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Confutatis maledictis (text of Latin requiem)

  1. Mar 17, 2004 #1


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    A poster named confutatis interjected the following in the Julian thread. Maybe it contains pesky enough philosophical questions to rate a thread of its own:

    ---quote from confutatis---

    I have a question: how do physicists know that the universe is expanding? I mean, if the redshifts we measure are millions, billions of years old, what basis do we have to assert that the universe is expanding right now? What if it stopped, slowed down, or is actually contracting?

    Now my understanding of physics is that the question "what is happening right now in star XYZ" has no meaning, since we are separated not only by a huge amount of space but also by a huge amount of time. There is no "now" which is shared by two distant objects. OK, I can buy that. But why is it that the same people who say "there is no such thing as a 'now'", will come and tell us that the universe is expanding?

    Just curious
    -----end quote----
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2004 #2


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    expanding on the same topic

    ---another quote from confutatis---
    The point is that the universe we're looking at doesn't exist the way we see it, therefore the statement "the universe is expanding" is not meaningful. The universe has no "size", therefore it cannot "expand". Whatever is happening, it cannot be expressed in the ordinary language of our day. When physicists try it, they make things simpler than they are and end up confusing people.
    ---end quote---
  4. Mar 18, 2004 #3
    So what's your view on those issues?
  5. Mar 18, 2004 #4


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    well, they are different issues from what Julian was raising,
    and they seemed like the basis for a potentially lively discussion
    so I thought your challenging assertions should be split out into their own thread

    as I said:"... pesky enough philosophical questions to rate a thread of [their] own..."

    I thought people might like to argue those issues in this thread, but they were happy to continue in the Julian one, so this thread turned out to be redundant.
  6. Mar 18, 2004 #5


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    BTW a few feet from here there is a green plastic thermos flask with coffee

    the thermos is about one foot tall

    do I have the right to say that the flask is "now" green
    and that it is "at the present moment" one foot tall?

    because I only get light signals from it several nanoseconds late
    (one nanosecond for each foot that it is distant)
    and maybe it is no longer green but changed to red

    or maybe it changed to 6 inches tall suddenly,
    but the light did not reach me yet.

    any idea of the present must consist of inferences from delayed information, I presume

    the rover on mars is inpecting a rock at this moment
    but it it really since the signal is delayed some minutes
    and perhaps the rock has vanished from existence

    I guess I am curious as to what you think about these reflections,
    or see them as fundamentally different from what one presumes about the increasing distance to a certain galaxy
  7. Mar 19, 2004 #6
    I see it as fundamentally different, but for a different reason than you might be thinking of. The thing with the flask is that your perception of it is not significantly affected by the speed of light. The time dimension is neglibible compared to the spatial dimensions. With objects in space the reverse is true - their spatial dimensions are negligible compared to their time dimension. You see the night sky as being flat, but it is in fact a four-dimensional cone. Can you think of the sky as a four-dimensional cone? I can't, and I doubt anyone can.

    By the way, your flask is also a four-dimensional cone, but its "angle" is so wide as to make it virtually flat for any scientific or philosophical purpose. The "angle" of the universe, however, gets narrower the farther away you look. That's the big difference.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2004
  8. Mar 19, 2004 #7
    Can I have your attention for just one more post? Thanks.

    Actually, there's no belief here, not on my part anyway. My position on this issue is not different from yours at all. As you may recall, this thing started in another thread. The argument I presented are the consequences of the concept of "relative simultaneity" in modern physics. I was just trying to expose what I believe is a major flaw in modern scientific thinking. It's no surprise you found the idea unappealing; most people do and I include myself among them.

    Physicists are funny. They come and tell you "simultaneity is relative", meaning "what has happened or not happened depends on who's observing". That's kind of hard to swallow, but they say their mathematics and the empirical evidence prove they are right. But I know they don't understand what they are talking about, because if they say "the universe is expanding", I can only take that to mean "the universe is expanding from our point of view". According to physicists themselves, to some other observer the universe may not be expanding. To me that's a load of nonsense. My apologies if it wasn't clear that I strongly oppose the idea.

    When the accursed have been confounded to the acrid flames, call me among the blessed
  9. Mar 19, 2004 #8


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    confutatis maledictis
    flammis acribus adictis
    voca me cum benedictis

    I think it is two ablative absolutes
    "the damned having been confounded

    [and] given over to (adictis) the piercing flames

    call me among the blessed"
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2004
  10. Mar 19, 2004 #9


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    in beginning latin in school there is always
    the ablative absolute phrase

    "castra munita...."

    "camp having been fortified...."

    so I think "confutatis maledictis..." means
    "the damned ones having been confounded..."

    selfAdjoint would know for sure, he and Quartodeciman are good
    in latin.

    in this case there seem to be two abl. abs. strung together
    the maledictis are not only confutatis
    they are also
    adictis, meaning "given over to"

    the flammis acribus would be that to which they are consigned
    probably a dative or ablative plural.

    It is very exciting to sing the Moz Req
    did you ever sing it in a chorus, like community or college chorus?
  11. Mar 19, 2004 #10


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    no professional community is completely consistent in every detail of every claim. You have to pick whom to listen to.
    Instead of Special Relativity preachers,
    try listening to cosmologists instead

    there is an idea of simultaneity in cosmology
    and an idea of universal rest frame
    A universal meaning is given to the present moment
    by means of the FRW metric which they all use
    as their standard distance-measure (Friedmann-Robertson-Walker metric)

    cosmology uses General Relativity which is different from Special Rel.
    The space of SR does not expand. there is no way of defining absolute rest or simultaneity in it. But SR is also not quite realistic, being unable to expand and contract, so when people preach Special Rel sermons and maintain there is no idea of simultaneity, it has a limited applicability.

    In cosmology (with the Friedmann model) you can say what it means to be at rest. At rest with respect to the expansion of the universe.
    And you can define simultaneous events at widely separated points.

    the FRW metric is not 100 percent accurate but it is a heck of a lot more accurate and closer to reality than the Minkowski metric of SR.

    Ned Wright and Charles Lineweaver are two worldclass cosmologists.
    Try google with their names. Wright has a website tutorial on cosmology and Lineweaver has at least one good article with clear diagrams and not-to-hard formulas. There are a bunch of others. Sean Carroll, Eric Linder, Michael Turner. I dont know the best to recommend but if you stick close to reputable working cosmologists and keep away from people popularizing Special Rel then you can probably avoid the worst confutatuses.
  12. Mar 22, 2004 #11
    I have it with me that the current scientific view of the universe is naive at best, and more likely just plain wrong. In the end there isn't much difference between science-based cosmology and mysticism, except the invalid assumptions in the former are better concealed by sophisticated jargon. But that's just my perspective.

    As to Latin, all I know of it are English translations that come with CDs of sacred music. But I like the sound of the words, especially when combined with powerful music, as in the Mozart Requiem. When I listen to the confutatis section, I can clearly see a huge fire pit, hordes being thrown to the flames, a bunch of terrorized yet hopeful people asking "voca, voca me...". I know of no more powerful portrayal of the human condition.
  13. Mar 22, 2004 #12


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    you are saying that Moz Req has philosophical depth and that is sure thehell true
    western sacred choral music has that like nothing else I know
    or emotional depth and I cant always tell the difference at the limits

    check out your local community chorus
    (the one that takes people who believe they can't or shouldnt sing, without audition, and gives them practice tapes to learn the notes from---there are several around here so probably where you are)

    community choruses tuition averages about 25 bucks a month and
    you get to sing the standard sacred choral repertoire
    with people who believe in mankind and music but not necessarily that, you know, jesus christ is the only begotten son of god

    Moz Req
    Haydn Creation
    Beethoven Cmass
    Moz Cminor ("Grand Mass")
    Bach Bminor
    Schubert Eflat
    Vivaldi Gloria (!)
    Haydn Dminor ("Lord Nelson")

    and possibly sometbing by Handel, I forget what.
    was that post redundant---do you already sing?
    I sing bass. It's a kick.
  14. Mar 22, 2004 #13


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    That's probably a flawed historical perspective but you will doubtless keep probing. Science doesnt mean much in the abstract, it is a changing feature of the human scene, a dynamic part of history. The rules change, the goals change, the fundamental questions and issues change, the criteria for success and status change. It is different from mysticism tho.
    For my money the best writers about science are always those with the most sophisticated awareness of its history.

    Cosmology doesnt have a fixed meaning either, no static essence, that I know of anyway. What cosmology is about changes from age to age. The cosmos used to be the sun moon and planets, organized on concentric spheres and surrounded by the sphere of fixed stars.

    Science-based cosmology (your term) I guess means trying to make the big model fit the observations. Nobody in all of history ever struggled harder to do that than Johannes Kepler. He sweat blood for years to get his model to fit the data about Mars. Of course he was half mad. But if you read a biography of Kepler you wont ever again confuse what he was doing with mysticism. There were no calculators or computers. He calculated it all by hand over and over again. until.
    until the greatest revolution in cosmology since Aristarchus in 250 BC.

    He's very funny---his writing style I mean---and his miserable life is funny too in a dark way.

    Anyway we're on the cusp again. so IMO it's not a bad idea to glance back to 1618 and the Harmonice Mundi, just to keep your bearings.
  15. Mar 23, 2004 #14
    No kidding! I thought I were the only one crazy enough to believe that. But I think it was Beethoven who said that music has more power of revelation than all of philosophy and religion combined. Or something to that effect.

    I'd love to sing in a community chorus, but all the free time I have for music is already devoted to my piano. Maybe when the kids have grown up...

    I'm sure it is. I believe I'm a tenor, which means I'd have to sing those notes in the middle. Doesn't sound easy.
  16. Mar 23, 2004 #15
    I don't think I made it clear what I mean by cosmology. What you talk about in your post I know as astronomy. I'm sure astronomers know very well what they're doing, and I see no reason to be skeptical of their claims.

    Cosmology, in my perception, is the attempt to answer questions about the origin and fate of things. That has always been the domain of philosophers, but in our time it somehow people came to believe that science is capable of answering philosophical questions. I'm sure science can contribute to the debate, but that doesn't change the fact that those are philosophical questions.

    People think they have to look at the stars to understand the universe, but a pebble or a raindrop relate to the universe the same way an entire galaxy does. What you can't learn from a single pebble that is right in front of your eyes, you won't learn from millions of stars which are so far you don't even know if they exist anymore.
  17. Mar 23, 2004 #16


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    for each major choral work there are practice tapes for each voice
    play the practice tape in the car until the tenor part gets in your ear

    now there are also "midi files" that play on the computer
    with each part
    and you have the option to slow down the fast passages when
    you are first learning
    and also to adjust the volume of each part
    so you can make the tenor loud when you are first learning

    in this area where I live the tenor section of
    most choruses is on average half women

    perhaps since 1800 men' voices have gotten deeper so they cannot so easily sing tenor
    and perhaps women's voices have gotten deeper so they can more easily sing the tenor

    tenors are the most important asset for community choruses and
    competing directors stoop so low as to entice and recruit tenors
    away from other directors

    maybe it has to do with the age of puberty (which has declined since 1800) or maybe the average size of people (which has increased)

    you say astronomers know what they are doing and you
    see no reason to be skeptical of their findings (!)
    I should not say anything
  18. Mar 29, 2004 #17
    Funny thing - I don't agree with much of whay you say on the consciousness thread we're involved in, but here you talk great sense.

    Too late, too late! Forget the kids and do it now, you'll never regret it. (And it'll help the piano playing).
  19. Apr 8, 2004 #18
    It's always easy to agree with poetry. I realize many people don't like to talk about consciousness in anything other than poetic terms. And perhaps they're right, poetry might be the essence of consciousness.

    Forget the kids? I can only think you don't have any.
  20. Apr 8, 2004 #19
    Wow, you have some funny ideas about consciousness. Still, it's a nice thought.

    It was a joke. I have three to forget. :smile:
  21. Apr 8, 2004 #20
    Not really, but I do have some funny ideas about poetry :wink:
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