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Time

 
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Based any equation I've ever seen for any physical effect of the universe.
Without time, motion is impossible, so to steal a line from some famous scientist I ought to remember but don't
"I refute it thus" as my fingers move to push the keys that send this message to you.
 
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[ME]: You're suggesting that science is a measure of progress?
I'm suggesting that science progresses, and it's much more useful to talk about relative merits of different theories than it is to assign a theory a binary value of "true" or "false" as you previously suggested.
[JY]: Few scientists are naive enough to believe that any current theory represents the ultimate truth on a subject - nonetheless we manage to build bridges, and planes, and computers, using these "wrong" theories.
[ME]: I think you give scientists at large too much credit. We can have a tiresome argument about who really is a scientist, in order to better qualify your point or mine, but on the whole I disagree with you. The human search for truth is no less (nor more) pig-headed and misguided than the search for anything else humans deem worthy of searching for.

Well there's room for disagreement here certainly. I would concede that initial acceptance or rejection of new theories is often muddled by egos, politics, and other human foibles. But I think that if you take a longer-term view, truth (or, a closer approximation thereof) does tend to win out. Moreso than in most other human endeavors, if only because science (hard science, that is) tends to define itself in terms of things that can be reliably tested.
[JY]: When theories get improved on, it's not really the case that the old theory is completely invalidated. There's often a good range of situations where the old theory is just as accurate as the new one, and maybe easier to use.
[ME]: We talking about views of theorteical science or engineering here? For the sake of this argument, you seem to be having it both ways.

I used engineering examples because they're familiar concrete examples of how "wrong" theories still have merit. As I recall someone else in this thread brought up an example about humans being able to transcend the sound barrier. Why is this a problem now?
[JY]: With respect to relativity and whether there's any way to travel faster than light - well, we don't really know for sure, true. There will most likely be new theories coming along later which will improve upon our current understanding of these things. But that doesn't mean they'll be able to toss out the old stuff entirely.
[ME]: No one said that.

Eugene sure sounded like he did originally, though he has since recanted. And you suggested that the speed of light limitation might be comparable to past "barriers" like 15 mph, 60 mph, or the speed of sound. That's what I'm addressing here.
[JY]: Relativistic dynamics have been very well tested in things like particle accelerators. Any new, improved theory will have to account for things like the fact that when we accelerate a tiny particle to a sizable fraction of the speed of light, the energy requirements to do so grow tremendously - and the closer we get to the speed of light, the more the energy requirements grow, following an ever-steepening curve that shows no signs of leveling off for us.
[ME]: What does this have to do with the consensus of the scientific community, then?

In this case, the consensus depended heavily on the testing. Had it not been possible to make measurements confirming the predictions made by special relativity, there would be a lot more active disagreement with the theory in the scientific community today.
Though I'm not sure why you're asking about consensus here, as that was just one aspect of the discussion. My main intent in the paragraph you just responded to was to consider what limitations there might be on new theories that might eventually supplant relativity.
[JY]: If there's some loophole waiting to be discovered which allows FTL, it's got to be in a regime we haven't been able to test extensively.
[ME]: Are you suggesting the Truth is limited to what we can test?

I'm suggesting that "Truth" is essentially barred from contradicting what we have been able to test extensively (and still can test), unless there's a good explanation for why the tests didn't really show what they seemed to show. New theories may explain the results of tests differently, and they may make all sorts of statements about things we haven't tested yet, or perhaps will never be able to test (though that's a longer discussion), but if a theory simply contradicts results of extensive repeatable tests, it tends to get laughed outof the scientific community. And justly so.
[JY]: ...no less naive than thinking most people infer the phrase "travelling in a vacuum" when talking about lightspeed.
To clarify, I wasn't talking about what "most people" think of here; I was referring to what is meant by people with a good understanding of physics, in the context of a conversation about relativity.
[JY]: I think we can safely assume that just about any time someone mentions the speed of light in this thread, then mean the speed of light in vacuum, unless otherwise stated.
I was careless in my use of the term "anyone" here. But I will assert that any time I, or Tom, or Joe, mentions the "speed of liht" in this thread without appending "in a vacuum", you can nonetheless safely infer that "in a vacuum" is what we meant. In the context of a discussion of relativity it's fairly obvious to us that the speed of light in other media is not relevant, so we don't usually feel the need to append a qualifier. It's not obvious to everyone, true, but now that it's been pointed out, y'all should be able to follow along better.
[JP]: That's just what the equation says, and there's no getting around the fact that 1/0 = infinity.
[ME]: It's "undefined" in my corner of the universe.

You should get out from your corner more often, Michael. If you like we can make Joe's statement more rigorous by saying that the limit as speed approaches c from the left is positive infinity. BFD.
[JP]: But so far we still haven't promoted relativity from Theory to Law; I guess we don't want to make the same mistake we did with old Newton, eh?
For what it's worth, the distinction between "theory" and "law" as used by the scientific community has little to do with the level of acceptance it's held in. It's often fairly arbitrary. It seems to me that something gets called a "law" if it's expressable in relatively concise fashion, preferably as an exquation which subsumes all the key concepts involved. E.g. "F=ma". Or the ideal gas law, PV = nRT. It was obvious from its inception that this "law" was not an absolutely true description of behavior of real gases. People were already aware that gaseous H2O could condense into water, for example, which is a fairly obvious exception to PV = nRT. Nonetheless it got called a "law", not because it was considered inviolable, but because it was a nice concise statement of a general principle. I suppose that E=mc2 could have been called a "law", but the truth is that its meaning isn't nearly as apparent as F=ma or PV=nRT. While it might look nice on a tee shirt, saying E=mc2 doesn't really tell people much unless they spend a while understanding the context of the rest of special relativity. That's why it's not called a law.
Look at it another way - are there any cases where a "theory" was later promoted to "law" (or vice versa)? I don't think so - not in the usage of the scientific community, at least. Once either term is attched to an idea, it tends to stick, regardless of whether the idea increases or decreases in acceptance.
Now I'm aware that this usage of "theory" vs. "law" is not widely understood outside the scientific community, and the terms have rather different connotations to the public at large. To that extent I'd say it's a PR error on the part of the scientific community to have used those terms at all. Oh well. But assuming that use of "law" vs. "theory" somehow indicates level of acceptance in the scientific community is just not correct in most cases.
[JP]: Anyway, until someone comes up with a new theory that supplants relativity and has a better record at matching with observed data, then we have to deal with its assumptions and thus its conclusions.
[ME]: Which you can't really promote by nay-saying any contradicting or overlapping propositions that come your way. If you want true scientific rigor, you have to develop every contending theory and allow it to collapse under its own weight.

Oh, piffle. Resistance to new theories is a good thing, as it helps weed out the 90% which are crap. We don't have time to give a complete hearing to every crackpot theory that comes down the pike. It's unfortunate that this means that non-crackpot theories are not accepted as quickly as they might be, but them's the breaks. If a theory has real merit, someone will latch onto it and eventually find a way to test it. If it can pass experimental tests, the theory will eventually advance in acceptance. Not as quickly or surely as we might like, but eventually, it will.
[ November 02, 2003: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
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Ok, I gave it some thought, I think I found a serious flaw in Einstein's theory of relativity. According to the theory, you would need to travel faster than the speed of light to go back in time. Well, why would going back in time have to do anything with the speed of light, or the speed of anything? And yes, I know, you will tell me that it is bacause t-prime = t * sqrt(1 - v^2 / c^2), but philosophically, it doesn't make sense. Let me explain.
To me, time represents the Universe in a certain state, in a particular configuration. Suppose that the time now is t. If all the atoms (or whatever the smallest particles) in the Universe were to arrange themselves in the same exact pattern, with exactly the same properties as they had at the time t-delta, then for all intents and purposes, a time shift by delta would occur. Would you not agree? You wouldn't even realize that the time shift happened (because the state of your mind has also shifted), -- but that's another matter. Now, note that although such an event is improbable, it is not impossible. There is no fundamental reason why this could not happen, -- after all, the state of the Universe really comes down to the properties of its smallest ingredients (the speed, the charge, the relative location, etc.). Even if you don't accept the "anything is possible" tenet of the quantum mechanics, it is still possible, just by the laws of probability. Permutate the state of the Universe many, many, many times, and eventually it will revisit the same spot.
The point of this mental excersize is to demonstrate that the light and its speed (or the speed of anthing else) have absolutely nothing to do with the concept of time, or at least with the concept of going back in time. You can travel at the speed of one billion times the speed of light for billions and billions of years, but you ain't going anywhere back in time, cowboyes and cowgirls, unless the Universe traverses the same state it was in some time ago. To travel back in time, all you have to do is to sit still and wait.
Are photons ageless because the time slows down to zero with the speed of light? No, -- they are ignorant, -- as they choose to consider the Universe static while traveling across it with the speed of light.
 
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[JP]: That's just what the equation says, and there's no getting around the fact that 1/0 = infinity.
[ME]: It's "undefined" in my corner of the universe.
You should get out from your corner more often, Michael. If you like we can make Joe's statement more rigorous by saying that the limit as speed approaches c from the left is positive infinity. BFD
==
1/0 is not by any stretch of imagination "infinity" and that's a fact. If you want to read calculus into a division problem on Joe's behalf, then go ahead. A speaker who demands rigor of others must hold himself to that same standard or expect a lot of semantics and babbling. That's what we liberal arts majors are trained for, you know.
 
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{EK} Permutate the state of the Universe many, many, many times, and eventually it will revisit the same spot.


But the state of the Universe doesn't get permuted; there's no one rolling dice, random choosing the states of various particles. I'm surprised that the statistical mechanics notion of entropy hasn't come up in this discussion yet. Entropy has been called "time's arrow," and you probably recall that it's basically a measure of the randomness in a system. The entropy of the Universe as a whole is always increasing, and this provides a convenient yardstick as to which direction time is flowing. Things always get messier, but never clean themselves up. Things break, but don't spontaneously reassemble. Heat diffuses away, but never concentrates itself at a point.
The classic example: consider a room full of air molecules. There are many possible positions for the ensemble of molecules (many is of course a vast understatement.) In the unthinkably large majority of these configurations, there's an even distribution of air molecules throughout the room. Sure, there's also an uncountably large number of potential configurations in which, for example, all the air molecules form a crystal on the ceiling. Does this mean that if you sit in a room, this will eventually happen? No. The numbers involved are so unthinkably large that you, and indeed, the entire Universe, will be dead long before this will happen of its own accord.
Doing work -- applying a force over distance -- always increases the total entropy of the Universe. If you were to use a big refrigeration system to coerce the air molecules in a room to condense into a crystal on a ceiling, you need to create more entropy by performing work than you remove by organizing the air molecules.
Anyway, I'm not a physicist anymore (although I do have a Ph.D. in physical chemistry, I'm awfully rusty) but I have a feeling that there are some splendid paradoxes in there, somewhere, if time travel were allowed. The increasing work input needed to accelerate something "through the barrier", the ability to travel backwards to a time when entropy was lower, suggests to me that there may be observable discontinuities in the total entropy, which would violate some statistical laws, besides those "laws of physics" we've worried about so far.
 
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ME: 1/0 is not by any stretch of imagination "infinity" and that's a fact.
This is not about semantics, it's about mathematics, and in particular the Lorentz transformation in which as the speed of a body v approaches c, the energy required to accelerate it approaches infinity (1/(1-v2/c2)). The equation tends to infinity as the divisor tends to zero.
If you continue to argue this point, then you are arguing against mathematics as taught in the 12th grade, and this thread just became a complete waste of my time. Your time may be relative.
Joe
 
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JP: If you continue to argue this point, then you are arguing against mathematics as taught in the 12th grade.
No, I'm not. You are.
 
Joe Pluta
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ME: No, I'm not. You are.
I am what? Arguing against 12th grade mathematics? Okay, which of the following is not true:
1. 12th graders learn basic calculus (also known as pre-calculus)
2. Pre-calculus introduces the concept of the limit
3. The limit of 1/x as x tends to 0 is infinity
4. The limit of 1/(1-v2/c2) as v tends to c is infinity
Thus, the limit of the Lorentz transform as v approaches c is infinity, not "undefined". Based on typical 12th grade mathematics, then, the special relativity equations imply that infinite energy is required to accelerate a body as velocity approaches the speed of light.
Unless you refute one of the four numbered statements above, I'm pretty much done here.
Joe
 
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If 1/0 didn't necessarily = infinity, then the gamma equation would have had the great effect on modern physics that it has had, and none of us would be involved in this confersation, because unless EK was a historical physicist he probably would not have heard of this theory. As the gamma equation (which I know as 1/(1-v^2/c^2)) approaches 1/0 (infinity), so does the momentum of the object, the energy necessary to accelerate it to the speed of light (or slow tachyons to the speed of light if you like anti-matter theory), and infinite energy = infinite mass. If these things weren't perceived to be true conventionally across the world (and obviously supported by a great number of experiments and scientific breakthroughs) none us would be quite so involved in this.
 
Joe Pluta
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JP: Based on typical 12th grade mathematics...
By the way, I didn't pick "12th grade mathematics" out of the air, nor did I pick it to be condescending. I picked it because it is the typical year in which American students learn basic pre-calculus. Many learn it earlier, especially in college prep high schools, but junior/senior year is about average.
Joe
 
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[ME]: A speaker who demands rigor of others must hold himself to that same standard or expect a lot of semantics and babbling. That's what we liberal arts majors are trained for, you know.
I think we'll just expect a lot of semantics and babbling. Hope you don't mind if we don't actually bother responding further though, since it's evident the SNR will be well below my threshold of interest.
Joe, seriously, he's just baiting you. Ignore him and he'll go away.
EFH: I'm guessing that Eugene's response would be the second law isn't an absolute - it's a statement of probability. Admittedly, a probability extraordinarily close to 1 in this case. He's acknowledged that this idea of his is extremely improbable (on a scale I'd never prevously contemplated) but it's "theoretically possible". Well maybe. I imagine he'll also want to invoke the probabilistic interpretation of Schrödinger wave functions to justify particles magically jumping across space to be somewhere they shouldn't really be. :roll: (I'm not sure how easily they could also just happen to have the same velocity, at least within Heisenberb limits, but who knows, maybe. All of which is laughably implausible, but OK, let's suppose that there's a nonzero chance of this actually happening. I'm not convinced there really is, but I'm willing to pretend for a little while...
Eugene: so let's see, you're using a situation which is (a) extroardinarily improable, and (b) completely impossible to detect even if it did actually occur, to justify a objection to special relativity? Gee, I can imagine the experimentalists just quaking in teir boots as you demolish their whole world view. Seriously, if your theory can't lead to some sort fo testable result, no one in the scentific community is really going to care.
But, continuing with this excercise just for fun... why limit yourself to wiping out special relativity? This notion of your would pretty much invalidate any theory that assigns any significance to time at all, wouldn't it? Except that, oh wait, it doesn't, because observers would be completely unaware that this magic unrepeatable "time travel" event had taken place, and thus would continue to assign the same significance to the notion of time as they had before.
Hey, if you want to have fun with this Eugene, why limit yourself to thinking about exact reformation of past states? What about the possibility that your constituent particles will just happen to decide to let you quantum tunnel en masse through a brick wall? You could perform all sorts of parlor tricks, steal millions, and utterly devastate many people's understanding of how the world works. And it's a lot more plausible than the universal reset you're imagining.
 
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According to Stephen Hawking any plausible scientific theory should be based on the most workable philosophy of science - the positivist approach by Karl Popper and others.
A good theory with a few simple postulates will describe a large number of phenomena and will make definite predictions that can be tested. If the predictions agree with the observations the theory survives the test but if the observations disagree , the theory must be modified or discarded.
With the positivist approach , one can never say what time *actually* is. One can come up with a good mathematical model of time and say what predictions it makes.
I for one am not going to argue with Hawking; an Einstein might.
*One* may be quite a gambler and rolling dice. Some scientists think that there may not be a single history of time but several histories as events cause other events to happen which fork out to create independent events. Proof of this may be in the fact that the Universe doesn't look as though it's going to reach equilibrium as it is continuously expanding and galaxies move ever rapidly away from each other.
regards
[ November 03, 2003: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
 
Michael Ernest
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Originally posted by Joe Pluta:
ME: No, I'm not. You are.
I am what? Arguing against 12th grade mathematics? Okay, which of the following is not true:
1. 12th graders learn basic calculus (also known as pre-calculus)
2. Pre-calculus introduces the concept of the limit
3. The limit of 1/x as x tends to 0 is infinity
4. The limit of 1/(1-v2/c2) as v tends to c is infinity
Thus, the limit of the Lorentz transform as v approaches c is infinity, not "undefined". Based on typical 12th grade mathematics, then, the special relativity equations imply that infinite energy is required to accelerate a body as velocity approaches the speed of light.
Unless you refute one of the four numbered statements above, I'm pretty much done here.


High school was a long time ago, but:
1) 12th graders learn pre-calculus in California iff they plan on going to university. In my high school, that was 45 of us out of 465 seniors. The rest could stop at advanced algebra if they wanted to, and get through HS just fine.
2) Yep, if memory serves.
3 and 4) Irrelevant. Jim can limit his informed audience to himself, Thomas and you as informed enough to read "light travelling in a vacuum" as an implied condition of saying "spped of light," and that's fine, if a bit snooty for MD. But asserting your position stands squarely with 12th grade mathematics, sorry. The average graduating high school senior in California does not confuse division by zero with the limit of a denominator value as it approaches zero. If he does so he fails at least one question on the CBEST exams I can think of.
 
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1) 12th graders learn pre-calculus in California iff they plan on going to university. In my high school, that was 45 of us out of 465 seniors. The rest could stop at advanced algebra if they wanted to, and get through HS just fine.
But they won't be able to discuss relativity from anything but a layman's viewpoint. I assumed we were talking about people qualified to form an opinion about the mathematics of this conversation, which are people who understand basic calculus.
Three and four are anything but irrelevant. They are entirely relevant to the question being discussed, which is how one usually determines what is relevant, or in context. It's only irrelevant to you because you are more worried about being right than in being on-topic.
And since that's abundantly clear, please excuse me if I don't respond to you on this topic anymore.
Joe
 
Michael Ernest
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Originally posted by Jim Yingst:

Hope you don't mind if we don't actually bother responding further though, since it's evident the SNR will be well below my threshold of interest.


To have registered within your threshold at all is gift enough, sire.
 
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To paraphrase Terry Pratchett, there is one thing faster then light - darkness. Whenever light gets somewhere, darkness is always there first.
 
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EFH: Sure, there's also an uncountably large number of potential configurations in which, for example, all the air molecules form a crystal on the ceiling. Does this mean that if you sit in a room, this will eventually happen? No. The numbers involved are so unthinkably large that you, and indeed, the entire Universe, will be dead long before this will happen of its own accord.
Ok, I agree, the entropy should be part of this discussion. I don't have a link saved (I'll dig for it), but from what I remember, it is possible to rearrange the particles within a closed system, in a laboratory experiment, so that the configuration is exactly reproducable. In that small tube (or whatever the container), the entropy and time are reversable. But forget that experiment, -- we don't need it. All we are talking about here is the quantity, -- i.e the number of particles in the Universe (or in the test tube), and the length of time needed to reproduce the configuration. Note that qualitatively, the principle still stands: whether it is just one corpuscule or one million of them, rearranging them has nothing to do with light or its speed.
Jim: so let's see, you're using a situation which is (a) extroardinarily improable, and (b) completely impossible to detect even if it did actually occur, to justify a objection to special relativity? Gee, I can imagine the experimentalists just quaking in teir boots as you demolish their whole world view. Seriously, if your theory can't lead to some sort fo testable result, no one in the scentific community is really going to care.
Well, perhaps some other community will care. Look, love and existance of God cannot be scientifically tested. Does that mean that there is nothing to talk about? We have an Aristotle-Plato problem here, -- you say that the ideal forms cannot be tested, and I would say that they still need to be considered. Perhaps the genius of Einstein was to be Plato and Aristotle at the same time. The question that Einstein asked was "What happens if I ride a beam of light?". Clearly, this question cannot be tested, but this is how the special theory of relativity was born.
Yeah, I guess I will need hard evidence if I want to publish an article titled "Time Does Not Exist" in "Journal of Applied Physics", but I am not worried about it at the moment. What I am worried is that while the theory of relativity is well accepted and well tested, it seems at odds with the philosophy, or at least with my philosophy.
You know, I thought for some time that what would make me content and happy is when the the concepts such as "love" and "beauty" can be expressed in terms of mathematical equations. But I grew out of this and realized that it would be only half of the solution. The other half is, of course, to explain laws of chemistry, physics, and mathematics in terms of love and beauty.
 
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Well, perhaps some other community will care.
Entirely possible. Your reference to the Nobel prize earlier suggested you might be interested in what the scientific community would think (even if I recognize that the reference was probably a joke).
Look, love and existance of God cannot be scientifically tested. Does that mean that there is nothing to talk about?
No, but it does put some limits on your ability to convince someone else to change their views on something. I'm not opposed to you discussing bizarre abstract theories, as long as you're not under any illusion that you've "demonstrated" anything.
 
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No, but it does put some limits on your ability to convince someone else to change their views on something.
I don't know about that, Jim. What convinced more people to change their views, -- the Holy Bible or Newton's "Principia"? Perhaps you were referring to "someone else" as belonging to the scientific community, and then your statement would probably be right, but again, I didn't appeal to a scientific community exclusively. And if you feel excluded from this discussion bacause the the premise cannot be rigorously tested, I feel sorry that I lost you as a participant.
[ November 03, 2003: Message edited by: Eugene Kononov ]
 
Michael Ernest
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Originally posted by HS Thomas:

A good theory with a few simple postulates will describe a large number of phenomena and will make definite predictions that can be tested. If the predictions agree with the observations the theory survives the test but if the observations disagree, the theory must be modified or discarded.
With the positivist approach , one can never say what time *actually* is. One can come up with a good mathematical model of time and say what predictions it makes.


I remember a run at that discussion somewhere in A Brief History of Time. Much gentler reading than Theoretical Advances in General Relativity which I couldn't penetrate too well, even though Hawking later wrote that he had intended it for a general audience.
Einstein's work demonstrates to me the limits of positivism in much the same way that Hawking easily dissected the limits of Einstein's in his earliest writings. But it is after all a philosophical question. Einstein's seeming insistence that "God does not play dice with the universe" seemed to be a very specific reaction against the direction theoretical physics was taking in the 20's. If that's the type of "valuable" resistance Jim had in mind, then I'm all for it. Every field of inquiry relies on challenges, and everyone likes knocking down the Dean a little bit.
 
Michael Ernest
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Originally posted by Jim Yingst:

EK: Look, love and existance of God cannot be scientifically tested. Does that mean that there is nothing to talk about?

No, but it does put some limits on your ability to convince someone else to change their views on something.


Jim, what Eugene said. A few years in sales and you'd understand how profoundly wrong that response is.
[ November 03, 2003: Message edited by: Michael Ernest ]
 
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Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
I don't know about that, Jim. What convinced more people to change their views, -- the Holy Bible or Newton's "Principia"?

So you are saying that you want to prove the limitations of relativity by using the Bible?
You can count me out of the conversation also.
 
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I didn't appeal to a scientific community exclusively.
Not exclusively, but enough that it seemed warranted to note what the reaction of the scientific community would be.
And if you feel excluded from the discussion bacause the the premise cannot be rigoriously tested
by which we mean, tested at all, ever, in any way.
I feel sorry that I lost you as a participant
Oh I'm not gone entirely, nor feeling excluded. But knowing the conversation's not attatched to anything concrete will influence how seriously I take it, and how much time I spend on it.
Going back to other parts fo my last response to you, Eugene, what's special about special relativity? Seems like pretty much all of physical science will be "demolished" by this notion that time is meaningless. At least, any discipline with equations that have t in them. SR just talks about time more explicitly than the others do. But what's so bad about SR? I'm still confused on that point.
 
John Smith
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TP: So you are saying that you want to prove the limitations of relativity by using the Bible?
Yes, something like that. "Let there be light" is as satisfying as "Time has something to do with the speed of light". To put it differently, there will be no light until physics starts to address the question "Why?" and the priest addresses the question "How?".
You can count me out of the conversation also.
I failed my mission, then.
 
John Smith
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Jim: Seems like pretty much all of physical science will be "demolished" by this notion that time is meaningless. At least, any discipline with equations that have t in them.
Yes, pretty much. So what? Einstein is dear to me, but but dearer still is truth.
SR just talks about time more explicitly than the others do. But what's so bad about SR? I'm still confused on that point.
What's bad is that the speed of light is designated to be an absolute, while fundamentally it is as special as the speed of Jupiter. Why speed of light? That's where SR stops short, and leaves us with a choice of ether the scripture or a new theory.
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
To put it differently, there will be no light until physics starts to address the question "Why?" and the priest addresses the question "How?".

Haven't you heard of the "many worlds" theory? Or the anthropomorphized universe? Physicists do address these questions but until we understand what and how the questions are pointless. How can you ask "why" when you don't even know what you are asking why about? That logic gets you answers like "42".
 
Jim Yingst
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[JY]: No, but it does put some limits on your ability to convince someone else to change their views on something.
[ME]: Jim, what Eugene said. A few years in sales and you'd understand how profoundly wrong that response is.

I said "some limits". Sure, there are other ways to convince people, depending also on who it is you're trying to convince. In this case, convincing the scientific community using arguments based on the scientific method seems to be pretty much out. Convincing me, or Tom, or Joe, using Eugene's current line of reasoning, is likewise highly unlikely. That's not to say there's no point in trying, or that there aren't other people who might be convinced, but given that the conversation seemed to start from a scientific perspective I thought some mention of the scientific method to be potentially worthwhile. If further conversation goes in a differnet direction, that's fine too - "some limits" wasn't intended to indicate that further conversation was impossible or anything.
[ November 03, 2003: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
John Smith
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TP: Physicists do address these questions but until we understand what and how the questions are pointless. How can you ask "why" when you don't even know what you are asking why about? That logic gets you answers like "42".
Not sure what you are saying, Tom. Are you suggesting that the questions "what" and "how" should come before the question "why"? I wouldn't order them in any particular sequence. I would characterize the "what" and "how" as scientific and "why" as philosophical, more or less, but science is as valid as philosophy when it comes to understanding the world. Would you not agree?
Jim: That's not to say there's no point in trying, or that there aren't other people who might be convinced, but given that the conversation seemed to start from a scientific perspective I thought some mention of the scientific method to be potentially worthwhile. If further conversation goes in a differnet direction, that's fine too - "some limits" wasn't intended to indicate that further conversation was impossible or anything.
I apologize if I misled you into thinking that this discussion is about pure science. It's not my intention at all to set traps or to use what somebody has said against that person. I am not looking to set the rules and assumptions (scientific or philosophical) either.
I feel that some people are disturbed or even appalled by the notion that we can discuss the lightbulb as something that absorbs the darkness (rather than as something that emits the light), and if there is something important and meaningful to talk about, it would be that fear and resentment.
[ November 03, 2003: Message edited by: Eugene Kononov ]
 
Michael Ernest
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JY: I said "some limits".
ME: Got it the first time. But the only limiting factor I can imagine that you mean is the scientific community and its adherents. I think you've posed some good challenges for Eugene to use in choosing to modify or discard his theory. To the degree you figure it's unlikely that Eugene is on to something meaningful, good stuff. To the degree "the audience" here has been re-defined to be those people considered properly informed or educated, that's lamentable.
JY: Sure, there are other ways to convince people, depending also on who it is you're trying to convince....Convincing me, or Tom, or Joe, using Eugene's current line of reasoning, is likewise highly unlikely.
ME: Eugene hasn't tried to convince anyone of anything, as far as I can tell; he just floated an idea. You challenged him a bit, and that was good. How did you end up feeling he was trying to convince you of something?
It seems like we ended up re-defining and narrowing your audience to the 'scientific community.' But suggesting the voice of scientific reason had been called into play early on, as you've said, is certainly not the same as saying your discussion is intended to address just the people who see things from that same perspective.
JY:That's not to say there's no point in trying, or that there aren't other people who might be convinced, but given that the conversation seemed to start from a scientific perspective I thought some mention of the scientific method to be potentially worthwhile.
ME: Then there is no need to defend that discourse as being accessible to yourself, Tom and Joe, inter alia, is there? Couldn't you just as easily say, "I'd like to amend my comments above to 'speed of light in a vacuum' for the sake of clarity." It's an error in discourse to say "I assume the following has been obvious to you all along," unless by "all" you mean Joe and Thomas and just those people whose opinions you place above your SNR threshold.
[ November 03, 2003: Message edited by: Michael Ernest ]
 
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I'm going to throw one short phrase into the mix, and then run away...
'spooky action at a distance' ?
 
Michael Ernest
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Ooooooo....
Congratulations, Bert! You'll be handling everything in SCWCD for a while now -- I've got a whole lot of reading to do. And you might as well cover Distributed Java for me too, runaway boy.
 
Michael Ernest
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So I read through this, albeit quickly:
http://www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/kenny/papers/bell.html
And this excerpt in Appendix I caught my eye:
...electrons seem to communicate faster than light, but somehow relativity is saved because as a technical matter we can't tell that it happened until later. Nonetheless, satisfying or not, Bell's theorem has been experimentally tested and showed that locality must fail, and at the same time relativity has been repeatedly tested and always worked, so until someone comes up with an explanation which shows more naturally why these two results should both be true, we seem to be stuck with getting off on this technicality.
In the discussion I have cited, 'locality' deems it impossible for two events in separate locations to affect each other instantaneously. Bell's Theorem begins with that assumption, then shows how it cannot be true, given the results of an experiement that relies on locality to succeed.
So here's a good one: relativity and nonlocality are not mutually exclusive, contends Gary Felder, or rather can't be, because repeated testing verifies both phenomena. So what's really missing is a (satisfying) explanation that would allow for these phenomena to co-exist. If you positivize your way to that new theory, I sure as hell would like to know how you do it without entertaining more than a few theories that seem cracked in the pot at first pass.
Gary Felder wants to believe that this explanation must exist, and in the spirit of practical inquiry, I'm inclined to hope to read that insight some day. I'm also left to think about the possibility that the experiments themselves just might have included an assumption no one has yet fathomed which skews the meanings attributed to the results.
 
Bert Bates
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Michael -
You taking a break?
 
Michael Ernest
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No no no...just suggesting that your tiny little quote has a WHOLE lot of literature behind it, which I need time to read.
If I was going away, I sure wouldn't say so here. I can't have a Bugleweed or a Pluta -- or God forbid, a Menard -- believing they can say something snipe-free! A Delicate Balance is required, says Edward Albee, and I'm obliged to uphold it.
 
John Smith
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ME: I can't have a Bugleweed or a Pluta -- or God forbid, a Menard -- believing they can say something snipe-free! A Delicate Balance is required, says Edward Albee, and I'm obliged to uphold it.
I can't say that I approve of your tactics, Michael. You certainly have the expressive power, and you made your case, but what good is it if you intimidated your opponents into a submission? Didn't we both go out of our way here to argue the relativity and validity of different points of view, including the views of scientists and the artists? It feels kinda victorious here, yet empty, like shouting in the dark, doesn't it? Now we are left with nothing better than barking at each other. I would say a Delicate Balance requires a delicate action to preserve the balance. Well, enough lecturing the sheriff on how to uphold the law, let's move on to the good stuff.
ME: So I read through this, albeit quickly:
http://www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/kenny/papers/bell.html

When Bert posted that "spooky action at a distance" phrase, it rang a bell (oops, I swear I didn't mean that), but I couldn't identify it with something that I remembered. So I googled it, and came up with the article that you referenced here (but I found it before you posted). Seems like Google's monopoly is large enough to affect the public opinions. I mean, if the search for "abortion" returned mostly pro-life links on top, I would see the die-hard pro-choicers disgusted with themselves, while if the search returned mostly pro-choice links, the opposite would happen. Reminds me about the issue discussed in the Questions thread, -- the Christian Americans are willing to kill for oil, because most of the local newspapers convinced them that it makes sense, appealing to people's loyalty to the president, state, and the army, rather than loyalty to Christ and loyalty to their own consciousness.
I think I have some good revelations to share with you, my beloved cowboys/girls, about the Bell's Theorem, -- I'll post them tomorrow after I think how to articulate these revelations in the most meaningfull way.
[ November 03, 2003: Message edited by: Eugene Kononov ]
 
Michael Ernest
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EK: I can't say that I approve of your tactics, Michael.
ME: Nor would I expect you to. The appeal of the shouting match was too great. My first post, a flip comment on the Yankees to nag Thomas -- was as far as I meant to go in the first place. Alas, idle hands and all that. I meant to put somewhere in a more recent diatribe "With apologies to Eugene for hijacking his original proposal" but didn't get around to it.
EK: Didn't we both go out of our way here to argue the relativity and validity of different points of view, including the views of scientists and the artists?
ME: We did! Alas, I'm a tad brittle lately. It'll pass.
[ November 04, 2003: Message edited by: Michael Ernest ]
 
Bert Bates
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M ichael -
I'll be happy to man the fort whilst you bone up on spooky action!
 
John Smith
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While thinking about the "spooky action at a distance", I felt a wave of goodness flowing through me, and I had a moment of truth. I thought that I could perhaps resurrect an interest in this thread if I share my revelations.
Without describing the experiment and the Bell's Theorem in the article that Bert offered, I'll just rehash the main idea. The results demonstrate that measuring the state of one electron instantaneously changes the state of the other electron, presumably arbitrarily far away (although in the experiment the two electrons are within a finite distance from each other). This, of course, brutaly violates the principle that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, yet the relativity is saved on a technicality: although one electron is instantaneously affected by the measurement of the other one, they do not really communicate, because there is no way to transmit the information obtained from the measurement faster than the speed of light. The two electrons affect each other instantaneously, but they don't signal to each other instantaneously. Thus the contradiction: on one hand, the locality principle fails (from the quantim mechanics point of view), yet it still stands (from the special theory of relativity point of view). Which makes me wonder: if you apply the relativity principle to the relativity principle itself, it's easy to arrive to the conclusion: both quantum mechanics and SR are correct, from their own point of view on the subject of locality. Well, one part is missing, -- what is the absolute relative to which both quantum mechanics and relativity are correct? In other words, what would be the equivalent to speed of light on the level of a principle? That is, if different principles are valid, depending on the point of view, perhaps there is also an absolute principle that is correct in all frames of references?
While I was thinking about how to resolve the apparent inconsistency around the locality principle on the intuition level, the following analogy came to my mind. Suppose you drop a steel ball into a canister filled with water. Two things will happen: 1) the volume of of whatever fills the container (water plus steel) will instantaneously increase, and 2) the ball will create a ripple on the surface of the water that will propagate in a circular pattern, in all directions, and it will take some time for the ripple to reach the distant points in the cansiter and to affect them. Now, I am not entirely sure that the first effect is instanteneous, but here is how I understand it: as soon as the ball enters the water partially or fully, the total volume instantaneously increases, since the mass of the entire thing increased while the density of steel and water are held constant. Now, if this assumption is correct, what this means is that there is an instanteneous effect on all the water particles in the canister. For example, the water pressure on the particles somewhere on the bottom of the canister has increased. Effectively, the state of these remote particles has been instanteneously affected. However, the ripple created by the steel ball will take seconds (or more, depending on the size of the canister) before it reaches the point where our measuring device is monitoring the state of the water particles, and at that time, the measuring device will register the arrival of the ripple.
Does this analogy make sense? I can't directly map this experiment to the results of the experiment in the article, but it seems to me that at least intuitively, both experiments can be explained in the same terms.
Any representitives from the scientific (or any other) community to take this argument apart (or maybe support it)?
[ November 05, 2003: Message edited by: Eugene Kononov ]
 
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If you believe in Multi World theory then Engene you are right.
And yes as far as 0 and infinity is concerned both are undefined.
And as far as Calculus is concerned and with my little knowledge of mathematics/calculus I can say 1/x "tends" towards infinity as x "tends" towards zero. But what will be the value of 1/x when x=0 is uncertain.
And agian Zero and Infinity both are relative term and uncertain/undefined.
 
Thomas Paul
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And you call yourselves Java programmers?!

Prints true. End of lesson.
 
Don't get me started about those stupid light bulbs.
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