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Thursday, September 16, 2010

The crazy truths about absolute truth

One of the most poorly understood truths that we do know about reality and existence is that much of what we do, in fact know, contradicts with the premise that there exists such a thing as absolute truth.

What seems to be a matter of debate for philosophers and theologians, actually has experimental evidence against the theological and naturalistic claims for an objective reality.

The discovery of the phenomenon of interference patterns that emerge when single electrons, fired at long intervals from each other -- produce wave-like interference patterns when given the option of going through two possible paths -- but don’t when given one path, has long been a dark cloud over the claim of objective reality in physics.

The experimental results of these experiments led to Einstein’s famous statement -- rejecting the implications -- “God doesn’t roll dice.”

Einstein believed that there had to be some other explanation for the fact that the electrons were acting in the same way they would (when fired individually -- at intervals as long as two minutes apart) as they would if a stream of electrons were being continuously fired through both slits in what is commonly known as the “double-slit experiment”.

What made it even more bewildering, is if you made any attempt to track the electron's journey by setting up detectors in between, the interference pattern disappeared.

It was almost as if the electron had foreknowledge of what was ahead of it, before it got there.

James Clerk Maxwell’s famous field equations would come to describe this phenomenon in terms of probability waves -- not absolutes -- of where any electron could be found at any time. And while this seems like nonsense from a intuitive perspective, Maxwell’s field equations are generally considered the most commercially important physics equations that have ever been discovered. They are relied upon in computer design, and pretty much all electronics.

Yet, these equations seem to point to there being no objective reality in quantum states.

The famous physicist, Richard Feynman would try and improve on the experiment by introducing a factor known as “delayed choice”. It involved creating a well-timed experiment, where the detector would not initiate until the electron had passed through either slit. In effect, trying to create an “a-ha, electron! got you!” effect. But doing this changed nothing. It was almost as if the electron had a priori knowledge that the detector would be turned on after it passed through either slit.

This may sound like science fiction. But this experiment has been replicated over and over again for over sixty years, and has always shown the same results. That, the electron is able to interfere with itself in the same way that waves in a pond interfere with other waves, even though there isn’t another electron to cause the interference.

This led Feynman to only one possible conclusion: that, the electron took every possible path through the experiment. And only when a measurement occurred, would the wave function collapse and force the electron to reveal a single history. This would also explain why the act of measurement would eliminate the interference pattern; because the wave function of the electron would collapse before striking the end detector.

I won’t take you through a comprehensive history, but the vast majority of physicists today accept this conclusion of Feynman. All experimentation is consistent with the assumption.

Maxwell’s equations, which have been shown to be 100% accurate in all experiments ever performed, allow for the electron to magically disappear and re-appear in orbit of Venus. Or anywhere else in the universe. The likelihood of this occurring is so low that you’d have to wait more than several times the age of the universe to observe this occurring. But the salient point is, that probability, not fixed rules based on initial state, is what describes the possible paths of the electron with the probability wave concentrated along paths of high likelihood and extending out infinitely towards outcomes that approach, but never reach zero.

Other odd phenomenon, such as the Casimir effect, are completely consistent with the predictions that this probabilistic model makes. And have been experimentally verified to extreme degrees of accuracy.

This has led many famous physicists, such as Stephen Hawking, to proclaim that when it all comes down to it: no objective reality exists. All there is, is a probability, at any point in time, at any point in the universe, that some specific state exists, and that all histories and futures that stem from that point are contingent on the same probability waves.

This seems unintuitive, because we don’t see giant candy canes appearing and men randomly turning into women -- and vice-versa -- as we walk down the street. But given the nature of how these probabilities are structured -- at the quantum level -- you’d have to wait around for trillions upon trillions of years to see any such event occur. But such events do inevitably occur in this model, and Hawking claims that the Big Bang itself, was one of them.

That, given the conclusions that -- at least at the quantum level -- that no objective reality exists: eventually, anything that can happen, will happen. Nothingness will turn into somethingness. Somethingness will suddenly cease to exist. Candy canes will eventually rain down from the sky, and electrons will randomly disappear and appear in orbit of venus.

And while these seems absurd, nearly a century of scientific experimentation and mind-numbing deconstructions of it by physicists has only served to strengthen this assumption.

But at the end of the day, these theories have survived scrutiny, accurately predicted future discoveries, fuelled the semiconductor revolution in computers, and year-by-year continue to be strengthened. So many physicists are now coming the conclusion that, in effect, objective reality -- and philosophy and religion along with it -- is dead.

Most people will, unfortunately, reject these things out of hand. But evidence is hard to argue with. Especially when it produces consistent predictions about future discoveries.

Update: This YouTube video explains the double-slit experiment in layman's terms:

Posted by Mike Brock on September 16, 2010 | Permalink

Comments

So, in other words, given enough time, deficit spending might produce prosperity, Soviet socialism might produce an abundance of higher quality goods than the free market, or capital might actually be created out of thin air by central banks?

The premise that objective reality cannot exist is precisely what socialists throughout history have used to justify claims regarding their ideology.

In addition, if reality is essentially unknowable, how could one come to know this? After all, the statement that there are no absolutes is itself an absolute!

You also might want to spend more time explaining the setup and execution of these experiments more clearly. As a physics layman, I have only the vaguest idea of what many of these terms mean.

Posted by: Dennis | 2010-09-16 11:22:12 AM


Dennis,

Her'es a YouTube video on the double-slit experiment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfPeprQ7oGc

You're taking the statement to an extreme. It isn't to say that because no objective quantum reality exists, that you should simply abandon morality or deficit spend to prosperity. That's an idiotic response to the claim.

The fact that people think the only way morality can exist, and they should't go out and murder everyone is contingent on there being a fixed reality just shows stupidity.

At a macroscopic scale, there is generally what you might call a pseudo-objective reality. You exist right now, and you're 99.99999999999999[insert a a billion 9s] percent likely to exist an hour from now.

But we can experimentally verify that there's a demonstrable likelihood that incongruous things, at a quantum level, will happen.

From the perspective of the macroscopic: people, planets and starts -- reality *seems* quite objective. And we can make judgements and live out our life on the firm assumption that candy canes will not start falling from the sky. Because they're only 0.00000000000000000[insert a trillion more zeros] to start doing so.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 11:32:21 AM


Read this: http://www.secondsightblog.com/?p=377

I'd be curious to hear your response.

Posted by: Anon | 2010-09-16 11:55:59 AM


"This has led many famous physicists, such as Stephen Hawking, to proclaim that when it all comes down to it: no objective reality exists."

This certainly sounds like an extreme premise. What's wrong with pointing out the consequences of applying this view to fields such as ethics, politics or economics? Why stop at quantum physics? What do you say to a politician who decides that quantum physics is only the beginning of the end of objective reality?

"Candy canes will eventually rain down from the sky..."

That also sounds pretty extreme. But you made the statement, not me. If you think that candy canes can appear out of nothingness, would you care to try to explain the mechanism by which that might happen? If the probability is there, however slight, some mechanism must be coming into play to make this occur.

Posted by: Dennis | 2010-09-16 12:01:27 PM


Anon,

Hawking's statements do not reduce to a "theory of nothing". This is a fundamental misunderstanding of what he's saying.

The problem with understanding the claims is in how we're geared to think about reality. We think in terms of creation and destruction, on and off, and definitive states.

But what quantum physics shows us is: not so fast... states have superpositions. They can exist in multiple states at once, but only one state is valid to any observer.

This is a really, really hard thing to wrap your head around. Even physicists have a hard time wrapping their head around it. Because our brains are not equipped to deal with this sort of abstraction in the model of reality we experience in day-to-day-life.

People believe that their model of understanding -- their "common sense" and intuition -- is reliable. And they are offended when scientific evidence challenges it. They're more likely to reject the science than to challenge their own models of understanding.

Moreover, none of this reduces so simply as to say: nothing exists, nothing matters, fuck everything, rape and pillage! Which is what so many people -- particularly the religious -- immediately equate it to.

It might be better to say: If it's 99.99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999% likely that the ball someone just threw in your direction is going to strike you, you should probably duck. Even though there is a 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% chance it won't.

That's the best analogy I can come up with to describe what Hawking is saying.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 12:03:58 PM


That also sounds pretty extreme. But you made the statement, not me. If you think that candy canes can appear out of nothingness, would you care to try to explain the mechanism by which that might happen? If the probability is there, however slight, some mechanism must be coming into play to make this occur.

The principle that matter, as demonstrated by experiment, can and does appear to jump in and out of existence randomly (see Casimir effect) in the form of virtual particles.

The same probability waves that describe the behaviour of electrons in the double-slit experiment, protrudes out infinitely but never reach zero.

This is a difficult concept to grasp when you're used to thinking macroscopically. Where you are used to being comfortable with the very precise averaging that macroscopic reality provides to shield quantum randomness.

But as I've said, these are not callus assumptions. The evidence for these claims is vast and hard to ignore. It's just that most people are unaware of it, because the average person has no interest in physics.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 12:09:06 PM


So, following the logic of the article to formulate a criticism of Hawking's statement about the Big Bang, one could argue that it's POSSIBLE for a Universe to spontaneously leap into existence from nothing, but that it's 99.999999repeating per cent unlikely to do so.

So at the end of the day, his statement about the Big Bang really makes little difference to the metaphysical implications surrounding the origin of the Universe.

Posted by: Anonymouse | 2010-09-16 12:37:07 PM


An interesting quote from a Wikipedia article about the Casimir effect:

"However, the treatment of boundary conditions in these calculations has led to some controversy. In fact "Casimir's original goal was to compute the van der Waals force between polarizable molecules" of the metallic plates. Thus it can be interpreted without any reference to the zero-point energy (vacuum energy) or virtual particles of quantum fields."

Posted by: Dennis | 2010-09-16 12:40:35 PM


http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=what-is-the-casimir-effec#comments

Here is a Scientific American article concerning the Casimir effect. It relates nothing about things going in and out of existence, much less candy canes.

Posted by: Dennis | 2010-09-16 12:48:46 PM


Anonymouse,

I don't follow. But it sounds like you need to read about the anthropic principle before using unlikelihood as a reason to dismiss occurrence, given an infinite set.

If it's 99.99999% likely the universe could form, and we are here, it means that the 0.000001% probability did, in fact, occur.

But because the probability is small, it is not impossible. Why would it increase the likelihood of a creator that doesn't himself, exists? This is nonsensical.

Dennis

There are plenty of controversies in the science. But what is clear, is there is a consistent -- if fuzzy -- picture that is emerging about the nature of the universe.

Alone, we can eliminate quantum factors and postulate other factors for individual phenomena. But when the same theory explains all the phenomena accurately and consistently, the theory is hard to ignore.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 12:51:50 PM


Dennis,

The Casimir effect must be accounted for within any unified field theory. While you can attempt to treat it as isolated phenomenon, you must ultimately integrate the effec within universal physical principles.

The Casimir effect is consistent with quantum field theories that predict the existence of virtual particles. And it's strengths and effects are consistent with predictions about minimum energy states within the vaccuum.

If it is an isolated phenomenon, then it's duality in being explained in more general frameworks is quite interesting in and of itself.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 12:56:54 PM


Mike,

Explain the application of the Casimir effect to your candy cane example. Seriously.

Posted by: Dennis | 2010-09-16 1:07:23 PM


Making the statement that there is only a "0.00000000000000000[insert a trillion more zeros]"
chance of candy canes falling from the sky evades the central question of the mechanism by which this might happen. Probability assumes a causal mechanism. Without it, there is zero chance of a phenomenon occurring.

Posted by: Dennis | 2010-09-16 1:18:51 PM


"The universe is big and old and rare things happen all the time" Lawrence Krause

From this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo

Frankly, Mike's explanation makes way more sense than "this unknowable entity that I'll call God did it"

Like it or not, the science is there. An entire candy can popping into existence is not impossible, but incredibly unlikely. But it could and indeed would, given enough time.

Good article Mike

Posted by: Mike | 2010-09-16 1:24:28 PM


A giant aardvark farted and from those gasses, the entire universe was created.

Posted by: set you free | 2010-09-16 1:44:49 PM


Let me rephrase that.

.... and from those gasses, the entire universe was randomly created.

Posted by: set you free | 2010-09-16 1:46:01 PM


PS

If you disagree with my declarative statement, I'll call you names.

Posted by: set you free | 2010-09-16 1:50:13 PM


No one would seriously question that the universe, being old and big, is often a host to rare events.

One only has to look at the way in which natural selection transforms the flora and fauna around us all the time. In fact, this transformation is not so rare as people might think.

However, we have a pretty good grasp on the mechanism by which natural selection takes place. We can calculate, with reasonable accuracy, the time it will take for a weed to develop resistance to a particular herbicide and begin dominating an eco-system, because we can identify the mechanism in question. The chances, on the other hand, of a weed turning into a pig that then flies to the moon are zero. There is no causal mechanism that can plausibly create such an occurrence.

Posted by: Dennis | 2010-09-16 1:50:53 PM


Adaptation is a fact.

Evolution is a theory.

Posted by: set you free | 2010-09-16 1:57:33 PM


set you free,

You don't know the definition of theory. Theory does not mean unproven.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 2:20:26 PM


Dennis,

But the evidence suggests that, at the quantum level, non-causal events occur all the time. So your supposition is not accepted as the basis for refuting the claims.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 2:23:27 PM


Dennis,

The absolutely random decay of Uranium is a popular example of what appears to be a completely non-causally linked quantum event, for instance.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 2:25:43 PM


"In its basic form, falsifiability is the belief that for any hypothesis to have credence, it must be inherently disprovable before it can become accepted scientific proof.

For example, if a scientist asks, “Does God exist?” then this can never be science because it is a theory that cannot be disproved.

The idea is that no theory is completely correct, but if not falsified, it can be accepted as truth."


Read more: http://www.experiment-resources.com/falsifiability.html#ixzz0zj5d5tQf

Posted by: Jim | 2010-09-16 2:28:32 PM


Mike Brock: Allow me to clarify. The quotes from Dr. Hawking are from the his recent pronouncements that he no longer accepts the possibility that the Universe could have created by some sort of extra-natural force or deity. His reasoning is that since quantum theory allows for the spontaneous creation of the Universe without any causal preconditions, that it follows that's the more likely explanation for the origin of the Universe.

My point is that Dr. Hawking is wading too far into metaphysics, and that his reasoning doesn't sufficiently support his conclusion, for two reasons:

1) Just because quantum theory allows for the possibility of spontaneous creation, fair-minded scientists should be honest about the infinitesimal probabilities of such an event occurring.

2) The reasoning that justifies using quantum theory to support the possibility of spontaneous creation could just as easily justify using quantum theory to support the possibility of influence from an extra-natural force or deity.

If the reasoning used by Dr. Hawking is that literally "anything is possible", then given the evidence at our disposal the probability of spontaneous creation is more or less equal to the probability of an extra-natural force or deity.

I realize that this wasn't the focus of the original Western Standard post, but it was at least some of the focus of Dr. Hawking's statements on the subject.

My problem is that Dr. Hawking is trying to argue that since quantum theory allows for more ambiguity in the physical laws of the universe that means the existence of extra-natural forces or deities is LESS likely. I think increased ambiguity in the physical laws makes no difference to that metaphysical question, and I also think he should concede that fair-minded people could argue that greater ambiguity suggests that the existence of extra-natural forces or deities is MORE likely.

Posted by: Anonymouse | 2010-09-16 2:28:41 PM


The decay rate of uranium is one thing I can get my head around; you can actually measure and observe this. Claiming that candy canes might fall from the sky given enough time is something altogether different. But as I said, you raised this example, not me. Merely conceiving of an event cannot create a probability that the event will actually occur.

Is candy cane rain a quantum event?

Posted by: Dennis | 2010-09-16 2:34:41 PM


Just because quantum theory allows for the possibility of spontaneous creation, fair-minded scientists should be honest about the infinitesimal probabilities of such an event occurring.

So, you're ignoring the anthropic principle here. The fact that we are here, greatly enhances the probably that such an event did occur. And no scientist -- not even Hawking -- ever said the chance of a quantum event resulting in spontaneous creation was anything but infinitesimal.

But for it to eventually happen, the chance only has to be a non-zero value. In a sense, you concede the point by even admitting the tiniest of possibilities.

Since our concept of time would be meaningless in hyperspace -- as in, outside our universe -- the small chance of quantum events occurring that spawn universes with intelligent life, for instance, could be as small as 1-E1000000000000000% (that's a negative power, by the way) ... and you'd still end up with innumerable numbers of universes with intelligent life in them.

When you're dealing with infinity, anything -- no matter how infinitesimal -- will eventually happen. Up to, and including exact copy universes, where exact copies of you and me are having this exact same argument.

The mathematics dictate this be true.

And in any case, the idea that spontaneous creation as a result of random quantum events is on equal footing for a God creating the universe is absurd. Simply because the idea of having a God begs the question of the creation of the God. And simply saying, well, God always existed and therefore doesn't need to be explained is a cop-out.

If you're willing to accept an eternal God as a more likely explanation than the quantum explanation, then you're accepting an explanation, which in terms of probabilities and complexities, is even more unlikely than the one you're impaling for being unlikely.

You're just making a special exception to the rule of probabilities to shoe-horn in a God as an equal explanation.

In any case, Hawking is not the first person to say this. In fact, the idea of spontaneous creation as a random quantum event has existed in theoretical physics for longer than I've been alive.

It's been mused about by physicists from Michio Kaku, Brian Greene, Edward Witten, etc.

The only difference is that Hawking has decided, after all these years, to stake his name and reputation on making the claim loudly and publicly -- in an "in your face" manor.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 2:51:07 PM


Well, I just started to wonder what a thought is. Not only how it came to be but what it actually is. Is it energy? Is it matter? Some of these thoughts form my philosophy and faith, and I am a happy man as a result. It may be all in my imagination, whatever that is, but I think I will keep it.

Mike, by the way I love the post. I love science and love reading this kind of stuff.

Posted by: TM | 2010-09-16 2:55:00 PM


TM,

Well, in a sense, the same logic that no objective reality exists, can be used to argue that, due to quantum randomness... we are not slaves to cause-and-effect, meaning that we may actually have free will. That, the sum of our consciousness cannot simply be abstracted away as a fatalistic consequence of the past.

That if we were to simply rewind history back 1000 years and replay it, history would be different the second time around because of all the quantum fluctuations gradually affecting states.

So there's an upside to this whole, "no objective reality" thing.

Some people take from it, that things like this rob our lives of meaning. I do not believe this to be the case. I think it makes us an even more interesting gem in the fabric of existence. Worth fighting for.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 2:59:27 PM


"This led Feynman to only one possible conclusion: that, the electron took every possible path through the experiment."

So, does this mean that the universe is the equivalent of a giant multi-forced, multi-spectrumed hologram?

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2010-09-16 3:16:23 PM


Should have added...multi-dimensional.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2010-09-16 3:18:46 PM


h2o273kk9,

Some physicists think it might: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holographic_principle

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 3:19:41 PM


TM,
"Well, I just started to wonder what a thought is. Not only how it came to be but what it actually is. Is it energy? Is it matter?"

Excellent question that nicely dovetails with this thread.

I've always wondered about the real genesis of a few things.
1) The universe itself. Where did it come from?
2) Life. What is it and how did it start?
3) Self awareness/Intelligence. What does this mean?

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2010-09-16 4:27:44 PM


Wow. This kind of existentialist debate is quite a departure from your usual fare, Mike.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-09-16 6:12:27 PM


Fascinating, especially your note on free will Mike. But I don't understand how this is the end of philosophy. As an Objectivist, I still say A is A even there is a 0.0000000000000000000000034% chance A will spontaneously convert to >9000, 42, or something else. Quantum physicists can spin nihilism all they want, it's still just quantum physics-which is only important on the tiniest of scales. Oh, and where does String Theory fit into this? Or is that just bullshit?

Posted by: Cytotoxic | 2010-09-16 7:12:41 PM


The aardvark did it.

Posted by: set you free | 2010-09-16 7:20:13 PM


Once we accept the universe evolved from aardvark farts, then we can get on to more important things.

Posted by: set you free | 2010-09-16 7:21:43 PM


Cytotoxic,

String theory is consistent with everything here. And String theory is still the most promising candidate for unifying quantum theory with relativity. But string theory does not change the randomness of the quantum, it merely provides a working formalization of all known physics under a single model.

It's important to understand that String theory does not make any fundamental changes to what we already know about the laws of nature. It just fills in the gaps, so to speak.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 7:49:23 PM


Cytotoxic,

Another note: when Hawking says philosophy is dead, I'm not sure he's attacking moral philosophy. In fact, I think he might specifically concede it's value of challenged. Rather, I think he's specifically attacking metaphysics.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 7:54:20 PM


"if" challenged, that is.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 7:55:37 PM


I should be honest, though. Objectivism's statement of an absolutely objective reality, irrespective of observer is directly contradicted by evidence.

The double-slit experiment itself would appear to be in conflict with Rand's claims.

Rand, I believe, was principally reacting to continentalist relativism in her philosophy, which, I do not believe is emboldened by scientific evidence. Basically, Ayn Rand's metaphysics are a form of Newtonian realism, which is contradicted by, and has been considered invalidated by the Theory of General Relativity and by Quantum Mechanics. In this sense, Rand's metaphysics are on shaky ground scientifically.

That said, as a libertarian, I share much of her political conclusions. But what I know about physics and cosmology tell me that her metaphysical claims have effectively been sufficienty discredited.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 8:13:47 PM


Here's what I think is a fascinating and lucid critique of Einstein's theory of space-time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q9IePuHut4&feature=related

There's a whole series of these videos on youtube dealing with many aspects of Einsteinian physics.

Posted by: Dennis | 2010-09-16 8:59:03 PM


Here's an interesting website:

http://www.youstupidrelativist.com/

I'll be checking it out as a result of the discussion on this thread.

Posted by: Dennis | 2010-09-16 9:01:58 PM


Dennis,

That video is very uninformed. In fact, either that guy is dishonest, or he is incapable of understanding context.

The fact that he thinks he's caught Stephen Hawking in a gaffe with the surface of the Earth being 2D is ridiculous. Obviously Hawking does not think the Earth is 2D. His book, a Brief History of Time, was aimed at a general audience, and his examples were "dumbed" down to be easy to understand.

To suggest that one of the world's most renowned physicists who has developed some of the most important theories surrounding the structure and nature of black holes, is unaware that the Earth has a radius is nonsense.

Also, the fact is, that Einstein's theory of general relativity (and it's constituent concept, spacetime) is one of sciences most experimentally verified theories in physics. And to say that he has somehow debunked is fairly outrageous.

As someone who's somewhat educated on the subject matter -- although I'm no physicist -- I can say with a high degree of confidence that the guy in that video has a very poor understanding of what he is criticizing.

Einstein's theories were not completely accepted by the scientific community when they were first proposed, but:

1. They accurately describe Mercury's orbit (Newtonian physics could not, for reasons that were not understood until Einstein's theories were developed);

2. The effects of time dilation as predicted by the theory has been verified by experiment. In fact, GPS satellites rely on the Einstein's theory to compensate for the effect of time dilation. True story: when GPS satellites were first launched, the designers relied purely on Newtonian mechanics to do the triangulation. But the satellite's accuracy deteriorated quickly over time. The solution, was to update the satellites algorithms with Einstein's theory of relativity (and thus, his concept of space-time) to correct for the drift. You can look this up.

3. Einstein's theory ultimately predicted the existence of black holes. Although Einstein himself didn't believe in black holes, his mathematics dictated their existence. And low and behold, telescopes like Hubble have found a black hole at the centre of our galaxy.

4. Einstein's theories predicted a universe that's expansion was accelerating. Once again, Einstein didn't trust his own math. And his "cosmological constant" that he'd used in his theories would be something that he would come to call the "greatest mistake" of his life. But in the early 1990s, Einstein's mathematics would be vindicated with the conclusive discovery that the cosmological constant was nonzero. That, the rate of expansion is not slowing down. It's accelerating.

In many ways, Einstein didn't trust his own theories as much as we do today. But their predictions have been borne out by experiment and discovery. And anybody who so callously throws them aside as "not making sense" or what have you, does so with their head firmly in the sand.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 10:05:10 PM


Here's a more comprehensive set of experimental verifications-- those were just off the top of my head -- of the theory of general relativity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tests_of_general_relativity.

It includes all my examples and more.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-16 10:12:18 PM


Surely it is a matter of speeds exceeding that of light, of positive and negative time, and infinite axes of coordinates. These concepts lead to ideas of dark matter and parallel existences. Perhaps things that go really, really fast do not tend to collide because their speed puts them in a different time in a vastly inconceivably large tupleverse.

Posted by: Agha Ali Arkhan | 2010-09-17 1:56:21 AM


I'm still interested in hearing what the causal mechanism is for getting candy canes to fall out of the sky from nothingness.

Posted by: Dennis | 2010-09-17 6:56:31 AM


Dennis,

Mike, above, already answered the question adequately.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-17 8:42:24 AM


Mike,

If whatever you have posted constitutes an answer to my fairly straightforward question, then I think that my skepticism re the theory of relativity is justifiable.

Posted by: Dennis | 2010-09-17 8:58:54 AM


The point is, that given quantum randomness, and enough time, you can expect any possible confluence of quantum events to occur. Such as a bunch of quantum events resulting in the formation of a candy cane.

But for all practical purposes, we can assume this sort of occurrence to be an impossibility. However, given an infinite timescale, the mathematics dictate it would eventually happen.

Since our universe will be in deep freeze in a few more tens of billions of years, we can rest assured that nobody will likely observe such an event ever occurring.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-17 9:09:48 AM


Dennis, three words:

Giant aardvark farts.

It's obvious with anybody with half a brain that the universe fell into its natural order as a result of those gasses.

Praise be to the giant aardvark.

Think about it.

In The Beginning of the English language, the word aardvark can be found on the first page.

If the King James version is good enough for the apostles, by golly, it's good enough for me.

No matter what the Toronto elitist Mike Brock believes.

Just read his posts.

There's no question he's intelligent.

Whether he's smart is a different question.

Posted by: set you free | 2010-09-17 9:50:30 AM



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