Entities and attributes in science

But is momentum "really" just a numerical quantity? That's all mathematics has to say about any calculation, isn't it?
Yes. Momentum is totally a mathematical construct. Isn't it obvious?

Momentum is mass times velocity.

There's nothing in nature that you can pick up and put in a bottle and say "Look! There's some mass times velocity!"
Nobody tries to argue that momentum is just a number in an equation, do they (apart perhaps from James R)?
They do.
Nobody tries to argue that they know how momentum is conserved beyond observing things in motion, about which mathematics says, well, nothing at all.
Nonsense. Mathematics is the only thing that says why momentum is conserved, and under what circumstances it is conserved etc.

What we do in physics is build mathematical models that let us calculate stuff about physical objects. Momentum is part of a mathematical model of how things with mass move.

You keep confusing the map with the territory. You've had around a year or so to think this through. Why have you made no progress in your understanding of this simple idea?

I'm confident there was a time when you would have had no trouble coping with these ideas, but now you're stuck. What happened to you, man?
Mathematics says things about numbers, motion isn't a number.
Correct.
But here you are, trying hard to look like you know something about momentum, or energy. However, that knowledge is never "what" they are, only "how" they're related to physicality.
What they are is numbers, essentially - mathematical quantities used to calculate things. This isn't a difficult concept to grasp.
Physics must have to be the easiest subject to make yourself look like a total dick, when you try explaining what it is
You only look like a dick when you're unwilling to revise your ideas in the light of new explanations or evidence. When your ideas have been shown to be muddled and untenable, and instead of changing your mind you start insulting the people who showed you a better way to think about things, that's when you're a dick. The subject doesn't much matter. Physics or cookery or long-jump - you can be a dick with any of them.

Momentum is mass times velocity.
Momentum is totally a mathematical construct. Isn't it obvious?
So which is it? Are you really trying to tell me that mass and velocity are mathematical constructs, or is that true only when you multiply them together? When you don't multiply them together, what are they?
Mathematics is the only thing that says why momentum is conserved, and under what circumstances it is conserved etc.
So you're saying mathematics tells you how momentum is conserved. Then why do any experiments to verify that?
And you agree that mathematics tells us things about numbers, not really anything about mass, or about velocity or distance, or time?

You only look like a dick when you're unwilling to revise your ideas in the light of new explanations or evidence.
What new explanations or evidence? Your explanation about putting things in bottles? That's ridiculous. You're a dick.
You can't admit that your own ideas have the same problems as anyone else's. The same problems Feynman mentions in his lectures. Stop accusing me of having lost the plot, of having muddled ideas. That back and forth about bottles a few weeks back, was about as muddled as it gets--all thanks to you and your ideas about, well, about god knows what, frankly.

. . . hold up a sec, what "respective rules" of a physical quantity determines what it is? Didn't we both more or less agree that mathematics is silent about what physical things (such as motion) are?

Usefulness is actually the rule, isn't it? A useless theory is, well, ruled out. As to knowing why energy and momentum are conserved, again, the mathematics in Noether's theory, says nothing about what either of them are. The why is the theory though.

It would be a mistake to develop a philosophy that says anything that can be calculated or derived, is "not stuff". Now wouldn't it?
Do you think velocity is stuff, then?

Do you think velocity is stuff, then?
The term "stuff" remains undefined. That's only kicking the can down the road, right? In physics, physical units are what they are, but what are they? What really is a unit of distance? What is charge? What really is an electron? Do you know (I doubt it)?

However, is time "stuff", is distance "stuff", and if they are, why does velocity suddenly become "not stuff"?

The term "stuff" remains undefined. That's only kicking the can down the road, right? In physics, physical units are what they are, but what are they? What really is a unit of distance? What is charge? What really is an electron? Do you know (I doubt it)?

However, is time "stuff", is distance "stuff", and if they are, why does velocity suddenly become "not stuff"?

It's all about distinguishing entities from attributes. Mass, velocity, position, electric charge, energy, momentum are all attributes of entities. They are not entities themselves. Now a molecule, or a beam of EM radiation, is an entity.

Confusing the two is what is known as a category mistake.

So which is it? Are you really trying to tell me that mass and velocity are mathematical constructs, or is that true only when you multiply them together? When you don't multiply them together, what are they?
Yes, I'm really trying to tell you that mass and velocity are mathematical constructs: numbers!

We can only mathematically multiply numbers together, so if momentum is mass times velocity, and momentum is a number, then mass and velocity must be numbers, too. (Or, if you prefer, you can run that argument in reverse.)
So you're saying mathematics tells you how momentum is conserved. Then why do any experiments to verify that?
Because all the data from experiments is analysed using mathematical models, wherein one of the mathematical constructs used in the model is momentum.

There's no such thing as a bottle full of momentum. Or a bottle full of velocity. Or a bottle full of mass.
And you agree that mathematics tells us things about numbers, not really anything about mass, or about velocity or distance, or time?
No! I disagree.

It is a funny, unexplained thing about this universe we live in: mathematics works superbly well when we use it to model the physics.

It turns out that many physical insights have comes from mathematics, and many mathematical insights have followed from physics. Nobody can explain why this works so well, but it does.
What new explanations or evidence?
New to you, I meant.
You have completely failed to show it's ridiculous. You have barely even tried.
You're a dick.
Do you think that insulting me is a substitute for trying to make a case for your views?

Here's news for you: it doesn't. It just makes you a dick.
You can't admit that your own ideas have the same problems as anyone else's. The same problems Feynman mentions in his lectures.
Which problems are your referring to? Be specific.
Stop accusing me of having lost the plot, of having muddled ideas.
Start showing me that you haven't lost the plot, and that you're able to rise above the insults and construct an argument.
That back and forth about bottles a few weeks back, was about as muddled as it gets--all thanks to you and your ideas about, well, about god knows what, frankly.
If you honestly don't understand what I've told you, after all this time, then you really have lost the plot. What happened to you, man? There was a time when you were able to concentrate on something and take it in. But now?

Look, I can understand that there might be an underlying problem that's not your fault. But lashing at at other people because you're muddled isn't a good response to that. Maybe you can't help it? I don't know. Do you feel like you're in control of yourself?

Yes, I'm really trying to tell you that mass and velocity are mathematical constructs: numbers!
And I'm really trying to tell you that mass and velocity--the attributes of entities, whatever that's supposed to mean--are not numbers. When they are mapped to the real numbers, that's a mathematical requirement, mathematics requires numbers so we say mass is a number because everything is based on numbers in mathematics.

This doesn't mean the mass--real physical mass or real physical atoms--is a number; it means mathematics can only logically treat mass as a number. Likewise for a numerical amount of charge, or anything else which is physical. But using numbers for physical things doesn't make the physical things into numbers. So the above quote from you is not something I can believe. Rather, I see it as the product of a mind that isn't thinking properly--that's your one.
There's no such thing as a bottle full of momentum. Or a bottle full of velocity. Or a bottle full of mass.
This is not an argument--it's a ridiculous statement from someone with a mind that isn't working normally. You say I've lost the plot . . . ?

James, you have nothing to offer to the discussion. Nothing.

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It's all about distinguishing entities from attributes.
Is it really?
You mean, after inserting a completely artificial distinction between attributes and entities, you can distinguish them?
You claim that charge is not an entity, which implies that you know what charge is. So do you? Does anyone know what it is, apart from what it does? where did it come from? Why do atoms exist, or for that matter the universe?

You don't know do you?

Is it really?
You mean, after inserting a completely artificial distinction between attributes and entities, you can distinguish them?
You claim that charge is not an entity, which implies that you know what charge is. So do you? Does anyone know what it is, apart from what it does? where did it come from? Why do atoms exist, or for that matter the universe?

You don't know do you?
I'm not pretending I do. There are numerous questions one can ask for which science has no answer.

But to return to the subject, the difference between entities and attributes is something I learned when doing data analysis for Shell, back in the early 1980s. It is or was perfectly standard terminology. Here is an example of its use: https://www.vertabelo.com/blog/entities-attributes-data-model/

I've just applied it to some of the concepts we regularly use in physics.

Here's what I think exchemist and James R keep getting wrong:

They fail to distinguish between a theory, with its mathematical equations, and observations or measurements (always physical things, although you can't put observations in a bottle, but, . . . never mind).

The theories do not tell us what the physical things are, because theories use mathematics, and so the physical quantities are translated into mathematical quantities. This in no way means you can conclude that a theoretical physical quantity, such as mass or momentum, is just a number. It is theoretically just a number, but that can't be objectively true because mass and momentum are different physical things even theoretically, whereas "just numbers" are always "just numbers".

Concluding that something physical is a number because a theory uses mathematics, is just wrong. Mathematics does not say anything about where mass came from, or what it "really" is. Nobody knows what anything physical "really" is--see Feynman.

Understanding physics involves understanding mathematics; physics is about real things, mathematics really isn't, unless we say so.
Similarly, you can call some information "data", but it does not change what information is and information does not carry meaning around with it--it really is "just" information, full stop.

Mod Hat — Even still

Fuck that. And fuck the lot of you pack of ignorant shitheads.

As you can imagine, there are a few things about the content of some↑ of your↑ posts, so, again↗, since this part seems to confuse you: You're not supposed to just come out and call him a prick, &c. That he said his two cents in return works well enough in the moment, but here's the thing, you're already aware of the circumstance, so, no, nobody will spot you some martyr points since you already know it's futile. Calling James a prick isn't exactly a four-hundred point accomplishment.

Three words would have sufficed in response to #25↑; two, if you wanted to be pretentious. And neither retort involves calling him names. That I might see what someone does in any given moment does not mean anyone else gets to be so forward in their rebuke.

Meanwhile, do you happen to know the Simpsons version of the crazy cat lady? Because, look, at some point, if you're not the crazy cat lady, stop throwing cats at people. I'm an American, so the fuck all y'all speech is itself a cultural trope with recognizable implications, e.g., an exasperated crackpot telling off the unsympathetic dullards, or maybe just a neighborhood drunk who really needs a drink. Point being, it never really plays well in any room on any street in any town.

But I would also ask you to consider a point from this thread; see W4U at #10↑. Two things stand out: One is his usage of the word "accelerate"; the other has to do with Newton's First and what counts as rest. Compared to physics, I'm probably wrong about that latter; compared to the range of the thread, I'm still in reasonable territory. And inasmuch as Exchemist↑ is correct that W4U might be using a more general definition than what something means in physics, it really would be tragic if it turned out that his fundamental error, and however many years worth of frustration, involved the wrong definition of "accelerate", and none of the scientists who ridiculed his thesis noticed.

To the other, it's not necessarily their job. At least, not here. It's one thing if James is an educator, but this is not, as far as I know, any sort of actual workplace where it is actually his job to notice things like that. But insofar as James considers himself↗ "invested in promoting critical thinking", and takes it↗ "as a challenge to try to stay patient and teach real physics", well, sure, those things sound nice to say. Even still, though, even in the context of being an Admin, no, it's not his job to think for other people, like that.

It is, so to speak, the crackpot's job. The potsherd is not a functioning vessel in and of itself. Grinding potsherds underfoot for sport is not scientific, and horrifies those who study such remains, but this is Sciforums, where people have long been more interested in the sport of dispute than its utility. In order for a fragment to be more than a potsherd, it needs to be part of a functioning vessel; that is, it becomes science when it works reliably. In that process, science resolves the mysteries; mysterium is not, in and of itself, science.

When people bring new ideas intending to transform paradigm, one of the first obvious questions is whether it works, and if enough of the rest of it all must break and become mysterious in order to affirm the validity and presuppose the reliability of a new idea, scientists will be reluctant to inflict that much mystery.

And, remember, when we say that Sciforums is what its members make it, this is an example of what we mean. Remember that in some issues, it is our working custom that some complaint has its own merit, such that the fact of someone being wrong does not necessarily require complaining criticism to be accurate. It's kind of like how atheists don't actually need to have a clue in order to complain about religion because they know precisely one thing, that there is no God. Similarly, these "ignorant shitheads" think they know precisely one thing, that you're wrong, so it just doesn't matter to them why or how you're wrong. James at #25, for instance, is exemplary of these priorities.

So, as much as I might be inclined to sigh and shake my head at the contrast 'twixt what we have and the shiny-happy pretenses of teaching and promoting critical thinking, even the living, breathing versions I can encounter face to face, or see on the teevee, are common enough to see it coming; and, here at Sciforums, well, right. It's not so much about wondering why you even try, but the idea that you are outraged, or even at all surprised, at the response: When it comes to fuck all'em all, it's hard to understand what you were expecting. By contrast, fuck all'em all is pretty much precisely what they expect to hear from a frustrated crackpot. And you are perfectly capable of figuring out why typal fulfillment just doesn't help.

Make a decision, Arf: Calling James a dick↑ for the sake of satisfaction is choosing to lose this fight. So maybe read the room, and recognize that in a time when James R's behavior is being regarded more and more with a question mark, your momentary satisfaction only turns attention away from discussions where you might have common cause with others who wonder about his behavior. And in doing so, you also make a decision for them, too.

And the wooden spoon award goes to Tiassa
Up with the revolution.

And the wooden spoon award goes to Tiassa
Up with the revolution.
Yes, I was pleased to feature, in a cameo role, though I'm buggered if I can work out what part I am supposed to be playing in the drama.

arfa brane:
And I'm really trying to tell you that mass and velocity--the attributes of entities, whatever that's supposed to mean--are not numbers.
When you say "attributes", I'm not completely sure what you mean.

Must an "attribute" be somehow inherent in an object, or can it be something that human being associate with the object?

For instance, consider a beautiful red rose. Is it acceptable, in your opinion, to say that the rose's attributes include its redness and its beauty? Or is one or both of those things not an attribute?

Let's assume that beauty is an attribute. Is that inherent in the rose, or is it a property that humans assign to the rose, to describe it and to understand it? If we were to give an alien being a rose, do you think it would be able to examine the rose and correctly assess the "beauty" attribute? Or would we need to explain the human concept of beauty and how it is judged, before the alien could decide on whether the rose has beauty as an attribute?

Next, consider something like the rose's velocity. You say that's an attribute of the rose? Is it inherent in the rose, or does it depend on some kind of human-constructed definition or description as well? What would an alien have to say about the rose's velocity?

I can imagine that an alien would very likely share with human beings some concept of distance and time, although no doubt it would call those things by different names (but a rose by any other name etc. etc.). So, once we established a mutually-understandable language, we could certainly talk to the alien about the velocity of the rose. But that still leaves open the question of whether the rose's velocity is something inherent in the rose, or whether it is just something we can talk about in relation to the rose, using other concepts we have defined.

I'm interested to hear your opinions on all this.
This doesn't mean the mass--real physical mass or real physical atoms--is a number; it means mathematics can only logically treat mass as a number.
When you talk about "real physical mass", it sounds like you're thinking of something inherent in an object. Thus, you would say that somebody could examine a rose and find its mass. But if you and I would say the rose's mass is 200 grams, and the alien says the mass 1570 urgrunts, then what? It seems like we need to understand something of each other's language to convert between grams and urgrunts. And if that's the case, is it still fair to say that the mass of the rose is entirely contained within the rose - or would it be better to say that the most important information about the "mass" of a rose is contained in a bunch of concepts and definitions that are independent of the rose?
Likewise for a numerical amount of charge, or anything else which is physical.
Can you isolate the "charge" of an electron from the electron itself?

You say that "charge" is "physical", but what do you mean? Charge doesn't seem to me to be physical, in the same way that a rose is physical. The rose is something I can pick up and put in a bottle; then I have a bottle full of rose. But I can't pick up the charge of the rose and put it in a bottle, and then have a bottle of charge. So, explain to me in what sense charge is "physical"?

If you mean merely that we can associate a particular number with an object and refer to the "charge of the object", doesn't that make charge a number, rather than a "physical thing"? What's most important about the electrical charge of a rose is the concept we have in our heads about what electrical charge is.

If I'm unfamiliar with roses, you can point to a rose and just label it: "That's a rose, there!". But if I'm unfamiliar with electric charge, you have a LOT of explaining to do before I can understand what you mean by the "charge of that rose, there".
But using numbers for physical things doesn't make the physical things into numbers.
Okay. So tell me what makes "charge" a "physical thing". You must have some working definition of "physical thing" that you're using. Tell me what it is, so I can understand.
James, you have nothing to offer to the discussion. Nothing.
I think you have a very closed mind. But let's give it one last try, just in case.
Here's what I think exchemist and James R keep getting wrong:

They fail to distinguish between a theory, with its mathematical equations, and observations or measurements (always physical things, although you can't put observations in a bottle, but, . . . never mind).
I think that the distinction between theory and observations is precisely what exchemist and I have been trying to drill into you. Strange that we each think the other has the problem. There must be a communication disconnect somewhere - or a failure of one or both parties to understand something.

I say that when you say "The charge of an electron is 1.6 x 10^-19 Coulomb", you're talking about a theory about the electron. I can't find 1.6 x 10^-19 things inside an electron. The electron isn't made up of 1.6 x 10^-19 things. I can't extract the 1.6 x 10^-19 Coulombs of charge from the electron and thereby have a bottle that contains just the charge, without the electron. So, I ask: in what sense is the charge a "physical thing"?

As far as I can tell, "charge" is just something we define, and then we use it in mathematical models to describe and predict how an electron will act in interaction with certain other things: e.g. electrical equipment used to measure charge. To build that equipment, by the way, we needed to build in a definition of charge, implicitly. That came from us, not from electrons or equipment.

Please note: I am in no way arguing that charge isn't real, or that it doesn't actually exist. It is an incredibly useful concept, because it turns out that it is a mathematically conserved quantity in lots of situations. Each time we measure the charge of an electron - with properly calibrated equipment - we find the same answer. But that doesn't imply that charge is a thing (some stuff) inside the electron, any more than the beauty of a rose is a thing inside a rose.
The theories do not tell us what the physical things are, because theories use mathematics, and so the physical quantities are translated into mathematical quantities.
Please explain to me how it is possible to "translate" a physical quantity into a mathematical quantity? What do you mean by "translate", in that sentence?

If the charge of an electron is a physical quantity in the electron, how could we possibly "translate" it into the number 1.6 x 10^-19 Coulomb? That would mean taking some stuff and making it go away, only to be replaced by a number on a computer screen, wouldn't it?

But maybe by "translate" you mean something more along the lines of: we make a particular measurement, using calibrated equipment, and then assign a number based on the readout on the equipment, which has built into it a human-generated concept we call "charge". We then associate that number (1.6 x 10^-19 Colomb) with the physical thing (the electron in the machine).

It is interesting to me that you said "translated" rather than "transferred" to "converted" or "moved". That implies to me that, despite what you keep saying, you understand that the charge of an electron is conceptually quite different in character from the electron itself. Am I wrong?
This in no way means you can conclude that a theoretical physical quantity, such as mass or momentum, is just a number. It is theoretically just a number, but that can't be objectively true because mass and momentum are different physical things even theoretically, whereas "just numbers" are always "just numbers".
Tell me how you go about distinguishing "physical things" from "just numbers". What's the simplest test you can do to tell the difference?

As an example, if "electric charge" is a "physical thing", tell me how your test distinguishes between charge being "just a number" from charge being a "physical thing".
Concluding that something physical is a number because a theory uses mathematics, is just wrong.
Maybe. What do you mean by "something physical"? That seems to be the sticking point, here. Explain it to me. How should I go about telling the difference between "something physical" and "just a number"? How can I tell, for instance, that the velocity of a rose is "something physical" and not "just a number"? How can I tell that the mass of a rose is "something physical" rather than "just a number"?
Mathematics does not say anything about where mass came from, or what it "really" is. Nobody knows what anything physical "really" is--see Feynman.
But your entire argument hinges on your knowing what "something physical" is, and what it is not.

I hope you appreciate the problem. If what you say is true, then the distinction you're trying to make is impossible to make. Your argument defeats itself.
Understanding physics involves understanding mathematics; physics is about real things, mathematics really isn't, unless we say so.
I agree that physics is about "real things". Physics, for example, can describe an electron and predict how it will behave in future, under various conditions. But it does that by using a mathematical model of the electron.

In what sense, then, is the mathematical model not about a "real thing"? Explain it to me.

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When you say "attributes", I'm not completely sure what you mean.
I'm not completely sure either. But it was exchemist who introduced attributes and entities.
Must an "attribute" be somehow inherent in an object, or can it be something that human being associate with the object?

For instance, consider a beautiful red rose. Is it acceptable, in your opinion, to say that the rose's attributes include its redness and its beauty? Or is one or both of those things not an attribute?

Let's assume that beauty is an attribute. Is that inherent in the rose, or is it a property that humans assign to the rose, to describe it and to understand it? If we were to give an alien being a rose, do you think it would be able to examine the rose and correctly assess the "beauty" attribute? Or would we need to explain the human concept of beauty and how it is judged, before the alien could decide on whether the rose has beauty as an attribute?

Next, consider something like the rose's velocity. You say that's an attribute of the rose? Is it inherent in the rose, or does it depend on some kind of human-constructed definition or description as well? What would an alien have to say about the rose's velocity?

I can imagine that an alien would very likely share with human beings some concept of distance and time, although no doubt it would call those things by different names (but a rose by any other name etc. etc.). So, once we established a mutually-understandable language, we could certainly talk to the alien about the velocity of the rose. But that still leaves open the question of whether the rose's velocity is something inherent in the rose, or whether it is just something we can talk about in relation to the rose, using other concepts we have defined.

I'm interested to hear your opinions on all this.
Ok. My opinion is this: what a waste of time.
Can you isolate the "charge" of an electron from the electron itself?
Sort of. electrons are quasiparticles, right? Theoretically an electron is a superposition of mass, charge, and spin and in certain circumstances, these are distinct, geometrically speaking.
But your entire argument hinges on your knowing what "something physical" is, and what it is not.
Well, to save a bit of time, let's assume that physical units are something . . . physical. You need to keep track of them in a mathematical theory. You'll need them in the lab too. You don't need to worry about "what they are", "where they came from" etc.

That last thing is pretty obvious for time and distance, most experiments assume these are, um, real, physical things.

arfa brane:

Well, you can't say I didn't try.

I invited you to explain your views to me, and essentially your response is that you consider that a waste of time. Under those circumstances, there's very little chance that we will be able to sort out our differences over what is or isn't "just a number".
I'm not completely sure either. But it was exchemist who introduced attributes and entities.
So, what about these "real physical things" you keep mentioning? What's a "real physical thing"?

Is momentum a "real physical thing"? If so, what makes it a "real physical thing"?

I think you may have given me an answer, which I will discuss below. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Sort of. electrons are quasiparticles, right?
I don't think so.
Theoretically an electron is a superposition of mass, charge, and spin and in certain circumstances, these are distinct, geometrically speaking.
That sentence doesn't mean anything to me.

How can something be a "superposition" of mass and charge? What is being "superposed"? Isn't superposition a description of a mathematical operation - specifically, the adding together of two or more quantities? How can you add charge and mass?

What do you mean by "geometrically speaking", in this context? Where's the geometry?
Well, to save a bit of time, let's assume that physical units are something . . . physical.
512 Newton is something physical. 3 metres per second is something physical. 1.5 Coulomb is something physical. But pi and 0.06 and the fine structure constant aren't something physical (because dimensionless)?

Reading between the lines, then, your position seems to be that anything that has some physical units is "something physical". 512 Newton cannot be "just a number" because it has some units (Newton), whereas 0.06 is "just a number". It follows that mass is not "just a number" because it has units of kilogram, or slugs, or similar. And charge is not "just a number" because it has units of Coulomb.

It's the units that make things physical, then, is it?

Is an electron something physical? Is an apple something physical? Is the Moon something physical? None of those things have units. (What are the units of the Moon?) Is none of them physical, then?

Also: suppose I invent a scale to measure the beauty of things. I call the unit of beauty the "Beaut". A pile of poo has 1 Beaut. A certain blooming red rose has 12.5 Beauts. The Mona Lisa has 13.7 Beauts. Einstein's theory of General Relativity has 18.1 Beauts. The girl I met at the beach has 24 Beauts. Is beauty something physical, now?
You need to keep track of [units] in a mathematical theory. You'll need them in the lab too. You don't need to worry about "what they are", "where they came from" etc.
When you use something like momentum in a mathematical theory, or in the lab, you need to have some idea about what it is, do you not? For instance, it might be useful to know that it's mass times velocity, or the square root of something that involves energy and mass. If you don't worry about what it is, what use is it? I mean, it's not like you can just arbitrarily say momentum is charge times angular velocity squared, and hope that it will somehow be useful for something.
That last thing is pretty obvious for time and distance, most experiments assume these are, um, real, physical things.
As you defined them, yes. Most experiments assume time and distance have units. So, real physical things, by your definition, because all that something requires to be a real physical thing is that it has units. But we're not sure if an apple or a rock is a real physical thing any more.

Actually, at the end of all this, despite your statement that you think this is all a waste of time, I think I have achieved clarity on your position. It's actually very straightforward.

In your view, Energy is "a real physical thing" because it has units, which means it can't possibly be "just a number" (which can't have units). And beauty is a "real physical thing" because it has units of Beauts, which exist, although I haven't yet told you how they work; but you said we don't need to worry about what they are or where they came from anyway. But a rock is not a real physical thing, because rocks have no units.

This is progress. I understand why you have been so strident in your claim that "energy is not just a number".

Now, the obvious thing to observe is that my view of Energy is that it is "just a number". I understand that you think it is not, and I understand why you think it is not. The only remaining question is: do you understand why I disagree with your view? Do you understand why I believe that energy is just a number? I have explained why, many times.

I do not think a rock is just a number, but I think that 512 Newtons and 31.5 Joules and 13.7 Beauts are just numbers. I don't think that having units makes something "a real physical thing". Nor do I think that lacking units prevents something from being "a real physical thing".

If we both understand the other's position, and we're both failing to pursuade the other that our own position is superior to the alternative, then we've reached a proper impasse. Do you agree?

Can we end this debate amicably, and agree to disagree, each understanding the other's position? Or do you feel like you need to keep insulting me and insisting that you're right, while offering very little to try to convince me you're right? Please let me know what your intentions are.

I say that when you say "The charge of an electron is 1.6 x 10^-19 Coulomb", you're talking about a theory about the electron. I can't find 1.6 x 10^-19 things inside an electron. The electron isn't made up of 1.6 x 10^-19 things. I can't extract the 1.6 x 10^-19 Coulombs of charge from the electron and thereby have a bottle that contains just the charge, without the electron. So, I ask: in what sense is the charge a "physical thing"?

Part of the problem, though, James, is that you are, for your own part, being kind of fallacious and difficult. For instance, there is a reason why positive and negative are the words we use, and not something else, and not the other way around. Not made up of however many things isn't an appropriate juxtaposition. Inasmuch as you cannot extract a precise number of Coulombs of charge from the electron, what those Coulombs represent is something real. One point six by ten to the minus-nineteenth individual what; the unit of charge is not arbitrary, and thus represents something substantial.

In that sense, your question is fallacious: You pretend the Coulomb as a thing that is, in order to ask your question. But the answer is in the word "is". In what sense is the charge a physical thing? In the sense that it is. In this case, in the sense that it does something.

Meanwhile, a red rose absorbs all colors but red, therefore red is the one color it is not. What would the alien say of a rose's velocity? Well, why is the velocity important? Perhaps the alien might wonder why the rose is moving at that velocity because, sure they might be from Zeta Reticuli, but even they can tell the roots aren't normally airborne.

The thing is, Arf is looking at an existential level in which the rose, being of a different velocity, is a different rose. Much like W4U shifting between scientific and literary contexts of words, we are moving back and forth between existential and experiential classifications. To you, the rose is an object; in Arf's consideration, every component of the rose is an object. Could God have made a different Universe, or perhaps ask the same of the Bang; in any case, what we have is what is, and if it should have been different, it would have.

In the moment of circumstance that is, the rose is what it is. If the moment of circumstance was different, the rose would still be what it is, but that something that it is would be different. Per our practical perspective, it is still a rose, but the most fundamental and existential level, each little particle that makes up that rose would be described differently: inasmuch as it is, and in being, does something, it would be doing something else.

Remember, part of what Arf is on about has to do with the meanings of the words we're using. And, maybe, if he lasts another five years without cussing his way to the curb, we might eventually move past this part and find out where he's going with it.

Tiassa:
Part of the problem, though, James, is that you are, for your own part, being kind of fallacious and difficult.
Difficult, yes. Fallacious - I hope not!
For instance, there is a reason why positive and negative are the words we use, and not something else, and not the other way around.
Funny you should mention that. The electron is negatively charged. But is the electron's "negativity" a "real physical thing" about the electron?

You might ask yourself why the electron is negatively charged. The answer is, essentially, historical accident. Nothing in physics requires that the sign of the charge on an electron must be negative, rather than positive. There are some facts about the charges of things, sure, but this isn't a vital one. A proton will always have the "opposite" charge, in some sense, to an electron, but it's entirely and only a human choice to say that the sign of the charge on the electron is negative and the proton positive. All the theories would work just fine if, in the past, charge had been defined in such a way that the sign of the number attached to the electron was positive and the proton negative.

There's nothing inherent in an electron that says its charge must be negative. That's just a convention we chose at some point in history, essentially by accident.

So, yes, there's a reason the electron is negative, but the reason has very little to do with the electron and a lot to do with choices that human beings made when they created a mathematical model.
Not made up of however many things isn't an appropriate juxtaposition. Inasmuch as you cannot extract a precise number of Coulombs of charge from the electron, what those Coulombs represent is something real. One point six by ten to the minus-nineteenth individual what; the unit of charge is not arbitrary, and thus represents something substantial.
I don't disagree that the charge on an electron represents something real. I say that the charge is a model. A model is a representation of something else. In the case of charge, the model lets us describe how strongly an electron, say, will be attracted to a proton, at a given separation distance.

As for arbitrariness, I've already told you about the sign, which is arbitrary insofar as a different historical choice could have easily been made. The scale of charge that we current use - Coulombs - is also completely arbitrary. If we chose a unit of charge such that the electron had a charge of +1 charge unit instead of -1.6 x 10^-19 Coulomb, nothing in any theory of physics would be affected. In fact, physicists typically use many different systems of units for convenience. It can be very useful to think of the speed of light as 1 light year per year rather than as 299792458 metres per second. The number 1 is a lot easier to deal with, for starters.
In that sense, your question is fallacious: You pretend the Coulomb as a thing that is, in order to ask your question.
A thing that is is precisely what arfa brane insists that a Coulomb of charge is. He says that charge is a "real physical thing". It's right there in his posts. Why aren't you accusing him of "pretending"?
But the answer is in the word "is". In what sense is the charge a physical thing? In the sense that it is. In this case, in the sense that it does something.
I say that charge does something in a mathematical model of the behaviour of a physical system. But when we look at a proton and an electron and see them attract one another electrically, we don't see any charge. All we see is that the proton and the electron move towards one another. Our explanation for why they move involves the concept we call "charge". But it is mistake to think of charge as a "real physical thing" that is in the electron. (This is using my understanding of a "real physical thing" being things like rocks and apples, not arfa branes definition of them as "anything with physical units".)
Meanwhile, a red rose absorbs all colors but red, therefore red is the one color it is not.
Then you're in agreement with me that the "attribute" we call "color" is not something that is somehow contained in the rose. There's something else to it. Charge is no different.
To you, the rose is an object; in Arf's consideration, every component of the rose is an object.
Yes, even "components" like the red colour of the rose (although maybe not, because "red" might not have units). Certainly the velocity of the rose is something arfa brane considers to be "part of" the rose, in some sense. I do not.

exchemist distinguished "entities" and "attributes". For the rose, it seems obvious to me that "red" and "fast" and "200 grams" are attributes, not entities. But for arfa, "200 grams" is apparently an entity - something that somehow exists as part of the rose, even though we can't extract it, see it or do anything with it, other than calculate. [I might add that "mass" is a particularly insidious example, because people use the word "mass" to mean either an entity or an attribute, in different contexts: "I lifted a large mass at the gym today" vs. "According to the bathroom scales, my mass is 78 kilograms."]
Could God have made a different Universe, or perhaps ask the same of the Bang; in any case, what we have is what is, and if it should have been different, it would have.

In the moment of circumstance that is, the rose is what it is.
Yes.

My point is that the rose is not its mass. The rose is not its redness. The rose is not its beauty. Those are all attributes. The rose is the entity. Notice that attributes are concepts, first and foremost. You can't bottle redness or beauty or mass. Don't confuse that idea with bottling an entity that has attributes of redness, beauty and mass, which you can certainly do. Where is the beauty of the rose after you put the rose in a bottle? The beauty isn't in the bottle; it's in the eye of the beholder.
Remember, part of what Arf is on about has to do with the meanings of the words we're using. And, maybe, if he lasts another five years without cussing his way to the curb, we might eventually move past this part and find out where he's going with it.
It remains to be seen whether arfa brane is capable of taking your point about the meanings of words and being reasonable, or whether he is going to keep insisting that there's no conceivable way I could be right when I say energy is just a number.

If he is going to remain steadfast in his opposition, then I want to see him produce the bottle full of energy (or full of redness, or full of charge) that would clinch the deal and prove once and for all that energy is an entity rather than a mere attribute.

Funny you should mention that. The electron is negatively charged. But is the electron's "negativity" a "real physical thing" about the electron?

You might ask yourself why the electron is negatively charged. The answer is, essentially, historical accident. Nothing in physics requires that the sign of the charge on an electron must be negative, rather than positive. There are some facts about the charges of things, sure, but this isn't a vital one. A proton will always have the "opposite" charge, in some sense, to an electron, but it's entirely and only a human choice to say that the sign of the charge on the electron is negative and the proton positive. All the theories would work just fine if, in the past, charge had been defined in such a way that the sign of the number attached to the electron was positive and the proton negative.

There's nothing inherent in an electron that says its charge must be negative. That's just a convention we chose at some point in history, essentially by accident.

So, yes, there's a reason the electron is negative, but the reason has very little to do with the electron and a lot to do with choices that human beings made when they created a mathematical model.
And all of that is summed up by the physical evidence, there are two kinds of electric charge, we say positive and negative charges exist because it's a handy way to remember, there are two kinds, so there are two ways the charges can interact--attraction and repulsion.

Are the interactions between charged particles just numbers? I don't see how that can be assumed, especially in an electronics lab.

A thing that is is precisely what arfa brane insists that a Coulomb of charge is. He says that charge is a "real physical thing". It's right there in his posts. Why aren't you accusing him of "pretending"?
I say this because charged electrons can flow like a fluid, in a conductor. You can say, ok, the electrons are real and there is a real flow, a current. Or you can ignore the electrons and say a current of charge in Coulombs per second is flowing.

When you get a spark jumping between you and the car you just got out of, is it real? Is it physical? What about the pain you usually feel? Or is that just some numbers interacting?