# Vacuum

Discussion in 'Physics & Math' started by timojin, Sep 22, 2016.

1. ### DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

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You're certainly welcome to your opinion, but it's hardly defensible.

For starters, you use the term values, which is a human quantification.

You'll insist it's not, but you'll continue to have nothing to back that up, except the same circular logic.

3. ### The GodValued Senior Member

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3,546
I read Tegmark because of his MIT association. He has followers for his mathematical universe, thats great!

But I agree with him to a large extent on his basic premises, that is anything which can be mathematically expressed, can be realized in physical reality.

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5. ### SarkusHippomonstrosesquippedalo phobeValued Senior Member

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Apart from infinity, I presume?

7. ### YazataValued Senior Member

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4,662
I did. The table-of-contents can be found here -

https://www.amazon.com/Our-Mathematical-Universe-Ultimate-Reality/dp/0307599809

It looked to me to be a layman's survey of cosmology and a shorter section on quantum mechanics and particle physics, with Tegmark's grand speculations at the end of each chapter. Then he launches into his own "mathematical universe hypothesis" ('MUH', reminded me of Langan's 'CTMU') later in the book.

I'm afraid that I'm inclined to agree. (My reaction to 'MUH' is 'meh'.) I put it back on the shelf and didn't buy it. If I want to delve into the physics/metaphysics interface, there are any number of better books that seem to me to explore the mysteries in more interesting and fruitful ways. I think that I'd rather read this instead -

https://www.amazon.com/Philosophy-Physics-Dean-Rickles/dp/0745669824

Tegmark looks to me to be another physicist playing at being Grand Metaphysician, possessor of the sacred gnosis that puts him in a position to finally answer all the deepest and most ultimate questions. The thing that I don't like about physicists doing that is that it's typically aimed at laypeople, not academic colleagues. The actual argument is often vague and the most of the technical details are left out. (Hey, it's a layman's book!) But there's stuff about how physics has "proved" no end of counter-intuitive conclusions, so readers need to put away their intelligent common-sense skepticism and just... believe... the author's own grand cosmic conclusions. (If they don't, they will remain ignorant of the deepest and most cosmic secrets.)

I addressed that problem here -

I suspect that this tendency to imagine mathematics as more real than real life might be fairly common among theoretical physicists. After all, their professional work is done with mathematical tools and is conducted in terms of mathematical concepts. So the idea that the conceptual language in which they think and that they use every day is what's fundamentally most real and that physical reality is just an unnecessary add-on to the world of the equations is probably to be expected.

I don't think that physics will ever explain the ultimate questions. Any attempt by physics to do that will inevitably be circular, since the physical (and mathematical) concepts that would have to be cited to provide that explanation are part of what needs to be explained.

8. ### DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

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Wait what?

The list of mathematical things that can't be expressed in physical reality is virtually infinite.

- n-dimensional boxes...
- the Mandelbrot Set...
- Graham's Number...
- a convergent series...
- a circle...

How many would you like listed?

(The list can be mathematically expressed as 'nigh-infinitely long', though it is too large to be realized in physical reality.)

9. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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5,096
Yes because you have a functioning brain.
I disagree with that sweeping statement..
Are you suggesting that "cause and effect" or a "mathematical function" is an expression of qualia? That is not what I understood the definition of qualia to mean. It seems to me applicable only to consciousness, not to excitation of inanimate matter. But I must admit, that was my first qualia of the definition. I could be wrong, which would mean my qualia (first impression) does not necessarily result in a correct answer.

IMO, only thinking organisms can experience or generate qualia. But even here only a few living organisms have the ability to experience qualia. A slime mold has no brain at all and does not have the ability to subjective, conscious experience, yet functions in a mathematical fashion. Moreover , this single celled organism propagates by a fractal function (simple iteration). This has been tested and demonstrated.

One could argue that the need for energy demonstrates a form of rudimentary qualia, I don't believe that the definition fits for particles or mindless objects which just must act as their potentials allow, IOW, act in accordance what is mathematically permissible or restricted by its properties..

Is cell division a form of qualia? Does a computer have the ability to experience qualia? These are mindless mathematical functions, natural or human programmed instructions which must be followed as imperatives, not as a conscious experiential choice or selection. Are chemical interactions an expression of qualia?
Does a daisy know that its petals grow in accordance to the Fibonacci sequence?

In short, things need not be sentient and experience qualia to function. That's where the mathematical function emerges and sentient qualia plays no role in the process..

We (humans and other sentient organisms) are part of the Wholeness, true, but that does not lead to the conclusion that the Wholeness is sentient or experiences qualia. That's spiritualism.

Last edited: Nov 4, 2016
10. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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5,096
A little follow-up on the subject of qualia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia#The_knowledge_argument

Last edited: Nov 4, 2016
11. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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No, it's a qualification
Indeed, I disagree..
The word value is an abstraction and is used for several purposes and processes, but the word *value* has no value, other than to convey a concept.

The last definition may be related to *qualia*, the subjective perception of colors as expressed by the artist.

All human communation is conducted by humans. Of course that is a permissible circularity.

Would you rather communicate sophisticated human ideas with "Blah, blah, blah" or *%&^$*(#$%?.
But even insects communicate by sound, or pheromones. It is the values, the specific wave lengths of these sounds or the specific chemical properties of the pheromones) which resonate and evoke a response only in that species.[/quote]

You may do some reading on the *neural mirror system*, the place where qualia are being processed.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neuron

12. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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Perhaps you missed the list of scientists (click more) who seem to be impressed with Tegmark's work.

13. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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continued from previous page:
Seems Tegmark is in some knowledgeable company. Don't be too hasty to dismiss the concept, when better minds than mine also seem intrigued or persuaded by his hypothesis (paradigm).

14. ### DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

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Good. You agree that qualia is indeed a product of the universe.

I disagree with that sweeping statement.
[/QUOTE]
It is the very opposite of sweeping. It is drawing an unbroken line between my subjective experiences and their origin in the mechanics of the universe.

What? No. Where does that come from?

Qualia are the subjective experiences that we, as conscious creatures experience internally. They cannot be expressed externally.

A very good example is that there is no way I can externalize to you, or anyone, my experience of the colour red or the pain of needle. You can never know what I perceive 'red' or 'pain' to be.

And there is no way to quantify 'my red' or 'my pain' objectively.

15. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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5,096
We may not be able to quantify your subjective experience of *red*, but the mathematical wavelengths of *red* are well known in all of its hues and intensities, including infra-red, which we cannot even see, but feel.

As to pain, you really need to read up on the mirror neural system. From above:
I was amazed to read that, even as we do not actually feel another's pain, the same synapses in our brains become active in the observer as well as in the victim's brain, actually experiencing the pain.

Have you ever winced when you see someone hurt themselves. The observer doesn't feel his pain, yet the observer's brain responds the same way as the victim's brain experiencing the pain. The term for this is *empathy*, not to be confused with *sympathy*.
From my POV, that would qualify as a genuine example of qualia.

But does the universe experience empathy? I don't think so.

Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
16. ### DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

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Yes.
Leaving the first half of your statement as an example of a qualia - something that is part of the universe, but is not mathematically quantifiable.
Which is what you asked for.

17. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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I still would not call subjective experiences as a fundamental "property" of the universe.

Qualia pertains to internal thoughts and holographic images, not to universal constants. Moreover no brain is exactly the same.
Theoretically, emotions can be quantified mathematically, but they are variable for each individual. So they cannot be a universal constant, a common denominator in/of all things seen and unseen.
Nowhere do I see any reference to a universal function or application.

But when you go to the doctor and tell him/her you hurt, the first question is "on a scale of ten, where would you rate your pain?". That is extremely general in scope, but it is a preliminary quantification, which is useful to the doctor, when diagnosing and evaluating the severity of an injury.

But I don't want to discuss the philosophy of subjective experiences which are internal functions of the brain.

I am trying to figure out if the universe functions by means of an abstract mathematical process, the essence of the universe, which rests on a relatively few common denominators of all things, past, present, future.
Some mathematical essence of spacetime itself with dynamical properties and potentials which has brought us from the beginning to the present and from which we can calculate the future with some degree of probability.

Perhaps it may reveal something about the properties of *the vacuum* , or if it exists at all, or if it can be mathematically quantified. Or about Black Holes.

Check out CDT (causal dynamical triangulation), it fits hand in glove with Tegmark's mathematical universe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causal_dynamical_triangulation.

Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
18. ### PhysBangValued Senior Member

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2,422
As an aside, it is not clear what is in the DNA, since the development that you are describing depends significantly on the environment of the plant.

Everyone agrees that we can describe the physical world with mathematics. But while we can identify parts of the development of a daisy with the Fibonacci sequence, we cannot say that the daisy is pursuing that sequence. We can say that the developmental process produces an arrangement that we can identify with parts of the sequence, but it clearly can't produce the entire sequence and it can't even produce much of the sequence. Additionally, the resemblance to this sequence probably plays no part in the development: the signals that development relies upon are likely based on distance, not the sequence, and this restriction along with the commitment to individual units of a specific size forces the resemblance to the sequence.

It could be that in every case where we identify mathematics-like behavior, we are seeing the end result of other restrictions that produce, to a high degree of approximation, something that we can identify with something in our mathematics.

The adjustment will be guided by mathematics because that is how we describe things.
Sure, in one sentence you use "function" in the mathematical sense and in the next sentence you use "function" in the sense of how something operates. These are two different things. In mathematics, a function takes each value from a domain and points to a single value in a range for each value in that domain. In operation, function is a particular way of operating or is a purpose of intended operation.

I don't think that you have. Try not using the word "function" to describe the operation of physical systems and see if you can still make your argument.
No. Science has used mathematics to create systems of mathematical functions that can meaningfully be said to create descriptions of physical phenomena that are accurate to a great degree of approximation. Mathematics existed separately from science. Science was (and still sometimes is) pursued without mathematics.
What a horribly weak argument:

1. Science has translated these naturally consistent orderly functions into symbolic representations of these functions and named it Mathematics.
Therefore, we can say that the universe functions mathematically.

If you were just saying that we describe the universe with mathematics, then fine. But you aren't just saying that.

There is no need for divine intervention for the universe to be acting on its own. But there is some need for argument that the universe is in some sense locked to follow certain cognitive systems created by humans.

This passage is an equivocation. You are confusing a mathematical term (the picture) with a term describing activity.

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19. ### PhysBangValued Senior Member

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If you think that humans don't have qualia, then you must live a very strange life.

20. ### The GodValued Senior Member

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See, ideally if you know a physical reality, you have maths for that or you develop it. The obvious corollary is I simulate some mathematical geometry which does not violate certain laws, then can I find the reality associated with it or can I develop something real around it.

If I look at the list provided by you, I see no problem. To start with give a geometry which cannot be seen in nature or which cannot be man-made.

PS: I am not supporting MUH. I am of the opinion that maths is a tool to describe the physical reality, reality does not stem from maths.

21. ### DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

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Good. You are moving the goalposts closer together. Your earlier assertions were a bit broad. One might say "sweeping".

22. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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Of course, but evolution and natural selection almost always produces an efficient growth system in the DNA of that specific species.. But it is remarkable that the Fibonacci sequence occurs in many environments and systems. Daisies, sunflowers, pinecones, spiral galaxies and a host of other natural phenomena display this mathematical structure (by any other name). Fibonacci just recognized it and translated it in our mathematical language. It is an expression of the mathematical nature of the universe, a least for spiral development. Fractals are another mathematical function, and can be observed in all kinds of structures. A fern is a very old plant and it'ss DNA has a growth instruction that relies on self-similar iteration, which obviously is a very efficient method of growth. However it does not allow for much evolutionary variety and was later replaced by DNA, which allows for greater variety from mixing different genes.
But are you not describing a mathematical function here. The point was that this sequence occurs all throughout the universe.
Why use the term "mathematics-like behavior" instead of *by a mathematical function* ?
Which would support the concept that everything functions or is a result of a mathematical function.
IMO, it is not "because we can describe these functions', but that our mathematics are descriptions of how things work in a quantifiable way, which we have been able to symbolize and name it "mathematics". What came first, the way things function or our description of these functions?
The way you presented the analogy is not quite correct. I am using the term "mathematical function" in context that all functions are mathematical (regular) in and of themselves. The fundamental concept of Cause and Effect is that a specific causes will consistently produce a specific effects, which can be quantified by mathematics and thus must be a priori mathematical in essence..
But that is the crux of the matter. No matter how you describe it, the operation of physical systems show a remarkable consistency, thus seem to follow a defined process which we have quantified as "in accordance to a form of mathematical function" , the symbols we use to identify these regularities is what we call mathematics. Thus, for want of a better word, we can say that the universe functions (operates) mathematically.
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is most likely a duck. If what we observe in the universe looks mathematical and behaves mathematically, it is most likely mathematical in essence.
That was my challenge, name me one physical science which does not involve the use of symbolic mathematical representations of natural functions.

1. Science has translated these naturally consistent orderly functions into symbolic representations of these functions and named it Mathematics.

Therefore, we can say that the universe functions mathematically.
Yes I am! But the fact that we can describe the universe with standardized human mathematical symbols proves that "in the eyes of humans" the universe functions by a form of mathematical precision and consistency.
The symbols (numbers and equations) we have invented to define these properties and functions is irrelevant to the observed phenomena.
Correct, and we have named the study of these cognitive systems the science of Physics and we use the tool of mathematics to quantify what we observe. We could have invented other symbolic representations, but that would have no effect on the properties and functions of what we observe.
That is because the picture describes a consistent process, which holds true for all physical interactions. How these actions function depends on the properties and potentials of the input and can occurs at all scales from the very subtle of say, nano scale to gross physical expression of say, a galaxy.
Not all functions act the same way, but they always involve an input of specific values and yield a specific result. which can be quantified by our symbolic translation (numbers and equations), the language of mathematics.
p.s. I'm an atheist and don't believe in divine intervention. I do believe in forms of mathematical functions which permit or restrict specific interactions.

Last edited: Nov 6, 2016
23. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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Sorry, I should have said Qialia pertains to psychology (which is mostly philosophical.

Last edited: Nov 6, 2016