Is very finite number of ways that matter can be arranged?

Discussion in 'Physics & Math' started by Tailspin, Jul 3, 2014.

  1. Tailspin Registered Member

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    I have heard that, theoretically, there is a vast but finite number of ways that matter can be arranged and shaped within any finite space.

    This would mean that literally everything has limited finite possibilities. There are only so many drawings, paintings and sculptures that can be created because there are only so many ways matter can be arranged.

    And this holds true for everything else, there are limits on the possibilities of events that can happen, people that can exist and so on.
    I've been told that that Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle disproves this theory. But frankly I don't understand what that principle about, what it means or how it works.

    I want to know if there is any truth to this theory.
     
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  3. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    Welcome.

    I believe that there is an infinite number of wavelengths that a photon of light could have.
     
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  5. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

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    You bring up an interesting topic. There are an infinite number of ways that atoms can be put together if you view infinite the way I do. Even a single atom or a molecule can be oriented in an infinite number of positions relative to its neighbors. Heisenberg's Principle is right in that we cannot make precise measurements that give us both location and momentum of particles, and objects are accumulations of atoms and molecules, so there is no limit in the possible combinations and relative positions of a finite number of atoms in any finite space, as far as I can tell.
     
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  7. danshawen Valued Senior Member

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    Discrete Structures Combinatorics Applies to Physics?


    Very little truth is here, but it's as good example as any of how a theoretician with an orientation bent toward mathematical modeling might get carried away with how much truth they might be able to capture that way.

    When we count something (say, apples or oranges), and arrive at a tally of how many of each we have, say to subtract from or divide up among N people, how much of the reality of apples or oranges does that process actually capture? Not very much. Nothing about growing them, nothing about the trees or the environment in which they grow, nothing about how they grow, nothing about their chemical natures or why animals from the same planet would wish to divide them up in the first place.

    How many planets like Earth are there on which such bits of fruit can be arranged or counted? How many ways can you change the genetic code of an apple or an orange and still get a fruit that is identifiable as either of those categories? How many ways can you arrange the total number of apples and oranges to feed any combination of 10 billion human or an unknown number of inhabitants including insects? If we were only limited by these possibilities for counting the number of ways these things called fruit can "be arranged", would that not be enough to satisfy at least an infinity of possibilities?

    Now let's talk about just one item, say an apple, and only enough space for just that single bit of fruit. Is this countable? Is this limited? Well, if you consider that an apple is only matter, maybe. The apple is comprised of chemical compounds each of which is composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, magnesium, and other types of atoms. The atoms exist in space but are anything but static. Each electroweak force in each nucleus of each atom derives of interaction with a vacuum energy that cannot be contained in any real sense. In a closed box, an apple will rot and eventually become dust, even if all of it is contained and is not allowed to venture from its confined space.

    The only thing that is limited here is the imagination of the finite mind that somehow believes combinatorics are the essence of anything and everything they are able to perceive with their very limited sense organs. They haven't considered energy, energy states in matter, vacuum energy about which we know next to nothing, and that isn't even the beginning of what combinatoric mathematics or mathematics in general fails to capture.

    So the answer is a definite "no", and it would be "no" even if we understood all there was to know about matter, energy, time, and space.
     
  8. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

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  9. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    As far as I can tell that has nothing to do with the statement, "there is an infinite number of wavelengths that a photon of light can have".
     
  10. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    +21 points. Great word
     
  11. Tailspin Registered Member

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    Thank you danshawen for that long answer but I'm not sure I understand it.

    Someone I asked said that although atoms could be arranged indefinitely the difference to the object would be so small that we couldn't notice it anyway.
     
  12. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

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    That is true, but it does introduce the possibility of an infinite, as opposed to a finite number of ways matter can be arranged. I thought you might be going to talk about the finite possible number of ways atoms could combine, and I would agree with that.
     
  13. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

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    Each increase in the frequency of a photon that a system can emit requires more energy. As the frequency of the photons emitted increases, the available energy to emit higher frequencies from the system is diminished, and eventually reaches a point where no photon of higher frequency can be emitted, as I understand it.
     
  14. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    If you look at atomic and molecule matter, each atom has a positively charged nucleus composed on protons and neutrons. Surrounding this are electrons arranged in orbitals, which are defined by EM wave functions. Atoms do not interchange the neutrons, protons and electrons, but always do it the same way.

    The electron orbitals, for all atoms, have specific shapes, as the electrons are added, that place some limits on where the electrons have to be. When matter interacts and arranges, it can only do so by interacting and packing in ways that optimize these wave-orbital interactions. For example, all the atoms of a metal will form the ordered shape of a crystal lattice. Any less ordered arrangement is possible, but it will contain extra energy and is not as stable. There are preferred states of lowest energy in terms of arrangements.

    Each atom of the periodic table, itself, has only certain ways it can interact. Carbon, for example, likes to form four covalent bonds and can only do this with a small number of atoms in different combinations. It does not play well will all the atoms. Carbon can also interact with metals like iron to form carbon steel, but this only works up to a certain concentration of carbon. Nature places limits on the atomic arrangements. Gold is a noble metal and won't interact with many things. But it will absorb mercury like a sponge.

    As we go to the sub particles that make up atoms; quarks, these can only arrange in certain ways to achieve maximum stability, with the electron, proton and neutron the most preferred arrangements found in the universe. At the same time, we don't have hundred of flavors of electrons or protons, but just one basic type of each implicit of specific quarks in specific places; sub particle orbitals. The electrons then occupy orbitals which have certain shapes. Some orbitals look like spheres while other look like dumbbells. The uncertainty principle only says that although we know the orbital shape and therefore where the electron needs to be, within that volume it is hard to pin the electron down to both an exact position and an exact momentum, at the same time. We can pin it down to one or the other, since we have a very good idea where it needs to be.

    In terms of space-time and the uncertainty principle, an exact position (location in space) of the electron can only be done if we stop time. If we take a snap shot picture, time stops in the photo, and we can see where the electron is since it is frozen in time. Momentum is a dynamic concept that contains both time and space; velocity. To measure momentum, requires we keep the clock running. This needs something more like a movie, which does not stop time. The movie gives us a feel for how fast the electron is moving; momentum, but because time is active, we can't take a snap shot; we don't know exact position. The uncertainty is connected to time potential that exists between the movie and the snap shot. To measure both, one would need to be clever. One way is to run the movie to get momentum while inside the movie we create a sub plot of a person taking a snap shot. This approximates canceling the time potential.
     
  15. Tailspin Registered Member

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    I'm sorry wellwisher but I don't get what you're saying at all.

    Maybe I should explain the real reason I started this thread.

    I have always been passionate about creativity and I'm afraid that, because of this theory, every artistic creation ever made or ever will be made as part of a predetermined set of possibilities. And that to me, nullifies the heart and soul of creativity.
    And also, the thought that eventually we will arrive at a point where it is physically impossible for any artist to create anything that isn't exactly like something created before.
    I didn't mention this originally because I posted this on another science forum just the other day and everyone was more concerned with telling me not to be bothered about it rather than answering the actual question I was asking.
    I know what you must be thinking right now, that I'm getting worked up over nothing. People have told me that this event will happen long after I'm gone but that brings me no comfort. People tell me to stop caring either way and just get on with my life.
    Let me be clear, I'm not here for anything of an emotional nature I've already had extensive talks to people about that. I started this thread specifically to get a straightforward, scientific, yes or no answer to this question.
     
  16. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    Join the club, all his posts are like that only they usual include references to water, entropy, liberals and the evils of women too.
     
  17. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

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    Tailspin, the answer is no. Even though I mused about a universe that is potentially infinte, and that would mean that the number of ways creative art could be composed would be potentially infinite, even though true, admittedly that doesn't directly address your specific issue. If a simple reorientation of atoms and molecules within the art creation isn't enough of a difference for you, then how about this. The unlimited creative potential of the mind, coupled with the continued possibility of higher and higher evolutionary potential of intelligence, and a potentially infinite universe spatially and temporally to produce new and different environments, life forms, and available mediums of art, ... no limit to the variety of creative art would exist.
     
  18. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    …..and hydrogen bonds, don't forget them.

    But Wellwisher is good natured.
     
  19. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Not quite. Don't forget the UV catastrophe was a failure of the Rayleigh-Jeans formula for predicting the black body spectrum of an object with a given temperature. It predicted a monotonically increasing contribution from shorter and shorter wavelengths. The correct formula overcame that, by showing correctly the way that emission intensity falls off at higher frequency. But by choosing an object with an arbitrarily high temperature you can in theory get a spectrum extending to any frequency you like. There is no maximum frequency limit.
     
  20. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

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    I think it is possible to fantasize an exception to any rule. Are you saying that in nature there is no limit to the temperature that a black body can attain?
     
  21. humbleteleskop Banned Banned

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    That has no consequence on the limits of molecular combinations. If there was only oxygen and hydrogen, for example, their combinations obviously can not produce anything else but precisely defined several different molecules. Adding more elements into overall mixture surely does increase the number of possible combinations at very quick rate, but the number is not infinite, and the actual number of naturally occurring combinations have their stability limits too, relative to the environment energy and energy equilibrium of each particular possible combination.
     
  22. humbleteleskop Banned Banned

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    What does it matter how you orient molecules? Water molecule will always be water molecule no matter how you turn it around.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2014
  23. RJBeery Natural Philosopher Valued Senior Member

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    There is some misinformation in this thread. If you're working within a finite volume of space and there is only a finite number of quantum states for that space then the number of ways matter can be arranged is also finite. This should be obvious. You are perceptive to conclude that the number of paintings and sculptures are finite as well, just as the number of songs able to be written is finite.
     

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