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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
The Higgs Boson as a field of snow
      #6124925 - 10/08/13 01:19 PM

Would you folk with physics background and/or understanding, go to today's New York Times and look at an article, very brief, describing the nature of the Higgs Boson by means of an analogy to a field covered with snow. After you have read/seen it, would you be so kind as to tell me/us here what you find good, and what you find inadequate about the metaphors used.

Thank you.

Otto


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PeterR280
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 05/27/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #6124967 - 10/08/13 01:38 PM

explaining quantum mechanics by using analogies of everyday life is difficult. It's a mathematical model that has no counterpart in everyday experiences.

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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6125195 - 10/08/13 03:22 PM

It's utterly meaningless.

-drl


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6125378 - 10/08/13 04:30 PM

Thank you Danny and PeterR280.

Your responses, Danny and PeterR280 highlight very effectively the issue which continues to interest me deeply: why, when physicists such as Schrodinger assert that at best, the use of human speech to speak of quantum-subatomic-realities presents statements, the meaninglessness of which, are somewhere between speaking of winged-lions and triangular circles; why does media, whose sales depend on the public perception that their reports are accurate, continue to employ popularized descriptions of these things in human speech/analogies/metaphors?

My answer is that the non-science people in such professions, like all persons without a background in physics, like myself, are so ignorant of physics, that they have no way of judging the accuracy of the scientific statements they request of the popularizers of scientific data they hire to meet a perceived public need/request for/interest in scientific findings. Putting the best possible spin on this phenomena, media outlets such as the New York Times are trying to meet a perceived public desire/interest/need. They obtain people they believe or hope are trustworthy and accept their statements without question because they have no other choice.

This sort of thing happens, not just in popular media, but also around tables of political decision making, and review boards of various scientific journals. I read somewhere, just a couple days ago, that someone again intentionally wrote some scientific hogwash just to see how many highly qualified reviewers would publish it though it made no sense, based solely on its credentials and citations. It was something like 100 out of 200 who went ahead and published it.

My interest and concern is that expressed by Dr. Hannah Arendt in her The Human Condition. Important decisions about the spending of vast amounts of public wealth and about the creation of various technological applications happen in the political realm; around tables by often elected officials. To make their decisions they must use human speech. But, how do they make decisions about things they can't understand since the matters about which they are making decisions; e.g. building an atomic weapon, denying the creation of a super-conducting-super-collider, etc cannot be explained to them in human speech? The default position is that they trust the scientific experts they consult. But, is that not what the New York Times just did as well; trust an expert?


I wish to return to PeterR280's and Danny's statements regarding the New York Times Higg's Boson article. Has the article no merit at all? Does it help lay readers in any way to understand the essential points of the Higgs Boson?

And of course, the most interesting question; is an accurate and pertinent description of the Higgs Boson impossible in human non-mathematical speech?

I am interested in your comments and response.

Otto


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scopethis
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/30/08

Loc: Kingman, Ks
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #6125398 - 10/08/13 04:40 PM

kinda like trying to write a set of instructions on "How To Ride A Bicycle"....

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shawnhar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 06/25/10

Loc: Knoxville, TN
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: scopethis]
      #6125486 - 10/08/13 05:26 PM

Paraphrasing Obi-Wan...
The Higgs is what gives a particle it's mass. It's an energy field created by tiny things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.
May the Higgs be with you


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PeterR280
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 05/27/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: scopethis]
      #6125495 - 10/08/13 05:31 PM

Interesting question. I suppose we all want to understand all the new developments, especially if we have a curious mind. Most people can understand Newton's laws if they have high school math and decide that they want to learn. Once you get to electromagnetic theory and Maxwell's equations, the level of math is beyond most people. The complexity of the math continues to increase as you get to modern physics. It also becomes more abstract, but you need that level of specialization to continue the progress. The physicists have spent many years studying nothing but.

I think it's good that popular books are written to inform people about the new developments but they don't really give a good insight. The public should be informed, especially if large tax dollars are being spent but unfortuntely those decisions are left to science advisors to the politicians. One danger I see is that these books give a false sense of knowledge that can be misdirected, like applying the concept of energy and quantum effects to healing or numerology or astrology. People use these terms in totally inapprorpiate ways and they cite words from new developments to justify false ideas. To a lay person, what they are saying is just as plausible as the words in a lay book eplaining the Higgs Field.


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dickbill
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 09/30/08

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: shawnhar]
      #6125602 - 10/08/13 06:23 PM

Quote:

Paraphrasing Obi-Wan...
The Higgs is what gives a particle it's mass. It's an energy field created by tiny things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.
May the Higgs be with you





actually...in this blog, in particular the post bellow, you'll read interesting things.
http://profmattstrassler.com/2012/10/15/why-the-higgs-and-gravity-are-unrelated/

...That the Higgs is actually not the most important contributor to give a mass to a particle: that energy and momentum may have bigger contribution, that the Higgs itself doesn't get its mass throughout the Higgs field???? did I read that correctly?
Anyways, the string theorrorist here will explain that better than I can...


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: dickbill]
      #6125642 - 10/08/13 06:48 PM

OOH, OOH, CBS has an article on the Higgs Boson right as I am typing. I can't wait to see how they summarize it.

"Gives mass to everything that exists."
"Explains why the universe held together."
"Acts as a nuclear glue that allows stars and planets and us to exist."

etc.


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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #6125675 - 10/08/13 07:07 PM

It is important to uderstand how the various ideas are related. The overarching idea is called gauge invariance. Leaving aside for the moment what that means, we can say what it's about and what is implied. The salient facts of particle life are conservation laws and interactions. The latter must operate in such a way as to guarantee the former. Gauge invariance is the principle by which particle interactions may occur in such a way that consevation laws are always satisfied. This however only works if the interaction behaves like the prototype gauge field, the photon, which allows electrons and other charged particlle to interact with each other. That interaction is long-range; we can see distant galaxies because their electrons interact with those in our cameras and retinas. But nuclear interactions are very short-range. If you want to model those interactions in the same way you do light, you have to explain why it only happens across a nucleus, and not across the whole universe. That is where the Higgs particle gets involved.

It is also important to remember that one is forced to reconcile opposed principles this way, fundamentally opposed. The long-rangeness of strict gauge fields is not optional, nor are the conservation laws they support. The solution is not entirely satisfactory, as one principle is immediately sacrificed so that the other can be universally satisfied. The Higgs mechanism is phenomenology, not fundamental theory. More will come into focus in due time.

-drl


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GregLee1
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/21/13

Loc: Waimanalo, HI
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #6125711 - 10/08/13 07:24 PM

Whatever exactly you and Schroedinger are trying to say, I wish you would stop maligning human speech. It has nothing to do with whether what you want to say can be expressed in human speech. It may be more convenient to write out mathematical formulas, but the formulas themselves could be spoken instead of written, if need be. Not that it would be practical, but just to show that is so, you can imagine expressing the graphical form of a formula in TeX code, then pronouncing the code. It is not human speech that is the bottleneck, here.

I think the complaint is really about explanations appealing to analogies with our common understandings of how the everyday world of objects and actions works. Nothing to do with speech.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6125713 - 10/08/13 07:25 PM

Thank you Danny.

I am use to the way the word phenomenology is used in philosophy. I think you are using it here in a somewhat different way with a somewhat different, perhaps importantly different, meaning.

Would you please explain what you meant when you wrote, "The Higgs mechanism is phenomenology, not fundamental theory"?

Thank you. Otto


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derangedhermit
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/07/09

Loc: USA
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: dickbill]
      #6125721 - 10/08/13 07:29 PM

The question of politicians or media purposefully conveying helpful information on any subject to the public has nothing to do with science in particular as the subject.

In most cases, if the truth and the message coincide, it is by accident; coincidental, unintended, and of no sigificance. When something helpful does get uttered, like a Surgeon General saying "Wearing a condom helps prevent the spread of AIDS", then they will often get roasted by large portions of the public and power-holders alike, who either don't like or don't believe what was said, or both.

Also, there are some fallacies the OP posits, but let them pass.

The NYT "analogies" in the two-sentence summary were, I claim, to entertain, not enlighten. Comparing the Higgs to a bill going through Congress...

Perhaps, as far as believability about the Higgs, what is pertinent to the public is that it was
- predicted/proposed almost 50 years ago (by multiple researchers in similar papers)
- described before discovery in more detail as the experimental search was being conducted
- found, by two different teams, numbering thousands of contributors, doing very careful work

That, in general, sounds like science happening, and gives one a base level of confidence, a cautious optimism that they have made progress in understanding the natural world.

That not every human can develop an understanding of a fact is no reason to discount it. Not every human understands that defecating in the same water one drinks from leads to disease. Many of the "religious" rules laid down in the Old Testament appear to have been issued by the equivalent of the Department of Health. To get people to follow them, it works well to put it in the religion - that, the followers believe in (or at least abide by).


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6125738 - 10/08/13 07:43 PM

Hi Greg. Nice to make your acquaintance and to here/read your comments.

I do not mean to malign human speech. I believe it is one of the most precious things we have.

I think what Arendt was saying and with which I agree is that mathematical symbols now say things which no longer make sense in human speech or can be made sense of in human speech. She wrote, "...the truths of the modern scientific world view, thought they can be demonstrated in mathematical formulas and proved technologically, will no longer lend themselves to normal expression in speech and thought. The moment these truths are spoken of conceptually and coherently, the resulting statements will be "not perhaps as meaningless as a 'triangular circle,' but much more so than a 'winged lion'" (Erwin Schrodinger)..." The Human Condition, "Prologue", page 3, Hannah Arendt.

The fact, if it is a fact, that scientific statements made in mathematical language cannot be translated back into normal everyday human speech, does not minimize the value of everyday human speech nor is it meant to criticize mathematical expression of scientific concepts. It means, if it is a fact, there is a disconnect between the things physicists know by means of mathematical-speech and what can be explained to political decision makers in the everyday normal human speech they use and understand.

An example I have used in philosophy of science lectures to give high school students an understanding of how something can be very correct, extremely useful, but not easily understood in human speech is the limit function and the derivative of the calculus. When these are explained in mathematics books it is sometimes said that what the derivative (limit function) "does" or "provides" is the "instantaneous rate of change of the given function". Well, that sentence makes no sense in everyday human speech because to obtain a rate of change one needs to have two points separated by some "distance". That "distance" is then, as we all know, divided by the "time" (or whatever 'marker' of change one is using) used to cover that "distance". If one has only one point, (i.e. the "instantaneous" in "instantaneous rate of change") to speak of a "rate of change" makes no sense in everyday normal human speech.

I'll stop now and eagerly await others to weigh in and affirm, deny, add in, modify, etc. these thoughts of mine, yours, others.

Otto


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #6125756 - 10/08/13 07:57 PM

Hi Lee, good to read your input as always!

I want to share with you something I heard some thirty years ago now and invite your thoughts and response. You wrote, "Many of the "religious" rules laid down in the Old Testament appear to have been issued by the equivalent of the Department of Health. To get people to follow them, it works well to put it in the religion - that, the followers believe in (or at least abide by)."

While studying theology in Israel/Palestine and Egypt in the early 1980s I studied under a number of Old Testament biblical scholars one of whom was a Benedictine monk and biblical scholar from St. John University, Collegeville, MN. It seemed perfectly obvious to those of us who were interested in the issue you touched on, that many of the dietary and "health" rules of the ancient Hebrews/Israelites/Jews were based on common sense/health reasons; i.e. medical reasons. He disagreed and shared with us his opinion that many, if not most, of these regulations were created for the purpose of creating and nurturing a sense of community; i.e. for political reasons.

Otto


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GregLee1
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/21/13

Loc: Waimanalo, HI
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #6125819 - 10/08/13 08:42 PM

Quote:

An example I have used in philosophy of science lectures to give high school students an understanding of how something can be very correct, extremely useful, but not easily understood in human speech is the limit function and the derivative of the calculus. When these are explained in mathematics books it is sometimes said that what the derivative (limit function) "does" or "provides" is the "instantaneous rate of change of the given function". Well, that sentence makes no sense in everyday human speech because to obtain a rate of change one needs to have two points separated by some "distance". That "distance" is then, as we all know, divided by the "time" (or whatever 'marker' of change one is using) used to cover that "distance". If one has only one point, (i.e. the "instantaneous" in "instantaneous rate of change") to speak of a "rate of change" makes no sense in everyday normal human speech.



If this is a clear account of the difference between what can be expressed mathematically and what can be expressed in human speech, isn't it odd that it is given entirely in human speech? Just examine what you've written ...

You are explaining to me, I think, the change from Newton's conceptualization of the differential calculus, much criticized by Berkeley, and the later formulation by Weierstrass and others in terms of "limit". That was an advance, but it was a conceptual change, not a change from a linguistic expression to a mathematical expression. After all, Newton did a bit of mathematics, too, and "limit" is a word of language.


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PeterR280
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 05/27/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6125835 - 10/08/13 08:52 PM

Physicists have no problem dividing by zero and multiplng with infinity. Mathematicians introduced the idea of limits and approaching things to make them more palitable. Complex variables which involve imaginary numbers are routine in solving problems. Quantum mechanics doesn't work without the square root of minus one.

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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6125889 - 10/08/13 09:25 PM

PeterR180 and Greg....your knowledge of mathematics and the history of mathematics is way beyond me. Can you/either of you/both of you explain to me the issue(s) you are discussing?

Thanks much.

Otto


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AstroGabe
sage


Reged: 01/10/10

Loc: SE Wisconsin
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #6125913 - 10/08/13 09:41 PM

I have no problem with the analogy as long as people keep in mind that it's simply an analogy, meaning the inner workings won't be fully known.

BTW, the original paper by Peter Higgs involved a classical description, so a fully quantum mechanical description isn't necessary to understand the key details.

Gabe


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GregLee1
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/21/13

Loc: Waimanalo, HI
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #6126026 - 10/08/13 10:43 PM

Quote:

Can you/either of you/both of you explain to me the issue(s) you are discussing?




You could take a look at the Wikipedia article on the Infinitesimal. This is a very, very tiny quantity, smaller than any real quantity, yet enough to take ratios with, e.g., to characterize a instantaneous rate of change. That is rather unintuitive. And when Newton and Leibnitz appealed to infinitesimals in their development of the "infinitesimal calculus", Bishop Berkeley objected that this made no sense, echoing your criticism when you write:

Quote:

"When these are explained in mathematics books it is sometimes said that what the derivative (limit function) "does" or "provides" is the "instantaneous rate of change of the given function". Well, that sentence makes no sense in everyday human speech because to obtain a rate of change one needs to have two points separated by some "distance".




When you say that the derivative as an instantaneous rate of change (a ratio of infinitesimals) "makes no sense in everyday human speech", the "makes no sense" part seems to be Berkeley's conclusion, and the "in everyday human speech" is some other issue -- I don't quite know what. There is certainly an interesting issue whether infinitesimals make sense, but I don't think it has any connection with human speech.

Eventually, a formulation of the calculus based on limits was found, and so mathematicians didn't need to invite criticism any longer by using infinitesimals. Later still, in the '60s, Abraham Robinson discovered that the calculus based on infinitesimals was just as sound as the calculus based on limits. Full circle.


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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6126059 - 10/08/13 11:00 PM

I think you provided the answer to the "makes no sense in everyday human speech" already in your post, Greg. They aren't two different issues. They both refer back to intuition. Analogy appeals to intuition, and much of physics is counterintuitive. Human speech has a lot of difficulty conveying counterintuitive concepts -- those usually require some sort of physical demostration rather than explanation.

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GregLee1
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/21/13

Loc: Waimanalo, HI
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6126081 - 10/08/13 11:15 PM

Quote:

Human speech has a lot of difficulty conveying counterintuitive concepts -- those usually require some sort of physical demostration rather than explanation.



Could you tell me please what humans' difficulty with counterintuitive concepts has to do with their speech? Doesn't "counterintuitive" refer to a conceptual difficulty rather than a linguistic one? When one of your physical demonstrations successfully conveys a concept, do you think it produced a language change? If so, what?

I really am baffled here by what seems to me to be a confusion of language and thought. Do you think those two are the same?


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PeterR280
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 05/27/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6126104 - 10/08/13 11:25 PM

language conveys thought

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PeterR280
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 05/27/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6126106 - 10/08/13 11:25 PM

otherwise you have to read minds

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derangedhermit
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/07/09

Loc: USA
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6126117 - 10/08/13 11:31 PM

math is a language

a human one


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derangedhermit
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/07/09

Loc: USA
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #6126122 - 10/08/13 11:34 PM

humans cannot apply math to political (or, by extension, other "emotionally invested") issues

recent study proving it


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PeterR280
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 05/27/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #6126131 - 10/08/13 11:43 PM

There are two issues here:

1) quantum mechanics is counter-intuitive. You can't come up with quantum mechanics just by thinking about physical events. The mathematics gave results about reality at the atomic level that were shocking.

2) quantum and classical physics, even theories that are intuitive cannot be completely explained by spoken language alone. One needs to understand the mathematic to truly understand the concepts.


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GregLee1
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/21/13

Loc: Waimanalo, HI
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6126178 - 10/09/13 12:20 AM

Quote:

2) quantum and classical physics, even theories that are intuitive cannot be completely explained by spoken language alone. One needs to understand the mathematic to truly understand the concepts.



Yes, you need to understand the mathematics to understand the concept. That's obvious. So if you don't understand the mathematics, we don't have to appeal to some issue with spoken language to explain why you won't understand the concept. No maths -- no get it.

Now, what does spoken language have to do with it? Do you mean to be saying that even if you do understand the mathematics, you will still not be able to understand the concept unless you can see a mathematical form written down? A spoken explanation will not work. That's what you seem to be saying.

Edited by GregLee1 (10/09/13 08:27 AM)


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PeterR280
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 05/27/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6126196 - 10/09/13 12:32 AM

In the case of quantum mechanics, even though you understand the mathematics, what the equations tell you does not make sense.

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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6126394 - 10/09/13 06:09 AM

Quote:

There are two issues here:

1) quantum mechanics is counter-intuitive. You can't come up with quantum mechanics just by thinking about physical events. The mathematics gave results about reality at the atomic level that were shocking.

2) quantum and classical physics, even theories that are intuitive cannot be completely explained by spoken language alone. One needs to understand the mathematic to truly understand the concepts.




The ideas behind the Higgs mechanism and the requisite particle state are neither counter-intuitive nor unspeakable. I just spoke about them as clearly as I possibly could, in a way that cannot be misunderstood. Here it is again as numerated statements:

1) Conservation laws and interactions between pieces of matter are not optional. They are the fundamental building blocks of our picture of physical reality.

2) Distant action is not possible. All interaction is caused by local fields that propagate according to the laws of special relativity.

3 There is one and only one way to ensure that conservation laws are always satisfied in any given interaction in a way that is compatible with locality and relativity - they must be described by gauge fields having certain fixed mathematical properties (they must structured by Lie groups, in technical language).

4) Gauge fields are, by their very nature, long-range in action. There is no gauge invariant field that is not long-range. Any restriction to its range must originate in a separate type of interaction, mediated by a "guest" field that is not part of the original interaction schemata.

5) The weak interaction is, observationally, short-range. It does not operate from galaxy to galaxy, or from star to star, or from wall to wall, or from hair to hair. It operates from nucleon to nucleon.

6) Thus, there MUST be a additional participant in the interaction, whose only purpose is to shorten the range of the interaction through a mechanism that itself is not part of the original idea of conservation laws supported by gauge invariance.

7) That participant is the Higgs field, the mechanism is called the Higgs mechanism, and the overall idea is known as "spontaneous symmetry breaking". The prototype for this sort of scheme is the expelling of the magnetic field from a superconductor, which phenomenologically, amounts to the photon acquiring a mass inside the superconductor, and so becoming effectively short-range. The missing, expelled magnetic field is the physical consequence of the now-short-range photon.

If one wishes to make an analogy, then the proper one is - the vacuum itself behaves in many ways as does a superconductor.

The Higgs field itself is, in a well-defined sense, a quasi-particle. It has no independent existence outside its role in symmetry breaking. There are other quasi-particles that show up all the time in physics and have real, measurable effects - the most common being the phonons of condensed matter physics. "Quasi" does not mean unreal. It means the idea of "particle" itself is reaching the limit of its expressive and explanatory content.

It is unfortunate that mystics and obfuscators have encouraged everyone to hide behind blanket statements such as "no one understands quantum mechanics" or "relativity and quantum theory are unintuitive". To Ogg in the year 1, a falling apple described by Newton's law would be unintuitive. A thing becomes intuitive when you learn how to use it. A bicycle is not intuitive until one learns how not to fall off it. None of what is involved in the Higgs mechanism and the field theory it is a part of is unintuitive. If anything, it is TOO intuitive, and encourages people to think in terms of macroscopic pictures that are simply not valid on the small level.

-drl


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PeterR280
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 05/27/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6126420 - 10/09/13 06:47 AM

I'd be curious if any person without any knowledge of physics understood what the Higgs Field is from what you said above,

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Charlie B
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 03/22/08

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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6126763 - 10/09/13 11:01 AM

Nice Danny!

Charlie B


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AstroGabe
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6126967 - 10/09/13 01:09 PM

Good summary Danny. I have minor exception with one thing though - that there is no gauge invariant field that is not long range. The electroweak gauge bosons (W and Z) still satisfy the U(1)_EM gauge invariance since that gauge symmetry still persists. I would ammend it to say that gauge bosons that are responsible for short range forces still satisfy gauge invariance as long as those gauge symmetries are not broken.

Also, the Higgs field does have existence outside the role of symmetry breaking. It existed before symmetry breaking in the early universe and its behavior before and after symmetry breaking can explain the baryon asymmetry of the universe (why there are more particles than anti-particles in the present day).

Gabe


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: AstroGabe]
      #6126983 - 10/09/13 01:16 PM

Gauge invariance is absolutely, fundamentally long range. Said otherwise, any Yang-Mills field in necessarily massless. And no, the Higgs field does not exist in any context at all outside symmetry breaking. We don't live in the early universe, we live now, and phenomenological ideas cannot be pushed into realms where they cannot be expected to operate.

-drl


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AstroGabe
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6127003 - 10/09/13 01:29 PM

I see your point on the gauge invariance. I think it was a misunderstanding of what you meant on my part.

But you can expect the description to operate just as well in the early universe at temperatures of O(100 GeV) or so. That's what is being probed directly at the LHC, and what we find is well described.

Gabe


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: AstroGabe]
      #6127016 - 10/09/13 01:35 PM

Thank you, each and everyone of your for talking physics and the math behind the physics here. Please continue doing so on this topic on which you are now engaged.

Please allow me to encourage you to focus your attention, also, on the opening article to which I referred in the NYT. I would, very much like to hear and appreciate hearing, your response to these questions about that article and its contents:

Does the Higgs Boson article using a snow covered field as an analogy for describing the nature and function of the Higgs Boson in a manner in which readers who know no or little physics and math...
1. Is this article accurate in what it says?
2. Does the article address the central aspects of what the Higgs Boson is?
3. Does the article allow the reader to better understand what the Higgs Boson is?

Thank you.

Otto


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: AstroGabe]
      #6127061 - 10/09/13 01:53 PM

Quote:

I see your point on the gauge invariance. I think it was a misunderstanding of what you meant on my part.

But you can expect the description to operate just as well in the early universe at temperatures of O(100 GeV) or so. That's what is being probed directly at the LHC, and what we find is well described.

Gabe




I don't expect that. In fact when energy density is high enough, ALL interactions have the same range, and mix together, even in our limited phenomenological view. That range is hard to define, because the entire world becomes a teeming maelstrom of things changing into each other in a roiling soup. In such a world, the Higgs mechanism is irrelevant, and the Higgs field would sit glumly on the bench like a klutzy infielder whose presence on the team is mandated by nepotism.

But in fact it is almost certain that the tidy picture of strict conservation laws mediated by gauge fields on a flat spacetime background is wildly inapplicable in such situations. What we have works in our calm modern universe, where most of spacetime is empty, and the action is confined to the interior of stars and the centers of galaxies.

Attempts to bring Higgs machinery into cosmology are, in my opinion, rather pathetic.

-drl


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6127156 - 10/09/13 02:32 PM

How would you reconcile it with General Relativity and the principle of equivalence?

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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6127396 - 10/09/13 04:35 PM

I wouldn't - such a program is hopeless for reasons on both sides of the fence. New ideas are needed.

=drl


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6127444 - 10/09/13 05:02 PM

You would think the same mechanism is at play giving rise to the metric.

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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6127634 - 10/09/13 06:46 PM

Why would you think that?

-drl


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6127672 - 10/09/13 07:01 PM

To be consistent with relativity

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llanitedave
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6127971 - 10/09/13 10:01 PM

Quote:

In such a world, the Higgs mechanism is irrelevant, and the Higgs field would sit glumly on the bench like a klutzy infielder whose presence on the team is mandated by nepotism.





Now, THAT's an analogy!


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shawnhar
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6128622 - 10/10/13 09:28 AM

Quote:

I'd be curious if any person without any knowledge of physics understood what the Higgs Field is from what you said above,



I have a limited knowledge of physics and thought it was the most clear explanation I have seen so far.

I took from it that the Higgs field propogates out and allows the weak force to operate at a distance that would otherwise violate conservation. - Is that a valid understanding?


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: shawnhar]
      #6128922 - 10/10/13 11:48 AM

The best analogy for the role of the Higgs interaction comes from classical mechanics! It is this. A typical problem tackled by the physics student in his first full-blown physics course, is to solve the problem of a ball bearing in a gravitational field, rolling on the inside of a spherical surface. The ball bearing wants to fall, but is "constrained" by the spherical bowl and must remain on that bowl. So its trajectory is not straight down, rather, a more or less complex motion on the sphere itself. We are taught a method for dealing with problems that involve constraints like this - "Lagrangian mechanics". The free motion of a falling object is described by a "Lagrangian function". To this function is added another term with an undetermined "Lagrange multiplier" to take account of the sphere. Once the equations are solved this way, you can determine the value of the undetermined Lagrange multiplier. It turns out that it gives just the required normal force of the sphere on the ball to ensure that it does not leave the sphere. So you can look at things from two points of view - you have the motion of a ball constrained to a sphere, or you can ignore the sphere altogether and add in a mysterious "sphere force" that causes the ball to deviate from its normal course of falling straight down.

Now, what if you had a ball bearing that was moving on a sphere which was invisible? You'd be perplexed and wonder, why isn't this ball bearing falling down to the floor like the other ones? And you try things and eventually hit on the idea of this sphere force. The sphere force is not pre-determined, it is just what it needs to be to resist motion off the sphere.

That is pretty much what happens with the Higgs field. The gauge bosons are by their nature massless and so long-range, but they behave as if they were not. So you throw into the Lagrangian function that describes the various fields and their interactions in the massless case, this mysterious "Higgs field" which always provides just what is needed to make the gauge bosons appear massive.

The Higgs field thus describes, not an actual state of matter alone, but matter in relation to the background in which it moves. It is more a property of the vacuum of particle physics itself, than an independent entity.

It is very likely that the Higgs boson story is not over. A tight argument says that it must be composite in some way, perhaps made of actual matter in some sort of bound state. This also has an analogy in superconductivity. The ultimate cause for (normal) superconductivity is the pairing of electrons that takes place when you put them in cold metal lattice. They interact not just with each other, but also the lattice in which they move. So, even though they repel each other electromagnetically, they are also attracted to each other because of some magic that happens when they are inside a cold atomic lattice other than free space. The attraction can be strong enough to overcome the electromagnetic repulsion and they form bound pairs (Cooper pairs). These pairs are bosons and can now pile into the same quantum state. The result is the supercurrent. The long-range electromagnetic interaction, or at least, part of it, has been hidden by interaction with the background atomic lattice. The Higgs field in this scenario is then to be thought of as excitations of this lattice that result in the net attractive force. The lattice behaves just as it has to, to ensure pairing of electrons and formation of the supercurrent. Once the current is established, you can forget about the background lattice and treat the supercurrent alone. When the energy is high enough, the temperature of the lattice goes up, it begins to vibrate out of its normal orderly pattern that allows the quantum collective state to form, the interactions of electrons via the lattice breaks down, the supercurrent disappears, and the normal state of unscreened, long-range electromagnetic interaction returns.

Without the theory of superconductivity as developed by London and London, Landau and Ginzburg, and finally Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer, none of the modern model of spontaneously broken gauge symmetry as a fundamental theory would exist. This illustrates in dramatic terms, that this model - broken gauge symmetry - is *entirely* phenomenological, and will eventually be replaced by a complete theoretical model involving new ideas.

-drl


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6129018 - 10/10/13 12:40 PM

Danny,

I wish I would have had you as a physics teacher in high school.

Another issue: You wrote, "The Higgs field thus describes, not an actual state of matter alone, but matter in relation to the background in which it moves. It is more a property of the vacuum of particle physics itself, than an independent entity."

Do you remember many months ago when I asked you/this forum about the idea of uneducated "savant" I knew name Lawrence who suggested that space was the cause of motion. Is your statement which I just quoted, consistent with, similar to his idea?

His reasoning was that, according to Einstein, energy is a type of matter, and according to Newton a thing cannot overcome its own inertial movement; therefore, matter cannot move itself, nor can various forms of energy (forces) move matter because that would be a case of matter moving itself. The only thing, left, Lawrence reasoned was space and therefore he suggested space is what causes motion.

Otto


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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #6129044 - 10/10/13 12:57 PM

Quote:

... and according to Newton a thing cannot overcome its own inertial movement;



Did they have Roman candles in Newton's day?


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deSitter
Still in Old School


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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #6129105 - 10/10/13 01:27 PM

Quote:

Danny,

I wish I would have had you as a physics teacher in high school.

Another issue: You wrote, "The Higgs field thus describes, not an actual state of matter alone, but matter in relation to the background in which it moves. It is more a property of the vacuum of particle physics itself, than an independent entity."

Do you remember many months ago when I asked you/this forum about the idea of uneducated "savant" I knew name Lawrence who suggested that space was the cause of motion. Is your statement which I just quoted, consistent with, similar to his idea?

His reasoning was that, according to Einstein, energy is a type of matter, and according to Newton a thing cannot overcome its own inertial movement; therefore, matter cannot move itself, nor can various forms of energy (forces) move matter because that would be a case of matter moving itself. The only thing, left, Lawrence reasoned was space and therefore he suggested space is what causes motion.

Otto




No, that's a trivial oversimplification. It may be possible to have a new more inclusive space in which matter shows up as aspects of that space. That's an idea very close to my heart. But spacetime, the 4d sort that lives under field theory, is not a form of matter, and the Higgs field is not coextensive with it. The Higgs field is an aspect of field theory and its vacuum, which presumes flat, continuous spacetime as a stage.

-drl


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6129128 - 10/10/13 01:38 PM

Thank you Danny.

Your words "matter shows up as aspects of that space. That's an idea very close to my heart" sound interesting.

Otto


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dvb
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #6129145 - 10/10/13 01:48 PM

I applaud the science writers who attempt to explain physics to laypeople.

The exercise will necessarily be imperfect, and the laypeople know that, but I also applaud the laypeople who are curious about these things, and who hope to understand them as best they can.

And, I applaud those of you who are in a position to critique those attempts to explain to laypeople, and who can find the right balance between comprehensibility and accuracy.



But, please, may be all be saved from the worst such efforts, such as references to a "God Particle".



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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #6129150 - 10/10/13 01:51 PM

" It may be possible to have a new more inclusive space in which matter shows up as aspects of that space."

That would indeed be a more complete theory building on what Einstein had done.


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6129186 - 10/10/13 02:09 PM

"The Higgs field is an aspect of field theory and its vacuum, which presumes flat, continuous spacetime as a stage."

Danny

Have you played with granularity to Spacetime? I haven't seen too much written about that.


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6129288 - 10/10/13 03:00 PM

No but my advisor David Finkelstein sure did! So I've heard a lot about it. It's certainly a valid approach and I admire those with the patience to pursue it.

-drl


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6129300 - 10/10/13 03:06 PM

What I work on is the opposite idea, to eventually explain quanta as a phasy aspect of a more inclusive spacetime. The extra dimensions in this spacetime are timelike and correspond directly to matter and antimatter without any reference to particles as such. I have had some success with this idea, but here is not the place to discuss it. It's enough to say that there is plenty of room for new ideas.

-drl


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6129309 - 10/10/13 03:11 PM

The main point is - the way forward is to reconcile the, as of now, complete isolation of the theory of spacetime geometry, and the fields that live on it. String theory is a failure. Onward

-drl


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6129373 - 10/10/13 03:40 PM

except for gravity

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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6129379 - 10/10/13 03:46 PM

No, that too!

-drl


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dickbill
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6129475 - 10/10/13 04:54 PM

Can one be refreshed on the conservation laws, often mentioned by deSitter?
About Energy, Mass, Momentum, Space itself maybe? etc. not forgetting Time, and or Entropy.


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dickbill
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: dickbill]
      #6129649 - 10/10/13 06:29 PM

...or maybe let's talk about what is not conserved in our enclose system: the Universe. Is it really enclosed by the way? nothing can escape from all-togetherness and I am thinking about black holes.

Entropy is supposed to ever increase, so it is not conserved.
Time, IF a conservation law does not apply for Time, why?
Space (Volume) is not conserved since the Universe is expending.
Energy (=mc^2) ? I read here that there is nothing in Relativity that poses it should be conserved. Although we learn in school that Energy and mass are conserved, that they can only be transformed, here we talk about the total energy (and mass or any other form) contained in the Universe.
So, does the Universe still weight the same than at its birth?


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: dickbill]
      #6129653 - 10/10/13 06:31 PM

YES, good question, I'll get to it presently.

-drl


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6129694 - 10/10/13 06:53 PM

good question. Is the universe closed?

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dickbill
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6129718 - 10/10/13 07:17 PM

It 'expends' at least.

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dickbill
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6129742 - 10/10/13 07:31 PM

Quote:

good question. Is the universe closed?




You mean finite.


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dickbill
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: dickbill]
      #6130682 - 10/11/13 09:59 AM

...or perhaps not.

Is there anything we know for sure?


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llanitedave
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: dickbill]
      #6130905 - 10/11/13 11:55 AM

Probably not. All our knowledge is conjectural and contingent. Once you become "sure", you're working in absolutes, then you have religion.

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sirchz
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: dickbill]
      #6131158 - 10/11/13 01:33 PM

Quote:

Is there anything we know for sure?




The only thing we know for sure is that we can't know anything for sure.


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dickbill
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6131164 - 10/11/13 01:35 PM

I remember as a kid when I read about the early theories in cosmology, one in particular shocked me. It was the theory that proposed a continual creation of matter in an expending Universe (was it Einstein?). I thought that was weird for a scientific theory, a creation ex-nihilo ?
If matter was popping out of nothing, then everything was possible. I was surprised that a scientist even dare to propose, seriously, that such a cosmos could exist, but then quantum theory came and nobody seems surprised by the concept, so, I don't know.


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6131172 - 10/11/13 01:37 PM

Dave,

Might I, with as much gentleness as possible, point out that that statement you wrote seems to indicate you are quite sure about your opinion. If so, this would seem to qualify your statement as a religious statement. Of course, your statement is not a religious statement. But that certainty raises an issue with the preceding statement.

Otto


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Mister T
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #6131178 - 10/11/13 01:41 PM

I am absolutely certain that Dave is not certain about anything.

And vice versa..


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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: dickbill]
      #6131321 - 10/11/13 02:55 PM

Quote:

Is there anything we know for sure?



Yes. First order classical predicate logic is known to be sound (every theorem is always true) and complete (every generally true sentence is a theorem). See Soundness.


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dickbill
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6131404 - 10/11/13 03:31 PM

Greg, yes. It seems that logic and complexity are not hold by any limit in this Universe, but they are rather immaterial.
Does the ex nihilo creation, or lost, of anything material (equivalent-photon in mass or energy) seem acceptable to you? I guess not, therefore no physical law should be able to change that, and that means that the total balance of mass and energy must be conserved in our Universe.


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: dickbill]
      #6131418 - 10/11/13 03:37 PM

The Universe wants to make sure you do work to get something. Nothing is free.

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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: dickbill]
      #6131444 - 10/11/13 03:47 PM

Quote:

Does the ex nihilo creation, or lost, of anything material (equivalent-photon in mass or energy) seem acceptable to you?



If it's okay with the universe, it's okay with me. No problem. Conservation "laws" are just contingent physical theories -- could be right, could be wrong.


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Dave Mitsky
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: dickbill]
      #6131484 - 10/11/13 04:09 PM

Quote:

I remember as a kid when I read about the early theories in cosmology, one in particular shocked me. It was the theory that proposed a continual creation of matter in an expending Universe (was it Einstein?). I thought that was weird for a scientific theory, a creation ex-nihilo ?
If matter was popping out of nothing, then everything was possible. I was surprised that a scientist even dare to propose, seriously, that such a cosmos could exist, but then quantum theory came and nobody seems surprised by the concept, so, I don't know.




This is heading into off-topic territory but are you thinking of the Steady State Theory?

http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/glossary/steady_state.html

Dave Mitsky


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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Dave Mitsky]
      #6131546 - 10/11/13 04:45 PM

Quote:

This is heading into off-topic territory but are you thinking of the Steady State Theory?




From your reference, I see that others were also involved, but I associate the Steady State Universe with Fred Hoyle, who (let us recall) also wrote a top notch science fiction novel, "The Black Cloud", about an alien intelligence which had evolved as a cloud of cold particulate matter in space. His steady state theory was for a time routinely mentioned as an alternative to the Big Bang theory (which was Hoyle's derisive term, by the way), in the days before the discovery of the CMB.

I don't think this is off-topic, because I imagine that astronomers found Hoyle's theory unintuitive, for the very reason that in our every day experience, we don't see things popping into existence. (But of course the steady state supporters could turn that around and point out that we don't notice universes popping into existence around us, either.)


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llanitedave
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Mister T]
      #6132001 - 10/11/13 09:16 PM

Quote:

I am absolutely certain that Dave is not certain about anything.

And vice versa..





That nothing is certain about Dave????

Certainly!


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llanitedave
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #6132004 - 10/11/13 09:20 PM

Quote:

Dave,

Might I, with as much gentleness as possible, point out that that statement you wrote seems to indicate you are quite sure about your opinion. If so, this would seem to qualify your statement as a religious statement. Of course, your statement is not a religious statement. But that certainty raises an issue with the preceding statement.

Otto




The first word of my response was "probably". That doesn't imply certainty as far as I recall.

But anyway, the question, and my response, were not issues of fact. They were value judgements. Not only are they uncertain, they are subjective. So my response can be as strong as you like, without conveying certainty for anyone but myself.


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Dave Mitsky
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6132450 - 10/12/13 03:57 AM

Quote:

Quote:

This is heading into off-topic territory but are you thinking of the Steady State Theory?




From your reference, I see that others were also involved, but I associate the Steady State Universe with Fred Hoyle, who (let us recall) also wrote a top notch science fiction novel, "The Black Cloud", about an alien intelligence which had evolved as a cloud of cold particulate matter in space. His steady state theory was for a time routinely mentioned as an alternative to the Big Bang theory (which was Hoyle's derisive term, by the way), in the days before the discovery of the CMB.

I don't think this is off-topic, because I imagine that astronomers found Hoyle's theory unintuitive, for the very reason that in our every day experience, we don't see things popping into existence. (But of course the steady state supporters could turn that around and point out that we don't notice universes popping into existence around us, either.)




Thanks but I was well aware of Fred Hoyle's role in the ongoing debate at that time. (I happened to read The Black Cloud as a boy.)

http://www.aip.org/history/cosmology/ideas/larger-image-pages/pic-bigbang-car...

The work he did on stellar nucleosynthesis proved to be far more important in the long run.

At any rate, the topic of this thread was the Higgs boson, not Steady State Theory, hence my comment.

Dave Mitsky


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Mister T
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6132530 - 10/12/13 07:05 AM

Another promising scientific theory succumbs to unncertainty...

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dickbill
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Dave Mitsky]
      #6132921 - 10/12/13 11:58 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I remember as a kid when I read about the early theories in cosmology, one in particular shocked me. It was the theory that proposed a continual creation of matter in an expending Universe (was it Einstein?). I thought that was weird for a scientific theory, a creation ex-nihilo ?
If matter was popping out of nothing, then everything was possible. I was surprised that a scientist even dare to propose, seriously, that such a cosmos could exist, but then quantum theory came and nobody seems surprised by the concept, so, I don't know.




This is heading into off-topic territory but are you thinking of the Steady State Theory?

http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/glossary/steady_state.html




Yes. Weird theory. Too bad internet wasn't there to video tape the questions at the end of their power point presentation.


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: dickbill]
      #6134868 - 10/13/13 12:00 PM

There is no doubt in my mind that the response to cosmology has been based on faith more than science.

I'm as guilty as anyone. As a kid, I was totally convinced that the Big Bang had to be wrong on philosophic grounds (not that I would have had any idea what "philosophic" meant), and that for equally strong reasons, the steady state theory must be right. You opted for Eternity or Creation, depending on how you were philosophically disposed. As one learned more actual science, this prejudice was more or less confirmed, because in fact one chose his course of study based upon his preconceived notion of what should be at the outset (or neverset).

At some point I lost all faith in all cosmology, because none of them would admit that it was all just faith-based. And also when i realized that, like opium smoking, focus on cosmology was a bad habit, and one should spend his time on things like AGNs that need open-minded study.

-drl


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dickbill
scholastic sledgehammer


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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6135281 - 10/13/13 03:47 PM

Don't be too hard on the cosmology theories, some error and trial must be done.
While looking on Lavoisier on wiki, because he was coining the first "Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed", I found this passage on his contemporary Joseph Priestley: "... He called the air dephlogisticated air, as he thought it was common air deprived of its phlogiston...".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavoisier
Perhaps we could use 'phlogiston' instead of 'dark matter' for fun for while.


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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6135294 - 10/13/13 03:55 PM

Quote:

At some point I lost all faith in all cosmology, because none of them would admit that it was all just faith-based. And also when i realized that, like opium smoking, focus on cosmology was a bad habit, and one should spend his time on things like AGNs that need open-minded study.




Is "faith-based" supposed to be insulting? If science is pursued by formulating and testing theories, isn't it all faith-based? The notion that scientists can or do approach their study with open minds, empiricism, had its heyday in the early part of the last century, but is now dead as a doornail.


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UND_astrophysics
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6135466 - 10/13/13 05:39 PM

Quote:


At some point I lost all faith in all cosmology, because none of them would admit that it was all just faith-based. And also when i realized that, like opium smoking, focus on cosmology was a bad habit, and one should spend his time on things like AGNs that need open-minded study.

-drl





.
.
.
Wow....Speechless at that one. Welcome to 21st Century USA.
.
.
.


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deSitter
Still in Old School


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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6135540 - 10/13/13 06:12 PM

Quote:

Quote:

At some point I lost all faith in all cosmology, because none of them would admit that it was all just faith-based. And also when i realized that, like opium smoking, focus on cosmology was a bad habit, and one should spend his time on things like AGNs that need open-minded study.




Is "faith-based" supposed to be insulting? If science is pursued by formulating and testing theories, isn't it all faith-based? The notion that scientists can or do approach their study with open minds, empiricism, had its heyday in the early part of the last century, but is now dead as a doornail.




Not at all.

-drl


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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6135738 - 10/13/13 08:03 PM

Quote:

Quote:

...empiricism, had its heyday in the early part of the last century, but is now dead as a doornail.




Not at all.




Not arguing against "Not at all" (how could I?), but to be clearer about what I said, I looked this up in the Wikipedia, logical empiricism, and found this:

Quote:

The central theses of logical positivism (verificationism, the analytic-synthetic distinction, reductionism, etc.) came under sharp attack after World War 2 by thinkers such as Nelson Goodman, W.V. Quine, Hilary Putnam, Karl Popper, and Richard Rorty. By the late 1960s, it had become evident to most philosophers that the movement had pretty much run its course, though its influence is still significant among contemporary analytic philosophers such as Michael Dummett and other anti-realists.




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llanitedave
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6136083 - 10/13/13 11:28 PM

So Danny, does that mean you'd retain your faith in cosmology if it wasn't faith-based?

Isn't there a little bit of compartmentalization going on here?


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6136148 - 10/14/13 12:28 AM

No, I have no problem with faith as a basis for things. I just want to see it frankly admitted that assumptions have been made based on nothing *more* than faith. When you are not aware of the boundaries of faith, you become more certain of things that are far from certain.

-drl


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6136180 - 10/14/13 01:12 AM

Search for truth has to be the goal.

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UND_astrophysics
sage


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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6136189 - 10/14/13 01:27 AM

Quote:

No, I have no problem with faith as a basis for things. I just want to see it frankly admitted that assumptions have been made based on nothing *more* than faith. When you are not aware of the boundaries of faith, you become more certain of things that are far from certain.

-drl




Hogwash. The assumption that the universal gravitational constant of 6.67384 × 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2 works the same in other galaxies is not faith.


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6136472 - 10/14/13 09:06 AM

What does that have to do with the assumptions of cosmology?

And the issue of negative significance has never been (and will not be) addressed.

http://ned.ipac.caltech.edu/level5/Disney/frames.html

-drl


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6136620 - 10/14/13 10:42 AM

G as a constant across the universe is an act of faith. There is no way to prove it.

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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6136638 - 10/14/13 10:50 AM

That is so in a sense, but it's a different sort of faith, and it's subject to change. No one would complain if a new theory that encompassed the old one substituted a dynamical field where G used to stand. The assumptions of cosmology are purely those of faith - even admitting that intrinsic redshift were possible, not to say actually demonstrated, thus calling into question all the concordance model, the faith that the world started at some time T=0 would persist, and the mythology re-imagined.

-drl


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6136646 - 10/14/13 10:53 AM

This is what I mean when I say I lost my faith. I no longer see any point in even asking such questions. It's the realm of religion, and has no place in science as such.

-drl


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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6136714 - 10/14/13 11:31 AM

Quote:

http://ned.ipac.caltech.edu/level5/Disney/frames.html




Translation: Other people are getting all the attention and money. It should have been me! I will fix them by performing the methodological maneuver. I will define them as not even being scientists at all!


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6136748 - 10/14/13 11:44 AM

Is that really what you think he said? He was involved not only in the use but in the design of the Hubble telescope. And he's not a cosmologist - he studies galaxies.

His statements about the negative significance of cosmology are impossible to deny. He identifies the assumptions and counts parameters.

-drl


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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6136792 - 10/14/13 12:07 PM

Quote:

Is that really what you think he said?



Yes, it really is. I don't know astronomy, but I'm acquainted with the methodological maneuver. It's motivated by sour grapes, and it's made by losers. Typically.


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6137058 - 10/14/13 01:42 PM

The constants changing with time is certainly a possibility. A proper theory would have to be formulated.

That is so in a sense, but it's a different sort of faith, and it's subject to change. No one would complain if a new theory that encompassed the old one substituted a dynamical field where G used to stand. The assumptions of cosmology are purely those of faith - even admitting that intrinsic redshift were possible, not to say actually demonstrated, thus calling into question all the concordance model, the faith that the world started at some time T=0 would persist, and the mythology re-imagined.

-drl


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sirchz
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6137132 - 10/14/13 02:09 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Is that really what you think he said?



Yes, it really is. I don't know astronomy, but I'm acquainted with the methodological maneuver. It's motivated by sour grapes, and it's made by losers. Typically.




Disney has many valid points (I actually like the article below, which is written for a broad audience). In a nutshell, we have a big, complicated model supported by very little data. Buyer beware.

In a bigger nutshell, new data should be explained by our theories if they are "correct". If they are incorrect or incomplete, they will require changes to accommodate new data. So far, Cosmology has fallen in the incorrect/incomplete category.

http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/2007/9/modern-cosmology-science-o...

Quote:

Without having to understand the complex astrophysics, one can still ask, at an epistemological level, whether the number of relevant independent measurements has overtaken and comfortably surpassed the number of free parameters needed to fit them—as one would expect of a maturing science. This approach should be appealing to nonspecialists, who otherwise would have little option but to believe experts who may be far too committed to supply objective advice. What one finds, in my view, is that modern cosmology has at best very flimsy observational support.




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UND_astrophysics
sage


Reged: 01/19/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6137198 - 10/14/13 02:39 PM

Maybe as much a possibility as the tooth fairy or Santa clause. I will admit that.

But as usual, the discussion breaks down into philosophical drivel by anti-science types bring "faith" into the equation. Just laughable.


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6137235 - 10/14/13 02:59 PM

that's what they said to Copernicus.

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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: sirchz]
      #6137394 - 10/14/13 04:24 PM

Quote:

Disney has many valid points (I actually like the article below, which is written for a broad audience). In a nutshell, we have a big, complicated model supported by very little data. Buyer beware.




I subscribe to Feynman's famous quip, “Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds.” I just don't believe that any of these methodological criteria have anything to do with whether the theory is right. Big? Complicated? Many parameters? Parameters underdetermined by observations? Who cares? If the theory is unsuccessful, the postmortem exams might bring such things up, but if the theory succeeds, methodologists will just need to change their ideas about what makes a theory good or bad.


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6137435 - 10/14/13 04:43 PM

There is always the desire for the elegence and beauty of a simple theorem. A nice neat formula that explains it.

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derangedhermit
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6138120 - 10/14/13 11:51 PM

The guy has a point, but he also appears to have an axe to grind. It has no pretention of being an even-handed treatment. That's OK, it's one side of a valid issue.

What I find offputting, as an ignorant layman, is that cosmology tends to attract both professional and amateur speculators, in a way that most other fields do not. One can see this in the popular books written on the subject (or a topic within).

That's why when I asked for an astro-science forum here, I specifically excluded cosmology. It's not that there aren't interesting, less controversial things to discuss and learn, it's that they are often swamped by the crackpot "theories", or simply senseless drivel, or competing methodologies to explain nature (religion, primarily, and philosophy, among others).

You end up with questions and word salad () expositions on whatever today's media headlines contain, plus the standard topics:
- What happened before the big bang? (or before time, or before...)
- What's outside the universe?
- What if the earth is a molecule in the universe, which is a marble in another universe, which is ... and there's infinite universes in my spagetti and meatballs
- multiverses (especially popular now due to string theory)

It's like a movie for potheads. "What if..." "Wow, dude!" "The colors!" "Far out, man!" Bring the Doritos.

Like the computer in War Games, I want to ask: "How about a nice game of Astrophysics instead?"


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EJN
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #6138263 - 10/15/13 02:15 AM

Quote:

- What happened before the big bang? (or before time, or before...)
- What's outside the universe?
- What if the earth is a molecule in the universe, which is a marble in another universe, which is ... and there's infinite universes in my spagetti and meatballs
- multiverses (especially popular now due to string theory)



It's turtles all the way down.


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derangedhermit
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: EJN]
      #6138278 - 10/15/13 02:48 AM

Exactly. Or 4 huge elephants standing on Great A'Tuin, who flaps tranquilly along; just as enlightening, and much more entertaining, to discuss.

I left black holes off the list, always a popular topic for amateur, sans-math exposition.


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sirchz
super member


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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6139127 - 10/15/13 01:56 PM

Quote:

I subscribe to Feynman's famous quip, “Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds.” I just don't believe that any of these methodological criteria have anything to do with whether the theory is right. Big? Complicated? Many parameters? Parameters underdetermined by observations? Who cares? If the theory is unsuccessful, the postmortem exams might bring such things up, but if the theory succeeds, methodologists will just need to change their ideas about what makes a theory good or bad.




The theory has been unsuccessful, so far. Each time a significant new observation is made, the theory fails and has required changes (big bang, inflation, dark matter, dark energy). Those are not minor changes.

Q: How do we know if a theory/model is "right"?

A: We don't. We can't prove any theory is "right". All we can do is show a theory is wrong by finding a counterexample. The more we test, the more confidence we can have, but we can never be 100% certain.


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UND_astrophysics
sage


Reged: 01/19/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: sirchz]
      #6139256 - 10/15/13 03:05 PM

Quote:



A: We don't. We can't prove any theory is "right". All we can do is show a theory is wrong by finding a counterexample. The more we test, the more confidence we can have, but we can never be 100% certain.




Actually you are 100% dead wrong. Plate tectonics is a theory. And we are 100% certain it is moving continents. We can measure them by remote sensing satellites. I challenge you to back up your assertion and disprove plate tectonics and continental drift.

You seem to have a misunderstanding of the word Theory.

http://www.notjustatheory.com/


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dickbill
scholastic sledgehammer


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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6139292 - 10/15/13 03:24 PM

UND, you 're right. We should teach these guys how to think.

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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6139330 - 10/15/13 03:44 PM

Quote:

http://www.notjustatheory.com/



I read over the reference. It is just a string of unsubstantiated statements that tell us how the author understands the term "theory". Should we believe this is really what a theory is without any evidence? How about giving some rational argument, instead of just repeating your opinions?


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UND_astrophysics
sage


Reged: 01/19/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6139355 - 10/15/13 03:59 PM

Because all theories have evidence. That is basic Physics in undergrad level. That is not "one guys" definition of a theory. That is the standard. Ask any one of your professors that, They will tell you the same thing.

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UND_astrophysics
sage


Reged: 01/19/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6139358 - 10/15/13 04:00 PM

Quote:

Should we believe this is really what a theory is without any evidence? How about giving some rational argument, instead of just repeating your opinions?




Rational argument? I am always up to that challenge.

I repeat, Plate tectonics is a theory because there is evidence. Now I challenge you to disprove plate tectonics.


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petrus45
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6139423 - 10/15/13 04:41 PM

Quote:

I repeat, Plate tectonics is a theory because there is evidence. Now I challenge you to disprove plate tectonics.




My proof is that you have espoused the theory, supported by nothing more than name calling and condescension. There is not much more I need to know or want to know. I am sure the theory of plate tectonics is false.


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UND_astrophysics
sage


Reged: 01/19/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: petrus45]
      #6139433 - 10/15/13 04:47 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I repeat, Plate tectonics is a theory because there is evidence. Now I challenge you to disprove plate tectonics.




My proof is that you have espoused the theory, supported by nothing more than name calling and condescension. There is not much more I need to know or want to know. I am sure the theory of plate tectonics is false.




Show one example of name calling. Just one.
Stating geological facts and asking someone to back up an assertion may be name calling to you, not to me.
Nice try at muddying the water though.
How do you explain the Hawaiian island Arc? Magic?


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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6139496 - 10/15/13 05:32 PM

Quote:

Because all theories have evidence. That is basic Physics in undergrad level. That is not "one guys" definition of a theory. That is the standard.




Did you ever hear of "set theory"? "Number theory"? (Just wondering.)


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UND_astrophysics
sage


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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6139507 - 10/15/13 05:39 PM

Quote:


Did you ever hear of "set theory"? "Number theory"? (Just wondering.)




of course, but you are bringing philosophy into this and you are dodging your original assertion.
Again, I challenge you to disprove plate tectonics given the 4 fundamentals of geologic evidence we already have.


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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6139533 - 10/15/13 06:01 PM

Quote:

of course, but you are bringing philosophy into this and you are dodging your original assertion.
Again, I challenge you to disprove plate tectonics given the 4 fundamentals of geologic evidence we already have.




I'm bringing philosophy into this how? By mentioning set theory? Do you think set theory is a philosophical doctrine? What original assertion of mine am I dodging? You're losing me, here. Why should I try to disprove plate tectonics?


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UND_astrophysics
sage


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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6139570 - 10/15/13 06:21 PM

Quote:

Quote:

of course, but you are bringing philosophy into this and you are dodging your original assertion.
Again, I challenge you to disprove plate tectonics given the 4 fundamentals of geologic evidence we already have.





I'm bringing philosophy into this how? By mentioning set theory? Do you think set theory is a philosophical doctrine? What original assertion of mine am I dodging? You're losing me, here. Why should I try to disprove plate tectonics?




It is in the Stanford Philosophical encyclopedia.

Here are your own words:


Quote:

Quote:

http://www.notjustatheory.com/



I read over the reference. It is just a string of unsubstantiated statements that tell us how the author understands the term "theory". Should we believe this is really what a theory is without any evidence? How about giving some rational argument, instead of just repeating your opinions?






So back to the original subject before you try to change it again.

Back up your assertion by disproving plate tectonics.
You claim that those statements are unsubstantiated. And by disproving plate tectonics, you can support your assertion.

Now, Back to your original assertion.


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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6139593 - 10/15/13 06:43 PM

Quote:


So back to the original subject before you try to change it again.

Back up your assertion by disproving plate tectonics.
You claim that those statements are unsubstantiated. And by disproving plate tectonics, you can support your assertion.




Did I really change the subject? My assertion was that your reference made a series of unsubstantiated statements about what a theory is. I've just reviewed that reference yet again, thinking that I might have missed this stuff about plate tectonics -- but no, there is nothing there about plate tectonics at all. It's not mentioned. So what in the world are you talking about?


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UND_astrophysics
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6139616 - 10/15/13 06:55 PM

Wrong, Those statements are substantiated. The original source is spot on. That is the academic definition of a theory, and you claimed it was unsubstantiated from lack of evidence. All elements that that source define a theory are correct.

Once again, based on your understanding of a theory, prove plate tectonics wrong.


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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6139639 - 10/15/13 07:06 PM

Quote:

Once again, based on your understanding of a theory, prove plate tectonics wrong.



I think plate tectonics is a perfectly fine theory. That has absolutely nothing to do with anything I said.


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UND_astrophysics
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6139685 - 10/15/13 07:35 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Once again, based on your understanding of a theory, prove plate tectonics wrong.



I think plate tectonics is a perfectly fine theory. That has absolutely nothing to do with anything I said.




Actually it has everything to do with your original statement. All elements and standards in the definition you challenged are applied to the plate tectonics theory. You claimed that there was no evidence in the original definition. So I challenged you through extrapolation of the plate tectonics theory, to prove the definition, standards, and best practices wrong. You claimed the definition was wrong and had no evidence. So, through extrapolation of a sound theory, Prove it.


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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6139752 - 10/15/13 08:23 PM

Quote:

So, through extrapolation of a sound theory, Prove it.



Word soup. I give up trying to make sense of it.


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6139769 - 10/15/13 08:34 PM

phlogiston and the ether used to be theories.

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scopethis
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6139781 - 10/15/13 08:44 PM

continental drift was caused by dinosaurs walking on a flat Earth and tilting the disk up and down...

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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: scopethis]
      #6139802 - 10/15/13 08:54 PM

How would you characterize Newton's theory of gravity?

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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6139810 - 10/15/13 08:59 PM

Quote:

phlogiston and the ether used to be theories.



Right. So, I take it your point is, we need to characterize "theory" in such a way that both incorrect and correct theories are comprehended.

My favorite definition of "theory" is that given in Curry's "Foundations of Mathematical Logic": a theory is a subset of the sentences. And a "consistent theory" is a proper subset of the sentences. This is nice, because it is very simple, and it comprehends both scientific theories and mathematical theories. ("Sentence" is to be understood in some agreed upon way -- anything reasonable.)


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UND_astrophysics
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6139828 - 10/15/13 09:13 PM

Quote:

phlogiston and the ether used to be theories.



Right. So, I take it your point is, we need to characterize "theory" in such a way that both incorrect and correct theories are comprehended.

My favorite definition of "theory" is that given in Curry's "Foundations of Mathematical Logic": a theory is a subset of the sentences. And a "consistent theory" is a proper subset of the sentences. This is nice, because it is very simple, and it comprehends both scientific theories and mathematical theories. ("Sentence" is to be understood in some agreed upon way -- anything reasonable.)




But that is an approach to algorithms, and not the best approach for other natural phenomena. So it is self limiting. Not my favorite approach


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6139880 - 10/15/13 09:51 PM

Some theories are better developed

How would you characterize Newton's theory of gravity?


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llanitedave
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6139993 - 10/15/13 11:01 PM

Quote:

Quote:



A: We don't. We can't prove any theory is "right". All we can do is show a theory is wrong by finding a counterexample. The more we test, the more confidence we can have, but we can never be 100% certain.




Actually you are 100% dead wrong. Plate tectonics is a theory. And we are 100% certain it is moving continents. We can measure them by remote sensing satellites. I challenge you to back up your assertion and disprove plate tectonics and continental drift.

You seem to have a misunderstanding of the word Theory.

http://www.notjustatheory.com/




Not the same thing. The moving of continents is a measured observation. Plate tectonics is the theoretical explanation of that motion. Plate tectonics could still be (and probably is) wrong on several levels without changing the underlying observation of moving continents. Just because we have 100% confidence in our observations of moving continents does not mean that we have 100% confidence in the theory of plate tectonics taken as a whole. There are other predictions it makes besides the moving continents.

sirchz is correct. We cannot "prove" any theory correct in science, although we can increase confidence asymptotically. But we can falsify it with a single reliable measurement.


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UND_astrophysics
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6140282 - 10/16/13 04:31 AM

Actually nowhere did I say they were the same thing.
I placed them in the same sentence precisely because observation is the explanation of that motion. And while nothing is 100%, actually yes, we are more than confident of continental drift, and that it is sound. In Fact, I am so confident that continental drift is sound, and cannot be dis-proven, I challenge anyone to show it is not a sound theory.
Also,
Falsifiability cannot be done through a single "reliable" measurement. Reliability depends on repeatability.
Nobody in their right mind would declare a theory wrong on the basis of one measurement. That would be inherently bad science.


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UND_astrophysics
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6140284 - 10/16/13 04:34 AM

Quote:

Some theories are better developed

How would you characterize Newton's theory of gravity?



You mean the gravitational constant?
Actually the universal constant is very reliable. We use it to calculate everything from Delta V needed for orbital velocity to estimation of Asteroid mass.

It is a theory, because it is observable and has predictability.


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6140639 - 10/16/13 10:42 AM

The universal law of gravitation says more than the gravitational constant.

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UND_astrophysics
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6140897 - 10/16/13 01:11 PM

Yes, but were you expecting me to post it all here including Newton's and Kepler's laws of planetary motion as well? I mean let's be real....

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sirchz
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6141032 - 10/16/13 02:25 PM

Quote:

Quote:

A: We don't. We can't prove any theory is "right". All we can do is show a theory is wrong by finding a counterexample. The more we test, the more confidence we can have, but we can never be 100% certain.


Actually you are 100% dead wrong. Plate tectonics is a theory. And we are 100% certain it is moving continents. We can measure them by remote sensing satellites. I challenge you to back up your assertion and disprove plate tectonics and continental drift.

You seem to have a misunderstanding of the word Theory.

http://www.notjustatheory.com/




I will defer to the dictionary for the definition of theory. I do like the second one.
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/theory
Quote:

theory noun
: an idea or set of ideas that is intended to explain facts or events
: an idea that is suggested or presented as possibly true but that is not known or proven to be true
: the general principles or ideas that relate to a particular subject




My assertion doesn't allow me to arbitrarily disprove a theory. It does say that I can't exclude the possibility that new evidence/data could be found that could require changes/corrections to the theory as we currently understand it.

Epicycles looked good until Kepler & Newton came along. Gravity and classical mechanics looked to be "right". Then quantum mechanics and general relativity came along and showed that these theories, while very good, were not 100% correct. I don't see anyone saying that QM & GR are 100% correct and there's nothing more to be learned.

Atoms were imagined to be the smallest things. Then we found neutron, protons and electrons. Then we found protons & neutrons were made of quarks. Have we found the bottom yet?

Conservation of energy. Conservation of matter. These looked "100% right". Then Einstein showed that E=mc^2. Nuclear weapons and energy followed, providing proof that the original theories weren't quite 100% right.

The challenge you have is to prove that any theory is 100% correct in describing the universe we live in. Fame and a Nobel prize await the person who succeeds.


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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6141039 - 10/16/13 02:29 PM

Quote:

The moving of continents is a measured observation. Plate tectonics is the theoretical explanation of that motion.



But there is a complication. Wegener reported the "facts" showing that continents moved in 1912. He was not believed until many years later, when a satisfactory theory, plate tectonics, came along to provide an explanation of how the continents could move. It appears that the explanations actually come first, and the facts come only later. Before explanations have been advanced, there are no facts, only dubious reports.


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Dave Mitsky
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6141291 - 10/16/13 04:56 PM

There's a rather "spirited" rebuttal of Dr. Disney's article at http://motls.blogspot.com/2007/08/cosmology-under-attack-too.html

Dave Mitsky


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UND_astrophysics
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6141326 - 10/16/13 05:15 PM

Actually Greg is correct...

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UND_astrophysics
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: sirchz]
      #6141328 - 10/16/13 05:17 PM

uuum.. I think you have your methodology a little backwards there... My original response was to your original statement. You might want to read what you posted again..

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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6141646 - 10/16/13 07:36 PM

Actualy I was asking how you would characterize Newton's Law of Garvity. it's a simple equation. Do you think it's a good theory?


Yes, but were you expecting me to post it all here including Newton's and Kepler's laws of planetary motion as well? I mean let's be real....


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Jay_Bird
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6141657 - 10/16/13 07:40 PM

There are various definitions of the word “theory” and the common conversational one is different from the scientific and also I think the mathematical meanings. I’m not sure the most complete scientific one has been posted yet.

I think plate tectonics did proceed from facts to mechanisms or frameworks for the facts, like gravity or evolution. The first facts were the jigsaw puzzle fits of N & S America and Africa separated by ocean. Wegener also knew of common rock types S America/SW Africa and N America/NW Africa and S America/Antarctica. There were also common fossils between these areas. What Wegener lacked was a driving force to explain the motion of ‘continental drift’ suggested by these facts.

New technology brought sonar to map the floor of the world ocean and discover the fact of a baseball-seam of mid-ocean ridges and the deep trenches at the margins of some ocean basins, mapped in much greater detail than from lead line soundings like Challenger or Beagle recorded. Then radiometric dating added more facts showing youngest rocks at mid-ocean ridges where the distinctive ‘pillow lavas’ of underwater eruptions formed, with bands of older rock ages moving symmetrically away from the ridges. Magnetometer readings showed the stripes of N-S and S-N magnetism recorded as lavas cooled, recording the polarity reversals of Earth’s field.

Finally, the subduction zones and the idea of asthenosphere convection pulling the lithosphere plates into the trenches, like rafts to a waterfall, provided the driving mechanism. The continents were being pulled, not pushed, and moving along ‘currents’ or flow in the asthenosphere (a physically defined region in the earth, about the same as the chemically defined region of the mantle).

Wegener’s 1920’s facts weren’t superseded by more facts 1950’s – 1960’s, they were supplemented by the post-IGY discoveries, and finally Harry Hess put together the old and new facts to explain the driving mechanism for plate tectonics.

Another scientific concept that hasn’t been mentioned here yet is Chamberlin’s “method of multiple working hypotheses” (Google brings up his 1890’s papers in many 1990’s – 21st ccentury college PDF versions),. This can still be a useful mental framework to remember as facts and observations accumulate and possible explanations come to mind. It may have been on Wegener’s mind since he was well studied in geology in addition to his Meteorology / polar studies specialty.


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Dave Mitsky]
      #6141697 - 10/16/13 08:02 PM

Quote:

There's a rather "spirited" rebuttal of Dr. Disney's article at http://motls.blogspot.com/2007/08/cosmology-under-attack-too.html

Dave Mitsky




Motl! He's like The Joker of physics, complete with maniacal grin!

-drl


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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Jay_Bird]
      #6141884 - 10/16/13 09:51 PM

Quote:

What Wegener lacked was a driving force to explain the motion of ‘continental drift’ suggested by these facts.




Yes, he did lack a driving force, and so his theory did not carry the day. Yet, now we know he was right, after all. So what should we conclude about whether a theory must have a driving force? I think the conventional answer in geology is yes, it must, and geologists should have rejected Wegener's theory. My answer is that this debacle shows that, on the contrary, the best answer is no. True explanations needn't incorporate physical driving forces. This is not the nature of explanation -- that it must necessarily be based on physics.


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llanitedave
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6141908 - 10/16/13 10:00 PM

Quote:

Quote:

The moving of continents is a measured observation. Plate tectonics is the theoretical explanation of that motion.



But there is a complication. Wegener reported the "facts" showing that continents moved in 1912. He was not believed until many years later, when a satisfactory theory, plate tectonics, came along to provide an explanation of how the continents could move. It appears that the explanations actually come first, and the facts come only later. Before explanations have been advanced, there are no facts, only dubious reports.




Putting aside that the actual history of the idea was quite a bit more complex than that, it's perfectly possible that a theory could precede any of its predicted observations. It's also possible that a spectrum of unexplained observations could build up waiting for a theory to unite them. Observations that are explained by one theory may be transferred to another, more comprehensive or even contradictory theory that happens to explain it more systematically.

There's nothing magical about a theory, and no ritualistic incantations that have to be performed just so. And in truth, even scientists tend to be a bit fuzzy about where an idea ceases to be a hypothesis and takes on the mantle of theory. I'm all for rigor in our measurements and explanations, but what we call those explanations seems to be more a matter for philosophy of science rather than working science.


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llanitedave
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6141947 - 10/16/13 10:16 PM

There's an interesting lesson to be learned from the history of Plate Tectonics from Wegner on. (Among several, actually). This is that a theory can become an observation as it becomes incorporated into more comprehensive ideas. Wegner's "theory" was that the continents had moved over time. This theory was meant to explain the visible fit between Africa and South America, as well as geological similarities. That was controversial and rejected. Rightly so, because it really wasn't all that explanatory. It was a skeleton of an idea, really. However, with the discovery of sea floor spreading and the ability to actually track the movements of different portions of the Earth's crust, continental movement is no longer a theory, it is an observation -- a continuing observation.

Even Plate Tectonics itself is far from a complete and comprehensive theory -- it belongs embedded within a still larger theory about planetary formation and evolution in a wider sense. Why is there plate tectonics on some planets (at least one) but not others? What qualities or events within the construction of a planet lead to plate tectonics? When does it start? How long does it last? Can it stop and start again?


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6142725 - 10/17/13 11:21 AM

Very well said. This is my physicist's point of view...

A theory is a constellation of results that surrounds a key idea. In special relativity, it is that space and time are replaced by spacetime. In general relativity, it is that gravity is a manifestation of the curvature of spacetime. In quantum mechanics, it is that the value of physical measurements are the discrete eigenvalues of linear operators on the space of dynamical states. And so on. A theory can be either fundamental (relativity, quantum mechanics) or phenomenological (superconductivity, weak interaction). A non-theory - that is, a simple hypothesis subject to further analysis - is never either.

-drl


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6142729 - 10/17/13 11:23 AM

One other thing - theories can nest. Newton's gravitation is still a theory, even though it is now to be regarded as a limiting case of general relativity. A legitimate theory is never dethroned - it is annexed.

-drl


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6142733 - 10/17/13 11:28 AM

Well I might as well run with it...

The simplest possible theory is that of Democritus - everything is atoms or the void. This is a theory, because it has a central idea, and an enormous number of results that confirm it, in the sense that an "atom" is to be thought of as a material, actually-existing something, while the "void", is the stage on which it plays. So in the theory is contained three key elements - atoms, the void, and their interaction, which is that atoms are "in" the void, and the void "contains" atoms. The actual key idea is this relationship of being "in" the void, and that the void is "encompassing".

-drl


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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6142741 - 10/17/13 11:33 AM

This theory could be annexed by one that said, "Everything is the void." In that case one would demonstrate that atoms (in the Democritan sense) were just aspects of a larger void, and that the former relationship of being "in" was a matter of a lesser perspective within "all". All real theories are capable of being annexed, that is, retaining their integrity in restricted circumstances.

-drl


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llanitedave
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6142754 - 10/17/13 11:42 AM

Well, one thing we've demonstrated is that theory need not be "well supported".

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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6142775 - 10/17/13 11:51 AM

True - Wegener's idea is a theory because it has a central idea, that the continents were once part of a greater land mass. It need not even have a dynamic expression, as it did not in his time.

-drl


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6142953 - 10/17/13 01:21 PM

Some theories like Newton's have a special placeholder as iconic foundations for ideas that follow.

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deSitter
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6142989 - 10/17/13 01:46 PM

Newton brought in definite numbers because of "co-ordination", the assignment of coordinates, measured place. But his idea is no more fundamental than that of Democritus. An idea may not even have any expression other than in its own nature, and still be the center of a theory.

And I would say, Newtonian gravity was not his real theory - his theory was really "as above, so below", that laws, whatever they might be, were universal.

-drl


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shawnhar
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6142997 - 10/17/13 01:50 PM

My theory is that this thread has gone down a rabbit hole....
How about the higgs description in this video?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIg1Vh7uPyw


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Jay_Bird
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6142998 - 10/17/13 01:50 PM

I like the 'constellation of results' wording. It seems that the central idea can largely precede or largely follow the constellation of results. In the case of Einstein, largely preceding, but there were still clues from existing observations. In the case of Wegener, following some results, but preceding work by many others adding the range of results needed to change continental drift into plate tectonics.

Another aspect of the history of these ideas is the whether there is a spectrum from lone thinker/inspiration vs. synthesis of work by many.

I enjoy the history of plate tectonics for many reasons: Wegener's insights and career of scientific exploration, the global scale of Navy and IGY data collection that led to 1960's synthesis, the elegant replacement of murky concepts about vertical movement of fixed continents and trans-oceanic 'land bridges' over geological time with a dynamic explanation that accounts for the old problems of regional uplift or subsidence too, and the stories of the many workers and disciplines who brought it together.

EDIT - OK, guilty of rabbit-chasing.

Is the frustration with cosmology today (dark matter, dark energy, Higgs, Strings, etc.) from the feeling that it's closer to the state of Wegener 1912 than Plate Tectonics 1970?

Edited by Jay_Bird (10/17/13 01:56 PM)


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sirchz
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6143012 - 10/17/13 01:54 PM

Quote:

uuum.. I think you have your methodology a little backwards there... My original response was to your original statement. You might want to read what you posted again..




I was trying to be nice. Your original response did not logically follow from my post. Your response was a red herring.

I said "We can't prove any theory is "right". ... we can never be 100% certain."

You said "... back up your assertion and disprove plate tectonics and continental drift."

I said "My assertion doesn't allow me to arbitrarily disprove a theory."

When I say a theory can't be proven to be 100% correct, your request to disprove a currently accepted theory is irrelevant.

Clear Skies


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: sirchz]
      #6143095 - 10/17/13 02:36 PM

I was not implying that Newton's Law of gravity was his most important contribution. His laws of motion and and the mathematical formalism that was introduced started a new path. The ideas were quite general, which allowed a rich arena for developemnt as compared to Kepler for example.

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GregLee1
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Jay_Bird]
      #6143144 - 10/17/13 03:07 PM

Quote:

Is the frustration with cosmology today (dark matter, dark energy, Higgs, Strings, etc.) from the feeling that it's closer to the state of Wegener 1912 than Plate Tectonics 1970?



Yes. Specifically, as Wegener's theory lacked a physical mechanism to account for the drift of continents, so the theory that stellar orbits reflect extra mass lacks observations of the material having that mass. (Personally, I do not have a problem with explanatory theories lacking a physical mechanism, but others seem to have a problem with it.)


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6143156 - 10/17/13 03:11 PM

Are they going to need a much costlier accellerator to look for WIMPs?

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Ira
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6144215 - 10/18/13 03:34 AM

The best common language description I have read of quantum phenomena is in Jim Baggott's "Farewell to Reality: How Modern Physics has Betrayed the Search for Scientific Truth". It was the first time I understood at least a little about the Higgs particle and other quantum phenomena. I recommend it instead of the NY Times.

/Ira


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Pess
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6164420 - 10/29/13 11:57 AM

Quote:

One other thing - theories can nest. Newton's gravitation is still a theory, even though it is now to be regarded as a limiting case of general relativity. A legitimate theory is never dethroned - it is annexed.

-drl




Exactly. Until we have a 'Theory of everything' all we really have is a collection of theories that approximately, more or less, describe reality.

When everything is known about everything there will only be one grand unified understanding with no 'theories' left. Until such time, knowledge is just a collection of partial understandings (theories) migrating into one big overall annexed understanding of everything.

Pesse (Can't wait to see the encyclopedia set) mist


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Pess]
      #6164448 - 10/29/13 12:08 PM

Do you think that humans will have ultimate knowledge of everything one day?

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llanitedave
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6164596 - 10/29/13 01:26 PM

No.

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Pess
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6164643 - 10/29/13 01:49 PM

Quote:

Do you think that humans will have ultimate knowledge of everything one day?




How would we know what we didn't know?

Pesse (And the thread goes full circle) Mist


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PeterR280
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: Pess]
      #6164690 - 10/29/13 02:13 PM

Ok, so will they be able to answer all the questions they have then?

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StarWars
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6164708 - 10/29/13 02:20 PM



The Only Info I know of Higgs Boson is from Dr. Sheldon Cooper...


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llanitedave
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6164956 - 10/29/13 04:54 PM

Quote:

Ok, so will they be able to answer all the questions they have then?



No.


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scopethis
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6166663 - 10/30/13 03:30 PM

I think Asimov wrote a story about this; when humans (or what were humans) in the future acquired all the knowledge of the Universe...and there was nothing to tell it to.

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EJN
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: scopethis]
      #6166668 - 10/30/13 03:32 PM

Quote:

I think Asimov wrote a story about this; when humans (or what were humans) in the future acquired all the knowledge of the Universe...and there was nothing to tell it to.




Was that story "The Final Question"?


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scopethis
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: EJN]
      #6166681 - 10/30/13 03:37 PM

I believe that it correct; was long ago when I read it.

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GregLee1
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Reged: 07/21/13

Loc: Waimanalo, HI
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: EJN]
      #6166710 - 10/30/13 03:52 PM

Quote:

Was that story "The Final Question"?



Here is The Last Question, and here is The Last Answer.

Edited by GregLee1 (10/30/13 03:57 PM)


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maugi88
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Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: StarWars]
      #6167085 - 10/30/13 07:09 PM

Quote:



The Only Info I know of Higgs Boson is from Dr. Sheldon Cooper...




BBT hilarious


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