Skip to comments.Priest-Cosmologist Wins $1.6 Million Templeton Prize
Posted on 03/14/2008 5:08:51 AM PDT by iowamark
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And it would be a wonderful random number generator, but, alas, the numbers are to complicated to calculate. So, we look at even simpler methods to generate things which feel random...
However, the term "random" is rooted in mathematics. The issue is not a "quibble" of philosophy, it is a matter of "proof" and accuracy in speaking.
If one pointed to a rectangle with four right angels and parallel, equal sides and declared it a "trapezoid" we'd say "Not so fast, it is a square, a trapezoid has only two sides parallel and it does not have four right angles."
Likewise, if one points to a thing and says to me it is "random" I'll reply "If you have established a uniform distribution, then perhaps so, but only to the extent of your measurement - because you cannot say something is random in the system unless you know what the system 'is.'"
a propos "accuracy in speaking": We were talking (at least, I was) about the physical world, not the mathematical. And there we're talking about experiments - not proofs. And until now, no experiment has falsified the hypothesis that the quantum world acts randomly...
Old chestnut: Einstein was uncomfortable with randomness in quantum mechanics and expressed his discomfort with the phrase, "The Lord God does not play dice." To which Neils Bohr retorted, "Who are you to tell God what to do?"
Thanks a lot.
Again, one cannot say something is random in the system if he does not know what the system "is."
What's this bizarre obsession with the uniform distribution? There is no uniform distribution on N or R... So, no scientist will assume that it applies for the hole universe.
And I fail to see how your post is related to my post #53.
Again, one cannot say something is random in the system if he does not know what the system "is."
And we cannot say that something is a straight line if we don't see the hole line.
Do you see the problems with your statement? In the physical world, there is nothing we know to be a straight line - and there is nothing we know to be random. Doesn't stop us from doing geometry or probability theory - and geometrical or statistical physics...
Not even discussing anything in the organic system but discussing your budding universe system.
I'm pinging a few others who might be interested in some of the following.
Depending on the circumstance, all possibilities may or may not be equally probable.
When a person buys a lotto ticket in a field of a hundred million purchases of lotto tickets, the odds of his winning the prize is announced as a ratio of 1 in a hundred million. That is combinatorics. It is blind like a roll of the dice. Each possibility is equally probable to win the full prize.
But of the hundred million people buying lotto tickets, some are using numbers which represent important things or events in their lives, and very often those numbers are birth months and days. Because there are only 12 months in a year, 28-31 days in a month and the range of numbers from which to choose ordinarily exceeds those limits --- the odds of such a purchaser winning the total prize amount is significantly diluted. Which is to say, there exists a greater probability of certain number selections and multiple winners having to split the prize. That is Bayesian probability. It is not blind. Each possibility is not equally probable to win the full prize.
If the sports book were based on combinatorics, it would be bankrupted quickly because the possibility of each team winning is not equally probable. Conversely, in sweepstakes each ticket is equally probable to win the prize.
In the crevo debates on this forum, both sides advance either combinatorics or Bayesian probability depending on how they wish to advocate in the debate.
betty boop and I, on the other hand, promote full disclosure.
As an example, Jewish Physicist Gerald Schroeder uses combinatorics to point out that a single typical protein is a chain of 300 amino acids, and that there are 20 common amino acids in life, which means that the number of equally probable combinations that would lead to the actualization of the protein would be 10390.
Conversely, theists often argue that this universe is improbably finely tuned for life - that the laws of physics are precisely tuned so that life will appear in this universe, e.g. the speed of light and the fine structure constant. [The following is paraphrased and/or excerpted from our book, Don't Let Science Get You Down, Timothy.]
Ditto for the strong nuclear force. If it had been just 13 percent stronger, all of the free protons would have combined into helium-2 at the early stage of the big bang, decaying right away into deuterons, which would then fuse to become helium-4. There would be no hydrogen, no water, and no hydrocarbons. A decrease of approximately 31 percent would make the deuteron unstable and remove a step in the chain of nucleosynthesis. Consequently there would be nothing but hydrogen in the universe.
And water, too. The hydrogen bond is the attraction of the electron-rich oxygen atoms of water molecules for the electron-starved hydrogen atoms of other water molecules. This in turn determines the precise H-O-H bond angle of 104.5 degrees. This hydrogen bond is what holds together the two strands of DNA it also causes the crystalline structure of ice (an open lattice), which is less dense than the liquid form. Thus, ice does not collect at the bottom of lakes and oceans building up to a frozen earth. Instead, the ice on the surface acts as an insulation, which prevents evaporation and keeps the water beneath warm. No water, no life as we know it.
Theres an even more unlikely process in carbon resonance. Within stars, two helium-4 nuclei merge to make beryllium-8, which only exists for about 1017 of a second. So a third alpha particle (helium nucleus) must collide and fuse with the beryllium nucleus in a tiny interval of opportunity in order to make carbon. Lucky for us that there is a resonance in the three-helium reaction at the precise thermal energy of a stars core. If it werent so, then most carbon would be quickly processed into oxygen. Again, no life.
But so the debate goes on - combinatorics v Bayesian probability.
But betty boop and I promote full disclosure.
Thus whenever a correspondent advocates that a certain thing in nature is random we hold his feet to the fire. He is using combinatorics to make that claim all possibilities within the scope of the investigation are equally probable - a uniform distribution.
Nor will we stand idly by while he attempts to project the observation in a sample to the whole. (An element of the "observer problem.")
As an example, in the extension of pi - a sampling of numbers from the extension may be random to the observer doing the sample - but because we can and do know what the system "is" - we know it is not random at all, but highly determined by calculating the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle and extending it to the furthest position (n) from which the sample was extracted (3.14159265358979323846...n)
Likewise, a random (uniform distribution) observation in a sample may be belied by correlation observed in a larger sample or in the whole. Causation and no boundary in the extension is why random number generators such as Chaitin's Omega are only "pseudo-random." The same can be said for observations in nature, e.g. physical causation or origins and boundaries of space/time.
Without making the observation, it is impossible to claim uniform distribution. And the extent of physical reality (cosmos, universes, dimensions) is both unknown and unknowable.
Moreover if the correspondent advances randomness or equal probability in one instance e.g. quantum mechanics and then decries it in another, e.g. in Schroeders analysis of the probability of proteins we will call him on the inconsistency and ask him to justify how in one instance each possibility is equally probable while it is not in the other.
Ah! the observer problem again.. In all the great big relativity telescopic view or in the little bitty Quantum Physics microscopic view of stuff, geometry is twisted like a pretzel.. in a three(some say four) dimensional sense.. You know the world of flesh and bone..
If there is a fifth(n#) dimension say a Spiritual Dimension as meta-physicists suppose then geometry could be obsolete.. Maybe SHAPE could be a 3D concept.. if "spirit(s)" could morph into whatever shape.. i.e.. geometry would be silly in that dimension.. There the father son and holy spirit (and others) could merge or separate for some function.. and then re-merge.. Are we merging here? LoL.. Anyway.. my observations go along those lines.. Locked into a geometrical flesh box is just not my cup of tea.. You know sense we're "if'n"...
You see the way I see/observe it.. Humans obsess on shape.. Everything has to have a shape and lines of demarcation.. When that may not be absolute.. Male, female, tall, short, animal, rock, or plasma.. Quantum Mechanics can compute plamoid.. What if spirits are shape shifters.. plasmoidal.. It could then be "relatively" easy for God to become Jesus.. or for Satan to become Hillary Clinton(sic)..
One cannot say something is random in the system when he does not know what the system is.
We'll never know a system that well that we can say it is random - as we will never know that a line in the real world is a straight line.
And we don't have to know this: we apply mathematics to our realities as long as this application works, i.e., leads us to predictions.
And out of convenience, we'll say that radioactive decay happens randomly - and a beam of light is a straight line.
What do you mean by "this universe is equally probable to any other universe"?
Tegmarks is the only closed physical cosmology known to me. All of the others get twisted pretzel-like in an attempt to explain the beginning (and end) of space/time and therefore, physical causality itself.
Radioactive decay is an event caused by a collapse of the interplay between the strong nuclear force, electrostatic force, and weak nuclear force (perhaps also involving the gravitational force). It requires an activation energy to initiate (i.e., cause) the collapse. Quantum fluctuations are more interesting, because they are virtual particles which come into and out of existence in a vacuum. Nevertheless, neither event can occur in the absence of space/time.
One form of causality can be stated: But not for A, C would not be. If A is removed, C cannot/does not exist. In the absence of time, events cannot occur. In the absence of space, things cannot exist.
Thus I find Tegmarks Level IV universe a superior physical cosmology.
As one of them explained in a metaphor, for a customer to walk into a store where all possible sizes of jeans are stocked and find the one that fits him precisely is no big deal.
Their appeal to the plentitude argument (the fully stocked store) is a statement of faith - it cannot be supported by observation.
True, reality is an "observation".. Especially to humans.. Some humans "think" they are Napolean.. Second realitys of all kinds exist just as bizaar... What is first reality?.. Who can say they have no part of a second reality?.. Can second reality be in degrees?..
Could be that Jesus(and OT God) in his/their metaphors was/were weening us from our second reality(s).. Spirit is spirit and flesh is flesh it is said.. That could be a hint to reality.. A trail of crumbs(the metaphors thru various prophets).. through the trees of the forest..
Maybe thats what Tegmark hinted at.. as he followed the trail of crumbs.. Trying to find his way out of the forest.. That the illusion(s) we think is/are real are really pointing toward>> a reality we as humans cannot concieve of(fully).. [that we see darkly]..
If, so, Tegmark was on to something..
Tegmark shmegmark, I wanna know why I seldom get pinged to these threads and have to stumble onto them? ... And ‘at present’ we observe nothing in the actual present of the phenomenon, only in the wake or past of the initial/initiating event. Time is linear, planar, and volumetric, and we exist/experience in the planar frame of reference receiving only linear data impacting on our ‘plane’.
Hmmm, maybe that last post is why I don’t get pinged to these ‘rational’ threads.
I'm gonna tell you.. Your handle is too complicated.. I cant remeber how to spell it.. many toimes I would ping your ugh.. lower quarters but cant remember the spelling..
Others may have the same problem.. I was a genius when I was 20 but have grown progressivly more stupid over the years..
Good subject time.. Could be in the scale of eternity time is relativly meaningless.. Its timing thats important.. for all we have is the moment.. Linear time is only important to things that can DIE...
... But ‘I don’t know’ inhabits the tertiary position.
Forsoothe the Susquehanna Hat Company bit might be good in iambic pentameter..
A duckett for your efforts, sir..
Oh, and I definitely think Tegmark was onto something.
Thank you so much for all of your insights, dear brother in Christ!
There is no basis to project an observation in a controlled experiment to the whole of the universe. The experiment itself is an artificial construct, and what is viewed is abstracted from the context in which it naturally occurs. In a laboratory, our sample may well be "a uniform distribution." But this does not allow us to say that all of nature is a uniform distribution (all possibilities equally probable, so that everything happens sooner or later, or has already happened in the past).
Dearest sister in Christ, thank you oh so very much for your excellent essay-posts on this subject!
This is way-hey-hey beyond me, but thanks for keeping me in the loop. It’s good for me. If cerebral stretch-marks are good...
LOL Mrs. Don-o! Oh, this stuff will definitely make your head hurt! :^) It's good to know you're following along anyway.
So, do you have an alternative? Which observations can be generalized? Which not? The experiment itself is an artificial construct, and what is viewed is abstracted from the context in which it naturally occurs.
Wow, that's a quite artificial differentiation.
In a laboratory, our sample may well be "a uniform distribution." But this does not allow us to say that all of nature is a uniform distribution (all possibilities equally probable, so that everything happens sooner or later, or has already happened in the past).
Could you - or the equally pinged AlamoGirl give an example for a uniform distribution on an unbounded space?
No. Could you? How would you get your mind around the idea of "an unbounded space?"
*Sigh in relief* Of course not.
How would you get your mind around the idea of "an unbounded space?"
In mathematics? Or in physics?
In mathematics, I suppose the concept of infinity would do the job. Yet some physicists say that, practically speaking, the concept of infinity is "unconstructable"; i.e., not useful for physics. Either way, I think we're out of luck here.
The unbounded space hypothesis is part of Hawking's "imaginary time" physical cosmology. Imaginary time notwithstanding, his model still requires a beginning of real time.
If space and imaginary time are indeed like the surface of the Earth, there wouldn't be any singularities in the imaginary time direction, at which the laws of physics would break down. And there wouldn't be any boundaries, to the imaginary time space-time, just as there aren't any boundaries to the surface of the Earth. This absence of boundaries means that the laws of physics would determine the state of the universe uniquely, in imaginary time. But if one knows the state of the universe in imaginary time, one can calculate the state of the universe in real time. One would still expect some sort of Big Bang singularity in real time. So real time would still have a beginning. But one wouldn't have to appeal to something outside the universe, to determine how the universe began. Instead, the way the universe started out at the Big Bang would be determined by the state of the universe in imaginary time. Thus, the universe would be a completely self-contained system. It would not be determined by anything outside the physical universe, that we observe.
Relativity and observations (esp CMB measurements) since the 1960's accrue overwhelmingly in favor of a beginning of real space and read time (big bang, inflationary model.) Or to put it another way, perceptible four dimensional space/time is finite and thus mathematics which allow for infinity do not translate well.
Eternal cosmologies need not assume a first cause or accident, but they shift the burden of explanation into the infinite past. Although every event might be explicable by earlier events and causal laws, eternal cosmologies cannot even address why a temporally infinite cosmos exists and why it is the way it is. And there might be even deeper problems: Because we are able to assign a symbol to represent "infinity" and can manipulate such a symbol according to specified rules, one might assume that corresponding infinite entities (e.g. articles or universes) exist. But the actual (i.e. realized in contrast to potential or conceptual) physical (in contrast to the mathematical) infinite has been criticized vehemently being not constructable, implying contradictions, etc. (cf. Hilbert 1864, p. 136-151, Spitzer 2000, Stoeger, Ellis & Kirchner 2004, ch 5). If this would be correct it should also apply to an infinite past. (A future-eternal cosmos might be less problematic if it is viewed as unfolding, unbounded, i.e. only potential one.) This is a controversial issue, but it might be seen at least as another motivation to search for alternatives to past-eternal cosmologies.
Thus there must always be an uncaused cause - God - even for Max Tegmark's Level IV universe which is the only closed model known to me.
BTW, the issue of infinity aside - the universe is mathematical. Or as Eugene Wigner coined it: The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences.
If reality were bound does that make it a second reality?..
If reality were unbound does that make it first reality?..
Is an unbound space like an unbound Universe?..
How could you bind a Universe?.. or even Multi-verse?
What would you call the container?..
Thats really one big plastic bag.. You know; since we're shopping and all..
I guess Galaxy's revolve in something, I mean they "push" against something...
Like a cyclone.. but at the edge, the far edge of the Universe
Whats there?... Looks like the limit of mans conceptual conceiving.. What is the Universe contained in?.. Thats one bodacious designer bag.. If space is unbound that would be another way of specifing infinity.. which is a variation of eternity.. which makes human reality a cartoon.. Wonder if theres another reality beyond mankinds observation thats so real it makes human experience like a firefly in a jar..
If so, it would be a feepin shame to miss it..
It would be like a firefly released from the jar to fly off into the woods(universe).. You know, to do what fireflys do.. whatever that is.. I like fireflys..
Now try to get your mind around the possibility that there is volumetric time, not just planar present and linear past ... I suspect we have examples of it found in the stories related in the Bible, like Daniel 5, Jesus’s resurrection, and Jesus meeting Saul on the road to Damascus, to name but three of many.
Unbounded, spherical, and finite. Poincare's theorem proved to much fanfare.
For Aristotle taught us, we cannot speak of any part without the whole, and as the whole of history has not yet achieved its final end, history as yet has no form. And what has neither form nor shape cannot be subject to definition according to the univocal categories of any science. In fact, the essence of history and of the artifacts of history is antipodal to the essence of science, since historical meanings cannot be indicated by a neat positivistic formula. Uniquely human expressions are pierced with an irreducible uncertainty, their meanings akin to a perpetually open question, the corresponding answer to which is adumbrated but never attained--since what is really grasped at is a glimpse of the Infinite.This is from The Intercollegiate Review. Mrs. Don-o might be interested in this publication from isi.org. They have back issues online.
No frogs? ... But did he mention birds?
Having stared at the horizon on the ocean on many occasions or into(not at) the stars at night.. Infinity is where my mind "went".. Seeking infinity or to "be a part" of infinity was my "need" I suppose.. Maybe there is a deep need for release to infinity.. If you have lost the open ended "what is it?" out there beyond "infinity"..
Have you become a Toad Stool?.. a Mushroom?..
The childlike wonder of infinite possibilities is a blessing..
Even if "we" have to covertly peek around a corner to view them..
Adding to the pleasure..
Thanks for the thought, cornelis. I’ve been to the isi.org site, but good Lord, there’s so much there. I shall have to take it by the teaspoon :o)
Infinity is pasture for poets. It’s a fence for the rest. Thank God we’re not all poets.
A bird looks down.
True.. the sheep pen(s) in John ch 10 have walls..
The sheep in the sheep pens need to be there..
Else they would run wild..
A Sheep stampede is(would be) a bleating chinese fire drill..
Better they have walls to contain them..
The pasture on the outside(of the sheep pens) is free and peaceful(Ps 23)..
bettyboop: There is no basis to project an observation in a controlled experiment to the whole of the universe.
bezelbub: So, do you have an alternative? Which observations can be generalized? Which not?
bettyboop: The experiment itself is an artificial construct, and what is viewed is abstracted from the context in which it naturally occurs.
bezelbub: Wow, that's a quite artificial differentiation.
So, what's your problem with uniformitarianism?
Since the 1960's measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation to this day, observations support the inflationary model. And that means, of course, that there was a beginning of real space and real time.
As Jastrow pointed out, that was the most theological statement ever to come out of modern science. The first phrase of Scripture is "In the beginning, God created..."