Are the laws of physics based on magic?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Mazulu, Sep 8, 2013.

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  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I can't answer for Mazulu, but my own answer would be:

    To ascribe something that is of paramount importance to us (the origin of the universe, without which we wouldn't exist), to a cause as humble and prosaic as "quantum fluctuation," makes us feel like we're not important. People like to feel important: some of them will go out and commit unspeakable crimes just to become noteworthy and have their name known by millions. (Charles Manson, Timothy McVeigh, Seung-Hui Cho, John Allan Muhammad, Adam Lanza, and these are only a few names that pop into my head. Most of them are dead yet they're still famous. I'm going to have to stop for some dog-petting therapy now after remembering all of those bastards.)​

    You've probably come across my own explanation for the Big Bang: a temporally and spatially local reversal of entropy. This is allowed by the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Nothing was actually "created" in the Big Bang because all the stuff and anti-stuff (matter, energy, etc.) was in exact balance. What occurred was merely an increase in organization and complexity... i.e., a reversal of entropy. The organization and complexity has been steadily breaking down over the billennia (is that a word?

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    ), with occasional temporary reversals, and eventually the universe will trend asymptotically to its original state of total disorganization, i.e., maximum entropy. The Second Law will rule in the end.

    I don't think this is likely to give anyone a "positive emotional impact" either, but it requires a second- or third-year university course in physics to understand it. So most people will probably be happy to hear an explanation that sounds really complicated. It will make them feel like they're part of something really important.

    And anyway, who's to say that the universe isn't important, regardless of how it came about?

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  3. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Brian Swimme: "I’m coming out of science. So my way of thinking about this unmanifest realm is that it is actually what in physics we call the “quantum vacuum,” which was discovered in the 20s. When we think of a vacuum in Newtonian terms, we think of it as being a place—it’s just empty of things. But in quantum physics, it turns out that the vacuum is actually pure generativity. It’s constantly foaming forth with reality, elementary particles that then cascade back into nonexistence. You can’t go anywhere with this in science because you can’t study it. There’s nothing to study. But it’s there. It’s real. So what we do is study its effects or manifestations, which we began to do in the ’40s. There’s no question now for a physicist about the reality of the quantum vacuum. Right now in this room, there are all kinds of particles that are foaming into existence and foaming back out of existence. That’s what we mean by the unmanifest. So you could say that at the root of reality is space, time, and foam. It breaks with the Newtonian tradition of thinking of the universe as a place in which things are happening. It’s actually this fountain of generativity; every moment of our existence is another flaring forth from the quantum vacuum.

    There are two other related ways I approach the idea of the unmanifest from science. There is an interpretation of quantum physics that tries to deal with something that cannot be explained by the scientific traditions—it’s the idea of the “quantum leap.” It was discovered that there are a finite number of energy states for an atom. And what that means is that the atom’s electrons go from one state to another state and don’t pass through anything in between. So the question is: How can you understand an electron going from one state to another without passing in between? Now one of the common ways of dealing with it is just to say, “We don’t need to know. We can just go ahead and do our physics without having a philosophy for that.” That’s the dominant position among Western scientists, just because it’s so confusing. But some physicists have thought about it very deeply, and David Bohm has a radical interpretation that has withstood a lot of criticism. He says that when you have a particle that is in existence, like an electron, the way it goes from here to there is that it dissolves into the unmanifest. He calls it the “implicate order.” Quantum vacuum, implicate order, unmanifest—these are all ways of pointing to something mysterious. It dissolves into that and then it reconstitutes elsewhere. But it doesn’t reconstitute as the same particle. When it dissolves, you see, it suddenly floods the entire universe so that it becomes part of every birthing? event in the universe. This is another way of seeing that every moment of our existence is a flaring forth from the quantum vacuum.

    The other approach has to do with the nature of change. This idea comes from Ilya Prigogine, who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry. His notion is that it’s not just that the particles emerge, but also that they emerge with structure, they emerge with what we call “self-organizing dynamics.” For example, imagine a flame burning right here. It’s just burning away. But in every instant, it’s a new flame; there are different molecules of carbon dioxide and wax and so forth. They’re flowing through what we recognize as the moving flame. That’s a self-organizing dynamic. That dynamic is one of an infinite number of dynamics that occupy every space in the universe. At every place in the universe—again, think in terms of the quantum vacuum—you have this pure generativity, which is infinitely dense with the possibility of new forms. So in every moment, we are again reconstituted—but in moments of transformation, what is flaring forth is a radically new form. One way to say this is that those forms are all there, just ready to come in, but they have to be invited. This is also a way to think about the unmanifest in relationship to personal spiritual transformation. It has to be desired and has to be awakened. But once it comes in, you really are new. It isn’t as if the ego strains and makes it to another form of ego. It’s rather a death and a rebirth in the form of a new organizing principle of your life, of who you are. So that would be my way of talking about the unmanifest. The universe is all one vast display that’s flaring forth out of the unmanifest or the quantum vacuum. It’s incessant vibration in and out. These are ancient spiritual ideas now resurfacing within science."--Brian Swimme


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  5. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

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    @Fraggle Rocker

    Again, I cannot entirely disregard anything in your Post #81. I would, however like to add that I know many people with even more than "a second- or third-year university course in physics", who, although they appear to be able to repeat what they have been taught - do not fully understand it.

    I agree to the seeming "paramount importance" of humankind's philosophical quest for the "Meaning of Life, The Universe and Everything" or "Existence"!
    However, I think that humankind still has quite a lot to fully understand about the basic fundamental laws of the observed universe before any meaning or answer will be that much better than "42" - as authored by Douglas Adams.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
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  7. gmilam Valued Senior Member

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    It's important to me... and, in the end, that's really all that matters.

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  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Swimme has not convinced me of the validity of the quantum vacuum model of the universe, but at the same time I find no reason to doubt that it might be valid. For all I know (in fact I suspect for all anybody knows), all of these models (or at least most of them, surely not the Divine Creation which poses more questions than it answers) might prove to be true, simply different views of the same reality--or even different bits of it, including bits we have no direct knowledge of.

    What I get from his writing is a suggestion that the physiology of our observational senses, coupled with the logical programming of our brain, give us a particular, biased view of the universe, so we are more sanguine about a scientific explanation that appears to support that point of view, even elaborating on it. Whereas we're more skeptical of one that doesn't resonate with it.

    People keep telling me that Caltech was a better university than the one they attended. Perhaps they're right. I didn't actually do very well there, but the place must have instilled an attitude that has served me well. I've learned much more about science after leaving the place and earning a humble diploma in accounting, than I did there.

    Paramount only to us. But of course (so far) we are the only creatures capable of envisioning life and the universe at this level of profundity.

    Perhaps the gorillas and chimpanzees who have learned to "talk" in ASL will start to catch up with us--although their much smaller brains may be prove to be a handicap in endeavors other than the acquisition of a larger vocabulary.

    "Meaning" and "answer"--are these not human concepts? This suggests that they are merely components of our own model of the universe, rather than something intrinsic to its functionality.
     
  9. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

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    @Fraggle Rocker

    " "Meaning" and "answer"--are these not human concepts? This suggests that they are merely components of our own model of the universe, rather than something intrinsic to its functionality."

    Hence, "42"!
     
  10. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    What can I say? I'm just another primate trying to reconcile what I hoped we would discover abut the universe versus what we actually did find. I was raised around para-psychological phenomena. psychics, UFO's, aliens, so I was expecting to find a universe based on consciousness, with a sense of purpose. As a kid I was skeptical of such things, until the night I had a visitation by one of those black cloaked entities (associated with sleep paralysis). It was very real, terrifying, and exhilarating, and it changed my whole outlook on life. It changed my relationship to fear itself, it made me indomitable and bold. It made me believe that the universe did have a sense of purpose, meaning and orderliness to it.

    But trying to understand the big bang and origin of the universe has been like a study of accidents set into motion by yet more accidents. A quantum fluctuation is like the probability that a universe will just explode into existence for no apparent reason. Yet, in all of this entropy, chaos, chance and accidentalism, the laws of physics, and the physics constants, are very orderly and will exist forever. In that sense there is evidence for design and purpose.
     
  11. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    I've been thinking about quantum fluctuations and the universes that they give birth to. If we treat such a quantum fluctuation like a rupture, a system fail, or an accidental blowout, then maybe we can say that the odds of such a blowout grow with the increasing size of the universe. So instead of heat death, another universe will explode into existence and annihilate this universe. If you like, we can say that the speed of light of such a universe will always be less than c. Like c - 1m/s. The idea is that succeeding universes get slower, less efficient, with overall age. It's just unjustified speculation. But it suggests that faster universes might still exist deep within the quantum vacuum.

    The other idea I was toying with was that universes come in two types, hard and soft, referring to physics laws. A hard physics law universe would be like our space-time continuum. Soft physics universes would have physics "guidelines" that can be set.

    I'm just kind of nudging up to it that universes last forever, and that soft universes could take a variety of forms, including forms of consciousness.
     
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Everything I've ever learned about consciousness leads me to the inescapable conclusion that it is nothing more than each individual's own constantly-evolving structure for reacting to, managing and utilizing the electrochemical signals in his synapses. The fact that most of us develop a structure that is recognizably similar to most everyone else's (to the point that we've got a standardized vocabulary for analyzing and discussing it that is part of a discipline called "psychology" which is so well-respected that universities give PhD degrees in it) is merely a reminder that we all share a common ancestry so our brains are built more-or-less from the same blueprint. Other warm-blooded animals share this ancestry, although it goes further back so there isn't as much commonality, yet we can use what we learn about their "consciousness" to enhance our understanding of our own, and vice versa. Even "lower" animals (the other vertebrates as well as well as members of other phyla with clearly distinguishable brains like octopi) behave as though they have a consciousness worthy of the name and still recognizably similar to ours. Even some "lower" animals, like the more advanced arthropods, exhibit behavior complex enough to make us wonder if they too have a rudimentary consciousness.

    There is no obvious need to postulate parapsychological phenomena to explain how the universe works. Except of course that some people simply don't feel comfortable with the almost certain fact that we are merely highly organized blobs of matter. Each of us "feels" special--and that feeling is merely our consciousness, plus the large unconscious part of our cognition, at work. How can something this wonderful be the result of random coincidences? These people qualify for the label "innumerate" because they cannot grasp the concept of very large numbers: the number of years the universe has been in existence, the number of planets within that universe on which life could reasonably arise, the number of different ways in which life might manifest, the number of years it takes for primitive life to evolve into sentient life capable of inventing technologies, and the number of light-years between the solar systems in which this occurs which make it incredibly difficult for one of these communities to become aware of its nearest neighbor--before killing itself off with nuclear weapons, greenhouse gases, fairytale economic systems, or Holy Books.

    Clearly the universe is marked by orderliness. As I've postulated many times before, the universe can be seen as a temporally and spatially local reversal of entropy (an increase in order and organization without changing the total mass and energy), which is allowed by the Second Law of Thermodynamics--so long as it is, indeed, truly local, as ours clearly is.

    But "purpose" and "meaning" are only attributes that a conscious entity attributes to phenomena. To ascribe them to the universe is to (perhaps not deliberately) make the unsupported assumption that the universe is under the control of some cosmic consciousness that transcends the laws of nature. There are two things wrong with this reasoning. The first is that it is fallacious: beginning with the unproven conclusion that the universe does indeed have purpose and meaning, when there is absolutely no reason to believe that what we perceive as purpose and meaning is anything more than our own "constantly-evolving structure for reacting to, managing and utilizing the electrochemical signals in our synapses." We crave organization so we jump through hoops to insist that it exists, on the flimsiest of premises. Everything we observe about the universe is explainable by the laws of nature, even the Big Bang. Although my own explanation is not the most popular one, it works.

    The other thing wrong with it is that postulating an entity external to the universe is a second logical fallacy. The word "universe" means "everything that exists." This entity clearly exists (or is postulated to), and therefore by definition is part of the universe. Yet it is held to be outside the bonds of the laws of nature than bind everything else in the universe. This is a low-octane version of the religious argument, and it falls prey to the same weakness: it raises more questions than it answers.

    The reason is: it can. In an infinite space-time continuum, anything that can happen can happen. Duh?

    No. We've already figured out that the universe could not have sprung into existence if its laws and constants were not just so, because other slightly different parameters could not have coalesced into a Big Bang. There may be other combinations of laws and constants that could result in the appearance of a universe, but since we barely understand our own, it's too early to postulate what an alternative might be like, without f=ma, pV=nRT, and yes even 1+1=2!

    Perhaps every moment of every eon, somewhere in the space-time continuum a local phenomenon occurs in which other laws and constants come into existence, and it vanishes in an instant because it is not stable enough to take form.

    So if one manages to pop into existence with natural laws that are astoundingly different from ours but they just happen to work so this new universe is as stable as ours... well it could very easily be a googol light-years away and a googol millennia in the past or future, so there is no way we could ever detect its existence.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
  13. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

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    @Fraggle Rocker - Post #89

    Mad Props'...Grok'd!

    Fraggle Rocker, you possess writing skills or composition skills that enable you to express your views precisely.

    In my too many years in the military, the protocol, or SOP, was to be succinct and concise - which can, for the most part, work fine when dealing with simple things, or expressing those same simple things to the seeming majority, who at times makes a person wonder if they even possess the "rudimentary consciousness" of which you speak.
    The subject of this Thread is, in my opinion, anything but simple.

    Fraggle Rocker, in my reading of your numerous Postings on SciForums, I seem, at times, to not entirely concur with your views or opinions. This is not one of those times!

    Even on the few occasions that I do not entirely concur with your views or opinions, I am still severely impressed with your aforementioned skills in your ability to express them. I know it does not mean a whole heck of a lot coming from me, dmoe, because of my own obvious lack of those same skills, but I want you to know that you are, in my opinion, a rare and needed voice on these Forums. Do not ever stop!

    Would like to be able to add that I wish I had your skills...but...the old adage : "wish in one hand, sh*t in the other...", well let me just say that both of my hands have been overly soiled on too many occasions in the past, and leave it at that.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    There's only one way to learn to communicate better: Surround yourself with people who communicate well. We originally learned to talk by listening to the people around us and picking up their vocabulary, techniques and even their way of thinking. It still works.

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  15. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    Fragglerocker,
    What determines universe stability? Where are the unstable universes that do not pop into existence? Do they still exist?...as tiny rolled up singularities?
    I'm going to try to clean up the semantics and definitions. I thought the space-time continuum was the universe? When it popped into existence as a big bang, it did so from a pre-existing quantum vacuum in the same way that a flower blossoms forth from the stalk, the flower part is analogous to the universe; the stalk is analogous to God, the Creator of universes, big and small. The stalk (the quantum vacuum) is what determines if the universe is stable or not.

    Whatever makes universes stable/not stable, whatever makes particles stable/not stable, it is a set of mechanisms that we can't see, detect or know about(at this time). In that sense, the mechanisms are supernatural, beyond the realm of nature. If there are mechanisms that are beyond the scope of natural science, then why not intelligences? Consciousnesses? Souls?
     
  16. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Science has approached the idea of consciousness, from different vantage points. Souls, not so much. Intelligent Design, not so much. I like it that way, though. If science could ''prove'' God...then, it would be science, and not faith. Right?

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  17. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    For some odd reason, the pursuit of God & soul allows me to ask more penetrating questions about physics. For example, what are the mechanisms that determine whether or not a universe is stable like our universe? Are these mechanisms somehow external, or interconnected to, that same rolled up universe? I am assuming that there was a pre-existing quantum vacuum that permitted the big bang of our universe, our space-time continuum from a rolled up singularity. I am using an analogy of a flower that blossoms from its stalk, where the stalk is the pre-existing space-time and the flower is our space-time continuum. We can only make measurements from inside the flower, even though the flower is connected to the stalk. But the stalk represents all those mechanisms that are beyond the natural universe, and are therefore supernatural, (above)-nature, beyond nature, as nature is everything that we can detect inside of the space-time continuum.
     
  18. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

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    Mazulu, seems odd to me that you can accept the existence of a "God", the "Alpha and the Omega", as eternal - but not the universe.

    I find your "analogy of a flower that blossoms from its stalk" somewhat perplexing also. The current "Big Bang theory", has the problem that prior to it, there was in essence, "nothing"! At least "nothing" relative to the fundamentals of our current view of the observable universe.

    By bringing the "supernatural" into it - it becomes just another Skewed" version of "Creationism" - and therefore the "nothing" prior to the singularity of the "alleged Big Bang", then becomes "something". That "something" being the realm of "a God or the Gods" - or "the stem of the flower" in your analogy.

    Why cannot the "observable universe" be a steady state - kind of an "always was/always will be" universe that has no need for any "quantum fluctuation" or "Big Bang" or "Creator"?
     
  19. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    I think a more realistic speculative analogy would be a bath tub half full of soapy water....Bubbles rise , some immediatley collapse, others grow larger, again to recollapse......
    The frothy layer represents the quantum foam...the bubbles represent many BBs arising due to fluctuations, [stirring] in that quantum foam....by pure chance, some bubbles [Universes] last longer then others......
     
  20. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    I believe that the universes exists. :shrug: I believe that God exists. What's the problem?
    As i was discussing with Fraggle Rocker, there is an issue of universe stability. There are unknown mechanisms that determine how stable a universe is. Do you what they are? I don't. I don't know what a universe has to be stable relative to. Itself? Its neighboring universes?
    We're kind of in the realm of cosmic speculation. The difference between Creationism and Accidentalism pale in comparison to the awe-some nature of reality. But I would like to tease out some important features, I do have my reasons.
    Even Albert Einstein was disappointed that the universe is not static, but is expanding.
     
  21. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    I think the question of the beginning of causality whether of a series of Universes or a creator will always be a question waiting to be asked.
    The ultimate answer is most probably beyond our comprehension....
    If one believes that the Universe is finite, it raises questions regarding edges, outside etc......
    If one believes the Universe is infinite, [as indicated by WMAP] this raises other questions with regards to cause and effect...

    Who knows???
    But to me the awesomeness and incredulous nature of the Universe and the unanswered questions, is what makes it awesome and incredible, and the continuing and never ending job of scientists in trying to answer as many of these questions as is possible......
     
  22. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    I have a similar analogy, more like boiling water. But I don't think universe stability is a chance thing. I think there are scientific principles that could be discovered that relate to universe stability. Just to speculate, what if there are engineering principles (understood by very advanced aliens) that involve the stimulation of very high c (very large speed of light) but highly unstable universes. They are stimulated, and then immediately collapse. But the overall effect is to be able to create a field around a space-craft. This field increases the speed of light around the spaceship and allows the spaceship to travel to other star systems in very short times. It's a variation of a hyper-drive that works by increasing the speed of light around the ship.

    By the way, there could be coexisting universes that can only exist because their laws of physics do not contradict or destabilize one another.
     
  23. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Not sure if he was disappointed....The fact was that the standard mainstream belief of the day was that the Universe was static. Einstein's own equations showed it was dynamic, but even the great man could not get himself to believe that.....hence the CC.....then along came Hubble of course!
     
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