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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Narendra Nath: on 10/1/09 at 13:15pm UTC, wrote Dear Jim, i welcome your comments. i hope you are right about the...

James De Spears: on 9/28/09 at 20:48pm UTC, wrote Dear Professor Nath, I tend to agree with what you have written. Your...

Narendra nath: on 9/25/09 at 7:08am UTC, wrote Physics and maths controversy appears in the comments and the text of the...

Florin Moldoveanu: on 9/22/09 at 5:35am UTC, wrote Dear Mr. De Spears, Your essay is very careful and well thought out and I...

James De Spears: on 9/21/09 at 15:24pm UTC, wrote Dear Dr. Moldoveanu, Thank you for your kind words. Sorry for the delay in...

Florin Moldoveanu: on 9/19/09 at 5:41am UTC, wrote Dear Mr. De Spears, Your essay is well written and I fully agree with the...

James De Spears: on 9/10/09 at 16:44pm UTC, wrote Response to Steven Dufourny Thank you for your kind words. As a...

James De Spears: on 9/10/09 at 16:41pm UTC, wrote Response to Uncle Al The point about Prévost was that his idea survived,...


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FQXi FORUM
October 17, 2019

CATEGORY: What's Ultimately Possible in Physics? Essay Contest (2009) [back]
TOPIC: What is Ultimately Possible in Physic? by James L De Spears [refresh]
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Author James L De Spears wrote on Sep. 9, 2009 @ 11:15 GMT
Essay Abstract

In this essay some of the possible futures of physics are considered. Historical and philosophical illustrations are made to show the continuity and reasonableness in these concepts. A few novel connections are made and a final opinion is expressed.

Author Bio

Mr. De Spears has worked for several companies applying his knowledge of mathematics. He has occupied himself with orbit analyses, artificial intelligence and satellite image processing among other things. He is currently looking into the foundations of physics and is rooting about for an academic path to do this.

Download Essay PDF File

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Uncle Al wrote on Sep. 9, 2009 @ 16:01 GMT
Prevost's assertion that in a closed system all bodies eventually come into thermal equilibirium is easily falsified. Diamond has a negative work function into vacuum, palladium had a 5.22 volt work function into vacuum. Construct a vacuum diode with a Type IIb diamond cathode emitter and and a palladium anode taget. Short it, all within the closed system. Cathode and anode will *never* come into thermal equlibrium. Look at diamond's Debye temperature. White diamond even at 1000 C does not visibly glow.

Mathematics is not empirical, merely self-conistent and rigorous. Philosophy is nothing at all as a predictive system - Aristotle; Tommy Aquinas laboriollsy proving what needed to be true, Spinoza destroying Aquinas and received authority; everybody at both ends and in-between shouting. Reality is not a derivation, reality is not a peer vote. Reality is reproducible observation.

"In vitro veritas." Words and then mathematized models are not enough (e.g., economics, meteorology). If you cannot experiment you have nothing beyond opinion. The universe does not respect opinions. The universe respects its own empirical existence. State a falsifying test of your predictions.

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Sep. 10, 2009 @ 07:06 GMT
Hello ,

congratulations for this pragmatism and realism .

I read it with a lot of interest.

Kind Regards

Steve

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Author James L De Spears wrote on Sep. 10, 2009 @ 16:41 GMT
Response to Uncle Al

The point about Prévost was that his idea survived, in paraphrase form, as physics evolved. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, when Prévost did his work the concept of thermal equilibrium had not evolved into its present form. The concept of thermal equilibrium did not quite gel until after Clausius offered his results in the 1850s. Debye gave his theories during the twentieth century. It is not cricket to criticize his work with 20-20 hindsight

I'm afraid that I, like Josef Stefan, don't have the resources to try the experiment you suggested using a diamond cathode and a palladium anode. I'll just have to put it on my 'to-do' list. In the meantime, could you suggest a reference on this topic?

By white diamond, I assume that you mean naturally occurring colorless diamond. According to Kirchhoff's law for emission and absorption, we would not expect such a diaphanous substance to emit much thermal radiation. (I would give Balfour Stewart credit for this law, but that is another issue.)

Mathematicians do not regard their work as empirical. However, most mathematics has its roots in something empirical. The word geometry means 'earth measurement'. The ancient Greeks formalized a collection of practical facts derive from experience in surveying, navigation and so on. Mathematics is not completely divorced from reality.

A philosophy is a system of ideas that is meant to account for some aspect of the world. Prediction, as such, is not the main feature of these systems. This is also true in the sciences. The principle goal is to understand nature. Prediction is more of a test of that understanding. A hypothesis is offered, conclusions drawn (predictions) and then tested against experiment.

Evidence is important in science. That's why I made some remarks about Penrose's lecture. He felt that his crazy ideas needed some evidence. I'm not sure what you mean by 'in vitro veritas' = 'truth in glass'. Perhaps you could clarify?

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Author James L De Spears wrote on Sep. 10, 2009 @ 16:44 GMT
Response to Steven Dufourny

Thank you for your kind words. As a (hopefully) soon to be graduate student I very much appreciate the encouragement.

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Florin Moldoveanu wrote on Sep. 19, 2009 @ 05:41 GMT
Dear Mr. De Spears,

Your essay is well written and I fully agree with the final conclusion: “we take our satisfaction in the process rather than the imagined goal.”

However, I have trouble with:

“Physics has content above that of mathematics, just as mathematics has content beyond that of logic. Without this content, it would be nothing more than mathematics. New content appears frequently in physics.”

Maybe I do not fully understand it. Mathematics is infinite and supposing physics is math, new content can appear in physics. Therefore the argument is not strong. For better clarification, what is needed is a better definition of what physics and math are. Can you please clarify your views on this?

Thank you.

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Author James L De Spears wrote on Sep. 21, 2009 @ 15:24 GMT
Dear Dr. Moldoveanu,

Thank you for your kind words. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I have a ready answer, but I realized that you have also entered this essay in this contest and thought it best to read your essay in detail. I found it very interesting at several levels, but I need to think about it before commenting. However, it is immediately obvious to me that we have very...

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Florin Moldoveanu wrote on Sep. 22, 2009 @ 05:35 GMT
Dear Mr. De Spears,

Your essay is very careful and well thought out and I have truly enjoyed it. Let me tell you a bit about my experience. My feeling about physics is that it is a bit too sloppy on the mathematical side but in physics you get away with it because experiments are saving the day at the end. (There is trouble when no experiments can be performed, but I do not want to go into...

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Narendra nath wrote on Sep. 25, 2009 @ 07:08 GMT
Physics and maths controversy appears in the comments and the text of the essay too. Personally, i feel that physicists employ Mathemetics as a significant tool to articulate better their conceptual understanding of a process/ phenomenon under investigation. The other tool is experimentation using technological tools that provide the measured data. The theory is 'accepted' as soon as it conforms to the data. Both the tools are being sharpened continuously to reach a better and better understanding in Physics. There is no need to be apologetic or critical about the tools that we adopt to proceed further. The third somewhat hidden tool , in my view is, the human mind. It is this that conceptaulize, analyze and rationalize ( logic ) the inputs for the improvement of the tools being utilized.It is this aspect i tried to touch briefly in my own essay here.

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Author James L De Spears wrote on Sep. 28, 2009 @ 20:48 GMT
Dear Professor Nath,

I tend to agree with what you have written. Your remark about the third tool is very interesting. The human mind is the sine qua non of all rational pursuits. I think you captured this in your essay when you say "... the capability of the human mind to visualize, analyze and apply logical rationality may limit our analytical and conceptual strengths." While this may be ultimately true, I think such limits will take us a long time to reach.

Jim De Spears

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Narendra Nath wrote on Oct. 1, 2009 @ 13:15 GMT
Dear Jim,

i welcome your comments. i hope you are right about the limits/capabilities of the human mind. If you grant me long professional experience, may i say that there has been incresing tenedency among the physicists to work out Physics problems mathematically without spending time deeply on the conceptual aspects and then working out precepts that are then followed by working the same out mathematically. Persons like to talk as if Mathemetics rules Physics, rather than the other way round. This tendency has sharpend their mathematical skills alright and mathematics got enriched far more than the real physics. There are ways to strenghrn the human mind that i very briefly touch upon in my own essay on this forum. The level of human consciousness gets raised and thus awareness of Physics gets enhanced.

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