Thursday, May 31, 2012

Notes on Science's Essence

I see this a lot. (Via liked the Feynmann.) I figured I might as well write down what's wrong with it.

I strongly suspect there's a good reason for these kinds of misunderstandings. The first place I'd look is at the intuition - they sense something weird but are unable to articulate it in any kind of sensible way.

I just wish I didn't have to learn to articulate it for them. Part of it is that anyone who senses the same thing has no need to articulate it either; they recognize the code as the same code they would produce, and can work backward.

"This view is based on an almost sacred belief that the ways of the world are unshakeable, ordered by laws that have no moods, no variance, that what's "Out There" has no mind."

It doesn't matter, I'll show that by example. The law of gravity is normally considered time-independent. But let's say we were wrong about that.

gmm/r^2 ==> (gmm/r^2)(f[t]). There's variance.

Now it can be made obvious that variance isn't variance. At t = 1700AD, f[t] will have a specific, never-changing value. No matter when you do the figuring, gravity will always come out to the same thing during that year. You can also vary across space, and do the same reduction.

This is also how I know gravity has no time dependence, as time is relative. Gravity cannot tell if it is 1700 or not. Every moment seems like t=0, and f[t] where t=0 is a constant function. Any time dependence would either disprove temporal relativity, or simply get rolled into the gravitational constant, g.

Time independence implies itself, and time dependence implies independence.

What about moods? Perhaps random variance? (gmm/r^2)(f[t])(rand[])

While in this case we can't simply calculate out rand[], at any past moment it did have a value, which again, never subsequently changes.
There's a deeper but harder to illustrate problem with this, too. When does physics run rand[]? How often does it change? How does physics know it needs to change it then?

With quantum effects, it runs rand[] during every interaction - essentially, when the Schrodinger wave equation changes, there's variance on what it changes to. But gravity? One of the basic laws that the Schrodinger equation runs on? Perhaps there's a clever way that can work out...but there's certainly no easy way.

Again, if physics can't tell when it should be running rand[], it will either never run or run so fast that it is indistinguishable from a constant.

What about minds?

Sure, let's postulate that physics has a mind, why not. Point: it would be hard to predict.
Counterpoint: psychology is not futile.
The counterpoint looks, to me, like it utterly dominates. Indeed physics would be easier, because minds can learn language and thus you can talk to them. Theoretically, anyway.

"that we are a separate domain, creatures different from the order around us."
We're actually not. The brain is made of physics. I see human beings as the universe waking up and having a look at itself. We're part of the universe, which means the universe is thinking, seeing...having purpose. Through us. The 'world' does have a mind, for example, your mind.

But in any case Feynmann's statement can be re-cast without this inner/outer distinction.

The point of the process is that, at the end, the guess matches what happens, so that in turn, future guesses will match what happens, so that in turn, future actions produce the desired results.

And here's the thing: can physics make a guess? Can physics have desires? Well, close enough. Step one: make a planet. Step two: evolve some life... Thing is, anywhere there's no intelligence, there's no guesses to be matched to outcomes and no desires to be fulfilled. But defining the not-intelligence zones as 'outside' is a lot like defining not-atomic-nuclei zones as 'outside,' because there's no strong forces there.

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