No new Einstein

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John Baez

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Jul 1, 2005, 11:59:16 PM7/1/05
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On the hundredth anniversary of Einstein's discovery of special
relativity, why is there no new Einstein today?

Read what Lee Smolin has to say:

http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/no-new-einstein.pdf

David Park

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Jul 2, 2005, 10:29:34 PM7/2/05
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"John Baez" <ba...@galaxy.ucr.edu> wrote in message
news:da2rmo$c8v$1...@glue.ucr.edu...

Having read Lee Smolin's article I would like to make some comments.

Smolin is probably right that some method is needed to support young people
who can devote a lot of time to their own approaches to fundamental science
questions without coming under the thumb of the 'old hands'. But to think
that government or foundations can somehow pick most of the good bets and
fund them is questionable. I wonder if Einstein would have been funded under
such programs before 1905? Einstein had some elusive quality that enabled
him to contribute to physics that wasn't recognized until he actually did
contribute. After that he got all the support he wanted.

Such programs as Smolin suggests might end up supporting adequately bright
people with an interest in the prestige of the position and political or
family
connections, but not necessarily with a deep interest in ideas. How about
enticing more sons and daughters of the rich into science? They can do what
they want. Look at Darwin. How about using lax work rules at technical
companies and institutions? Didn't that help Einstein? How about keeping
open to ideas from outside academia. Isn't that how Hardy and Littlewood
promoted Ramanujan?

How about better promoting science among the public in general? Not the
wiz-bang, isn't that exciting, aren't we great stuff, but actually doing
things in mathematics and science. How about devoting more effort to
actually teaching science?

Even if academia will never be the source of EVERY great idea in science and
physics it will still be the clearing house. They must keep their eyes open
for contributions from outside their own select community. When people in
academia only accept emails from .gov or .edu domains they may be shutting
out future contributors. (Ok, Einstein would probably have had a .gov
domain, and there are lots of kooks. But that's the price.) When government
technical libraries that used to be open to the public are now closed to the
public (such as the NIST library in Gaithersburg, Maryland) that doesn't
help lone scientists.

There are many things that can be done to nurture science and physics and
future Einsteins besides additional government or foundation funding
programs.

David Park
dj...@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~djmp/

Uncle Al

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Jul 2, 2005, 10:29:33 PM7/2/05
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To obtain the discoverer the discovery must exist to be discovered.
What alternatives for such discovery remain?

1) A sea change in physics from a bold new paradigm. Contemporary
prediction vs. measurement can agree to 14 significant figures. Has
everybody has been remarkably blind, geocentric epicycles vs.
heliocentric orbits? A new Einstein would bell the cat. New insight
from (a)symmetries of deep maths could do it, as would a nice
accidental observation.

2) Empirical falsification of postulates. The only ones that don't
look rock solid are the Equivalence Principle and Lorentz Invariance.
Uncle Al has them both on trial with the currently running full parity
Eotvos experiment. Alan Kostelecky is vigorously hounding the latter,
as is Eric Adelberger.

http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz.pdf

http://www.physics.indiana.edu/~kostelec/faq.html

http://www.npl.washington.edu/eotwash/spin1.html
http://www.npl.washington.edu/eotwash/publications/cpt01.pdf

3) Standard Model prediction violation in the highest energy
particle accelerators and the supercon magnet axion search. Proton
decay search in Super-Kamiokande. The Standard Model is robust.

<http://bulletin.cern.ch/eng/articles.php?bullno=10/2005&base=art&artn...>
CAST, 1/3 the way down.
http://cast.web.cern.ch/CAST/
http://collargroup.uchicago.edu/projects/axion/www.unifr.ch/physics/3...

4) Nothing. Boring but possible.

Theory can predict anything and everything exactly, if not directly
then by perturbation or Yukawa fringing, etc. What lacks is
experiment. Given that grant funding will not support experimentation
without theoretical justification and prior citation, progress (if
any) will be accomplished by the insubordinate undeserving who
embezzle resources.

IBM/Zurich threatened Bednorz and Mueller with discharge for cause and
prosecution for misappropriation of laboratory funding. The guys were
supposed to be creating deep cryogenic high Cp ceramic insulation for
supercon filaments. One supposes their Nobel Prize in Physics for
discovering high temp ceramic superconductors motivated IBM Management
to back off their threats. 20 years of serious sweat later we still
don't have a theoretical model to construct better (temp and
engineering) ceramic supercons.

The discovery of high temp BCS supercon MgB2 was purely accidental.
Folks were doing combinatorial studies on multi-element ceramic
supercons, and one *corner* of the search had the fat numbers.
Directed research since then has made no substantive progress. They
are stuck in a new rut - by the book, SOP.

--
Uncle Al
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/
(Toxic URL! Unsafe for children and most mammals)
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz.pdf

Cl.Massé

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Jul 2, 2005, 10:29:35 PM7/2/05
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"John Baez" <ba...@galaxy.ucr.edu> a écrit dans le message de news:
da2rmo$c8v$1...@glue.ucr.edu...

> On the hundredth anniversary of Einstein's discovery of special
> relativity, why is there no new Einstein today?

How can we say he doesn't exist? He surely exists, but experiences great
difficulties to be published: he works neither on superstrings, neither on
supersymmetry, and neither on non-commutative geometry.

--
~~~~ clmasse on free F-country
Liberty, Equality, Profitability.


René Meyer

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Jul 3, 2005, 12:42:39 PM7/3/05
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Maybe the open question article from Science can help :

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/309/5731/78b

Frank Hellmann

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Jul 3, 2005, 11:28:13 PM7/3/05
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Einstein is almost by definition outside of anything that can be
encouraged through academic structures, since it can not be detected by
these structures. They are by neccessity blind to this mode of thinking
that is crucial for the next breakthrough or it would have been
achieved (especially considering the number of very clever people
pounding away on this question)
Perhaps a better question would be why Andrew Wiles had to be so sneaky
about what he was working on, why there are no new Bohrs, Paulis,
Diracs, Heisenbergs.
And here I think Smolin is spot on. Of course it doesn't sound as sexy
as a new Einstein, and he is looking for public money, so it's a fair
argument I'd say... ;)

F

mark...@yahoo.com

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Jul 3, 2005, 11:28:15 PM7/3/05
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John Baez wrote:
> On the hundredth anniversary of Einstein's discovery of special
> relativity, why is there no new Einstein today?

How do you know there isn't?

The question, more properly, is: IS there a new Einstein lurking around
somewhere today.

The analogue, today, nearly 100 years past, is that you have a
situation today just like 1905, where you have two seemingly
irreconcilable theories, and people (unbeknownst to themselves in some
cases) have already laid out the essential foundation of its resolution
(e.g. Smolin & Markopoulou, Penrose, etc.), while in the meantime, the
mainstream is off on an modern-day Ether Primrose Path. The analogy,
in fact, is made complete by the fact that the general resolution is
coming fully in sight now, as it did then.

Let's take a look at the issue: the incompatibility of quantum theory
and general relativity, and see how its focal issue is resolved: the
issue of general coordinate covariance.

Squark wrote:
> The essence of the Unruh effect is that a uniformly accelerated
> observer sees the QED vacuum as a thermal equilibrium (black-body
> radiation). The later, as opposed to the former, is not even a
> pure state but a mixed one. This raises the interesting question
> of what is the general transformation from the inertial observer
> to the accelerating one on the space of mixed states.

Well, first you have to understand that the term "frame" has little to
do with what relativists call a frame. It refers to a timelike field.
The one associated with the Rindler vacuum (and the ordinary inertial
vacuum) is a Killing field, but I'm not sure how essential the
assumption is that it also be Killing.

The nature of the vacuum depends entirely on which frame is used. As
Penrose pointed out, there is no covariant distinction between quantum
noise and thermal noise: what appears as quantum correlations in one
frame, gets rendered as thermal noise associated with the cut-off
boundary imposed by the causal horizon.

The reason you get a thermal state is because the frame associated with
the Rindler vacuum creates a causal horizon, at the boundary which
envelopes the flowlines corresponding to that part of the spacetime
you're in. There are 2 separate sections in the spacetime, each
bounded by a null hypersurface, which functions analogously to an event
horizon.

The thermal state is directly in associated with the horizon. The
reason states are mixed is because in the Rindler vacuum they are mixed
RELATIVE states created by phase averaging (or "coarse graining", as it
is generally called) over the horizon. This is where the quantum
correlations seen in the Minkowski vacuum get rendered as thermal
correlations.

The general transformation is the Bogoliubov Transform. I think the
reason the timelike field is required to be Killing is so that the
transform be linear. But whatever it is, the key point is that the
transform is NOT complete. In particular, the operators corresponding
to the sector that lies outside the causal horizon don't get translated
properly in the Rindler frame.

The general situation is as follows: you can partition spacetime into
compact regions, each region having its own timelike field, and each
region bounded by 2 null hypersurfaces -- Alexandroff Intervals, in
essence. Between any two such regions will be a partial transform
whose respective domains in each direction overlap. The net result is
that each region sees part of what's rendered in the other ocherently,
as a mixture.

The one construction I'm looking at developing is as follows: take the
timelike fields to be such that the flow lines meet at (r=0,t=-L) and
(r=0,t=L), and such that they have tangents proportional to d/dt at
(r=R,t=0). The different flowlines correspond to different
intersection points R, where |R| < L. The enveloping hypersurfaces are
given by |R| + |t| = L, with t > 0 giving you the positive
hypersurface, t < 0 the negative hypersurface.

If the flowlines are hyperbolic, they will generally have the form (r =
a cosh(s) + b, t = c sinh(s) + d). The different selections of the
parameters (a,b,c,d) will give you the different flowlines. This is
constrained so that it passes through (0,-L), (0,L) and for some R,
with |R| < L, (R,0).

The hypersurfaces R_l, -1 <= L <= 1 are spanned, such suitable scaling
of s, by the flowlines; and the region R is the union of R_l as l
ranges from [-1,1], with the bounding hypersurfaces R_{+/-} being the
limits respectively as l -> +/- 1. Each hypersurface R_l has boundary
H = { (Rn,0): |n|=1 } -- the same 2-sphere.

Now, a natural question is to determine what the Bogoliubov transforms
look like between different Alexandroff Intervals, taking different
points (r1,t1)-(r2,t2) in place of (0,-L)-(0,L). This implements the
quantum analogue of a coordinate transform, thus recovering some
semblance of the Relativists' notion of a local coordinate frame from
the quantum notion of a frame=time-like streamline.

What's particularly interesting about these frames is that they are all
self-contained in the sense that nothing propagates outside the region,
except through the 2 boundaries, which are both null and play the role
of local causal horizons.

That means you can do mini-quantum field theory inside the Alexandroff
Interval -- except the vacuum state must now be a thermal state or some
more elaborate type of mixed state.

Each surface R_l is, in effect, a compact Cauchy surface. So, you can
write down a symplectic structure using well-established methods --
many of which have problems when the Cauchy surfaces are not compact,
that are entirely dodged in this setting.

The difference from the Rindler vacuum is that the accelerations of the
flowlines here are radial and approach infinity at the horizon. I'm
not sure, yet, of the ramifications of this and of the construction in
general. It's still something I'm looking into.

Another key feature is that this type of self-contained mini-quantum
theory has the global element removed entirely from it. You're staying
within a compact, locally hyperbolic region, of spacetime. Therefore,
invoking a correspondence principle
What goes in Vegas stays there:
What works in the region R works there, regardless of
what the global structure of the spacetime R is embedded
in is.
then you're able to do generally covariant quantum field theory in
spacetimes, both globally hyperbolic and non-hyperbolic -- even ones
beset with all sorts of causal anomalies, such as time
non-orientability, time travel loops, etc.


>
> Read what Lee Smolin has to say:
>
> http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/no-new-einstein.pdf

>From hil...@math.washington.edu Sun Jul 3 21:59:33 2005
From: tes...@um.bot
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Subject: No new Riemann
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René Meyer mentioned

> http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/309/5731/78b

Nice, but doesn't the second to last question rather miss the point?

(Of course all the zeros are -complex numbers-. I guess the editors took
their own advice: "Don't sweat the details"!)

"T. Essel"

tes...@um.bot

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Jul 3, 2005, 11:45:33 PM7/3/05
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I.Vecchi

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Jul 4, 2005, 10:00:55 AM7/4/05
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Uncle Al wrote:
> John Baez wrote:
> >
> > On the hundredth anniversary of Einstein's discovery of special
> > relativity, why is there no new Einstein today?
> >
> > Read what Lee Smolin has to say:
> >
> > http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/no-new-einstein.pdf
>
> To obtain the discoverer the discovery must exist to be discovered.
> What alternatives for such discovery remain?
>
> 1) A sea change in physics from a bold new paradigm. Contemporary
> prediction vs. measurement can agree to 14 significant figures.

Yup, thanks to 29 "fundamental" constants, hundreds of adjustable
experimental parameters, a predictive tool consisting of DIVERGENT
(sic) series that one truncates at will and, most important, a
scientific community whose jobs, salary and status depend on
aquiescence/gullibility.

Btw, I'd replace "physics" above with "lab phenomenology". The SM
fabulous predictions (unlike humble superconductivity or laser) never
made it to real life applications ... .

IV

Nick Maclaren

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Jul 4, 2005, 10:00:55 AM7/4/05
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In article <DyAxe.2362$aY6...@newsread1.news.atl.earthlink.net>,

David Park <dj...@earthlink.net> writes:
|> "John Baez" <ba...@galaxy.ucr.edu> wrote in message
|> news:da2rmo$c8v$1...@glue.ucr.edu...
|>
|> > On the hundredth anniversary of Einstein's discovery of special
|> > relativity, why is there no new Einstein today?
|> >
|> > Read what Lee Smolin has to say:
|> >
|> > http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/no-new-einstein.pdf

Inaccessible from here at present.

Special relativity is a bad example. As with Newton's laws of motion
and theory of gravity, Einstein was merely the leader of the pack of
people studying the problem. If he had not published it, someone
else would have done within a decade or two. This does not denigrate
his work - merely pointing out that it was not dependent on his
existence. Someone else would have put Lorentz transformations
together with the observation that the speed of light was invariant,
and special relativity would have dropped out. It does :-)

One can argue that general relativity is one reason that there has
been little progress, and quantum mechanics is another. Both of
them are theories that were applicable vastly beyond any aspects
that could be checked by experiment, and got established before
there was any possibility of much checking. It then became very
hard to publish alternative theories that were equally in accordance
with the facts, or to get funds for experiments based on such
theories.

All right, that is an over-simplification and a bit too harsh, but
there is some truth in it. And the problem with quantum mechanics
is more that it can be fitted to almost any observation rather than
it is uncheckable.

An alternative way of phrasing this is the philosophical observation
that all theories have their domains of validity, and they gradually
cease to model the real universe as you approach the boundaries of
those domains. And new developments are driven by problems caused
by existing theories breaking down. For example, it was the aetheric
theory breaking down that caused Einstein to apply the (existing)
Lorentz transformations to create his special theory.

|> How about using lax work rules at technical
|> companies and institutions? Didn't that help Einstein? How about keeping
|> open to ideas from outside academia. Isn't that how Hardy and Littlewood
|> promoted Ramanujan?

Yes, and the laxness at Cambridge is one of the reasons that it is
still one of the leading scientific universities, despite having
a very small income compared with those in the USA. However, the
current moves are to stop that on the grounds of inefficiency.

|> There are many things that can be done to nurture science and physics and
|> future Einsteins besides additional government or foundation funding
|> programs.

Yes.


Regards,
Nick Maclaren.

galathaea

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Jul 4, 2005, 5:54:45 PM7/4/05
to
the politics of currency that lee speaks of
have always been there

they have not stifled creativity

sometimes they stimulate it

einstein is a great example
everyone's heard the allegations
concerning poincare's work on relativity
and hilbert's work in geometry
and planck's quantisation

crude comments were circulating contemporary to the discoveries
not necessarily because of any strong evidence
but often just because
the others were doing things just as brilliant
and maybe should get some more credit

fame is currency

giving planck, hilbert,and poincare some of einstein's credit
dilutes the argument

and could I also include von neumann?

you're a categorial algebraicist at times
john
you know the importance of his work
in formulating the logic of quantum propositions over hilbert spaces

(there's hilbert again!)

because it gave us something to generalise

dropping any more names is just vanity
but the short list is obviously not short
(tarski, lawvere, connes, witten)

it looks to me like lee is venting the "persecuted minority"
loop quantum gravity is to string theory
(in this respect)
what bohmian mechanics is to copenhagen
or constructivism is to the platonic boolean

it is a clever little alternative
that has not yet convinced a majority of the genre
that it is useful

sometimes
as in the case of the flat earth society
it is good to have criteria

the question is what criteria to have

observation alone does not limit possible models
enough for which we have resources to handle
so although its a good first step for a science
you need other criteria

and resource allocation involves politics
and politics is dictated by currency
like fame

it always has

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
galathaea: prankster, fablist, magician, liar

Cl.Massé

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Jul 4, 2005, 5:54:45 PM7/4/05
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"Uncle Al" <Uncl...@hate.spam.net> a écrit dans le message de news:
42C6B509...@hate.spam.net...

> To obtain the discoverer the discovery must exist to be discovered.
> What alternatives for such discovery remain?
>
> 1) A sea change in physics from a bold new paradigm. Contemporary
> prediction vs. measurement can agree to 14 significant figures.

I don't think the amplitude of the Higgs field agree with measurement to 14
significant figures. If only there were 1!

> 3) Standard Model prediction violation in the highest energy
> particle accelerators and the supercon magnet axion search. Proton
> decay search in Super-Kamiokande. The Standard Model is robust.

But obviously not a good theory: too many things put at hand, skeletons in
the cupboard...

Tim Josling

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Jul 6, 2005, 1:25:48 AM7/6/05
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David Park wrote:
> "John Baez" <ba...@galaxy.ucr.edu> wrote in message
> news:da2rmo$c8v$1...@glue.ucr.edu...
>
>>On the hundredth anniversary of Einstein's discovery of special
>>relativity, why is there no new Einstein today?
>>
>>Read what Lee Smolin has to say:
>>
>>http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/no-new-einstein.pdf
>>

Some more perhaps obvious points.

Physics today is just huge. To learn enough to get to the questions is a
far bigger job than 100 years ago. By the time you learn enough you are
on the way to being an old man.

The cost of experiments. The energy and scale involved in experiments to
test modern theories are enormous and so require lots of government
funding, if it is possible at all.

Tim Josling

Message has been deleted

backdoo...@yahoo.com

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Jul 6, 2005, 1:48:18 AM7/6/05
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John Baez wrote:
> why is there no new Einstein today?

Why should we expect another Einstein? Isn't that like expecting to win
the lottery twice?

In the article Smolin uses Einstein as an example to critique academia.
Perhaps the problem with academia is just one of the problems of the
contemporary world where results are expected too regularly and
academics must "publish or perish". The major universities aim to
administer themselves as assembly lines, and this approach is copied in
the minor colleges.

Physics has become much more specialized than it was 100 years ago. And
before that it was practised by people in other professions (such as
law). Einstein also read a lot of philosophy. Most physicists today
seem to believe that "philosophy" is just idle speculation or worse - a
pile of unfounded beliefs. Actually, philosophy (in it's broadest
sense) is just about making your thoughts clear, but it seems to have
become a dirty word in physics. What is most important is to not be a
crackpot and to get your articles frequently cited. But before you can
even get to that point you must show-off how smart you are by getting
higher scores - just like a game. To Einstein these things did not
matter at all.

Nick Maclaren

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Jul 8, 2005, 3:49:08 PM7/8/05
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In article <daf5ts$tlj$1...@possum.melbpc.org.au>,

Tim Josling <tej_at_melbpc....@nospam.com> wrote:
>
>Physics today is just huge. To learn enough to get to the questions is a
>far bigger job than 100 years ago. By the time you learn enough you are
>on the way to being an old man.

Um. Yes and no. Much of physics is very secondary, and learning
it is a positive handicap to doing anything new. It is still very
complex, but not as huge as is made out.

General relativity is conceptually very simple, for example, and it
is the consequences of the formulae that are difficult. Many people
have asked some of the real, fundamental questions about it with
very little knowledge of physics - all you need is a good mathematical
background. Of course, asking the questions and providing even
plausible answers are two very different things :-)

For example, I was one of the hundreds or thousands of people who
posed the question "Is Einstein's formula the only one that fits the
known facts?" and could demonstrate that it wasn't. I had already
derived the exponential form (instead of 1/(1-v^2)), because the two
formulae are well-known to be similar (to people with my background).

Of course, that merely states the truism that, before we can be sure
that Einstein's formula extends right up to event horizons, we need
some measurements of behavour close to where it predicts the event
horizons to be. And that isn't so easy to arrange ....

>The cost of experiments. The energy and scale involved in experiments to
>test modern theories are enormous and so require lots of government
>funding, if it is possible at all.

To a great extent that is a consequence of my previous remark that
both general relativity and quantum mechanics are theories that have
domains of validity far beyond what could be measured, and even some
way beyond what can be measured today. There may be some simple,
cheap tests to check on their boundaries, but I can't think of any.


Regards,
Nick Maclaren.

mark...@yahoo.com

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Jul 8, 2005, 3:50:01 PM7/8/05
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John Baez wrote:
> Read what Lee Smolin has to say:
> http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/no-new-einstein.pdf

"[Einstein] was not unusually talented mathematically. Instead, [he
had] a fierce intellectual independence. [...] The new Einsteins are
unlikely to be easily characterized in terms of research programs that
have been well explored for decades."

And further down below...
"Are our universities, institutions, and foundations doing all they can
to identify and promote [such] individuals..."

which completely misses the point of:
"a fierce intellectual independence"

which means "Stay out of my business, for God's sake! And quit trying
to 'reward' me or give me 'incentives' or whatever other patronizing
buzzword you want to use. Why do you think it's called being
'independent'?!" And this is what the word "fierce" signifies, too.

Asking what can be done misses the point: to quit interfering. Do
nothing. Please.

In a place like North Korea, it might make sense to turn over every
rock to cull out the kids who are ahead of the game and prop them up
(without ever bothering to ask them) -- which they actually do to an
untold Orwellian extent -- in some kind of vast appropriation scheme.
But the essential feature of an individualist society is that people
are able to do things on their own, without prologues of major
institutions ardently trying to extend the long reach of "incentives",
"rewards" and other bureaucracy into their lives -- all of which smacks
of socialism run amok. They (we) don't want rewards or incentives.
That's why it's called being "independent". They just want the
recognition when the job's done, regardless of whether they're in a
patent office or out on the street.

tuppence

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Jul 8, 2005, 3:50:40 PM7/8/05
to
"John Baez" <ba...@galaxy.ucr.edu> wrote in message
news:da2rmo$c8v$1...@glue.ucr.edu...
> On the hundredth anniversary of Einstein's discovery of special
> relativity, why is there no new Einstein today?

There is no new Einstien today because there is no new Lorentz from whom to
steal ideas!

porte...@yahoo.com

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Jul 8, 2005, 3:50:59 PM7/8/05
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> Perhaps a better question would be why Andrew Wiles had to be so sneaky
> about what he was working on.

Sneakiness is not so important if you are really revolutionary in your
ideas. I doubt Einstein had to be sneaky. As Howard Aiken* said "Don't
worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good,
you'll have to ram them down people's throats."

*An IBM Engineer, also famous for saying "Only six electronic digital
computers would be required to satisfy the computing needs of the
entire United States". Maybe he is not the best source of worldly
wisdom ;-).

Ilja Schmelzer

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Jul 8, 2005, 3:51:09 PM7/8/05
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"Kris Kennaway" <kk...@xor.obsecurity.org> schrieb
> <to...@tata.ti> wrote:
> > "John Baez" <ba...@galaxy.ucr.edu>

> >> On the hundredth anniversary of Einstein's discovery of special
> >> relativity, why is there no new Einstein today?

> > How can we say he doesn't exist? He surely exists, but experiences
great
> > difficulties to be published: he works neither on superstrings, neither
on
> > supersymmetry, and neither on non-commutative geometry.

> ...or not, and "superstrings, supersymmetry or non-commutative
> geometry" are right, to the great chagrin of certain people :-)

Possible but not very probable.

"Publish or perish" leads to an artificial concentration on a few domains
of research: It is reasonable to work in a domain with many journals to
publish your papers.

If you need many citations the effect is the same: Publish in a domain where
many people work. All they can, possibly, cite your papers.

If you have to change your working place every 3-4 years, it has the same
effect: A domain with many groups around the world gives more potential
working places.

Peer review has a similar effect: Even if they are able to evaluate papers
in other domains, scientists tend to favour papers in their own domain.
That's natural, if we assume that they choose their domain of research
because they think that this domain gives the most valuable contributions to
science.

Thus, all these forms of quality control lead to artificial concentration.

Can we hope for something better? I doubt. Every form of formal
control has its weak points. Once scientists are (at least we hope so)
clever, they will be able to misuse them.

IMHO, the best way of quality control in theoretical physics is a large
initial barrier (good education, people have to be able to understand
and to learn the established theories), medium payment (too small
to attract people not interested in science) but no other control at all.

Ilja

Uncle Al

unread,
Jul 9, 2005, 1:49:45 PM7/9/05
to

Simple and cheap, to be run in existing apparatus, unambiguous and
reproducible; include gravitation, quantum mechanics, and all of
classical physics. No problem!

Metric gravitation appears from Special Relativity by postulating the
Equivalence Principle; its maths are overall symmetric to parity
inversion as is Newton. Affine gravitation does not postulate the EP;
its maths can be symmetric or antisymmetric to parity inversion.
Metric gravitation is wholly contained within affine gravitation as a
special case. Don't look where they agree, look where they are
disjoint.

If you find two local lumps that empirically reproducibly free fall
differently in vacuum - with different accelerations or along
non-parallel trajectories - then the EP is falsified and metric
gravitation is incomplete (as Euclid fails in hyperbolic or elliptic
spaces given his Fifth Postulate). Drop small stuff close together
(locality vs. tidal forces in Earth's divergent gravitational field)
and look. Simple and cheap.

We know where not to look: all contrasted chemical compositions of
matter, physically spinning bodies (gyroscope balls), spin-polarized
bodies (magnets), binding energies (Nordtvedt effect), superconductors
(Gravity Probe-B); and hyper-spinning, hyper-polarized, hyper-bound,
superconducting neutroniun (binary pulsars). Folks have already
looked and found nothing amiss to 10^(-13) difference/average.

Only *one* possiblity remains! Does a left hand fall identically to a
right hand? Does the Equivalence Principle have a parity violation?
If so, Lorentz invariance is violated (demonstrated anisotropy of
space) and quantum mechanics also falls. If space is anisotropic,
then angular momentum through Noether's theorem is not rigorously
conserved by opposite parity masses, and the remainder of physics
goes down as well. Parity-antisymmetric affine gravitation is a clean
sweep of everything known to be "true" - though only as an
ultramicroscopic perturbation (so far).

Quartz crystallizes in opposite parity crystallographic space groups
P3(1)21 and P3(2)21. Do single crystal bodies of left-handed quartz
fall identically to those of right-handed quartz? The results of the
parity Eotvos experiment will be out in mid-September. There is a 50%
chance a handful of sand will be tossed into General Relativity's
gears.

More than a 50% chance. What originated biological homochirality?
All chiral protein amino acids are left-handed; all chiral sugars are
right-handed. Was it coincidence or is there an intrinsic energetic
bias because space itself is chiral?

LEJ Brouwer

unread,
Jul 9, 2005, 1:49:38 PM7/9/05
to
John Baez wrote:
> On the hundredth anniversary of Einstein's discovery of special
> relativity, why is there no new Einstein today?

I think the following words of a very competent 'establishment'
physicist are indicative of why even those of exceptional technical
ability and a deep and broad knowledge of the various research areas of
active research are not likely to be the next Einstein in the current
academic environment:

"For example, physicists have asked since 1926 whether
the probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics
is inevitable. Hundreds of people have worked on this
issue for decades, and the answer is essentially Yes,
it is inevitable. It's not surprising that those who
still want to replace quantum mechanics by a classical
theory or something very similar are viewed as
crackpots by most of the physics professionals."

The logic here is fundamentally flawed. The basic claim made is that
there is no point trying to tackle the fundamental problems because so
many excellent physicists have already tried and failed. Einstein, on
the other hands, succeeded, because he instinctively *knew* when he was
right, and followed his instincts all the way.

The next Einstein will be willing to stand up for his beliefs when he
senses (or rather, instinctively 'knows') that he is right - even if
everyone in the scientific establishment believes (or rather 'knows'
because that is what they have been taught, or what everyone else
believes) that that he is wrong, and he will not be swayed by
inherently flawed emotional arguments (which are effectively statements
of blind faith in the scientific establishment) such as those given
above. Unfortunately promising young researchers are not allowed to be
too 'creative' these days as they either risk not getting tenure, or
worse still, not even graduating.

He will do so even at the risk of being labelled a 'crackpot' by
members of the academic establishment - even those who make a point of
weeding out from academic circles and immediately placing into
disrepute any deviant thoughts which do not conform to currently
established views (sadly such actions ultimately stifle creativity, as
talented mainstream academics dare not step too far beyond the accepted
norms lest they be ostracised). Neither will the next Einstein be
swayed by passing fads, and nor will not hesitate to make use of and
further develop promising ideas from the past which have either been
ignored for forgotten.

While the next Einstein will be technically competent, he need not have
extraordinary levels of mathematical knowledge or ability, but rather
should be able to recognise and effectively use those tools which he
feels are relevant and will be useful to make progress. He will not be
shy of trying out unusual ideas or even making mistakes along the way,
as his goal will be the search for truth, and not to impress others
with the number of his publications or citations.

More specifically Einstein believed:

(a) That quantum theory was an emergent theory from an underlying
classical deterministic one.
(b) That there are no singularities in general relativity.
(c) That there exists a classical field theory unifying gravity,
electrodynamics and quantum theory.
(d) That the fundamental (quantum) particles are solitonic solutions of
that underlying classical field theory.

The next Einstein should prove that Einstein was right on all four of
the above counts (otherwise he could hardly be another Einstein, could
he?), and needless to say, will be highly unlikely to receive any
funding for carrying out his research. He will be highly creative yet
of sound judgment, without being tied down ill-founded preconceptions,
and will have excellent intuition, being able to quickly separate
promising ideas from red herrings (the latter is where Einstein really
excelled). In particular, he will realise that quantising gravity is
the biggest red herring in theoretical physics today, and that rather
one should be gravitising the quantum.

Anyone who poo-poos any of the above beliefs/visions of Einstein is
simply not of Einstein's calibre, and can neither hope to be, nor is
worthy of being, the next Einstein.

LEJ Brouwer

unread,
Jul 10, 2005, 9:58:13 AM7/10/05
to
Uncle Al wrote:
> Only *one* possiblity remains! Does a left hand fall identically to a
> right hand? Does the Equivalence Principle have a parity violation?
> If so, Lorentz invariance is violated (demonstrated anisotropy of
> space) and quantum mechanics also falls. If space is anisotropic,
> then angular momentum through Noether's theorem is not rigorously
> conserved by opposite parity masses, and the remainder of physics
> goes down as well. Parity-antisymmetric affine gravitation is a clean
> sweep of everything known to be "true" - though only as an
> ultramicroscopic perturbation (so far).

Nonsense. There are other ways for parity violation to originate which
do not require breakdown either of Lorentz invariance or of quantum
mechanics, or of conservation of angular momentum, or of the
equivalence principle. You just haven't thought of one yet. Einstein,
as it happens, did make a proposal many many years ago which does
allow for parity violation without any of the undesirable properties
you appear to have convinced yourself are unavoidable.

Uncle Al

unread,
Jul 11, 2005, 2:44:51 PM7/11/05
to
LEJ Brouwer wrote:
>
> Uncle Al wrote:
> > Only *one* possiblity remains! Does a left hand fall identically to a
> > right hand? Does the Equivalence Principle have a parity violation?
> > If so, Lorentz invariance is violated (demonstrated anisotropy of
> > space) and quantum mechanics also falls. If space is anisotropic,
> > then angular momentum through Noether's theorem is not rigorously
> > conserved by opposite parity masses, and the remainder of physics
> > goes down as well. Parity-antisymmetric affine gravitation is a clean
> > sweep of everything known to be "true" - though only as an
> > ultramicroscopic perturbation (so far).
>
> Nonsense. There are other ways for parity violation to originate which
> do not require breakdown either of Lorentz invariance or of quantum
> mechanics, or of conservation of angular momentum, or of the
> equivalence principle. You just haven't thought of one yet.

Don't keep it a secret! To criticize is to volunteer.

> Einstein,
> as it happens, did make a proposal many many years ago which does
> allow for parity violation without any of the undesirable properties
> you appear to have convinced yourself are unavoidable.

Tell us. Furnish a citation. Demonstrate how a parity violation of
the Equivalence Principle can be empirically observed, not originate
in spatial anisotropy, and thereby leave everything else intact.
Inquiring minds want to know!

The Weak Interaction is strictly left-handed, but that does not
directly couple to the Equivalence Principle.

Nick Maclaren

unread,
Jul 11, 2005, 5:29:12 PM7/11/05
to
In article <42CF05B5...@hate.spam.net>,

Uncle Al <Uncl...@hate.spam.net> wrote:
>
>Simple and cheap, to be run in existing apparatus, unambiguous and
>reproducible; include gravitation, quantum mechanics, and all of
>classical physics. No problem!

And cleans your teeth whiter, too. Some evidence of such a miracle
would add rather more weight to your claims - see below.

>We know where not to look: all contrasted chemical compositions of
>matter, physically spinning bodies (gyroscope balls), spin-polarized
>bodies (magnets), binding energies (Nordtvedt effect), superconductors
>(Gravity Probe-B); and hyper-spinning, hyper-polarized, hyper-bound,
>superconducting neutroniun (binary pulsars). Folks have already
>looked and found nothing amiss to 10^(-13) difference/average.

Not all aspects of physics have been demonstrated even to 10^0
accuracy :-)

>Quartz crystallizes in opposite parity crystallographic space groups
>P3(1)21 and P3(2)21. Do single crystal bodies of left-handed quartz
>fall identically to those of right-handed quartz? The results of the
>parity Eotvos experiment will be out in mid-September. There is a 50%
>chance a handful of sand will be tossed into General Relativity's
>gears.

Fine. Let's wait for that, and the analyses of the result.

>More than a 50% chance. What originated biological homochirality?
>All chiral protein amino acids are left-handed; all chiral sugars are
>right-handed. Was it coincidence or is there an intrinsic energetic
>bias because space itself is chiral?

A good question, with many plausible and even more implausible
answers.


Regards,
Nick Maclaren.

mark...@yahoo.com

unread,
Jul 13, 2005, 12:52:25 AM7/13/05
to
LEJ Brouwer wrote:
> Nonsense. There are other ways for parity violation to originate which
> do not require breakdown either of Lorentz invariance or of quantum
> mechanics, or of conservation of angular momentum, or of the
> equivalence principle. You just haven't thought of one yet.

Uncle Al and I went through that discussion a while back. The
(generalized) teleparallel gravity gives you a geodesic law with an
effective force on the right proportional to the acceleration. If it
were proportional to the velocity, you could incorporate it into a
Lorentz force; which is generally the only kind of force you have
around to talk about. If it's proportional to the acceleration one can
always find a way to contort something that will fit (e.g. by forcing a
redefinition of the connection to get it to fit the modified mass on
each world line); but in the end, there is no real substitute for the
simplest explanation that there is two different kinds of masses
involved.

Teleparallel gravity would not have made the peer-reviewed published
literature, in the first place, had it been nothing more than a fancy
reformulation of General Relativity. A little common sense is in order
here.

mark...@yahoo.com

unread,
Jul 13, 2005, 12:52:24 AM7/13/05
to
LEJ Brouwer wrote:
> More specifically Einstein believed:

> (c) That there exists a classical field theory unifying gravity,
> electrodynamics and quantum theory.
>
> Anyone who poo-poos any of the above beliefs/visions of Einstein is
> simply not of Einstein's calibre, and can neither hope to be, nor is
> worthy of being, the next Einstein.

"One can give good reasons why reality cannot at all be represented by
a continuous field. From the quantum phenomenon it appears to follow
with certainty that a finite system of finite energy can be completely
described in terms of a finite set of numbers (quantum numbers). This
does not seem to be in accordance with a continuum theory, and must
lead to an attempt to find a purely algebraic theory for the
description of reality. But nobody knows how to find the basis for
such a theory"

-- Albert Einstein, The Meaning of Relativity, 1956 (posthumous)

Ed Hanna

unread,
Jul 16, 2005, 5:54:33 AM7/16/05
to

And let's not forget:

In 1936 Einstein wrote that: "To be sure, it has been pointed out that
the introduction of a space-time continuum may be considered as
contrary to nature in view of the molecular structure of everything
which happens on a small scale. It is maintained that perhaps the
success of the Heisenberg method points to a purely algebraical method
of description of nature, that is, to the elimination of continuous
functions from physics. Then, however, we must also give up, on
principal, the space-time continuum. It is conceivable that human
ingenuity will some day find methods which will make it possible to
proceed along such a path." (p. 319.)

In 1940 Einstein wrote that: "All attempts to represent the particle
and wave features displayed in the phenomena of light and matter, by
direct recourse to a space-time model, have so far ended in failure.
.. For the time being, we have to admit that we do not possess any
general theoretical basis for physics, which can be regarded as its
logical foundation. ... Some physicists, among them myself, cannot
believe that we must abandon, actually and forever, the idea of direct
representation of physical reality in space and time; or that we must
accept the view that events in nature are analogous to a game of
chance." (p. 334.)

Both quotes from collected writings found in: A. Einstein. Ideas and
Opinions. (Crown, New York, 1954).

Regards,
Ed Hanna

cma...@yahoo.com

unread,
Jul 18, 2005, 2:00:36 AM7/18/05
to

And let's underline:

"... Some physicists, among them MYSELF, CANNOT BELIEVE that we must


abandon, actually and forever, the idea of direct representation of
physical reality in space and time; or that we must accept the view
that events in nature are analogous to a game of chance."

In less diplomatic terms he could have written: "There are good reasons
to waste time of this red herring, but my superior intuition and
philosophical principles prevent me from doing so."

Chris

LEJ Brouwer

unread,
Jul 21, 2005, 4:43:35 AM7/21/05
to
Uncle Al wrote:
> LEJ Brouwer wrote:
> > Nonsense. There are other ways for parity violation to originate which
> > do not require breakdown either of Lorentz invariance or of quantum
> > mechanics, or of conservation of angular momentum, or of the
> > equivalence principle. You just haven't thought of one yet.
>
> Don't keep it a secret! To criticize is to volunteer.
>
> > Einstein,
> > as it happens, did make a proposal many many years ago which does
> > allow for parity violation without any of the undesirable properties
> > you appear to have convinced yourself are unavoidable.
>
> Tell us. Furnish a citation. Demonstrate how a parity violation of
> the Equivalence Principle can be empirically observed, not originate
> in spatial anisotropy, and thereby leave everything else intact.
> Inquiring minds want to know!
>
> The Weak Interaction is strictly left-handed, but that does not
> directly couple to the Equivalence Principle.

Okay, I'll tell you - but you must promise to start being nicer to
people and stop being such a bully! :)

The reason all neutrinos are left-handed is because gravitons are their
own antiparticle. Furthermore, the reason that no other spinors have
only a single handedness is because the neutrino is *not* its own
antiparticle.

When I see some evidence of behavioural improvement, I will happily
reveal the rest of the story. Otherwise, I hope to have a preprint out
within a month or so.

- Sabbir

acl

unread,
Jul 21, 2005, 4:43:12 AM7/21/05
to
Is it really fundamentally flawed to say that if something is attempted
100 times and it fails, then it can't be done? It's exactly the logic
that is used in science (namely, inductive, rather than deductive).
Postulating, as you do, that it can be done, so long as the right
person is found, can only be based on faith; I have nothing against
this, per se, but at least admit it and do not call other people's
logic flawed when it is merely common sense.

I remember a few years ago watching a rally; one driver flew off the
side of a mountain and landed on a tree further down, which prevented
the car rolling 200-300m to the bottom (certain death). Neither he nor
the navigator were hurt, and were rallying two weeks later. By your
logic, despite the several fatalities caused by speeding cars flying
off mountains, we should should not draw the conclusion that falling
off a mountain in a speeding car is a bad idea (since it is possible to
survive the crash).

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for intellectual independence, but claiming
that anyone who disagrees with the 4 points that you mentioned is on
the wrong track is difficult to place on a firm, factual basis. Not
that I personally have any opinion either way, to be honest.

By the way, calling something "establishment", thereby endowing it with
any number of unpleasant connotations, doesn't make it wrong.

Hope you don't take this the wrong way!

LEJ Brouwer

unread,
Jul 21, 2005, 2:33:24 PM7/21/05
to
acl wrote:
> Is it really fundamentally flawed to say that if something is attempted
> 100 times and it fails, then it can't be done?

Yes.

> It's exactly the logic
> that is used in science (namely, inductive, rather than deductive).

Well, that would seem to suggest that there may be a problem with
scientific method itself (or at least in the unobjective way in which
it is often applied), and I am sure one could dig out countless
examples of that throughout the history of science.

> Postulating, as you do, that it can be done, so long as the right
> person is found, can only be based on faith; I have nothing against
> this, per se, but at least admit it and do not call other people's
> logic flawed when it is merely common sense.

If you have seen a proof that quantum theory must be probabilistic,
then I would love to see it. Nelson's stochastic formulation of quantum
mechanics is classical and deterministic (i.e. it is 'common sense'),
but is simply not fashionable, so has not been investigated as much as
it deserves. The probabilistic interpretation of QM is certainly not
based on common sense. In fact it is pure nonsense which just happens
to give correct results.

> I remember a few years ago watching a rally; one driver flew off the
> side of a mountain and landed on a tree further down, which prevented
> the car rolling 200-300m to the bottom (certain death). Neither he nor
> the navigator were hurt, and were rallying two weeks later. By your
> logic, despite the several fatalities caused by speeding cars flying
> off mountains, we should should not draw the conclusion that falling
> off a mountain in a speeding car is a bad idea (since it is possible to
> survive the crash).

I am sorry, but I do not see the analogy. We all learn the
probabilistic interpretation of QM at university, usually to the
exclusion of any other possibilities, so it is hardly surprising that
few if any of the intellectual sheep in academia dare to stray so far
as to attempt to find a non-probabilistic interpretation. There are
reputations, and even possibly worldviews at stake after all.

> Don't get me wrong, I'm all for intellectual independence, but claiming
> that anyone who disagrees with the 4 points that you mentioned is on
> the wrong track is difficult to place on a firm, factual basis. Not
> that I personally have any opinion either way, to be honest.

Well, yes, it did take quite a bit of effort, as it happens. :)

> By the way, calling something "establishment", thereby endowing it with
> any number of unpleasant connotations, doesn't make it wrong.

I never claimed that it did. However it certainly is an 'establishment'
with all of the negative connotations that implies, and as it happens,
it is also almost certainly wrong on this point (I do not claim that it
is always wrong).

> Hope you don't take this the wrong way!

Certainly not. Thanks for your feedback!

Best wishes,

Sabbir.

Eugene Stefanovich

unread,
Jul 22, 2005, 2:07:23 PM7/22/05
to

LEJ Brouwer wrote:

> If you have seen a proof that quantum theory must be probabilistic,
> then I would love to see it. Nelson's stochastic formulation of quantum
> mechanics is classical and deterministic (i.e. it is 'common sense'),
> but is simply not fashionable, so has not been investigated as much as
> it deserves. The probabilistic interpretation of QM is certainly not
> based on common sense. In fact it is pure nonsense which just happens
> to give correct results.

QM is probabilistic because nature is probabilistic.
Take a piece of radioactive substance and put a Geiger counter next to
it. Observe a sequence of clicks in the counter. This sequence of
clicks not only looks random, it IS random. There is no theory in
the world that can predict the timing of the clicks. Not because our
understanding of nuclear forces is imperfect yet. Even if we had
a complete quantum-mechanical description of atomic nuclei we wouldn't
be an inch closer to the prediction of the timing of the clicks.

Quantum mechanics just accepts this unpredictability as unavoidable
fact and concentrates on calculations of probabilities: i.e., the
probability of the nuclear decay at a given interval of time. That's
all QM can do. If you think there is a theory that can do better, then
this theory should be more fundamental than QM. I don't think such
a theory exists.

Eugene.

acl

unread,
Jul 22, 2005, 10:08:31 PM7/22/05
to

Eugene Stefanovich wrote:
> LEJ Brouwer wrote:
>
> > If you have seen a proof that quantum theory must be probabilistic,
>
> QM is probabilistic because nature is probabilistic.
>

Well, but his point is that there may well be a non-probabilistic
theory; which is merely an assertion, like "there may be a large pink
bunny in orbit around Uranus", which is certainly a possibility.
Similarly, your statement is, again, an assertion of the same type (for
a deductivist): how do you know it's probabilistic?

For what it's worth, I don't see what the meaning of the word "is" in
the context of the sentence "nature is probabilistic" is, unless I take
several things for granted; but then I am implicitly talking about my
perception/description of nature (and no, I am not trying to be
philosophical here). Clearly, loads of people would violently disagree
with me on this, but there you go.

Charles Francis

unread,
Jul 23, 2005, 10:25:47 AM7/23/05
to
In message <42DFF685...@synopsys.com>, Eugene Stefanovich
<eug...@synopsys.com> writes

>QM is probabilistic because nature is probabilistic.

Classical probability theory describes situations in which every
parameter exists, but some are not known. Probabilistic results come
from different values taken by unknown parameters. We have a similar
situation in QM, but now the unknowns are not describable as parameters.
An experiment is described as a large configuration of particles
incorporating the measuring apparatus as well as the process being
measured. There are no relationships between particles bar those
generated by physical interaction and we do not know the precise
configuration of particle interactions. The configuration has been
partially determined by setting up the experimental apparatus, reducing
the possibilities to those with definite outcomes to the measurement. It
is impossible to determine every detail of the configuration since the
determination of each detail requires measurement, which in turn
requires a larger apparatus containing new unknowns in the configuration
of particles. Thus there is always a lack of determination of initial
conditions leading to randomness in the outcome, whether or not there is
a fundamental indeterminism in nature.

Regards

--
Charles Francis

Nick Maclaren

unread,
Jul 23, 2005, 11:20:23 AM7/23/05