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Holiday Dinner Table Political Discussion

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thetabularasa Posted: Sun, Nov 25 2012 8:49 AM

Care to share any interesting dinner conversation held with your family members (probably statists) during Thanksgiving or other holidays during years past? Any awkward moments you want to share? I'm fascinated with how drastically different the political methodologies are amid family members, and I'm certain that being libertarians, we disagree more than we agree with others!

My great aunt was telling me about being born in 1930 and remembering the Great Depression and having little food until she was about 10 years old. She was telling me that there are so many spoiled people today that take everything for granted, such as welfare recipients. Couldn't agree more.

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Most of my awkward moments at holiday time didn't come from anything having to do with statism. For instance, when I saw my cousin who I hadn't seen since 2003. The first thing that he told me was "you know, the last time we saw each other you told me that you hoped that I got sucked up in a tornado. But it's alright, I forgive you."

But according to statist stuff, the most awkward thing happened when my Mom's South Florida liberal family saw our Ron Paul bumper sticker.

"The word libertarian comes from the word liberal," says my Aunt.

UGHHHHHHH

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Clayton replied on Sun, Nov 25 2012 12:07 PM

I tried explaining to my parents why I believe that nuclear weapons don't exist and the whole thing about them existing is just a big psy op. No one had any idea what to say, except to express concern for my mental stability.

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So what exactly happened in Japan then?

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You mean Hiroshima? Have you seen pictures of Dresden?

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Yes, I have.

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If a conventional bombing could do such damage to Dresden, why not to Hiroshima?

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Okay, I will say that they look similar.

But what about the massive amounts of radiation poisoning, the people with lukemia and cancer who live in Hiroshima and Nagasaki today?

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A conventional bomb can be made dirty.

The deniers of atomic weapons do not deny radioactivity (usually).

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Neodoxy replied on Sun, Nov 25 2012 12:43 PM

@Clayton

I'm sure that you have a good number of awkward conversations with friends and family...

Also do you really deny that an atomic weapon has ever been made?

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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Okay, then what about the Marshall Islands? I'm sure anyone over there will tell you that there most certainly are atomic weapons.

By the way, I am in no way trying to deny this, this is actually making sense to me.

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Clayton replied on Sun, Nov 25 2012 1:00 PM

do you really deny that an atomic weapon has ever been made?

I think there are good reasons to question. As already mentioned, just compare the photos of Dresden and Hiroshima. I've posted a couple times on this in the Blavatsky thread, you can find more detailed discussion there.

http://mises.org/community/forums/p/27445/481391.aspx#481391

http://mises.org/community/forums/p/27445/486974.aspx#486974

http://mises.org/community/forums/p/27445/498612.aspx#498612

http://mises.org/community/forums/p/27445/498650.aspx#498650

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Bert replied on Sun, Nov 25 2012 1:07 PM

I generally work on holidays to avoid all this.

I had always been impressed by the fact that there are a surprising number of individuals who never use their minds if they can avoid it, and an equal number who do use their minds, but in an amazingly stupid way. - Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols
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Maynard replied on Sun, Nov 25 2012 1:40 PM
I never knew there was doubt in regard to nuclear weapons' existence. Any good web pages for further investigation? I have reservations considering how many, I guess now supposed, tests were done. I admit pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki don't look considerably different than the ones of Tokyo, Dresden, and really many other cities completely destroyed by senseless bombing during WWII.
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I'd still like to know about the explanation for the Marshall Islands.

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My boss was telling me that there should be strong tarriffs on Chinese exports. I told her that we ought to end business regulations here in the States and allow the best, cheapest products to determine which products succeed. She said that was a great idea. Then I kindly informed her that she ought to read The Candlemakers' Petition.

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Clayton replied on Sun, Nov 25 2012 2:24 PM

 Any good web pages for further investigation?

Google "nuke lies". There isn't much out there and what little is out there borders on the whacky. Anyway, I reserve my right to think there's something fishy about the whole enterprise.

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Groucho replied on Sun, Nov 25 2012 3:03 PM

I find the term "denier" derogatory no matter what it is applied to.

But if you understand what radioactivity is and what elements are at the atomic level along with the mathematics of chain reactions and relativity, then it is absolutely certain that both fission and fusion bombs are possible, even if only in principle.

I'm assuming you don't disagree that they can be made, only whether they actually were made (and used). Is that correct?

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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Clayton replied on Sun, Nov 25 2012 4:08 PM

I find the term "denier" derogatory no matter what it is applied to.

But if you understand what radioactivity is and what elements are at the atomic level along with the mathematics of chain reactions and relativity, then it is absolutely certain that both fission and fusion bombs are possible, even if only in principle.

I'm assuming you don't disagree that they can be made, only whether they actually were made (and used). Is that correct?

No, I question the whole enterprise all the way down to the physics. The phenomenon of radioactivity is there for anyone to observe. Radioactive decay is there for anyone to observe. But all the mathematics built on top of these phenomena are just that... mathematics. And I don't restrict my criticism just to radioactive phenomena... most of 20th century "theoretical physics" is just pure mumbo-jumbo.

Much of it is little more than a reification of the variables in a Laplace transform which is just a powerful mathematical tool for solving differential equations. Differential equations frequently arise in physics but not because they are somehow "fundamental" to the operation of the Universe but, rather, because they are entailed in any system that changes, that is, exhibits differences. Reification of Riemannian geometry (this is mostly Poincare's fault) is also responsible for a lot of the mumbo-jumbo about "gravity bending space-time". This is nonsense-talk. But because it is shrouded in very powerful (extremely general) mathematics - that is also made difficult to learn by the standard approach to math education - no one dares question it for fear of looking the fool.

We don't even actually understand what gravity is. Velikovsky annihilates modern theories of gravity in a couple sentences here.

Lately I lecture frequently for physical and engineering societies and faculties, and I challenge those in the audience who believe that a magnetic body can move through a magnetic field without being affected by it to lift their hands. Can Jupiter with its immense magnetosphere move in the magnetic field centered on the Sun, if only of a few gammas, without being affected by it? Can the satellites of Jupiter plow through the magnetosphere of the giant planet without being affected by it? On no occasion I saw a hand raised.

There you have it. You can throw the entirety of post-Newtonian gravitational theory right into the trashcan. It's worth less than the paper it's written on. If the physics establishment has their collective head buried so far in the sand that they don't even realize that their gravitational theories can be refuted by a child, what else are they duped about? Have you read about string theory? What a bunch of garbage. The phrase "building castles in the air" used to be a metaphor but it isn't anymore, that's literally what string theorists are doing. They're just slamming together a lot of elegant and powerful mathematics in a "mathematical accelerator" in the hopes that a "theory of everything" will magically appear.

These are the same people who have constructed a "thorough" theory of radioactivity yet somehow managed to miss this. Now, you'd think that if they had such an amazingly complete theory of radioactive phenomena that they would have been able to predict this, rather than being surprised by it. Not that they will alter their sacrosanct theories one iota to incorporate the data because data is made to fit theories, not the other way around.

So, no, I don't think that fission and fusion bombs are possible, at least, I have seen no convincing reason to believe they are. I've seen some people assert that nuclear power is also fabricated but this doesn't make sense to me (nuclear submarines run on what, batteries?) I don't see any reason why you couldn't generate power from the heat product of radioactive elements.

If they do have a super-weapon, it might be an electromagnetic weapon capable of generating cosmic lightning bolts. I posted in the Blavatsky thread a pdf that goes over a potential connection between Tesla's Wardenclyffe tower and the Tunguska event. But if they do have such a Zeus-like weapon, they would be happy to conceal its existence behind all this nonsense about nuclear bombs. The better to frustrate imitators and keep the super-weapon exclusively in the hands of those already wielding it.

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Are you making the assertion that general relativity is nonsense? What about quantum mechanics? Theory can be refined. In the case of special relativity and classical mechanics, special relativity identified where classical mechanics failed and why. But classical mechanics is still used everyday by engineers, scientists, etc.

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HTF did this thread get started on Quantum Mechanics and fake nukes? LOL You guys are funny.

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I found out that I'm "part of the problem" because I didn't vote in the general election.  I thought this was very insightful and fascinating since I could have sworn that Obama and Romney are Keynesian puppet statists who care nothing about me and that coercing people out of the fruits of their labor are both clearly part of the problem, but now I see the error of my ways.

Also, we can't legalize drugs because the same family member who informed me of my participation in "the problem" (clearly a bastion of enlightenment) doesn't want them available to her kids.  This was mentioned without the slightest bit of irony as she swirled her glass of wine at the dinner table which sits 2 feet from a bar laden with bottles of wine, scotch, and beer.

Let's get real, what we have are Republicans and Democrats.  The Libertarian Party is "this" small, she gestured.  I never even mentioned the LP and was never asked for why I didn't vote and certainly not which principles guided my decision.  It was in this moment that I truly understood the impenetrableness of a person's belief system built upon and sustained by emotion.

Thanksgiving was fun.  Can't wait until Christmas!

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Clayton replied on Tue, Nov 27 2012 6:17 PM

Are you making the assertion that general relativity is nonsense?

It's very elegant and beautiful nonsense, but nonsense nonetheless. Bending space... how absurd! Space is a category of human knowledge. Think about that for a minute and ask yourself again whether it makes any sense whatsoever for space to be "bent".

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Clayton:

Are you making the assertion that general relativity is nonsense?

It's very elegant and beautiful nonsense, but nonsense nonetheless. Bending space... how absurd! Space is a category of human knowledge. Think about that for a minute and ask yourself again whether it makes any sense whatsoever for space to be "bent".

Clayton -

 

Hasn't general relativity been experimentally verified repeatedly? "Bending" starlight around the sun? How do you feel about special relativity?

What do you feel about diffraction? There's a "bending" involved there. General relativity describes a relationship between mass, what it does to space-time, and the resulting motion created by that presence.

The "bending" is simply a term to describe the motion of mass in space. There is an intimate relationship between the mass and how it corresponds to the properties of space.

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Clayton replied on Tue, Nov 27 2012 7:31 PM

Hasn't general relativity been experimentally verified repeatedly? "Bending" starlight around the sun? How do you feel about special relativity?

 

This is disputable. Gravity Probe B was the first experimental evidence that could conceivably verify GR but it still misses the larger point.

What do you feel about diffraction? There's a "bending" involved there.

Well, it's light that is bent and light is something rather than somewhere (space).

General relativity describes a relationship between mass, what it does to space-time, and the resulting motion created by that presence.

The "bending" is simply a term to describe the motion of mass in space.

Precisely. The bending is a description of the underlying mathematics.

There is an intimate relationship between the mass and how it corresponds to the properties of space.

Yes, but anything that moves in an ellipse (hyperbolic geometry) can be said to be "bending spacetime" in the same sense... in other words, it's still just a reification of the mathematics. Of course, if something moves in an ellipse, it moves in an ellipse... the data are irrefutable. And anything that moves elliptically can be said to "bend space" around it in a certain mathematical metaphor. No one can dispute that the mathematics of SR is the mathematics of the physical world but it misses the point that "bending space" implies that there's something "deeply counterintuitive" about the "true structure" of the physical world which is a) subjective and b) a superfluous point. What matters is that if you want to measure a physical variable here or there, you will have to move to here or there to measure it. The "curvature of space" between here and there is just a mathematical abstraction. SR is just an elegant and efficient organization of the computations required to assess "where" and "when" you are measuring a physical variable beyond the horizons of unaided observation.

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idol replied on Tue, Nov 27 2012 7:58 PM

Clayton, are you saying that there are thousands of people in government who know there are no nukes and lie about it (including Presidents and Prime Ministers) or do these people honestly and incorrectly believe that nukes exist? 

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Clayton replied on Tue, Nov 27 2012 8:04 PM

If I'm right, I would think it is the most tightly controlled secret of all. I would imagine that the smallest possible number of people would be admitted to the "club".

Or maybe I'm just crazy. :-D

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Clayton:

Hasn't general relativity been experimentally verified repeatedly? "Bending" starlight around the sun? How do you feel about special relativity?

 

This is disputable. Gravity Probe B was the first experimental evidence that could conceivably verify GR but it still misses the larger point.

What do you feel about diffraction? There's a "bending" involved there.

Well, it's light that is bent and light is something rather than somewhere (space).

General relativity describes a relationship between mass, what it does to space-time, and the resulting motion created by that presence.

The "bending" is simply a term to describe the motion of mass in space.

Precisely. The bending is a description of the underlying mathematics.

There is an intimate relationship between the mass and how it corresponds to the properties of space.

Yes, but anything that moves in an ellipse (hyperbolic geometry) can be said to be "bending spacetime" in the same sense... in other words, it's still just a reification of the mathematics. Of course, if something moves in an ellipse, it moves in an ellipse... the data are irrefutable. And anything that moves elliptically can be said to "bend space" around it in a certain mathematical metaphor. No one can dispute that the mathematics of SR is the mathematics of the physical world but it misses the point that "bending space" implies that there's something "deeply counterintuitive" about the "true structure" of the physical world which is a) subjective and b) a superfluous point. What matters is that if you want to measure a physical variable here or there, you will have to move to here or there to measure it. The "curvature of space" between here and there is just a mathematical abstraction. SR is just an elegant and efficient organization of the computations required to assess "where" and "when" you are measuring a physical variable beyond the horizons of unaided observation.

Clayton -

 

This is almost like complaining about the constant acceleration equations describing the parabolic motion of a projectile. Of course, it's parabolic! That's what the mathematics yields. It's a parabolic equation!

How do you feel about action-at-a-distance? Fields are based on a somewhere and describe how a something will behave. 

Nothing is being bent. It's almost the sci-fi travesty of "ripping a hole in the space-time continuum." There's no ripping of anything. What about the gravitational and intertial mass equivalence?

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Clayton replied on Tue, Nov 27 2012 8:37 PM

This is almost like complaining about the constant acceleration equations describing the parabolic motion of a projectile. Of course, it's parabolic! That's what the mathematics yields. It's a parabolic equation!

 

I'm not sure what you're getting at. No one claims that a projectile "bends the gravitational field" around itself in parabolic geometry. If you roll a lead ball perpendicularly through a strong laminar flow of water, it will move in roughly a parabolic motion. There's nothing "inherently" parabolic about water flows and lead balls, it's just that when you move an object through a "field" of constant force in one direction, it will move parabolically.

How do you feel about action-at-a-distance? Fields are based on a somewhere and describe how a something will behave.

Fields can be constructed from completely local mathematics (Do you think that air currents are non-local? Do they not form a mathematical field under certain constraints?) When we say "the Sun's magnetic field" what we are really talking about is the net effect of the Sun on our local magnetic environment.

Nothing is being bent. It's almost the sci-fi travesty of "ripping a hole in the space-time continuum." There's no ripping of anything. What about the gravitational and intertial mass equivalence?

Again, I think it's getting carried away with thought-experiments. An Indian-burn generates heat on the skin... the Sun also generates heat on the skin. If I closed my eyes and ignored friction, I could not tell the difference between and Indian-burn and the Sun. Hence, an Indian-burn is a microscopic Sun and vice-versa. The purpose of an equivalence principle is not to "elegantize" our theory but, rather, to increase our mental grasp of the phenomena. Modern physics obfuscates which is precisely the opposite of what physics is supposed to be doing. Physics should lay bare the phenomena and render the phenomena as readily accessible to human comprehension as possible. "Advanced mathematics" is no excuse for obfuscation as the mission of mathematics is no different: to clarify and lay bare the deductive phenomena of mathematical abstractions.

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You're trying to make the case that general relativity has no physical significance whatsoever. It's simply mathematics. I would agree that it is the case for string theory. It's not so for general relativity as it's falsifiable through practical experimentation. There's exists no contemporaneous method to test string theory.

The equivalence is the identity of the quantiative measure of inertia in Newton's Second Law and the classical gravitational force. There's an important physical connection in the equations. It's not simply mathematics. Physics is an observational science. The mathematics must be constrained by physical reality.

I disagree. The way the energy would be distributed is probably markedly different. The situation can become more complicated depending on the physical phenomena you want to describe. Do you take issue with special relativity and quantum mechanics being more complicated than classical mechanics? What about Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics? They are more fundamental than Newton's mechanics but can be used to more easily model a system than say using Newton's equations in rectangular coordinates. The mathematics in the theories becomes more complicated as the theories becomes more general. It's simply the way quantitative understanding works.

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Clayton replied on Tue, Nov 27 2012 9:44 PM

You're trying to make the case that general relativity has no physical significance whatsoever. It's simply mathematics. I would agree that it is the case for string theory. It's not so for general relativity as it's falsifiable through practical experimentation.

Falsifiability is neither here nor there. That only matters to positivists; I'm no positivist.

There's exists no contemporaneous method to test string theory.

I think the biggest problem with SR is the leap from non-observation of luminiferous ether to the idea of a "universal speed-limit". Some of the arguments given for the speed limit of light are circular but the gravest error in this regard seems to me to be the common assumption that the mathematics of relativity themselves imply a speed limit of light... they do not! No one can dispute that the Einsteinian equations of motion are the physics of our world but while these equations assume a speed limit of light, it does not necessarily follow from the fact that they are consistent with the physics of our world that there is, in fact, a speed limit of light! Nor is it necessary to deny a finite propagation speed of information or causality (a corollary of locality) in order to admit an arbitrarily large, finite velocity.

 

The equivalence is the identity of the quantiative measure of inertia in Newton's Second Law and the classical gravitational force. There's an important physical connection in the equations. It's not simply mathematics. Physics is an observational science. The mathematics must be constrained by physical reality.

What is physical? I don't even understand what it means for there to be a "physical connection"... physical as opposed to what, supernatural?

I disagree. The way the energy would be distributed is probably markedly different. The situation can become more complicated depending on the physical phenomena you want to describe. Do you take issue with special relativity and quantum mechanics being more complicated than classical mechanics? What about Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics? They are more fundamental than Newton's mechanics but can be used to more easily model a system than say using Newton's equations in rectangular coordinates. The mathematics in the theories becomes more complicated as the theories becomes more general. It's simply the way quantitative understanding works.

Well the complications of modern physics is a symptom of an underlying problem, that the discipline of physics is itself deeply confused. This is what lay people always suspect but, of course, never say aloud for fear of being laughed at like the boy who saw the emperor has no clothes.

The mathematics of a lever is "complicated" to someone who doesn't have the basic arithmetical tools of geometry, division, and so on. But once all the conceptual tools are in place: geometry, ratios, moments, etc. the theory of the lever is enlightening and does the opposite of complicating the world, it simplifies the world in respect to the use and manipulation of levers and provides even more payoffs in terms of metaphors or even literally true abstractions of complex phenomena that might not at first appear to have anything to do with levers (e.g. an electronic amplifier).

Modern physics, by comparison, is muddled and confusing. There are exceptions, of course, and there is a tiny number of "guerilla thinkers" who continue to do real science (Google Seth Lloyd). For example, here's a wonderful lecture by Ron Garret demystifying the most "bizarre" aspects of QM:

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Clayton:

You're trying to make the case that general relativity has no physical significance whatsoever. It's simply mathematics. I would agree that it is the case for string theory. It's not so for general relativity as it's falsifiable through practical experimentation.

Falsifiability is neither here nor there. That only matters to positivists; I'm no positivist.

There's exists no contemporaneous method to test string theory.

I think the biggest problem with SR is the leap from non-observation of luminiferous ether to the idea of a "universal speed-limit". Some of the arguments given for the speed limit of light are circular but the gravest error in this regard seems to me to be the common assumption that the mathematics of relativity themselves imply a speed limit of light... they do not! No one can dispute that the Einsteinian equations of motion are the physics of our world but while these equations assume a speed limit of light, it does not necessarily follow from the fact that they are consistent with the physics of our world that there is, in fact, a speed limit of light! Nor is it necessary to deny a finite propagation speed of information or causality (a corollary of locality) in order to admit an arbitrarily large, finite velocity.

 

The equivalence is the identity of the quantiative measure of inertia in Newton's Second Law and the classical gravitational force. There's an important physical connection in the equations. It's not simply mathematics. Physics is an observational science. The mathematics must be constrained by physical reality.

What is physical? I don't even understand what it means for there to be a "physical connection"... physical as opposed to what, supernatural?

I disagree. The way the energy would be distributed is probably markedly different. The situation can become more complicated depending on the physical phenomena you want to describe. Do you take issue with special relativity and quantum mechanics being more complicated than classical mechanics? What about Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics? They are more fundamental than Newton's mechanics but can be used to more easily model a system than say using Newton's equations in rectangular coordinates. The mathematics in the theories becomes more complicated as the theories becomes more general. It's simply the way quantitative understanding works.

Well the complications of modern physics is a symptom of an underlying problem, that the discipline of physics is itself deeply confused. This is what lay people always suspect but, of course, never say aloud for fear of being laughed at like the boy who saw the emperor has no clothes.

The mathematics of a lever is "complicated" to someone who doesn't have the basic arithmetical tools of geometry, division, and so on. But once all the conceptual tools are in place: geometry, ratios, moments, etc. the theory of the lever is enlightening and does the opposite of complicating the world, it simplifies the world in respect to the use and manipulation of levers and provides even more payoffs in terms of metaphors or even literally true abstractions of complex phenomena that might not at first appear to have anything to do with levers (e.g. an electronic amplifier).

Modern physics, by comparison, is muddled and confusing. There are exceptions, of course, and there is a tiny number of "guerilla thinkers" who continue to do real science (Google Seth Lloyd). For example, here's a wonderful lecture by Ron Garret demystifying the most "bizarre" aspects of QM:

Clayton -

 

Falsifiability is integral to the scientific method. The mathematics of physics is not merely mathematics. At the subatomic levels, the energy levels are not continuous as classical physics would indicate. Quantization is indeed a fact of reality. The mathematics incorporates this truth into the quantum theory. That's the physical connection.

The propagation of light is medium(density)-dependent. The highest observed and analytical value is c.

Your assumption that physics needs to be more universally understandable is a bit silly. If this is true, then neurosurgery should become increasingly more lucid to the masses, too.

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Clayton replied on Wed, Nov 28 2012 12:50 AM

Falsifiability is integral to the scientific method.

No, it really isn't... the positivists and empiricists have whipped themselves into a frenzy over falsifiability (the contrary of verifiability) because of their nonsensical epistemology.

The mathematics of physics is not merely mathematics. At the subatomic levels, the energy levels are not continuous as classical physics would indicate. Quantization is indeed a fact of reality. The mathematics incorporates this truth into the quantum theory. That's the physical connection.

 

Any resonant system exhibits quantization. The quantization of energy does not tell us that the world is "fundamentally discrete" as many popularizers of QM claim. And yes, the mathematics of physics is merely mathematics. That's the whole point. Mathematics is only a tool that is (sometimes) useful in grokking the phenomena, nothing more.

The propagation of light is medium(density)-dependent. The highest observed and analytical value is c.

The analytical value of c says nothing about the correctness of c as the speed limit of light.

Your assumption that physics needs to be more universally understandable is a bit silly. If this is true, then neurosurgery should become increasingly more lucid to the masses, too.

Who said anything about the masses? The experts themselves are confused! Anyone who can say, without blinking and without qualification, "mass bends space and time", is deeply confused. All the experts say this. They're all confused. I'm not saying they're not doing science at all but modern science is hobbled by what Hal Lewis calls "the money flood"... all research is directed to a very narrow target and the orthodox notions of where the breakthroughs will likely be are virtually unchallengeable and, thus, rigidify science and modern notions of the natural world.

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z1235 replied on Wed, Nov 28 2012 6:34 AM

Clayton, a 1-d line can be curved in a 2-d plane and in a 3-d space. A 2-d plane can be curved in a 3-d space. Any N-d space can be curved in a (N+k)-d space, for any k > 0. If we define existence as: "being (or being able to interfere with) a 3-d object in 3-d space", then I don't see why N-d objects (where N=/=3) could not interfere with 3-d objects in 3-d space even though their "existence" spans dimensions below/beyond 3-d space.

Why is it inconceivable that 3-d space (the only one we are able to perceive as 3-d beings) could be curved in N-d space (for N>3)? Humans use logic/reason to inter/extrapolate the existence of things that are not apparent to their senses all the time (the cow behind the barn).

What am I missing? 

Perhaps this should be a separate thread and leave this one for holiday dinner stories.

 

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AJ replied on Wed, Nov 28 2012 10:48 AM

z1235:
Humans use logic/reason to inter/extrapolate the existence of things that are not apparent to their senses all the time (the cow behind the barn).

There is an important distinction between my thinking of "the cow behind the barn" and, for example, a 4-dimensional object.

In the first case, I can think of the cow by imagining a sort of cutaway diagram of the cow showing through from behind the barn, as if the walls were see-through. Or I can mentally imagine quickly going behind the barn and having the cow come into view. 

But how about a 4D object? Well, some claim they can imagine such an object, like a tesseract, but most seem to claim it is impossible to visualize. This presents a serious problem for anyone even talking about 4D objects: how is anyone even supposed to be able to interpret those words?

And to those who claim it cannot be visualized, what's going on in your own head when you utter the words "4D object" or "tesseract"? Certainly not a visual, so what - a sound, a smell, a feel? If the speaker himself cannot even comprehend whatever the words refer to, how is that different than speaking nonsense?

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gotlucky replied on Wed, Nov 28 2012 10:55 AM

AJ:

If the speaker himself cannot even comprehend whatever the words refer to, how is that different than speaking nonsense?

Well put.

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Well, in a way, practically nothing from math can be visualized, either.

Or at least, not to any degree of accuracy.

How do you visualize 345/567?

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Clayton replied on Wed, Nov 28 2012 11:31 AM

gotlucky:

AJ:

If the speaker himself cannot even comprehend whatever the words refer to, how is that different than speaking nonsense?

Well put.

 

Indeed.

A lecturer I saw recently said it this way: "Anyone who accepts modern science believes in the existence of at least one direction that one cannot point." There is no more succinct way to put it than that.

I fully comprehend the idea of a surface being curved in higher dimensions but the point is that the theoretical physicists conflate ordinary and technical language. A "dimension" of "space" means one of the three orthogonal directions that one can point. If mass-energy equations can more elegantly be written down as if the world has an extra, unseen dimension, so be it. And I fully grant the mathematicians the right to use the words "space" and "dimension" in a specialized sense, they just need to always be clear that the "extra" dimensions that they "discover" are, in fact, constructs that do not stand on a par with the three directions of Euclidean, perceptual space.

One way to "visualize" a 4-d surface is as a 3D colored volume. It's not perfect, nor does it comprehend the "structure" of 4D but it's good enough for some applications.

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Clayton replied on Wed, Nov 28 2012 11:36 AM

Well, in a way, practically nothing from math can be visualized, either.

Or at least, not to any degree of accuracy.

How do you visualize 345/567?

But "visualization" isn't the issue... the issue is that real space is a human category but non-Euclidean, non-3D mathematical spaces can only be "mapped" to real space through some kind of mathematical "transform" - that is, only Euclidean, 3D space (for all its mathematical shortcomings) can be mapped to real (physical) space without translation.

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Anyone ever see that Marx brothers movie where at the end people keep having a boring conversation and Harpo makes a funny face, walks out and gets hammered everytime someone does it (The Coconauts I think?)?  I couldn't find a clip of it on you tube.

Anyway, I kind of do that anytime I'm stuck listening to  jackass' talking / arguing on their soapbox and I have the option of opting for liquor. This is most political conversations for me, including libertarian ones.

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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