By: Heinz Pagels, read in 2016
13. "The visible world is neither matter nor spirit but the invisible organization of energy." Organization is information which could be seen as the Platonic world, but that still leaves conscious experience unaccounted for.
17. "Einstein proposed, what really excited me, was the notion of the curvature of three-dimensional space, for that meant that the universe could be finite." Einstein proposed that 3D space could be curved.
23. "the quantum theory, which maintains that fundamental atomic processes occur at random and that human intention influences the outcome of experiments." What we need to do now is explore exactly where that intention is seated.
40. "But the creative principle resides in mathematics. In a certain sense, therefore, I hold it true that pure thought can grasp reality, as the ancients dreamed. —ALBERT EINSTEIN" Dr. Dick has shown how
65. "What is actually going on in the quantum world depends on how we decide to observe it. The world just isn’t “there” independent of our observing it; what is “there” depends in part on what we choose to see—reality is partially created by the observer." It seems to me that the problem is with the definition of 'reality'. It is too limited. It is tacitly assumed that the "real" laboratory is a subset of 3D space with one temporal dimension. If we assume otherwise, that the lab and the experimenter exist in a 3D spatial manifold embedded in a higher dimensional space, then the different questions being investigated by the experimenter could be interpreted as setting up to view the experimental outcome from the perspective of different directions in the hyperspace but which are outside the experimenter's manifold.
92. “It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about Nature.”" --Bohr
99. "Goethe was interested in colors as an immediate human experience, and Newton was interested in color as an abstract physical phenomenon. On an experimental, material basis one must side with Newton’s conclusions. But Goethe’s view —and he was one of the fathers of vitalism—speaks to the immediacy of"
100. "human experience. Vitalists believe there is a special “life force” in living organisms not subject to physical laws. While this appeals to our experience, there is no material basis for it." That could be because it is not material. Descartes may have been right. After all, experience is undeniable.
100. "Life depends only on how ordinary matter is organized." ...as long as conscious experience is ignored.
100. "Such neovitalists, searching for the roots of consciousness beyond material reality, might be in for another disappointment." I am eager to hear about it.
100. "The unity of our experience, like the unity of science, is conceptual, not sensual." True. But that does not explain conscious experience. It only reveals the necessity of a conceiver of those concepts.
100. "what we are given in return by science is a new human experience—seeing with our mind the internal logic of the cosmos." Fair enough. Now we need to understand "our mind".
105. "Mathematicians have never succeeded in giving a precise definition of randomness or the associated task of defining probability." I wonder whether this is still true today. I don't think it can be done without including conscious involvement.
108. "One asks only for consistency, not for definition. You can really go very far with this approach, and that is what is in all those probability books." That is "probably" why I distrust Probability Theory. Thinh Tran too.
110. "By simply assuming randomness exists, mathematicians assign elementary probabilities to events, and that is their starting point. But they have not captured chaos and looked it in the eye." I think that is because they overlook the involvement of consiousness.
129. "It is we who recognize the pattern, and it is we who impose the macroscopic description of physical reality, a reality which does not apply to the microworld." So, exactly who is this "we"?
130. "We see that we can draw a line between the microworld and the macroworld of human experience—they are qualitatively distinct descriptions of material reality. Our minds and bodies respond to the thermodynamic macrovariables, which are the distributions of the microscopic motions." I think it is the mind and only the mind that recognizes and responds to the macroworld. The body paticipates only in the microworld.
131. "cannot go back in time. Yet from the microscopic viewpoint this is all an illusion." Illusion is a deception which means that something or someone must be decieved. That nesessitates consciousness IMHO
133. "symbolic representation is our highest organizational capability." Yes but we were not the first. The symbolic genetic code was used by primordial organisms.
152. "it is not possible to obtain information without increasing entropy—the measure of disorganization of physical systems. The price we pay for obtaining information is scrambling up the world somewhere else, thus increasing entropy —an inevitable consequence of the second law of thermodynamics." Hmmm
153. "This increase of entropy implies that time has an arrow —there is temporal irreversibility and physical processes exist which can store information; memory is possible." Think about this in the primordial context.
153. "We conclude that irreversibility in time is the principal feature of observation, not consciousness of the observation, although that, of course, also entails irreversibility because it involves memory." This might be a good attitude if you are doing physics. But if you are trying to understand consciousness then the conscious involvement deserves more attention.
153. "Observations can be carried out by dumb machines or computers, provided they have some primitive memory storage." Good observation. It may be worth pondering whether or not there are shades of grey in the capacity (both in speed and space) of the memory system. For example in a Mars rover, the JPL operator may be more or less intimately involved in the activity depending on the amount and the timing of information exchange between the memories of the rover and the JPL driver.
153. "The irreversibility of time came about because we sacrificed specific information about individual particles in favor of relevant averages." "We sacrificed"? I think it is important to identify exactly who this "we" is, and to what extent, if at all, free will is exercised in the act of "sacrificing".
153. "The line between the macroworld and microworld is the same as the line between the observer and the observed." If there are shades of grey defining this line, then it might range all the way from subatomic quantum behavior to what I have called "transfer of omniscience" where cognizance is completely relinquished by the observer and transferred to the observed. Between these extremes, free will might be exercised to adjust the line up or down the "grey" gradient, depending on curiosity, interest, or survival necessity.
154. "We conclude that while it is consistent to talk about the quantum weirdness of waves of probability superimposing in the macroworld as we did in the description of the Schrödinger’s cat experiment, we are not compelled to do so." In other words we can deliberately choose, by exercising free will, whether and how to adjust the line. "We are not compelled" means that we could have done otherwise.
161. "the interpretation of reality it proposed. The essence of the Copenhagen interpretation is that the world must be actually observed to be objective. Einstein was among the most prominent critics of this viewpoint. He eventually ceased to criticize the consistency of the interpretation. Instead he focused his attack on the issue of whether or not the quantum theory gave a complete description of reality." I still believe Einstein was right: it is incomplete
169. "Because of the impossibility of detecting a double error, the error rate with an angle 2? between the two polarizers—E(2?)—will necessarily be less than the sum of the error rates for each of the separate shifts. This is expressed mathematically by the formula E(2?) <= 2E(?) which is Bell’s inequality." Bell's inequality
179. "We have learned from general relativity that the world is in fact non-Euclidean. The lesson of quantum theory can be interpreted to imply that the logic of the physical world is non-Boolean. Logic,"
186. "there is a qualitative difference between the microworld and macroworld—the macroworld can store information while the microworld cannot." Interesting. This is what I have been considering in a primordial context as the seed for the origination of consciousness.
187. "Quantum measurement theory is an information theory. The quantum world has disappeared into what we can know about it, and what we can know about it must come from actual experimental arrangements —there is no other way." I maintain that information theory is incomplete. It is missing a definition or identification of exactly who or what is informed.
187. "the principle of complementarity. This principle asserts that in describing reality we must invoke complementary concepts that exclude each other—they cannot both be true. But not only do they exclude each other conceptually, they depend on each other for their very definition." At the highest level of reality exists the ultimate conjugate pair: the informed and the information. The knower and the known, along with a fair amount of unknown leaked out as a byproduct. At least that is what I think.
188. "If you fantasize that the photons exist in a definite state as the flying nails exist in a definite state, then you see that reality must be nonlocal. But the moment you actually try to verify the actual state of a flying photon—which is the same as trying to verify real acausal nonlocal influences—you must upset the first condition of the experiment, which is that the two photon polarizations are correlated precisely. Conversely, if you accept strict local causality then there is no option but to give up the idea of objectivity for individual photons. That is how the principle of complementarity applies to Bell’s experiment." The glib and liberal use of the pronoun "you" in this passage ignores the elephant in the room: exactly who or what is this "you"?
189. "within the framework of material possibilities your reality is a matter of choice. Once your mind accepts this, the world will never be the same again." The fundamental question of reality, then, should be: "Exactly who or what makes this choice?" What exactly is "your mind"? Nobody seems to know, and the feeble attempts to explain it, by people like Dennett and Pinker, only brush the embarrassing problem aside.
189. "That we may not always know reality is not because it is so far from us but because we are so close to it.” That goes double for consciousness; we are much closer to it than we are to any putative physical reality.
198. "Victor Weisskopf, a theoretical physicist and statesman of science from MIT, once described the division of labor among physicists this way: There are three kinds of physicists, as we know, namely the machine builders, the experimental physicists, and the theoretical physicists. If we compare those three classes, we find that the machine builders are the most important ones," Hmmm! Spoken by a theoretical physicist.
198. "The theoretical physicists are those fellows who stayed back in Madrid and told Columbus that he was going to land in India." At least he is honest.
199. "There were so many hadrons that theoretical physicists speculated there were actually an infinite number of them." Interesting how easily people jump to that conclusion.
199. "Of all the fundamental particles, only the proton, electron, photon, and neutrino are observed to be stable. All other particles eventually disintegrate into the stable ones."
200. "Physicists had hoped that building the matter microscopes and exploring the smallest things would show matter to be simpler, not more complicated." We should take that as a clue for cosmology. Reality is probably much bigger and older than we think.
201. "we may reach a level of matter for which the fundamental particles are indeed composite. But what they are made out of is more particles of exactly the same kind."
201. "It would be like a pie which if cut in half, would result in two pies identical to the first. No way of cutting the pie would result in smaller pieces, just more pies." Like the Banach-Tarski Theorem.
203. "Since the quarks could orbit in an infinite variety of different configurations, there was actually an infinite number of hadrons." I would like to see a demonstration or an explanation of this. I strongly doubt the possibility.
208. "SOMETIMES I GET the feeling that I am living in a three-dimensional movie. The movie began billions of years ago with the big bang that created the universe and has been going on ever since. Everything in the universe, the stars, the sun, the earth, my body and yours, are part of the scene. We are all in the movie; it is the only show in town. It is not clear where the dramatic action is leading or if the movie has a plot or a director. As a physicist my interest is in how the scenery for this 3-D movie is constructed, what its parts are, and how the machinery works. I certainly didn’t ask for it, or even to be in it; nevertheless here we all are in the cosmic movie." It's time to join with Max Tegmark and ask whether there might be other movies in town. And I suggest going further and ask about the producer, the director, and the studio that are responsible for the movies' existence.
209. "Human beings can dissociate their minds from the world and create metaphors like the 3-D cosmic movie. Metaphors are freely created symbols transcendent to the world which, if we share them, organize our social experience in new ways." Yes! And by implication, analogies can be useful in producing models by which we can come to some sort of understanding of some deep mysteries.
210. "But within well-defined experimental limits nothing has been overlooked." Except, of course, the elephant of conscious experience in the middle of the room.
211. "the most beautiful and certainly the most complex molecules are the organic molecules used in the processes of life. This natural molecular architecture is the work of hundreds of millions of years of molecular evolution." So the disciples of the current scientific paradigm believe and declare.
212. "one of many biologists in the audience asked Singer about evolution—did he believe in it?" This is an ambiguous question that is all too frequently asked. Two questions should be asked instead: 1. Do you believe things change? Yes, of course. (That is the literal interpretation of the original question.) 2. Do you believe that Natural Selection (or more correctly Modern Synthesis) accounts for all observable aspects of life? No. It does not account for conscious experience, sleep, or the origins of the first replicating molecules, the origination of the genetic code, or of species, to name a few.
216. "physicists determined that the protons and neutrons in the nucleus had a definite organization—they arranged themselves into shells. The protons and neutrons could jump from shell to shell much as the electrons jump from orbit to orbit and thus release energy." I did not know that.
226. “Quark” is a German word for a curd of cheese."
228. "That’s it. With the u, d, and s quarks and these rules you can build up all the hadrons, and just the hadrons." I don't understand how this can produce an "infinite" number of hadrons.
229. "Because there are an infinite number of orbits of the quark-antiquark pair, there is an infinite set of different mesons." Oh.
239. "Today there are more quarks than there were hadrons in 1950, and the quark table is still growing."
245. "No one has the slightest idea why leptons and quarks are in the cosmic 3-D movie."
246. "it is hard to stop a neutrino once it gets produced—it takes about eight solid light-years of lead to stop half the neutrinos emitted in a typical nuclear decay."
247. "neutrinos are left-handed. Most fundamental quanta come in equal mixtures of right- and left-handed versions, but not neutrinos."
248. "If neutrinos had masses even a fraction of that of the electron they would then provide most of the mass of the universe."
251. "Quarks, leptons, and gluons and their organization are all there is in the universe—the ultimate material, the final stuff from which all the complexity of existence emerges." Here the word "universe" must be understood to mean "material, or energetic, world" otherwise the statement is incomplete: it leaves out conscious experience.
268. "the wave-particle duality. This dualism was overcome by the new quantum theory, in which fields and particles were no longer seen as distinct but as complementary."
270. "The intensity of the electromagnetic field at a point in space gives us the odds for finding a photon there. The notion that reality is a set of fields that give the probabilities for finding their associated quanta is the most important consequence of relativistic quantum field theory."
272. "the central dogmas of relativistic quantum field theory:
1. The essential material reality is a set of fields.
2. The fields obey the principles of special relativity and quantum theory.
3. The intensity of a field at a point gives the probability for finding its associated quanta—the fundamental particles that are observed by experimentalists.
4. The fields interact and imply interactions of their associated quanta. These interactions are mediated by quanta themselves.
5. There isn’t anything else."
On what basis should we accept number 5? We observe the experience of consciousness, yet it is not explained by this theory.
272. "Are theories “out there” in the world waiting for some bold and clever person to find them? I don’t think so—theories are inventions." We could ask the same of the fields themselves. Are fields "out there" and we discover them or are they inventions? And if invented, then by whom?
281. "the identity of particles implies the existence of these new exchange forces."
285. "there is a definite probability for two photons to be on top of each other. If the probability is higher that they are on top of each other than separate, then it appears there is a “force” that causes them to attract."
285. "This example is quite general—if an event has a high probability it seems as if there is an attractive “force” that makes it happen. Conversely, if the probability for an event is low it is as if there is a repulsive “force” that prevents it from happening. It is just probabilities, but it appears like a “force,” what physicists call an exchange force. In the quantum theory such exchange forces take on a physical significance."
292. "to tame these infinities in a mathematical tour de force called the renormalization procedure. Here is how it works. Suppose a man weighs 150 pounds on a bathroom scale. Then he has a good dinner and adds a couple of embarrassing pounds. But he decides to cheat by adjusting the bathroom scale so that it continues to read only 150 pounds. This cheating—or rescaling —is the renormalization procedure. If someone could actually put on an infinite amount of weight and then reset the scale by an infinite amount to give a finite weight, then one gets an idea of the amount of cheating or renormalization required in the calculational procedures of quantum field theories. Remarkably, for some field theories this cheating can be carried out in a mathematically consistent way, and these are called “renormalizable” quantum field theories."
294. "the theoretical physicist must be prepared to make an intuitional leap from the experimental data and set up an absolute postulate which itself could not be directly tested but from which one could logically deduce testable consequences." - Einstein
295. "Paul Dirac said, “God used beautiful mathematics in creating the world.”" Why not take that claim literally?
296. "symmetry required a new field, what was called the Yang-Mills or gauge field. “Gauge” means a measuring standard, and the Yang-Mills symmetry meant that one could choose a different gauge at each point in space." Pagels goes on to describe this concept nicely.
298. "from our simple illustration we here can grasp the main idea—the Yang-Mills or gauge field is required to restore invariance if we allow ourselves the freedom to perform a gauge rotation at each point in space."
298. "For every degree of freedom of the gauge rotation—one for rotations of a disk, three for a sphere—there corresponds a gauge field, so the gauge field may have multiple components." I wonder if physicists have extended this to higher dimensions in order to incorporate fields associated with the other fundamental forces.
298. "New infinities, not covered by the old renormalization procedure, arose when theoretical physicists tried to quantize the gauge field." Maybe Practical Number math could solve this problem.
299. "the reason that gauge field symmetries are not directly observed in nature was that either they were broken symmetries or, if exact, they would be hidden symmetries." And I would suggest that the reason they are "hidden" is that they are outside our 4D manifold.
300. "Steven Weinberg summarized this idea: Even if a theory postulates a high degree of symmetry, it is not necessary for . . . the states of the particles, to exhibit the symmetry . . . . Nothing in physics seems so hopeful to me as the idea that it is possible for a theory to have a high degree of symmetry which is hidden from us in ordinary life." Yes. Now consider my proposal for explaining the reason the symmetry is hidden.
301. "The Higgs particle is like the person who pushes over the symmetrical pyramid of acrobats or is the first to pick a salad plate—its role is to break the perfect symmetry."
303. "Quarks, since they are colored, are trapped. The eight gluons because they are colored are also trapped. Only hadrons, which are colorless combinations of the colored quarks and gluons, can exist as free particles, and this is just what we see in the real world. If this idea is correct, and there is ever mounting evidence that it is, then the totality of strong-interaction physics is due to completely hidden forces. The 3-D movie of the hadrons is in black and white; but if you look inside the hadrons at the quarks, it is in color." Which suggests to me that our 4D manifold contains the black and white subset of a more extensive colored movie existing in a higher-dimensional embedding space.
304. "why is there a relation between mathematics and physics? Mathematics is a human invention inspired by our innate capacity to deal precisely with abstract ideas, while physics is about the material world—something not at all created by us. The connection between our internal logic and the logic of material creation seems gratuitous." I think we should take Dirac's answer to this question seriously and literally: God used beautiful mathematics.
306. "According to these discoveries, the fundamental inhabitants of the universe are the quarks and leptons. The interaction among these is mediated by gluons, which are quanta associated with a field that can be derived from a Yang-Mills gauge symmetry."
©2016 Paul R. Martin, All rights reserved.