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Six Degrees to the Emergence of Reality
Physicists are racing to complete a new model of "quantum complex networks" that tackles the physical nature of time and paradoxical features of emergence of classical reality from the quantum world
Quantum in Context
An untapped resource could provide the magic needed for quantum computation—and perhaps even open the door to time travel.
Blogger Julian Barbour wrote on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 14:45 GMT
(FQXi Member Julian Barbour has launched a project to create a series of short, public outreach films that present his approach to time and shape in foundational physics. He has allowed us at FQXi to debut the latest film below.)
FQXI have suggested putting their various items relating to my work together in a blog post, including this new short video From Time to Shape Dynamics, in which Margherita Cappelletto interviewed me for an Italian online journal. I am very happy with this idea, especially since several collaborators are now working actively on Shape Dynamics. The blog will be an ideal site for posting details of new developments and answering questions.
Let me conclude by saying what a great help my FQXi grants have been to my research project. It is almost entirely thanks to the grants that my collaborators and I have been able to get together in different combinations in different locations. As a result, my collaborators (Henrique Gomes, Sean Gryb, Tim Koslowski, Matteo Lostaglio, and Flavio Mercati) are now developing the basic ideas of Shape Dynamics in quite new directions that I could never have thought of let alone explored had I continued working on my own. Thanks to them and the grants, Shape Dynamics is on the way to becoming a full fledged research program.
The progress we have made is reflected in contributions to the workshop The Conformal Nature of the Universe hosted by the Perimeter Institute in May 2012. These can be viewed at Perimeter's PIRSA website. In terms of conceptual and technical development, they are best viewed in the order PIRSA:12050050 (my colloquium talk that was also part of the workshop) and then the talks by Flavio Mercati, Henrique Gomes, Tim Koslowski, and Sean Gryb (all available at PIRSA.org/C12027). Also very relevant are the talks by Renate Loll, James Isenberg, and (FQXi Member) Edward Anderson.
Aspects of Time, Julian Barbour, Warwick, August 24th 2011: "Was Spacetime Glorious Historical Accident? (...) ABSOLUTE SIMULTANEITY RESTORED!"
However the relativity of simultaneity is a direct consequence of Einstein's 1905 light postulate. So if you reject the consequence, you will have to reject the postulate as well. Do you (secretly) think the light postulate is false? The following text suggests you do:
"But numerous experiments failed to discover any evidence of the ether, and Einstein realized the speed of light must stay constant no matter which direction it came from or how an observer moved. That understanding contradicted Newton's view of space. In his physics, you could catch up to anything, even light, if you moved fast enough. But if the speed of light holds steady no matter where you were or how you were moving, it would always seem to zoom away from you at the same constant 186,000 miles per second. Einstein enshrined that principle in his first theory of relativity (special relativity), which states that you can never catch up to a light beam no matter how hard you might try. Barbour first heard these ideas as a teenage schoolboy in the early 1950s, a time when Einstein was still alive. As a 3-year-old child Barbour had earned the nickname "Why?" from a friend of his mother's because of his ever-curious nature. Yet upon learning of relativity, he uncharacteristically did not question it. "I was lost in admiration," he says. "Everyone thought Einstein was the greatest figure after Newton, and so I took it on trust, almost like someone being indoctrinated into a religion."
Julian Barbour replied on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 07:41 GMT
Pentcho Valev's query is very much to the point.However, it reads too much into what I said in in the Discover article. I certainly do not question Einstein's light postulate, but when he created special relativity he assumed the existence of inertial frames of reference and of rods and clocks that behave in a definite way. He did not attempt to create a theory that explains why they exist. Even in general relativity he did not attempt to do that. Mach's principle, on which I have worked all my life, aims to explain how local inertial frames arise.I believe that Shape Dynamics (developed in the last 13 years with my collaborators and presented in my Perimeter colloquium PIRSA:12050050 at the recent workshop) does explain the origin of local inertial frames and why all of Einstein's conclusions in special relativity hold in them. It is not challenging special relativity but explaining from relational Machian first principles why its conclusions are correct. The intriguing aspect of this work is that the explanation of why special relativity is correct of necessity singles out a definition of absolute simultaneity in the universe as a whole while showing that, just as Einstein concluded, there is no way it can be detected locally. If Shape Dynamics is the correct way to describe the universe (and everything in science must be qualified by an 'if' since every theory starts with hypotheses that may be incorrect), I believe it has a fair chance to lead to an explanation of key large scale features of the universe for which there is no current good theory (for example, the nature of the Big Bang), but I do not expect it to disprove any of the predictions of special relativity relating to the outcome of local experiments.
Pentcho Valev replied on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 08:26 GMT
Einstein couldn't explain why rods contract (or clocks retard) because they don't. The ad hoc length contraction hypothesis was advanced by FitzGerald and Lorentz in order to make the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment compatible with the ether theory's assumption that the speed of light is independent of the speed of the light source, an assumption that Einstein adopted in 1905. Originally the experiment unequivocally refuted that assumption and confirmed the antithesis: The speed of light varies with the speed of the light source as predicted by Newton's emission theory of light:
John Norton: "In addition to his work as editor of the Einstein papers in finding source material, Stachel assembled the many small clues that reveal Einstein's serious consideration of an emission theory of light; and he gave us the crucial insight that Einstein regarded the Michelson-Morley experiment as evidence for the principle of relativity, whereas later writers almost universally use it as support for the light postulate of special relativity. Even today, this point needs emphasis. The Michelson-Morley experiment is fully compatible with an emission theory of light that CONTRADICTS THE LIGHT POSTULATE."
"Relativity and Its Roots" By Banesh Hoffmann: "Moreover, if light consists of particles, as Einstein had suggested in his paper submitted just thirteen weeks before this one, the second principle seems absurd: A stone thrown from a speeding train can do far more damage than one thrown from a train at rest; the speed of the particle is not independent of the motion of the object emitting it. And if we take light to consist of particles and assume that these particles obey Newton's laws, they will conform to Newtonian relativity and thus automatically account for the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment without recourse to contracting lengths, local time, or Lorentz transformations. Yet, as we have seen, Einstein resisted the temptation to account for the null result in terms of particles of light and simple, familiar Newtonian ideas, and introduced as his second postulate something that was more or less obvious when thought of in terms of waves in an ether."
Pentcho Valev replied on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 13:24 GMT
Julian Barbour wrote: "The intriguing aspect of this work is that the explanation of why special relativity is correct of necessity singles out a definition of absolute simultaneity in the universe as a whole while showing that, just as Einstein concluded, there is no way it can be detected locally."
I am afraid this is an oxymoron. The definition of absolute simultaneity is unambiguous: both observers find the two events simultaneous. So is the definition of the relativity of simultaneity: the first observer finds the events simultaneous, the second doesn't. So you cannot have "the first observer finds the events simultaneous, the second doesn't" locally and "both observers find the two events simultaneous" globally, "in the universe as a whole". Perhaps by "absolute simultaneity" you mean something that has nothing to do with the above definition.
I find it hard to work out the significance of the post at 08.26 GMT, and so will not attempt to answer it.As regards the post at 13.24 GMT, the only theory-independent verification of absolute simultaneity is when events happen at the same position and same time. In the framework of special relativity, Einstein showed that one can speak of relativity in distinguished (inertial) frames of reference but that there is a whole family of these distinguished frames, so simultaneity is relative to the chosen frame. He constructed his general theory of relativity with the explicit aim of eliminating all distinguished frames of reference.As long as one looks at general relativity in the way Einstein did,as a theory of spacetime, one certainly cannot find absolute simultaneity within it. But general relativity has a rich mathematical structure and it has been known for 50 years that it can also be viewed as a theory of the evolution of three-dimensional geometry.My collaborators and I have taken this approach to what seems to me its logical conclusion; it leads us to Shape Dynamics, which can be called a theory of gravity dual to general relativity.In Shape Dynamics there is a unique frame of reference in which the laws of nature take a distinguished simplest form analogous but not identical to the distinguished inertial frames of special relativity. The remarkable thing is that the frame is unique. However, one would need to have observers spread out over the whole universe to pin it down.That does not mean it will not have observable consequences, especially for the yet to be constructed theory of quantum gravity.If Pentcho has not already looked at the PIRSA lectures mentioned in my post, that would be a good way to get into the details of Shape Dynamics.
Pentcho Valev replied on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 15:36 GMT
Julian Barbour wrote: "In the framework of special relativity, Einstein showed that one can speak of relativity in distinguished (inertial) frames of reference but that there is a whole family of these distinguished frames, so simultaneity is relative to the chosen frame."
In other words, the relativity of simultaneity implies that, if the observer in some inertial frame sees two distant events as simultaneous, observers in other inertial frames do not see them as simultaneous. Hence the only possible definition of absolute simultaneity: If the observer in some inertial frame sees two distant events as simultaneous, all inertial observers see them as simultaneous.
Do you still claim that the relativity of simultaneity and the absolute simultaneity somehow coexist in your theory - the former is valid "locally" and the latter "in the universe as a whole"? If you do, I don't think getting into the details of Shape Dynamics will change my opinion - the oxymoron will remain an oxymoron.
This was an interesting exchange. I've discussed the differences between absolute and relative simultaneity, and argued for absolute simultaneity and a privileged frame from the perspective of cosmology in my essay for the current FQXi contest. I'd be very interested to hear your reactions to my argument.
"the Michelson-Morley experiment is fully compatible with an emission theory of light that CONTRADICTS THE LIGHT POSTULATE". How can you react?"
You have more than a few things to learn about science, Pentcho. That certain experimental results are compatible with some theory or another does not imply that the same result as predicted by a mathematically complete theory is therefore obviated. One can always add assumptions that change any experimental conclusion -- a valid scientific conclusion, however, does not rest on philosophical assumptions; it rests on measured correspondence of theory and result.
If you were really interested in challenging relativity on a scientific basis, you would learn the physics that leads to it, and attempt a mathematical model that incorporates a closed logical judgment predicting contradictory results.
Pentcho Valev replied on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 13:29 GMT
TH Ray wrote: "One can always add assumptions that change any experimental conclusion"
Correct. In 1887 (no added assumptions yet) the Michelson-Morley experiment confirmed the variable speed of light predicted by Newton's emission theory of light and refuted the constant (independent of the speed of the light source) speed of light predicted by the ether theory. Then FitzGerald and Lorentz added the assumption that lengths parallel to the direction of the motion contract in a certain way. So the experimental conclusion changed completely - the variable speed of light predicted by Newton's emission theory of light was refuted and the constant speed of light predicted by the ether theory confirmed.
It never fails to amaze me that a century after relativity was introduced, and with all the relativistic experiments conducted since, there remain a significant number of people who -- like Pentcho -- are scandalized by the idea that there exists no privileged reference frame. Because relativity is a mathematically complete theory, its mathematical results are entirely independent of its experimental predictions, so there is no room to waffle.
Sophisticated extensions of relativity -- such as those of Julian Barbour & group, and Joy Christian -- are easily enough shown to be logically coherent.
It begins with a simple arithmetic theorem (one can find it discussed in the introduction to Rosza Peter's wonderful classic, *Playing with Infinity*) that a single point may be mapped simultaneously to any set of points, provided that it is far enough away.
In our 4-dimensional spacetime, one often hears, "where did the big bang start?" One forgets that in this expanding and apparently isotropic domain, the "start" is any fixed point one chooses. The spacetime is continuous.
So given the simultaneous point mapping of a freely chosen point at infinity to every point of the finite set we inhabit, it can be shown that the universe *has* a shape locally whose dynamic geometry is the Barbour group's research interest -- but also globally, i.e., topologically, as Joy Christian has established. Both are angle-preserving, i.e., conformal, to infinity.
By logical entailment, then -- the simultaneity imparted by the point at infinity supports Julian's claim that causality limited by special relativity is not limited by Mach's Principle (the true relativity which underlies the general theory).
What I perceive as the consequences of Christian's program are discussed in my essay "The Perfect First Question."
Thank you, Julian, Tim and FQXi, for making this discussion available. Most enjoyable.
Pentcho Valev replied on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 21:34 GMT
The speed of light is variable, not constant. This would be obvious if a century of mythology had not made people believe in the opposite, like in Orwell's scenario:
George Orwell: "In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable what then?"
Steve Dufourny replied on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 11:35 GMT
Yes of course, you are going to give us a course about the relativity now.
For your information, the speed is constant in its pure instantaneity and locality and even globality.If the speed decreases , it is due to mass and its codes.Now the special relativity is essential and its constant also for all perceptions. The general relativity says that the mass curves the space. If these foundamentals are not respected, so we have ironical sciences.
I have explained in the past how the mass polarized this light, so we can have synchronizations due to its rotations of spherical volumes from the serie of uniqueness.
In fact, I am surprised by these oceans of pseudo sciences showing a false interpretation of this relativity. I see that it exists a small number of persons understanding really what is this relativity. Why they insist so ? The real ask is there. For what ? for their own vanity at my humble opinion.Perhaps that they lack of general analyzes.It is logic to see their false details because they do not see the generality of this relativity.
The false scientists are scientists for just their pseudo teams.Not for the rational part of this international sciences community. They can say stupidities to several persons, but not to the rationalists and generalists !!!
They can flatter their friends during a conference, it is not the probelm.
Pentcho, you continue to cut and paste without understanding anything. The frequency of an electromagnetic wave is independent of its speed. By your reasoning, an observer actually changes the frequency of a light wave by moving against it. As Mungan notes, however, the observer measures the speed relative to her own speed -- not relative to the frequency of the wave. So the speed of both observer and light are fixed in this context of arbitrarily chosen coordinate frames. In the Doppler effect, an observer *at rest* relative to the moving source "encounters more wavelengths in a given time," as your last cut and paste snippet verifies, so the frequency appears to change relative to the fixed observer.
You fail to understand relative motion, taking some arbitrary rest frame as absolute for one observer in some time interval, thereby making the speed of light non-absolute in order to validate your belief. And you even fail to understand that you are doing this, while you misread and misinterpret your cut and paste sources. It would take much less effort to actually learn the real physics.
Pentcho Valev replied on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 10:14 GMT
I have referred to these quotations on many occasions in the past but so far no Einsteinian, not even the least intelligent, has rejected my claim that all three of them contain the following statement:
The speed of the waves, as measured by the observer, varies with the speed of the observer.
To make things as simple as possible for you, I am referring you to the exact expressions equivalent to the above statement:
Professor Sidney Redner: "Let's say you, the observer, now move toward the source with velocity vO. You encounter more waves per unit time than you did before. Relative to you, the waves travel at a higher speed: v'=v+vO."
"Henc e, the velocity of waves relative to the observer is c + vO."
Pentcho Valev replied on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 13:16 GMT
Carl Mungan's claim that "the wave speed is simply increased by the observer speed, as we can see by jumping into the observer's frame of reference" validates relativity? Sidney Redner's claim that "relative to you, the waves travel at a higher speed" validates relativity? You overact, Tom. Your patrons will not be happy with this.
In the first place, I don't have any patrons. In the second place, what you are opining on is known physics supported by known mathematically complete theories verified time and again by experimental evidence.
I can't stop you from vandalizing the discussion with your selective distorted quotations. I can only direct the reader to the science.
Steve Dufourny replied on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 17:33 GMT
I am sometimes very surprised to see how people interprets this relativity in its pure generality.
I ask me where they have studied their foundamentals. The GR and the SR seems implying an ocean of confusions. This "time", c and the gravitation are really bizarely interpreted. I don't undertsand this comportment. The ten equations of Einstein are rational. So why ?
Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 21:16 GMT
I might be off here, but this seems to be something similar to Desargue’s theorem about projective rays passing through the vertices of polytopes. In general this defines the “heavenly sphere” for spaces with a Jordan product rule.
I am not sure what shapes are projected,unless they are polytopes that correspond to the weights of certain algebras. In 8 dimensions this would be the E_8 group.
thank you very much for the videos you have made about your work. Shape space is very interesting to me, you explain it well. I think it is a useful model. Getting rid of an absolute background makes a great deal of sense to me. (I have wondered to myself how many observers it would take to fully describe an object.) I have mentioned my like of your Shape Space previously in the FQXi blogs.
I could have talked about how it is, in my mind, related to my own work in my current essay- if I had not run out of room. I think it should have been mentioned but, given the word limit, I wanted to talk about something I had not mentioned before and therefore mentioned very briefly about Stephen Wolfram's cellular automata instead.( I might write another essay just concentrating on how my work fits with other people's, in my opinion, rather than filling your thread.)
I commented on your essay thread last year. You don't need me to tell you your writing is very good. You have the prizes. You don't need me to tell you the potential of your work is recognised, you have had collaborators and have had the grant money to concentrate on developing your ideas- because of its potential and interest to others. Though you don't need me to say it, as I am sure you yourself know, it is (as I see it) a great contribution to modern physics that will last and continue to inspire others. Congratulations.
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 22:10 GMT
Dear Julian Barbour,
here's a question you may be able answer for me. I heard you talking about conservation of volume. Perhaps I have misunderstood you.
I can comprehend many different diffeomorphisms all related to the same object seen at different orientations due to observer positions. Wouldn't there, for a number of observer positions, be the outcome where the "triangle" would appear to be a line?- edge on. Which though theoretically might have the same volume, since you are now regarding the observer's reality rather than the independently existing reality, wouldn't you have to go with the observer's impression of it? The triangle is a very simple shape I can think of more complex shapes that would perhaps illustrate the point better. A long thin cylinder, which could be oriented in many ways conserving volume but some observers are going to be looking at the base alone or base and a very foreshortened side.
I understand what you were saying about the temporal relationships of the diffeomorphisms. Which to me sounds like, the time at which they are seen can differ so the time difference can be compared, providing a ratio. They do not exist in time as such or along a time dimension. I can agree with that. I don't think observed diffeomorphisms exist in external euclidean space either but in a fabricated space produced by observation using received data. Which, by my way of thinking, would make your fibre bundles a model of the transmission of potential sensory data. So then perhaps the optical phenomenon of perspective would have to be included. As observers at different distances from the object, seeing a triangle face, would not see it at the same size and therefore same volume either.
Are the various observed triangles -mathematically altered- to have the same volume because they all have the same parent triangle which is not changing volume? Is it important to ignore what is seen and pretend that it is still the parent object for the purpose of calculating the physics of motion?
I haven't got to the end of the new videos I don't know if those queries would be answered later on. I also am not able to see the diagrams at the moment, which is a problem with my computer.Not sure if that would help or not.I don't mean any offence to you by trying to interpret what you are saying with my own way of thinking about things.If it is ignorant and unhelpful I am sorry for that, I am just trying to make sense of things.
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 04:07 GMT
Dear Julian Barbour,
I have just had a slight revelation. I said in my previous reply "Which, by my way of thinking, would make your fibre bundles a model of the transmission of potential sensory data." But that isn't right I have realised. Though you are considering the observer's viewpoint, you are by passing the observer. Linking the fabricated output, that has the appearance of external existence, directly to the object, by fibre bundles.
Those fibre bundles therefore don't have a physical counterpart (do they?)they are a mathematical abstraction.I think you probably have replaced one kind of abstraction, the dimensions assuming an absolute space for a different kind of abstraction where observed manifestations are joined to the source object (actualisation) directly by abstract entities. This is not a criticism but tying to make sense of what it is that you are doing. It is still very useful as it gives a way of mathematically handling all of the different observations and relating them to the single object or arrangement, without having to refer to an absolute background.
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 06:40 GMT
PS...by abstract entities I meant the mathematics converting from one kind of space to the other. I can't see a physical equivalent of it. Is the reproduction of relativity enough to suppose that this is a realistic model of physical reality in your opinion?
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 21:29 GMT
Dear Julian Barbour,
re last comment maybe the mathematics could be a proxy for the data transmission -and- observer processing parts of reality, giving the shape output in euclidean space - as we do not know exactly what processing occurs.Or is this all pre observation ie it is just un-accessed data in an external euclidean environment that would give that shape in euclidean space if it was intercepted and processed? How do you regard it? What is the relationship of the pre space to the euclidean space physically rather than mathematically in your opinion?
Julian Barbour wrote: "The intriguing aspect of this work is that the explanation of why special relativity is correct of necessity singles out a definition of absolute simultaneity in the universe as a whole while showing that, just as Einstein concluded, there is no way it can be detected locally." I too have found that absolute simultaneity is necessary for an explanatory framework that works and agrees with Einstein's relativity. That enables me to think of your model a very useful way of considering what is occurring as there is that foundational correspondence.
It would be nice to hear what you think about those questions, but I will understand if you can't find the time.
Tommy Gilbertson wrote on Jul. 21, 2012 @ 20:29 GMT
This was really good stuff... The Shape of Time, wow! Isn't it hard to keep the mind trained in the right direction while working with Time. Dr. Barbour has a particularly keen talent for doing so, and communicating it so well.
Hello Georgina. I will be busy for the next few days, so cannot answer your questions in full immediately. However, they are important so I will do so as soon as I can. Here is a comment about this question you put:
"Are the various observed triangles -mathematically altered- to have the same volume because they all have the same parent triangle which is not changing volume? Is it important to ignore what is seen and pretend that it is still the parent object for the purpose of calculating the physics of motion?"
You are basically right with the notion of 'same parent triangle', but I go further and want to consider only the triangle shape. The simplest nontrivial model of a dynamical universe consists of three point particles in Euclidean space. They can form triangles of different shapes and sizes. But to speak of size you need some ruler in addition to measure the size. No such additional external ruler exists in the universe. There is nothing but the triangle. So all you have is the shape of the triangle defined by its angles. Because the triangle is by assumption in Euclidean space, the angles add up to 180 degrees. Now at this stage of the discussion, I don't want you to think about how you as an observer might see the triangle but only to imagine how you might position and orient it in Euclidean space, giving it moreover all possible sizes. If you were a god who could 'see' Euclidean space and were given the angles but no other information, so that you knew the shape, you would have all these possible representations of one and the same shape at your disposal. What I mean by a fibre is the collection, or set as mathematicians would call it, of all these possible representations of one given triangle shape. The set of all possible triangle shapes is what I call shape space and the fibre bundle associated with it is the set of all the fibres, one fibre for each shape.
So this is all to do with how you can imagine a shape represented in space. I'll comment on how you might actually see triangles in a further post together with comments on the relevance to dynamics of the universe.
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 09:33 GMT
Hello Julian, thank you for your reply. So far I understand. From my point of view it is a -very- helpful way of thinking about what is potentially out there. I should wait to hear what you have to say before getting carried away mixing it up with what I'm thinking. I'll try not to say too much so you have a chance to answer the questions.I look forward to hearing more when it is convenient
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 21:10 GMT
Dear Julian Barbour,
I think I'm getting it clear in my head. I'm still interested in why physically, in your opinion, volume is conserved not why it should ie. because it fits nicely with expansion of space. I have realised that -is- important as you say for the appearance of expansion of space. Also as I see it, so objects don't get larger and fuzzier the further away- as in a projection onto a wall using a light projector. This is something else. Seems to me, it could be explained as being because EM reflected from an object or arrangement of objects overall travels in straight lines, despite what each individual photon might be doing.
Could it be that each translation is a different angle of reflected or emitted light(?).That would make sense to me. The space between expands because the shell of data is spreading out but each shape is still made from the straight line projection? The space in between though is nothing and so not constrained in that way. This is me trying to make sense of what is happening in my own words, tying to relate the model to what I can understand, I do not have the intention of misrepresenting what you are describing yourself or causing offense.
I'm thinking of the light cone model described by Roger Penrose on the resources. Which should be compatible because he isn't talking about space-time but Hamilton's quaternion space and time, which I can imagine as the superimposing of lots of different iterations of 3D Euclidean space. Now it starts to seem like a wave function to me because there are many different possibilities that might be observed coexisting (your Shape Space ) but also distributed "over time" as there is a Shape Space related to each iteration (or different arrangement of the "material" universe).It also ties in with holographic ideas as the Shape Space will be, in ideal circumstances without other objects in the way, the 2D surface of a sphere-expanding with each new iteration. Please forgive me if this sounds irrelevant to what you are doing. I would be happy for you to tell me how I should be thinking about it.
I understand now that we haven't got to the observer yet and how his position and motion interacts with it. This is still observer independent even though I have imagined all the ways in which the arrangement might be seen.
John Merryman replied on Jul. 25, 2012 @ 19:28 GMT
What if the triangle is spinning? Wouldn't the centrifugal force suggest space as an equilibrium state? Consider an object in the deepest realms of intergalactic space; Would we be safe from being spun off by any potential rotation if there is no other reference point, but if we were to pull out a telescope and see distant galaxies moving across the horizon at a rapid rate, would this fixing of our particular motion be the cause of our ejection from that object? It just seems to me that while we measure space in terms of objects, there is still an inherent equilibrium which is overlooked.
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 04:35 GMT
Julian is out of the room how about we pick up the chalk for a moment, just until he gets back? This is what I'm thinking, (which he may totally disagree with). Does this make sense to you?
The triangle doesn't have to be an object but can be any arrangement of 3 objects. Can you imagine all of its different potentially observable variations drawn on a beach ball? Now if it is inflated the ball expands. Lets forget that the triangles are expanding, pretend they don't but the ball is expanding in space. That's the data spreading out through space "over time". As data continues to be produced and spread out from the source there will be a ball of data each shell of which relates to a different iteration of the Object universe, when each whole "Shape Space" shell of data (and possibilities) was formed.
Now imagine what is on the surface of the shells of the ball is the sensory data that can be intercepted by an observer. Wherever the observer touches the surface that is what he will process into his reality. If the "triangle" source is spinning then the arrangements on a shell surface that the observer touches will depend upon -when- he touches the ball not just where he is, and -what- is on the shell surface will depend upon what existed when that particular "Shape space' of possibilities was formed. That is overcoming the measurement problem. What is there is decided first by the universe and secondly by observer interaction.
John Merryman replied on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 10:42 GMT
Out of simplicity, complexity grows. Consider some of the other factors introduced: For one thing, as the sphere expands, the quantity of information is distributed over an ever larger area. Is this information digital, or analog, ie. do some forms of gaps start to appear, or does the information become ever more diluted/weaker signal. Might there be a cause of redshift in there?
Are the triangles expanding, or are they becoming smaller relative to the sphere? The problem with the notion of expanding space is how do you account for a stable speed of light? Like the triangle, does the lightspeed increase to match the expansion, if so, how would we detect the expansion? If there are simply more units of measure, lightyears/triangles, then the space isn't expanding, rather there is more stable units of space, which were originally outside the sphere, but are now inside it.
On a personal note, as you live over there, my cousin's daughter is in the Olympics this year.
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 12:53 GMT
What I'm thinking about is photon cascades of the kind Richard Feynman was talking about in the Auckland university lectures (See resources).He was adamant that light is a digital phenomenon. As it spreads out less photons are going the distance and so intensity will fall but the information transmitted will not be altered (ignoring any refraction or interference).
The gaps did cross my mind. I can sort of imagine that many many variants are covering the sphere and tightly packed at the origin but getting less tightly packed as the sphere expands but probably still overlapping.
I'd like to hear from Julian the -physical reason- why the volume of the triangles has to be conserved in shape space his opinion and what that means to him.
I don't know why one particular orientation should be selected by the observer but perhaps it has to do with the angle that the light impinges upon the retina. Perhaps the brain selects the one it "likes best" from some different options detected or resolves a blur of possibilities into something distinct. That's something I could research.I don't know if Julian has anything to say about that later in his most recent talk. I didn't get to the end because I couldn't see his diagrams and I really needed to, to follow what he was saying. I'll get back to it. The observer would have to be moving away from the source of the information for red shift.
This isn't space expanding though. Julian's Shape Space is ignoring the background entirely and the only references are the parent triangle arrangement and its many transformations. My interpretation, which I do not know if he would approve of, is that this is information or a cascade of photons spreading out from a source. IMHO the transformations are not space or material objects but just the photon data. The Shape Space way of thinking about what is going on gets rid of that whole expanding space, speed of light conundrum that you have raised on a number of occasions. Which is brilliant.
I think the Shape space concept works in a number of ways to answer questions, so I really like it even though I don't really understand it as Julian does yet.It must fit with his Platonia model of the universe (but naturally I would like to see it fit with my explanatory framework, which does not have everything that has and will exist existing simultaneously.)
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 23:35 GMT
You know I think there are three different aspects to reality. There is the "material stuff", the sensory data about the stuff, including EM, in the environment and the output of processing the data.
RE centrifugal force, The centrifugal force has to do with what is happening to the "material stuff", its circumstances.Its not a real force but what happens when something that would travel in a straight line is being prevented from doing so. (Its the centripetal force that does the prevention.) Importantly, to my mind, it -isn't- what is happening to the emitted or reflected data travelling out from the material object.
The conker may be tied by a string but the EM data isn't. Although the the data will indicate where the object was when the data was produced and the centripetal force could be deduced from data received over time (from the observer's point of view). The data, which I think might be imagined as shells of shape space, are building up in the environment as the conker spins, as described in previous post. Not undergoing the same centripetal force that is acting on the material object. (Not exactly as described before as the position of the source is oscillating in this case.)
I'll have a look at your previous essay later re the red shift question.
John Merryman replied on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 02:38 GMT
The point is that if space is simply a measure between points and nothing else, what causes centrifugal force? If there is simply a triangle of points, with no outside references, presumably there would be no motion, since none of the points are moving relative to one another. So if there are no outside reference points, the idea of this triangle spinning would presumably be meaningless. Obviously the detection of one very distant reference would not suddenly create a frame to define that external straight line. So the question arises as to whether we should consider Euclidian space, the empty equilibrium, as something more than a relic.
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 03:30 GMT
There are other points outside of the triangle under consideration, all of the other "stuff" in its arrangement, that could also be broken down into triangle arrangements. Julian has got rid of absolute space as the reference and now the only reference is the "stuff". If the "parent" triangle arrangement is considered to be stationary then no outside reference is needed but if the "parent triangle" is moving it has to be moving relative to something else and that will be other "stuff". That's what I understand him to be saying. Hopefully Julian will correct me if that is wrong.
The assumption that the triangle is in Euclidean space is still there but, as I understand it, this is giving a way of developing a description of motion that doesn't rely upon reference to an absolute background. Which I would have thought is something you would like, as we have on several occasions discussed the artificiality of the imposed dimensional structure of space.I don't know exactly how he thinks of his Shape Space as a physical reality, I am hoping he will be able to tell us. I think he has made a new way of thinking about the data emitted or reflected from the material arrangements, that observers are then able to access and from which they decide what exists and is happening. The Shape Space is its own little multi verse of possibilities associated with one isolated material arrangement. Which is brilliant.
John Merryman replied on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 10:44 GMT
I don't want to make too much of an issue on Julian's thread, but I do think space cannot be completely explained in terms of measuring objects and actions. I think we both agree spacetime is correlation, not causation, so without the conceptual dynamic of time incorporated in it, space has no properties to warp or limit, yet consider the idea of light having a constant velocity from all frames; The reason is that an accelerated frame has a slower moving clock, yet if we don't have the "fabric of spacetime," where each clock travels a different time vector, then it is because the combination of velocity and internal atomic action cannot exceed C. This, just like centrifugal force, suggests an inherent equilibrium. Otherwise why wouldn't any frame be relevant in its own context? Say another frame is moving at C, relative to your frame; Why couldn't it contain forms of life which simply viewed your frame as light, as you do their frame?
There is also the point I keep bring up about where does a constant speed of light come from, if space itself is expanding? Shouldn't the speed of light increase proportionally, if the very fabric it measures is being stretched?
The presumption of space arising from a singularity is based on this idea that space is created by measurements of objects and actions, yet that raises the question of what and where the singularity came from. If we assume a void, ie empty space, it doesn't need a cause. Only actions require cause. Yet it has an effect, ie, equilibrium.
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 10:54 GMT
John, Tommy, All,
I have realised that I have been saying "Shape Space" when I should have been saying "fibre bundle" or collection of transformations. The shape space being the set of all triangles and the bundle or fibre being all of those transformations belonging to one "parent" shape.
So in my last post I should have said: the collection of associated transformations (bundle) is its own little multi verse of possibilities associated with one isolated material arrangement. Which is brilliant. (That's my imagining what Julian's model might be capable of doing.)
Jul. 26, 2012 @ 04:35 GMT I should have said: If the "triangle" source is spinning then the arrangements on a shell surface that the observer touches will depend upon -when- he touches the "ball" not just where he is, and -what- is on the shell surface will depend upon what existed when that particular "bundle" of possibilities was formed. That is overcoming the measurement problem. What is there is decided first by the universe and secondly by observer interaction.
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 14:12 GMT
The World as a Hologram
Submitted on 15 Sep 1994 (v1), last revised 28 Sep 1994 arXiv:hep-th/9409089v2
"According to 't Hooft the combination of quantum mechanics and gravity requires the three dimensional world to be an image of data that can be stored on a two dimensional projection much like a holographic image. The two dimensional description only requires one discrete degree of freedom per Planck area and yet it is rich enough to describe all three dimensional phenomena."
That would also fit with the kind of description of the bundle of transformations (that multi-verse of possibilities that an observer might select from) upon the surface of an expending shell of data. That I was describing and thought a possible physical interpretation of Julian's model.
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 28, 2012 @ 21:32 GMT
That paper doesn't seem very relevant to what I was trying to say but I think the abstract is.
Rather than -the- 3 dimensional world I'm thinking we should consider there to be as many different versions of the 3 dimensional world as there are observers. As each is the different (output) Image reality of a different observer. Which version of the 3 dimensional world is seen will depend upon which data is accessed from the Data Pool. All of that data can be envisioned as not just a holographic spherical surface of data related to the single object and iteration of the Object universe (the material arrangement when the data was formed ) but many surfaces, produced in succession, spreading out from the many different source objects.
That is related to the measurement problem of QM because the data is not randomly distributed but depends upon occurrence of the ongoing process of photon emission from an object and photon transmission. Also not being put there by an ancient Creation event that made space and time and fixed everything in a space-time continuum, as that interpretation causes severe philosophical problems
How that data is distributed in the environment will also depend upon the motion of the source object, (any disturbance of the data during transmission eg. mirage and shimmer in warm rising air) and how the object is seen will depend upon how, where/when and the observer accesses and then amalgamates the data that has been received from the environment. The sequence in which the data is accessed and amalgamated will give the sequence of changing presents of the observer.
Which is relevant to barn pole type paradoxes and non simultaneity. Space-time Image reality is output but the holographic data environment is uni-temporal (but containing data with an origin in different iterations of the Object universe.) This gives both Einsteinian relativity and many unrealised/unprocessed "virtual worlds" in superposition.
Tommy Gilbertson wrote on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 22:39 GMT
I just happened to pop in and saw Dr. Barbours elaboration on shape space. Wow. That's a brilliant generalization of shape and form: so the entire universe is shape space (a shape-field), and these shapes come in discrete fundamental fibres or bundles (nuggets) of shape. The quantum triangle as it were: three lines connected at certain angles. And all other triangular forms and shapes in the universe instantiate themselves as whole-number multiples of this plank-shape? Kind of like the fractal made out of triangles in triangles which get smaller and smaller, and as you 'zoom' out (or introduce a gravitational field) you can see the shape from differing perspectives 'move'. Oh, man i got sucked in here. Meant to only peek and run. Running. Really good stuff...
Tommy Gilbertson wrote on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 06:50 GMT
Hi, can I just interject a point symbollogically and syllogistically? It will help to answer some of Georgina's question in the replies right above. There are two frameworks: Euclidean Space and Non-Euclidean space. It is hard to remember this thread when studying examples of non-euclid space (like Barbour's Shape Space is a specific example). The essential difference between Euclidean space (of which Georgina is speaking of in many of her counter-examples) and non=Euclidean is that in Euclidean space there is no Time; no motion. The objects of study are frozen in space and don't move: you can't spin a triangle in Euclidean space. You can move it around, resize it and do other linear operations to it, but you can't LIFT it up off the space (or paper if two dimensional Euclidean space). In a non-Euclidean space, motion and time are introduced. So often times you can't classically compare the two spaces at all, and a sentence like spinning have no meaning in Euclidean space. Thanks. I look forward to hearing Dr. Barbours Comments too. It is exciting to have him actively contribute with us mere mortals!
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Tommy Gilbertson replied on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 06:58 GMT
Therefore, a curved space is required to incorporate the quantum mechanical spin of physical reality experiments have revealed in any modern physical theory of everything. It takes a truly great mind to formulate this realization to taming that curved (non-Euclidean) Space in naming it Shape Space and defining it's properties...
Tommy Gilbertson replied on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 07:07 GMT
I'm so sorry, for this will be roundly ignored but I'm inspired. This curve of fundamental space is mediated by force particles whose properties are determined by the quantum geometrical shape of the messenger particles. This superforce is the cause of the curve of space that is described by Dr. Barbour's Shape Space Field Theory. It's called SuperGravity, and as the Ancient Philosphers greatly and thouroughly studied and developed, there are sacred (or ubiquitously natural) shapes in nature that control physical reality. These shapes are most common in our Universe, and are in the form most suited to black hole optimization. 6 of the shapes are combined in a tiny, hidden dimension, and the four large spacetime dimensions we see are in fact symmetric geometrical shapes (again described by Barbour's Shape Space) but on a cosmic scale of 1/Plank distance light years, symettrically with the 1/R to R duality relation observed everywhere in nature. I call them white holes, and they are optimized in most universes in the multiverse to minimize black hole production in universes in which they reside. Man, I soooo need a job! Good luck all...
These white holes consist of infinitely-thin spheres of matter with a radius of 1/PL (in light years). Now, we are dealing with a absolutely large object with small mass, and thus general relativity is the dominant factor in some cases and quantum mechanics is dominant in others... These white holes are BPS states of the superpartner particles currently being searched for, on a 1/R duality cosmic scale. And due to the measured exponential expansion of space right now, they are about to intersect: each white hole is centered on a current black hole. For example, in the Milky Way's center there is a 4 million solar-mass BH. This leads directly to a mathematical theory of mass consciousness.
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Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 10:27 GMT
the space I am talking about, I think John knows, is the background to sequential iterations of the Object universe without a time dimension. (There is a high resolution file of the explanatory framework posted on the discussion thread of my current competition essay.) John has seen my explanatory framework and we had many discussions prior to and during its development. Each iteration is an arrangement that could be thought of as being in Euclidean space. So spinning the triangle is like flicking the pages of a flick book. In each new iteration of the universe the triangle has moved and each iteration is still in Euclidean space. There is no temporal spread "in a single page" everything there exists simultaneously.
I am thinking of the "parent" triangle as an object or arrangement of objects and I see no problem with describing motion of the unobserved objects as a sequence of positions within arrangements that are occurring sequentially rather than all existing together in a block space-time. Julian Barbour was talking about imagining the orientation of the "parent" triangle in Euclidean space. So those ideas don't seem incompatible to me.
I don't think I 'm thinking about actual Shape Space as Julian has described it to me. Which is "the set of all possible triangle shapes". I have tried to compare the "bundle" of transformations associated with one parent shape, ( which I have been mistakenly calling the Shape Space), to the data spreading out from the parent object, shells of potential sensory data accumulating with each new iteration of the Object universe.
That is because I would very much like a -physical- explanation for what is occurring rather than an abstract model. What I have described would I think be compatible with my explanatory framework, what Roger Penrose was saying about a quaternion model for the light cone (lecture available via FQXi resources), possibly also what Joy Christian has been discussing on FQXi as that's also a quaternion model. It might not exactly fit with what Julian and collaborators have developed. He might hate the way I'm thinking about it now. I haven't yet listened/watched all of the resources he has produced all the way through as I couldn't get the video to work for me and he hasn't yet been able to reply to the questions and misunderstandings about what he has created that were put to him. I would like to hear what he has to say. He is not here right now.
John Merryman replied on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 16:38 GMT
"Euclidean space there is no Time; no motion. The objects of study are frozen in space and don't move: you can't spin a triangle in Euclidean space.'
I understand Euclidian space is lacking motion, measurement, etc. That's why I call it an equilibrium state. The point is that when physics tries to eliminate it, the result is a singularity, which introduces a whole range of other issues and problems, which many in the physics community seem quite content to spend their careers wrestling with. Since the resulting speculations are leading in directions that are completely untestable, I think we might consider re-evaluating space as something defined by motion and measurement, rather than created by it. The vacuum as foundational state, rather than the singularity as starting point.
Tommy Gilbertson replied on Jul. 28, 2012 @ 01:51 GMT
Excellent, John! And thanks for clarifying some of your work? So, it's a cyclical process between vacuum foundational state equilibriums? And how do black hole duty cycles, particularly the one in our Milky Way (4 mill. solar masses) correspond if at all with the periods you have derived for these states. And is that also the germ of future research? Don't you just feel on the tip of your theoretical mind's tongue that Galaxies in our particular Universe will have supermassive black holes at their centers whose duty cycles correllate with transitions from equilibrium states of their parent Universe's deviations from phase-shifting? Or avoiding the Singularity, that is? And does that necessarily invoke a multiverse? Just wondering...
John Merryman replied on Jul. 28, 2012 @ 02:48 GMT
What originally led me to question cosmology and eventually a lot of current physics, was the point that according to both theory and observation, space is flat. Expansion and gravitational contraction effectively balance out on the scale we can observe. The continued argument for an expanding universe is this is just due to the enormity of the entire universe and that just as a...
What originally led me to question cosmology and eventually a lot of current physics, was the point that according to both theory and observation, space is flat. Expansion and gravitational contraction effectively balance out on the scale we can observe. The continued argument for an expanding universe is this is just due to the enormity of the entire universe and that just as a small portion of the earth's surface appears flat, so does our observed portion of the universe. Yet it seemed a lot of excess baggage was being attached to what might well be a simple cyclical process, a universal convection cycle, if you will, where radiant energy expanding out is matched by mass falling inward. It even seemed to me this opposite curvature of the intergalactic space between the gravitational well of galaxies was the cosmological constant, balancing out gravity, as Einstein originally proposed. So effectively there are "hills" between the gravity wells, such that they sum out to flat space. Keep in mind we only see the distant light that managed to thread its way past the intervening galaxies and thus traveled this empty space.
The curvature then, is not so much due to space, but the measurement of what occupies it, with expansion as much an integral feature of radiation, as gravity is an integral feature of mass.
Black holes are not portals into some other dimension, but gravitational vortices, which eventually spin that infalling mass out as jets of cosmic rays. Given they can be observed billions of light years out, that is an enormous amount of energy being ejected and logically explains the destiny of any and all mass which fell in.
Since I see space as infinite, entropy doesn't apply, as it is a consequence of closed sets. With infinity, any energy lost to one set is replaced by energy from surrounding sets. On this infinite scale, the galaxies and all the energy are really just cosmic vacuum fluctuations.
Dark matter might be due to gravity being a consequence of radiation condensing into mass and becoming ever more dense(M=e/c2). Dark energy wouldn't be necessary, since redshift would be a lensing issue, not the actual expansion of the universe. With gravitational lensing, we know the source is not moving, only the path of the light is being contracted around the field and thus bent, with expansion, it would be an opposite effect.
The black body radiation from the edge of the visible universe, that is presumed to be residue from the Big Bang, would actually be light redshifted completely off the visible scale and I predict that when the next generation of infrared telescopes get in service, they will find features of these distant galaxies that will be too old to fit in the age limits of current theory. Quite a few have been found which already push theory to the breaking point, but no one in the business is willing to risk suggesting the problem is in the theory.
I'll leave it at that, since this has veered completely off topic.
Tommy Gilbertson replied on Jul. 29, 2012 @ 19:19 GMT
John: thanx for that excellent elaboration. Not trying to continue to veer off-topic here, but you made a statement that is very interesting: "...I predict that when the next generation of infrared telescopes get in service, they will find features of these distant galaxies that will be too old to fit in the age limits of current theory."
Ever since I learned about ancient starlight (photons that take many thousands of years to percolate from the center of a star to it's surface, which then propagates at the speed of light in vacuum), I have been chary of (interpretations of) measurements of the size of the universe.
If every thing else was equal, and we did discover problems with older galaxies obsverved to be outside the current theoretical explanational limits, will this ancient starlight play a role in an updated theory? Thanks!
John Merryman replied on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 15:55 GMT
I think the fudge factor is in the hundreds of millions. As in the universe is dated at 13.7 billion years old, so convincing evidence of something close to or older than 14 billion years would be required to cause unavoidable problems. Here is an article by one of the original designers of the Hubble telescope and his experience dealing with cosmologists and cosmological theory.
The numbers of instances where very large patches have been invoked to save the original theory says the scientific process is broken and only the most irrefutable evidence will suffice.
Well I'm back now, having got some things done that could not be postponed. I think your ideas don't exactly match mine Georgina, but there is surely some overlap.I think the main difference relates to the role of perception, i.e., what we see, and how that guides us in formulating a theory.According to my Shape Space ideas, the triangle shapes 'do their thing' completely independently of any...
Well I'm back now, having got some things done that could not be postponed. I think your ideas don't exactly match mine Georgina, but there is surely some overlap.I think the main difference relates to the role of perception, i.e., what we see, and how that guides us in formulating a theory.According to my Shape Space ideas, the triangle shapes 'do their thing' completely independently of any observer. In Shape Dynamics there is a law that determines a whole sequence of shapes given only very little information. Suppose we define the shape of a triangle by two of its angles, call them A and B (the third angle C is then fixed since we must have A+B+C=180 degrees in Euclidean space. Then given A, B, and dA/dB (i.e., the rate at which A changes as B changes), that is sufficient to determine a whole continuous sequence of triangles. You don't have to think of the triangles as existing 'somewhere' in space, and there is no time which says how fast the sequence is realized. There is also no direction on the sequence corresponding to a direction from a past to a future. How our sense of a passage of time arises is a matter for another day.
The main difference between Shape Dynamics and Newtonian dynamics is that the latter also predicts a sequence of shapes but needs more input to do it. You need more than the A, B, and dA/dB mentioned above. You must also give more derivatives of A with respect to B, not just the first dA/dB. Specifying initial data in Shape Dynamics is like specifying just a point and a direction of a curve and then knowing what the rest of the curve will be like. Newtonian dynamics is like having to specify that and further information about how the curve bends. It has to do that because Newton formulated dynamics in such a way that the rate of change of orientation in space and the rate of change of size affect the evolution. In Shape Dynamics no information like that is used. The only role that space plays (in the case of triangles) is in the rule that the angles must add up to 180 degrees. However, it turns out that in the formulation of the law governing Shape Dynamics it is very convenient to imagine all the different ways that you could position a given triangle in space if you could see space. This is where the fibres and the bundle they form come in, but let me postpone that to another day in order to come to the issue of what we actually see.
It is a fact easily forgotten that we cannot actually see distances. We only see angles. For example, when you open your eyes at night in the country, you see stars and the angles between them. You cannot possible 'see' the distance to the stars. You might counter that you see a distance when you lay a ruler next to an object that you wish to measure. However, all you actually see is the angle between the two ends of the ruler as it lies next to the ruler. The angles they subtend are equal. Of course, this will change as you change your point of view, and I think this perspective effect plays a role in your thinking Georgina. However, the important thing for me is that only angles are actually observable, distance is invisible. Distance therefore joins two other 'invisibles': space and time. My aim is to replace all three by differences between things that can actually be seen. Then we know that the things we are talking about are real, or at least have much more confidence that they are real.
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 28, 2012 @ 00:52 GMT
I am glad you are back to explain further. Sorry for rambling on in your absence. You are right my ideas don't match your own but where there is overlap they could possibly work together in a highly constructive way,I think anyway.
Thank you for clarifying that the triangles in Shape Space are independent of the observer. They are not the output of potential observer's sensory systems, got that now. I've been trying to compare them to potential sensory data in the environment but that's not actually what you are describing either.
You said: "You don't have to think of the triangles as existing 'somewhere' in space, and there is no time which says how fast the sequence is realized. There is also no direction on the sequence corresponding to a direction from a past to a future. How our sense of a passage of time arises is a matter for another day."
---That's hard for me because I need to think of some kind of existence for them somewhere/some-when to be real things rather than unreal abstractions. Which is one reason for wanting to think of them as data in the environment that might become observed triangles. I don't have such a problem with where in time (but to fit with my own way of thinking about things I would rather all of the possibilities existed simultaneously rather than as a sequence spread indefinitely in time.)Never mind I will try imagine them separate from the -space that is observed and time that is experienced-, in the same way I mentally separate the Object reality and image reality of my explanatory framework.
Your last paragraph is profound and I find it a bit puzzling. I can accept what you are saying about space and time being invisible. I can accept that we can't really measure distance (..for distant objects because it can vary according to observer position and distance from the object). I can understand that there is therefore something more reliable about the angles of a triangle so long as it is kept in Euclidean space.I'll have to let the rest of what you said sink in.
Thank you for clarifying your aim. It does seem sensible to try to find something from all that we perceive to exist, that can be relied upon as relating in some way to an underlying "firm" reality. Thank you very much for taking the time to explain here.It will be very interesting to learn more about the fibre bundles and triangle orientation.I'm really interested in learning more about this and particularly interested in how it becomes the observer's reality in your opinion.
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 29, 2012 @ 09:53 GMT
I take your point about seeing angles rather than distances.I've gone and read a little bit about visual angles and the early visual cortex's attention to lines and corners.
Making calculations simpler sounds good to me, though getting beyond the explanations for how and why it works, in order to really appreciate its simplicity and useful might be the hard work. Though I think it is worth while.
Still unsure what I ought to think of all of the transformations of the triangle to be thinking about them as you are. Are these all the triangle made by the ? positions of the -objects- or the single triangle -object- itself, but not imagined in space-time. (I'm not sure now whether they should have positions as they don't have distances. I said it was puzzling.) What if anything do parallax and perspective have to do with this? Do I need to imagine the triangle as something rigid just seen differently? or something that is itself actually changing?
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 09:36 GMT
Good news, I have installed a new Flash player and now I can see your lecture videos with diagrams, rather than having just sound. So I'm going to watch them through to the end now. Which should help me at least get a little further in properly grasping your model. I don't know how much I'll understand but I'm keen to see how far I get before I'm thoroughly puzzled. From seeing your other videos, and your replies, I know you explain things well- so I am hopeful and still very enthusiastic about it.
I not sure how it is that one dimension, distance, is invisible, but two dimensions, angles, are visible? It would seem what qualifies as "visible" is the existence of a reference, the degree of angle. Doesn't this speak more to our limited mental functions, that our mind is better designed to observe differences, than the connections from which they arise? It seems to me the problems in physics are not so much about what is visible, but making the connections underlaying the visible.
I see the problem of time is that we "see" a sequence of events, rather than the processes creating and dissolving them. For example, does the earth travel/exist along a vector from yesterday to tomorrow, or is it that tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth rotates? If it is the latter, then time is an effect of motion, the rate of change. Much as temperature is level of activity. Increase the level of activity and you increase the rate of change and that's why clock rates are variable.
Since we "see" the events, rather than the processes, we confuse which is the scale and which is the needle. It is not the present moving along a deterministic sequence, but the events forming and dissolving within the context of what exists, ie. is present. Probabilities condensing into actualities. What determines the fate of the cat is not a progression from a determined past into a probabilistic future, but the actual playing out of those probabilities. Thus time as effect.
Let me deal with one thing at a time Georgina. I said:"You don't have to think of the triangles as existing 'somewhere' in space, and there is no time which says how fast the sequence is realized." You responded:
"That's hard for me because I need to think of some kind of existence for them somewhere/some-when to be real things rather than unreal abstractions. Which is one reason for wanting to think of them as data in the environment that might become observed triangles."
I sympathize and think the use of abstractions is a real issue (as does Penrose, who comments on the way physical reality seems to be reduced ever more to mathematical abstractions). I think the only way science could restore the world of direct experience would be to overturn the method of science entirely and make experience primary and seek to explain the appearance of an external world as our mistaken interpretation of rules that govern experience. Many artists and poets and even a few scientists have thought that way, but science has continued its triumphant way.
The belief that things should be 'somewhere and somewhen' underlies many of the objections to the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. However, I do think it is possible to conceive structures (and Euclidean triangles are the simplest example) that are defined intrinsically - by their angles alone - and do not need to be placed in space and time. For me, the simplest model of many worlds is the set of all possible Euclidean triangles. It meets my mathematical requirements but it's a bleak world, bereft of colour and movement. Somehow consciousness must restore our world to us.
In a later post, I may be able to come some way to meet your desire to place a triangle somewhere.
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 29, 2012 @ 10:21 GMT
Dear Julian ,
thank you for that reply. I don't mind that they are abstractions because they can still be very useful. I don't think Einstein's space time continuum or Minkowski space is real but it is useful. Same with Bohr's atom. Far more useful to chemists and biochemists than more accurate electron cloud models. I just need to know what it is, so that I'm thinking about it as you are. How it can be related to a physical reality is something that can come later.I am interested to hear what you have to say.
I did write a reply Jul. 29, 2012 @ 09:53 GMT after my previous one but it crossed with yours.
I'm much happier about the superposition of "many worlds" now that I am able to see how it does not conflict with Einsteinian relativity but is IMHO due to our experienced reality being a fabrication from received data. Each present being one of many possibilities that might be fabricated from potential sensory data in the environment. So though the -objects- are somewhere/somewhen, the data which had the object as its source is distributed in the Uni-temporal environment and has many wheres and has originated from many whens.
I'm thinking it is a bit like a hologram because there isn't just one lot of data related to the object but lots an lots of variants of the data. It isn't one object any-more but data that might give many different versions of the object. Front, back, side, bottom, top and everything inbetween. Interaction with the observer leads to a single reality as that is the fabricated output.
Tommy Gilbertson replied on Jul. 29, 2012 @ 19:30 GMT
To prestidigitate and clutch...
Mr. Barbour said, "Somehow consciousness must restore our world to us".
Not to plug my mediocre essay in the last contest, but in that essay I derived an equation for Consciousness based on the results of Young's double slit experiment results. Not saying this form of the equation 'restores our world to us' through it's interaction with reality, but some form probably will survive into a new theory?
But that is off-track. What is on track is two overarching concepts that seem to always survive when creating new theories in history: Order and Duration. Mr. Barbour has defined Order (or sequence) by the series of trangles obeying the 'sum of angles equals 180 deg. in flat space', and Duration is left to be developed as time is defined in this system. Maybe the 'rate' at which the succession of triangles is 'presented', i.e. the sequence of frozen Shape Spaces? So then time is defined from the theory itself and emerges naturally without assuming an Absolute Time...
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 29, 2012 @ 21:19 GMT
Dear Tommy, All,
Tommy you said, referring to Julian Barbour's model: "Maybe the 'rate' at which the succession of triangles is 'presented', i.e. the sequence of frozen Shape Spaces? So then time is defined from the theory itself and emerges naturally without assuming an Absolute Time...", I think that the sequence of observed shapes -is- giving the subjective experience of a passage of time in Julian Barbour's model, rather than there being any objective absolute passage of time- though I would like to hear Julian's explanation.I don't want to misrepresent what he is saying.
In his model universe Plationia everything exists timelessly. I can see how that idea can be compatible with the Data pool of my explanatory framework because data produced during former iterations of the material universe persist in the environment and can become an experienced present when the data is received and processed by an observer.It is only potential sensory data though not the material objects.
In the explanatory framework that I have set out (High resolution diagram in my essay discussion thread) there is passage of time due to sequential change, (which is the sequence of arrangements of material objects from which sensory data is emitted or reflected.) -The sequence in which the data is received and processed is giving the sequence of presents experienced by the observer-,Also giving the experienced arrow of time. So it may also potentially work well with Julian's Shape Space model.
Julian Barbour said, "Somehow consciousness must restore our world to us".
It can do that because only partial data is received and a fabrication of external reality is formed from it. The data to fabricate a world in which I see the back of the cup and a world where I see the front of the cup both exist as potential sensory data in the environment, along with many other possibilities. Which world is my subjective experienced reality depends upon the data selected through the sequence of observer positions, relative to the objects in the environment.
EM radiation stimulates the cells of the retina and signals are sent to the visual cortex of the brain. Here there is an isomorphic arrangement of cells replicating the retina where the various stimuli are mapped. Higher levels of the visual cortex analyse the pattern of stimuli and it is interpreted, by association with learned ideas and vocabulary, into meaning.
Tommy, I would have to look back at your essay from last year as I don't rememberer that equation, so can't comment on its relevance.
Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 11:11 GMT
Hi Julian ,
I'm watching your lecture videos now I have a new Flash player that is working.
RE. Ernst Mach's quote. The point about how do you decide what is a true motion is interesting. I can see that it does, as you are saying, depend upon how it is thought about. I think I understand why you are using best matching. It seems to me that the small change has to happen before a bigger change so you orient the next triangle as closely to the former.Is that right? I am, as I thought I might, having trouble keeping thinking of these as abstract triangles when you begin relating them to motion. You are explaining things that relate to the physics of existing things, and I can't not imagine it very easily.
As I have been thinking about things for some time now, there are objects that are the source or origin of sensory data, and there is sensory data. Observers do not see objects but they receive sensory data and fabricate an output that is the image of an object. So when you talk about the triangles and observed motion I do not know whether this relates to the objects or the data distributed in the environment or the observer's fabricated output.Or non of those options.
Data distributed in the environment in a single iteration of the arrangement of an Object universe does not need a time dimension. So I seem to be agreeing with you about not needing time to have a sequence of triangles. It would be possible to distribute a number of observers in space at varying distances for the source object and for them to each simultaneously see a triangle that is different, which could then be put into a temporal sequence, even though they were all obtained from the same uni-temporal space (not space-time) ie simultaneously occurring everywhere.
A way to do that would be to have the object pulsating in different colours, or being different colours and rotating to give a sequence. The data from different iterations (different colours) is added to the environment and will be available to the spatially distributed observers in a single uni-temporal iteration ie. simultaneously. That's not space-time it seems to me, just space containing data originating from different arrangements of the Object universe.
I'm sorry to be rambling on again. I'm not going to understand everything that you are saying about the various ways of describing motion but I do think it is fascinating how many different kinds of description can arise out of the Shape Space model.I'm half way through but I think I need to let that bit sink in before tackling some more.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 1, 2012 @ 08:54 GMT
Dear Julian ,
I think I've got the abstract Shape Space notion clear now. It is an imagined space that acts as a "workplace" for doing the necessary calculation. My understanding (or not) There is a triangle (I don't yet know -what- it is other than an abstract object or arrangement of abstract objects.)In the Shape Space all the possible orientations, translations rotations and dilatations are imagined. (That's the fibre bundle.) Then you decide which of those you are considering rotation, translation or dilatation and best match the triangle you have with the imagined ones in Shape Space, in order- getting a sequence by best matching.I will assume for the reason I gave in my previous post. Then that sequence can be used like the Lagrangian's are used in classic mechanics to get the Action and all of that happens without having to invoke time at all, which fits with Mach's ideas. That makes sense to me.I think what the triangle -is- will become clear later on and I should stop fretting about it.I will watch some more of the lectures.I'm really interested in what happens when the observer gets involved.
As regards Yuri's post, I'm afraid I cannot make much of it. Sorry about that. We seem to be speaking different languages.
As regards Georgina's comment
"I just need to know what it is, so that I'm thinking about it as you are. How it can be related to a physical reality is something that can come later.I am interested to hear what you have to say"
I cannot do better than to say that in my way of thinking about things the universe in any instant has a shape which we try to represent mathematically.As very young children, we learn to 'fit together' very different 2D images of, say, a cube and comprehend them as a cube in 3D Euclidean space.If there are differently coloured dots in space whose separations do not change, we could view them from many different positions and from comparison of the different 2D images build up a 3D understanding of their relative positions in space.In my view only the relative positions have meaning. The complete set of points has no position or orientation in space except in our imagination. However, the moment we focus our attention on any three points, the triangle they form does have a definite position relative to all the other points. The considered triangle has some physical reality in its own right, defined by its angles, but it gets much more when you consider it relative to all the other points. One can now speak meaningfully about the considered triangle's orientation and size relative to them. When I was speaking about triangles in the earlier post, I meant them to represent the entire universe. But nothing stops me considering universes made of an arbitrary fixed number of particles.Three just happens to be the simplest example in which one can define a shape.
I'm not sure that was the kind of answer you were hoping for but perhaps it helps.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 2, 2012 @ 00:07 GMT
Dear Julian ,
thank you once again very much for your reply. It is a brilliant answer because you are thinking about this in a very interesting way. You are right IMHO -how the triangle looks (or is imagined to look ) depends upon how it is looked at (or imagined to appear). I was starting to realise your intended meaning, when you were talking in your lecture about choosing whether a rotation, translation or dilatation is considered to be occurring according to the observer, as it could be any of them. It sort of ties in with what I was saying about the Truth, talking to J.C. N Smith on my essay thread. Words to the effect that the Truth is something "seen" in every possible way, not just in part or fleeting glimpse.(Though something does not actually have to be seen to be a Truth.)- A coffee mug is a 2 dimensional circle but also everything else it can be seen to be as well.( The circle is a matter of fact but not the Truth, the Truth is the everything -The entirety of what it is.)
It gets interesting and a bit puzzling. Is it the imagination forming these triangles and their behaviour, so the triangle(form and behaviour) is the product of sensory data processing or is it an independent external reality? It seems to me that; what is seen to be is usually a partial truth, formed from the incomplete sensory data received and not the whole truth; everything the triangle is and might be seen to do, one might say.
Incidentally there are numerous optical illusions in which shapes are seen but do not correspond to the external source of the sensory data.Kanizsa triangle The Kanizsa triangle is the product of the way in which the data is processed, not something that exists independently.
I think our thinking is overlapping because you have the observer( or imaginer) selecting one of many different possibilities for how the triangle might appear to be and appear to be changing, rotating, transforming, changing size. So there isn't -a singular- macroscopic reality but many from which the observer selects one "at a time". Which fits with the QM many worlds in super-position idea.
When you say it is meant to represent the entire universe I am a little puzzled. I had thought you meant that the whole of external reality could be imagined broken down into various combinations of 3 points. Which sounds useful to me. Now I'm not sure that is what you meant. Are you considering the triangle as something separate from any outside influence and thus it is its own little model universe? As in nature, what the triangle is, and does, does not depend just upon how the observer looks at it but the forces acting independently of the observer that could alter the separations and give a foundationally different triangle rather than just an apparently different triangle.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 6, 2012 @ 05:12 GMT
I have just noticed, looking again at your PIRSA lecture, you have a diagram of the Shape Space. Marked are fictitious vertical changes, which are the changes of the triangle that appear to occur, the gauge ones. Not physical alteration of the object. Then you have "nature generates real horizontal changes", (which are the ones that are changes to the shape itself). "It says on...
I have just noticed, looking again at your PIRSA lecture, you have a diagram of the Shape Space. Marked are fictitious vertical changes, which are the changes of the triangle that appear to occur, the gauge ones. Not physical alteration of the object. Then you have "nature generates real horizontal changes", (which are the ones that are changes to the shape itself). "It says on there defining it is the central problem".
It seems to me the vertical ones could be to do with how the object is perceived, so they must relate to sensory data in the environment, generated from EM interaction with the object. The horizontal changes are those that are the alteration of the arrangement of the universe, the sequential real changes of the material object or arrangement generating passage of time, (independently of the experienced time generated from the sequence of received and processed data.)
I also agree it is important that the seen and real changes do have to be separated and treated as different things. I like the diagram where you have the fibre bundles above the curved path on the shape space because it is to me like all of the different possibilities that could be seen related to the object. The observer could be "looking" anywhere along that fibre. Though if you are referring to the data in the environment when they are seen is not simultaneous with the existence of the shape on the shape space IE the actual form to which the bundle relates.They can be seen -whenever- the data is received and processed. So the fibre line does not represent spatial position or temporal simultaneity. ( You did explain to me that this diagram is not in space or time, that now makes sense.)Also the observer can be moving which will alter where -vertically- on the fibres, as well as "horizontally" the shape is selected (as well as there being ongoing "horizontal" change of the object generating the new "vertical" possibilities.)
It is also interesting to me when you say that you are not putting the triangle into space time but that space-time emerges. It seems to me that it is not so much space-time that is emerging from real changes but sequential iterations of the object/arrangement in 3D space as each new real arrangement replaces the previous one. This is the kind of scenario J.C. N Smith is also describing. This is different than for the seen triangles, as the data capable of making all of the possible output observed triangles persists in the environment, so there is temporal spread within the data (IE it relates to a particular source arrangement /iteration) when it was generated but there is no temporal spread of the space itself.
It gets complicated at the end and it starts to sound very different to what I have been imagining.I do think it is very important to separate what is seen from the material objects, (your vertical triangles from your horizontal ones). I can picture potential sensory data spreading out from a source giving a foliation of data where each leaf relates to a different source arrangement (One of your real shapes.) So there is a temporal foliation even though all of the data is co existing simultaneously in the environment. So the universe is deciding what data is there prior to the observer selecting it, it is not random.
The mathematics you are describing is complicated for me but I think I can follow why it is being done, if not what is being done. It would be nice to know what you think of what i have written. Perhaps you would consider correcting me if I am just not getting it, or let me know if the way I am relating the ideas to my own thinking is at all interesting or helpful in your opinion.
I have great respect to your approach, but the same time i want to clarify for me some details:
I would like reminding you quote from Winterberg article:
"5. Einstein - Parmenides and the Ontological Proof for the Non-Existence of God
The special theory of relativity understood by Einstein as a four-dimensional space-time continuum implies a kind of superdeterrninisrn with the future completely determined down to the smallest detail. This was the reason why Einstein believed time is an illusion and why Karl Popper told Einstein "You are Parmenides," the Greek philosopher (515-445) who believed that being is not becoming and time (becoming) an illusion. With everything exactly predetermined there can be no free will, not even a hypothetical God, and a God without free will is an ontological impossibility.
One therefore can say: If Einstein is right, then there can be no God. The opposite though, is not true; true rather is if God exists then Einstein must be wrong."
If the Universe is a sequence of identical cycles, according to Penrose, that is, time is a circle, how do you identify past from future and vice versa?
The Past is the a Future. The Future is the Past.
I will try to show concrete difference between the 2 approaches:
Parmenides and Heraclitus.
Suppose two options with the same content:
1. The written Text by Nature
2. The Audio-recording of the same Text.(We live and listeniing audio-recording regime)
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 3, 2012 @ 23:44 GMT
I think you are expressing your insight into how seemingly incompatible ideas can be important descriptions relating to the same thing.
Heraclitus understood continual change of the universe (and of the the observer). Parmenides understood that we can not rely entirely upon our senses to inform us of the whole truth or independently existing reality. So IMHO both had very important insights that are useful to science today.
Parmenides imagined deeper reality still and perfect. Hericlitus meditated on change. This difference of viewpoint is a bit like the measurement problem of QM, where either the position or momentum of a particle can be measured not both at once. It is useful IMHO to consider single timeless iterations of the universe but it is also useful to consider changes that occur; that might be traced as paths of particles or objects, or spreading out of potential sensory data, through many iterations.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 4, 2012 @ 04:46 GMT
I'm not speaking for Julian Barbour or putting words into his mouth. -As I- understand it, his Platonia is a timeless universe where everything past, present and future exists. In that respect, as I see it, it is much like the space-time continuum of Einstein or a Block time model and I can see why you make a comparison to Parmenides' perfect, still realm. The shape space he has described is not in space or time as we usually imagine it, but is timeless.
For me there are unacceptable philosophical problems with that co- existence of past, present and future -if- it is considered to be the whole of the Universe.IE Materially existent rather than just referring to latent sensory data in the environment. Those philosophical problems are the "Red Hat dislikes" mentioned in my current essay -that make redundant: free will, a creator and mercy in the universe. (It is still unclear to me -what- Julian Barbour considers the triangle to be in physical reality rather than in his model, a material thing or things? information? the observer's opinion? or is it -just- an abstract theoretical thing? So far from his replies it seems to me the last of those choices.)
According to my own explanatory framework (See diagram 1. in my current essay and high resolution copy in discussion thread) there are "events" and "objects" that exist timelessly as potential sensory data, which will be formed into a present experience when the data is received and processed by an observer. So the latent experience of an event or object, although correlated to the iteration of the universe when the sensory data was produced, does not have a singular existence in time. It becomes an experienced event or object (a manifestation) when ever the data is received and processed.
What I am proposing is not IMHO a theologically or scientifically heretical idea. It is the opposite of heresy. Helping science by aligning -its findings- with a comprehensible explanation of reality and bringing it closer to a number of theological ideas, with which it has been in the most severe contradiction. It is a small modification of interpretation that permits the temporal paradoxes to be overcome and other foundational questions to be answered. I think it should also be compatible with Julian Barbour's Shape Space dynamics, as there appears to me to be some similarity in thinking about how things can be seen, or imagined.
Only posiable reconcilation between Parmenides and Heraclites is the Cyclic Universe in modern Penrose version or oldest Heraclitus version.
Diogenes Laertius gives this summary of Heraclitus' doctrine of cyclical conflagration: "And it [the cosmos] is alternately born from fire and again resolved into fire in fixed cycles to all eternity, and this is determined by destiny" (Lives, 9. 8).
IMHO all is flow in one cycle,but all cycles repeat itch other,despite the violation of laws of thermodynamics.We don't now duration of one cycle and whether it makes sense asked this question.Does the Universe is hologram?
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 5, 2012 @ 20:34 GMT
I think these has been a mistake in physics since the invention of the space-time continuum. The image formed from sensory data is mistaken for the object. Data can persist in the environment and become an observer's reality when it is processed into an output. It is according to my own terminology a pre-written future. It is a future because it is yet to be the experienced...
I think these has been a mistake in physics since the invention of the space-time continuum. The image formed from sensory data is mistaken for the object. Data can persist in the environment and become an observer's reality when it is processed into an output. It is according to my own terminology a pre-written future. It is a future because it is yet to be the experienced present of an observer, even though it was data produced from events that have already occurred. However that does not mean that the entire -material reality- of the universe already exists predetermined. That future is open and undecided as the material universe is undergoing continual self organisation and that includes the free will and choices of organisms. That continual self organisation is to me like Heraclitus' river.
The environment is full of data that can be formed into different present experiences. In this data pool events are not occurring in time but are recorded and remain timeless until they become experience.That, to me, is more like the space-time continuum and Parmenides' realm than Heraclitus' river, as there is "preservation" of events and objects as they were. Data is spreading out from its source though, so it is not perfectly still unless a single iteration is considered. Within that iteration is -data- relating to events that have occurred at different times even though that singular iteration exists only at one time.
There is data to produce many different experiences of reality according to observer position.(To my mind this may be like the many different versions of the triangle Julian Barbour has been talking about.) I think that data pool is a bit like a hologram in that an "object" here, (data to form an output that looks like the object), doesn't exists just as a singular thing but there are many different versions of it within the data and its reconstructed form and motion will depend upon which data is selected by the observer.
This arrangement of different facets of reality allows ongoing creation rather than a redundant creator. It allows free will as the material future is not fully predetermined. It works with relativity as there are pre-written futures that will form observed presents. As there is ongoing creation there is recycling of structures, rather than their eternal perpetuation. Which means therefore there can be an end to suffering and mercy. The alternative, the currently accepted model, is a cruel and merciless universe where humans have no free will as their destiny is already fully predetermined- and having created that universe there is no need for a creator.
Please take a look at my current competition essay which gives further reasoning for this kind of universe. I do not see that the universe has to fit precisely with the views of the two philosophers from antiquity. They both have profound insights but neither is IMHO explaining the entirety of reality.This is my opinion based upon my own work. I am not talking for Julian Barbour. It would be interesting to listen to his opinion on your question but he may not see any directly relevant to his own work.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 5, 2012 @ 22:32 GMT
You wrote:"I think way out from the situation in this direction." I do not know what situation you are referring to.I have taken a quick look at your (last year's )essay and comments thread. With respect, it does not look like the kind of thing I would enjoy reading or find easily comprehensible. I do not wish to spend a long time deciphering it. I have noticed that there was positive feedback amongst the comments. There are too many for me to want to read them all.
By not reading it and all of the comments I am not making any derogatory inference about the ideas that are expressed in your paper. With respect, I just have other things I would rather read and spend my time on, such as the current essay entries. Good luck in finding other's who are more like minded.
Author Frank Martin DiMeglio wrote on Aug. 1, 2012 @ 18:14 GMT
Julian Time requires extensiveness and balance. It fundamentally requires past, present, and future. Physics happens in and with time. Time requires gravitational and inertial equivalency and balancing. Time requires space.
Author Frank Martin DiMeglio wrote on Aug. 1, 2012 @ 18:20 GMT
Julian Time AND space ultimately require balanced and equivalent attraction and repulsion in conjunction with gravitational and inertial equilibrium/equivalency and balancing. Gravity cannot be shielded. Think about our experience directly. Gravity is key to distance in/of space.
Oh yeah, this is important. Wilhelmus was trying strongly to convince me to contribute and enter this contest because he said my comments were being referred to in threads, and it has been his impetus to write an essay here. I didn't have the heart to tell him that all new comments appear on the upper left of these pages and have nothing to do with any of their content. Dont' tell him: he's a great guy! He a Dutchman living in Paris, and has a cave full of wine he wants to share with me one day. Don't tell him. He's a sweet kid!
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 4, 2012 @ 22:09 GMT
I've already said elsewhere that I would read your essay if you finish it. I would be happy to comment on it, according to my own abilities. There is only one person, who posts on FQXi, widely and purposefully ignored and it isn't you. Cheers!
I thought it is me, who does not understand the reality of time, and have to concentrate so much to evolve an understanding about reality of space and time. Now humans intuitively take space and time as strongly conserved, as is matter. The observation of disappearance of matter on heating, was resolved into conservation by introducing...
I thought it is me, who does not understand the reality of time, and have to concentrate so much to evolve an understanding about reality of space and time. Now humans intuitively take space and time as strongly conserved, as is matter. The observation of disappearance of matter on heating, was resolved into conservation by introducing phase transition for matter. Human intuition learnt conversion of matter between phases and added this to the concept of conservation as applied to Matter. Later when matter was resolved into lowest level of atoms, with electron and nucleus, neutralization embedment of neutralization became complete. Thus in human intuition; we have absolute conservation applied to space and time, and conservation (along with neutralization, inter-convertibility between forms) applied to matter.
Relativity (Einstein interpretation of results from Michelson-Morley experiment) removed distinction, if any, that existed between matter and energy by equation E=mc2. It also highlighted invariance requirement of laws of nature and understood the propagation of light as law of universe.
However relativity did not provide further insight into concept of time. It continued with human perception of time as a localized parameter used by observer as if read from a clock. The issue of time was relegated to difficulty in synchronizing clocks at different locations.
So, for time concept, we are still dealing with earlier interpretation which was based on Solar System measured by clocks whether solar or not.
In PicoPhysics, while we emphasise on observer and its limitations to observe nature, the nature is governed by unary law 'Space contains Knergy'. The thought process of PicoPhysics includes mathematical treatment of observation that includes not only the identity of object but the reality that manifests in the object. Infinite maths deals with governance of different realities acting together in nature while conventional maths extends this for defined magnitude (identities in object) of realities present in object. The essential elements of Infinite Maths (Or Pico Maths) are; Infinite order, mapping one reality into another, Measurement as conformal mapping. Unary law 'Space contains Knergy' is read as Knergy maps non-conformal on to Space in the language of infinite maths. The analysis of this mapping leads us to 3-dimensions of Space. As well as the concept of Time - a sequence of instants (group of simultaneous events). Simultaneity gets defined based on additive nature of Knergy due to Konservation (Conservation without neutralization).
The chronological measure coming out of analysis of Unary law is called Samay. Simultaneous events share same value of Samay. The difference between events is than pronounced to be purely spatial. The equation for gap between an event and observer is;
x2+y2+z2+s2 = t2
(Please read addition sign between individual square terms)
The gap between event simultaneous to event at origin is
x2 +y2 +z2 =t2
This simultaneity is definable with respect to Knergy alone due to Konservation. It is independent of observer as it is basic to Konservation. The three spatial axis all attain there individual personality from presence and drift of Knergy in respective direction. Thus they are alike - establishing isotropic as well as uniformity of space. This enables extension the equation to whole of space (not disturbed by presence of Knergy).
The equation x2 +y2 +z2 =t2 is invariant with respect to observer. The Lorentz transformations now define, in conventional mathematical terms the reality of time and space through dimensions through Lorentz transformation.
This is how in PicoPhysics we understand Knergy, Space with Samay & Time. Also see my essay on 5-Dimensional Universe . Please advice, for further details on the analysis and logic of integration of Space, Energy, Knergy, Space, Samay and Time in PicoPhysics.
Thank you very much for participating in these discussions. I have followed your writings about the nature of time with great interest since discovering your book 'The End of Time' soon after it was published.
I believe we share many views in common regarding the nature of time. You've written, "The relative configurations, or shapes, of the Universe do not occur at instants of time . . . they are the instants of time." My oft-used wording for what I believe is essentially the same idea is, "a particular time is identically equivalent to, and is completely defined by, and only by, a particular configuration of the universe."
Extending this notion a bit further, I've written "what we *perceive* as the flow of time is, in reality, nothing more and nothing less than the evolution of the physical universe, an evolution which is governed by rules which we strive to understand and which we refer to as the laws of physics."
Earlier in this blog (on 19 July) you wrote, ". . . general relativity has a rich mathematical structure and it has been known for 50 years that it can also be viewed as a theory of the evolution of three-dimensional geometry."
I believe you'll find my views on the nature of time to be both naive and primitive, but I mean that in a good way. I do not pretend to sophistication in mathematical modeling, but I believe that I have a solid grasp on objective reality. Moreover, I'm deeply troubled by thinking which is based on mathematical modeling of reality when it leads people to claim that perceived distinctions between past, present, and future are illusory, and that there is no objective flow of time. I fear that those who hold these views have lost sight of the distinction between the map and the terrain.
Thank you for sharing your view about the nature of the universe. With regard to your description of static configurations, could you please mention empirical evidence for the existence of static configurations? Thank you.
Hello again. Life is a bit hectic for me at the moment, so I won't be able to respond to everything. Luckily some posts don't seem to relate to me but are discussions between others.
First, Georgina commented yesterday
"It seems to me the vertical ones could be to do with how the object is perceived, so they must relate to sensory data in the environment, generated from EM interaction with the object. The horizontal changes are those that are the alteration of the arrangement of the universe, the sequential real changes of the material object or arrangement generating passage of time, (independently of the experienced time generated from the sequence of received and processed data.)''
The second sentence is correct. The first is not quite. If you fix a triangle somewhere in a room and then look at it from different points of view, you will get the changes of appearance that you correctly describe Georgina. However, this is not what I mean by the vertical changes. They are nothing to do with how one and the same triangle will be seen by an observer from different viewpoints. They can be likened to all the different ways a mathematician can imagine the triangle placed in the room (and also its size changed). This and a recent email exchange have made me realize how much care must be taken to get across abstract ideas. To make things really clear I fear I would need at least a few pages. Sadly other commitments and post limitations make that well nigh impossible.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 09:38 GMT
thank you for clarifying what the triangle is meant to be.I did understand that the triangle is an abstract mathematical thing as you and collaborators are using it. As you explained that to me. -I wanted to relate it to a physical reality-, because for me that is the point of maths. It should be representing the physics that is happening in reality and not just being abstract.
In my explanatory framework there are two aspects of reality that co-exist one is the arrangement of objects and media including the distribution of potential sensory data and the other is the output of data processing giving what the observer sees. The shape space model shown in the diagram may not have been developed with that picture of physical reality in mind but I do not know why it could not also serve that function. Can the mathematician orient the "vertical" triangle in any way, (other than "larger than life"), that the observer would not be able to see it? Assuming the observer is able to position himself anywhere around the triangle object.It would be bigger and smaller depending on how near or far the observer is.
When Julian says that triangles (or any geometric figure) are abstractions, I think he means to imply that there are no "triangles in the sky," except as we imaginatively connect those dots (as, e.g., the ancients did, to describe constellations).
In other words, physical matter plays no a priori role in how we do geometry (or any other mathematics) -- because free choice of spatial points is not constrained by physical reality. When it comes to the geometry that "should be representing the physics that is happening in reality and not just being abstract," as you put it, Barbour and group are firmly wedded to the physics of Mach's Principle, which is relativistic physics in its purest form. That is, how can the dynamic relations among mass points be described in terms of relations among spatial points? The answer would generalize in mathematical language the relativity of motion without encountering the need to prescribe arbitrary boundary conditions, as one does when drawing triangles on a sheet of paper or other surface. The triangles that nature makes, subsume those of our design -- in Mach's mechanics, space is a convenient fiction.
P.S., Georgina -- if you haven't yet made a study of it, I think you will find that Mach's Science of Mechanics published in English in 1919 (link is a free download -- thank you, Universal Library)) is more than worthwhile reading, and ranks as a milestone scientific work. You will find that Mach agrees with most of your views, not the least of which is that "Mechanics will here be treated, not as a branch of mathematics, but as one of the physical sciences."
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 21:35 GMT
thank you for explaining. I completely get that there are no "triangles in the sky" -as fixed objects or arrangements-. When I said "Assuming the observer is able to position himself anywhere around the triangle object" that was short hand for "object or arrangement of objects forming the triangle shape", which I had said a number of times in my previous comments to Julian Barbour.I...
thank you for explaining. I completely get that there are no "triangles in the sky" -as fixed objects or arrangements-. When I said "Assuming the observer is able to position himself anywhere around the triangle object" that was short hand for "object or arrangement of objects forming the triangle shape", which I had said a number of times in my previous comments to Julian Barbour.I get that -only the relationship of the angles, and constant separations, are taken as THE SHAPE. There is no reference to the observer or a spatial or space-time co-ordinate system when saying what the shape is, so its an arbitrary choice.
I think you are underestimating how I am thinking about this-
For any relationship of points (or angles) there are two ways in which the shape can change. Either the points move ( angles change) because there has been an alteration of the relationship between the things that are the points (forming the angles) OR the relationship with the observer has altered (while the relationship of the points (and angles) themselves is unaltered). Both could occur together.
I was comparing the abstract horizontal shape alteration to the first scenario and the abstract vertical set of shapes, (which are not really alterations of the shape itself) to all of the possibilities given by the potential sensory data in the environment enabling the second scenario. Moving up and down the abstract fibre would be moving around the object, getting different sensory data input and generating an output with a different appearance. Moving horizontally along the plane would be obtaining data from an altered relationship of (points/) angles.
So for any arbitrary relationship of angles giving a shape there is a -complete set of variants- which are alternatives that could be seen but have not been, as the shape can only be resolved, by the observer, into one image, out of the many possible alternatives. That is because incomplete data is received at what ever position the observer is positioned. However within the environment will be the potential sensory data to form outputs that are all of the other possibilities. This connects to the QM wave-function and how a multi-verse of possibilities co-existing in the environment can become one macroscopic reality for the observer. The whereabouts and when the data to give those possibilities exists is the result of the physical process of sensory data production and transmission.
This is not IMHO a trivial misunderstanding on my part. As I mentioned in another comment to Julian Barbour this ties in with what I said to J.C.N. Smith about the Truth. That it is "the whole elephant" seen in every possible way not just partially or a glimpse. All of the possibilities not just the one that the observer selects from the data within the environment.
I haven't given a great deal of thought to mechanics but what Julian is describing makes sense to me in the way I have described and I think is easily accessible to visualisation rather than just is abstract mathematical representation.
As I said, Georgina, just my two cents. I'm a lot less concerned with what reality is, than I am with how we can understand it objectively. I find no other means to that goal than abstract mathematical representation.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 12:26 GMT
Your interest and expertise is mathematics.I'm particularly interested in the interface between the external physical world and the biological fabrication of experience, that Prime Reality Interface. My degree is in biology not physics. How the physics and biology work together is important to me. If the interface between the two, and what reality is on each side, is not properly understood it stands in the way of an objective understanding IMHO.
No one can -understand reality- if the mathematics is not correctly interpreted. Something can be incorrectly interpreted like GR, though it gives correct answers.Or something can give correct calculations, fitting with experimental results, when certain quantitative facts are input; even though it is abstract and has been unrelated to reality,like QM. (Israel Perez's current essay talks about these kinds of problems.) If the model works the important question is why? Why does it work? How is the mathematics related to the physics of the external reality or the output fabricated by the observer. The correct answer to those questions is IMHO understanding.
Thomas Howard Ray replied on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 13:41 GMT
You say that "No one can -understand reality- if the mathematics is not correctly interpreted."
A mathematical model isn't ambiguous. The proper application of a mathematical model to physical phenomena may be debatable; however, it's the whole purpose of mathematical physics (or biology or economics or any other science) to provide an objective description of physically observed events. That's why most quantum theorists emphasize strict calculation over the various philosophical interpretations of experimental results -- the calculations match the results, regardless of what one thinks they mean. To me and many other theorists, the need for interpretation only underscores the opinion that QM is not mathematically complete, and therefore cannot represent the foundational principles of nature.
One can compare this "interpretive" science to a mathematically complete theory, such as general relativity, which is a complete theory of gravity in the classical domain. It incorporates closed logical judgments; i.e., nothing outside the theory is needed nor can be imposed, to interpret its predictions and results. Both Joy Christian's framework and Julian Barbour's aim for completeness, too -- an objective 1 to 1 correspondence between mathematical theory and physical result.
Perhaps you believe that no complete theory of biology is possible. One will find, though, that if it is possible, it is only a mathematical theory that makes it objectively so.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 22:41 GMT
People interpret objective mathematical descriptions. They give a meaning to it even if they claim not to. Then use the mathematics to justify their interpretation. That's why we have the mainstream acceptance of the space time continuum -idea- and all of the associated nonsense. Such as talk of time travel. Along with that acceptance comes the -extremely vile- consequences of the space-time continuum interpretation, that people seem oblivious to or mentally brush under the carpet, if it has ever come into mind. We have the -curved space-time idea-, not just the alteration of light paths, affecting when data is received. We have all of the weird and wonderful speculation about the singularity idea, the big bang idea, the inflation idea. Mathematics is not stand alone objective calculation, it is related, by people, to -ideas- and related to what is imagined to have occurred, is thought to be occurring or is thought might occur.Caught up in the whole confusion over temporal matters.
I expect very few are content to think in the following ways: "this works, I don't know why or what it might mean, or how it relates to the universe that exists,or relates to other ideas and understanding, I'm not going to think about it, I mustn't think about it because I mustn't contaminate the objectivity of the mathematics with subjective analysis .... but because the calculations work I have an objective -understanding-(!)-of reality-(!)". A scientific calculator has no understanding of reality though it can give correct objective answers. IMHO we need better interpretation not no interpretation.
(I do realise there are 3 different kinds of alteration of the triangle that are represented by the vertical fibre in the diagram. So talking about moving around the object alone would not cover it, there will be the other kinds of changes in relationship. It was short hand because it would have taken too long to be thoroughly precise.)
Objective statements don't need interpretation. "Objective" means that we agree on certain fundamental assumptions, definitions, theorems. Mathematics is not a science, in the context of the physical sciences, such that one can open-endedly (inductively) compare a logical judgment to some phenomenon and gather...
Objective statements don't need interpretation. "Objective" means that we agree on certain fundamental assumptions, definitions, theorems. Mathematics is not a science, in the context of the physical sciences, such that one can open-endedly (inductively) compare a logical judgment to some phenomenon and gather consensus about what is "really" happening in the world. The point of mathematics as the language of science is to acquire a closed logical judgment such that obviates interpretation, and compare it to the phenomenon. If I may try to explain in terms of natural language (since any mathematical statement can in principle be translated to natural language), as native English users we agree that the sequence of symbols, C-A-T represents some class of animal that we all recognize in common. That statement is not true because any (rational) person believes that the symbols and the creature are the same thing -- it is true because we agree on the rules and definitions that make it true. One can interpret the symbols to mean D-O-G; however, wouldn't you agree that either the person is irrational, or that the symbols are therefore meaningless and useless for communication?
"They give a meaning to it even if they claim not to. Then use the mathematics to justify their interpretation. That's why we have the mainstream acceptance of the space time continuum -idea- and all of the associated nonsense. Such as talk of time travel. Along with that acceptance comes the -extremely vile- consequences of the space-time continuum interpretation, that people seem oblivious to or mentally brush under the carpet, if it has ever come into mind. We have the -curved space-time idea-, not just the alteration of light paths, affecting when data is received. We have all of the weird and wonderful speculation about the singularity idea, the big bang idea, the inflation idea. Mathematics is not stand alone objective calculation, it is related, by people, to -ideas- and related to what is imagined to have occurred, is thought to be occurring or is thought might occur.Caught up in the whole confusion over temporal matters."
Scientists as a rule are quite careful to differentiate speculation from objective judgments. Some of the things you mention are speculation, and others are firm predictions of rigorously argued theories. I won't debate the merits of any of them -- and you make a good valid point that because mathematics is simply what mathematicians do (and scientists and engineers interpret for their own purposes) that human failings can blur the distinction between what is objective and what is personal belief. By the same line of thinking, though -- isn't English what English speakers do? We made the rules. If a non-English speaker wants to tell us that C-A-T means D-O-G, are we obliged to agree?
It isn't the mathematics that lacks the capacity to convey meaning in objective terms. Mathematics is practiced in the same way whether one speaks only English or only Urdu. The fault of misunderstanding and the burden of misinterpretation lies with the individual's capacity to understand the language. I expect that not all "mainstream acceptance" is bad, and not all non-mainstream ideas are good.
"I expect very few are content to think in the following ways: 'this works, I don't know why or what it might mean, or how it relates to the universe that exists,or relates to other ideas and understanding, I'm not going to think about it, I mustn't think about it because I mustn't contaminate the objectivity of the mathematics with subjective analysis .... but because the calculations work I have an objective -understanding-(!)-of reality-(!)'. A scientific calculator has no understanding of reality though it can give correct objective answers. IMHO we need better interpretation not no interpretation."
I have often taken pains to explain that what's at stake is not "reality," as an imagined ideal. If what you say were true, one could interpret reality into existence. I don't think that's what you really mean to say (science would be pointless otherwise); however, the correspondence between an objectively closed judgment and physical phenomena would not be possible unless it were possible to make objectively closed judgments.
"(I do realise there are 3 different kinds of alteration of the triangle that are represented by the vertical fibre in the diagram. So talking about moving around the object alone would not cover it, there will be the other kinds of changes in relationship. It was short hand because it would have taken too long to be thoroughly precise.)"
As Pascal said, "I regret that I do not have time to make this brief." :-)
Often, I get the impression that you think my defense of mathematical objectivity is an attack on other modes of reasoning. On the contrary, I recognize that, to borrow from Hilary Clinton, it takes a village to raise an idea. When an idea has matured -- such as relativity in the past 100 years -- it is not because we haven't done our darndest to keep it from growing up. We've tested it, criticized it, "boiled it in sawdust and salted it in glue" and found it to preserve its "symmetrical shape." Lewis Carroll was a mathematician, you know. The consequences of the theory may scandalize some, yet wouldn't you agree that an idea that survives rigorous testing shouldn't be abandoned simply because it is inconvenient to what one believes is true? Perhaps you want to boil it and salt it a little more -- that's wonderful, and no scientist would discourage that. At the end of the day -- how will you objectively demonstrate that its purported symmetrical shape is actually limp and formless? Will you have a mathematical model that contradicts the closed logical judgments of relativity, or will you simply declare that no amount of boiling and salting can trump your intuition of what is true?
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 9, 2012 @ 13:59 GMT
I have read your message. You make lots of good points and I don't intend to argue. I mostly agree.
I know objective statements don't -need- interpretation. If however I choose to see the objective mathematics as a possible representation of something physical, that I would like to be able to express mathematically I can't really see the objection to asking whether that could be done and whether it is in any way useful. It would be useful to me.
I would not be altering the mathematics at all,it remains objective. A problem arises though if the mathematics is incapable of being that representation because it just does not do what I require it to do. Which is why I asked Julian Barbour if there was any way the triangle could be oriented such that an observer could not see it like that. I asked early on about the case of an observer seeing the triangle as a line, I don't know if that is a part of the vertical group or not because it isn't a seen triangle any more, even though the angles and separations have not altered. Which might sound a stupid question if you know all about gauge groups but I don't.
Re.relativity: I have no intention of contradicting relativity.I haven't said get rid of it because I don't like it. You've read lots of my posts and you've read my essay. It just has to be correctly interpreted which is not altering what it is but understanding it in a different context. In order to have that kind of relativity it is unnecessary to have a space-time continuum containing everything from a hypothetical bang to a hypothetical crunch ( Which comes with all of its inherent theological and philosophical horrors).The explanatory framework gives the alternative and it does not contradict relativity. Perhaps you haven't really noticed how it functions. I have been talking to you on FQXi long enough for you to know that my ideas have changed over time becoming better.If something doesn't work then I'll change it so that it does. If another problem arises, such happened regarding differences of opinion over terminology, then I will deal with that too. Its not just stubborn intuition.
I can't really help what you think I think about your writing.I mostly feel I'm being told off for being silly. Though you can't help what I think you think about my writing either : )
Thomas Howard Ray replied on Aug. 9, 2012 @ 15:02 GMT
Well now, this is really the crux, isn't it? -- "I can't really help what you think I think about your writing.I mostly feel I'm being told off for being silly. Though you can't help what I think you think about my writing either : )"
What you think I think is probably not what I think. Don't be insecure, Georgina -- the variety of ways in which we approach a problem, and the ways in which those ways combine, all contribute to constructive dialogue and new insights. There is one thing you can always be sure of, however: I am not one to spend time responding to things that I think are silly. That's the truth.
One avenue to consider in this conversation is complex systems analysis, with math being the closed set, ordered side of the spectrum. What is interesting about this comparison is the wave patterns which emerge when ordered systems become increasingly complex and dynamic, but than break down and reset when they become overly chaotic. This is the basic pattern physics goes through, as the clearly ordered models become increasingly complex. Often any particular logical thread can be, or at least seem, entirely consistent, but if viewed from another angle or perspective, be chaotic and inconsistent. What appears as a circle from one angle, can be a spiral from another angle. Escher's sketches of stairs and waterfalls are such an example of how a spiral and a circle can be the same thing, but only in two dimensions. I have had the impression this dynamic plays out in various of the physics discussions, where what seems consistent from one perspective, is inconsistent from another. We exist in a complex, anthropocentric reality and while there is a need and tendency to isolate simple, closed systems and models, it is rarely completely successful.
Gravity waves? Wormholes? How far can that "complete" model be pushed, before it does break down?
Thomas Howard Ray replied on Aug. 10, 2012 @ 10:10 GMT
"Gravity waves? Wormholes? How far can that "complete" model be pushed, before it does break down?"
We've known from the beginning that general relativity breaks down at the singularity. It is only complete in the domain of classical gravity.
Predictions of gravity waves and wormholes do not constitute a breakdown of the theory. I find it necessary to keep making the point that a scientific theory is not judged by what scandalizes one's personal intuition, common sense, or belief. Almost everything we know, objectively, is counterintutive.
John Merryman replied on Aug. 10, 2012 @ 10:38 GMT
Wouldn't a singularity be one end of a wormhole, as in the cyclical universe models?
If you think physics as counterintuitive, why is it so difficult for you to consider time, not as a vector from past to future, as it's been treated since the dawn of history, given that "history" is a narrative vector, but as the changing configuration of what is, turning future potential into past circumstance?
We still see the sun moving across the sky from east to west, but have known for five hundred years that it's not just like a bird or cloud passing overhead. Similarly we will always personally experience time as a sequence of events, but does it really need to be modeled that way in our primary understanding of reality?
Or does "counterintuitive" only refer to what is already written in the physics texts?
"Wouldn't a singularity be one end of a wormhole, as in the cyclical universe models?"
Singularity means space collapsed to a point. So, no.
"If you think physics as counterintuitive, why is it so difficult for you to consider time, not as a vector from past to future, as it's been treated since the dawn of history, given that "history" is a narrative vector, but as the changing configuration of what is, turning future potential into past circumstance?"
Because 1. I didn't say that physics is counterintuitive, which makes no sense. I said that most of our objective knowledge is counterintuitive; e.g., that objects fall at an identical rate in the same gravity field, whether in a straight trajectory or curved. 2. Your statement is self-contradictory; on the one hand, you disallow history a metric continuation forward, and on the other you allow history a reverse metric backward. If you really mean, OTOH, that nonlinear events are independent of a linear time metric (i.e., can be described in a spacetime continuum in the language of the tensor field where past and future and illusions) then your description does not differ from classical relativity.
"We still see the sun moving across the sky from east to west, but have known for five hundred years that it's not just like a bird or cloud passing overhead. Similarly we will always personally experience time as a sequence of events, but does it really need to be modeled that way in our primary understanding of reality?"
Of course not. We could model it as the ancients did, with Apollo driving his fiery chariot across the heavens. Personal experience is not the issue, however -- we're not aiming to describe reality, we aiming to describe the essential foundations that generate our perception of reality.
"Or does 'counterintuitive' only refer to what is already written in the physics texts?"
If you want to get into the physics texts, John, it has to be on the strength of ideas that are objective and noncontradictory -- does it not? -- even if counterintuitive.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 11, 2012 @ 00:19 GMT
Julian Barbour wrote:"They can be likened to all the different ways a mathematician can imagine the triangle placed in the room (and also its size changed)."
Maybe you can help. Can the mathematician place the triangle in the orientation in which an observer would recognise it as a straight line, ie edge on? I took a look at some stuff about mapping from one orientation to its transformation. Can that be done from a line to a triangle,ie. can the line be a homomorphism of the triangle or does the mathematics deal only down to very skinny transformations but not lines?
That seems an important question to me because thinking of a more complex shape such as a mug, the unchnaged 3 dimensional structure -must- also be related to a whole set of mathematical objects encoded in the potential data emitted from it; that will give images that -look dissimilar- but are still related to the same object. Eg, looking top down into the mug, looking at bottom, looking at handle side , looking at non handle side and at various other directions and angles of orientation and distance from observer.
That continuum of transformations or multi verse of possible observations within the data pool seems to me important for bridging the imagined divide between QM and macroscopic physics.The one definite appearance of the object being the output of data processing of the incomplete data the observer selected from the environment (because of his position and when the observation was made)
You write, " ... Can the mathematician place the triangle in the orientation in which an observer would recognise it as a straight line, ie edge on?"
I wouldn't think so. What you're thinking of is a triangle made of strings. Because a line has zero thickness, however, there is no edge. A line is an abstraction.
"I took a look at some stuff about mapping from one orientation to its transformation. Can that be done from a line to a triangle,ie. can the line be a homomorphism of the triangle or does the mathematics deal only down to very skinny transformations but not lines?"
Are you asking whether a line can morph into a triangle? Sure. A straight line is a special case for a curve. Since a triangle is described by three straight lines connected at 3 vertices, the triangle is the special case of a closed curve. Were one of the vertices disconnected, it would not be a triangle, but an open curve.
"That seems an important question to me because thinking of a more complex shape such as a mug, the unchnaged 3 dimensional structure -must- also be related to a whole set of mathematical objects encoded in the potential data emitted from it; that will give images that -look dissimilar- but are still related to the same object. Eg, looking top down into the mug, looking at bottom, looking at handle side , looking at non handle side and at various other directions and angles of orientation and distance from observer."
Right. Now you're into the generalization of geometry that we call topology (or analysis situs), which describes the smooth (or continuous) transformation of connected surfaces without changing the fundamentally global properties of the object.
What Barbour and company are talking about, however, are not smooth topological transformations, but rigid geometric transformations. That's what I was trying to get across by saying "no triangles in the sky." The transformations describe changes in relations among mass points, so we don't really need a concept of space to do this work -- we only need the abstract geometry to acquire the means of describing these relations. The *real* observed changes are independent of what we imagine those relations to be, but once we have fixed the correct relations, changes in them theoretically describe how nature works in a model of continuous relative transformations.
"That continuum of transformations or multi verse of possible observations within the data pool seems to me important for bridging the imagined divide between QM and macroscopic physics.The one definite appearance of the object being the output of data processing of the incomplete data the observer selected from the environment (because of his position and when the observation was made)"
Now you're really onto something. Some researchers are convinced that Mach's Principle (the foundational assumption of Barbour's research) is the key to solving the n-body problem both for quantum and classical systems. In other words, the universe is a closed quantum system. (No multi-verse needed.)
My own conception (my essay) solves the problem of the incomplete data you refer to, by the observer's relation to a point at infinity. All measurement functions are local and complete, and measures not chosen are metaphysically real, represented in the potential of the source of complete information in the continuous range of values.
John Merryman replied on Aug. 11, 2012 @ 15:28 GMT
Out here in the world that hasn't been distilled down to sequences of abstractions, the connection between past and future is called the present. Say we are at the races and I study the form, which is composed of its own variety of abstract symbology, the purpose of which is to best encapsulate the odds each horse has of winning its race. This is probability. After the day is over and all the races have run, another paper is printed with the results of each race. This is the actual outcome of the actual running of these races, with all the innumerable variables having played out, with one actual winner. Unless it is dead heat, but still there is no going back and changing the results. Only our judgement of prior events is subject to change, as they recede ever further into the past and the amount of information from different perspectives is compiled.
So we have what was in the future, then is the present and ultimately in the past.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 12, 2012 @ 04:35 GMT
thank you very much for your helpful reply.I've got a few more questions for you.3 unattached objects in a triangle formation can also appear lined up (changing the way they are looked at) even if there is no physical line there in space. Using the available information and the mental processing of it, the mind puts the line in just like with the Kanizsa triangle illusion.It only requires the points.Q- What happens to the abstract mathematical shape, does it just disappear when it is tipped over too far because it ceases to be a plane view but view of something with no thickness? But if the points are still there then isn't an abstract (line) shape still there?
Do you think the smooth topological transformations could be substituted for the rigid geometric transformations or does that mess everything up? Do the smooth topological transformations require space whereas the other kind do not?
I understood Julian to be using the simple triangle shape because it is very simple but the model would also apply to more complex shapes. The horizontal shape changes are what I imagined them to be and I think I see why best matching is useful, (though Julian Barbour didn't confirm that I was thinking about it correctly.
There isn't any such thing as a physical line. "But if the points are still there then isn't an abstract (line) shape still there?" There is no such thing as a physical point, either.
The lines and the points that we abstract from physical phenomena are freely chosen symbols for relations between and among things. "Things" are whatever we want them to be. The distinctions among objects using points and lines are in the most general sense our way of describing changes in relations among things.
"Do you think the smooth topological transformations could be substituted for the rigid geometric transformations or does that mess everything up?"
You have good intuition here. Topology shows us how a donut does not differ from a coffee cup with a handle, because we can smoothly transform one object into another. One can describe a specific procedure on the manifold (surface) of either object to perform this global feat.
"Do the smooth topological transformations require space whereas the other kind do not?"
That's a deep question. There's a whole different concept of "distance" in a global transformation than in a local rigid geometric transform. Without getting into specifics, let's say that globally whatever relations between points and lines that we describe, are independent of the distance that separates them, while local Euclidean relations are measurement dependent.
"I understood Julian to be using the simple triangle shape because it is very simple but the model would also apply to more complex shapes. The horizontal shape changes are what I imagined them to be and I think I see why best matching is useful, (though Julian Barbour didn't confirm that I was thinking about it correctly."
I don't think it's as simple as all that. The "simple" part is that no more than three points are necessary to describe a continuous closed system of point relations. That's Mach's Principle reduced to its essentials: all the "complex shapes" derive from changes in dynamic relations among the three that comprise *the* shape of the universe. In Mach's mechanics, the motion of any body depends on the motion of every other body in the universe.
Hard to summarize this stuff. Wish I could do a better job.
"It seems you have become one with your chalk board."
Yes. As the yogi said to the hot dog vendor, "Make me one with everything." :-)
Point is, everything we objectively know, and everything we objectively communicate, is abstractly independent of what we know and describe.
With that in mind, I find no way to make objective your claim that " ... the past is determined, while the future is probabilistic," with your clarification that "the connection between past and future is called the present." In fact, there is no connection between past and future when the one is determined and the other is probabilistic. This is an either-or relation, not a both-and. I.e., either past events determine the future we call the present, or not.
"It is the collapse of probabilities which yield actualities."
I realize that this mystical statement derives from the conventional view of quantum mechanics. Your view even diverges from that one, however, in that you allow the logical contradiction of a coexistent probabilistic and deterministic present, while QM is all probabilistic.
Eckard Blumschein replied on Aug. 12, 2012 @ 13:28 GMT
"If you want to get into the physics texts, John, it has to be on the strength of ideas that are objective and noncontradictory -- does it not? -- even if counterintuitive." My essay takes issue concerning such putatively objective and noncontradictory intuitions like naive set theory.
John Merryman replied on Aug. 12, 2012 @ 15:44 GMT
We can't know what all past events will affect current ones, until the affected events actually happen. All the laws deciding what happens may be entirely deterministic, or they wouldn't be laws, but there is no way to know all input, ie, from prior events, before the event in question happens. For the simple reason that the lightcone of input isn't complete until the event happens. So in order to know all potential cause, prior to effect, you would need superluminal signaling, but if such a possibility existed, then it might also provide input into that event, thus needing even faster signaling, and the problem repeats.
Therefore that which has not yet occurred is probabilistic, as all input cannot be known, while all factors have been factored in what has occurred, making it determined.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 13, 2012 @ 00:17 GMT
Hi Tom, All,
I don't need do-nuts that become cups but a cup that can be all the cup that it is. So I'm not changing the geometry of the object at all, it is staying rigid, but is just looked at it differently.So maybe the rigid geometric transformations are better. What I think I actually need is not so much various transformations of the object by manipulating a manifold,or an imagined...
I don't need do-nuts that become cups but a cup that can be all the cup that it is. So I'm not changing the geometry of the object at all, it is staying rigid, but is just looked at it differently.So maybe the rigid geometric transformations are better. What I think I actually need is not so much various transformations of the object by manipulating a manifold,or an imagined rigid shape but the parent object's projection onto an imagined sphere that surrounds it. That sphere being all of the correlated data from one iteration of the parent object, that has cascaded out from the parent object to the position in space it now occupies. Each projection is a homomorph of the parent object from that observer position and there is a homomorph for every possible observer position.
So this correlated data is rather like a hologram because every image produced from the data appears to be a complete object, there is no part obviously missing. Although the complete image is "the everything" that the cup can be (which is not how we normally see objects)it is not any one viewpoint. Again tying in with the concept of Truth being everything that something can be.The complete image, it seems to me is like - a -spherical-!! (not just circular) panorama, looking in at the object rather than out at the landscape.
Found this:"Spherical Correlation of Visual Representations for 3D Model Retrieval" by Ameesh Makadia and Kostas Daniilidis. Quote: "In this paper we present methods for 3D shape comparison and retrieval that are built upon a visual representation of models. Specifically, similar to ,our representation is a collection of silhouette images rendered from various viewpoints on the sphere surrounding the model.............Conclusion We showed how an analysis in the spherical Fourier domain provides a flexibility to all components of our formulation, and can also lead to a very intuitive and effective coarse-to- fine 3D model retrieval system.A thorough evaluation on multiple benchmarks shows our proposed methods combine the discriminative power of a visual model representation with efficient computation." End Quote
They are doing this for the purpose of creating 3D animations but I wonder if it has relevance to foundational physics. Couldn't all of those different silhouettes be like the abstract fibre bundle? Represented on a sphere though rather than a fibre.
Incidentally if the parent object is two coloured and two observers on opposite sides each see just one colour, and they are unaware of the other observer, they might think they have seen different objects. Though the observations are of the same parent object as it was at a particular time (single iteration).The observations are correlated even though it seems they are not. That might have some relevance to the observations of the image universe,explaining the apparent symmetry; in that same objects might be identified as different objects because different parts of the same whole image of the object("inverted spherical panorama") have been selected by the observer.
I don't think we're on the same page in this dialogue -- tell you what, though -- Lev Goldfarb is an expert in recognition algorithms and is formalizing a computer language (ETS) to replace conventional mathematical programming. So maybe that is something you might want to look into.
Personally, I think Lev is on to something, though I can't yet wrap my mathematical mind around it (the hole gets in the way).
John Merryman replied on Aug. 13, 2012 @ 02:36 GMT
Events are not "caused" by past events, but that the output from prior events is input into subsequent events and there is no way to fully factor this input prior to the occurrence of the event. Without this dynamic, there are no events. There is no "God's eye view" to objectively "see" everything from subatomic particles and all their actions, to the myriad emergent effects of this activity. Perception requires a frame and focus, be it a single photograph, to a mathematical model, to a map. When different perspectives intersect, it might well create a broader perspective, but at the expense of some detail in the originals.
A math to rule over all the other maths would defeat the purpose of math, which is to provide the most efficient description of a complex problem. Just as a map as complex as the territory would defeat the particular purpose of a map, so would a math as complex as what is being modeled would defeat the particular purpose for which it is necessary.
Geoorgina Parry replied on Aug. 13, 2012 @ 03:11 GMT
I think you are right about us not being on the same page. Its a pity. Spheres of potential data cascading out from the source makes me think of Roger Penrose's quaternion light cone model and I thought it could also have some correlation with what Joy Christian has been talking about, as I mentioned in my essay.
I've seen a little of what Lev is doing as he asked on FQXi blogs for a review of his draft book intro. I can't quite see how it is relevant to what I am currently talking about. Though it may have its uses. I have only seen simple forms linked in his language as far as I recall not whole correlated families of data generated from every singular object.
Julian Barbour's fibre bundles of all of the possible transformations associated with a singular shape (and that paper I just mentioned) are the only examples I have come across of the idea of multiple forms all belonging to a singular identity. Or at least the only ones to have caught my attention.
A whole family of data, the entirety that might be observed is the important thing IMHO for linking macroscopic observations to QM multiverse, probability of a particular observation, and the idea of Wave function collapse or de-coherence upon observation. It is clear that it is a switch from considering what exists as a whole family of data in the environment unobserved,( multiple possibilities), to a definite singular manifestation that is experienced. Those are in the two different facets of reality on diag 1. of the explanatory framework;the data pool being part of the Object reality.
I would really like Julian Barbour's shape dynamics to be able to fit with that but I think it would require the family of transformations to be the mathematical abstraction representing the potential data in the environment.I'll watch the second lecture and see if that helps me decide if there is any hope or whether Julian Barbour and I do have really incompatible explanatory strategies.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 13, 2012 @ 07:59 GMT
I think its possible to have a domino cascade occur sequentially rather than having all of the fallen dominoes and every arrangement of dominoes, between all standing and all fallen, already in existence as part of a continuum of arrangements.
The "initial conditions" are the youngest (most recent) arrangement of the dominoes which is input to the next arrangement, the change is the minimisation of potential energy as one domino falls (a change of relationship controlled by the laws of physics) which alters the arrangement. That new arrangement is the initial conditions that are input for the next, the new change being the minimisation of the potential energy of the domino that was struck and so on. That minimisation of potential energy is part of the Action of the domino as it progresses along its universal path, moving with the Earth. John, you might like to say it in your own way but I think we are probably thinking about it in a similar way.
It seem that both Tom and Julian would rather the complete continuum of arrangements exists. It causes the problem of the sheer mass of tea cups in the universe if there is another tea cup mass for every fraction of a second that there is a cup, because there has to be that cup mass in every position in the universe that the cup has occupied spread over time. As well as the red hat problems I talked about in my essay.
Rather than that situation if only data, showing former positions when processed, persists in the environment it is still possible to have Einsteinian relativity-but without the problems. By the way, someone just asked my husband if anyone else has noticed a significant drop in cat deaths since Curiosity left the planet.
John Merryman replied on Aug. 13, 2012 @ 15:37 GMT
I'm not arguing against causality, but just trying to clarify it.
Is one event in a sequence the cause of the next, or are they both surface descriptions of deeper process? Does it really make sense to say yesterday is the cause of today, or would it make more sense to say they are both the effect of the earth spinning relative to the light coming from the sun?
If I was to hit a nail with a hammer, it makes sense to say my swinging the hammer is the cause of the nail being driven into the board. So what happened here? There was a direct transfer of energy from my arm, to the hammer, to the nail. My output of energy became input for the nail.
So why doesn't yesterday cause today, but the rotation of the earth and light of the sun does? Energy. There is no direct transfer of energy from yesterday to today, but there is both the momentum energy of the rotation of the earth and radiant energy of the sun, which does go to create this event we call a day. So causation is a function of the transfer of energy, rather than to a direct sequence of events.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 13, 2012 @ 20:56 GMT
If yesterday was the ready mixed ingredients, today is the cake, the specified time and temperature in the oven is what turned yesterday into today- Ingredients into cake. I agree energy is a requirement. Energy to my mind -is- change. However unless you have a clever trick up your sleeve you can't make today's cake with tomorrow's ingredients.
For a space-time continuum containing material things the energy was applied when the continuum was formed in a hypothetical event breaking the rules. Without that continuum something else is required to cause alteration of arrangements. The vacancy can be filled with default continual motion and minimisation of potential energy of all matter and particles with mass (unless a force, altering the path, is applied )-that would include the rotation of the Earth you mention;together with change of the arrangement of the data pool,including the radiation of EM- ( your Sun-shine example).
I think your point about the Sun light is a very important one because often the change in distribution of the photons/light correlated to events that have occurred is over looked when changes to material structures and arrangements are focussed upon
John Merryman replied on Aug. 14, 2012 @ 02:09 GMT
I'm not saying I can make todays cake with tomorrows ingredients. What I'm saying is that while the energy goes onto succeeding events as cause/input, the cake, ie. resulting effect, recedes into the past. Today's cake shortly becomes yesterday's cake. The future is wherever the energy goes. The information of the present configuration of the energy is replaced by the next and recedes into the past.
The energy is conserved, because it is present, while the information is created and consumed. What we measure as the passage of time is this creation and consumption of information. The events happen, then recede into the past.
Our eyeballs consume information, as the energy manifesting it strikes them. Just as we consume the cake, in order to use its energy to sustain and propel ourselves to the next event.
If our eyes consume too much energy, it's not just information overload, it burns the retina.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 14, 2012 @ 03:50 GMT
thank you for your reply. I see it as a problem that energy is often regarded as some kind of substance or essence that is akin to mass.IMHO its the manifestation of a changing relationship of or within things, or the potential for such change to occur. In a space-time continuum model where change isn't really happening, as everything is already in fixed relationships, energy has to be thought of as a something possessed and "changing hands" between one arrangement and the next. If the universe is instead sequentially self organising the energy is the changing relationships of and between parts. Whether the moving of a medium of transmission of light or cascading photons or change in separation of two or more material objects.
IMHO inertia is due to resistance of the environment to alteration of the universal path of a material object. With increasing acceleration there is more resistance. The additional energy needed to overcome that resistance is not a property of the material object but the relationship between the mass and the environment. It appears to get heavier because the relationship is changing.
I said all that to explain why I don't think energy is an ingredient as such, even though it is necessary to go from one arrangement to the next. (Though in which ways changes can occur ie are permitted by nature, may be included among the rules of physics that control the output produced from the input arrangement.) It is instead the change in relationships itself, the happening, that doesn't happen in a static space-time continuum but instead just is. That artificial space-time continuum model makes the energy into something it is not, because the model is static, (like the jelly that solidifies in a cold pork pie).
I don't agree that the future is wherever the energy goes because I don't think the energy goes any where in time , there is no time dimension in Object reality, no future to go to. It just is in the relationships, some of those relationships hold the potential for change , which we call potential energy and others are able to release that potential and form new relationships, which we indirectly see happening and call kinetic energy. The energy is conserved because as relationships alter it affects other neighbouring relationships. So the change or potential for change is perpetuated.
Though I don't personally agree with what you said I do think that your focus on the role of energy is good and helpful because it is a phenomenon that needs more attention.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 14, 2012 @ 05:00 GMT
its nothing like the jelly in a cold pork pie! Its what the idea of the "frozen" energy of the space-time continuum makes me think of right now; and I think you will understand exactly what I mean, though many other people wouldn't.
Thomas Howard Ray replied on Aug. 14, 2012 @ 10:07 GMT
"My output of energy became input for the nail."
No it didn't, John. The energy that did the work of driving the nail into the wood is continuous. The input-output function describes what happens to an isolated system. New energy input to the system would be when the nail is pried out. The actions are symmetric and discontinuous.
Trying to steer the discussion back to the subject of Julian's blog, from which it has run far afield:
The continuous energy function that is the basis of Mach's Principle (the motion of every particle in the universe is dependent on the motion of every other particle) recognizes that there are no isolated systems -- that the universe is itself a quantum. The symmetry of all action -- nail driven into wood and then being pried up -- as a continuous function, substitutes for your concept of time as past and future, the concept of the symmetry of motion. Operational definitions are replaced by foundational phenomena.
John Merryman replied on Aug. 14, 2012 @ 10:20 GMT
Keep in mind that the reality, ie. what is present, is whatever the energy is doing, be it being transfered from the hammer to the nail, or shining on one particular rotation of the planet. So yes, for the energy, there is no time, it just is. It is the changing relationships which creates the effect of time.
Obviously another effect of the energy in the changing relationships is temperature. Hitting a nail can make it quite hot. The sun shining in your eyes can burn the retina, even though it is carrying a lot of information. So the energy is foundational, while the information, being created and destroyed, is emergent. Physics is the energy. Math is information.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 14, 2012 @ 12:01 GMT
I don't think there is a problem with considering a whole series of changes as continuous, but it is imaginary -if- it is material objects or arrangements of material objects that are being considered.( Julian Barbour is considering abstract shapes so the imaginary series of shapes is not a problem.)
That horizontal path in the diagram is an imaginary non physical thing because in unseen physical Object reality any shape is only ever the shape that it is. It has a singular complete foundational identity, not many identities co-existing spread across space. ( Julian is considering it as purely abstract, so thats not a problem.) Even though the parent shape has a singular complete identity it also has a whole family of transformation offspring ( which is the potential sensory data in the environment which could produce various different observer viewpoints of the object)
There are many reasons why the whole sequence of changes of material arrangement can not exist as a continuum and energy, that is those changes, can not exist as something continuous like a string , though it can be thought of in that way and it may be useful to do so. That is different though from EM data emitted or reflected from objects that can exist spread out within the environment and might reasonably be considered as a physical continuum. Differentiation between actualised objects and data that can give manifestations of objects has been missing from the physics models.
I still intend to read more about what Julian Barbour is doing because I think it is very interesting, useful and he is IMO certainly right to try to get away from describing things according to an artificially imposed dimensional background. Especially a space-time one that relates to the output of sensory data processing, not the foundational reality.
John Merryman replied on Aug. 14, 2012 @ 15:13 GMT
Since I'm describing output from one as input to another, I'd say it qualifies as continuous. As would prying the nail out also be part of that continuous motion/energy.
So we have this universe in continuous motion and motion causes changing configurations of the universe. Nails in and nails out. Prior and subsequent configurations do not physically exist, but the present one is constantly changing. So it is not that the present moves from prior to subsequent configurations, but that the configurations come into being and are replaced. The effect is called time.
John, I regret that you cannot see your contradiction. To say that "Prior and subsequent configurations do not physically exist, but the present one is constantly changing" is equivalent to saying that time does not exist. Which is what in fact Julian claims (i.e., time exists only as an abstraction). But then you claim that "... it is not that the present moves from prior to subsequent configurations, but that the configurations come into being ..." which requires time to have a physical effect independent of its abstract meaning. I know you will probably come back with another self contradictory statement to explain your position, but I am out of ways to make it obvious.
Georgina, "Differentiation between actualised objects and data that can give manifestations of objects has been missing from the physics models ..." because it isn't necessary; interpreting data is the only way in which we perceive what objects are doing, and that is all that physical reality fundamentally consists of -- changes in relations among objects. That's how Julian can theoretically describe reality in terms of geometry alone (changes in relations among points). Einstein did the same.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 15, 2012 @ 00:09 GMT
it is necessary IHMO in order to have a completely reasonable explanation of relativity and QM that are completely compatible with each other rather than contradictory. You are talking about changes in relationship among -objects- but also, it seems to me, denying that those objects exist.??
Einstein gave us the space-time continuum which is, unbeknownst to him, the potential sensory data correlated to different iterations of the Object universe spread over uni-temporal space.( That interpretation overcomes many problems.) If Julian has just taken away the space-time he now only has the -data-, not the source object. That is I think important. Though his horizontal line on the plane did seem to me to relate to an actual fixed relationship giving a particular shape, which I was identifying with an actualised arrangement or object.
I think it will be helpful if scientists know what they are dealing with and making their models from; (Source) Object/arrangement in external foundational reality ; potential data in external foundational reality; or fabricated image of an object/arrangement..an emergent reality output.
Because I work for the government, I understand the high risk-high reward research that Bee is talking about. It constitutes an appropriate percentage of every grant funding organization. Optimally, it would be 25%, though I doubt that many come close to that. Most will favor the low risk-high reward projects of the kind that FQXi largely underwites.
I think it's ironic, though, that you would bring up a philosophy of "Let the experts decide for themselves what they want to do," when the complaints I hear most often in this forum is that the experts are wasting their own time and other people's money. Or is that not what you mean to suggest when you say, "I think it will be helpful if scientists know what they are dealing with and making their models from ...?"
As Bee makes a point of saying, " ... assessment of tolerable risk is subjective." Those who assess risk still base their calculations on the current state of objective knowledge, not their own opinions, or the grantee's promise that their research is "transformative." Take the case of Joy Christian: not only is FQXi probably the only funding agency that would take a chance on financing a physical model made from topology, the decision hinges on the fortunate availability of reviewers who know enough topology and analysis to make an informed decision. As I have learned in the past couple of years (to my great amazement) that is apparently an extremely small pool. It's Joy, actually, who assumes the high risk in getting to be an expert -- and it's this way with every research program that strays outside the norm. Julian Barbour's, too. Point is, before a research program even gets to the funding request level, the grantee will have to have demonstrated that he or she is expert in the subject.
So if you want to let the experts decide what to do, don't tell them that they're doing it all wrong unless you are an expert in that subject.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 15, 2012 @ 13:18 GMT
The differentiation is very important to what I have been doing for a considerable amount of time and -I- do not consider it entirely irrelevant and unnecessary!! Transformative ideas can go against best judgement of experts based upon how things are currently seen and done. You quoted my sentence" "I think it will be helpful if scientists know what they are dealing with and making their models from " I meant specifically whether they are dealing with actualised objects,IE material objects or fermion particles or manifestations formed from received and processed EM data. It is important in -my- opinion.
Eg. An actualised cat is an arrangement of atoms that is only ever is dead or alive, a manifestation can be either depending upon which data is received and processed. Which depends upon position of the observer and when the detection is made. (It would be better if the cat were not in a box but the observer was blindfolded and could decide when to remove the blindfold.) That might sound like pointless unnecessary nonsense to you but it makes sense to me.
On the basis of Bee's article I went to the NSF link and read what they actually want to fund and I was very surprised by how open the recommendations were. I felt that they were asking for the same kind of open mindedness and creativity that I was arguing in favour of in my essay. You said that you thought you understood me for the first time when you read my essay. You really don't!
I am trying to understand what Julian Barbour is doing -as well as- doing my own thing. He has given very helpful answers that are helping me understand how his work fits with my own ideas and my mis-comprehension of what he is doing. Its possible that if he explains really well I will accept my naive mistakes to date, why I am wrong about time and reality, the utter futility of my work and all of the time I have spent explaining it over the last couple of years. Your saying science just doesn't need what I have been doing is just annoying.
I am not going to tell any experts how they should be doing -their own work-. However I -am- an expert with regard to my own explanatory framework and because of that I feel that it gives some very helpful insights that I would like to convey and apply and develop.I get that you don't get it and don't think it is at all important.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 15, 2012 @ 13:46 GMT
OK I realise death will not be instantaneous. The cat is either fully well or has undergone a lethal change. One or the other are the only options for the flesh and blood actualised cat. However the data in the environment can encode both options if live cat subsequently falls ill. There can be super position due to data from live and dead cat coexisting in the uni-temporal environment. (The box complicates matters.)
John Merryman replied on Aug. 15, 2012 @ 16:07 GMT
"Since degrees of time and temperature are described by dimensionless points on a line of length 1, I can't make a distinction between your statement and just plain hot sir."
That is necessarily due to the extreme conceptual limits which you operate within. Time and temperature are not just their measurement. If I put my hand on a hot stove, I don't need a laboratory grade thermometer to tell me I burned myself. In fact the very notion of temperature as being described as a dimensionless point is nonsense, since temperature is an average level of activity.
As for time, if it were only a regular measure of duration, there would be no entropic arrow, it would be just a constant repetition, measuring nothing other than its own process.
As I've pointed out many times, a dimensionless point is a mathematical contradiction, since anything multiplied by zero is zero. A truly dimensionless point would be as real as a dimensionless apple. It is just a convenient abstraction from reality, because giving it volume would cause more confusion than treating it as dimensionless.
Time and temperature are effects, not just the abstract measure of these effects.
Georgina parry replied on Aug. 15, 2012 @ 21:34 GMT
I was explaining my motivation for saying what I have been saying as you seem to be misinterpreting my motives.I am not anti science or anti what other people want to do. I'm not telling grant winning experts what they should be -doing-. They can also think for themselves and they do not require my approval to carry on with their work.
As well as presenting my explanatory framework to answer the essay question, my essay was about many different ways in which we can think. It only deals with one strategy, Edward de Bono's thinking hats- but its an introduction to the concept that black and white confrontational thinking is not by itself particularly helpful.
Its not just black and white Tom. Rather than I'm right so they are wrong, its how can these ideas work together; what do I need to change or look at differently, for -me- to be able to accommodate them. For me, that requires going right back to basics because I'm not an expert in what they are doing.I'm not asking questions and trying to explain my current comprehension to be antagonistic or offensive but because I want to understand where my thinking stands in relation to these other ideas and ways of working.
I have been working to find solutions which I think will, in the long run, be beneficial to science. I want to think -for myself- and see how -my- ideas work when applied to different situations and compared with what other people are doing. They either do work, will work or they don't and won't and need reconsidering. Your individual opinion does not especially matter to me.
"If I put my hand on a hot stove, I don't need a laboratory grade thermometer to tell me I burned myself."
You do, however, need the information that your nerve cells relay to your brain cells to inform you of that fact. And you need to know that the degree of burning is dependent on a measure that counts dimensionless points on a 1 dimension line from the nerve endings in your hand to the sensors in your brain.
"In fact the very notion of temperature as being described as a dimensionless point is nonsense, since temperature is an average level of activity."
This fixation that you has you believing that temperature is some independent "thing" is rationally incomprehensible. Temperature is a *measurement.* A ruler is a physical thing, but "one inch" isn't a physical thing. The measurement is not independent of the instrument. Water boils at 212 degrees on one scale and at 100 degrees on another. We made this things up -- they weren't forced on us by a lightning bolt from the brow of Zeus.
Yes, temperature describes the average motion of particles, the energy content of the system. It's the energy content that's a physical thing. If that's what you really mean to say -- then please just say it.
I'm sorry, Georgina, I didn't know we were talking about your essay. I've been trying to stay on the topic of Julian's blog. Then you linked me to Bee Hossenfelder's blog which addresses models of funding for risky transformative research, FQXi and elsewhere -- forgive me -- but I thought, apparently mistakenly, that you must be referring to Julian Barbour's source of funding, for which I offered an opinion based on what Bee wrote.
I'm confused. Is this the place to discuss a possible relationship between the Julian Barbour framework and the Georgina Parry object universe? That's something Julian should respond to, not I.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 16, 2012 @ 01:38 GMT
I was talking to Julian Barbour (and I am very grateful for his replies) and then you offered your opinions on what I was saying. I had been trying to understand what Julian Barbour was saying and trying to see how it fits with my own way of thinking- because believe it or not I actually think that my way of looking at things is worthwhile and useful.As John thinks his way of looking at things is useful. I would very much like to see how my ideas can work with what other people, including Julian Barbour are doing. Rather than just throw away everything I have developed as wrong and irrelevant. I get that you don't care about what I am doing but I do because I'm not you. I have a mind of my own which has given a great deal of thought to the kind of things Julian Barbour is also talking about.
I don't know what you are doing here, are you discussing Julian's work? Or just antagonising John and me. Asking for justification, clarification or relevance of what we have said, and explaining your misinterpretations of our ideas, questions and motives, which then takes us off topic. I was talking to you because I mistakenly thought that you might have some useful contribution to my understanding of what Julian is doing, how my ideas relate to his and the kind of physics that is being described. I should have remembered that are conversations are rarely constructive.
John Merryman replied on Aug. 16, 2012 @ 03:43 GMT
When I say action, I'm referring to the energy. By using time and temperature, I'm referring to different effects/perspectives of this action. Obviously I don't see temperature as independent, or I wouldn't keep referring to it as an effect. My point is that time is a similar effect/measure of the effect of action, the change of configuration it creates. It is only when the focus is on the measure from one configuration to another and not the process of creation and change, that it gets confused with notions of linearity and space.
Not that you will see what I'm talking about, as Georgina said, but having someone to bang heads with is still enlightening, since if forces me to think about different ways of explaining myself.
" ... time is a similar effect/measure of the effect of action, the change of configuration it creates. It is only when the focus is on the measure from one configuration to another and not the process of creation and change ..."
John, in what specific way does a measure of change from one configuration to another (which is what Julian's abstract time means) differ from the measure of a degree of creation and change?
" ... that it gets confused with notions of linearity and space."
How does your claim that 'tomorrow becomes yesterday because the Earth rotates,' obviate linearity and space?
"I don't know what you are doing here, are you discussing Julian's work? Or just antagonising John and me."
There doesn't seem to be a difference between those two. If I point out that some of your claims contradict Julian's program, it's antagonistic. If I point out that some of your claims are superfluous to Julian's program, it's antagonistic.
If I have a choice to be non-antagonistic, I'll take it. However, I don't think it serves anyone's interest to ignore Julian (in his own blog, yet) and go off on a tangent to promote something different. I don't personally agree with everything Julian says, but I sure want to make an honest effort to understand it before I launch a counterargument.
John Merryman replied on Aug. 16, 2012 @ 15:01 GMT
"John, in what specific way does a measure of change from one configuration to another (which is what Julian's abstract time means) differ from the measure of a degree of creation and change?"
I know you like to be skeptical about everything I say and I have no problem with that, but do you in fact ever even listen to what I say?
When we measure change from one configuration to the next, we are moving from one event to the next, ie. assuming the traditional past to future vector, but when we view it as a process of change, it isn't that what is physically extant, ie. what is present, moves anywhere. It is the configurations forming and dissolving, ie. the future becoming the past. So rather than there being this fourth dimension, along which either the present moves, or the present is an illusion and it's just a function of which configuration you perceive, it is that the passage of time is the future becoming the past, because of the action of what is present.
Not the earth traveling the fourth dimension from yesterday to tomorrow, but tomorrow becoming yesterday because the earth rotates.
Now you are going to push the reset button and claim it doesn't make sense, but even if you don't agree, you can at least make some effort to just try to follow the logic.
As for taking up Julian's blog, he doesn't seem to be participating and we are sticking close to the subject, the nature of time, even if its not a view entirely compatible with Julian's views
"Now you are going to push the reset button and claim it doesn't make sense, but even if you don't agree, you can at least make some effort to just try to follow the logic."
John, I think the fact that I take the trouble to point out the contradictions in your purported logic is sufficient evidence that I do follow it. Get rid of the contradictions if you want it to make sense.
John Merryman replied on Aug. 16, 2012 @ 19:12 GMT
Would you kindly repeat where you found a contradiction?
Here we have these divergent models; One results in a view of time as an eternally determined block and the other branches off into multiworlds and you say my view that "tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth rotates," is contradictory?
Maybe you can just supply what your interpretation of the word "contradictory" means.
Would you like my interpretation of "religious myopia?" One where contradictory logic is viewed as only a test of one's faith and to be ignored at all costs?
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 16, 2012 @ 20:43 GMT
black and white thinking is 'this correct' or this is 'incorrect'. Trying to see how ideas might fit together, or be regarded differently, is something else. When I see something I can see all sorts of possibilities that it might be, to me. You, it seems, see something just as it is and any deviation from that is a gross error.
I do want to explore Julian's ideas and play with them. A Portuguese proverb;'An hours play is worth a year's conversation'. I'm still in the 'what is it?' phase. Like the baby that has picked up a new object. Your saying things that are to the effect 'put it down, don't touch it, what do you think you are doing' - before I even understand what I've got in front of me is not helpful.
I'm feeling very enthusiastic about all of the new possibilities that have come to mind from thinking about what Julian is doing. I won't post them here but will carry on thinking about them and the fit with Julian's work. Letting you carry on uninterrupted, doing what you want to do here, stuck in critic mode.
Eckard Blumschein replied on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 02:49 GMT
Anonymous in Lawrence's thread was me.
While we may not agree in all details, I am one of those who agree with you on that Julian Barbour, Thomas Ray, Lawrence Crowell, Philip Gibbs, and many others seem to intuitively believe in the correctness of the very foundational assumption that reality has been built on mathematics.
John Merryman replied on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 10:42 GMT
There is a lot of institutional momentum built up there and many who will ride that wave onto the rocks.
Of the current essays I think Robert H. McEachern provides one of the most effective rebuttals. It shows the extent to which physics theorists branched off from actual mathematical progress many decades ago, due to some foggy presumptions which were incorporated as gospel.
I don't mind arguing with Tom, as it's like hitting tennis ball off a backboard, good practice, even if the response is entirely predictable. The others with larger reputations tend to pull up the drawbridge to the ivory tower rather quickly, so there is nothing to be gained by pressing the issue.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 01:26 GMT
Dear Julian Barbour,
I apologise if I have caused any offence to you in my previous posts. I have not intended that.
Please may I ask, why it is important to have all of the triangles that the mathematician can imagine? Is it a bit like why all paths that a photon might take must be taken into account for the QE calculations to come out right, as Richard Feynman explains in his Auckland lectures? I mean by that the -why- is not known but it is necessary non the less. Or is there a known why for the fibre bundle of triangles? Is it so you have the -complete set- to choose from for best matching. That would make sense to me.
Having ascertained the changes that are occurring to the object from the initial conditions, describing its motion, how is the transition made from objective unobserved space-less abstract thing to the relative space-time observation of the observer? Or is that jumping too far ahead? Are there some other important considerations to be made prior to that? How it becomes a model of reality, linking what is happening to an unobserved shape to what is seen, is the really interesting bit for me but I can wait if it is necessary to have all the pieces in the correct place first.
With regard to JCN Smith's post, your views are indeed close to mine. I also believe there is nothing wrong with 'primitive' concepts. However, as regards your final paragraph, I think we need deeper understanding of the quantum mechanics of the universe and the nature of consciousness before attempting definitive conclusions. I'm glad to hear George Ellis commented on your essay. I will try to have a look at it, but George, of whom I have seen quite a bit in the last few years, has an amazing capacity for work that I cannot match.
With regard to James Putnam's question, which is very much to the point, I think one must distinguish scientific descriptions from psychological experiences. There are people with the condition called motion blindness, who see the world as a series of static snapshots. I met one (after the condition had ceased) and had email communication with another. Does that count as empirical evidence? One might argue that such people are closer to reality than those of us who see motion.
Also, I would say empirical evidence is always cumulative, never absolutely final. On the basis of empirical evidence, Copernicus could predict what the solar system would look like from Mars. Newtonian theory made that prediction look much more secure. Only in the space age did humans actually get views of the solar system from viewpoints other than the earth.
We are very far from being in a position to say with confidence that the universe is best explained in terms of static configurations. I think there is relatively good evidence in support of the idea but cannot claim more. All science is based on hypotheses whose consequences have to be constantly developed and tested. That process is still going on for Copernicus's proposal.
Thank you for your comments on my post. I'm gratified that you see some likenesses in our views regarding the nature of time. The one part of your thinking which has eluded me, however, is your insistence on the importance of "static" configurations. Why static? Yes, I've read and re-read 'The End of Time' and made notes in the margins until the poor book is a shambles, and I've read other pieces you written and watched your PIRSA videos, etc., but despite my best efforts I still have failed to comprehend your insistence on "static" configurations. Why not smoothly flowing, smoothly evolving configurations (analog vs. digital)?
Modern physics strikes me as being close to what Thomas S. Kuhn described as a "crisis" state. I believe that emerging from this state will require a new consensus about some of our fundamental paradigms, the nature of time being just one of them.
"The way we converge with each other is by converging upon the truth." (D. Deutsch) I'm optimistic that we're all inching along in that general direction, but lasting progress is hard won.
I think what Julian was trying to get at is that "static" configurations are the atoms out of which dynamic evolving configurations are composed of. To use a video analogy. What you see as a smoothly changing motion picture is actually a series of still frames being rapidly replaced by one after another. While the rapid swap-replace is done by the equipment running the video(along with some assistance by our sensory system), the analogous action in Julian's theory is done by, I think, essentially a mathematical perspective where a series of static configurations is linked up together and seen to compose a self-consistent history.
Each of the static configurations which contains an observer and form a consistent history is observed to be consistent by the sole power of mathematical consistency. One would see events unfolding continuously and naturally rather than abrupt nonsensical jumps around different non-congruent physical configurations.
One can pick an arbitrary set of configurations and see whether they line up to form a consistent history, or look like disconnected jumbled set that cannot build up a consistent history.
I think by simple logic that Julian's theory actually disallows constructing "histories" out of mutually conflicting configurations or I suppose that if one could construct such a history, it won't be possible to find an observer in it capable of seeing and understanding what's going on.
That's my take from my reading of 'The End of Time.'
J. C. N. Smith replied on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 17:19 GMT
Dear A. B. McLin,
While appreciating your interpretation of Julian's thinking (which seems reasonable and plausible), I'd like to get Julian's take on it as being the authoritative word on his thinking.
The other thing I failed to mention previously which troubled me about 'The End of Time' was Julian's disavowal of motion. I'm not at my home at the moment and so can't quote exact passages from the book in which he discusses this topic, but his disavowal of motion, together with his notion of a series of static configurations coalesced to leave me in a long-term state of befuddlement even more pronounced than is typical for me, which is saying quite a lot.
It's my own view, for whatever it's worth, that the universe has one, and only one, real history, albeit one which necessarily will be perceived differently by different observers.
Please accept my apologies for appearing to ignore your posts addressed to me. It was not my intention to be rude. A big reason I've not replied is that I don't know exactly *how* to reply.
You wrote in my blog "Only posible reconcilation between Parmenides and Heraclites is the Cyclic Universe in modern Penrose version or oldest Heraclitus version."
I regret to say that I have not yet studied Penrose's latest thinking on cycles of time (I intend to do so as soon as time permits!), but barring the unforeseen I must count myself among the disciples of Heraclitus as an unapologetic presentist.
I hope this helps. I'll post this again where your comments appear in my blog as well.
I recall Einstein said the present is just an illusion.
He also said time is what you measure with a clock.
A clock consists of two features, the face and hands and how they relate. Now many will say there different kinds of clocks, but the general principle remains the same. There is a regular cycle and a mark, detector, etc. to register when that cycle completes one unit of measure.
Now that mark essentially represents the present. The point the cycle is going through and marking delineations between one cycle and the next.
So if the present is just an illusion, what defines that point of detection? It would be like a clock face with no hands.
Blocktime is often compared to a book, or movie, where all the events exist and it is only a matter of what page or frame you are on. Yet a book or movie is like a clock without hands when it is on the shelf, or not being shown. In order to read a book, or watch a movie, you need to open it and read one page at a time, or put it in a projector, where the light shines through it, one frame at a time.
So the act of reading, or the projector light, is like the hand of the clock, moving from one event to the next.
In order to measure time, since physics is all about measurement, it seems extremely contradictory to say the face of the clock, the events being measured, are "real," but the act of measurement, the hands of the clock, are an illusion.
Now this might seem an extremely "philosophical" question and therefore not worthy of physics, but what seems more "real," The present? Or the particular arrangement of shapes manifested in it?
How is it that the configurations are supposed to be more real than the dynamic processes which create those configurations?
Is the answer to this conundrum so complex it cannot be computed, or so elemental that current theory cannot recognize it?
I fear I won't be able to keep up with all the posts and do justice to some qood points.
Let me start with the last post (Yuri, Aug. 8). Einstein said make things as simple as you can but not too simple. I use the 3-body problem, with Euclidean triangles as its possible configurations, to illustrate some important aspects of Einstein's general relativity because it is the simplest system that reproduces some key aspects of that theory. I could in principle do it with three bodies in spaces of positive or negative curvature, but the math would be far more complicated and, from the conceptual point of view, nothing would be gained.
John Merryman raises lots of points, all needing an answer. On this visit, let me just comment on his "How is it that the configurations are supposed to be more real than the dynamic processes which create those configurations?". My viewpoint is that things you can see are more real than their changes. I do not see how one can talk about galloping if one does not already have the concept (or sight) of a horse. This is why I say nouns (things) are more fundamental than verbs. I think this is ultimately the reason why Plato regarded being as real and becoming as illusion. This is philosophical and philosophers have been arguing about it since before Plato's time. What is remarkable is that modern attempts to create a quantum theory of the universe force us to address the question head on. But John, what makes you think dynamical processes create configurations? Is it not possible that the configurations simply exist? You can only describe galloping in terms of different configurations of a horse.
That is a fitting example for me, since I exercise racehorses in the morning and tend to view it much more in terms of verb, than noun.
As the architects put it, "Form follows function." For galloping, the function is forward motion, while the form is a sequential series of steps. The world of objects may be what is apparent, much as you say we only perceive angles, not distances, but that doesn't obviate the foundational necessity for the initial dimension, in order to perceive the distinction of the second dimension. Distinction may be foundational to thought, but without connections, there is no relationship to order those distinctions. The triangles alone are like fish without water.
Think in terms of a camera: How does it take pictures of objects in motion? With a very fast shutter speed. Why? Because the vastly more information collected by leaving the shutter open longer would only blur the distinction of the object. Our eyesight functions similarly, for the same reason. Our minds create "snapshot" impressions and then convert the sequence back into a simulation of motion, because in the absence of this distinction process the raw information would quickly blurr to white light and shadows. Our mental processes also function by creating sequential thoughts out of the flows of sensory and intellectual information. None of this processing of information negates the underlaying dynamic.
I don't know if you have the time to look at my entry in the contest, but it is about how we intuitively perceive time as a sequence of events, which physics re-enforces by treating it as a measure from one to the next, but the underlaying reality is that it is not a vector from past to future, but the changing configuration of the extant, turning future into past. Probabilities collapsing into actualities. Does the earth really exist along some vector from yesterday to tomorrow, or does tomorrow become yesterday because the earth rotates? The former seems extremely speculative, while the latter is simple observation. This makes time, rate of change, an effect of action, similar to temperature, the level of activity. Duration only exists within the present, not external to it.
If you are willing to consider this view, then it means there can be no dimensionless point in time. It would be like having the shutter speed set at zero. Equivalent to a temperature of absolute zero, ie. no motion, not even of atomic activity. So it would not be a freeze frame of reality as we sense it, with objects in their exact positions, but a void empty of any energy, ie. absolute zero. This means an object, micro, or macro, cannot be isolated from its motion.
Re the last post: John, How splendid that your response to my presenting my ideas about configurations and motion in terms of a galloping horse and you come back with "I exercise racehorses in the morning and tend to view it much more in terms of verb, than noun. As the architects put it, "Form follows function." For galloping, the function is forward motion, while the form is a sequential series of steps."
I accept your aphorism 'Form follows motion' for architecture and probably for the function of the parts of most living organisms. And of course you will think about racehorses in terms of their galloping, since that is what they must do to win races.
However, I am thinking about the most basic notions in physics, and I am not sure for that one can apply principles of architecture or the turf.I notice also you say of galloping that "the function is forward motion". So you agree it is not backward motion? But what is backward or forward? These key concepts can only be defined by the starting tape and finishing post, both of which are located in a racecourse set somewhere, no doubt, in a beautiful part of the world (Glorious Goodwood or Kentucky perhaps). So it seems to me the definition of 'function' presupposes' configuration before you can even talk about form.
It would nice to prove that the purpose of the universe is that Shakespeare could write plays, Beethoven compose symphonies, and you could race horses. Perhaps it is. But you cannot build cathedrals without bricks, perform plays without stages, symphonies without orchestras and race horses without courses. And all of this hardware relies on basic physics at the level of material configurations, how they are knit together, and how they change.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 15, 2012 @ 13:36 GMT
OK I realise death will not be instantaneous. The cat is either fully well or has undergone a lethal change. One or the other are the only options for the flesh and blood actualised cat. However the data in the environment can encode both options if live cat subsequently falls ill. There can be super position due to data from live and dead cat coexisting in the uni-temporal environment. (The box complicates matters.)
John, I'm afraid I can only attempt to answer your question in the first way you formulate it because you use the word 'vector' in what strikes me as a non-standard way that I fail to understand.
As I interpret classical (pre-quantum) physics, the universe has a series of different states rather like different beads on a piece of string. There is no intrinsic direction, or arrow, of time in the series. The law that determines which state follows which state is exactly the same in which ever direction you go. Moreover, to formulate the law, you can completely dispense with not only the idea that time has a direction but even with duration as a fundamental notion. You do not need to say one bead is at a certain time along the string from another. The only thing that counts in the order in which they come.
So at the level of classical physics, my answer is: There is a series of states; it can be read indifferently in either direction.
Things get much harder in quantum mechanics. The nature of the states is different and there is no way one can say they are arranged in a series. In laboratory quantum mechanics, a single initial state can become many different states that all coexist until a measurement is made, when only one is found to be present. This description is hard to apply to the universe since there is no one outside the universe to make a measurement. Many physicists, myself included, feel themselves forced to a 'many-worlds' interpretation, according to which all states are 'present' at once.
If people find any interpretation of quantum mechanics crazy, I suspect they should complain to nature. She seems to force these things upon us. In fact, to me they do not appear bizarre, but that is another story.
John Merryman replied on Aug. 14, 2012 @ 15:48 GMT
The point I keep making is that both interpretations, series of states and multiworlds, arise from treating the effect of action, different configurations, as fundamental, rather than viewing these different states as an effect of action.
There is only what is present; The cat in the box. It was alive when it went in, but that event is receding into memory, as the dynamics of quantum behavior decides its fate. Then we open the box and find out. We and the box did not move in any direction, only the dynamic process affected the conditions in the box as one state, the prior, is replaced by the subsequent state.
We do experience time as a series of events, but then we still see the sun as passing overhead, from east to west, yet all efforts to explain why came to naught, until we understood it was the earth spinning west to east. So it not that the present moves along this string of events, or even that the string exists, but the changing configuration of what is present that turns potential into actual and replaces it. Tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth rotates.
John, I am afraid we are not going to come to agreement. I cannot work out what you mean in your first paragraph and the second seems to be in conflict with quantum mechanics. As regards the observed motion of the sun, there were perfectly sensible explanations for it before the idea of mobility of the earth was seen to be better. The many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics may not be right, but it is not possible to dismiss easily. It suggests that the past exists in the same way as the present does. This can be because the you experiencing what you call yesterday is not the same you as the one experiencing today. One can arrange the natural numbers in the order 1,2, 3, ..., but that does not allow 13 to say it is the present and 11 is dead. For mathematicians both exist as different numbers.
John Merryman replied on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 02:03 GMT
I suspect you are right, that we will continue to differ on this topic, so it would be both fruitless and impolite to continue arguing on your blog post.
I assume you have been considering the current essay and its rather provocative subject, Questioning the Foundations. I think time will show this to be a prescient topic, since so many of the current leading edge physics theories are far beyond the range of testing, from strings to multiworlds and future generations of physicists are not going to spend their careers expounding on ideas with little potential for proof. At such moments in history, the future becomes a reaction to the past, rather than a continuation of it.
We reach for the future, but we can only grasp the past.
John, With this post I find myself in broad agreement. I am in fact working on an essay but suspect the ideas I put forward are still far from being testable. Our best hope is that we are not merely grasping the past but standing on it to get a view forward. You recall what Newton said about the shoulders of giants.
Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 21, 2012 @ 03:40 GMT
Dear Julian Barbour,
its good to hear that you are working on another essay. It will be another great contribution towards helping us understand nature. It has been very instructive having you here to talk to us briefly. I have realised how very little I have really understood of what you are actually doing. I had some notion but having heard your explanations and finally grasped them, it is now much clearer. I still think its great by the way.
I now at least feel I have taken a few baby steps closer to understanding:Your main reason for your approach, what it is and isn't- and now I think also the reason why that way not another. Which makes me want to continue learning more. Had hoped you might confirm that I am now on the right track but appreciate that you probably have much better, far more productive, worthwhile and rewarding things to do. Best of luck to you.