Is time real or an illusion ? By Michael Segal

“Physics was invented by people who happened to be very religious. Newton is one example. For him the laws of nature and their mathematical representations were synonymous with knowing the thoughts of God: Space was the sensorium of God and true time was the time in which God experienced the world and made things in the world.”

Conversation with Lee Smolin.

Your Cosmological Natural Selection hypothesis suggests that the laws of nature change in time. How can that be possible?

There are two kinds of explanations as to why some system is one way rather than another way. One is that it has to be that way because there’s some fundamental principle that makes it so. In fact, my generation was raised to find the unique set of laws which would satisfy the principles of relativity and quantum mechanics. We thought we would find a unique answer. But now we know that there are many, many different possible laws compatible with the principles of nature. The only other way in science that things get explained in a way that leads to testable hypotheses is if there’s some dynamical process acting in time, which makes the world come out the way it did.

What does that mean for our understanding of time?

The standard view in physics is that time isn’t fundamental, and that it emerges as an illusion out of the action of the laws. But if the laws evolve, that can’t be the case; time has to be more fundamental. If laws can change in time, then I take that almost as a definition of time being real. The arguments that Einstein and other people give for time being an illusion assume that the laws of nature never change. If they do change, the case that time is an illusion falls apart. It means that time is more fundamental than the laws of nature.

Newton was revolutionary in part because he applied a timeless set of laws to the whole universe. Was he wrong to do so?

Physics was invented by people who happened to be very religious. Newton is one example. For him the laws of nature and their mathematical representations were synonymous with knowing the thoughts of God: Space was the sensorium of God and true time was the time in which God experienced the world and made things in the world. And Newton’s style of doing physics works perfectly when you apply it to a small part of the universe, say something going on in a laboratory. But when you take Newton’s style of doing physics and apply it to the universe as a whole, you implicitly assume that there is something outside the universe making things happen inside the universe, the same way there’s something outside the laboratory system making things happen in the laboratory. What I think has happened is that even physicists who have no religious faith or commitment have gotten sucked into a form of explanation which has a religious underpinning, by which I mean it requires pointing to something outside the universe in order to give a complete explanation. Many people who think of themselves as atheists do this habitually. In my view, it makes them think sloppy thoughts about cosmology. When it comes to extending science to the universe as a whole, you have to think differently than applying science to a laboratory system.

http://nautil.us/issue/9/time/the-metaphysical-baggage-of-physics

Posted By F. Sheikh

Why Does Higgs Particle Matter ? By Frank Wilczek

A worth reading essay by Noble Prize winner physicist.

Imagine a planet encrusted with ice, beneath which a vast ocean lies. (Imagine Europa.)

Within that ocean a species of brilliant fish evolved. Those fish were so intelligent that they took up physics, and formulated the laws that govern motion. At first they derived quite complicated laws, because the motion of bodies within water is complicated.

One day, however, a genius among fish, call her Fish Newton, had a startling new idea. She proposed fundamental laws of motion––Newton’s laws––that are simpler and more beautiful than the laws the fish had derived directly from experience. She demonstrated mathematically that you could reproduce the observed motions from the new, simpler laws, if you assume that there is a space-filling medium that complicates things. She called it Ocean.

Of course our fish had been immersed in Ocean for eons, but without knowing it. Since it was ever-present, they took it for granted. They regarded it as an aspect of space itself––as mere emptiness. But Fish Newton invited them to consider that they might be immersed in a material medium.

Thus inspired, fish scientists set out to find the atoms of Fish Newton’s hypothetical medium. And soon they did!

That story is our own. We humans, like those fish, have been living within a material medium for millennia, without being consciously aware of it.

The first inkling of its existence came in the 1960s. By that time physicists had devised especially beautiful equations for describing elementary particles with zero mass. Nature likes those equations, too. The photons responsible for electromagnetism, the gravitons responsible for gravity, and the color gluons responsible for the strong force are all zero mass particles. Electromagnetism, gravity, and the strong force are three of the four fundamental interactions known to physics. The other is the weak force.

A problem arose, however, for the W and Z bosons, which are responsible for the weak force. Though they have many properties in common with photons and color gluons, W and Z bosons have non-zero mass. So it appeared that one could not use the beautiful equations for zero mass particles to describe them.  The situation grew desperate: The equations for particles with the properties of W and Z, when forced to accommodate non-zero mass, led to mathematical inconsistencies.  Click link for full article;

https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/content/why-does-higgs-particle-matter?utm_medium=email&utm_source=editor&utm_campaign=higgs%20re-post%207-2

Milky Way could be home to 4.5 billion Earth-like planets

 

Milky Way could be home to 4.5 billion Earth-like planets

Astronomers have calculated that 6 percent of our galaxy’s most common type of star probably host temperate, Earth-sized planets, meaning that a habitable alien Earth could be just a dozen light years away.

By Mike WallSPACE.com / February 6, 2013

http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2013/0206/Milky-Way-could-be-home-to-4.5-billion-Earth-like-planets#.UR0B9Qot3Po.mailto

Fairly Simple Math Could Bridge Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity

The following article is taken from the email received from Scientific American magazine  {Noor Salik}

Some of the comments are interesting:

<–for example —>

Nonsense.  I suppose you don’t consider the transistor to be practical. The transistor could not have been invented without quantum mechanical solid state physics.

<——>

Actual article:

Fairly Simple Math Could Bridge Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity

A framework that relies on college-level mathematics could describe what happens to particles in so-called space time rips, gravity fluctuations such as those that occur during the birth of a black hole

By Eugenie Samuel Reich and Nature magazine

 

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Image: wylieconlon/Flickr

From Nature magazine.

Could an analysis based on relatively simple calculations point the way to reconciling the two most successful — and stubbornly distinct — branches of modern theoretical physics? Frank Wilczek and his collaborators hope so.

The task of aligning quantum mechanics, which deals with the behaviour of fundamental particles, with Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which describes gravity in terms of curved space-time, has proved an enormous challenge. One of the difficulties is that neither is adequate to describe what happens to particles when the space-time they occupy undergoes drastic changes — such as those thought to occur at the birth of a black hole. But in a paper posted to the arXiv preprint server on 15 October (A. D. Shapere et al. http://arxiv.org/abs/1210.3545; 2012), three theoretical physicists present a straightforward way for quantum particles to move smoothly from one kind of ‘topological space’ to a very different one.

The analysis does not model gravity explicitly, and so is not an attempt to formulate a theory of ‘quantum gravity’ that brings general relativity and quantum mechanics under one umbrella. Instead, the authors, including Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, suggest that their work might provide a simplified framework for understanding the effects of gravity on quantum particles, as well as describing other situations in which the spaces that quantum particles move in can radically alter, such as in condensed-matter-physics experiments. “I’m pretty excited,” says Wilczek, “We have to see how far we can push it.”

The idea is attracting attention not only because of the scope of its possible applications, but because it is based on undergraduate-level mathematics. “Their paper starts with the most elementary framework,” says Brian Greene, a string theorist at Columbia University in New York. “It’s inspiring how far they can go with no fancy machinery.”

Wilczek and his co-authors set up a hypothetical system with a single quantum particle moving along a wire that abruptly splits into two. The stripped-down scenario is effectively the one-dimensional version of an encounter with ripped space-time, which occurs when the topology of a space changes radically. The theorists concentrate on what happens at the endpoints of the wire — setting the ‘boundary conditions’ for the before and after states of the quantum wave associated with the particle. They then show that the wave can evolve continuously without facing any disruptions as the boundary conditions shift from one geometry to the other, incompatible one. “You can smoothly follow this process,” says Al Shapere at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, a co-author on the paper, adding that, like a magician’s rings, the transformation is impossible to visualize, but does make mathematical sense.

The desire to escape the mathematical headaches caused by such transformations is one motivation for string theory, which allows smooth changes in the topology of space-time, says Greene. He suggests that the approach developed by Wilczek, Shapere and MIT undergraduate student Zhaoxi Xiong could be applied within string theory too.

Although Wilczek originally believed that the result was new, a 1995 paper by Aiyalam Balachandran of Syracuse University in New York proposed a similar strategy for describing changes in topology in quantum mechanics (A. P. Balachandranet al. Nucl. Phys. B 446, 299–314; 1995). Balachandran acknowledges that his work hasn’t hit the mainstream and says that he hopes Wilczek’s paper will prompt others to take a closer look. “Conventional approaches to this problem don’t get very far,” he says. “This opens up a new technique.”

 

A framework that relies on college-level mathematics could describe what happens to particles in so-called spacetime rips, gravity fluctuations such as those that occur during the birth of a black hole

By Eugenie Samuel Reich and Nature magazine

 

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The framework might also provide inspiration for experimentalists working on condensed matter. Rob Myers, a string theorist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada, says that he expects it to be relevant to an area called quantum quenches, in which quantum systems evolve in isolation from the environment and are then kicked out of equilibrium by an action of the experimentalist. Condensed-matter physicists have developed several quantum systems — including cold-atom traps and superconducting circuits — that can be used to test this idea.

Although the authors lay out their solution in only one dimension, Myers expects that the approach will readily generalize to describe real experiments in three dimensions. But he cautions that the paper represents only a first step. “To really see the impact of this work, that will take a while,” he says.

This article is reproduced with permission from the magazine Nature. The article wasfirst published on October 30, 2012.

 

 

14 Comments

Add Comment

  1. 1.    1. owlafaye08:57 PM 10/30/12

Bridging a 100 year old theory to a theory that has yielded nothing of practical value is a great way to continue wasting resources on roads that lead nowhere.

The protons were upset enough before quantum came along…leave them alone, admit you fell off the path somewhere, go back to a more promising idea and stop making fools of yourselves.

  1. 2.    2. robert schmidtin reply to owlafaye09:52 PM 10/30/12

Never have to wait long before some idiot comes along and says essentially that the world should take his word for it that the scientists are all wrong. Thanks for your contribution. You have made the world a much better place.

  1. 3.    3. slackerkeithin reply to owlafaye10:24 PM 10/30/12

@ owlafaye – You’re claiming quantum mechanics has “yielded nothing of practical value”? Man, you are a tool of the highest order.

  1. 4.    4. owlafayein reply to slackerkeith10:58 PM 10/30/12

Its a matter of your understanding of the word “practical”.

Physicists and their theories are at loggerheads with each other. You might say they always have been but in the past it led to great revelations and progress.

We are going nowhere towards the discovery of free energy solutions and travel amongst the stars.

Most physicists no longer have a “holy grail” relevant to humanity. Directed energy matters lay on the laboratory floor.

Leedskalnin, Tesla and other brilliant men were ignored by the rapaciousness of people like Westinghouse…once their research and goals are claimed and enhanced on by today’s scientists, we might just get somewhere.

Quantum mechanics only leads to answers that needed no question. They chase foolishness.

There is another scientific path to knowledge.

  1. 5.    5. Of NoImportance in reply to owlafaye11:55 PM 10/30/12

You speak as if, at present, every application of quantum mechanics is known – that there will never be a need to further study a certain science that works yet clashes with another.

And it’s not like the world is short on physicists. People can specialize; can pursue seemingly pointless goals for the purpose of finding out why – much like mathematics.

It is foolish to discard knowledge when it exists and no one knows why.

  1. 6.    6. negabladein reply to owlafaye12:13 AM 10/31/12

You haven’t actually said what that path is, other than something about upset protons which I’m assuming isn’t a literal description. If you have a self consistent framework with testable theories you should follow that path yourself and report on where it leads you. Or you could pay others to follow that path on your behalf. Your current approach is unlikely to succeed.

  1. 7.    7. And Then What?07:32 AM 10/31/12

Any theory that appears to constructs a mental bridge that allows us to understand why our current theories seem to be in conflict is worth exploring. To me it is a foregone  conclusion that the information we have at this point in time is just a glimpse of Reality. What lies in wait beneath and teases us with small bits of information about its true nature does not purposely hide from us. It simply is. We are curious, and want to know what drives everything, but unfortunately our vision of everything is not really everything, and so we interpret according to our perceptions. In a strange way we may be trying to go down the road with the cart before the horse. It may be that we will solve the true nature of the riddle by observing how the riddle affects its surroundings, but I suspect that any true understanding of how the riddle is constructed will only come once we understand the riddle itself. Mathematics may well describe the effects but in order for it to describe what produces the effects it must be “proven mathematically” that such a result is unique. This will always be open to attack based on the fact that “sample size” cannot be ignored as a determining factor with regard to the uniqueness of the result. Having said this, at our current stage of development, Mathematics and its underlying Logical framework would appear to be the best tools we have and may in fact lead us to our Eureka moment.

  1. 8.    8. bigbopperin reply to owlafaye09:36 AM 10/31/12

Nonsense.  I suppose you don’t consider the transistor to be practical. The transistor could not have been invented without quantum mechanical solid state physics.

  1. 9.    9. jahtez01:30 PM 10/31/12

owlafaye sez: “We are going nowhere towards the discovery of free energy solutions and travel amongst the stars”.

Think about that before you bother to respond.

  1. 10.  10. M Tuckerin reply to owlafaye05:13 PM 10/31/12

You have no idea of what you are talking about. It would be best for you to attempt to get some sort of basic notion of quantum mechanics before you decide it is a waste of resources. You might start with history. When you mentioned, “Bridging a 100 year old theory to a theory that has yielded nothing of practical value…” I was a bit perplexed but the rest of your rant made it clear that you consider general relativity to be the older theory but you are wrong. When general relativity gets to be 100 years old in a few more years I’m sure SA will have a nice article to commemorate the event. Perhaps you could investigate quantum mechanics to find out just what that theory has contributed to both physics and chemistry.