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Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Georgina Parry: on 10/6/12 at 10:19am UTC, wrote Hi Andreas, It makes much more sense to me too. I also agree that an...

Andreas Boe: on 10/5/12 at 13:18pm UTC, wrote Thanks for your concern. I never really set out to get a good rating in...

Andreas Boe: on 10/5/12 at 13:14pm UTC, wrote Glad you liked my "assumptions"! I will try to give you a not to ambitious...

Georgina Woodward: on 10/4/12 at 5:54am UTC, wrote Dear Andreas, your essay was delightful to read. Clear, concise, and...

Sergey Fedosin: on 10/4/12 at 5:22am UTC, wrote If you do not understand why your rating dropped down. As I found ratings...

Andreas Boe: on 9/23/12 at 22:04pm UTC, wrote Thanks Curt! I have not yet had the opportunity to read your essay, but...

Anonymous: on 9/22/12 at 4:19am UTC, wrote Andreas, It seems every contestant in the FQXI essay contest has an agenda...

Steve Dufourny Jedi: on 9/20/12 at 13:42pm UTC, wrote Hello to both of you, Indeed the mass and the weight are different but...

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FQXi FORUM
January 18, 2022

CATEGORY: Questioning the Foundations Essay Contest (2012) [back]
TOPIC: Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong by Andreas Bøe [refresh]

Author Andreas Bøe wrote on Sep. 3, 2012 @ 14:11 GMT
Essay Abstract

The author of this short essay has chosen two assumptions that is both basic and wrong: #1: Elementary particles obeys the laws of nature. #2: Things are what they appear to be. The discussion of the first wrong assumption concerns the nature of natural law and entropy. The discussion of the second wrong assumption leads to thoughts about quantum computing. Both have connections to billiard balls.

Author Bio

Andreas Bøe is 42 years old and lives on a small farm in south-eastern Norway with wife and two children. He is a computer networks engineer and passionate student of all sciences. Predominantly through the Scientific American Magazine and lately also ted.com. Curiosity and a longing to know how the world works is the main drive for further study.

Armin Nikkhah Shirazi wrote on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 10:21 GMT
Hi Andreas,

I just read your quick and light-hearted essay. Just a couple of comments I hope you may find useful:

On the first assumption, I wonder whether you think particle physicists are attributing too many anthropomorphic properties to elementary particles. What you wrote, namely that "elementary particles "only react" seems to me in line with current mainstream views on elementary particles, and this includes the fact that they obey certain conservation laws (i.e. they only react to the constraints imposed upon them on such laws.) So if I understood your point correctly, it seems pretty uncontroversial.

On your second assumption, I also think that you may be referring to the picture painted by many popularizations of quantum mechanics, rather than what most quantum physicists think, which, as far as I can tell, is that a quantum object is neither a particle nor a wave but rather something that manifests in some experiments wavelike behavior and in others particle-like behavior. Again, your point seems to me largely in line with this view.

On your bonus assumption, I agree that there may be much more to the universe than what we can observe directly. If you'd like to see a novel conceptualization of this idea, take a look at the appendix of my paper: http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1431

All the best,

Armin

PS. I was just in Norway three months ago, what a beautiful country! The road between Oslo and Bergen is the most scenic route I have seen in my life.

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Andreas Boe replied on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 16:32 GMT
Thanks for the feedback!

I do not think particle physicists attribute "anthrophomorpic" properties to elementary particles knowingly. But i think the freedom of mind required for new discoveries is threatend by falling into psychological traps. Small but important details may be missed, because you look the wrong way. As you say. My point is hardly controversial. I am but a humble amateur that try to understand how the world works.

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Member Benjamin F. Dribus wrote on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 14:50 GMT
Andreas,

I heartily agree that intuition and language pose an amazing variety of traps for physicists, and these are precisely the type of traps that often go unnoticed. It's not necessarily that problems of this sort are harder to solve as it is that no one recognizes them as problems in the first place. I won't quote myself, but I tried to make a similar point in the second section of my own essay

On the Foundational Assumptions of Modern Physics

I can also tell you from my own experiences in academia that I feel (regrettably) that you're correct about how few people are actually passionate about the big questions. My guess is that you probably spent a fair bit of time in academia yourself to form these opinions. Take care,

Ben Dribus

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Andreas Boe replied on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 16:36 GMT
Thanks for positive feedback Ben!

I will have a look at your essay too.

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Sep. 18, 2012 @ 00:03 GMT
Andreas,

"Elementary particles obeys the laws of nature." First wrong assumption.

"Natural law is deduced from observations of what happens in the world."

Are you saying that since we can't see the behavior of elementary particles, that we attribute their behavior to natural laws we can see?

Certainly gravity, weak, undetectable, and acting over long distances, which I discuss, has scientists mystified.

Jim

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Andreas Boe replied on Sep. 18, 2012 @ 11:57 GMT
"Are you saying that since we can't see the behavior of elementary particles, that we attribute their behavior to natural laws we can see?"

Instead of a yes or no, I will try to explain my view:

The expression "Natural Laws" has something in common with the expression "Natural gas". Just hearing the naturalness of it gives us a positive bias.

It is very tempting to mix up "natural laws" deduced from experiments with the hidden mechanisms that is the true source of the particles behaviour. If we want to make a leap in our understanding of the universe, like the leap from Newton to Einstein, we cannot stand on Einsteins shoulders and jump to the next level. Einstein did not stand on Newtons when he took his leap. He used the old data, but not the old interpretations of it.

I wrote my short essay in the last hours before the deadline of the contest. So some things could have been explained clearer.

I am a son of the information age, so I am biased towards an information oriented perspective on the universe. For example, I believe the distance between particles is an expression of the gravity/time-difference between them. Empty space is not a scene on with the particles do their thing. Empty space does not exist, It only looks that way because particles appears to be far away, because we have a weak relation to them.

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Anonymous replied on Sep. 22, 2012 @ 04:19 GMT
Andreas,

It seems every contestant in the FQXI essay contest has an agenda when commenting upon competitor's essays. So, with that in mind, let me say this: I like your attitude, and reading between the lines, I see some deep realizations. I agree with your philosophy. Taking assumptions to be the God Awful truth leads to many fantasies.

I would appreciate any comments you may form after considering my essay on the foundation of the Special Theory of Relativity.

I believe I have found a major problem with Einstein's initial reasoning!

All the best in the upcoming judging!

Curt Youngs

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Andreas Boe replied on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 22:04 GMT
Thanks Curt!

I have not yet had the opportunity to read your essay, but will probably stuble upon it soon in my chaotic dodging between the too many essays to read all.

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Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 05:22 GMT
If you do not understand why your rating dropped down. As I found ratings in the contest are calculated in the next way. Suppose your rating is
$R_1$
and
$N_1$
was the quantity of people which gave you ratings. Then you have
$S_1=R_1 N_1$
of points. After it anyone give you
$dS$
of points so you have
$S_2=S_1+ dS$
of points and
$N_2=N_1+1$
is the common quantity of the people which gave you ratings. At the same time you will have
$S_2=R_2 N_2$
of points. From here, if you want to be R2 > R1 there must be:
$S_2/ N_2>S_1/ N_1$
or
$(S_1+ dS) / (N_1+1) >S_1/ N_1$
or
$dS >S_1/ N_1 =R_1$
In other words if you want to increase rating of anyone you must give him more points
$dS$
then the participant`s rating
$R_1$
was at the moment you rated him. From here it is seen that in the contest are special rules for ratings. And from here there are misunderstanding of some participants what is happened with their ratings. Moreover since community ratings are hided some participants do not sure how increase ratings of others and gives them maximum 10 points. But in the case the scale from 1 to 10 of points do not work, and some essays are overestimated and some essays are drop down. In my opinion it is a bad problem with this Contest rating process. I hope the FQXI community will change the rating process.

Sergey Fedosin

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Andreas Boe replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 13:18 GMT

I never really set out to get a good rating in this contest.

I am just happy to be part of it :->

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 05:54 GMT
Dear Andreas,

your essay was delightful to read. Clear, concise, and unusual.Very relevant to the essay question that was set. You have highlighted some wonderfully different wrong assumptions. I particularly like the last one. Another possibility is that the visible universe is larger in estimated extent than the material universe now existing. Especially if there is unaccounted for curvature of the light rays, carrying the sensory data, due to planetary motion disturbing the environment in which they travel.

If the view of observers, scattered across the universe, were considered there would be a whole multi-verse of different visible universes. That is one of the types of multiverse Max Tegmark as talked about. Which raises the question in my mind - could they also still be regarded as all parts of the same Mega-universe? Or must they be regarded as distinct universes because these image fabrications are isolated from each other? A thought provoking, well written essay. Good luck, Kind regards Georgina : )

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Andreas Boe replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 13:14 GMT

I will try to give you a not to ambitious answer to your question:

"If the view of observers, scattered across the universe, were considered there would be a whole multi-verse of different visible universes.......could they also still be regarded as all parts of the same Mega-universe? Or must they be regarded as distinct universes because these image fabrications are isolated from each other?"

I would say that the whole "Mega-universe" could be regarded as one thing, no matter if parts of it is physically detached from each other. The "Mega-Universe" as a quantum-object resides outside of physics and is not in itself bound by the light-speed limit.

One thing that would make the mega-universe much easier to relate to, is if there exists a common "now" for every place in it. Even super-remote ones. Many distinguished cosmologists believe it does not. For example cosmologys own poster boy; Brian Green. Personally I have a hard time to swallow that pill. A common "now" makes much more sense to me.

Have ze najs day.

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Georgina Parry replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 10:19 GMT
Hi Andreas,

It makes much more sense to me too.

I also agree that an unobserved Object Mega universe would be 'one thing' even though it can not be observed in its entirety and so there are a multi-verse of separate Image fabrications produced.