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It's confirmed: Matter is merely vacuum fluctuations

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  • Rceeberger
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16095-its-confirmed-matter-is-merely-vacuum-fluctuations.html Matter is built on flaky foundations. Physicists have now
    Message 1 of 16 , Nov 28, 2008
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      http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16095-its-confirmed-matter-is-merely-vacuum-fluctuations.html

      Matter is built on flaky foundations. Physicists have now confirmed that the
      apparently substantial stuff is actually no more than fluctuations in the
      quantum vacuum.


      xponent
      Tenuous Maru
      rob

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    • dsummersminet@comcast.net
      ... From: Rceeberger rceeberger@comcast.net Date: Fri, 28 Nov 2008 09:04:20 -0600 To: brin-l@mccmedia.com Subject: It s confirmed: Matter is merely vacuum
      Message 2 of 16 , Nov 29, 2008
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        Original Message:
        -----------------
        From: Rceeberger rceeberger@...
        Date: Fri, 28 Nov 2008 09:04:20 -0600
        To: brin-l@...
        Subject: It's confirmed: Matter is merely vacuum fluctuations


        http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16095-its-confirmed-matter-is-merely-v
        acuum-fluctuations.html

        >Matter is built on flaky foundations. Physicists have now confirmed that
        >the apparently substantial stuff is actually no more than fluctuations in
        >the quantum vacuum.

        It's unfortunate that the New Scientist tend to tack on its metaphysical
        interpretation onto pretty good science when it reports on new physics.
        Perhaps that's the only way to grab laymen, I don't know.

        As I mentioned in my last post, this idea in QCD dates back to when I was a
        grad student. The work that was described was pretty good stuff, so I'm
        not insulting the physicist. But, the energy involved in the interaction
        between quarks must be mass, so there is nothing earth shattering here.

        But, like doing a QED calculation of, say water, and coming up with what is
        observed, this massive computational work is well worth doing, and the
        first ones to get it done deserve acclaim for getting it done.

        Dan M.


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      • Rceeberger
        ... Agree with what you are trying to say. I think that as a magazine, NS is trying to engage lay folk and other scientists whose expertise doesn t extend very
        Message 3 of 16 , Nov 29, 2008
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          On 11/29/2008 11:50:26 AM, dsummersminet@... wrote:
          > Original Message:
          > -----------------
          > From: Rceeberger rceeberger@...
          > Date: Fri, 28 Nov 2008 09:04:20 -0600
          > To: brin-l@...
          > Subject:
          > It's confirmed: Matter is merely vacuum fluctuations
          >
          >
          > http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16095-its-confirmed-matter-is-merely-v
          > acuum-fluctuations.html
          >
          > >Matter is built on flaky foundations. Physicists have now confirmed that
          > >the apparently substantial stuff is actually no more than fluctuations in
          > >the quantum vacuum.
          >
          > It's
          > unfortunate that the New Scientist tend to tack on its metaphysical
          > interpretation onto pretty good science when it reports on new physics.
          > Perhaps that's the only way to grab laymen, I don't know.
          >
          > As I mentioned in my last post, this idea in QCD dates back to when I was
          > a
          > grad student. The work that was described was pretty good stuff, so I'm
          > not insulting the physicist. But, the energy involved in the interaction
          > between quarks must be mass, so there is nothing earth shattering here.
          >
          > But, like doing a QED calculation of, say water, and coming up with what
          > is
          > observed, this massive computational work is well worth doing, and the
          > first ones to get it done deserve acclaim for getting it done.

          Agree with what you are trying to say.
          I think that as a magazine, NS is trying to engage lay folk and other
          scientists whose expertise doesn't extend very far into QM. For most of us
          the metaphysics *is* the important aspect of QM.
          It helps us to work out the nature of reality and what it means to exist.

          For we, the dummies<G>, it is difficult to hold on to the ideas of
          simultaneous existing/non-existing, objects frothing out of nothing, or
          matter mostly being not there in any sense that doesn't stagger one's common
          sense and bring it to it's knees whimpering and moaning. QM is destructive
          to much of the "rules" one has ingrained as soon as one learns to walk, it
          just seems to go against all that one sees in day to day life.

          The "rules" are of course, oversimplifications based on limited observation
          from a limited viewpoint, but for those of us who lack the time to learn the
          maths and pour over the datas, the metaphysics are all we have to hold on
          to.
          We can understand philosophy much easier than maths, they are easier for us
          to discuss and digest.

          xponent
          Paradox Maru
          rob

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        • Nick Arnett
          ... Hmmph. Your father apparently wasn t a philosophy professor. Nick J ai faim, puisque je suis. _______________________________________________
          Message 4 of 16 , Nov 29, 2008
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            On Sat, Nov 29, 2008 at 11:18 AM, Rceeberger <rceeberger@...> wrote:

            >
            > We can understand philosophy much easier than maths, they are easier for us
            > to discuss and digest.



            Hmmph. Your father apparently wasn't a philosophy professor.

            Nick
            J'ai faim, puisque je suis.
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          • Bruce Bostwick
            ... Had this argument with someone who was pretending to understand MWI vs. Copenhagen the other day. The universe is quantum, it only looks classical on our
            Message 5 of 16 , Nov 29, 2008
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              On Nov 29, 2008, at 1:18 PM, Rceeberger wrote:

              > Agree with what you are trying to say.
              > I think that as a magazine, NS is trying to engage lay folk and other
              > scientists whose expertise doesn't extend very far into QM. For most
              > of us
              > the metaphysics *is* the important aspect of QM.
              > It helps us to work out the nature of reality and what it means to
              > exist.
              >
              > For we, the dummies<G>, it is difficult to hold on to the ideas of
              > simultaneous existing/non-existing, objects frothing out of nothing,
              > or
              > matter mostly being not there in any sense that doesn't stagger
              > one's common
              > sense and bring it to it's knees whimpering and moaning. QM is
              > destructive
              > to much of the "rules" one has ingrained as soon as one learns to
              > walk, it
              > just seems to go against all that one sees in day to day life.
              >
              > The "rules" are of course, oversimplifications based on limited
              > observation
              > from a limited viewpoint, but for those of us who lack the time to
              > learn the
              > maths and pour over the datas, the metaphysics are all we have to
              > hold on
              > to.
              > We can understand philosophy much easier than maths, they are easier
              > for us
              > to discuss and digest.
              >
              > xponent
              > Paradox Maru
              > rob

              Had this argument with someone who was pretending to understand MWI
              vs. Copenhagen the other day.

              "The universe is quantum, it only looks classical on our scale" was
              lost on her. :p

              (Although to be fair, classical mechanics does sum up pretty well what
              we see on our scale. It's just right for the wrong reasons, is all. :)

              "Thank you all for coming around to the self-evident point I made five
              minutes ago." -- Toby Ziegler


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            • Ronn! Blankenship
              ... Why is it for the wrong reasons ? Some would say that if it leads to predictions which match the observations closely enough to be useful, it s good
              Message 6 of 16 , Nov 30, 2008
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                At 08:25 PM Saturday 11/29/2008, Bruce Bostwick wrote:

                >(Although to be fair, classical mechanics does sum up pretty well what
                >we see on our scale. It's just right for the wrong reasons, is all. :)



                Why is it "for the wrong reasons"? Some would say that if it leads
                to predictions which match the observations closely enough to be
                useful, it's good enough, at least in the limited range of
                observations of interest where it is applicable ("our scale"), and
                matching or not matching observations of reality is all that makes a
                model "right" or "wrong." No one except a theoretical physicist is
                going to devote such huge amounts of computation time to a real world
                problem where classical mechanics gives a good enough answer to
                predict frex whether a building will stand or fall or whether a space
                probe will successfully land on Mars or crash or miss the planet
                entirely . . .


                . . . ronn! :)



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              • Rceeberger
                On 11/30/2008 2:26:19 AM, Ronn! Blankenship (ronn_blankenship@bellsouth.net) ... Actually, I think you are both right in some respects. All of our maths
                Message 7 of 16 , Nov 30, 2008
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                  On 11/30/2008 2:26:19 AM, Ronn! Blankenship (ronn_blankenship@...)
                  wrote:
                  > At 08:25 PM Saturday 11/29/2008, Bruce Bostwick wrote:
                  >
                  > >(Although to be fair, classical mechanics does sum up pretty well what
                  > >we see on our scale.
                  > It's just right for the wrong reasons, is all. :)
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Why is it "for the wrong reasons"? Some would say that if it leads
                  > to predictions which match the observations closely enough to be
                  > useful, it's
                  > good enough, at least in the limited range of
                  > observations of interest where it is applicable ("our scale"), and
                  > matching or not matching observations of reality is all that makes a
                  > model "right" or "wrong." No one except a theoretical physicist is
                  > going to devote such huge amounts of computation time to a real world
                  > problem where classical mechanics gives a good enough answer to
                  > predict frex whether a building will stand or fall or whether a space
                  > probe will successfully land on Mars or crash or miss the planet
                  > entirely . . .
                  >

                  Actually, I think you are both right in some respects.
                  All of our maths concerning physics (to any degree) are no more than
                  approximations. It just depends on how exact an answer you require to solve
                  a problem reliably.
                  If physics were anything more than approximate, we would have final answers
                  to all our questions.

                  xponent
                  Masters Of The Universe Maru
                  rob

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                • Dan M
                  ... How? All physics does is model observations. Physics was created out of Natural Philosophy by tabling the question of the reliability of observations.
                  Message 8 of 16 , Nov 30, 2008
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                    Rob wrote:

                    > If physics were anything more than approximate, we would have final
                    > answers to all our questions.

                    How? All physics does is model observations. Physics was created out of
                    Natural Philosophy by tabling the question of the reliability of
                    observations.

                    Now, you can use the results of physics as a reliable model of what we
                    observe when you do metaphysics. But, it is a really really good idea to
                    not confuse when you are doing physics and when you are doing something
                    else. Otherwise you can wander off into the aether. :-)

                    Dan M.




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                  • Rceeberger
                    ... Models make predictions. And over time models have made predictions with greater accuracy and that cover more situations that previous models failed.
                    Message 9 of 16 , Nov 30, 2008
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                      On 11/30/2008 5:30:23 PM, Dan M (dsummersminet@...) wrote:
                      > Rob wrote:
                      >
                      > > If physics were anything more than approximate, we would have final
                      > > answers to all our questions.
                      >
                      > How? All physics does is model observations.

                      Models make predictions. And over time models have made predictions with
                      greater accuracy and that cover more situations that previous models failed.
                      Mercury anyone?

                      Models also allow us to re-create phenomena for our own purposes.

                      > Physics was created out of
                      > Natural Philosophy by tabling the question of the reliability of
                      > observations.

                      Which definition of "tabling" are you using here?

                      >
                      > Now, you can use the results of physics as a reliable model of what we
                      > observe when you do metaphysics. But, it is a really really good idea to
                      > not confuse when you are doing physics and when you are doing something
                      > else. Otherwise you can wander off into the aether. :-)
                      >

                      <G> I think the implication of what I wrote before is that for most of us
                      there really isn't much of a difference.
                      I would think it quite different when having a formal discussion.

                      xponent
                      Meta-Physical Conversions Maru
                      rob

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                    • Alberto Monteiro
                      ... Mercury s extra precession could be modeled using Classical Mechanics, it was just a matter of adjusting Sun s J2. The surprising thing was that, with GR,
                      Message 10 of 16 , Dec 1, 2008
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                        rob/xponent wrote:
                        >
                        > Models make predictions. And over time models have made predictions
                        > with greater accuracy and that cover more situations that previous
                        > models failed. Mercury anyone?
                        >
                        Mercury's extra precession could be modeled using Classical Mechanics,
                        it was just a matter of adjusting Sun's J2. The surprising thing
                        was that, with GR, Sun's J2 is negligible.

                        Alberto Monteiro

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                      • Ronn! Blankenship
                        ... Yep. If the Sun indeed had turned out to be measurably oblate, or at least its gravitational field had turned out so, the very good match that exists
                        Message 11 of 16 , Dec 1, 2008
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                          At 05:14 AM Monday 12/1/2008, Alberto Monteiro wrote:

                          >rob/xponent wrote:
                          > >
                          > > Models make predictions. And over time models have made predictions
                          > > with greater accuracy and that cover more situations that previous
                          > > models failed. Mercury anyone?
                          > >
                          >Mercury's extra precession could be modeled using Classical Mechanics,
                          >it was just a matter of adjusting Sun's J2. The surprising thing
                          >was that, with GR, Sun's J2 is negligible.
                          >
                          >Alberto Monteiro


                          Yep. If the Sun indeed had turned out to be measurably oblate, or at
                          least its gravitational field had turned out so, the very good match
                          that exists between the prediction from GR and the measured excess in
                          the precession of the perihelion of Mercury's orbit would have been
                          much less good.


                          . . . ronn! :)



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                        • Dan M
                          ... I m not arguing against modeling observation. Besides paying the bills, it s at the foundation of modern civilization. Without it, we d be little better
                          Message 12 of 16 , Dec 1, 2008
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                            > -----Original Message-----
                            > From: brin-l-bounces@... [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
                            > Behalf Of Rceeberger
                            > Sent: Sunday, November 30, 2008 9:47 PM
                            > To: Killer Bs (David Brin et al) Discussion
                            > Subject: RE: It's confirmed: Matter is merely vacuum fluctuations
                            >
                            >
                            > On 11/30/2008 5:30:23 PM, Dan M (dsummersminet@...) wrote:
                            > > Rob wrote:
                            > >
                            > > > If physics were anything more than approximate, we would have final
                            > > > answers to all our questions.
                            > >
                            > > How? All physics does is model observations.
                            >
                            > Models make predictions. And over time models have made predictions with
                            > greater accuracy and that cover more situations that previous models
                            > failed. Mercury anyone?
                            >
                            > Models also allow us to re-create phenomena for our own purposes.

                            I'm not arguing against modeling observation. Besides paying the bills,
                            it's at the foundation of modern civilization. Without it, we'd be little
                            better off than they were 500 years ago.

                            I was just pointing out that there are plenty of worthwhile questions that
                            will not be answered by science.


                            > > Physics was created out of
                            > > Natural Philosophy by tabling the question of the reliability of
                            > > observations.
                            >
                            > Which definition of "tabling" are you using here?

                            Roberts Rules of Order :-)

                            US

                            > >
                            > > Now, you can use the results of physics as a reliable model of what we
                            > > observe when you do metaphysics. But, it is a really really good idea
                            > to
                            > > not confuse when you are doing physics and when you are doing something
                            > > else. Otherwise you can wander off into the aether. :-)
                            > >
                            >
                            > <G> I think the implication of what I wrote before is that for most of us
                            > there really isn't much of a difference.
                            > I would think it quite different when having a formal discussion.

                            Sure, and I appreciate your position. But, I've hoped you remember one of
                            the zillion times I remarked that there are a number of different
                            interpretations of physics: many different realities that are all equally
                            consistent with observations, and for which there is no empirical test short
                            of finding the aether, or something equally startling, to differentiate
                            between the interpretations.

                            Thus, I take exception with a science magazine which states that the authors
                            pet interpretation has been proven by a new discovery, when it hasn't.

                            One real problem, from my perspective, is that the average layman is trying
                            to fit modern physics back into a classical box. To paraphrase one
                            prominent physicist from the 20s when asked to comment on the correctness of
                            someone's hypothesison a theory he thought was horrid, "Right? Right, he
                            isn't even Wrong." This is what the first two paragraphs of the New
                            Scientist article remind me of.

                            Dan M.

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                          • xponentrob
                            ... From: Dan M To: Killer Bs (David Brin et al) Discussion Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 10:03 PM
                            Message 13 of 16 , Dec 1, 2008
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                              ----- Original Message -----
                              From: "Dan M" <dsummersminet@...>
                              To: "'Killer Bs (David Brin et al) Discussion'" <brin-l@...>
                              Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 10:03 PM
                              Subject: RE: It's confirmed: Matter is merely vacuum fluctuations


                              >
                              >
                              >> -----Original Message-----
                              >> From: brin-l-bounces@... [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
                              >> Behalf Of Rceeberger
                              >> Sent: Sunday, November 30, 2008 9:47 PM
                              >> To: Killer Bs (David Brin et al) Discussion
                              >> Subject: RE: It's confirmed: Matter is merely vacuum fluctuations
                              >>
                              >>
                              >> On 11/30/2008 5:30:23 PM, Dan M (dsummersminet@...) wrote:
                              >> > Rob wrote:
                              >> >
                              >> > > If physics were anything more than approximate, we would have final
                              >> > > answers to all our questions.
                              >> >
                              >> > How? All physics does is model observations.
                              >>
                              >> Models make predictions. And over time models have made predictions with
                              >> greater accuracy and that cover more situations that previous models
                              >> failed. Mercury anyone?
                              >>
                              >> Models also allow us to re-create phenomena for our own purposes.
                              >
                              > I'm not arguing against modeling observation. Besides paying the bills,
                              > it's at the foundation of modern civilization. Without it, we'd be little
                              > better off than they were 500 years ago.
                              >
                              > I was just pointing out that there are plenty of worthwhile questions that
                              > will not be answered by science.
                              >

                              Ummmmm....yeah. Though I have to admit I'm left wondering if you are talking
                              about questions in the "soft" sciences (which can seem a bit arbitrary to my
                              mind and subject to change for a variety of reasons), or if you are
                              referring to "ultimate" questions that lay people tend to think physics aims
                              for. (Just for clarity, I think we both agree when it comes to the subject
                              of "Truth")

                              >
                              >> > Physics was created out of
                              >> > Natural Philosophy by tabling the question of the reliability of
                              >> > observations.
                              >>
                              >> Which definition of "tabling" are you using here?
                              >
                              > Roberts Rules of Order :-)
                              >
                              > US

                              OK thanks!
                              I'm not sure I understand your statement in that case. Fleishman and Pons
                              observations were certainly called into question, as were their
                              methodologies.Same with, say, creationists. So offhand I would expect that
                              the reliability of observations is important, but recognise that you could
                              be defining "observation" in a way I am not.


                              >
                              >> >
                              >> > Now, you can use the results of physics as a reliable model of what we
                              >> > observe when you do metaphysics. But, it is a really really good idea
                              >> to
                              >> > not confuse when you are doing physics and when you are doing something
                              >> > else. Otherwise you can wander off into the aether. :-)
                              >> >
                              >>
                              >> <G> I think the implication of what I wrote before is that for most of us
                              >> there really isn't much of a difference.
                              >> I would think it quite different when having a formal discussion.
                              >
                              > Sure, and I appreciate your position. But, I've hoped you remember one of
                              > the zillion times I remarked that there are a number of different
                              > interpretations of physics: many different realities that are all equally
                              > consistent with observations, and for which there is no empirical test
                              > short
                              > of finding the aether, or something equally startling, to differentiate
                              > between the interpretations.

                              I recall that years ago there was a very lengthy thread here that dealt with
                              metaphysical questions of the ultimate reality and why such philosophical
                              discussion is pretty much meaningless. I wish I still had all those old
                              files from my first few years here.


                              >
                              > Thus, I take exception with a science magazine which states that the
                              > authors
                              > pet interpretation has been proven by a new discovery, when it hasn't.

                              Something has been demonstrated. I agree it is open to interpretation. I can
                              think of other explainations that might satisfy the observations, leakage
                              from tiny higher dimensions frex.


                              >
                              > One real problem, from my perspective, is that the average layman is
                              > trying
                              > to fit modern physics back into a classical box. To paraphrase one
                              > prominent physicist from the 20s when asked to comment on the correctness
                              > of
                              > someone's hypothesison a theory he thought was horrid, "Right? Right, he
                              > isn't even Wrong." This is what the first two paragraphs of the New
                              > Scientist article remind me of.
                              >
                              Last year everything was all about strings (again), but the article seems to
                              ignore all that and doesn't reference.


                              xponent
                              Modalities Maru
                              rob

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                            • Dan M
                              ... I was thinking more of the latter, but the former also helps bring the problem into perspective. Take psychology. We don t really know what people are
                              Message 14 of 16 , Dec 2, 2008
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                                > -----Original Message-----
                                > From: brin-l-bounces@... [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
                                > Behalf Of xponentrob
                                > Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 11:06 PM
                                > To: Killer Bs (David Brin et al) Discussion
                                > Subject: Re: It's confirmed: Matter is merely vacuum fluctuations
                                > >
                                >
                                >Ummmmm....yeah. Though I have to admit I'm left wondering if you are
                                >talking about questions in the "soft" sciences (which can seem a bit
                                >arbitrary to my mind and subject to change for a variety of reasons), or
                                >if you are referring to "ultimate" questions that lay people tend to
                                >think physics aims for. (Just for clarity, I think we both agree when it
                                >comes to the subject of "Truth")

                                I was thinking more of the latter, but the former also helps bring the
                                problem into perspective. Take psychology. We don't really know what
                                people are thinking. Experts in the field of psychology have been fooled by
                                people who outgamed them. Still, empirical observations are made, and
                                models of those observations (say fivethirtyeight's vote prediction) can
                                prove quite accurate.

                                >
                                > OK thanks!
                                > I'm not sure I understand your statement in that case. Fleishman and Pons
                                > observations were certainly called into question, as were their
                                > methodologies.Same with, say, creationists. So offhand I would expect that
                                > the reliability of observations is important, but recognise that you could
                                > be defining "observation" in a way I am not.

                                I think I am defining "reliable" differently, partially because I'm rather
                                familiar with the debates of the time when physics emerged. Pons and
                                Fleishman made unrepeatable observations. Creationists use bad technique in
                                evaluating phenomenon. But, Pons and Fleishman's problems were not the
                                uncertainty of the empirical and only a small subset of creationists use
                                idealism to question observations (as Berkley (sp) did).

                                We can make detailed models of the empirical and have rigorous standards for
                                good, repeatable experiments. But, we don't worry about what is really
                                there, we "shut up and calculate". In a real sense, this Feynman statement
                                is a culmination of what makes physics what it is.




                                >
                                > I recall that years ago there was a very lengthy thread here that dealt
                                > with metaphysical questions of the ultimate reality and why such
                                > philosophical discussion is pretty much meaningless.

                                Actually, I'd argue that meaning is one of those metaphysical questions that
                                cannot be determined empirically. I love the statement in the first preface
                                to the Critique of Pure Reason on this.

                                "HUMAN reason has this peculiar fate that in one species
                                of its knowledge it is burdened by questions which, as prescribed
                                by the very nature of reason itself, it is not able to
                                ignore, but which, as transcending all its powers, it is also
                                not able to answer."






                                > >
                                > > Thus, I take exception with a science magazine which states that the
                                > > authors
                                > > pet interpretation has been proven by a new discovery, when it hasn't.
                                >
                                > Something has been demonstrated. I agree it is open to interpretation. I
                                > can think of other explainations that might satisfy the observations,
                                >leakage from tiny higher dimensions frex.

                                None of that is needed. Just standard E=m works (I'm using good physicist
                                units here where c=1. :-) ) That's what's frustrating for me; the New
                                Scientist makes standard QM theory out to be a startling new discovery. The
                                theory dates back to at least the early 30s. Nothing has been demonstrated
                                except that QCD works numerically. If they failed with computers 100x as
                                powerful, and everyone did, then that would be something new, because QCD
                                would have been falsified.
                                >
                                >
                                > >
                                > > One real problem, from my perspective, is that the average layman is
                                > > trying
                                > > to fit modern physics back into a classical box. To paraphrase one
                                > > prominent physicist from the 20s when asked to comment on the
                                > correctness
                                > > of
                                > > someone's hypothesison a theory he thought was horrid, "Right? Right, he
                                > > isn't even Wrong." This is what the first two paragraphs of the New
                                > > Scientist article remind me of.
                                > >
                                > Last year everything was all about strings (again), but the article seems
                                > to ignore all that and doesn't reference.

                                That's at a layer below what was covered in the article...where theorists
                                try to reconcile GR with QCD and the Electroweak...there strings (and now
                                fuzzy space if 2 year old last reading of John Baez's online "This Week In
                                Mathematical Physics" is current enough).

                                Dan M.

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                              • xponentrob
                                ... From: Dan M To: Killer Bs (David Brin et al) Discussion Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2008 9:06 PM
                                Message 15 of 16 , Dec 3, 2008
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                                  ----- Original Message -----
                                  From: "Dan M" <dsummersminet@...>
                                  To: "'Killer Bs (David Brin et al) Discussion'" <brin-l@...>
                                  Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2008 9:06 PM
                                  Subject: RE: It's confirmed: Matter is merely vacuum fluctuations


                                  >
                                  >
                                  >> -----Original Message-----
                                  >> From: brin-l-bounces@... [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
                                  >> Behalf Of xponentrob
                                  >> Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 11:06 PM
                                  >> To: Killer Bs (David Brin et al) Discussion
                                  >> Subject: Re: It's confirmed: Matter is merely vacuum fluctuations
                                  >> >
                                  >>
                                  >>Ummmmm....yeah. Though I have to admit I'm left wondering if you are
                                  >>talking about questions in the "soft" sciences (which can seem a bit
                                  >>arbitrary to my mind and subject to change for a variety of reasons), or
                                  >>if you are referring to "ultimate" questions that lay people tend to
                                  >>think physics aims for. (Just for clarity, I think we both agree when it
                                  >>comes to the subject of "Truth")
                                  >
                                  > I was thinking more of the latter, but the former also helps bring the
                                  > problem into perspective. Take psychology. We don't really know what
                                  > people are thinking. Experts in the field of psychology have been fooled
                                  > by
                                  > people who outgamed them. Still, empirical observations are made, and
                                  > models of those observations (say fivethirtyeight's vote prediction) can
                                  > prove quite accurate.
                                  >
                                  >>
                                  >> OK thanks!
                                  >> I'm not sure I understand your statement in that case. Fleishman and Pons
                                  >> observations were certainly called into question, as were their
                                  >> methodologies.Same with, say, creationists. So offhand I would expect
                                  >> that
                                  >> the reliability of observations is important, but recognise that you
                                  >> could
                                  >> be defining "observation" in a way I am not.
                                  >
                                  > I think I am defining "reliable" differently, partially because I'm rather
                                  > familiar with the debates of the time when physics emerged. Pons and
                                  > Fleishman made unrepeatable observations. Creationists use bad technique
                                  > in
                                  > evaluating phenomenon. But, Pons and Fleishman's problems were not the
                                  > uncertainty of the empirical and only a small subset of creationists use
                                  > idealism to question observations (as Berkley (sp) did).
                                  >
                                  > We can make detailed models of the empirical and have rigorous standards
                                  > for
                                  > good, repeatable experiments. But, we don't worry about what is really
                                  > there, we "shut up and calculate". In a real sense, this Feynman
                                  > statement
                                  > is a culmination of what makes physics what it is.
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >>
                                  >> I recall that years ago there was a very lengthy thread here that dealt
                                  >> with metaphysical questions of the ultimate reality and why such
                                  >> philosophical discussion is pretty much meaningless.
                                  >
                                  > Actually, I'd argue that meaning is one of those metaphysical questions
                                  > that
                                  > cannot be determined empirically. I love the statement in the first
                                  > preface
                                  > to the Critique of Pure Reason on this.
                                  >
                                  > "HUMAN reason has this peculiar fate that in one species
                                  > of its knowledge it is burdened by questions which, as prescribed
                                  > by the very nature of reason itself, it is not able to
                                  > ignore, but which, as transcending all its powers, it is also
                                  > not able to answer."
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >> >
                                  >> > Thus, I take exception with a science magazine which states that the
                                  >> > authors
                                  >> > pet interpretation has been proven by a new discovery, when it hasn't.
                                  >>
                                  >> Something has been demonstrated. I agree it is open to interpretation. I
                                  >> can think of other explainations that might satisfy the observations,
                                  >>leakage from tiny higher dimensions frex.
                                  >
                                  > None of that is needed. Just standard E=m works (I'm using good physicist
                                  > units here where c=1. :-) ) That's what's frustrating for me; the New
                                  > Scientist makes standard QM theory out to be a startling new discovery.
                                  > The
                                  > theory dates back to at least the early 30s. Nothing has been
                                  > demonstrated
                                  > except that QCD works numerically. If they failed with computers 100x as
                                  > powerful, and everyone did, then that would be something new, because QCD
                                  > would have been falsified.
                                  >>
                                  >>
                                  >> >
                                  >> > One real problem, from my perspective, is that the average layman is
                                  >> > trying
                                  >> > to fit modern physics back into a classical box. To paraphrase one
                                  >> > prominent physicist from the 20s when asked to comment on the
                                  >> correctness
                                  >> > of
                                  >> > someone's hypothesison a theory he thought was horrid, "Right? Right,
                                  >> > he
                                  >> > isn't even Wrong." This is what the first two paragraphs of the New
                                  >> > Scientist article remind me of.
                                  >> >
                                  >> Last year everything was all about strings (again), but the article seems
                                  >> to ignore all that and doesn't reference.
                                  >
                                  > That's at a layer below what was covered in the article...where theorists
                                  > try to reconcile GR with QCD and the Electroweak...there strings (and now
                                  > fuzzy space if 2 year old last reading of John Baez's online "This Week In
                                  > Mathematical Physics" is current enough).
                                  >

                                  Of Interest:
                                  http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16095-its-confirmed-matter-is-merely-vacuum-fluctuations.html

                                  Once again, the comments *on* the article are more interesting than the
                                  article itself.

                                  This gem from Vendicar Decarian for instance:

                                  "What is and isn't matter is all relative to the observer.

                                  What is real particle and what is a virtual particle is also relative to the
                                  observer.

                                  For example:

                                  Theoretically - and indicated but not positively proven through experiment -
                                  acceleration causes some portion of the vacuum energy to be observed as real
                                  thermal radiation.

                                  This radiation was first postulated by a physicist named uhnru I believe,
                                  and became the basis for the theorized Hawking radiaiton that is emitted by
                                  the vacuum around black holes.

                                  The thinking goes that if acceleration produces a realization of thermal
                                  radiation then the acceleration experienced by the vacuum near a black hole
                                  should do the same thing under the principle of equivalence.

                                  It's not really productive to worry too much about what is real and what is
                                  virtual, since there is no firm basis for the categorization. Particles are
                                  a quantized bias in the field fluctuations that compose reality, and as such
                                  they are transient. In their position but well defined in terms of their
                                  detection.

                                  When an atom emits an electon for example, it loses a quantized amount of
                                  energy, spin, momentum, charge, etc. But that "stuff" just falls into the
                                  vacuum. Eventually some of these lost properties will pop up somewhere else,
                                  perhaps with some additional properties, and they will interact with a
                                  "real" particle that we will observe and think, because of the observation
                                  that we have observed the movement of this electron to another place, when
                                  in fact the electron never existed in the first place. It was a name given
                                  to the quatized bundle of properties that were combined with the field
                                  fluctuations that make up the churning properties of the vacuum."


                                  Amazing stuff in comment sections.

                                  xponent
                                  Primary Maru
                                  rob

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                                • Nick Arnett
                                  ... One man s meat is another man s positron? Nick _______________________________________________ http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l
                                  Message 16 of 16 , Dec 3, 2008
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                                    On Wed, Dec 3, 2008 at 3:28 PM, xponentrob <xponentrob@...> wrote:

                                    >
                                    > It's not really productive to worry too much about what is real and what is
                                    > virtual, since there is no firm basis for the categorization. Particles are
                                    > a quantized bias in the field fluctuations that compose reality, and as
                                    > such
                                    > they are transient. In their position but well defined in terms of their
                                    > detection.


                                    One man's meat is another man's positron?

                                    Nick
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