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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: Joad]
      #5769380 - 03/31/13 05:59 PM

Joad clearly identified and described the diverging directions philosophy took on the european continent and in Anglo-American culture. Joad wrote,

"But with the advent of the empirical scientific method, all that changed. Science and philosophy are quite distinct. The Anglo-American tradition of philosophy (Analytic) considerably reduced its ambitions a century ago to focus on the logic of arguments, while Continental philosophers have focused on politics, language, and culture."

Joad's opinion about a direction to which philosophy should return, I think is a valuable comment. He wrote, "I think philosophers should go back to what Socrates focused on: the definition of the "good" for human life. They gave that up a long long time ago, but it is one thing that human beings can think about without requiring scientific knowledge or support."

I would like to add a qualification to the foregoing comment. There has been one philosophical tradition which has continued to deal with the issue of what is good for human life. That tradition is called moderate realism. It's iconic proponents have been Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. Since the beginning of scientific/technological modernity, this philosophical emphasis on ethical issues related to the good life, has continued unabated among "the Catholic and non-Catholic disciples of Thomas Aquinas"...those who have a "party allegiance" to the concept of "natural right"; an issue which is anathema to the continental philosophies mentioned by Joad and ignored by the Anglo-American advocates of logical positivism. (Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History, page 7).


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5769426 - 03/31/13 06:16 PM

One of my philosophy teachers was a Robert Sokolowski whose sobriquet is "the other Polish phenomenologists"; a tongue in cheek reference to Karol Woytyla (Pope John Paul II who had a Ph.D in phenomenology; a branch of philosophy).

Fr. Sokolowski wrote a book called Introduction to Phenomenology in response to/as a reaction to a conversation he had with the mathematician Gian Carol-Rota. In that book he shared Carol-Rota's observation about the nature of philosophy and the manner in which philosophy could imitate mathematical research to its own benefit.

Sokolowski wrote, "Rota had often drawn attention to a difference between mathematicians and philosophers. Mathematicians, he said, tend to absorb the writings of their predecessors directly into their own work. They do not comment on the writings of earlier mathematicians, even if they have been very much influenced by them. They simply make use of the material that they find in the authors they read. When advances are made in mathematics, later thinkers condense the findings and move on. Few mathematicians study works from past centuries; compared with contemporary mathematics, such older writings seem to them almost like the work of children."

"In philosophy, by contrast, classical works often become enshrined as objects of exegesis rather than resources to be exploited...Rota acknowledged the value of [this]...but thought philosophers ought to do more. Besides offering exposition, they should abridge earlier writings and directly address issues, speaking in their own voice..." (Page 1).

An example of "directly addressing issues" and "speaking in their own voice" would be Joad's suggestion that philosophy focus again on what is "good for human life".


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CounterWeight
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Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Palo alto, CA.
Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5769592 - 03/31/13 07:59 PM

The problem here is that what Joad wrote is incorrect? That makes it a belief contradicting facts, and anything following a post hoc ergo proctor hoc logical fallacy...

It is not a matter of you or I agreeing on anything, I tried to post some links to concrete examples that are at least as current as the science, there are many more for anyone willing to take the time. I cannot understand this need to create a division where none exists. Certainly there is a useful formula / concept or principle that is on paper, but what prompted the person come up with it? That it might be a consideration 'outside the harness' of mathmanship doesn't make it any more correct or incorrect.

We are talking about physics and in some way relativity, imagine being in the room with Russel, Godel, Pauli, and Einstein (a historical fact that they all met periodically, not just my flight of fancy) and making the assertion. So why make it here? Why not allow each it's due and accept it's existance.

So... put me in the strongly disagree side of this - with facts though, and not just me disagreeing.



.


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CounterWeight
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Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5769664 - 03/31/13 08:41 PM

Quote:

Few mathematicians study works from past centuries; compared with contemporary mathematics, such older writings seem to them almost like the work of children."




This deserves 'special attention'. Euclid, Gauss, Euler, Jacobi ... and Newton? Sure, many do not study the original material and as in the case of Newton we dont call them fluxions and fluents - but it's very much a part of 'modern' math, and at least IMO far from childs play. I think these ideas are as difficult for folks to understand today as they were 100 years ago. As for degreed mathpersons in general, it's quite possible to go down a road that another has no specialization in that may have it's foundation in something seemingly not too difficult... like Hardy's initial reaction to the writings of Ramanujan. 'He's either another crazy or a true genius' (loose translation)

Edited by CounterWeight (03/31/13 08:42 PM)


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llanitedave
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: idealistic]
      #5769914 - 03/31/13 11:47 PM

Quote:

I'll get right on that. Can math not be explained using concepts that philosophers use?




More practically, it would behoove philosophers who want to explain math to simply learn math, on its own terms. Many already have, so we know it's not an unreasonable proposition.

Edited by llanitedave (03/31/13 11:51 PM)


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Neutrino?
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Reged: 12/14/09

Loc: Wasatch Front
Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: Joad]
      #5770073 - 04/01/13 02:27 AM

Quote:

Newtonian physics, which was of immense interest to philosophers, does not challenge our fundamental human perception/conception/construction of reality. So in that sense one might say that philosophers of the pre-Quantum, pre-Relativity era felt pretty confident about the whole thing.

But while QM and Relativity have also been of immense interest to many current philosophers of science, both QM and Relativity are so alien to our fundamental human perception/conception/construction of reality that their philosophical explorations rest on a far less firm ground. The main problem is that neither QM nor Relativity make much sense in the context of natural language conceptuality (which is the language of a philosopher); they only make sense in the language of mathematics. Most philosophers (if not all) do not really have the mathematical training to fully grasp QM and Relativity (I know that I don't), and even physicists who do have that training can run off the rails when speculating in natural languages on what mathematics reveal. The "strong" anthropogenic argument that our observation of a photon not only causes it to collapse into a wave packet but also causes its emission in the first place is an example, IMHO, of physicists running off the rails.




SR and QM may predict things that are outside of our normal range of physical perception, but SR as a theory still adheres to a realism standpoint. In QM, this is not the case. From its five axioms, it only describes what is perceived as physical observation as a result from outside intervention. This is a huge problem if you are only even remotely concerned about what this can tell you about how the universe works.

Is that running off the rails quote you have come from sort of Wigner/Wheeler-land interpretation?

Edited by Neutrino? (04/01/13 02:33 AM)


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Jarad
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Reged: 04/28/03

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Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: idealistic]
      #5770356 - 04/01/13 09:45 AM

Quote:

Things have certain identities and behave in certain definable ways (edit: No matter whether we're looking or not, no matter how it makes us feel), this should be true at all times and at all scales.




The problem is that this is not true at all times and all scales. Particle behavior at small scales is distinctly different than at large scales. An electron does not behave the same as a baseball. If you throw a baseball through a slit, it goes through in a straight line. An electron does not - it diffracts, and can end up far from the line (and QM can give very precise odds for the chances of it ending up at various points, and if we shoot a beam of electrons through the slit we see pattern that matches those predictions perfectly).

Same thing happens at large scales - we can use simple newtonian dynamics to predict orbits around the earth pretty well. They break down a little bit at the scale of the sun (the precession of Mercury does not match newtonian predictions), so we have to go up to relativity. At larger scales, we have to include the curvature and expansion of space.

This is probably one of the core differences between philosophy and physics - in philosophy you can say what should be true. In physics, you are constrained by what is measureably true.

Jarad

Edited by Jarad (04/01/13 11:29 AM)


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llanitedave
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: Jarad]
      #5770636 - 04/01/13 11:54 AM

Quote:

In physics, you are constrained by what is measureably true.





Which is in no way a failure of physics itself.


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CounterWeight
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Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Palo alto, CA.
Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5770690 - 04/01/13 12:16 PM

true at least in the realm of the 'physical' aspect of physics, here I think of Johnson kicking the rock.

I try and take a somewhat holistic approach, that something may in the details be invalid does not necessarily mean it's all a house of cards... unless you go outside the bounds of what it's good for. Contrary to those that think somehow asking questions and finding weakness a fault of some sort of system, it's actually a strength. Understanding assumptions tops the list, and there are many approaches, but to find what they are takes some rigor. That a system may provide explanations for phenomena does not mean complete understanding.

Otto, there was a book written some time ago and I'd like to recommend it heartily as it might touch appropriatly on the appropriate subjects, and I'd be very interested in your thoughts about it.

Mathematics, The Loss of Certainty, by Morris Kline. It's on my shelf and I read it some time ago but he does do IMHO a decent job of discussing the aspects seemingly at hand here if I understand correctly what you are asking about in the main.


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CounterWeight
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Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5770709 - 04/01/13 12:26 PM

Quote:

Same thing happens at large scales - we can use simple newtonian dynamics to predict orbits around the earth pretty well. They break down a little bit at the scale of the sun (the precession of Mercury does not match newtonian predictions), so we have to go up to relativity. At larger scales, we have to include the curvature and expansion of space.

This is probably one of the core differences between philosophy and physics - in philosophy you can say what should be true. In physics, you are constrained by what is measureably true.




Jarad as always a great point and very well put.

There is this nagging issue called the '3 body problem' to say nothing of the four body problem or higher.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5770738 - 04/01/13 12:39 PM

What is space?

What is the nature of the space which contains matter in the universe?

What is the nature of the "place" outside of the universe?

Why is it incorrect to think of space outside the confines of the universe?

etc.

Otto


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llanitedave
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Reged: 09/26/05

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Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5770794 - 04/01/13 01:09 PM

The words "nature" and "outside of the universe" have no conceptual connection with one another.

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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5770801 - 04/01/13 01:16 PM

What is space?

Why is it correct to think of space as existing only within the universe?

Why is it correct not to think of space as a place into which the universe expands/occcupies?


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Jarad
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Reged: 04/28/03

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Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5771184 - 04/01/13 04:47 PM

Quote:

What is space?




Good, the first step should be to select a definition. This will help answer the later questions.

Wikipedia lists the definition of space as: The boundless three-dimensional extent in which objects exist and events occur and have relative position and direction.

Quote:

Why is it correct to think of space as existing only within the universe?




This depends on your definition of "universe". Sticking with Wikipedia, the Universe is commonly defined as the totality of existence, including planets, stars, galaxies, the contents of intergalactic space, and all matter and energy.

So, if we define the universe as encompassing all space, then space exists completely within the universe. If there space somewhere else, then by definition that somewhere else is part of the universe. The only real difference between the two definitions is that the "universe" includes the matter and energy contained inside the "space".

If you want to postulate some special set of "space" that is outside the universe, then you have to start changing the definitions to include some boundaries to have an "inside" and "outside". But as they are now, if it contains space, it is part of the universe.

The space part is actually pretty simple. We can postulate boundless space fairly easily (just like a plane with one more dimension). It's when you get to spacetime that it gets more complicated, since the current expanding model has at least one inherent boundary - the beginning. It's the "What happened before the Big Bang" question that's hard to answer, more so than the "What's outside the universe" one.

That's the philosophical reason that some people prefer a steady state model to any type of Big Bang hypothesis - it makes time just another boundless dimension like space and you don't have to worry about the boundary issue (it's turtles all the way down).

But the real reason not to get too bogged down in the "what's outside the universe" issue is the empirical one - we can only measure and test what is in the universe. If it is truly outside the universe, it's untestable, so also outside of science. If we can measure it, then it part of our universe in some way. If, for example, we figure out a way to measure things happening in a 10th dimension, that's not outside the universe, it just means our universe does in fact have at least 10 dimensions.

Jarad


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EJN
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 11/01/05

Loc: 53 miles west of Venus
Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5771200 - 04/01/13 04:52 PM

First off, talking of "space" by itself is an outmoded concept from the Newtonian
view. In the context of special & general relativity, one can only speak of "spacetime".
In this context, spacetime is a (mathematical) manifold which relates "events."
The coordinate system is arbitrary; relativity is actually a way of describing
relationships between events using mathematical objects which are invariant under
coordinate changes. GR is a background independent theory, in that it describes the
dynamics of the background (spacetime).

In QM, the background is considered fixed, and "space" in QM is the quantum vacuum,
the lowest possible energy state of quantum fields. It is not zero, however, so space
is never truly empty (the "perfect" vacuum, or "free space" of classical physics).

Since the universe, by definition, is all of spacetime, to ask what is "outside" of it
is a meaningless question in physics.


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llanitedave
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Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: Jarad]
      #5771211 - 04/01/13 04:55 PM

The "what happened before the Big Bang" question is functionally identical to "what's outside the Universe", since at least in a spacetime context, time is as much a creation of the Big Bang as space is.

Although it is strange, when you think about it, that there doesn't seem to be any expansion of time in the universe along with the space. Why are three new dimensions constantly being expanded, but not the fourth dimension?


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5771349 - 04/01/13 05:51 PM

I have read the words "expansion" and "expand" and "expanding" to refer to the activity of the universe after the Big Bang.

In what sense does the universe expand? is expanding? undergoing expansion?

The word expand means to grow in size as measured against some standard measure; the measuring tape, the size of the theatre seat...all of these are things outside the thing which is expanding.

Yet, we say there is no place outside the universe into which the universe expanded or could have expanded. Thus, my question, in what sense do we say the universe expands? is expanding? underwent expansion?

Otto


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EJN
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Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5771380 - 04/01/13 06:08 PM

What you refer to is an extrinsic frame of reference, where something
is measured against external objects. The mathematics of relativity describes
"intrinsic" expansion, that is without reference to anything external.

That the expansion is taking place is known because of the redshifting of
distance objects, the light being "stretched" so to speak. In relativity
light defines the null geodesic.

I posted this in the "Where is the expanding universe going" thread which
perhaps you should read.

Quote:

In the geometry of spacetime, the shortest distance between 2 points is defined
by the path of light (or any electromagnetic wave). This is called the null,
or lightlike geodesic.

Consider 2 points, A & B, in a static spacetime. Light traveling from point A
to point B defines the geodesic connecting the points. In the time the light
travels from A to B, it undergoes X cycles of the light wave (if I recall the
frequency of visible light is in the hundreds of terahertz).

Now consider points A & B in an *expanding* spacetime manifold. Initially,
the separation is the same as above. As light travels from A to B, the manifold
expands. When the light reaches point B, it will have undergone exactly the
same number of wave cycles as in the above example above. How? As the manifold
expands the wavelength increases, so the frequency decreases. When light
arrives at point B, it has a longer wavelength and so appears to be redshifted.

From the point of reference of the light wave, it has undergone exactly the same
same number of wave cycles in both cases, no "new" space has been traversed.

As is often the case in physics, what can easily be expressed in mathematics
is difficult to explain using just words.



My alternate answer to where the expanding universe is going is that it
is going to some place out in the sun, right down Highway 61.




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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: EJN]
      #5771470 - 04/01/13 07:01 PM

Since there is no external referent against which the expansion is measured, how do we know from the red-shift evidence that the universe is not, instead, going through some process of universal-diminution (everything receding from everything else and reducing in size)?

Edited by Otto Piechowski (04/01/13 07:05 PM)


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Joad
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Reged: 03/22/05

Re: A Request to the Physicists Among Us new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5771492 - 04/01/13 07:13 PM

This is what I meant when I said that modern physics, at both the micro and macro level, is not susceptible to a logic based in natural languages. Our natural languages are adapted to the scale in which we evolved, and are adequate to it. Applying them to the other scales doesn't lead to anything.

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