nature, called a0. If you studied physics in high school, you probably remember Newton’s second law: force equals mass times acceleration, or F=ma. While this is a perfectly good tool when dealing with accelerations much greater than a0, such as those of the planets around our sun, I suggested that at significantly lower accelerations, lower even than that of our sun around the galactic center, force becomes proportional to the square of the acceleration, or F=ma2/a0.

"To put it in other words: According to Newton’s laws, the rotation speed of stars around galactic centers should decrease the farther the star is from the center of mass. If MOND is correct, it should reach a constant value, thus eliminating the need for dark matter.

***

"Slowly but surely, this tiny opposition to dark matter grew from just two physicists to several hundred proponents, or at least scientists who take MOND seriously. Dark matter is still the scientific consensus, but MOND is now a formidable opponent that proclaims the emperor has no clothes, that dark matter is our generation’s ether.

"So what happened? As far as dark matter is concerned, nothing really. A host of experiments searching for dark matter, including the Large Hadron Collider, many underground experiments and several space missions, have failed to directly observe its very existence. Meanwhile, MOND was able to accurately predict the rotation of more and more spiral galaxies—over 150 galaxies to date, to be precise.

***

"In 2004, Bekenstein proposed his TeVeS, or Relativistic Gravitational Theory for MOND. Since then, several different relativistic MOND formulations have been put forth, including one by me, called Bimetric MOND, or BIMOND.

"So, no, incorporating MOND into Einsteinian physics is no longer a challenge. I hear this statement still made, but only from people who parrot others, who themselves are not abreast with the developments of the last 10 years. There are several relativistic versions of MOND. What remains a challenge is demonstrating that MOND can account for the mass anomalies in cosmology.

***

"But dark energy is just a quick fix, the same as dark matter is. And just as in galaxies, you can either invent a whole new type of energy and then spend years trying to understand its properties, or you can try fixing your theory.

"Among other things, MOND points to a very deep connection between structure and dynamics in galaxies and cosmology. This is not expected in accepted physics. Galaxies are tiny structures within the grand scale of the universe, and those structures can behave differently without contradicting the current cosmological consensus. However, MOND creates this connection, binding the two.

"This connection is surprising: For whatever reason, the MOND constant of a0 is close to the acceleration that characterizes the universe itself. In fact, MOND’s constant equals the speed of light squared, divided by the radius of universe.

"So, indeed, to your question, the conundrum pointed to is valid at present. MOND doesn’t have a sufficient cosmology yet, but we’re working on it. And once we fully understand MOND, I believe we’ll also fully understand the expansion of the universe, and vice versa: A new cosmological theory would explain MOND. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

These all hark back to my 1999 paper on “MOND as a vacuum effect,” where it was pointed out that the quantum vacuum in a universe such as ours may produce MOND behavior within galaxies, with the cosmological constant appearing in the guise of the MOND acceleration constant, a0. (my bold)

Comment: No dark matter would be a introduction to a completely different cosmologic set of theories. Note the relationship to quantum space, quantum mechanics as the basis of the universe.

Cosmologic philosophy: no dark matter

by dhw, Friday, May 19, 2017, 13:02 (985 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Dark matter is a theory based on Newtonian physics, and it may not exist:
http://nautil.us/issue/48/chaos/the-physicist-who-denies-dark-matter?utm_source=Nautilu...

You have also posted an article defending inflationary theory on which you comment: “Inflation is still the best bet as a stage that briefly followed the Big Bang, but it is one theory following another one. they are not connected except by time. No cause for either theory is known, but there must be a cause. I choose God.

Dark matter, inflationary theory, the big bang, string theory, multiverses and God are all theories based on this, that and the other, and none of them may be true. Like everyone else, I am groping in the dark, but I think it is admirable that we all go on doing so, although I do wish the more dogmatic theorists – scientific, philosophical, theistic and atheistic – would humbly acknowledge that their main support is a white stick.

Cosmologic philosophy: no dark matter

by David Turell @, Friday, May 19, 2017, 15:17 (985 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Dark matter, inflationary theory, the big bang, string theory, multiverses and God are all theories based on this, that and the other, and none of them may be true. Like everyone else, I am groping in the dark, but I think it is admirable that we all go on doing so, although I do wish the more dogmatic theorists – scientific, philosophical, theistic and atheistic – would humbly acknowledge that their main support is a white stick.

What is amazing, to paraphrase Davies, is we are here to try and figure it out. Why?

Cosmologic philosophy: glaciation causes

by David Turell @, Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 15:27 (980 days ago) @ David Turell

It is due to Milankovitch cycles explained in this article:

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/05/23/smoking-gun-on-ice-ages-revisited/


“'The smoking gun of the ice ages” is the title of an article in the Dec. 9, 2016 issue of Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The author, David A. Hodel, is listed with the Laboratory for Paleoclimate Research, Department of Earth Sciences, at Cambridge University in the UK.

"Hodel cites a 40-year-old paper in Science, 194,1121 (1976). In that paper, Hays, Imbrie and Shackleton reported that their proxies for paleo sea surface temperatures and changing continental ice volumes exhibited periodicities of 42,000, 23,500 and 19,000 years, matching almost exactly the predicted orbital periods of planetary obliquity, precession and eccentricity. They also found that the dominant rhythm in the paleoclimate variations was 100,000 (±20,000) years.

"Other climatologists have identified 20 glacial/interglacial oscillations over the past two million years with glacial parts of the cycles lasting about four times as long as the warm, interglacial parts. The last glacial maximum was about 18,000 years ago. We have been enjoying the present warm interglacial for about 12,000 years.

"At glacial maxima, sea levels have been about 400 feet below present sea levels and sea surface temperatures about nine degrees C (14.4 degrees F) lower than present temperatures. The movement and conversion of 400 feet of ocean water to ice located in the higher latitudes required large and long-lasting influence from outside the Earth. The persistence and the magnitude of the above-described changes cannot logically be ascribed to mankind’s combustion of fossil fuels. Furthermore, in the terminations of the glacial eras, rising temperature preceded rises of CO2 by several centuries, absolving CO2 as the cause of the preceding temperature rise. (my bold)

"I cannot identify the cause(s) of the Earth’s quasi-repeatable climate excursions during the past two million years. However, the data provided by the paleoclimatologists makes sense to me as a physicist with three semester-hours of astronomy. My candidate for responsibility is an orbital influence on the amount of energy Earth received from the Sun as the Sun slowly danced around the center of mass of the entire solar system, with Jupiter being the weightiest of the Sun’s planetary dancing partners."

Comment: Look at the fascinating diagrams. Note the comment about CO2 non-relationship to temperature rise. Note that evolution did not stop during these icy periods, but the modern world will be severely damaged by a new one, and will have to move South. The South pole is already ice covered, but it does not glaciate.

Cosmologic philosophy: glaciation causes

by David Turell @, Tuesday, September 03, 2019, 04:50 (148 days ago) @ David Turell

Another review of the cycle:

https://www.livescience.com/what-causes-ice-ages.html?utm_source=ls-newsletter&utm_...

"In the scope of Earth's recent geologic history, this wouldn't have been such an unusual sight. In the past 2.6 million years (or what's known as the Quaternary Period), the planet has undergone more than 50 ice ages, with warmer interglacial periods in between.

"But what causes ice sheets and glaciers to expand periodically? Ice ages are driven by a complex, interconnected set of factors, involving Earth's position in the solar system and more local influences, like carbon dioxide levels. Scientists are still trying to understand how this system works, especially because human-caused climate change may have permanently broken the cycle.

***

"By the end of the 19th century, scientists had named four ice ages that occurred during the Pleistocene Epoch, which lasted from about 2.6 million years ago until about 11,700 years ago. It wasn't until decades later, however, that researchers realized that these cold periods came with much more regularity.

"A major breakthrough in the understanding of ice age cycles came in the 1940s, when Serbian astrophysicist Milutin Milankovitch proposed what became known as the Milankovitch cycles, insights into Earth's movement that are still used to explain climate variation today.
Milankovitch outlined three main ways Earth's orbit varies with respect to the sun, Mark Maslin, a professor of paleoclimatology at University College London, told Live Science. These factors determine how much solar radiation (in other words, heat) reaches the planet.

"First, there's the eccentric shape of Earth's orbit around the sun, which varies from nearly circular to elliptical on a 96,000-year cycle. "The reason why it has that bulge is because Jupiter, which is 4% of the mass of our solar system, has a strong gravitational effect, which shifts the Earth's orbit out and then back," Maslin explained.

"Second, there's the tilt of Earth, which is the reason we have seasons. The tilted axis of Earth's rotation means one hemisphere is always leaning away from the sun (causing winter) while the other is leaning toward the sun (causing summer). The angle of this tilt varies on a cycle of about 41,000 years, which changes how extreme the seasons are, Maslin said. "If [the axis] is more upright, then of course the summers are going to be less warm and the winter is going to be a little less cold."

"Third, there's the wobble of Earth's tilted axis, which moves as if it were a spinning top. "What happens is, the angular momentum of the Earth going round and round very fast once a day causes the axis to wobble around as well," Maslin said. That wobble occurs on a 20,000-year cycle.

"But, to transition into an ice age, orbital phenomena alone aren't enough. The actual causation of an ice age is the fundamental feedback in the climate system, Maslin said. Scientists are still teasing apart how various environmental factors influence glaciation and deglaciation, but recent research has suggested that greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere play an important role.

"For instance, scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany have shown that the onsets of past ice ages were triggered mainly by decreases in carbon dioxide and that the dramatic increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, because of human-caused emissions, has likely suppressed the onset of the next ice age for up to 100,000 years.

"'Like no other force on the planet, ice ages have shaped the global environment and thereby determined the development of human civilization," Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, then-director of PIK and a co-author of one of those studies, said in a statement in 2016. "For instance, we owe our fertile soil to the last ice age that also carved out today's landscapes, leaving glaciers and rivers behind, forming fjords, moraines and lakes. However, today it is humankind with its emissions from burning fossil fuels that determines the future development of the planet.'"

Comment: So maybe so called global warming is a good thing and will protect us from the next ice age.There is an article which describes the dangers of the next cooling period:

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/09/01/the-next-great-extinction-event-will-not-be-glob...

Note the warning in the title. Great glaciation will severely damage our civilization

Cosmologic philosophy: what is time II

by David Turell @, Sunday, September 23, 2018, 14:42 (493 days ago) @ David Turell

Another take by Ravelli. It is how we humans experience reality:

http://nautil.us//issue/64/the-unseen/the-end-of-time?utm_source=Nautilus&utm_campa...

"This is the image of time that is familiar to us: something that flows uniformly and equally throughout the universe, in the course of which all things happen. A present that exists throughout the cosmos, a “now” that constitutes reality. The past for everyone is fixed, is gone, having already happened. The future is open, yet to be determined. Reality flows from the past, through the present, toward the future—and the evolution of things between past and future is intrinsically asymmetrical. This, we feel, is the basic structure of the world.

"This familiar picture has fallen apart, has shown itself to be only an approximation of a much more complex reality.

"A present that is common throughout the whole universe does not exist. Events are not ordered in pasts, presents, and futures; they are only “partially” ordered. There is a present that is near to us, but nothing that is “present” in a far-off galaxy. The present is a localized rather than a global phenomenon.

"The difference between past and future does not exist in the elementary equations that govern events in the world. It issues only from the fact that, in the past, the world found itself subject to a state that, with our blurred take on things, appears particular to us.

"From our perspective—the perspective of creatures who make up a small part of the world—we see that world flowing in time. Our interaction with the world is partial, which is why we see it in a blurred way. To this blurring is added quantum indeterminacy. The ignorance that follows from this determines the existence of a particular variable—thermal time—and of an entropy that quantifies our uncertainty.

"We human beings are an effect of this great history of the increase of entropy, held together by the memory that is enabled by these traces. Each one of us is a unified being because we reflect the world, because we have formed an image of a unified entity by interacting with our kind, and because it is a perspective on the world unified by memory. From this comes what we call the “flowing” of time. This is what we are listening to when we listen to the passing of time.

"In the end, therefore, instead of many possible times, we can speak only of a single time: the time of our experience—uniform, universal, and ordered. This is the approximation of an approximation of an approximation of a description of the world made from our particular perspective as human beings who are dependent on the growth of entropy, anchored to the flowing of time. We for whom, as Ecclesiastes has it, there is a time to be born and a time to die."

Comment: Basically we create our own concepts of time while at a fundamental level, time, as understood by physicists, is different in each place in the universe.

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter is or isn't? IS?

by David Turell @, Friday, June 30, 2017, 15:21 (943 days ago) @ David Turell

A cautionary comment:

https://aeon.co/essays/will-cosmologists-ever-illuminate-us-about-dark-matter?utm_sourc...

In the 1930s, the Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky observed a cluster of galaxies, all gravitationally bound to each other and orbiting one another much too fast. Only the gravitational pull of a very large, unseen mass seemed capable of explaining why they did not simply spin apart. Zwicky postulated the presence of some kind of ‘dark’ matter in the most casual sense possible: he just thought there was something he couldn’t see. But astronomers have continued to find the signature of unseen mass throughout the cosmos. For example, the stars of galaxies also rotate too fast. In fact, it looks as if dark matter is the commonest form of matter in our universe.

It is also the most elusive. It does not interact strongly with itself or with the regular matter found in stars, planets or us. Its presence is inferred purely through its gravitational effects, and gravity, vexingly, is the weakest of the fundamental forces. But gravity is the only significant long-range force, which is why dark matter dominates the universe’s architecture at the largest scales.

***

This standard model of cosmology is supported by a lot of data, including the pervasive radiation field of the universe, the distribution of galaxies in the sky, and colliding clusters of galaxies. These robust observations combine expertise and independent analysis from many fields of astronomy. All are in strong agreement with a cosmological model that includes dark matter. Astrophysicists who try to trifle with the fundamentals of dark matter tend to find themselves cut off from the mainstream. It isn’t that anybody thinks it makes for an especially beautiful theory; it’s just that no other consistent, predictively successful alternative exists. But none of this explains what dark matter actually is. That really is a great, unsolved problem in physics.

***

It is rather easy to tinker with the basic idea of dark matter when you make all of your modifications very feeble. And so this is what all dark matter theorists are doing. I have run with the idea that dark matter might have self-interactions and worked that into supercomputer simulations of galaxies. On the largest scales, where cosmology has made firm predictions, this modification does nothing, but on small scales, where the theory of dark matter shows signs of faltering, it helps with several issues. The simulations are pretty to look at and they make acceptable predictions. There are too many free parameters, though — what scientists call fine-tuning — such that the results can seem tailored to fit the observations. That’s why I reserve judgement, and you would be well advised to do the same.

We will probably never know for certain whether dark matter has self-interactions. At best, we might put an upper limit on how strong such interactions could be. So, when people ask me if I think self-interacting dark matter is the correct theory, I say no. I am constraining what is possible, not asserting what is. But this is kind of disappointing, isn’t it? Surely cosmology should hold some deep truth that we can hope to grasp.

One day, perhaps, LUX or one of its competitors might discover just what they are looking for. Or maybe on some unassuming supercomputer, I will uncover a hidden truth about dark matter. Regardless, such a discovery will feel removed from us, mediated as it will be through several layers of ghosts in machines. The dark matter universe is part of our universe, but it will never feel like our universe.

Nature plays an epistemological trick on us all. The things we observe each have one kind of existence, but the things we cannot observe could have limitless kinds of existence. A good theory should be just complex enough. Dark matter is the simplest solution to a complicated problem, not a complicated solution to simple problem. Yet there is no guarantee that it will ever be illuminated. And whether or not astrophysicists find it in a conceptual sense, we will never grasp it in our hands. It will remain out of touch. To live in a universe that is largely inaccessible is to live in a realm of endless possibilities, for better or worse.

Comment: Einstein's general relativity is proven as correct. Dark matter must exist, but we may never prove it. Perhaps God wants to keep some secrets.

Cosmologic philosophy: tachyons & dark matter

by David Turell @, Friday, June 30, 2017, 20:25 (943 days ago) @ David Turell

A wild new speculation that explains dark matter and inflation, its authors claim:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/physics/can-faster-than-light-tachyons-explain-dark-matter-d...

"Here are six big questions about our universe that current physics can’t answer:

What is dark energy, the mysterious energy that appears to be accelerating the expansion of the universe?

What is dark matter, the invisible substance we can only detect by its gravitational effect on stars and galaxies?

What caused inflation, the blindingly fast expansion of the universe immediately after the Big Bang?

For that matter, what caused the Big Bang?

Are there many possible Big Bangs or universes?

Is there a telltale characteristic associated with the death of a universe?

"A compelling new theory claims to solve all six in a single sweep. The answer, according to a paper published in European Physical Journal C by Herb Fried from Brown University and Yves Gabellini from INLN-Université de Nice, may be a kind of particle called a tachyon.

"Tachyons are hypothetical particles that travel faster than light. According to Einstein’s special theory of relativity – and according to experiment so far – in our ‘real’ world, particles can never travel faster than light. Which is just as well: if they did, our ideas about cause and effect would be thrown out the window, because it would be possible to see an effect manifest before its cause.

"Although it is elegantly simple in conception, Fried and Gabellini’s model is controversial because it requires the existence of these tachyons: specifically electrically charged, fermionic tachyons and anti-tachyons, fluctuating as virtual particles in the quantum vacuum (QV). (The idea of virtual particles per se is nothing new: in the Standard Model, forces like electromagnetism are regarded as fields of virtual particles constantly ducking in and out of existence. Taken together, all these virtual particles make up the quantum vacuum.)

"But special relativity, though it bars faster-than-light travel for ordinary matter and photons, does not entirely preclude the existence of tachyons. As Fried explains, “In the presence of a huge-energy event, such as a supernova explosion or the Big Bang itself, perhaps these virtual tachyons can be torn out of the QV and sent flying into the real vacuum (RV) of our everyday world, as real particles that have yet to be measured.”

***

"Of course, both Fried and Gabellini recognize that many physicists are wary of theories based on such radical assumptions.

"But, taken as a whole, their model suggests the possibility of a unifying mechanism that gives rise not only to inflation and dark energy, but also to dark matter. Calculations suggest that these high-energy tachyons would re-absorb almost all of the photons they emit and hence be invisible.

***

"This model – like any model of such non-replicable phenomena as the creation of the universe – may be simply characterized as a tantalizing set of speculations. Nevertheless, it not only fits with data on inflation and dark energy, but also offers a possible solution to yet another observed mystery.

"Within the last few years, astronomers have realized that the black hole at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy is ‘supermassive’, containing the mass of a million or more suns. And the same sort of supermassive black hole (SMBH) may be seen at the centres of many other galaxies in our current universe.

"Exactly how such objects form is still an open question. The energy stored in the QV is normally large enough to counteract the gravitational tendency of galaxies to collapse in on themselves. In the theory of Fried and Gabellini, however, when a new universe forms, a huge amount of the QV energy from the old universe escapes through the ‘tear’ made by the tachyon-anti-tachyon annihilation (the new Big Bang). Eventually, even faraway parts of the old universe will be affected, as the old universe’s QV energy leaks into the new universe like air escaping through a hole in a balloon. The decrease in this QV-energy buffer against gravity in the old universe suggests that as the old universe dies, many of its galaxies will form SMBHs in the new universe, each containing the mass of the old galaxy’s former suns and planets. Some of these new SMBHs may form the centres of new galaxies in the new universe.

Comment: Wild speculation, no more provable than multiverses

Cosmologic philosophy: is dark energy necessary

by David Turell @, Friday, July 07, 2017, 15:24 (936 days ago) @ David Turell

Dark energy is not proven, but is 'necessary' to fit the current interpretation of general relativity:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/physics/can-we-ditch-dark-energy-by-better-understanding-gen...

"Dark energy and dark matter are theoretical inventions that explain observations we cannot otherwise understand.

"On the scale of galaxies, gravity appears to be stronger than we can account for using only particles that are able to emit light. So we add dark matter particles as 25% of the mass-energy of the Universe. Such particles have never been directly detected.

"On the larger scales on which the Universe is expanding, gravity appears weaker than expected in a universe containing only particles – whether ordinary or dark matter. So we add “dark energy”: a weak anti-gravity force that acts independently of matter.

***

"Since the late 1990s many independent observations have seemed to demand such accelerating expansion, in a Universe with 70% dark energy. But this conclusion is based on the old model of expansion that has not changed since the 1920s.

***

"Unfortunately, Einstein left some basic questions unanswered. These include – on what scales does matter tell space how to curve? What is the largest object that moves as an individual particle in response? And what is the correct picture on other scales?

"These issues are conveniently avoided by the 100-year old approximation — introduced by Einstein and Friedmann — that, on average, the Universe expands uniformly. Just as if all cosmic structures could be put through a blender to make a featureless soup.

"This homogenising approximation was justified early in cosmic history. We know from the cosmic microwave background — the relic radiation of the Big Bang — that variations in matter density were tiny when the Universe was less than a million years old.

"But the universe is not homogeneous today. Gravitational instability led to the growth of stars, galaxies, clusters of galaxies, and eventually a vast “cosmic web”, dominated in volume by voids surrounded by sheets of galaxies and threaded by wispy filaments.

***

"Further, standard cosmology also fixes the curvature of space to be uniform everywhere, and decoupled from matter. But that’s at odds with Einstein’s basic idea that matter tells space how to curve.

"We are not using all of general relativity! The standard model is better summarised as: Friedmann tells space how to curve, and Newton tells matter how to move.

Since the early 2000s, some cosmologists have been exploring the idea that while Einstein’s equations link matter and curvature on small scales, their large-scale average might give rise to backreaction – average expansion that’s not exactly homogeneous.

***

"Intriguingly, the resulting expansion law fit to Planck satellite data tracks very close to that of a ten-year-old general relativity-based backreaction model, known as the timescape cosmology. It posits that we have to calibrate clocks and rulers differently when considering variations of curvature between galaxies and voids. For one thing, this means that the Universe no longer has a single age.

"In the next decade, experiments such as the Euclid satellite and the CODEX experiment, will have the power to test whether cosmic expansion follows the homogeneous law of Friedmann, or an alternative backreaction model.

***

"Since Einstein’s equations can in principle make space expand in extremely complicated ways, some simplifying principle is required for their large-scale average. This is the approach of the timescape cosmology.

***

"While successful in some aspects, many models of inflation are now ruled out by Planck satellite data. Those that survive give tantalising hints of deeper physical principles.

***

"Whatever the final theory, it will likely embody the key innovation of general relativity, namely the dynamical coupling of matter and geometry, at the quantum level."

Comment: Is dark energy a fudge factor? Back to quantum gravity solutions.

Cosmologic philosophy: is dark energy necessary

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Friday, July 07, 2017, 20:40 (936 days ago) @ David Turell

I tried to bring this very same point up a few years back and was kind of shushed. Guess I just needed to wait for it to be published in a proper article. :P

What makes this interesting is that if 'dark energy' and 'dark matter' go, so do other things like the cosmological constant and the age of the universe. Darn it... and here we were just about to pin down all there is to know about life, the universe, and everything.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: is dark energy necessary

by David Turell @, Saturday, July 08, 2017, 01:45 (935 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

tony: I tried to bring this very same point up a few years back and was kind of shushed. Guess I just needed to wait for it to be published in a proper article. :P

What makes this interesting is that if 'dark energy' and 'dark matter' go, so do other things like the cosmological constant and the age of the universe. Darn it... and here we were just about to pin down all there is to know about life, the universe, and everything.

David: :-)

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter is or isn't? IS?

by David Turell @, Monday, July 17, 2017, 01:30 (926 days ago) @ David Turell

The latest set of calculations is very supportive of the theory:

https://www.livescience.com/59814-is-dark-matter-real.html?utm_source=notification

"... dark matter theories make predictions for how fast galaxies are rotating. But, until now, measurements made of the detailed dark matter distribution at the center of low mass galaxies didn't line up with those predictions.

"A recent calculation has changed that. The calculation helps resolve the conundrum of the Tully-Fisher relation, which compares the visible, or ordinary, matter of a galaxy to its rotational velocity. In very simplified terms, scientists have found that the more massive (and therefore brighter) a spiral galaxy is, the faster it spins.

"But if dark matter exists, how "big" a galaxy is should be determined not just by its visible matter, but also by its dark matter.  With a huge piece of the equation — the amount of dark matter — missing, the Tully-Fisher relation shouldn't hold. And yet it does. It was hard to imagine any way to reconcile this relationship with existing dark matter theory. Until now.

***

"there is the theory of dark matter: That a type of matter that doesn't interact with light at all, yet exerts a gravitational pull, permeates the universe.

"Were the galactic rotation measurements the only data we have, it might be hard to select between these different theories. After all, it might be possible to tweak each theory to solve the galactic rotation problem. But there are now many observations of many different phenomena that can help identify the most plausible theory.

"One is the speed of galaxies within large clusters of galaxies. The galaxies are moving too quickly for the clusters to stay bound together. Another observation is of light from very distant galaxies. Observations of these very distant ancient galaxies show that their light is distorted by passing through the gravitational fields of more nearby clusters of galaxies. There are also studies of small non-uniformities of the cosmic microwave background that is the birth-cry of the universe. All of these measurements (and many more) must also be addressed by any new theory to explain galactic rotation speeds.

***

"The Tully-Fisher relation is a tough challenge for dark matter models. The rotation of a galaxy is governed by the total amount of matter it contains. If dark matter truly exists, then the total amount of matter is the sum of both ordinary and dark matter.

"But existing dark matter theory predicts that any random galaxy may contain larger or smaller fractions of dark matter. So, when one measures the visible mass, you could potentially be missing a huge chunk of the total mass. As a result, visible mass should be a very poor predictor of the total mass (and thereby rotational speed) of the galaxy. The galaxy's mass could be similar to that of the visible (ordinary) mass or it could be much larger.

"Thus, there is no reason to expect that the visible mass should be a good predictor of the rotational speed of the galaxy. Yet it is. 

***

"The new paper is a "semi-analytic" model, which means that it is a combination of analytic equations and simulation. It simulates the clumping of dark matter in the early universe that may have seeded galaxy formation but also includes the interaction of ordinary matter, including such things as the infall of ordinary matter into another celestial body due to its gravitational pull, star formation and the heating of infalling gas by starlight and supernovas. By carefully tuning the parameters, the researchers were better able to match the predicted Tully-Fisher relationship.

"The new calculation is an important additional step in validating the dark matter model.  However, it is not the final word. Any successful theory should agree with all measurements. Failure to agree means that either the theory or the data is wrong, or at least incomplete.  A few discrepancies between prediction and measurement still remain (such as the number of small satellite galaxies around big ones), but this new paper gives us confidence that future work will resolve these remaining discrepancies.

"Dark matter remains a powerfully predictive theory for the structure of the universe. It is not complete and it needs validation by discovering the actual dark matter particle. So, there is still work still to do."

Comment: More evidence for dark matter. It is truly amazing how much we can learn about the workings of the universe.

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter is or isn't? IS?

by David Turell @, Monday, December 04, 2017, 14:43 (786 days ago) @ David Turell

New Chinese finding again has a strong suggestion that WIMPS are showing some evidence for themselves:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/space/chinese-satellite-picks-up-possible-dark-matter-evidence

"A China-led satellite mission has detected an anomaly in cosmic ray signals that may indicate the presence of dark matter, the mysterious stuff astrophysicists believe constitutes as much as 80% of the mass in the universe.

"In a report published in the journal Nature, scientists from the DArk Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE) project, based at Purple Mountain Observatory in Nanjing, deliver the most accurate and detailed measurements yet of high-energy cosmic ray electrons and positrons (CREs) bombarding the Earth from outer space.

"CREs are produced by the usual astronomical suspects, such as supernova explosions, but some theories suggest that they may also be produced by dark matter. If dark matter is composed of so-called weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs), astrophysicists believe the WIMPs would sometimes annihilate one another and create an electron and a positron. These electrons and positrons might be visible as an excess number of particles, over and above what is expected from other sources.

"Since its launch in late 2015, the DAMPE satellite has logged more than 1.5 million CREs. As a general rule, particles with more energy are expected to be less common. The decrease in frequency of particles with increasing energy is expected to follow a smooth curve.

"The new results, however, show a sharp change in the slope of the curve above an energy level of 0.9 teraelectronvolts (TeV). According to Fan Yinzhong, deputy chief designer of DAMPE’s experiments, this may indicate “the annihilation of [dark matter] particles with a mass of around 1–2 TeV”. He adds that there are also other potential explanations, such as nearby supernovae and pulsars. To confirm the presence of dark matter, he would want to see “a sharp edge” in the spectrum.

"The DAMPE observations confirm and add detail to earlier CRE measurements, carried out from the ground and high-altitude balloons, that indicated the presence of the break in the spectrum."

Comment: The origination WIMPS are of an energy level to high to find directly at the LHC. Thus looking for inferences is logical in CREs.

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter doesn't demand multiverse

by David Turell @, Monday, May 14, 2018, 21:53 (625 days ago) @ David Turell

That is the finding of recent simulations:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/physics/multiverse-theory-cops-a-blow-after-dark-energy-find...

"The multiverse concept suggests that our universe is but one of many. It finds support among some of the world’s most accomplished physicists, including Brian Greene, Max Tegmark, Neil deGrasse Tyson and the late Stephen Hawking.

"One of the prime attractions of the idea is that it potentially accounts for an anomaly in calculations for dark energy.

"The mysterious force is thought to be responsible for the accelerating expansion of our own universe. Current theories, however, predict there should be rather more of it around than there appears to be. This throws up another set of problems: if the amount of dark energy around was as much as equations require – and that is many trillions of times the level that seems to exist – the universe would expand so rapidly that stars and planets would not form – and life, thus, would not be possible.

"The multiverse idea to an extent accounts for and accommodates this oddly small – but life-permitting – dark energy quotient. Essentially it permits a curiously self-serving explanation: there are a vast number of universes all with differing amounts of dark energy. We exist in one that has an amount low enough to permit stars and so on to form, and thus life to exist. (And we find ourselves here, runs the logic, because we couldn’t find ourselves anywhere else.)

***

"The simulations allowed the researchers to adjust the amount of dark energy in the universe and watch what happened.

"The results were a surprise. The research revealed that the amount of dark energy could be increased a couple of hundred times – or reduced equally drastically – without substantially affecting anything else.

“'For many physicists, the unexplained but seemingly special amount of dark energy in our universe is a frustrating puzzle,” says Salcido.

“'Our simulations show that even if there was much more dark energy or even very little in the universe then it would only have a minimal effect on star and planet formation.”

"And this, he suggests, implies that life could potentially exist in many multiverse universes – ironically enough, an uncomfortable conclusion.

“The multiverse was previously thought to explain the observed value of dark energy as a lottery – we have a lucky ticket and live in the universe that forms beautiful galaxies which permit life as we know it,” says Barnes.

“'Our work shows that our ticket seems a little too lucky, so to speak. It’s more special than it needs to be for life. This is a problem for the multiverse; a puzzle remains.”

"It is a puzzle that goes right to the heart of the matter: if the dark energy assumptions are flawed, does a multiverse even exist? The researchers acknowledge that their results do not preclude it – but they do diminish the likelihood.

“'The formation of stars in a universe is a battle between the attraction of gravity, and the repulsion of dark energy,” says co-author Richard Bower, also from Durham University.

“'We have found in our simulations that universes with much more dark energy than ours can happily form stars. So why such a paltry amount of dark energy in our universe?

“'I think we should be looking for a new law of physics to explain this strange property of our universe, and the multiverse theory does little to rescue physicists’ discomfort.'”

Comment: The multiverse is a theory that cannot be proven anyway. this seems to make it less likely.

Cosmologic philosophy: something from nothing went bang?

by David Turell @, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, 19:13 (596 days ago) @ David Turell

This article challenges the something from nothing Big Bang theories and wonders about consciousness and how it appears:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg15120475-000-forum-on-creating-something-from-no...


"IT’S the simple questions that usually tax science the most. For instance,
why should there be something instead of nothing? The Universe is so
outrageously enormous and elaborate. Why did it—or God, if you
prefer—go to all the bother?

"Yes, I know that if the Universe was not more or less the way it is then
there would be no one to reflect on such problems. But that is a comment, not an
explanation. The fact is, nothing could be simpler than nothing—so why is
there something instead?

"I’ve read the party manifesto on this and I didn’t buy it. I can go
along with the quantum foam stuff, the good news (for once) about inflation, the
quark soup and so on. That’s fine. I may not be able to imagine it—who
can? But, as far as I am concerned, the fact that the Universe was an incredibly
weird place 10-43 seconds after “time zero” is no big deal. What is a big
deal—the biggest deal of all—is how you get something out of
nothing.

"Don’t let the cosmologists try to kid you on this one. They have not got a
clue either—despite the fact that they are doing a pretty good job of
convincing themselves and others that this is really not a problem. “In the
beginning,” they will say, “there was nothing—no time, space, matter or
energy. Then there was a quantum fluctuation from which . . . ” Whoa! Stop right
there. You see what I mean? First there is nothing, then there is something. And
the cosmologists try to bridge the two with a quantum flutter, a tremor of
uncertainty that sparks it all off. Then they are away and before you know it,
they have pulled a hundred billion galaxies out of their quantum hats.

"I don’t have a problem with this scenario from the quantum fluctuation
onward. Why shouldn’t human beings build a theory of how the Universe evolved
from a simple to a complex state. But there is a very real problem in explaining
how it got started in the first place. You cannot fudge this by appealing to
quantum mechanics. Either there is nothing to begin with, in which case there is
no quantum vacuum, no pre-geometric dust, no time in which anything can happen,
no physical laws that can effect a change from nothingness into somethingness;
or there is something, in which case that needs explaining.

"One of the most specious analogies that cosmologists have come up with is
between the origin of the Universe and the North Pole. Just as there is nothing
north of the North Pole, so there was nothing before the Big Bang. Voilà!
We are supposed to be convinced by that, especially since it was Stephen Hawking
who dreamt it up. But it will not do. The Earth did not grow from its North
Pole. There was not ever a disembodied point from which the material of the
planet sprang. The North Pole only exists because the Earth exists—not the
other way around.

"It’s the same with neurologists who are peering into the brain to see how
consciousness comes about. I do not have a problem with being told how memory
works, how we parse sentences, how the visual cortex handles images. I can
believe that we might come to understand the ins and outs of our grey matter
almost as well as we can follow the operations of a sophisticated computer. But
I draw the line at believing that this knowledge will advance our understanding
of why we are conscious one jot. Why shouldn’t the brain do everything it does
and still be completely unaware? Why shouldn’t it just process information and
trigger survival responses without going to the trouble of generating
consciousness? You only have to read the musings of Daniel Dennett, Roger
Penrose, Francis Crick and others to appreciate that we are discovering
everything about the brain—except why it is conscious.

"No, I’m sorry, I may not have been born in Yorkshire but I’m a firm believer
that you cannot get owt for nowt. Not a Universe from a nothing-verse, nor
consciousness from a thinking brain. I suspect that mainstream science may go on
for a few more years before it bumps so hard against these problems that it is
forced to recognise that something is wrong. And then? Let me guess: if you
cannot get something for nothing then that must mean there has always been
something. Hmmm. And if the brain doesn’t produce consciousness . . . well, no,
that is just too crazy isn’t it?

Comment: We have more than one unsolved problem from a materialism reductionist point of view. Published in 1996!

Cosmologic philosophy: something from nothing went bang?

by David Turell @, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, 19:23 (596 days ago) @ David Turell

This article challenges the something from nothing Big Bang theories and wonders about consciousness and how it appears:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg15120475-000-forum-on-creating-something-from-no...


"IT’S the simple questions that usually tax science the most. For instance,
why should there be something instead of nothing? The Universe is so
outrageously enormous and elaborate. Why did it—or God, if you
prefer—go to all the bother?

"Yes, I know that if the Universe was not more or less the way it is then
there would be no one to reflect on such problems. But that is a comment, not an
explanation. The fact is, nothing could be simpler than nothing—so why is
there something instead?

"I’ve read the party manifesto on this and I didn’t buy it. I can go
along with the quantum foam stuff, the good news (for once) about inflation, the
quark soup and so on. That’s fine. I may not be able to imagine it—who
can? But, as far as I am concerned, the fact that the Universe was an incredibly
weird place 10-43 seconds after “time zero” is no big deal. What is a big
deal—the biggest deal of all—is how you get something out of
nothing.

"Don’t let the cosmologists try to kid you on this one. They have not got a
clue either—despite the fact that they are doing a pretty good job of
convincing themselves and others that this is really not a problem. “In the
beginning,” they will say, “there was nothing—no time, space, matter or
energy. Then there was a quantum fluctuation from which . . . ” Whoa! Stop right
there. You see what I mean? First there is nothing, then there is something. And
the cosmologists try to bridge the two with a quantum flutter, a tremor of
uncertainty that sparks it all off. Then they are away and before you know it,
they have pulled a hundred billion galaxies out of their quantum hats.

"I don’t have a problem with this scenario from the quantum fluctuation
onward. Why shouldn’t human beings build a theory of how the Universe evolved
from a simple to a complex state. But there is a very real problem in explaining
how it got started in the first place. You cannot fudge this by appealing to
quantum mechanics. Either there is nothing to begin with, in which case there is
no quantum vacuum, no pre-geometric dust, no time in which anything can happen,
no physical laws that can effect a change from nothingness into somethingness;
or there is something, in which case that needs explaining.

"One of the most specious analogies that cosmologists have come up with is
between the origin of the Universe and the North Pole. Just as there is nothing
north of the North Pole, so there was nothing before the Big Bang. Voilà!
We are supposed to be convinced by that, especially since it was Stephen Hawking
who dreamt it up. But it will not do. The Earth did not grow from its North
Pole. There was not ever a disembodied point from which the material of the
planet sprang. The North Pole only exists because the Earth exists—not the
other way around.

"It’s the same with neurologists who are peering into the brain to see how
consciousness comes about. I do not have a problem with being told how memory
works, how we parse sentences, how the visual cortex handles images. I can
believe that we might come to understand the ins and outs of our grey matter
almost as well as we can follow the operations of a sophisticated computer. But
I draw the line at believing that this knowledge will advance our understanding
of why we are conscious one jot. Why shouldn’t the brain do everything it does
and still be completely unaware? Why shouldn’t it just process information and
trigger survival responses without going to the trouble of generating
consciousness? You only have to read the musings of Daniel Dennett, Roger
Penrose, Francis Crick and others to appreciate that we are discovering
everything about the brain—except why it is conscious.

"No, I’m sorry, I may not have been born in Yorkshire but I’m a firm believer
that you cannot get owt for nowt. Not a Universe from a nothing-verse, nor
consciousness from a thinking brain. I suspect that mainstream science may go on
for a few more years before it bumps so hard against these problems that it is
forced to recognise that something is wrong. And then? Let me guess: if you
cannot get something for nothing then that must mean there has always been
something. Hmmm. And if the brain doesn’t produce consciousness . . . well, no,
that is just too crazy isn’t it?

Comment: We have more than one unsolved problem from a materialism reductionist point of view. Published in 1996 by a Doctor of Astronomy!

Cosmologic philosophy: something from nothing went bang?

by dhw, Wednesday, June 13, 2018, 12:37 (595 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: This article challenges the something from nothing Big Bang theories and wonders about consciousness and how it appears:
https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg15120475-000-forum-on-creating-something-from-no...

Three hearty cheers for David Darling! (What an appropriate name!) A great article, totally in keeping with the spirit of the AgnosticWeb, which it preceded by so many years! Many thanks for posting it.

Cosmologic philosophy: something from nothing went bang?

by David Turell @, Wednesday, June 13, 2018, 15:12 (595 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: This article challenges the something from nothing Big Bang theories and wonders about consciousness and how it appears:
https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg15120475-000-forum-on-creating-something-from-no...

dhw: Three hearty cheers for David Darling! (What an appropriate name!) A great article, totally in keeping with the spirit of the AgnosticWeb, which it preceded by so many years! Many thanks for posting it.

I knew we'd all like it.

Cosmologic philosophy: physics current dead end

by David Turell @, Monday, June 18, 2018, 17:37 (590 days ago) @ David Turell

Current theoretical physics is going no where according to this new book. It has lost its way in over two generations of puzzling physicists chasing unprovable goals:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2018/06/12/is-theoretical-physics-wasting-...

"The history of physics is filled with great ideas that you've heard of, like the Standard Model, the Big Bang, General Relativity, and so on. But it's also filled with brilliant ideas that you probably haven't heard of, like the Sakata Model, Technicolor theory, the Steady State Model, and Plasma Cosmology. Today, we have theories that are highly fashionable, but without any evidence for them: supersymmetry, grand unification, string theory, and the multiverse.

"Because of the way the field is structured, mired in a sycophancy of ideas, careers in theoretical high-energy physics that focus on these topics are often successful. On the other hand, choosing other topics means going it alone. The idea of "beauty" or "naturalness" has been a guiding principle in physics for a long time, and has led us to this point. In her new book, Lost In Math, Sabine Hossenfelder convincingly argues that continuing to adhere to this principle is exactly what's leading us astray.

***

"The electron, the lightest particle that makes up the atoms we find on Earth, is more than 300,000 times less massive than the top quark, the heaviest Standard Model particle. The neutrinos are at least four million times lighter than the electron, while the Planck mass — the so-called "natural" energy scale for the Universe — is some 10^17 (or 100,000,000,000,000,000) times heavier than the top quark.

"If you weren't aware of any underlying reason why these masses should be so different, you'd assume there was some reason for it. And maybe there is one. This type of thinking is known as a fine-tuning or "naturalness" argument. In its simplest form, it states that there ought to be some sort of physical explanation for why components of the Universe with very different properties ought to have those differences between them. (my bold)

"In the 20th century, physicists used naturalness arguments to great effect. ... The entire Standard Model was built on these types of symmetries and naturalness arguments, and nature happened to agree with our best theories.

"Another great success was cosmic inflation. The Universe needed to have been finely-tuned to a great degree in the early stages to produce the Universe we see today. The balance between the expansion rate, the spatial curvature, and the amount of matter-and-energy within it must have been extraordinary; it appears to be unnatural. Cosmic inflation was a proposed mechanism to explain it, and has since had many of its predictions confirmed, such as:
a nearly scale-invariant spectrum of fluctuations,
the existence of super-horizon overdensities and underdensities,
with density imperfections that are adiabatic in nature,
and an upper limit to the temperature reached in the early, post-Big Bang Universe.

***

"Yet unlike in the past, these dead-ends continue to represent the fields in which the leading theorists and experimentalists cluster to investigate. These blind alleys, which have borne no fruit for literally two generations of physicists, continue to attract funding and attention, despite possibly being disconnected from reality completely. In her new book, Lost In Math, Sabine Hossenfelder adroitly confronts this crisis head on, interviewing mainstream scientists, Nobel Laureates, and (non-crackpot) contrarians alike. You can feel her frustration, and also the desperation of many of the people she speaks with. The book answers the question of "have we let wishful thinking about what secrets nature holds cloud our judgment?" with a resounding "yes!"

" No one likes confronting the possibility of having wasted their lives chasing a phantasm of an idea, but that's what being a theorist is all about. You see a few pieces of an incomplete puzzle and guess what the full picture truly is; most times, you're wrong. Perhaps, in these cases, all our guesses have been wrong. In my favorite exchange, she interviews Steven Weinberg, who draws on his vast experience in physics to explain why naturalness arguments are good guides for theoretical physicists. But he only manages to convince us that they were good ideas for the classes of problems they previously succeeded at solving. There's no guarantee they'll be good guideposts for the current problems; in fact, they demonstrably have not been.

"If you are a theoretical particle physicist, a string theorist, or a phenomenologist — particularly if you suffer from cognitive dissonance — you will not like this book. If you are a true believer in naturalness as the guiding light of theoretical physics, this book will irritate you tremendously. But if you're someone who isn't afraid to ask that big question of "are we doing it all wrong," the answer might be a big, uncomfortable "yes." Those of us who are intellectually honest physicists have been living with this discomfort for many decades now. In Sabine's book, Lost In Math, this discomfort is now made accessible to the rest of us."

Comment: Fits all the negative thoughts I've presented. We need a new set of theories. Note my bold. We really don't know why the particles have the masses they have. The article shows all the particles in relationships.

Cosmologic philosophy: physics current dead end

by dhw, Tuesday, June 19, 2018, 12:47 (589 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "If you are a theoretical particle physicist, a string theorist, or a phenomenologist — particularly if you suffer from cognitive dissonance — you will not like this book. If you are a true believer in naturalness as the guiding light of theoretical physics, this book will irritate you tremendously. But if you're someone who isn't afraid to ask that big question of "are we doing it all wrong," the answer might be a big, uncomfortable "yes." Those of us who are intellectually honest physicists have been living with this discomfort for many decades now. In Sabine's book, Lost In Math, this discomfort is now made accessible to the rest of us."

DAVID’S comment: Fits all the negative thoughts I've presented. We need a new set of theories. Note my bold. We really don't know why the particles have the masses they have. The article shows all the particles in relationships.

Very much in line with the scepticism of the brilliant article by Laurence Krauss. Perhaps you will extend your own scepticism to the faith you place in the impenetrably tangled web of quantum theory to bolster your theism, and may even go so far as to question the logic of the Big Bang theory, which you like to equate with Creation.

Cosmologic philosophy: physics current dead end

by David Turell @, Tuesday, June 19, 2018, 18:01 (589 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "If you are a theoretical particle physicist, a string theorist, or a phenomenologist — particularly if you suffer from cognitive dissonance — you will not like this book. If you are a true believer in naturalness as the guiding light of theoretical physics, this book will irritate you tremendously. But if you're someone who isn't afraid to ask that big question of "are we doing it all wrong," the answer might be a big, uncomfortable "yes." Those of us who are intellectually honest physicists have been living with this discomfort for many decades now. In Sabine's book, Lost In Math, this discomfort is now made accessible to the rest of us."

DAVID’S comment: Fits all the negative thoughts I've presented. We need a new set of theories. Note my bold. We really don't know why the particles have the masses they have. The article shows all the particles in relationships.

dhw: Very much in line with the scepticism of the brilliant article by Laurence Krauss. Perhaps you will extend your own scepticism to the faith you place in the impenetrably tangled web of quantum theory to bolster your theism, and may even go so far as to question the logic of the Big Bang theory, which you like to equate with Creation.

If we are to debate "why there is anything instead of nothing" and how life/we happened to appear on an inorganic Earth at its beginning, we must use the accepted 'best' theories at this moment. Either we are skeptical fence sitters or we can look for probable answers.

Cosmologic philosophy: physics current dead end

by dhw, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, 13:03 (588 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Very much in line with the scepticism of the brilliant article by Laurence Krauss. Perhaps you will extend your own scepticism to the faith you place in the impenetrably tangled web of quantum theory to bolster your theism, and may even go so far as to question the logic of the Big Bang theory, which you like to equate with Creation.

DAVID: If we are to debate "why there is anything instead of nothing" and how life/we happened to appear on an inorganic Earth at its beginning, we must use the accepted 'best' theories at this moment. Either we are skeptical fence sitters or we can look for probable answers.

The two articles encourage us to be sceptical of science’s capacity to come up with the answers. On Monday you told us that this scepticism "fits all the negative thoughts I have presented. We need a new set of theories." On Tuesday you're all in favour of using the accepted 'best' theories at this moment. Maybe you're only in favour of the accepted 'best' theories you can still try to use in order to support your theism? In any case, nothing prevents a sceptical fence-sitter from looking for probable answers. Why do you think I started this website?

Cosmologic philosophy: physics current dead end

by David Turell @, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, 15:28 (588 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: Very much in line with the scepticism of the brilliant article by Laurence Krauss. Perhaps you will extend your own scepticism to the faith you place in the impenetrably tangled web of quantum theory to bolster your theism, and may even go so far as to question the logic of the Big Bang theory, which you like to equate with Creation.

DAVID: If we are to debate "why there is anything instead of nothing" and how life/we happened to appear on an inorganic Earth at its beginning, we must use the accepted 'best' theories at this moment. Either we are skeptical fence sitters or we can look for probable answers.

dhw:The two articles encourage us to be sceptical of science’s capacity to come up with the answers. On Monday you told us that this scepticism "fits all the negative thoughts I have presented. We need a new set of theories." On Tuesday you're all in favour of using the accepted 'best' theories at this moment. Maybe you're only in favour of the accepted 'best' theories you can still try to use in order to support your theism? In any case, nothing prevents a sceptical fence-sitter from looking for probable answers. Why do you think I started this website?

How about tentatively accepting some?

Cosmologic philosophy: physics current dead end

by David Turell @, Tuesday, June 19, 2018, 20:18 (589 days ago) @ David Turell

More dead-end commentary:

https://aeon.co/essays/has-the-quest-for-top-down-unification-of-physics-stalled?utm_so...

"[At] this time, though, none of the more exotic particles and interactions that theorists hoped to see has been forthcoming. No ‘stop squarks’, no ‘gluinos’, no ‘neutralinos’. The null results are now encrusting the hull of the Standard Model, like barnacles on a beautiful old frigate, and dragging her down to the ocean floor. It looks like the centuries-long quest for top-down unification has stalled, and particle physics might have a full-blown crisis on its hands.

"Behind the question of mass, an even bigger and uglier problem was lurking in the background of the Standard Model: why is the Higgs boson so light? In experiments it weighed in at 125 times the mass of a proton. But calculations using the theory implied that it should be much bigger – roughly ten million billion times bigger, in fact.

***

"My colleagues and I watched the LHC closely for such tell-tale signs of superpartners. None have been found. We started to ask whether we might have missed them somehow. Perhaps some of the particles being produced were too low in energy for the collisions to be observed. Or perhaps we were wrong about dark matter particles – maybe there was some other, unstable type of particle.

"In the end, these ideas weren’t really a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card. Using various experimental analysis techniques, they were also hunted out and falsified. Another possibility was that the superpartners were a bit heavier than expected; so perhaps the mass of the Higgs boson did have some cancellation in it (one part in a few hundred, say). But as the data rolled in and the beam energy of the LHC was ramped up, supersymmetry became more and more squeezed as a solution to the Higgs boson naturalness problem.

***

"Perhaps the bleakest sign of a flaw in present approaches to particle physics is that the naturalness problem isn’t confined to the Higgs boson. Calculations tell us that the energy of empty space (inferred from cosmological measurements to be tiny) should be huge. This would make the outer reaches of the universe decelerate away from us, when in fact observations of certain distant supernovae suggest that the outer reaches of our universe are accelerating. Supersymmetry doesn’t fix this conflict. Many of us began to suspect that whatever solved this more difficult issue with the universe’s vacuum energy would solve the other, milder one concerning the mass of the Higgs.

"All these challenges arise because of physics’ adherence to reductive unification. Admittedly, the method has a distinguished pedigree. During my PhD and early career in the 1990s, it was all the rage among theorists, and the fiendishly complex mathematics of string theory was its apogee. But none of our top-down efforts seem to be yielding fruit. One of the difficulties of trying to get at underlying principles is that it requires us to make a lot of theoretical presuppositions, any one of which could end up being wrong. We were hoping by this stage to have measured the mass of some superpartners, which would have given us some data on which to pin our assumptions. But we haven’t found anything to measure.

***

"Some of us are busy speculating on what these findings might mean. Excitations of two different types of new, unobserved, exotic particles – known as Z-primes and leptoquarks, each buried deep within the bottom mesons – could be responsible for the bottom mesons misbehaving. However, the trouble is that one doesn’t know which (if either) type of particle is responsible. In order to check, ideally we’d produce them in LHC collisions and detect their decay products (these decay products should include muons with a certain energy). The LHC has a chance of producing Z-primes or leptoquarks, but it’s possible they’re just too heavy. In that case, one would need to build a higher energy collider: an ambitious plan for a beam of energy of seven times the intensity of the LHC would be a good option.

***

"We began with an experimental signature (the particular bottom meson decays that disagree with Standard Model predictions), then we tried to ‘bung in’ a new hypothesised particle to explain it. Its predictions must be compared with current data to check that the explanation is still viable. Then we started building an additional theoretical structure that predicted the existence of the particle, as well as its interactions. This theory will allow us to make predictions for future measurements of decays, as well as search for the direct production of the new particle at the LHC. Only after any hints from these measurements and searches have been taken into account, and the models tweaked, might we want to embed the model in a larger, more unified theoretical structure. This may drive us progressively on the unification road, rather than attempting to jump to it in one almighty leap."

Comment: The theorists are stuck and need a more powerful LHC or new theories. String theory is not the answer.

Cosmologic philosophy:Einstein's general relativity proven

by David Turell @, Friday, June 22, 2018, 15:11 (586 days ago) @ David Turell

Another proof using a galaxy 6,000 light years away:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/physics/after-99-years-einstein-s-general-relativity-confirm...

"The new experiment used a galaxy known as ESO 325-G004, 450 million light years away in the constellation Centaurus.

"ESO 325-G004 happens to lie almost directly in our line of sight to a much more distant galaxy, billions of light years behind it. This positioning means that light coming from the more distant galaxy is bent by the warped spacetime produced by the gravity of ESO 325-G004.

"That produces multiple images of the distant galaxy on all sides of ESO 325-G004, in a feature known as an Einstein ring.

“'The radius of the ring depends on how much spacetime is curved by the foreground galaxy,” says Thomas Collett, an astrophysicist from the University of Portsmouth, UK.

“'This is exactly the sort of thing Eddington did back in 1919,” he explains.

“'The difference is that instead of doing it for the mass of a single star and measuring the curvature a few thousand miles away from the star, we’ve done this with an entire galaxy and are measuring the curvature 6000 light years away.”

***

“'We’re more than twice as precise,” Collett says.

"What allowed the increased precision, he says, is that ESO 325-G004 is close enough that new instruments on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, in Chile, allowed his team to map the speeds of stars within it to a spatial resolution of less than 500 light years. From that, he says, it’s possible to measure the mass of the galaxy, and thus calculate the diameter of the Einstein ring if Einstein’s theory is correct.

***

"Our result is showing that if there are deviations from general relativity, they can’t have much effect on the scale of individual galaxies,” Collett says.

"The findings also reinforce the case for dark energy.

“'It was tempting to have theories of gravity that explain [the accelerating expansion of the Universe] without dark energy,” Collett explains.

“'This result says you probably do need dark energy.” Though, he adds, “it doesn’t tell us what it is.”

"Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist and cosmologist at Australian National University, Canberra, who was not part of the study team, sees the new study as an important finding.
“They say gravity is the law, so you have to obey it,” he quips. “But it is still a theory that needs to be tested.”

"Tests at small scales, within our solar system, have confirmed Einstein’s version of gravity to “astounding accuracy,” he says, but tests like this, on larger scales “have been hard, until now”.

"And, he notes, the new study isn’t just an important confirmation of Einstein’s theory: “It is also an independent check on whether our understanding of the existence of dark matter and dark energy is correct.'”

Comment: Still the ruling theory.

Cosmologic philosophy: new estimates say we are alone

by David Turell @, Saturday, June 23, 2018, 17:59 (585 days ago) @ David Turell

Using the Fermi paradox and the Drake equation, plus estimates of life's probability, new calculations say we are alone in the observable universe:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/space/stop-looking-for-et-modelling-suggests-we-re-alone-in-...

"The Fermi Paradox is named after physicist Enrico Fermi, who noted in 1950 that there are so many stars, just in the Milky Way, that given the age of the universe even a small probability that intelligent life has evolved would mean that their existence should be plain to humanity by now.

"Yet, he continued, in terms of evidence, we have squat, which, given the probability of intelligent life emerging, is odd. Hence the paradox. “Where are they?” he asked.

"The Drake Equation, formulated by American astronomer Frank Drake in 1961, attempts to place an analytical framework around Fermi’s contention, by estimating the number of intelligent civilisations that exist in the universe, regardless of the fact that we can’t see them.

***

"Many outcomes from Drake Equation calculations yield probabilities that range over hundreds of orders of magnitude.

In a not altogether unrelated sidebar, the researchers acknowledge a recent calculation by Swedish-American cosmologist Max Tegmark, estimating the chances of intelligent civilisations arising in the universe.

"Tegmark assumes there is no reason two intelligent civilisations should be any particular distance from each other, and then argues that – given the Milky Way is a minuscule fraction of the observable universe, which is itself only a tiny part of the universe beyond what we can see – it is unlikely that two intelligent civilisations would arise in the same observable universe. Thus, to all intents and purposes, we are very probably alone.

***

"Sandberg, Drexler and Ord use a different approach in their modelling, incorporating current scientific uncertainties that produce values for different parts of the equation ranging over tens and hundreds of orders of magnitude. Some of these concern critical questions regarding the emergence of life from non-living material – a process known as abiogenesis – and the subsequent likelihoods of early RNA-like life evolving into more adaptive DNA-like life.

"Then there is the essential matter of that primitive DNA-like life undergoing the sort of evolutionary symbiotic development that occurred on Earth, when a relationship between two different types of simple organisms resulted in the complex “eukaryotic” cells that constitute every species on the planet more complicated than bacteria.

"The results are depressing enough to send a thousand science-fiction writers into catatonic shock. The Fermi Paradox, they find, dissolves.

“'When we take account of realistic uncertainty, replacing point estimates by probability distributions that reflect current scientific understanding, we find no reason to be highly confident that the galaxy (or observable universe) contains other civilizations,” they conclude.

“'When we update this prior in light of the Fermi observation, we find a substantial probability that we are alone in our galaxy, and perhaps even in our observable universe.

“'‘Where are they?’ — probably extremely far away, and quite possibly beyond the cosmological horizon and forever unreachable.'”

Comment: We certainly appear to b e alone in our local neighborhood.

Cosmologic philosophy: new estimates say we are alone II

by David Turell @, Wednesday, June 27, 2018, 19:46 (581 days ago) @ David Turell

But this article suggests we shouldn't stop looking:

https://bigthink.com/stephen-johnson/are-we-the-only-intelligent-life-in-the-universe-u...

"After Sandberg and his colleagues combined these uncertainties, the results showed a distribution pattern of the likelihood that humanity is alone in space.

“'We found that even using the guesstimates in the literature (we took them and randomly combined the parameter estimates) one can have a situation where the mean number of civilizations in the galaxy might be fairly high—say, a hundred—and yet the probability that we are alone in the galaxy is 30%! The reason is that there is a very skew distribution of likelihood.

“'If we instead try to review the scientific knowledge, things get even more extreme. This is because the probability of getting life and intelligence on a planet has an *extreme* uncertainty given what we know—we cannot rule out that it happens nearly everywhere there is the right conditions, but we cannot rule out that it is astronomically rare. This leads to an even stronger uncertainty about the number of civilizations, drawing us to conclude that there is a fairly high likelihood that we are alone. However, we *also* conclude that we shouldn’t be too surprised if we find intelligence!”

***

"So, what do Sandberg and his colleagues think about Fermi’s famous question: ‘Where are they?’

"They wrote that aliens are “probably extremely far away, and quite possibly beyond the cosmological horizon and forever unreachable,” adding that their distribution shows a 39 percent to 85 percent chance that humans are alone in the universe.
But that’s not to say they think scientists should give up on the search for intelligent alien life.

“'What we are not showing is that SETI is pointless—quite the opposite!” Sandberg said. “There is a tremendous level of uncertainty to reduce. The paper shows that astrobiology and SETI can play a big role in reducing the uncertainty about some of the parameters. Even terrestrial biology may give us important information about the probability of life emerging and the conditions leading to intelligence. Finally, one important conclusion we find is that lack of observed intelligence does not strongly make us conclude that intelligence doesn't last long: the stars are not foretelling our doom!'”

Comment: Makes good sense. We might seem to be a miracle of life's development, but only continued searching and refinement of our understanding of life's origin will support the idea that we are alone.

Cosmologic philosophy: more comment on current dead end

by David Turell @, Monday, June 25, 2018, 21:31 (583 days ago) @ David Turell

Another review of Hossenfelder's book:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/how-physics-lost-its-way/?utm_source=n...

"I became a science writer in part because I believed their claims, but by the early 1990s I had become a skeptic. The leading contender for a theory of everything held that all of nature’s particles and forces, including gravity, stem from infinitesimal, stringy particles wriggling in nine or more dimensions.

"The problem is that no conceivable experiment can detect the strings or extra dimensions. In 1991, I raised the issue of testability with string theorist Edward Witten, whom some say is the greatest living physicist. He emphasized the “incredible consistency, remarkable elegance and beauty” of string theory. “Good wrong ideas are extremely scarce,” he assured me, “and good wrong ideas that even remotely rival the majesty of string theory have never been seen.”

"Basically Witten was saying that string theory is too beautiful to be wrong. When I interviewed him in 2014, he said he was still confident that string theory is “on the right track,” even though it remains as lacking in evidence as ever.

***

"tells the story of Hossenfelder’s disillusionment, her realization that subjective factors, such as an obsession with beauty, have infected physics. Aesthetic considerations guide physicists’ judgments of strings, inflation, supersymmetry, multiverses and the many different interpretations of quantum mechanics.

"Physicists seem to adhere to Keats’s old aphorism that truth equals beauty. In the absence of data, that principle reduces physics to a matter of taste, not truth. You like string theory and Bach, I prefer loop-space theory and the Beatles. “I’m not sure anymore that what we do here, in the foundations of physics, is science,” Hossenfelder writes. “And if not, why am I wasting my time with it?”

***

"Hossenfelder lists cognitive biases that, in addition to aesthetic preferences, have undermined physics. They include confirmation bias, the sunk-cost fallacy and the social desirability bias. Explaining the latter, Hossenfelder remarks, “You don’t tell the tribal chief your tent stinks if behind you stand a dozen fellows with spears.” Hossenfelder nonetheless bravely declares that “this tent stinks.”

"Cognitive biases, of course, beset not just physics but science as a whole. They help to explain science’s replication crisis and diminishing returns. “Almost all scientists today have an undisclosed conflict of interest between funding and honesty,” Hossenfelder writes.

***

"There is something almost unbearably poignant and, yes, beautiful about humans striving to accomplish a grand goal after repeated failures. But as Hossenfelder asks, “How long is too long to wait” for physicists to succeed? Good question. At what point, if ever, will physicists conclude that they cannot complete their quest, because the riddle of existence is unsolvable?"

Comment: Yes, the question of' why is there something instead of nothing?' has no reachable answer. Faith must intervene.

Cosmologic philosophy: more comment on current dead end

by dhw, Tuesday, June 26, 2018, 12:59 (582 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "There is something almost unbearably poignant and, yes, beautiful about humans striving to accomplish a grand goal after repeated failures. But as Hossenfelder asks, “How long is too long to wait” for physicists to succeed? Good question. At what point, if ever, will physicists conclude that they cannot complete their quest, because the riddle of existence is unsolvable?"

DAVID’s comment: Yes, the question of ‘why is there something instead of nothing?' has no reachable answer. Faith must intervene.

Thank you yet again for presenting and editing this article. I love the conclusion quoted above! But no, dear David, there is no “must” involved here. Nobody compels you to have faith, whether in a God or in the genius of blind chance. You can be an agnostic, strive beautifully to solve the unsolvable, as you and I do, be tolerant of other people’s different faiths, be grateful that you are here, no matter how it happened, and even while you strive, be content to wait and see or wait and not see.

Cosmologic philosophy: more comment on current dead end

by David Turell @, Tuesday, June 26, 2018, 17:41 (582 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "There is something almost unbearably poignant and, yes, beautiful about humans striving to accomplish a grand goal after repeated failures. But as Hossenfelder asks, “How long is too long to wait” for physicists to succeed? Good question. At what point, if ever, will physicists conclude that they cannot complete their quest, because the riddle of existence is unsolvable?"

DAVID’s comment: Yes, the question of ‘why is there something instead of nothing?' has no reachable answer. Faith must intervene.

dhw: Thank you yet again for presenting and editing this article. I love the conclusion quoted above! But no, dear David, there is no “must” involved here. Nobody compels you to have faith, whether in a God or in the genius of blind chance. You can be an agnostic, strive beautifully to solve the unsolvable, as you and I do, be tolerant of other people’s different faiths, be grateful that you are here, no matter how it happened, and even while you strive, be content to wait and see or wait and not see.

Agreed. Faith is a choice.

Cosmologic philosophy: general relativity proven again

by David Turell @, Wednesday, June 27, 2018, 23:13 (581 days ago) @ David Turell

Using gravitational lensing with two galaxies in line with us:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/einsteins-greatest-theory-validated-on-a-gal...

"... it is no secret general relativity is in some respects incomplete, and perhaps even fundamentally flawed: It cannot, for instance, explain conditions inside a black hole or during the first instants of the big bang. The theory also has a complicated relationship with a fundamental tenet of modern astronomy and cosmology—the notion that the universe is suffused with dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that only interacts with normal matter through gravity.

***

" Similarly, in 1998 cosmologists found evidence the universe is expanding faster than expected, driven by an even more mysterious dark energy. In 2011 that research netted a Nobel Prize, but its validity hinges on general relativity being the correct description of gravity at cosmological scales.

"For their test, Collett and his collaborators focused on two galaxies in a coincidental celestial alignment, with one directly in front of the other along an Earthbound observer’s line of sight. In keeping with general relativity, the “foreground” galaxy’s great bulk warps the surrounding fabric of spacetime, forming a “gravitational lens” that distorts and magnifies the far-distant background galaxy’s light. Precisely measure those distortions, and you gain a good sense of how much mass the foreground galaxy should contain according to general relativity.

***

"Those measurements required marshaling the combined power of the world’s two most advanced optical instruments—NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in low Earth orbit and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the Chilean Andes. Collett’s team used Hubble to measure the foreground galaxy’s mass via gravitational lensing and the VLT to measure its mass via the speeds of stars twirling around its edges. After carefully analyzing and comparing the data, they found a striking agreement between these independent mass measurements. With an error margin of just 9 percent, the experiment’s findings are the most precise measurement of general relativity beyond our solar system to date. The results also indirectly support the theory’s validity in the face of dark matter, dark energy and other cosmological curveballs.

***

"The real value of this new result, he says, comes from its unprecedented scale and precision, which are of relevance regardless of what one’s preferred theory might be. McGaugh should know—he is one of the more open-minded researchers when it comes to alternatives to dark matter and general relativity’s description of gravity. He studies a class of dim, diffuse galaxies that appear to defy some tenets of those theories. “This is another test that any theory you want to build has to satisfy,” he says.

"For now, says Tommaso Treu, an expert in gravitational lensing at the University of California, Los Angeles, who is unaffiliated with Collett’s study, any scientists struggling to overturn the unfinished revolution that Einstein began in 1915 must remember that dismissing a time-tested, century-old theory would be an extraordinary achievement requiring equally extraordinary evidence. “Everyone would love to prove Einstein wrong,” Treu says. “There is no better way to be famous.'”

Comment: As the article notes there are aspects of the theory that still don't fit, but it remains generally applicable.

Cosmologic philosophy: more general relativity proof

by David Turell @, Thursday, June 28, 2018, 19:14 (580 days ago) @ David Turell

Tested in a three star system:

https://phys.org/news/2018-06-einstein-theory-gravity-extreme-conditions.html

"Einstein's theory has passed all tests in laboratories and elsewhere in our solar system. But scientists know that quantum mechanics behaves differently, so Einstein's theory has to break somewhere. Does this principle also hold for objects with extreme gravity?

"The answer is "yes," according to an international team of astronomers, including one from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. They have tested the question with the help of three stars orbiting each other in a natural "laboratory" about 4,200 light years from Earth.

***

"Their test subject is a triple star system called PSR J0337+1715, consisting of a neutron star in a 1.6-day orbit with a white dwarf. This pair is in a 327-day orbit with another white dwarf farther away.

"About the size of a planet, a white dwarf is a star that hasexhausted its nuclear fuel and only the hot core remains. While white dwarfs are small and dense, nothing beats the density of a neutron star, which is a cinder left over after a burned-out star has exploded. Its gravity has crushed the massive remains into a remnant the size of a city.

"The neutron star becomes a pulsar when it spins rapidly and has a strong magnetic field. Pulsars emit radio waves, X-rays or even optical light with each rotation.

"The researchers made the measurement just by tracking the neutron star, a pulsar.

"'It rotates 366 times per second, and beams of radio waves rotate along," said Anne Archibald, the paper's first author at ASTRON and the University of Amsterdam. "They sweep over the Earth at regular intervals, like a cosmic lighthouse. We have used these radio pulses to track the position of the neutron star."

"When the pulsar moves, something is causing it, said David Kaplan, an associate professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a co-author on the paper. "If Einstein is correct, it has to be the gravity of the white dwarf it's circling that's making the pulsar move."

***

"'We've done better with this system than previous tests by a factor of 10," said Kaplan. "But it's not an ironclad answer. Reconciling gravity with quantum mechanics is still unresolved.'"

Comment: Can't refute Einstein as yet, perhaps never.

Cosmologic philosophy: special relativity proven again

by David Turell @, Monday, July 16, 2018, 20:57 (562 days ago) @ David Turell

A study of Lorentz symmetry proven again with neutrons:

https://phys.org/news/2018-07-einstein-date-lorentz-violation-high-energy.html

"The universe should be a predictably symmetrical place, according to a cornerstone of Einstein's theory of special relativity, known as Lorentz symmetry. This principle states that any scientist should observe the same laws of physics, in any direction, and regardless of one's frame of reference, as long as that object is moving at a constant speed.

" For instance, as a consequence of Lorentz symmetry, you should observe the same speed of light—300 million meters per second—whether you are an astronaut traveling through space or a molecule moving through the bloodstream.
But for infinitesimally small objects that operate at incredibly high energies, and over vast, universe-spanning distances, the same rules of physics may not apply. At these extreme scales, there may exist a violation to Lorentz symmetry, or Lorentz violation, in which a mysterious, unknown field warps the behavior of these objects in a way that Einstein would not predict.

"Now MIT scientists and their colleagues on the IceCube Experiment have led the most thorough search yet of Lorentz violation in neutrinos. They analyzed two years of data collected by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, a massive neutrino detector buried in the Antarctice ice. The team searched for variations in the normal oscillation of neutrinos that could be caused by a Lorentz-violating field. According to their analysis, no such abnormalities were observed in the data, which comprises the highest-energy atmospheric neutrinos that any experiment has collected.

"The team's results, published today in Nature Physics, rule out the possibility of Lorentz violation in neutrinos within the high energy range that the researchers analyzed. The results establish the most stringent limits to date on the existence of Lorentz violation in neutrinos. They also provide evidence that neutrinos behave just as Einstein's theory predicts.

***

"The team's results set the most stringent limit yet on how strongly neutrinos may be affected by a Lorentz-violating field. The researchers calculated, based on IceCube data, that a violating field with an associated energy greater than 10-36 GeV-2 should not affect a neutrino's oscillations. That's .01 with 35 more zeros preceding the 1, of one-billionth an electronvolt squared— an extremely small force that is far weaker than neutrinos' normally weak interactions with the rest of matter, which is at the level of 10-5 GeV-2.

"'We were able to set limits on this hypothetical field that are much, much better than any that have been produced before," Conrad says. "This was an attempt to go out and look at new territory we hadn't looked at before and see if there are any problems in that space, and there aren't. But that doesn't stop us from looking further.'"

Comment: the universe is designed to follow very specific rules.

Cosmologic philosophy: general relativity proven again

by David Turell @, Thursday, July 26, 2018, 20:28 (552 days ago) @ David Turell

Einstein general relativity proven again.In this study a red shift is caused by gravity, not regression speed:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/milky-ways-black-hole-provides-long-sought-t...

"Astronomers have caught the giant black hole at our galaxy’s centre stretching the light emitted by an orbiting star—nearly three decades after they first starting tracking the star. The long-sought phenomenon, known as gravitational redshift, was predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity, but until now it had never been spotted in the environs of a black hole.

***

"Genzel and his colleagues have tracked the journey of this star, known as S2, since the early 1990s. Using telescopes at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, the scientists watch it as it travels in an elliptical orbit around the black hole, which lies 26,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius. With a mass of 4 million times the Sun, the black hole generates the strongest gravitational field in the Milky Way. That makes it an ideal place to hunt for relativistic effects.

"On 18 May this year, S2 passed as close as it ever does to the black hole. The researchers pointed instruments including GRAVITY, an instrument called an interferometer that combines light from four 8-meter telescopes and became operational in 2016. “With our measurements the door is wide open to black-hole physics,” says team member Frank Eisenhauer, an astronomer at the Max Planck institute.

"GRAVITY measured S2’s movement across the sky; at its fastest, the star whizzed along at more than 7,600 kilometres a second, or nearly 3% the speed of light. Meanwhile, a different instrument studied how fast S2 moved towards and away from Earth as it swung past the black hole. Combining the observations allowed Genzel’s team to detect the star’s gravitational redshift—its light being stretched to longer wavelengths by the black hole’s immense gravitational pull, which is consistent with the predictions of general relativity.

“'What we measured cannot be described by Newton any more,” says Odele Straub, an astrophysicist at the Paris Observatory. Future observations of S2 might confirm other Einstein predictions, such as how the spinning black hole drags space-time around with it.

“'Their data look beautiful,” says Andrea Ghez, an astronomer at the University of California, Los Angeles, who leads a competing team that uses the Keck telescopes in Hawaii to measure the star’s path around the galactic centre."

Comment: Einstein continues to be correct even as do not fully understand gravity's original particle, the graviton, if there is one.

Cosmologic philosophy: getting something from nothing?

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, 18:11 (189 days ago) @ David Turell

Ethan Siegel tries to answer about this universe. Guth in his book " The Inflationary Universe" tells us the energy in the universe adds up to zero; Siegel disagrees:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2019/07/20/ask-ethan-can-we-really-get-a-u...

"You very likely think about nothingness as a philosopher would: the complete absence of everything. Zero matter, zero energy, an absolutely zero value for all the quantum fields in the Universe, etc. You think of space that's completely flat, with nothing around to cause its curvature anywhere.

***

"If we want to think about nothing in a physical sense, you have to keep certain things. You need spacetime and the laws of physics, for example; you cannot have a Universe without them.

***

"But here's the kicker: if you have spacetime and the laws of physics, then by definition you have quantum fields permeating the Universe everywhere you go. You have a fundamental "jitter" to the energy inherent to space, due to the quantum nature of the Universe. (And the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which is unavoidable.)

"Put these ingredients together — because you can't have a physically sensible "nothing" without them — and you'll find that space itself doesn't have zero energy inherent to it, but energy with a finite, non-zero value. Just as there's a finite zero-point energy (that's greater than zero) for an electron bound to an atom, the same is true for space itself. Empty space, even with zero curvature, even devoid of particles and external fields, still has a finite energy density to it.

"From the perspective of quantum field theory, this is conceptualized as the zero-point energy of the quantum vacuum: the lowest-energy state of empty space. In the framework of General Relativity, however, it appears in a different sense: as the value of a cosmological constant, which itself is the energy of empty space, independent of curvature or any other form of energy density.

"Although we do not know how to calculate the value of this energy density from first principles, we can calculate the effects it has on the expanding Universe. As your Universe expands, every form of energy that exists within it contributes to not only how your Universe expands, but how that expansion rate changes over time. From multiple independent lines of evidence — including the Universe's large-scale structure, the cosmic microwave background, and distant supernovae — we have been able to determine how much energy is inherent to space itself.

***

"All we can say is that when we measure the expansion rate of the Universe, our observations are consistent with dark energy being a cosmological constant with a specific magnitude, and not with any of the alternatives that evolve significantly over cosmic time.


"Because dark energy causes distant galaxies to appear to recede from one another more and more quickly as time goes on — since the space between those galaxies is expanding — it's often called negative gravity. This is not only highly informal, but incorrect. Gravity is only positive, never negative. But even positive gravity, as we saw earlier, can have effects that look very much like negative repulsion.

***

"... because dark energy is a property of space itself, when the Universe expands, the dark energy density must remain constant. As time goes on, galaxies that are gravitationally bound will merge together into groups and clusters, while the unbound groups and clusters will accelerate away from one another. That's the ultimate fate of the Universe if dark energy is real.

"So why do we say we have a Universe that came from nothing? Because the value of dark energy may have been much higher in the distant past: before the hot Big Bang. A Universe with a very large amount of dark energy in it will behave identically to a Universe undergoing cosmic inflation. In order for inflation to end, that energy has to get converted into matter and radiation. The evidence strongly points to that happening some 13.8 billion years ago. (m y bo ld)

"When it did, though, a small amount of dark energy remained behind. Why? Because the zero-point energy of the quantum fields in our Universe isn't zero, but a finite, greater-than-zero value. Our intuition may not be reliable when we consider the physical concepts of nothing and negative/positive gravity, but that's why we have science. When we do it right, we wind up with physical theories that accurately describe the Universe we measure and observe."

Comment: The energy in this universe is not nothing. It was created from some sort of energy which existed prior to the Big Bang. It implies a creator. I've omitted his long discussion of the meaning of gravity in this issue for the sake of brevity.

Cosmologic philosophy: getting something from nothing?

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Monday, July 29, 2019, 17:10 (184 days ago) @ David Turell

Do these articles ever make you want to slap your forehead and make your best "duh!" Sound effect? I mean, it doesn't take a degree in quantum physics to prove something is not equal to nothing. What are we paying these so-called geniuses for again?

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: getting something from nothing?

by David Turell @, Monday, July 29, 2019, 19:22 (184 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

Tony: Do these articles ever make you want to slap your forehead and make your best "duh!" Sound effect? I mean, it doesn't take a degree in quantum physics to prove something is not equal to nothing. What are we paying these so-called geniuses for again?

Nothing is always no thing, not even quanta that come and go within our universe, and cannot be concluded to have existed before the Big Bang.

Cosmologic philosophy: more comment on current dead end

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Thursday, June 28, 2018, 08:21 (580 days ago) @ David Turell

Maybe they should stop seeking new horizons a while and just play with what they know. Through play, they may discover hitherto unknown properties that will be the answer they need.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: more comment on current dead end

by dhw, Thursday, June 28, 2018, 14:03 (580 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

TONY: Maybe they should stop seeking new horizons a while and just play with what they know. Through play, they may discover hitherto unknown properties that will be the answer they need.

I think they ARE playing!

Cosmologic philosophy: more comment on current dead end

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Thursday, June 28, 2018, 18:46 (580 days ago) @ dhw

TONY: Maybe they should stop seeking new horizons a while and just play with what they know. Through play, they may discover hitherto unknown properties that will be the answer they need.

dhw: I think they ARE playing!

I mean play as children ply, with few assumptions, just seeing what happens and observing. Kids don't generally analyze ahead of time when they play, and imagination becomes the possibility space and the playground the test lab.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: more comment on current dead end

by David Turell @, Thursday, June 28, 2018, 19:01 (580 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

TONY: Maybe they should stop seeking new horizons a while and just play with what they know. Through play, they may discover hitherto unknown properties that will be the answer they need.

dhw: I think they ARE playing!


Tony: I mean play as children ply, with few assumptions, just seeing what happens and observing. Kids don't generally analyze ahead of time when they play, and imagination becomes the possibility space and the playground the test lab.

They are wildly playing now with multiverses, string theories and other non-proven wild hairs.

Cosmologic philosophy: more comment on current dead end

by dhw, Friday, June 29, 2018, 13:31 (579 days ago) @ David Turell

TONY: Maybe they should stop seeking new horizons a while and just play with what they know. Through play, they may discover hitherto unknown properties that will be the answer they need.

dhw: I think they ARE playing!

TONY: I mean play as children ply, with few assumptions, just seeing what happens and observing. Kids don't generally analyze ahead of time when they play, and imagination becomes the possibility space and the playground the test lab.

DAVID: They are wildly playing now with multiverses, string theories and other non-proven wild hairs.

Some folk come with assumptions and try to impose them on what happens and what they observe (e.g. theists and atheists). Some folk (e.g. agnostics) try to extrapolate theories from what happens and what they observe. But we’re all only playing, because we all know deep down that no folk can ever come up with answers that will satisfy all folk.

Cosmologic philosophy: more comment on current dead end

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Friday, June 29, 2018, 16:40 (579 days ago) @ dhw

I think we are using the word "play" differently.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: more comment on current dead end

by dhw, Saturday, June 30, 2018, 10:38 (578 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

TONY: Maybe they should stop seeking new horizons a while and just play with what they know. Through play, they may discover hitherto unknown properties that will be the answer they need.

dhw: I think they ARE playing!

TONY: I mean play as children ply, with few assumptions, just seeing what happens and observing. Kids don't generally analyze ahead of time when they play, and imagination becomes the possibility space and the playground the test lab.

DAVID: They are wildly playing now with multiverses, string theories and other non-proven wild hairs.

dhw: Some folk come with assumptions and try to impose them on what happens and what they observe (e.g. theists and atheists). Some folk (e.g. agnostics) try to extrapolate theories from what happens and what they observe. But we’re all only playing, because we all know deep down that no folk can ever come up with answers that will satisfy all folk.

TONY: I think we are using the word "play" differently.

Yes, it depends what kind of play you mean, and maybe I've misunderstood your reference to children's games. As I see it, when children play, they use their imaginations and often pretend that something is real, though it isn’t. We take what we think we know, and pretend that the "unknown properties" we extrapolate are real: hence the many theories believed in by theists and atheists alike. That is why I think they – whoever they are – (and we) are “playing”.

Cosmologic philosophy: more comment on current dead end

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Sunday, July 01, 2018, 20:36 (577 days ago) @ dhw

TONY: Maybe they should stop seeking new horizons a while and just play with what they know. Through play, they may discover hitherto unknown properties that will be the answer they need.

dhw: I think they ARE playing!

TONY: I mean play as children ply, with few assumptions, just seeing what happens and observing. Kids don't generally analyze ahead of time when they play, and imagination becomes the possibility space and the playground the test lab.

DAVID: They are wildly playing now with multiverses, string theories and other non-proven wild hairs.

dhw: Some folk come with assumptions and try to impose them on what happens and what they observe (e.g. theists and atheists). Some folk (e.g. agnostics) try to extrapolate theories from what happens and what they observe. But we’re all only playing, because we all know deep down that no folk can ever come up with answers that will satisfy all folk.

TONY: I think we are using the word "play" differently.

DHW: Yes, it depends what kind of play you mean, and maybe I've misunderstood your reference to children's games. As I see it, when children play, they use their imaginations and often pretend that something is real, though it isn’t. We take what we think we know, and pretend that the "unknown properties" we extrapolate are real: hence the many theories believed in by theists and atheists alike. That is why I think they – whoever they are – (and we) are “playing”.

All creatures play, and through play we learn about socialization, our environment, what works and what doesn't. But this was already written, and explains it elegantly:

Psychology of Play

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: more comment on current dead end

by dhw, Monday, July 02, 2018, 13:49 (576 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

TONY: Maybe they should stop seeking new horizons a while and just play with what they know. Through play, they may discover hitherto unknown properties that will be the answer they need.

dhw: I think they ARE playing!

TONY: I mean play as children ply, with few assumptions, just seeing what happens and observing. Kids don't generally analyze ahead of time when they play, and imagination becomes the possibility space and the playground the test lab.
[…]

TONY: I think we are using the word "play" differently.

dhw: Yes, it depends what kind of play you mean, and maybe I've misunderstood your reference to children's games. As I see it, when children play, they use their imaginations and often pretend that something is real, though it isn’t. We take what we think we know, and pretend that the "unknown properties" we extrapolate are real: hence the many theories believed in by theists and atheists alike. That is why I think they – whoever they are – (and we) are “playing”.

TONY: All creatures play, and through play we learn about socialization, our environment, what works and what doesn't. But this was already written, and explains it elegantly:
Psychology of Play

No quarrel with any of this! I thought you were suggesting that scientists should adopt the same attitude as children at play, drop their assumptions and use their imagination. I think they all use their imagination, but some allow their imagination to be directed by their assumptions!

Cosmologic philosophy: more comment on current dead end

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Monday, July 02, 2018, 15:25 (576 days ago) @ dhw

TONY: All creatures play, and through play we learn about socialization, our environment, what works and what doesn't. But this was already written, and explains it elegantly:
Psychology of Play

DHW: No quarrel with any of this! I thought you were suggesting that scientists should adopt the same attitude as children at play, drop their assumptions and use their imagination. I think they all use their imagination, but some allow their imagination to be directed by their assumptions!

Dropping assumptions IS part of it, as is dropping the mentality of work, careers, publishing, all that other BS that gets in the way of their mind doing its job. A lot of the bias that they have comes from career building problems, not science problems.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: math produces reality

by David Turell @, Friday, July 27, 2018, 19:35 (551 days ago) @ David Turell

We don't know why reality can be described and discovered in math, but it works:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/mathematics/history-s-most-successful-mathematical-prediction

"When Sir James Jeans proclaimed “God is a pure mathematician!” he was referring to the fact that most basic processes of nature obey elegant mathematical relationships. Science is so successful because theorists can use mathematics to make predictions experimenters can test.

"Mathematics has been used to predict the existence of the planet Neptune, radio waves, antimatter, neutrinos, black holes, gravitational waves and the Higgs boson, to give but a few examples.

"Sometimes the predictions are breathtakingly precise. Probably the most successful example of the power of physical theory concerns the curious case of the spinning electron.

***

"All this was worked out in the late 1920s, and is elegantly described by a simple equation emblazoned on a stone in Westminster Abbey that commemorates the work of theoretical physicist Paul Dirac. He derived the peculiar geometrical properties of electron spin by combining quantum theory and relativity.

"There the matter might have rested but for the problem the factor 2 is still not quite right. Careful measurement reveals an electron’s magnetic field to be about 0.1% greater than Dirac’s equation predicts. Resolving this discrepancy is a triumph of modern theoretical physics.

***

"According to this quantum description, all electrons are enveloped in a cloud of virtual photons. This virtual photon cloud leads to real physical effects, albeit small ones, including slightly altering the electron’s magnetic field.

"Calculating by how much is fiendishly difficult. The first attempt was made by Julian Schwinger in 1948, who found there should be a correction to the factor 2 of α/π, where α is the so-called fine-structure constant – another deep number that occurs in nature. This has a value of about 0.0023228, which went a long way to resolving the mismatch of theory and experiment.

"Schwinger’s formula was engraved on his tombstone. But by the time he died in 1994 experimenters and theorists were in a race to calculate and measure the magnetic field of the electron to ever-greater accuracy. Schwinger’s calculation was a first approximation. To improve on it meant considering not only virtual photons surrounding the electron but virtual electrons too, forming a seething ferment of particles popping into and out of existence. The calculational effort to factor in these processes is immense. Nevertheless, theory and experiment now agree to about one part per trillion, representing the most successful test of a physical theory in history.

"Aristotle said that nature abhors a vacuum. He was right. Nature not only fills the vacuum of space with clouds of virtual particles; it embellishes the properties of electrons with minute adjustments that might forever have gone unnoticed were it not for physicists’ faith in the power of mathematics to describe the world in ever-finer detail."

Comment: Davies didn't notice God is a mathematician.

Cosmologic philosophy: math produces reality

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Saturday, July 28, 2018, 05:27 (550 days ago) @ David Turell

We don't know why reality can be described and discovered in math, but it works:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/mathematics/history-s-most-successful-mathematical-prediction

"When Sir James Jeans proclaimed “God is a pure mathematician!” he was referring to the fact that most basic processes of nature obey elegant mathematical relationships. Science is so successful because theorists can use mathematics to make predictions experimenters can test.

"Mathematics has been used to predict the existence of the planet Neptune, radio waves, antimatter, neutrinos, black holes, gravitational waves and the Higgs boson, to give but a few examples.

"Sometimes the predictions are breathtakingly precise. Probably the most successful example of the power of physical theory concerns the curious case of the spinning electron.

***

"All this was worked out in the late 1920s, and is elegantly described by a simple equation emblazoned on a stone in Westminster Abbey that commemorates the work of theoretical physicist Paul Dirac. He derived the peculiar geometrical properties of electron spin by combining quantum theory and relativity.

"There the matter might have rested but for the problem the factor 2 is still not quite right. Careful measurement reveals an electron’s magnetic field to be about 0.1% greater than Dirac’s equation predicts. Resolving this discrepancy is a triumph of modern theoretical physics.

***

"According to this quantum description, all electrons are enveloped in a cloud of virtual photons. This virtual photon cloud leads to real physical effects, albeit small ones, including slightly altering the electron’s magnetic field.

"Calculating by how much is fiendishly difficult. The first attempt was made by Julian Schwinger in 1948, who found there should be a correction to the factor 2 of α/π, where α is the so-called fine-structure constant – another deep number that occurs in nature. This has a value of about 0.0023228, which went a long way to resolving the mismatch of theory and experiment.

"Schwinger’s formula was engraved on his tombstone. But by the time he died in 1994 experimenters and theorists were in a race to calculate and measure the magnetic field of the electron to ever-greater accuracy. Schwinger’s calculation was a first approximation. To improve on it meant considering not only virtual photons surrounding the electron but virtual electrons too, forming a seething ferment of particles popping into and out of existence. The calculational effort to factor in these processes is immense. Nevertheless, theory and experiment now agree to about one part per trillion, representing the most successful test of a physical theory in history.

"Aristotle said that nature abhors a vacuum. He was right. Nature not only fills the vacuum of space with clouds of virtual particles; it embellishes the properties of electrons with minute adjustments that might forever have gone unnoticed were it not for physicists’ faith in the power of mathematics to describe the world in ever-finer detail."

David Comment: Davies didn't notice God is a mathematician.

Um, this article is weird. Math is a language used to describe reality. Of course it does that well, it's literally been designed and refined over centuries to do just that.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: math produces reality

by David Turell @, Saturday, July 28, 2018, 14:40 (550 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained


David Comment: Davies didn't notice God is a mathematician.


Tony:

Um, this article is weird. Math is a language used to describe reality. Of course it does that well, it's literally been designed and refined over centuries to do just that.

Are the principals of mathematics existing laws of nature or just products of the human mind?

Cosmologic philosophy: probably less multiverses

by David Turell @, Monday, July 30, 2018, 20:26 (548 days ago) @ David Turell

Recent studies have found that many possible universes are really not possible because parts of many of them are not compatible:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/string-theory-may-create-far-fewer-universes...

"The problem with string theory, according to some physicists, is that it makes too many universes. It predicts not one but some 10500 versions of spacetime, each with their own laws of physics. But with so many universes on the table, how can the theory explain why ours has the features it does?

"Now some theorists suggest most—if not all—of those universes are actually forbidden, at least if we want them to have stable dark energy, the supposed force accelerating the expansion of the cosmos. To some, eliminating so many possible universes is not a drawback but a major step forward for string theory, offering new hope of making testable predictions. But others say the multiverse is here to stay, and the proposed problem with all those universes is not a problem at all.

***

"The conversation centers on a pair of papers posted on the preprint server arXiv last month taking aim at the so-called “landscape” of string theory—the incomprehensible number of potential universes that result from the many different solutions to string theory’s equations that produce the ingredients of our own cosmos, including dark energy. But the vast majority of the solutions found so far are mathematically inconsistent, the papers contend, putting them not in the landscape but in the so-called “swampland” of universes that cannot actually exist.

***

"If it is true string theory cannot accommodate stable dark energy, that may be a reason to doubt string theory. But to Vafa it is a reason to doubt dark energy—that is, dark energy in its most popular form, called a cosmological constant. The idea originated in 1917 with Einstein and was revived in 1998 when astronomers discovered that not only is spacetime expanding—the rate of that expansion is picking up. The cosmological constant would be a form of energy in the vacuum of space that never changes and counteracts the inward pull of gravity. But it is not the only possible explanation for the accelerating universe. An alternative is “quintessence,” a field pervading spacetime that can evolve.

***

"String theory is incredibly appealing to many scientists because it is “beautiful”—its equations are satisfying and its proposed explanations elegant. But so far it lacks any experimental evidence supporting it—and even worse, any reasonable prospects for gathering such evidence. Yet even the suggestion string theory may not be able to accommodate the kind of dark energy we see in the cosmos around us does not dissuade some. “String theory is so rich and beautiful and so correct in almost all the things that it’s taught us that it’s hard to believe that the mistake is in string theory and not in us,” Sethi says. But perhaps chasing after beauty is not a good way to find the right theory of the universe. “Mathematics is full of amazing and beautiful things, and most of them do not describe the world,” physicist Sabine Hossenfelder of the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies wrote in her recent book, Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray (Basic Books, 2018)."

Comment: Same old problem. String theory is not testable. But the debate rages.

Cosmologic philosophy:theory without evidence is unproductiv

by David Turell @, Friday, August 10, 2018, 19:30 (537 days ago) @ David Turell

An other essay on the curent situation in theoretical physics without observation:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/theoretical-physics-is-pointless-with...

"A new debate has recently emerged as to whether string theory admits even a single rigorous solution that includes a cosmological constant, as we find observationally in the real universe. The debate follows on a period of several decades during which the mathematical richness of the theory has been advanced considerably but with very limited connection to experimental testing. This experience inspired a new culture of doing theoretical physics without the need for experimental verification.

***

"Albert Einstein is admired for pioneering the use of thought experiments as a tool for unraveling the truth about the physical reality. But we should keep in mind that he was wrong about the fundamental nature of quantum mechanics as well as the existence of gravitational waves and black holes—which he dismissed late in his career, and which were both confirmed observationally by LIGO in 2015, exactly a century after he formulated the general theory of relativity.

"Given this humbling historical lesson, theoretical physicists should be careful of premature hubris in celebrating conjectures and accept the final verdict of experimental guillotines in setting the fate of untested speculations.

The feedback from experimental data is essential. At its foundation, physics is a dialogue with nature, not a monologue as some theorists would prefer to believe.

***

"The risk for physics stems primarily from mathematically beautiful “truths,” such as string theory, accepted prematurely for decades as a description of reality just because of their elegance. This is a judgement often guided by a social trend within physics to feed off mathematical sophistication and prestige. It is widely accepted today that the study of extra dimensions is part of the mainstream in theoretical physics even though there is no evidence for any extra dimension beyond the 3+1 we witness in our daily life.

***

"The experience of subjecting a theoretical conjecture to an experimental test is humbling. If the conjecture turns out to be wrong, it must be adjusted. Becoming a physicist brings with it the privilege of retaining your childhood curiosity throughout your adult life. There is no need to pretend you know more than you actually do, and you can admit mistakes if proven wrong by experience, just like a child who is seeking to learn about the world. Doing pure theory without worrying about experimental verification actually deprives one from the pleasure of learning something new about nature.

"Identifying the boundaries of our knowledge is more exciting than taking pride in past knowledge. And only our contact with reality itself through experimentation can direct our notions into new realms. No one, not even Einstein, would have imagined quantum mechanics without the experimental data that led us to this unexpected notion of reality."

Comment: A continuing rejection of beautiful math substituting for observable facts.

Cosmologic philosophy: evidence of previous universes?

by David Turell @, Thursday, August 16, 2018, 15:11 (531 days ago) @ David Turell

In the CMB does a circle mean a previous universe?

https://www.iflscience.com/space/dead-black-holes-may-suggest-this-is-not-the-first-uni...

"Scientists have claimed that evidence for past universes may exist in the night sky – namely the remnants of black holes from another universe.

"As reported by New Scientist, the idea is based around something called conformal cyclic cosmology (CCC). This is the theory that our universe goes through constant cycles of Big Bangs and compressions, rather than having started from a single Big Bang.

"While most of the universe would be destroyed from one cycle to the next, these scientists claim that some electromagnetic radiation could survive the recycling process. Their findings are reported on arXiv.

“'What we claim we’re seeing is the final remnant after a black hole has evaporated away in the previous aeon,” University of Oxford mathematical physicist Roger Penrose, co-author on the study and co-creator of CCC theory, told New Scientist.

"The evidence comes in the form of “Hawking points”, named after the late Stephen Hawking. He theorized that black holes would emit radiation known as Hawking radiation, and it’s this that Penrose and his colleagues suggest may pass from one universe to the next.

"They say that Hawking points could appear in the remnant heat in the universe from the Big Bang, known as the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Hawking points would look like circles of light on the CMB map, known as B-modes.

"Previously these anomalous points in the CMB were thought to be caused by either gravitational waves of interstellar dust. But Penrose and his colleagues say their theory could provide an intriguing answer, and one such Hawking point may already have been found by the BICEP2 project, which is aiming to map the CMB.

“'Though seemingly problematic for cosmic inflation, the existence of such anomalous points is an implication of conformal cyclic cosmology (CCC),” the team wrote in their paper.

“'Although of extremely low temperature at emission, in CCC this radiation is enormously concentrated by the conformal compression of the entire future of the black hole, resulting in a single point at the crossover into our current aeon.”

"The theory of a recycling universe is not without controversy. Most of our evidence suggests that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, with the universe not being dense enough to compress back into a single point and expand again – sometimes called the Big Bounce theory.

"We've also yet to find any evidence of Hawking radiation, let alone Hawking points. So while this is an interesting theory, there's plenty more work to do just yet before anyone goes about claiming the definitive existence of a previous universe."

Comment: Note the final cautionary paragraph

Cosmologic philosophy: evidence of previous universes?

by dhw, Friday, August 17, 2018, 11:00 (530 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "The theory of a recycling universe is not without controversy. Most of our evidence suggests that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, with the universe not being dense enough to compress back into a single point and expand again – sometimes called the Big Bounce theory.
"We've also yet to find any evidence of Hawking radiation, let alone Hawking points. So while this is an interesting theory, there's plenty more work to do just yet before anyone goes about claiming the definitive existence of a previous universe."

DAVID’s comment: Note the final cautionary paragraph.

I wish people would apply the same caution to the theory of a big bang which came out of nothing and was preceded by nothing.

Cosmologic philosophy: evidence of previous universes?

by David Turell @, Friday, August 17, 2018, 17:30 (530 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "The theory of a recycling universe is not without controversy. Most of our evidence suggests that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, with the universe not being dense enough to compress back into a single point and expand again – sometimes called the Big Bounce theory.
"We've also yet to find any evidence of Hawking radiation, let alone Hawking points. So while this is an interesting theory, there's plenty more work to do just yet before anyone goes about claiming the definitive existence of a previous universe."

DAVID’s comment: Note the final cautionary paragraph.

dhw: I wish people would apply the same caution to the theory of a big bang which came out of nothing and was preceded by nothing.

The problem is that there is a universe which started for some reason, is expanding from a smaller state, and must have come from some cause.

Cosmologic philosophy: ancient galaxies orbiting ours

by David Turell @, Friday, August 17, 2018, 22:15 (530 days ago) @ David Turell

Just discovered:

http://www.webtopnews.com/oldest-galaxies-in-the-universe-orbit-the-milky-way-researche...

"In the depths of space, astronomers have discovered galaxies that were some of the first ever to form in the universe.

"Identifying these 13 billion-year-old cosmic entities has been compared to finding “the remains of the first humans that inhabited the Earth”.

"The relatively small “satellite” galaxies, including Segue-1, Bootes I and Ursa Major I, are orbiting the Milky Way, but scientists did not previously realise quite how old they were.

“'Finding some of the very first galaxies that formed in our universe orbiting in the Milky Way’s own backyard is the astronomical equivalent of finding the remains of the first humans that inhabited the Earth,” said Professor Carlos Frenk, director of Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology.

***

"Scientists think the first atoms only formed when the universe was 380,000 years old.

"These atoms clumped together to form clouds, which gradually cooled and settled into the “halos” of dark matter that had emerged from the big bang.

"This sparked a period of the universe’s history known as the “cosmic dark ages” that lasted 100 million years.

"Cooling hydrogen atoms inside the halos brought this period to an end with a flash as the gas became unstable and started forming stars.

"Among these stars was a population that formed one of the galaxy groups identified in the new study.

"The second population of galaxies they found is still ancient, but far later than the first as the initial burst of galaxy formation destroyed the remaining hydrogen atoms and brought the process to a halt for hundreds of millions of years.

"After collecting data from these faintly visible galaxies, the researchers found that it fitted well with a model of galaxy formation they had previously produced. This allowed them to estimate the formation times of these galaxies.

"Their findings agree with the current model for the development of the universe, known as the “Lambda cold dark matter model”.

“'A nice aspect of this work is that it highlights the complementarity between the predictions of a theoretical model and real data,” said Dr Sownak Bose of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, who led the research.

“'A decade ago, the faintest galaxies in the vicinity of the Milky Way would have gone under the radar.

“'With the increasing sensitivity of present and future galaxy censuses, a whole new trove of the tiniest galaxies has come into the light, allowing us to test theoretical models in new regimes.'”

Comment: Note that the first atoms (matter) formed 380,000 after the Big Bang, just energy particle before that. It raises a question from the inflation theory. If we we surrounded by ancient galaxies, then the Milky Way is also ancient and that is what has been estimated:

https://www.space.com/263-milky-age-narrowed.html

" Astronomers have known that the Milky Way is among the oldest of galaxies. The new observations suggest it was indeed one of the first to get under construction. The study puts its age at 13.6 billion years, give or take 800 million years. Further studies will be needed to reduce that margin of error."

Cosmologic philosophy: ancient galaxies orbiting ours

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Saturday, August 18, 2018, 06:32 (529 days ago) @ David Turell

david Comment: Note that the first atoms (matter) formed 380,000 after the Big Bang, just energy particle before that. It raises a question from the inflation theory. If we we surrounded by ancient galaxies, then the Milky Way is also ancient and that is what has been estimated:

https://www.space.com/263-milky-age-narrowed.html

" Astronomers have known that the Milky Way is among the oldest of galaxies. The new observations suggest it was indeed one of the first to get under construction. The study puts its age at 13.6 billion years, give or take 800 million years. Further studies will be needed to reduce that margin of error."

Why is this surprising for a creationist? It would make sense that a Creator would begin working with the first available product that was available (Milky Way Galaxy) that fit the necessary criteria.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Cosmologic philosophy: ancient galaxies orbiting ours

by David Turell @, Saturday, August 18, 2018, 15:10 (529 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

David Comment: Note that the first atoms (matter) formed 380,000 after the Big Bang, just energy particle before that. It raises a question from the inflation theory. If we are surrounded by ancient galaxies, then the Milky Way is also ancient and that is what has been estimated:


https://www.space.com/263-milky-age-narrowed.html

" Astronomers have known that the Milky Way is among the oldest of galaxies. The new observations suggest it was indeed one of the first to get under construction. The study puts its age at 13.6 billion years, give or take 800 million years. Further studies will be needed to reduce that margin of error."


Tony: Why is this surprising for a creationist? It would make sense that a Creator would begin working with the first available product that was available (Milky Way Galaxy) that fit the necessary criteria.

I didn't think this was a surprise but I hadn't known this estimate before. Our galaxy is known to have absorbed smaller ones orbiting us.

Cosmologic philosophy: evidence of previous universes?

by dhw, Saturday, August 18, 2018, 07:32 (529 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "The theory of a recycling universe is not without controversy. Most of our evidence suggests that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, with the universe not being dense enough to compress back into a single point and expand again – sometimes called the Big Bounce theory.
"We've also yet to find any evidence of Hawking radiation, let alone Hawking points. So while this is an interesting theory, there's plenty more work to do just yet before anyone goes about claiming the definitive existence of a previous universe."

DAVID’s comment: Note the final cautionary paragraph.

dhw: I wish people would apply the same caution to the theory of a big bang which came out of nothing and was preceded by nothing.

DAVID: The problem is that there is a universe which started for some reason, is expanding from a smaller state, and must have come from some cause.

One should therefore apply the utmost caution before accepting that there was a big bang which came out of nothing and was preceded by nothing. I’m glad we agree.

Cosmologic philosophy: evidence of previous universes?

by David Turell @, Saturday, August 18, 2018, 15:28 (529 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "The theory of a recycling universe is not without controversy. Most of our evidence suggests that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, with the universe not being dense enough to compress back into a single point and expand again – sometimes called the Big Bounce theory.
"We've also yet to find any evidence of Hawking radiation, let alone Hawking points. So while this is an interesting theory, there's plenty more work to do just yet before anyone goes about claiming the definitive existence of a previous universe."

DAVID’s comment: Note the final cautionary paragraph.

dhw: I wish people would apply the same caution to the theory of a big bang which came out of nothing and was preceded by nothing.

DAVID: The problem is that there is a universe which started for some reason, is expanding from a smaller state, and must have come from some cause.

dhw: One should therefore apply the utmost caution before accepting that there was a big bang which came out of nothing and was preceded by nothing. I’m glad we agree.

All I pointed out is the universe started for some reason. For most an eternal universe is ruled out.

Cosmologic philosophy: more evidence of Big Bang

by David Turell @, Monday, April 15, 2019, 19:13 (289 days ago) @ David Turell

New studies solidify the theory:

https://www.salvomag.com/article/salvo48/lost-found

" In that course Ostriker spoke about the "missing mass" of the universe. The mass he referred to was not the dark matter (also known as cold dark matter or exotic dark matter), comprised of particles that do not interact, or only weakly interact, with photons. Rather, he was concerned about missing atomic matter, matter comprised of protons, neutrons, and electrons, which interact strongly with photons. Detection of such matter carries significant implications for the reliability of models for the beginning of the universe, often called big bang models.

***

"In the 1970s Ostriker hypothesized that many of these missing baryons lurked in the hot diffuse gas spread across the otherwise empty voids between galaxies. He also opined that these baryons would be extremely difficult to detect.

***

"Finally, in 2018, astronomers gained the necessary instrumentation and observing time to detect (more than marginally) the oxygen absorption spectra of hot intergalactic gas. A team of 21 astronomers led by Fabrizio Nicastro performed a very long duration observation on the brightest known X-ray blazar, IES 1553+133,4 with the X-ray multi-mirror Newton telescope (see Figure 3).5 They detected the absorption spectrum of OVII, oxygen atoms with six of their eight electrons stripped away by the hot intergalactic gas. Thanks to their long observing time, Nicastro's team achieved a signal-to-noise ratio high enough to conclude from their absorption spectra measurements that they had found all of the missing baryons.

***

"In a recent submission to the Astrophysical Journal, a team of six astronomers led by Sanskriti Das reported that they had achieved OVII absorption line measurements on the spiral galaxy NGC 3221 (see Figure 4) using the Suzaku X-ray telescope.6 Though the signal-to-noise ratio of their measurements achieved a little less clarity than that realized by Nicastro's team, the Das team's measurements were notably consistent with the conclusion that all the missing baryons have been found.

"Just as Nicastro's and Das's teams were finding the universe's missing baryons through the X-ray absorption spectra method, two other astronomy research groups found them using a completely different method. These teams looked for subtle distortions in the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation, the radiation left over from the cosmic creation event.

***

"A team of four astronomers led by University of Edinburgh's Anna de Graaff stacked pieces of Planck map images from a million pairs of galaxies, one on top of another.7 The remaining signal (after subtraction of the signal from all the gas associated with the million galaxy pairs) was strong enough to show de Graaff's team the mass of the hot intergalactic gas. That mass added up to the missing baryons.

"An independent team of nine astronomers led by University of British Columbia's Hideki Tanimura stacked Planck map image pieces of 260,000 pairs of luminous red galaxies seen in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 12.8 Their measured mass of the hot intergalactic gas also added up to the missing baryons.

Astronomers have now produced four independent measurements of the mass of the hot intergalactic medium based on completely distinct methods using different telescopes and different databases of galaxies and quasars. The fact that all four measurements agree gives astronomers confidence that they really have found the missing baryons of the universe.

"Thus, the missing baryons challenge to big bang cosmology has been resolved, and the scientific case for the validity of the biblically predicted big bang creation model is even more firmly established than before. We have one more reason to be confident that the God of the Bible exists and personally crafted the universe for our existence."

Comment: These findings add significant support to the Big Bang theory.

Cosmologic philosophy: more evidence of Big Bang

by dhw, Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 14:07 (288 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "Thus, the missing baryons challenge to big bang cosmology has been resolved, and the scientific case for the validity of the biblically predicted big bang creation model is even more firmly established than before. We have one more reason to be confident that the God of the Bible exists and personally crafted the universe for our existence."

DAVID: These findings add significant support to the Big Bang theory.

Thank you for your measured conclusion, in stark contrast to the non sequitur of the conclusion quoted above!

Cosmologic philosophy: more evidence of Big Bang

by David Turell @, Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 17:01 (288 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "Thus, the missing baryons challenge to big bang cosmology has been resolved, and the scientific case for the validity of the biblically predicted big bang creation model is even more firmly established than before. We have one more reason to be confident that the God of the Bible exists and personally crafted the universe for our existence."

DAVID: These findings add significant support to the Big Bang theory.

dhw: Thank you for your measured conclusion, in stark contrast to the non sequitur of the conclusion quoted above!

well, believers welcome any further evidence they see as proof.

Cosmologic philosophy: more evidence of Big Bang

by David Turell @, Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 20:19 (287 days ago) @ David Turell

Hydrogen helium hydride found, as theorized:

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/apr/17/helium-hydride-most-ancient-molecule-in...

"The most ancient type of molecule in our universe has been detected in space, scientists have revealed, backing up theories of how the early chemistry of the universe developed after the big bang.

"The positively charged molecule known as helium hydride is believed to have played a starring role in the early universe, forming when a helium atom shared its electrons with a hydrogen nucleus, or proton. Not only is it thought to be the first molecular bond, and first chemical compound, to have appeared as the universe cooled after the big bang, but it also opened up the path to the formation of molecules of hydrogen.

***

“'Although [helium hydride] is of limited importance on Earth today, the chemistry of the universe began with this ion,” the authors write. “The lack of definitive evidence for its very existence in interstellar space has been a dilemma for astronomy.”

"Now experts say they have finally spotted helium hydride in a small but bright 600-year-old planetary nebula about 3,000 light years away in the constellation of Cygnus. While this helium hydride was formed by a different process to that in the early universe, the team say its presence backs up theories of what was going on at the “dawn of chemistry”, bringing a “decades-long search to a happy ending at last”.

***

“'Another reason it is exciting is that HeH+ [helium hydride] is the first molecule ever to form in the universe, about 380,000 years after the big bang, in an era known as the recombination epoch,” said Loreau, adding that molecules that appeared in this period, as the universe cooled, later led to the formation of stars and galaxies. “It is therefore very exciting to have finally observed one of the building blocks of the molecular universe.'”

Comment: At first the heat of the Big Bang didn't allow the formation of atoms and molecules to explain the 'recombination epoch' comment. More proof of the Big Bang theory.

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter first

by David Turell @, Sunday, August 11, 2019, 17:51 (171 days ago) @ David Turell

A strange article proposing dark matter before everything else:

https://www.newswise.com/articles/dark-matter-may-be-older-than-the-big-bang-study-sugg...

" Dark matter, which researchers believe make up about 80% of the universe’s mass, is one of the most elusive mysteries in modern physics. What exactly it is and how it came to be is a mystery, but a new Johns Hopkins University study now suggests that dark matter may have existed before the Big Bang.

***

“'The study revealed a new connection between particle physics and astronomy. If dark matter consists of new particles that were born before the Big Bang, they affect the way galaxies are distributed in the sky in a unique way. This connection may be used to reveal their identity and make conclusions about the times before the Big Bang too,” says Tommi Tenkanen, a postdoctoral fellow in Physics and Astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University and the study’s author.

"While not much is known about its origins, astronomers have shown that dark matter plays a crucial role in the formation of galaxies and galaxy clusters. Though not directly observable, scientists know dark matter exists by its gravitation effects on how visible matter moves and is distributed in space.

"For a long time, researchers believed that dark matter must be a leftover substance from the Big Bang. Researchers have long sought this kind of dark matter, but so far all experimental searches have been unsuccessful.

“'If dark matter were truly a remnant of the Big Bang, then in many cases researchers should have seen a direct signal of dark matter in different particle physics experiments already,” says Tenkanen.

"Using a new, simple mathematical framework, the study shows that dark matter may have been produced before the Big Bang during an era known as the cosmic inflation when space was expanding very rapidly. The rapid expansion is believed to lead to copious production of certain types of particles called scalars. So far, only one scalar particle has been discovered, the famous Higgs boson. (my bold)

"We do not know what dark matter is, but if it has anything to do with any scalar particles, it may be older than the Big Bang. With the proposed mathematical scenario, we don’t have to assume new types of interactions between visible and dark matter beyond gravity, which we already know is there,” explains Tenkanen.

"While the idea that dark matter existed before the Big Bang is not new, other theorists have not been able to come up with calculations that support the idea. The new study shows that researchers have always overlooked the simplest possible mathematical scenario for dark matter’s origins, he says.

"The new study also suggests a way to test the origin of dark matter by observing the signatures dark matter leaves on the distribution of matter in the universe.

“While this type of dark matter is too elusive to be found in particle experiments, it can reveal its presence in astronomical observations. We will soon learn more about the origin of dark matter when the Euclid satellite is launched in 2022. It's going to be very exciting to see what it will reveal about dark matter and if its findings can be used to peak into the times before the Big Bang.”

Comment: Most folks in cosmology think time started with the Big Bang. Note my bold. Inflation is thought to have appeared after the Big Bang, not before. I think this reporter is confused about the mathematical study or the study is confused in its conjectures.

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter first

by dhw, Monday, August 12, 2019, 12:38 (170 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: Using a new, simple mathematical framework,the study shows that dark matter may have been produced before the Big Bang during an era known as the cosmic inflationwhen space was expanding very rapidly. (David’s bold)

DAVID: Most folks in cosmology think time started with the Big Bang. Note my bold. Inflation is thought to have appeared after the Big Bang, not before. I think this reporter is confused about the mathematical study or the study is confused in its conjectures.

I think there is confusion all round. If there was a Big Bang, there must have been a “before the Big Bang”, which means time did not start with the Big Bang, unless you believe in an effect without a cause. Nobody has a clue what existed before the Big Bang, but since “dark energy” and “dark matter” simply mean something we know nothing about, we might just as well say that the Big Bang, if it happened, and the resultant progression of universe to Milky Way to Planet Earth to bacteria to humans and the duckbilled platypus were the result of unknown forces. That, I suggest, is a precise description of our knowledge at the moment.

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter first

by David Turell @, Monday, August 12, 2019, 15:32 (170 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: Using a new, simple mathematical framework,the study shows that dark matter may have been produced before the Big Bang during an era known as the cosmic inflationwhen space was expanding very rapidly. (David’s bold)

DAVID: Most folks in cosmology think time started with the Big Bang. Note my bold. Inflation is thought to have appeared after the Big Bang, not before. I think this reporter is confused about the mathematical study or the study is confused in its conjectures.

dhw: I think there is confusion all round. If there was a Big Bang, there must have been a “before the Big Bang”, which means time did not start with the Big Bang, unless you believe in an effect without a cause. Nobody has a clue what existed before the Big Bang, but since “dark energy” and “dark matter” simply mean something we know nothing about, we might just as well say that the Big Bang, if it happened, and the resultant progression of universe to Milky Way to Planet Earth to bacteria to humans and the duckbilled platypus were the result of unknown forces. That, I suggest, is a precise description of our knowledge at the moment.

'Effect without cause'? Commented upon as a true Agnostic. How about a timeless eternal God as the cause?

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter first

by dhw, Tuesday, August 13, 2019, 10:51 (169 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: Using a new, simple mathematical framework,the study shows that dark matter may have been produced before the Big Bang during an era known as the cosmic inflationwhen space was expanding very rapidly. (David’s bold)

DAVID: Most folks in cosmology think time started with the Big Bang. Note my bold. Inflation is thought to have appeared after the Big Bang, not before. I think this reporter is confused about the mathematical study or the study is confused in its conjectures.

dhw: I think there is confusion all round. If there was a Big Bang, there must have been a “before the Big Bang”, which means time did not start with the Big Bang, unless you believe in an effect without a cause. Nobody has a clue what existed before the Big Bang, but since “dark energy” and “dark matter” simply mean something we know nothing about, we might just as well say that the Big Bang, if it happened, and the resultant progression of universe to Milky Way to Planet Earth to bacteria to humans and the duckbilled platypus were the result of unknown forces. That, I suggest, is a precise description of our knowledge at the moment.

DAVID: 'Effect without cause'? Commented upon as a true Agnostic. How about a timeless eternal God as the cause?

Yes, yes, we’ve been over that a thousand times. The alternative first cause is mindless energy and matter infinitely and eternally forming new combinations. Now please tell me if you believe the Big Bang was an effect without a cause, and therefore marked the beginning of time. Meanwhile, would you agree that my summary, beginning “nobody has a clue…” provides a precise description of our knowledge at the moment?

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter first

by David Turell @, Tuesday, August 13, 2019, 15:09 (169 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: Using a new, simple mathematical framework,the study shows that dark matter may have been produced before the Big Bang during an era known as the cosmic inflationwhen space was expanding very rapidly. (David’s bold)

DAVID: Most folks in cosmology think time started with the Big Bang. Note my bold. Inflation is thought to have appeared after the Big Bang, not before. I think this reporter is confused about the mathematical study or the study is confused in its conjectures.

dhw: I think there is confusion all round. If there was a Big Bang, there must have been a “before the Big Bang”, which means time did not start with the Big Bang, unless you believe in an effect without a cause. Nobody has a clue what existed before the Big Bang, but since “dark energy” and “dark matter” simply mean something we know nothing about, we might just as well say that the Big Bang, if it happened, and the resultant progression of universe to Milky Way to Planet Earth to bacteria to humans and the duckbilled platypus were the result of unknown forces. That, I suggest, is a precise description of our knowledge at the moment.

DAVID: 'Effect without cause'? Commented upon as a true Agnostic. How about a timeless eternal God as the cause?

dhw: Yes, yes, we’ve been over that a thousand times. The alternative first cause is mindless energy and matter infinitely and eternally forming new combinations. Now please tell me if you believe the Big Bang was an effect without a cause, and therefore marked the beginning of time. Meanwhile, would you agree that my summary, beginning “nobody has a clue…” provides a precise description of our knowledge at the moment?

The Big Bang had a cause, God. You ask for proof, and are correct, no one has it.

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter first

by dhw, Wednesday, August 14, 2019, 13:27 (168 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: I think there is confusion all round. If there was a Big Bang, there must have been a “before the Big Bang”, which means time did not start with the Big Bang, unless you believe in an effect without a cause. Nobody has a clue what existed before the Big Bang, but since “dark energy” and “dark matter” simply mean something we know nothing about, we might just as well say that the Big Bang, if it happened, and the resultant progression of universe to Milky Way to Planet Earth to bacteria to humans and the duckbilled platypus were the result of unknown forces. That, I suggest, is a precise description of our knowledge at the moment.

DAVID: 'Effect without cause'? Commented upon as a true Agnostic. How about a timeless eternal God as the cause?

dhw: Yes, yes, we’ve been over that a thousand times. The alternative first cause is mindless energy and matter infinitely and eternally forming new combinations. Now please tell me if you believe the Big Bang was an effect without a cause, and therefore marked the beginning of time. Meanwhile, would you agree that my summary, beginning “nobody has a clue…” provides a precise description of our knowledge at the moment?

DAVID: The Big Bang had a cause, God. You ask for proof, and are correct, no one has it.

You might just as well say the Big Bang had a cause, the mindless interplay of energy and matter. You ask for proof, no one has it.

So nobody has a clue…etc.

Cosmologic philosophy: dark matter first

by David Turell @, Wednesday, August 14, 2019, 16:52 (168 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: I think there is confusion all round. If there was a Big Bang, there must have been a “before the Big Bang”, which means time did not start with the Big Bang, unless you believe in an effect without a cause. Nobody has a clue what existed before the Big Bang, but since “dark energy” and “dark matter” simply mean something we know nothing about, we might just as well say that the Big Bang, if it happened, and the resultant progression of universe to Milky Way to Planet Earth to bacteria to humans and the duckbilled platypus were the result of unknown forces. That, I suggest, is a precise description of our knowledge at the moment.

DAVID: 'Effect without cause'? Commented upon as a true Agnostic. How about a timeless eternal God as the cause?

dhw: Yes, yes, we’ve been over that a thousand times. The alternative first cause is mindless energy and matter infinitely and eternally forming new combinations. Now please tell me if you believe the Big Bang was an effect without a cause, and therefore marked the beginning of time. Meanwhile, would you agree that my summary, beginning “nobody has a clue…” provides a precise description of our knowledge at the moment?

DAVID: The Big Bang had a cause, God. You ask for proof, and are correct, no one has it.

dhw: You might just as well say the Big Bang had a cause, the mindless interplay of energy and matter. You ask for proof, no one has it.

So nobody has a clue…etc.

We can have choices of first cause in which to believe.

Cosmologic philosophy: fine tuning 140 factors

by David Turell @, Monday, October 28, 2019, 23:54 (92 days ago) @ David Turell

And these don't include the ones related to intelligent life:

https://www.cltruth.com/2019/factors-fine-tuning-life-universe/

The number of fine-tuning factors that scientists have discovered so far is growing. The more we discover nature, the more improbable nature appears to be. Here, I detail the fine-tuning factors for life in the universe as compiled by astronomer, Hugh Ross, in his monumental work, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is. This list pertains specifically to the broad possibility of life. The list of fine-tuning factors specific to intelligent physical life is actually longer (too long, in fact) and is housed in another blog post.

Comment: Look at the list too long to publish here. Not by chance.

Cosmologic philosophy: factors fine tuning intelligent life

by David Turell @, Tuesday, October 29, 2019, 00:01 (92 days ago) @ David Turell

402 factors:

https://www.cltruth.com/2019/factors-fine-tuning-intelligent-life-universe/

The universe demonstrates a level of fine-tuning that is absolutely astonishing. As a matter is a mere happenstance, it is extremely implausible. The conditions under which any life may exist in the universe requires extreme precision. The conditions under which intelligence physical life may exist in the universe requires even more precision. Here, I detail the fine-tuning factors for intelligent life in the universe as compiled by astronomer, Hugh Ross, in his monumental work, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is.

Comment: Look at the list too long to reproduce here. Not by chance.

Cosmologic philosophy: all natural laws are consistent

by David Turell @, Monday, December 09, 2019, 19:52 (51 days ago) @ David Turell

The current laws of nature are self-consistent and appear to be required that way:

https://www.quantamagazine.org/how-simple-rules-bootstrap-the-laws-of-physics-20191209/

"Compared to the unsolved mysteries of the universe, far less gets said about one of the most profound facts to have crystallized in physics over the past half-century: To an astonishing degree, nature is the way it is because it couldn’t be any different. “There’s just no freedom in the laws of physics that we have,” said Daniel Baumann, a theoretical physicist at the University of Amsterdam.

"Since the 1960s, and increasingly in the past decade, physicists like Baumann have used a technique known as the “bootstrap” to infer what the laws of nature must be. This approach assumes that the laws essentially dictate one another through their mutual consistency — that nature “pulls itself up by its own bootstraps.” The idea turns out to explain a huge amount about the universe.

"When bootstrapping, physicists determine how elementary particles with different amounts of “spin,” or intrinsic angular momentum, can consistently behave. In doing this, they rediscover the four fundamental forces that shape the universe. Most striking is the case of a particle with two units of spin: As the Nobel Prize winner Steven Weinberg showed in 1964, the existence of a spin-2 particle leads inevitably to general relativity — Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity. Einstein arrived at general relativity through abstract thoughts about falling elevators and warped space and time, but the theory also follows directly from the mathematically consistent behavior of a fundamental particle.

“'I find this inevitability of gravity [and other forces] to be one of the deepest and most inspiring facts about nature,” said Laurentiu Rodina, a theoretical physicist at the Institute of Theoretical Physics at CEA Saclay who helped to modernize and generalize Weinberg’s proof in 2014. “Namely, that nature is above all self-consistent.”

***

"Thus, by thinking through the constraints placed on fundamental particle interactions by basic symmetries, physicists can understand the existence of the strong and weak forces that shape atoms, and the forces of electromagnetism and gravity that sculpt the universe at large.

***

"In his work, Baumann applies the bootstrap to the beginning of the universe. A recent Quanta article described how he and other physicists used symmetries and other principles to constrain the possibilities for those first moments.

"It’s “just aesthetically pleasing,” Baumann said, “that the laws are inevitable — that there is some inevitability of the laws of physics that can be summarized by a short handful of principles that then lead to building blocks that then build up the macroscopic world.'”

Comment: I've quoted the Quanta article before: "Baumann sees this as necessary for creating cosmology. “In cosmology by definition we want something that’s evolving in time,” he said. “In de Sitter space, there’s no evolution. It’s interesting that we live very close to that point.” He compared the primordial universe to a system like water or a magnet very near the critical point where it undergoes a phase transition. “We live in a very special place,” he said. Yes it is very special and self-consistent, not something that be planned by chance.

Cosmologic philosophy: anthropic principle opinion

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 11, 2019, 18:51 (49 days ago) @ David Turell

Cannot be used for multiverse arguments:

https://backreaction.blogspot.com/2019/12/is-anthropic-principle-scientific.html

"I should add that to the extent that anthropic arguments are being used in physics, they do not usually draw on the existence of human life specifically. They more generally use the existence of certain physical preconditions that are believed to be necessary for life, such as a sufficiently complex chemistry or sufficiently large structures.

"So, the anthropic principle is neither unscientific, nor is it in general useless. But then why is the anthropic principle so controversial? It is controversial because it is often brought up by physicists who believe that we live in a multiverse, in which our universe is only one of infinitely many. In each of these universes, the laws of nature can be slightly different. Some may allow for life to exist, some may not.

"If you believe in the multiverse, then the anthropic principle can be reformulated to say that the probability we find ourselves in a universe that is not hospitable to life is zero. In the multiverse, the anthropic principle then becomes a statement about the probability distribution over an ensemble of universes. And for multiverse people, that’s an important quantity to calculate. So the anthropic principle smells controversial because of this close connection to the multiverse.

"However, the anthropic principle is correct regardless of whether or not you believe in a multiverse. In fact, the anthropic principle is a rather unsurprising and pretty obvious constraint on the properties that the laws of nature must have. The laws of nature must be so that they allow our existence. That’s what the anthropic principle says, no more and no less."

Comment: a perfect point. No real evidence for a multiverse, just a lot of harebrained distortion of logic. Got to get rid of God and all the logic in fine tuning somehow.

Cosmologic philosophy; two new books

by David Turell @, Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 18:58 (1226 days ago) @ David Turell

A book by Roger Penrose thinks string theory is a dead end:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/cosmic-certainties-1474328303

" String theory is by far the most popular attempt to do so. It posits that the basic constituents of the world are tiny vibrating strings. Depending on how a string vibrates, it appears as one kind of particle or another—an electron, a quark (of which protons and neutrons are made), a photon and so forth. For the math to work, it rather awkwardly turns out, the strings—and thus the world itself—must vibrate in a slew of extra dimensions. (The exact number of total dimensions—10 in some cases, 26 in others—differs in different models.) These dimensions are hidden,

***

"Mr. Penrose finds these extra dimensions to be deeply unappealing. He argues that string theory can't be right. Part of the difficulty with figuring out if string theory or its rivals are true, he says, is that “often the crucial experiments are not available,” because they would require prohibitive amounts of energy. On the other hand most of the data we do have “simply confirms what is already known.”

***

"Orthodox cosmologists believe that, in the very first instants after the big bang, the universe underwent an extremely rapid period of expansion, known as “inflation.” Inflation is required to explain the fact that the “cosmic microwave background ,” a signal that pervades the universe and that has been mapped to extraordinary precision by several NASA space probes, varies only minimally across the night sky. The CMB reflects the temperature of the early universe. Without inflation, physicists believe, distant parts of the sky are too far away from one another for the temperature between them to have reached an equilibrium. Mr. Penrose argues that this uniformity can instead be explained if the big bang wasn't the beginning of things but merely an expansion following an earlier collapse. He's not the first to propose a cyclical model, but he differs in proposing that, between cycles, mass itself would die away, a conjecture that solves certain mathematical problems he highlights.

***

"In part because of the persuasiveness of Mr. Smolin's arguments, Mr. Penrose speculates that physics may have already reached peak string theory: “Its stranglehold on developments in fundamental physics has been stultifying,” he says. His insistence on finding clever experimental tests for novel theories is the only way physics will break free from its deadlock."

************************************************************

Here is Brian Cox book touting inflation and the multiverse:

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/sep/18/brian-cox-interview-it-is-a-book-about-...

Interviewer: "I remember talking to the cosmologist Paul Davies once, who seemed to tend to the view that the universe is somehow geared to understanding itself; all his observation led him to that conclusion. Can you sympathise with that idea?
I don't have that belief. It's the final anthropic principle: that there is something about the consistency of the universe that makes it necessary to be understood. I don't think that. In the book we talk about this idea of the inflationary multiverse. It's still a guess, but most cosmologists are tending toward that theory, I'd say.
How far are the dots apart for you to make that leap of understanding?

"The theory of inflation itself is almost nailed down. We teach it at undergraduate level, and the data supports it as far as we can tell. The idea of multiverses is not too big a leap from that. If that is right then you have essentially an infinity of universes and it follows there is a very natural, almost unavoidable mechanism for varying the laws of nature in each universe. Therefore the idea that we look out on a universe that has been waiting for us to appear in it and understand it is at best incidental. Because every possible sort of universe is made real by inflationary cosmology."

Comment: We are still stuck. No explanation of the Big Bang, inflationary theory still an unproven theory, string theory of no help, and multiverses a pipedream based on unproven theory. Whew!

Cosmologic philosophy:strange number relationships

by David Turell @, Saturday, November 19, 2016, 01:44 (1166 days ago) @ David Turell

Math is a way we understand the universe, but we don't know why the numbers have the values they have. Are they arbitrary or follow a pattern?

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20161115-strange-numbers-found-in-particle-collisions/?u...

"Over the last decade physicists and mathematicians have been exploring a surprising correspondence that has the potential to breathe new life into the venerable Feynman diagram and generate far-reaching insights in both fields. It has to do with the strange fact that the values calculated from Feynman diagrams seem to exactly match some of the most important numbers that crop up in a branch of mathematics known as algebraic geometry. These values are called “periods of motives,” and there’s no obvious reason why the same numbers should appear in both settings. Indeed, it’s as strange as it would be if every time you measured a cup of rice, you observed that the number of grains was prime.

“'There is a connection from nature to algebraic geometry and periods, and with hindsight, it’s not a coincidence,” said Dirk Kreimer, a physicist at Humboldt University in Berlin.

"Now mathematicians and physicists are working together to unravel the coincidence. For mathematicians, physics has called to their attention a special class of numbers that they’d like to understand: Is there a hidden structure to these periods that occur in physics? What special properties might this class of numbers have? For physicists, the reward of that kind of mathematical understanding would be a new degree of foresight when it comes to anticipating how events will play out in the messy quantum world.

***

"This process first involved looking at the geometric objects (known as algebraic varieties) defined by the solutions to classes of polynomial functions, rather than looking at the functions themselves. Next, mathematicians tried to understand the basic properties of those geometric objects. To do that they developed what are known as cohomology theories — ways of identifying structural aspects of the geometric objects that were the same regardless of the particular polynomial equation used to generate the objects.

"By the 1960s, cohomology theories had proliferated to the point of distraction — singular cohomology, de Rham cohomology, étale cohomology and so on. Everyone, it seemed, had a different view of the most important features of algebraic varieties.

***

"'What Grothendieck observed is that, in the case of an algebraic variety, no matter how you compute these different cohomology theories, you always somehow find the same answer,” Brown said.

That same answer — the unique thing at the center of all these cohomology theories — was what Grothendieck called a “motive.” “In music it means a recurring theme. For Grothendieck a motive was something which is coming again and again in different forms, but it’s really the same,” said Pierre Cartier,

***

"Motives are in a sense the fundamental building blocks of polynomial equations, in the same way that prime factors are the elemental pieces of larger numbers. Motives also have their own data associated with them. ... mathematicians ascribe essential measurements to a motive. The most important of these measurements are the motive’s periods. And if the period of a motive arising in one system of polynomial equations is the same as the period of a motive arising in a different system, you know the motives are the same.

***

"Periods and amplitudes were presented together for the first time in 1994. The work led mathematicians to speculate that all amplitudes were periods of mixed Tate motives — a special kind of motive named after John Tate, in which all the periods are multiple values of one of the most influential constructions in number theory, the Riemann zeta function.

***

"This classification of periods by weights carries over to Feynman diagrams, where the number of loops in a diagram is somehow related to the weight of its amplitude. Diagrams with no loops have amplitudes of weight 0; the amplitudes of diagrams with one loop are all periods of mixed Tate motives and have, at most, a weight of 4.

***

"The fact that the periods that come from physics are “somehow God-given and come from physical theories means they have a lot of structure and it’s structure a mathematician wouldn’t necessarily think of or try to invent,” said Brown."

Comment: Is there an underlying set of math from God that ties all this together? I wouldn't be surprised that He had it all planned out.

Cosmologic philosophy: inflation currently validated

by David Turell @, Friday, May 19, 2017, 00:39 (985 days ago) @ David Turell

A recent Sci. Am. article said inflation was far from proven. the supporters responded:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/a-cosmic-controversy/?WT.mc_id=SA_SPC...

"The standard inflationary models predict that the universe should have a critical mass density (that is, it should be geometrically flat), and they also predict the statistical properties of the faint ripples that we detect in the cosmic microwave background (CMB). First, the ripples should be nearly “scale-invariant,” meaning that they have nearly the same intensity at all angular scales. Second, the ripples should be “adiabatic,” meaning that the perturbations are the same in all components: the ordinary matter, radiation and dark matter all fluctuate together. Third, they should be “Gaussian,” which is a statement about the statistical patterns of relatively bright and dark regions. Fourth and finally, the models also make predictions for the patterns of polarization in the CMB, which can be divided into two classes, called E-modes and B-modes. The predictions for the E-modes are very similar for all standard inflationary models, whereas the levels of B-modes, which are a measure of gravitational radiation in the early universe, vary significantly within the class of standard models.

"The remarkable fact is that, starting with the results of the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite in 1992, numerous experiments have confirmed that these predictions (along with several others too technical to discuss here) accurately describe our universe. The average mass density of the universe has now been measured to an accuracy of about half of a percent, and it agrees perfectly with the prediction of inflation. (When inflation was first proposed, the average mass density was uncertain by at least a factor of three, so this is an impressive success.) The ripples of the CMB have been measured carefully by two more satellite experiments, the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) and the Planck satellite, as well as many ground- and balloon-based experiments—all confirming that the primordial fluctuations are indeed nearly scale-invariant and very accurately adiabatic and Gaussian, precisely as predicted (ahead of time) by standard models of inflation. The B-modes of polarization have not yet been seen, which is consistent with many, though not all, of the standard models, and the E-modes are found to agree with the predictions. In 2016 the Planck satellite team (a collaboration of about 260 authors) summarized its conclusions by saying that “the Planck results offer powerful evidence in favour of simple inflationary models.” So if inflation is untestable, as IS&L would have us believe, why have there been so many tests of it and with such remarkable success?

***

"The situation is similar to the standard hot big bang cosmology: the fact that it left several questions unresolved, such as the near-critical mass density and the origin of structure (which are solved elegantly by inflation), does not undermine its many successful predictions, including its prediction of the relative abundances of light chemical elements. The fact that our knowledge of the universe is still incomplete is absolutely no reason to ignore the impressive empirical success of the standard inflationary models.

"During the more than 35 years of its existence, inflationary theory has gradually become the main cosmological paradigm describing the early stages of the evolution of the universe and the formation of its large-scale structure. No one claims that inflation has become certain; scientific theories don’t get proved the way mathematical theorems do, but as time passes, the successful ones become better and better established by improved experimental tests and theoretical advances. This has happened with inflation. Progress continues, supported by the enthusiastic efforts of many scientists who have chosen to participate in this vibrant branch of cosmology."

Comment: Inflation is still the best bet as a stage that briefly followed the Big Bang, but it is one theory following another one. they are not connected except by time. No cause for either theory is known, but there must be a cause. I choose God.

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