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go diherbal: on 9/22/17 at 2:51am UTC, wrote I don't recognise who you are however certainly you're going to a...

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FQXi FORUM
September 25, 2017

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: God's Dice and Einstein's Solids by Ian Durham [refresh]
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Author Ian Durham wrote on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 16:40 GMT
Essay Abstract

What role does chance play in the universe? Quantum theory suggests that randomness is a fundamental part of how the universe works and yet we live mostly intentional, ordered lives. We make decisions with the expectation that our decisions matter. How is it possible for this directed and seemingly deterministic world to arise from mere randomness? In this essay I suggest that an answer to this question may lie in the seemingly mindless world of combinatorial mathematics and I discuss the implications of this for the concept of free will.

Author Bio

Ian Durham is a physicist and occasional mathematician who has recently gotten the geology bug. Several members of his department have accused him of being a philosopher. As punishment, they keep electing him chair.

Download Essay PDF File




james r. akerlund wrote on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 06:24 GMT
I read this article when it was posted to the ArXiv. I have been waiting for it to show up here.

Now for the problems. You mention that in 1907 Einstein proposed a model of solids as a set of quantum oscillators. You give no reference to Einstein's paper, I would very much like to read it, if it has been translated into English yet. You then go on and use Einstein's quantum oscillators as a device to give deterministic behavior to QM through the math of combinatorics. That's all well and good, but Einstein's quantum oscillators aren't how solids exist in the universe. You seem to include a leap to far in your logic to get from Einstein's quantum oscillators to the everyday world of cause and effect.

Now for the pluses. You navigated the math of combinatorics and quantum mechanics(hard subjects) to make it seem very comprehensible. There were points in your article where I thought you were going to lose it, but you sailed right through them with ease. I would have very much liked to have listened in on your conversation that was after dinner and during the dessert and wine, but my household if that were ever to happen that would be the night the spouses and children went on strike and I would be doing the cleaning up.

I was interested in your article because it seemed to echo my own submission in a strange way. This is not a request for you to read my submission. You can do so of your own free will.

Jim Akerlund

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Author Ian Durham replied on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 18:49 GMT
Hi Jim! Thanks for the feedback. Here's a link to a translation of Einstein's 1907 paper. It is fairly standard as a simplified model of solids and I'm treating it in the orthodox textbook manner.

I do want to point out that I don't use quantum oscillators to give a deterministic approach to QM. I make no claims about the ultimate nature of QM. What I do is simply show that deterministic macrosystems can (and do) emerge from random microsystems. In other words, it is entirely possible that QM is random while classical physics is deterministic since this generally shows that it is possible for them to coexist, if you will (or for one to arise from the other).

So while it is a highly simplified system and not really like reality, I state in my conclusion that I am simply pointing out that these simplified systems show that it is at least *possible* for deterministic systems to arise from random ones. Does reality work that way? I don't know, but the fact that even simple systems such as these can exhibit this kind of behavior would seem to suggest that more complicated systems, which have more constrained combinatorics, should exhibit similar behavior.

Ian

this post has been edited by the forum administrator



james r. akerlund replied on Mar. 10, 2017 @ 21:29 GMT
Hi Ian,

Thanks for the link. It looks like Einstein was four years ahead of Bohr in trying to apply Planck's constant to the atom. I've bookmarked the site and should the strange thing called free time show up, I might read other articles.

Jim Akerlund

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 11:25 GMT
Dear Professor Durham

If I understand you correctly you start from "Yet all attempts to develop a deterministic alternative to quantum mechanics have thus far failed. At the most fundamental level, the universe appears to be decidedly random" then proceed to show that, thanks to Einstein's analysis of solids, given sufficient number of atoms, stable equilibrium is attained.

Its nice to think that Einstein, who protested so much against randomness, may have had the solution without knowing it. Alas, in my opinion Einstein is single-handedly responsible for the eventual introduction of randomness into quantum behavior by proposing the point photon - a particle in space, not just a wave quantum of energy - and thereby the toxic concept of dualism.

I have tried to explain all that in my fqxi essay . In my researches I conclude that local, linear, causal interactions in a cellular automata enact all of physics. I value your feedback.

Vladimir

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Author Ian Durham replied on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 19:00 GMT
Hmm. I replied to your comment but the reply seems to have disappeared. At any rate, I want to point out that I'm simply saying here that it is possible for QM to be random and yet for us to live in a largely deterministic universe on the macroscopic level, i.e. there's no disconnect or disjunction.



Vladimir F. Tamari replied on Mar. 11, 2017 @ 00:13 GMT
Thank you of course I understood the essence of your paper. In a way you are 'saving the phenomena' - much easier than my rashly taking the tiger by the tail given my relative lack of knowledge in physics!

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Rajiv K Singh wrote on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 14:24 GMT
Dear Ian,

While there are quite a few interesting points that place strong constraints on the evolution of systems, the most important of them is convergence on macrostates of systems, such that other macrostates become nearly improbable. But there seems to be a confusion at certain point between microstates and macrostates. For example -

"The number of microstates that will produce a given macrostate is known as the multiplicity ...", which is still in line with, "The probability of a given roll (i.e. macrostate) is given by the multiplicity of that roll divided by the total multiplicity."

But on page 6 we find, "For realistic Einstein solids, the peak is so narrow that only a tiny fraction of microstates have a reasonable probability of occurring." Or, "This means that we can make highly accurate predictions of which microstates will occur given some initial input data." On page 8, "... regardless of how those energy units are initially distributed, over time the system will find itself limited to just a few possible microstates." Then again, "This is simply because a few microstates near equilibrium have an enormously higher probability of occurring than all the other microstates."

I wish to understand if I have missed something, or 'microstate' is just a typographical error.

Also, it appears, I did not fully connect the conclusion from the premise below. "As I said before, the behavior of a six-sided die is different from the behavior of an eight-sided die. So at the most fundamental level there has to be something non-mathematical in order to distinguish, for example, a quark from a lepton or even the number one from the number two." Is this conclusion based on the requirement that things should not have been different given mathematical laws? Since if the physical entities are different, then they interact differently, giving away their differences. Looks like, I certainly missed something here.

Rajiv

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Author Ian Durham replied on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 18:54 GMT
Yes, this is a typographical error. It should say `macrostates' in that line, not microstates.




Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 15:26 GMT
Ian,

Lovely essay, well presented and pertinent with some important truths but I have to suggest some key propositions are flawed.

Your use of 'probability mass' was novel if rather cumbersome. Correct of course (I asked Marylin!) but a better and clearer Cardano 'sample space' was long ago derived which you rather muddy in re-inventing. Indeed even Wikipedia is wrong on this stating...

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Author Ian Durham replied on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 18:57 GMT
Not sure what you mean by "probability mass"? At any rate, I, again, am only attempting to be suggestive here. It's an intriguing line of inquiry to be studied and this is far from a definitive answer.



Peter Jackson replied on Mar. 10, 2017 @ 12:27 GMT
Ian,

The 'probability mass' is invisible but remains in place in the '3 shell' game or 'Monty Hall problem' when one of the 3 shells NOT chosen is removed, leaving the one chosen and just ONE other. So;Q;

1. Are your chances of having the correct shell of the two then 50:50?

2. Are your chances IMPROVED if you switch choice to the OTHER remaining shell?

If you had a Probability scientist in your faculty rather than just mathematicians he'd give you the correct and non-intuitive answer. You must SWITCH SHELLS to get a 50:50 chance!! (It's been proved irrefutably)

Fundamentally that's Cardano's 'Sample Space', needing thinking outside the box the truck came in that delivered the boxes the crates that held the box came in. Intruiging indeed, but most suffer the effects of cognitive dissonance (CD) even trying so dive head first into the sand instead. But it's massively important for understandu ing nature, and is where the Classic solution to QM in my essay revealed itself.

Can you overcome the CD to rationalise it?

Best

Peter

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Author Ian Durham replied on Mar. 10, 2017 @ 15:09 GMT
I am well aware of the Monty Hall problem and its proper solution. And we do have someone who specializes in probability on our faculty. I have simply never heard that term before.




Héctor Daniel Gianni wrote on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 18:56 GMT
Dear Ian Durham

I invite you and every physicist to read my work “TIME ORIGIN,DEFINITION AND EMPIRICAL MEANING FOR PHYSICISTS, Héctor Daniel Gianni ,I’m not a physicist.

How people interested in “Time” could feel about related things to the subject.

1) Intellectuals interested in Time issues usually have a nice and creative wander for the unknown.

2) They usually enjoy this wander of their searches around it.

3) For millenniums this wander has been shared by a lot of creative people around the world.

4) What if suddenly, something considered quasi impossible to be found or discovered such as “Time” definition and experimental meaning confronts them?

5) Their reaction would be like, something unbelievable,… a kind of disappointment, probably interpreted as a loss of wander…..

6) ….worst than that, if we say that what was found or discovered wasn’t a viable theory, but a proved fact.

7) Then it would become offensive to be part of the millenary problem solution, instead of being a reason for happiness and satisfaction.

8) The reader approach to the news would be paradoxically adverse.

9) Instead, I think it should be a nice welcome to discovery, to be received with opened arms and considered to be read with full attention.

11)Time “existence” is exclusive as a “measuring system”, its physical existence can’t be proved by science, as the “time system” is. Experimentally “time” is “movement”, we can prove that, showing that with clocks we measure “constant and uniform” movement and not “the so called Time”.

12)The original “time manuscript” has 23 pages, my manuscript in this contest has only 9 pages.

I share this brief with people interested in “time” and with physicists who have been in sore need of this issue for the last 50 or 60 years.

Héctor

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Claudio Baldi Borsello wrote on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 19:36 GMT
Dear Ian,

It's clear to me that randomness can represent a "back door" for free will to express itself (or himself) into our physical world.

In my paper I suggest an experiment in order to check whether it is true and mesurable.

Please, read my work and give me your opinion.

You can find it here http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/2894

Good luck,

Claudio B. Borsello

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Mar. 11, 2017 @ 23:30 GMT
Hello Mr Durham,

Happy to see you again and your papper.

Congratulations for this general essay.

all the best from Belgium

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Héctor Daniel Gianni wrote on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 22:47 GMT
Dear Ian Durham

I invite you and every physicist to read my work “TIME ORIGIN,DEFINITION AND EMPIRICAL MEANING FOR PHYSICISTS, Héctor Daniel Gianni ,I’m not a physicist.

How people interested in “Time” could feel about related things to the subject.

1) Intellectuals interested in Time issues usually have a nice and creative wander for the unknown.

2) They usually enjoy this wander of their searches around it.

3) For millenniums this wander has been shared by a lot of creative people around the world.

4) What if suddenly, something considered quasi impossible to be found or discovered such as “Time” definition and experimental meaning confronts them?

5) Their reaction would be like, something unbelievable,… a kind of disappointment, probably interpreted as a loss of wander…..

6) ….worst than that, if we say that what was found or discovered wasn’t a viable theory, but a proved fact.

7) Then it would become offensive to be part of the millenary problem solution, instead of being a reason for happiness and satisfaction.

8) The reader approach to the news would be paradoxically adverse.

9) Instead, I think it should be a nice welcome to discovery, to be received with opened arms and considered to be read with full attention.

11)Time “existence” is exclusive as a “measuring system”, its physical existence can’t be proved by science, as the “time system” is. Experimentally “time” is “movement”, we can prove that, showing that with clocks we measure “constant and uniform” movement and not “the so called Time”.

12)The original “time manuscript” has 23 pages, my manuscript in this contest has only 9 pages.

I share this brief with people interested in “time” and with physicists who have been in sore need of this issue for the last 50 or 60 years.

Héctor

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Mar. 13, 2017 @ 22:55 GMT
Dear Ian,

I was amused by your author bio.

But I’m sorry, I can’t get past your definition of determinism: “we can define a deterministic process as being one for which the outcome can be predicted with certainty. To put it another way, a deterministic process is one for which there is only a single possible outcome.” Surely, a deterministic process is one in which, because of the rules (e.g. law-of-nature rules), there is always only one logically possible outcome whether or not (for various reasons e.g. complexity) all logically possible outcomes of these rules can be predicted. Whether a process is deterministic or not has nothing to do with whether we can predict outcomes.

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Author Ian Durham replied on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 15:04 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

I think you have missed the point partly. I am simply proposing a set of axioms and seeing what can be accomplished via those axioms. They may not be the correct axioms. But you have to start somewhere. And my definition of determinism is the same as the one used by D'Ariano. I agree prediction is not necessary here. Perhaps a poor choice of words on my part since it does not necessarily require an agent, but the basic idea is that there are multiple possible outcomes, none of which is oreferentially more likely to occur than any other.

Ian



Lorraine Ford replied on Mar. 21, 2017 @ 14:02 GMT
Hi Ian,

I would dispute what you say about free will:

I was a bit surprised at the non-sequitur: “It's clear that the emergence of determinism and free will in this model is not solely due to the combinatorics alone.”, because there was no previous justification for the proposition that free will had “emerged”, and no suggestion about what it might have emerged from, if anything. On the contrary, the ability to freely choose broccoli rather than carrots was earlier seemingly assumed as a given: “if I choose to have carrots”, “Free will thus generally involve choices about macroprocesses…”.

But I wouldn’t have said that “…the essence of free will is that…if I choose to have carrots I can have confidence that …the carrots won't randomly and inexplicably turn into a potato…”: the online Oxford dictionary defines free will as “The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate”. The definition is all about the power to freely move oneself with respect to the rest of reality, not about whether carrots might unexpectedly turn into potatoes, causing a loss of confidence.

Clearly choosing carrots, that then have to be retrieved from the fridge, is more like choosing a goal to work towards: it is a multi-step process, not an instantaneous outcome, but also not what you suggest i.e. a single macroprocess arising from a multiplicity of random microprocesses.

Lorraine

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David Brown wrote on Mar. 14, 2017 @ 12:44 GMT
"Is free will just an illusion? Does it require randomness or does it require it require determinism? The answers to these questions undoubtedly lie in a deeper understanding of the transition from quantum systems to classical ones." In order to understand quantum theory at a deeper level it might be necessary to identify the empirically valid interpretation of string theory. I have suggested to the string theorists that Milgrom is the Kepler of contemporary cosmology.

Dark Matter or Modified Gravity - McGaugh, YouTube 2015

The string theorists might be correct in saying that the equivalence principle is 100% correct — in this case, my guess is that there exist MOND-chameleon particles. These hypothetical particles would have variable effective mass depending upon the nearby gravitational acceleration. This weird hypothetical property might allow Milgrom's MOND to be approximately correct and to allow an APPARENT (but not real) violation of Newtonian-Einsteinian gravitational theory. In any case, I say that Milgrom is the Kepler of contemporary cosmology — based upon the empirical evidence which NOW exists.

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Author Ian Durham replied on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 15:11 GMT
Hmm. I'll have to think about that.




Wilhelmus de Wilde wrote on Mar. 14, 2017 @ 15:49 GMT
Dear Ian,

Good to see you back here on the contest.

Your proposition that deterministic sysytems can arise from pure randomness is interesting.

When a "reality" emerges from the randomness of what I called Total Simultaneity it seems for the emergent agants in this reality most of the times deterministic because time (and so cause and effect) and space were introduced (emerged also) in this relity.

In my perception it is also consciousness that is ordering the entropy of chaos (the randomness),. When consciousness is restricted by time it sems that the pst is always deterministic.

Of course this is only a too short introduction of my essay "The Purpose of Life" and I hope that you can find some time to read/leave a comment/and give a rating.

I rated you high because I learned from your essay for my next article, besides of that I cannot understand the "authors" that just give ONE's without even leaving a comment (I received 4 ones)....

best regards

Wilhelmus de Wilde

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Author Ian Durham replied on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 15:14 GMT
Thank you Wilhelmus! You make a very important point. Time and space must necessarily be emergent from any such fundamental system. I think most physicists would probably agree with that, though exactly how it does remains a bit of a mystery. It's something I've been grappling with for some time now.



Joe Fisher replied on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 15:57 GMT
Dear Ian Durham,

Please excuse me for I have no intention of disparaging in any way any part of your essay.

I merely wish to point out that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) Physicist & Nobel Laureate.

Only nature could produce a reality so simple, a single cell amoeba could deal with it.

The real Universe must consist only of one unified visible infinite physical surface occurring in one infinite dimension, that am always illuminated by infinite non-surface light.

A more detailed explanation of natural reality can be found in my essay, SCORE ONE FOR SIMPLICITY. I do hope that you will read my essay and perhaps comment on its merit.

Joe Fisher, Realist

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Mar. 16, 2017 @ 16:19 GMT
Dear Chairman,

Ritz was certainly wrong in his dispute with Einstein 1907, when he took the position of Newton's emission theory while I guess he was correct in that the past is different from the future. In this case if I recall correctly, Einstein preferred probabilistics and the belonging in principle pre-determined block universe.

I didn't find the Einstein-Ritz dispute mentioned in your essay. Maybe it wasn't as important as I thought. Hopefully, you can nonetheless enlighten me.

Curious,

Eckard

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Mar. 16, 2017 @ 17:27 GMT
Nice essay Durham,

Your ideas and thinking are excellent for eg…

1. What role does chance play in the universe? Quantum theory suggests that randomness is a fundamental part of how the universe works and yet we live mostly intentional, ordered lives.

2. For a two-outcome process whose outcomes have a 51% and 49% likelihood of occurrence respectively, one might be tempted to...

view entire post


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Larissa Albantakis wrote on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 22:38 GMT
Dear Ian,

This was very thought-provoking! I spent quite some time after reading your essay thinking about whether it is possible to construct a causal macro system from purely random micro elements, i.e. a macro system in which the state of one macro element can causally influence other macro elements, while the micro elements are completely random.

As you said, for a set of dice, that would not be possible, since no matter how you group the dice, the state of one macro element is independent of the state of the other macro elements.

For the case where energy travels around, it seems different, since there is a conserved quantity. However, if this energy traveling is truly random at the micro level, i.e. every micro state is equally possible following every possible micro state, then again the macro states would be independent of each other.

Do you agree or did I miss something?

Best regards,

Larissa

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Author Ian Durham wrote on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 22:48 GMT
Hi Larissa,

Thanks for the comments! I think I agree. So you can get a nearly deterministic outcome from underlying randomness, but a string of such outcomes might not be deterministic because the macrostates are not correlated. Is that kind of what you're saying?

By the way, I read your essay a couple of days ago and loved it. It takes me awhile to digest everything and I've been at a conference all week so I didn't post anything, but I did rate it. I actually wanted to talk to you about it (which I'll do via e-mail) because it relates to some of the things I've been thinking about lately.

Cheers,

Ian



Larissa Albantakis replied on Mar. 19, 2017 @ 15:32 GMT
Hi Ian,

Yes, the random string is a good way to express what I mean. Great! I'm waiting to here from you then.

Cheers,

Larissa

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Stefan Keppeler wrote on Mar. 20, 2017 @ 22:12 GMT
Dear Ian,

that was nice and clear! You do a great job explaining the thermodynamic limit. While reading your essay I noticed that the outlines of our essays are spookily similar :D although we start from different microscopic theories and cover different topics in the middle sections. You explain emergence of determinism from random processes and then move on to free will. I explain emergence of irreversibility from reversible dynamics and then move on to goal-oriented behavior. For the first step we both have to introduce the concept of microstates and macrostates.

That was fun to read, cheers, Stefan

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Author Ian Durham replied on Mar. 20, 2017 @ 23:49 GMT
Thanks Stefan! I will have to read your essay!




Alan M. Kadin wrote on Mar. 21, 2017 @ 13:18 GMT
Dear Prof. Durham,

Your very interesting essay talks about random fluctuations leading toward order, structure, and even intentionality.

I agree, but I think the missing link is the biological concept of evolutionary adaption. In evolution, random fluctuations provide the raw material, but they are filtered by the environment to select out structures that survive. Even consciousness may be an adaptive structure.

I address the issue of adaptation in my own essay, “No Ghost in the Machine”. I argue that recognition of self, other agents, and a causal narrative are built into specific evolved brain structures, based on neural networks, which create a sense of consciousness as part of a dynamic model of the environment. The reason that this is such a difficult problem is that we are being misled by the subjective perceptions of our own minds.

Alan Kadin

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Jesse Liu wrote on Mar. 30, 2017 @ 06:53 GMT
Hello Ian,

Thank you for such an enjoyable and interesting read. From the outset, you argue it is 'processes' that make the universe interesting - which maps quite nicely in agreement with what I argue with my coauthor in our essay that fundamental interactions/forces engender the rich structures in the universe. Indeed as you develop micro vs macro processes I agree is a good way to think...

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Author Ian Durham replied on Apr. 11, 2017 @ 01:07 GMT
Thanks Jesse! I will add your essay to my list (which is growing!). Incidentally, I briefly worked for the National Weather Service on their computer models. There's a reason the most powerful computers in the world are weather and climate computers... :)

Regarding chaotic dynamics, that's an intriguing question. I don't know enough about chaos theory, but I'm thinking I need to start to learn more about it. I know some folks who work in quantum chaos actually.




basudeba mishra wrote on Apr. 2, 2017 @ 07:04 GMT
Dear Sir,

Chance is a possibility of something happening. It depends upon the knowledge of all possible outcomes. Otherwise, whatever is happening will appear to be natural cause and effect relationship. Random is proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern, or, done or happening without method or conscious decision – or as you say: ‘unpredictable’. But is...

view entire post


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Donald G Palmer wrote on Apr. 3, 2017 @ 10:22 GMT
Dear Ian Durham

A good account of probability, at one level, related to simple macro states, at a different level.

Something to consider: If I choose carrots, how is this macro state decision carried back down to the micro state level? This is one of the disconnects I see with such arguments - are macro level 'intentions' defined by micro level states or processes? If so, how is a macro level decision defined, and decided, at the micro level?

If the reductionist hypothesis of physics is correct, all actions derive from the micro (or smaller) level. While you have shown how random micro states can produce macro state semi-determinism, this begs the issue of intentionality possibly originating from the macro level.

One other comment is a concern over the mathematical tools used for this (and a number of other) physical models: Both statistics and probability only allow operations from the smaller to the larger levels. This is fine if all actions only stem from the smaller to the larger levels. However, if this assumption is not correct, then using these mathematical tools will prevent any attempt to show influence from the higher to the lower levels.

I will suggest that physicists creating experiments that drive change at 'micro' levels (human intentional actions) is a good indication that all actions do not stem from the smaller to the larger and the reductionist assumption is incorrect. This would require changes to the mathematical models and tools we have today.

Don

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Author Ian Durham replied on Apr. 11, 2017 @ 01:10 GMT
Hi Don, well, you're not alone in your thoughts in this regard. George Ellis certainly agrees that the typical reductionist model of physics is not the full story. I, on the other hand, haven't yet given up hope that reductionism still holds the answer.




Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 04:34 GMT
Dear Sirs!

Physics of Descartes, which existed prior to the physics of Newton returned as the New Cartesian Physic and promises to be a theory of everything. To tell you this good news I use spam.

New Cartesian Physic based on the identity of space and matter. It showed that the formula of mass-energy equivalence comes from the pressure of the Universe, the flow of force which on the corpuscle is equal to the product of Planck's constant to the speed of light.

New Cartesian Physic has great potential for understanding the world. To show it, I ventured to give "materialistic explanations of the paranormal and supernatural" is the title of my essay.

Visit my essay, you will find there the New Cartesian Physic and make a short entry: "I believe that space is a matter" I will answer you in return. Can put me 1.

Sincerely,

Dizhechko Boris

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