Dynamical Qualities and the Informational Paradigm

  • #1
ZachHerbert
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The purpose of this post is to question whether dynamical qualities (i.e. “fundamental charges”) can survive as primitive concepts in physics as contemporary theory moves from a mechanical model of the universe to a (potentially unified) informational paradigm.

In the book “Concepts of Mass in Contemporary Physics and Philosophy,” Max Jammer presents physics as resting upon three primitive concepts: space, time and mass. (Jammer focuses specifically on the notion of mass, but the following discussion is just as valid for the notion of “charge” in general.) Of particular note, he writes: “[If] if is the concept of mass that is required for the transition from kinematics to dynamics, it must contain a dynamical ingredient. A theory of mass can therefore not operate solely with kinematical conceptions. Rather, it must itself be a dynamical theory and as such somehow involve a notion of force that is defined in mechanics as the product of mass and acceleration, thus leading to a logical circle. … In order to avoid this impasse a dynamical theory of mass has to defy the commonly accepted idea that mechanics – with its notions of mass and force, whether considered as a theory of physical reality or only as a metatheory or purely mathematical formalism – is the fundament of physics.” [my italics]

Now, this may be viewed as an arbitrary philosophical discussion amongst practical minded theorists. But it seems to me that developing areas of study that are steering physics towards an informational paradigm – i.e. black hole thermodynamics, the holographic principle – are leading to a very real confrontation.

These theories ultimately take us to the conclusion that information is proportional to area. Assuming this is correct, the traditional idea of point particles must be banished since the information “embodied” by a single particle cannot be embodied by a singular event. However, per Jammer’s points above, this seems to lead to a serious conceptual problem.

Since “fundamental particles” must, by definition, possess dynamical qualities, they must be embodied by extended regions of spacetime. Further, if we are to assume that particles are an objective feature of the universe, then the events which make up a single particle must be uniquely associated with one another in a way that differs from their relation to other events in general. (Otherwise, we could not make objective statements like "events x and y are a part of particle z.") But this association cannot be accomplished through any intrinsic dynamical qualities, since those qualities must also embody information, and therefore cannot be embodied by the events in question. Conversely, if the events are not uniquely associated, then neither particles, nor their properties, can be considered fundamental.

This contradiction may seem very philosophical in nature. But given that the assumption of primitive dynamical qualities is the featured component of virtually every existing paradox and problem in contemporary theory – singularities, nonlocality, flatness problem, horizon problem, etc., etc. – that seems like a dangerous assumption to preserve.

My approach to the issue is to approach it in the same way as one would approach an architectural problem in software design. If a basic element of a program is both highly specialized and a prominent feature of every major problem in the system – then that element should be broken down and further generalized to abstract away the conflict.

Specifically, my proposition is this: If dynamical properties cannot be embodied by a singular event; and if multiple events must therefore be associated with one another in a way that cannot be classified using spatiotemporal relationships alone. (And if we assume that particles are objective features of the universe, then we must… particularly if we assume that any eventual unified theory will be accompanied by a unified ontology.) Then both particles and their dynamical qualities must be treated as emergent. Of course, it is impossible to conjure dynamical qualities from space and time alone. But since we are already making associations between events which cannot be classified using those concepts, a natural solution is to define a third primitive relation to formally classify these associations and then place it on equal footing with space and time. These three primitives could then be used to define the dynamical qualities that were previously considered to be primitive aspects of reality.

(I’ve submitted a paper to the Independent Research forum here on PF that presents this idea in more detail. But since that forum is moderated, and since the reviewers are volunteers and are extremely busy, I get the impression that it could be a very long time before the submission is approved… assuming it gets approved at all. In the meantime, I thought I’d initiate some targeted discussion here in the philosophy forum.)

So, in keeping with the new rules of this forum, I ask the following questions:

Has anyone ever seen any publications that propose a similar approach? Or even address the issue at hand? If not, is there any reason why my approach should not be taken seriously? Or is the issue somehow a non-issue?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Pythagorean
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Just to confirm, is this (the first paragraph) what you mean by dynamics? The second paragraph talks about the history of the word and how it may lead to ambiguities today.


wiki said:
In classical mechanics, analytical dynamics, or more briefly dynamics, is concerned about the relationship between motion of bodies and its causes, namely the forces acting on the bodies and the properties of the bodies (particularly mass and moment of inertia).

[...]

Historically, there were three branches of classical mechanics: "statics" (the study of equilibrium and its relation to forces); "kinetics" (the study of motion and its relation to forces)[5] and "kinematics" (dealing with the implications of observed motions without regard for circumstances causing them).[6] These three subjects have been connected to dynamics in several ways. One approach combined statics and kinetics under the name dynamics, which became the branch dealing with determination of the motion of bodies resulting from the action of specified forces;[7] another approach separated statics, and combined kinetics and kinematics under the rubric dynamics.[8][9] This approach is common in engineering books on mechanics, and is still in widespread use among mechanicians.
 
  • #3
ZachHerbert
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Just to confirm, is this (the first paragraph) what you mean by dynamics? The second paragraph talks about the history of the word and how it may lead to ambiguities today.

Yes. I'm using the term in a very broad sense. Basically, I use the terms kinematics and dynamics in the sense that kinematics describes the behavior of a system, without attempting to explain that behavior; while dynamics explains the behavior of a system using concepts like energy, charge and force.

Ultimately, I follow Jammer's line of reasoning, and believe that a truly unified theory of physics would need to seamlessly integrate kinematics and dynamics - and not "merely" discover a singular force that acts on ontologically distinct particles. (This is another motivation for suggesting an approach to physics that treats particles and dynamical qualities as emergent phenomena.)
 
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  • #4
ThomasT
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I think it makes sense to suppose that "both particles and their dynamical qualities must be treated as emergent". So, if particles aren't fundamental, then what is? Waves? (Insofar as we can view 'particles' as bounded, standing wave structures.)

Suppose for the moment that wave propagation is fundamental. Then what might be the fundamental kinematical property or dynamic of any wave propagation in any media at any scale?
 
  • #5
ZapperZ
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I have a problem with the whole starting premise. It appears as if this "Max Jammer" have never done a single course in advanced classical mechanics and have never heard of calculus of variation and Hamiltonian/Lagrangian mechanics. How else would one come up with a claim that

"... Rather, it must itself be a dynamical theory and as such somehow involve a notion of force that is defined in mechanics as the product of mass and acceleration, thus leading to a logical circle. … In order to avoid this impasse a dynamical theory of mass has to defy the commonly accepted idea that mechanics – with its notions of mass and force, whether considered as a theory of physical reality or only as a metatheory or purely mathematical formalism – is the fundament of physics.. "

It sounds as if he took Intro Physics and ended there!

This also neglects completely Quantum Mechanics in which the concept of "force" just simply doesn't exist! Would he also be surprised that in the Standard Model of elementary particles, all such elementary particles are massless, and are only endowed with mass due to some broken symmetry?

And you're using him and all this as the impetus for your "theory"?

Zz.
 
  • #6
Pythagorean
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ZapperZ, I understand your complaints against the example, but I think the OP had a more general concept in mind (i.e. "Informational Paradigm"). Isn't it possible we could satisfy the OP in a less confrontational way by discussing decoherence?

I'm actually curious what you think of these papers:

Wojciech Hubert Zurek (2001). Sub-Planck structure in phase space and its relevance for quantum decoherence. Nature 412, 712-717
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v412/n6848/abs/412712a0.html

Maximilian Schlosshauer (2005). Decoherence, the measurement problem, and interpretations of quantum mechanics (arxiv, ?)
http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/quant-ph/pdf/0312/0312059v4.pdf

Particularly of interest is II-B-3 in the Scholsshauer paper, a section titled "objective vs. subjective definiteness".

And particularly relevant to this thread, I have a question based on the discussion. Is decoherence a one way street? Do we know whether quantum particles decohere to produce a macroscopic state or whether it's the other way around (the macroscopic state causes coherence which leads to quantum particles)? Or is the question meaningless empirically? Have I misunderstood something about decoherence?
 
  • #7
ZapperZ
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ZapperZ, I understand your complaints against the example, but I think the OP had a more general concept in mind (i.e. "Informational Paradigm"). Isn't it possible we could satisfy the OP in a less confrontational way by discussing decoherence?

But this points to a weakness in interpretation, understanding, and knowledge! To cite something, and then not knowing the faults in that citation, revealed to me that the person has a severe lack of understanding of physics. Thus it throws into question on whether such a person has the authority and the expertise to develop ".... areas of study that are steering physics towards an informational paradigm". You can't pick bits and pieces of something, and then tries to reformulate the whole thing.

And if you can actually make sense of passages like this:

These theories ultimately take us to the conclusion that information is proportional to area. Assuming this is correct, the traditional idea of point particles must be banished since the information “embodied” by a single particle cannot be embodied by a singular event.

... without even questioning (i) what area; (ii) why must it be an area (iii) where does such derivation comes from (iv) and how does point particle "cannot be embodied by a singular event, considering how well QFT/QED works, then you're waaaay smarter than I am.

You need to be careful you're not inserting your own desire of a topic of discussion into this thread. I find it hard to believe that the sources you're citing is of the same line of reasoning that the OP has. You are turning this into what it isn't!

Zz.
 
  • #8
Pythagorean
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... without even questioning (i) what area; (ii) why must it be an area (iii) where does such derivation comes from (iv) and how does point particle "cannot be embodied by a singular event, considering how well QFT/QED works, then you're waaaay smarter than I am.

To tell you the truth, I didn't understand the technical details at all, and I'm not implying that you shouldn't point them out. But the OP had a more general direction in mind that can still be addressed:

I find it hard to believe that the sources you're citing is of the same line of reasoning that the OP has.

That's because, imo, you're inspecting individual trees in his post, and I'm looking at the forest. And I'm not asking you to stop inspecting trees, but to also consider the forest.

From the OP's first paragraph:

"The purpose of this post is to question whether dynamical qualities (i.e. “fundamental charges”) can survive as primitive concepts in physics as contemporary theory moves from a mechanical model of the universe to a (potentially unified) informational paradigm."

This isn't a fresh topic for naturalists (i.e. upward causation, downward causation is synonymous to asking who the primitive is). Is it really unclear how decoherence might play a role? and how section II-B-3 (which it sounds like you didn't read) would fit into the so called "informational paradigm"?
 
  • #9
ZapperZ
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To tell you the truth, I didn't understand the technical details at all, and I'm not implying that you shouldn't point them out. But the OP had a more general direction in mind that can still be addressed:

But I understand the "technical details", and what the OP said is full of holes!

That's because, imo, you're inspecting individual trees in his post, and I'm looking at the forest. And I'm not asking you to stop inspecting trees, but to also consider the forest.

And Mies van deRohe always said that "God is in the details"! You can go ahead and admire the forest. I'm looking closely and I see that all the trees are FAKE!

From the OP's first paragraph:

"The purpose of this post is to question whether dynamical qualities (i.e. “fundamental charges”) can survive as primitive concepts in physics as contemporary theory moves from a mechanical model of the universe to a (potentially unified) informational paradigm."

This isn't a fresh topic for naturalists (i.e. upward causation, downward causation is synonymous to asking who the primitive is). Is it really unclear how decoherence might play a role? and how section II-B-3 (which it sounds like you didn't read) would fit into the so called "informational paradigm"?

And from the OP starting premise, which is what I stated earlier, the impetus for this endeavor was built on faulty understanding of basic physics. If the foundation of an argument is already wrong, the whole thing built on top of such an argument is moot! "Oh, that's OK if the foundation of that house is crumbling. The house itself looks very nice! Let's buy it!"

There are indications that there is a severe lack of understanding of physics. It is from such an ignorance that you wanted to carry on such a discussion, AND, overlooking such ignorance of the subject matter.

Zz.
 
  • #10
Pythagorean
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And from the OP starting premise, which is what I stated earlier, the impetus for this endeavor was built on faulty understanding of basic physics. If the foundation of an argument is already wrong, the whole thing built on top of such an argument is moot! "Oh, that's OK if the foundation of that house is crumbling. The house itself looks very nice! Let's buy it!"

But you're misrepresenting my position. I'm not saying "ZapperZ, shame on you! You should have bought that house!" The house is terrible analogy anyway, because you're not doing business here. I thought you were here to volunteer, to help. I'm saying "ZapperZ, why don't you examine your pedagogical approach? You can inspire interest and empower your virtual students by offering them alternative methods to approach the same question, rather than telling them (in not so many words) that they're stupid and to stop thinking."

There are indications that there is a severe lack of understanding of physics. It is from such an ignorance that you wanted to carry on such a discussion, AND, overlooking such ignorance of the subject matter.

I didn't say anything about overlooking it. I didn't say to make your post smaller or delete it; I implied that you should add something to it.
 
  • #11
ZapperZ
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But you're misrepresenting my position. I'm not saying "ZapperZ, shame on you! You should have bought that house!" The house is terrible analogy anyway, because you're not doing business here. I thought you were here to volunteer, to help. I'm saying "ZapperZ, why don't you examine your pedagogical approach? You can inspire interest and empower your virtual students by offering them alternative methods to approach the same question, rather than telling them (in not so many words) that they're stupid and to stop thinking."



I didn't say anything about overlooking it. I didn't say to make your post smaller or delete it; I implied that you should add something to it.

This is puzzling. I AM adding to it by showing where there is fault in the original premise of this whole thing!

When I referee a manuscript, I can't overlook the fact that the starting point is faulty. You seem to think that I should overlook it, forgive it, and help it along! I can't do that! When the starting point is wrong, the whole discussion has to stop until it is corrected! A faulty and illogical starting point will end up producing absurd answers!

So I pointed out where the original premise is wrong. Unless the OP comes back and correct it, or show that he/she has a command of physics beyond just superficial understanding of it, then this thread is faulty. I have seen nothing from your argument to dispel that.

Zz.
 
  • #12
ZachHerbert
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It appears as if this "Max Jammer" have never done a single course in advanced classical mechanics and have never heard of calculus of variation and Hamiltonian/Lagrangian mechanics.

...

And you're using him and all this as the impetus for your "theory"?

Zz.
Firstly, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Jammer

Secondly, I am indeed trying to have the discussion at a much more conceptual level. (Thanks Pythagorean for defending that point.) I use Jammer's characterization of space, time and mass because they are an intuitive starting point. (And since they are the subjects of the fundamental Planck units, I didn't think that would be an issue.)

And while I agree that all of this all hinges on information being proportional to area. I was under the impression that this basic aspect of black hole thermodynamics and the holographic principle was generally accepted.

I'm not arguing the details of any particular theory - nor proposing a new one. And maybe I have misunderstood something. Perhaps if you could explain why this is a non-issue by letting me know which of these statements is false, I could gain a better understanding of the situation:

1) Dynamical values cannot be represented using 0 bits of information
2) [The] information necessary to perfectly describe [a] system, must be finite if the region of space and the energy is finite. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bekenstein_bound)
 
  • #13
ThomasT
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ZachHerbert said:
Ultimately, I ... believe that a truly unified theory of physics would need to seamlessly integrate kinematics and dynamics ...
I agree. And since "... neither particles, nor their properties, can be considered fundamental", then a remaining possible approach might involve identifying the singular, defining characteristic of any and all wave behavior in any and all media at any and all scales.

When you've done that, then I would ask if you can generate anything approaching the complexity of our universe from that. My guess is that you can -- in principle anyway.
 
  • #14
Pythagorean
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This is puzzling. I AM adding to it by showing where there is fault in the original premise of this whole thing!

When I referee a manuscript, I can't overlook the fact that the starting point is faulty. You seem to think that I should overlook it, forgive it, and help it along! I can't do that! When the starting point is wrong, the whole discussion has to stop until it is corrected! A faulty and illogical starting point will end up producing absurd answers!

So I pointed out where the original premise is wrong. Unless the OP comes back and correct it, or show that he/she has a command of physics beyond just superficial understanding of it, then this thread is faulty. I have seen nothing from your argument to dispel that.

Zz.

For the record, I didn't say "add something to the thread" so no contest there; I said "add something to your post".

In your first post, you:

p1) recognized that he was "ignorant" about physics
p2) proceeded, knowing a), to bombard him with a bunch of jargon that he obviously wouldn't understand, but didn't really explain anything.

C) Your first post was pedantic and condescending

Anyway... I'd still be interested to hear your answers to the questions I asked if they make sense to you; if they don't, I'd be willing to elaborate:

I'm thinking along the lines of sub-Planck structures being indicative of an emergent theory (or equivalently a reduction of) quantum particles, which are a reduction of or "primitive to" classical particles (well, at least, that's the traditional view I thought; but I asked you about this above).

The question is whether or not quantum particles can be said to be a bunch of smaller particles (that aren't quantum particles) or whether or not the energy/information structure of the ensemble itself causes quantum particles to emerge. Or are quantum particles "the end of the line" as far as you're concerned?
 
  • #15
ZachHerbert
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Okay, perhaps I should clarify further. Yes, I understand that the classical idea of "force" is no longer around. Yes, I understand that the "forces" in the Standard Model are modeled using symmetry groups instead. Yes, I understand that there is a proposed theory in which "mass" is acquired through symmetry breaking (but only by leaning on the other "charges," which doesn't really get us anywhere philosophically... and this is the philosophy forum after all.)

My point is that all of these theories are rooted in philosophical assumptions that aren't exactly consistent. Now, can physicists use the theories anyway as an extremely accurate approximation? Absolutely. Can the problems be ignored and still reach a unified theory of physics? Apparently not, because, well, here we are with 4 forces and a problem with quantum gravity.
 
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  • #16
ZapperZ
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Okay, perhaps I should clarify further. Yes, I understand that the classical idea of "force" is no longer around. Yes, I understand that the "forces" in the Standard Model are modeled using symmetry groups instead. Yes, I understand that there is a proposed theory in which "mass" is acquired through symmetry breaking (but only by leaning on the other "charges," which doesn't really get us anywhere philosophically... and this is the philosophy forum after all.)

But a discussion in the philosophy forum of something out of physics should not be based on an incomplete or bastardization physics. That's an awful misrepresentation of a source. Shall we discuss unfounded rumors as well?

In fact, this is a major insult to philosophical discussion, when you dismiss the important of being accurate of what you want to talk about. You left out not something that is small. You left out a high and significant portion of physics, and instead, started with something utterly naive (force and mass). This is an absurd starting point as the foundation for such a grandiose project.


My point is that all of these theories are rooted in philosophical assumptions that aren't exactly consistent.

And what "philosophical assumptions" would that be? After all, what you indicated as the philosophical assumption in your first post is more of your ignorance of the subject matter. You used concepts in physics that were highly restricted. It appears that what is more accurate here is YOUR understanding of what might be the philosophical assumption.

Now, can physicists use the theories anyway as an extremely accurate approximation? Absolutely. Can the problems be ignored and still reach a unified theory of physics? Apparently not, because, well, here we are with 4 forces and a problem with quantum gravity.

Your "problem" seems to be more of a matter of TASTES. Nowhere in the history of physics are new ideas and theories that came out because someone didn't like something. It has always been due to either logical inconsistencies (the non-invariant problem of classical Maxwell equation before 1900), or empirical evidence that could not be explained due by existing understanding. You offered none of these.

Philosophical ideology has never produced significant advancement in physics.

Zz.
 
  • #17
ZapperZ
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For the record, I didn't say "add something to the thread" so no contest there; I said "add something to your post".

In your first post, you:

p1) recognized that he was "ignorant" about physics
p2) proceeded, knowing a), to bombard him with a bunch of jargon that he obviously wouldn't understand, but didn't really explain anything.

C) Your first post was pedantic and condescending

And this is, of course, unwarranted even when a direct insult onto the field of physics has been made. But that's OK. We should not focus on that, because we need to only look at the forest.

Anyway... I'd still be interested to hear your answers to the questions I asked if they make sense to you; if they don't, I'd be willing to elaborate:

I'm thinking along the lines of sub-Planck structures being indicative of an emergent theory (or equivalently a reduction of) quantum particles, which are a reduction of or "primitive to" classical particles (well, at least, that's the traditional view I thought; but I asked you about this above).

The question is whether or not quantum particles can be said to be a bunch of smaller particles (that aren't quantum particles) or whether or not the energy/information structure of the ensemble itself causes quantum particles to emerge. Or are quantum particles "the end of the line" as far as you're concerned?

Why are you trying to hijack this thread for your own pet ideas? You complain about my response that the OP might not understand, and yet, look at what you're spewing! Or do you think this has now become YOUR thread?

Zz.
 
  • #18
ZachHerbert
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Your "problem" seems to be more of a matter of TASTES. Nowhere in the history of physics are new ideas and theories that came out because someone didn't like something. It has always been due to either logical inconsistencies (the non-invariant problem of classical Maxwell equation before 1900), or empirical evidence that could not be explained due by existing understanding. You offered none of these.

Philosophical ideology has never produced significant advancement in physics.

Zz.

Perhaps you missed it during your polemic. So I'll ask again. Which of these statements is false?

1) Dynamical values cannot be represented using 0 bits of information
2) [The] information necessary to perfectly describe [a] system, must be finite if the region of space and the energy is finite. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bekenstein_bound)
 
  • #19
apeiron
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I have a problem with the whole starting premise. It appears as if this "Max Jammer" have never done a single course in advanced classical mechanics and have never heard of calculus of variation and Hamiltonian/Lagrangian mechanics.

The ire here seems badly misdirected. Which, for me, immediately undermines the credibility of the attack in general.

Wiki says: "he received a PhD in experimental physics in 1942"....
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Jammer

And the citation for his Pais prize seems to suggest he is a credible source....
http://www.aps.org/units/fhp/newsletters/upload/fall06.pdf

...the American Physical Society and American Institute of Physics announced that Max Jammer has been named to receive the 2007 Pais Prize in History of Physics “for his groundbreaking historical studies of fundamental concepts in physics, including his
comprehensive account of the development of quantum mechanics.”

...his pioneering and comprehensive study, The Conceptual Development of Quantum
Mechanics (McGraw-Hill, 1966), which was republished in a revised edition in 1989 by the
American Institute of Physics. He knew many of the main protagonists in his story personally, including Albert Einstein, Paul Dirac and Werner Heisenberg, who read substantial
parts of his book and discussed them with him in detail. Jammer also interviewed many other founders of quantum mechanics, including Louis de Broglie, Pascual Jordan and Eugene
Wigner. He subsequently published his companion study, The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics (John Wiley, 1974), a historically oriented book that has also become a standard work in the field.
 
  • #20
ZapperZ
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The ire here seems badly misdirected. Which, for me, immediately undermines the credibility of the attack in general.

Wiki says: "he received a PhD in experimental physics in 1942"....
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Jammer

And the citation for his Pais prize seems to suggest he is a credible source....
http://www.aps.org/units/fhp/newsletters/upload/fall06.pdf

I actually know who he is. But I wrote that it seems as if he stopped at Intro Physics and left it at that! Someone who knows physics would KNOW and be aware that sticking with the concept of just force and mass as the ONLY dynamical description is not giving someone the whole picture!

But worse than that, someone actually looked at quoting something he wrote as used it as if it is a biblical truth! At one point do we actually try to understand the physics, rather than put all our faith into the words of another person? Physics isn't done by quotations! And strangely enough, you don't see to address MY specific reason for disputing what was cited, i.e. the concept that is clearly used in Hamiltonian/Lagrangian principles.. You are using his "greatness" to counter what I said, as if this should impress me and therefore somehow negates my point? Hello?

Zz.
 
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  • #21
ZapperZ
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Perhaps you missed it during your polemic. So I'll ask again. Which of these statements is false?

1) Dynamical values cannot be represented using 0 bits of information
2) [The] information necessary to perfectly describe [a] system, must be finite if the region of space and the energy is finite. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bekenstein_bound)

1. Define "dynamical values", and then show their relationships to "bits of information".

2. I have a square pulse in the time domain. What are the fourier series components in the frequency domain of this square pulse?

Zz.
 
  • #22
apeiron
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I actually know who he is. But I wrote that it seems as if he stopped at Intro Physics and left it at that!

Excuse me if I misunderstood that your comment: "It appears as if this "Max Jammer" have never done a single course in advanced classical mechanics..." actually meant: "I know Jammer and his standing well, but still...blah, blah, blah." :uhh:

Someone who knows physics would KNOW and be aware that sticking with the concept of just force and mass as the ONLY dynamical description is not giving someone the whole picture!

You're confusing me again. Jammer was cited as saying the three classical primitives were space, time and mass. But then it is "obvious" that mass must be animated by the notion of force - and this becomes circular as forces are defined in terms of the accelerations of masses. Therefore there must be a more fundamental description of nature that gets beneath the circularity.

Perhaps this is again exactly what you are saying in the paraphrase above - even if it sounds like the precise opposite.

We should of course ignore Jammer (who I had never heard of) as he seems patently a ruse to allow Zach to get his thread started and I have so far found no reason why Jammer should be cited as a particular motivation for Zach's approach.

On the other hand, as for what Zach himself has said so far, it is based on the claim that the information needed to fully describe a particle cannot all be found at a location, but must be in some fashion also due to a context. This does not immediately clash with QM, as you seem to want to suggest - otherwise how is any information approach justified? And it certainly fits with a hierarchy theory view of reality (even if integral theory is not my favourite brand).
 
  • #23
apeiron
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2. I have a square pulse in the time domain. What are the fourier series components in the frequency domain of this square pulse?

Again your statements seem confusing to me. Zach points out that only a finite amount of information is available to describe a local feature within a finite context. And I would have thought square pulses were proof of that. It would take an infinite amount of information (bandwidth) to have an exactly square pulse. In the real world, this is why we only create close approximations.

Or were you in fact quietly conceding his point here?
 
  • #24
ZapperZ
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Excuse me if I misunderstood that your comment: "It appears as if this "Max Jammer" have never done a single course in advanced classical mechanics..." actually meant: "I know Jammer and his standing well, but still...blah, blah, blah." :uhh:

You're confusing me again. Jammer was cited as saying the three classical primitives were space, time and mass. But then it is "obvious" that mass must be animated by the notion of force - and this becomes circular as forces are defined in terms of the accelerations of masses. Therefore there must be a more fundamental description of nature that gets beneath the circularity.

Yes, I said " AS IF this Max Jammer... " And besides, you don't see ANY problem with such a claim?

I would say the same thing if this was from Richard Feynman! There is an obvious omission out of such a statement! Do I need to again spell it out on why this is erroneous? Or are we still trying to bury that error under "Ma Jammer" is this and "you said he is this"?

Not only that, somehow using such error as the impetus for all this is somehow condoned?

We should of course ignore Jammer (who I had never heard of) as he seems patently a ruse to allow Zach to get his thread started and I have so far found no reason why Jammer should be cited as a particular motivation for Zach's approach.

I'm glad we got THAT out of the way!

On the other hand, as for what Zach himself has said so far, it is based on the claim that the information needed to fully describe a particle cannot all be found at a location, but must be in some fashion also due to a context. This does not immediately clash with QM, as you seem to want to suggest - otherwise how is any information approach justified? And it certainly fits with a hierarchy theory view of reality (even if integral theory is not my favourite brand).

But this is an empty statement because:

1. the OP has not shown the inadequacy of the current description! All that has been shown is that it isn't good enough based on TASTES. Where exactly has it failed?

2. the offering of a new description is severely lacking in testability. It's as if physics is nothing more than simply mentioning that "what goes up, must come down", and that's that, very much in the pattern of his quote of Jammer.

Again your statements seem confusing to me. Zach points out that only a finite amount of information is available to describe a local feature within a finite context. And I would have thought square pulses were proof of that. It would take an infinite amount of information (bandwidth) to have an exactly square pulse. In the real world, this is why we only create close approximations.

Or were you in fact quietly conceding his point here?

No, in fact, it is the contrary. By our ability to KNOW that such a pulse is made of an infinite series that converges to a finite number is my proof that just because something is finite does not mean that what makes it must also be finite! His question did not deal with approximations nor realistic situations. It dealt with what is theoretically possible.

I find it rather amusing that people are trying to pick apart ANY kind of inconsistencies in MY statements, whereas they are willing to overlook the HUGE inconsistencies made by the OP. The original premise of this whole thing was the very faulty description of what physics is, as if it all depends on "space, time, and mass", and that somehow force and mass are some fundamental idea that must be present for such a "dynamical" description. When I called out the OP on the obvious error on such an understanding, he even admitted of knowing about such things that I've described. This made NO SENSE! If you know about such things, then why made such obviously wrong statements in the first place, and worse still, as the impetus for this whole discussion. It's like "let's pretend that whole areas of physics doesn't exist, and then claim that physics is inadequate". People are willing to overlook that huge inconsistent 25,000 lb elephant in the room? Is this what really goes on in philosophical discussion?

Zz.
 
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  • #25
apeiron
Gold Member
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I would say the same thing if this was from Richard Feynman!

Your explanation does not ring true. Would you have put "Feynman" in quotes here? So why did you put Jammer in quotes if not to indicate a source that somehow needs this grammatical quarantine?

It is a very trivial point of course. Except it illustrates to me a rush to judgement that is sloppy and undermines the authority of what follows. And the fact you don't own up to your overly hasty dismissal of Jammer is compounding the feeling I have.

No, in fact, it is the contrary. By our ability to KNOW that such a pulse is made of an infinite series that converges to a finite number is my proof that just because something is finite does not mean that what makes it must also be finite! His question did not deal with approximations nor realistic situations. It dealt with what is theoretically possible.

I believe you confuse epistemology with ontology. The model may have tricks that shortcut infinity. But the reality has to deal with actual infinities (if we go along with the information theoretic approach of holographic boundaries).

I find it rather amusing that people are trying to pick apart ANY kind of inconsistencies in MY statements, whereas they are willing to overlook the HUGE inconsistencies made by the OP.

I am happy to point out inconsistencies in this OP like any other. But the inconsistency I am concerned with here is between your demand for a high level of discussion and then the way you are conducting the discussion. Give the poor guy a chance. Even if what he says is half-baked, that is still 50% better than what many manage :tongue2:.

The original premise of this whole thing was the very faulty description of what physics is, as if it all depends on "space, time, and mass", and that somehow force and mass are some fundamental idea that must be present for such a "dynamical" description.

No, I'm sure if you read carefully you will find that force/mass was being deemed a circular argument and so not capable of being fundamental for that reason.
 
  • #26
Pythagorean
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ZachHerbert:

To your general question/purpose:

The purpose of this post is to question whether dynamical qualities (i.e. “fundamental charges”) can survive as primitive concepts in physics as contemporary theory moves from a mechanical model of the universe to a (potentially unified) informational paradigm.

The answer (as perhaps ZapperZ was trying to say) is that charge-like properties aren't considered primitive concepts anymore. In fact, the paper I cited has a discussion about the emergence of classical properties and how human subjectivity play a role in them:

We demand objective definiteness because we experience definiteness on the subjective level of observation, and it should not be viewed as an a priori requirement for
a physical theory. If we knew independently of our experience that definiteness existed in nature, subjective definiteness would presumably follow as soon as we had employed a simple model that connected the “external” physical phenomena with our “internal” perceptual and cognitive apparatus, where the expected simplicity of such a model can be justified by referring to the presumed identity of the physical laws governing external
and internal processes. But since knowledge is based on experience, that is, on observation, the existence of objective definiteness could only be derived from the observation of definiteness. And, moreover, observation tells us that definiteness is in fact not a universal property of nature, but rather a property of macroscopic objects, where the borderline to the macroscopic realm is difficult to draw precisely; mesoscopic interference experiments have demonstrated clearly the blurriness of the boundary. Given the lack of a precise definition of the boundary, any demand for fundamental definiteness on the objective level should be based on a much deeper and more general commitment to a definiteness that applies to every physical entity (or system) across the board, regardless of spatial size, physical property, and the like. Therefore, if we realize that the often deeply felt commitment to a general objective definiteness is only based on our experience of macroscopic systems, and that this definiteness in fact fails in an observable manner for microscopic and even certain mesoscopic systems, the author sees no compelling grounds on which objective definiteness must be demanded as part of a satisfactory physical theory, provided that the theory can account for subjective, observational definiteness in agreement with our experience. Thus the author suggests that the same legitimacy be attributed to proposals for a solution of the measurement problem that achieve “only” subjective but not objective definiteness—after all, the measurement problem arises solely from a clash of our experience with certain implications of the quantum formalism.
D’Espagnat (2000, pp. 134–135) has advocated a similar viewpoint:

"The fact that we perceive such “things” as macroscopic objects lying at distinct places is due, partly at least, to the structure of our sensory and intellectual equipment. We should not, therefore, take it as being part of the body of sure knowledge that we have to take into account for defining a quantum state. (. . . ) In fact, scientists most righly claim that the purpose of science is to describe human experience, not to describe “what really is”; and as long as we only want to describe human experience, that is, as long as we
are content with being able to predict what will be observed in all possible circumstances (. . . ) we need not postulate the existence—in some absolute sense—of unobserved (i.e., not yet observed) objects lying at definite places in ordinary 3-dimensional space."


and later he cites WH Zurek:

Zurek emphasizes the importance of stable records for observers, i.e., robust correlations between the environment-selected states and the memory states of the observer. Information must be represented physically, and thus the “objective” state of the observer who has detected one of the potential outcomes of a measurement must be physically distinct and objectively different from the state of an observer who has recorded an alternative outcome (since the record states can be determined from the outside without perturbing them—see the previous paragraph). The different objective states of the observer are, via quantum correlations, attached to different branches defined by the environment-selected robust states; they thus ultimately label the different branches of the universal state vector. This is claimed to lead to the perception of classicality; the impossibility of perceiving arbitrary superpositions is explained via the quick suppression of interference between different memory states induced by decoherence, where each (physically distinct) memory state represents an individual observer identity.

Zurek agrees with your general attribution of the role of information in modern physical theories:

Zurek said:
Obviously, more remains to be done. Equally obviously, however, decoherence and einselectionare here to stay. They constrain the possible solutions after the quantum—classical transition in a manner suggestive of a still more radical view of the ultimate interpretation of quantum theoryin which information seems destined to play a central role. Further speculative discussion of thispoint is beyond the scope of the present paper, but it will be certainly brought to the fore by(paradoxically) perhaps the most promising applications of quantum physics to information pro-cessing. Indeed, quantum computing inevitably poses questions that probe the very core of thedistinction between quantum and classical. This development is an example of the unpredictabilityand serendipity of the process of scientific discovery: Questions originally asked for the most im-practical of reasons—questions about the EPR paradox, the quantum-to-classical transition, therole of information, and the interpretation of the quantum state vector—have become relevant topractical applications such as quantum cryptography and quantum computation.
Decoherence and the Transitionfrom Quantum to Classical–Revisited
Seminaire Poincare
 
  • #27
ZapperZ
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Your explanation does not ring true. Would you have put "Feynman" in quotes here? So why did you put Jammer in quotes if not to indicate a source that somehow needs this grammatical quarantine?

Wow! You also read minds in your spare time?

It is a very trivial point of course. Except it illustrates to me a rush to judgement that is sloppy and undermines the authority of what follows. And the fact you don't own up to your overly hasty dismissal of Jammer is compounding the feeling I have.

What am I supposed to "own up" here? Considering that the OP even admitted that these were something he didn't include is clear proof that there are large part of physics that were omitted.

I believe you confuse epistemology with ontology. The model may have tricks that shortcut infinity. But the reality has to deal with actual infinities (if we go along with the information theoretic approach of holographic boundaries).

I'm sorry, but "actual infinities"? "tricks that shortcut infinity"? What are these? How does this have anything to do with the fact that I have an infinite series, and the convergence to that series give me a finite number?

I am happy to point out inconsistencies in this OP like any other. But the inconsistency I am concerned with here is between your demand for a high level of discussion and then the way you are conducting the discussion. Give the poor guy a chance. Even if what he says is half-baked, that is still 50% better than what many manage :tongue2:.

Which half is baked and which half isn't?

You will note that I didn't simply say he was wrong. I also tried to clearly point out via counter example where he was wrong. And considering the grandiose attempt at trying to get physics to do away with what it has been doing, it is a fair counter attack to what was clearly a strange understanding of physics via omission of a large chunk of it!

No, I'm sure if you read carefully you will find that force/mass was being deemed a circular argument and so not capable of being fundamental for that reason.

And this is perfectly valid? Where is "force/mass" concept in the Standard Model as I've indicated earlier? When we indicate that the mass of an "electron" in the ruthenates to often be more than 200 times the electron bare mass, what "force/mass" was being used here? Now of course, you'll argue "But ZapperZ, you're missing the point. The Poor Guy is trying to tell you that using force/mass is circular argument, not that there's no other way of defining a mass!" Well then, why are we obsessed with that, and ONLY THAT concept? It's as if other definitions of mass, or how such terms are arrived at, don't even exist! Again, it comes down to "let's ignore large chunks of physics, and then claim that it is inadequate", or in this case, circular! You are basically encouraging a discussion using an incomplete set of information based on faulty premise.

Zz.
 
  • #28
Pythagorean
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1. Define "dynamical values", and then show their relationships to "bits of information".

2. I have a square pulse in the time domain. What are the fourier series components in the frequency domain of this square pulse?

Zz.

1. A value that's changing. Quite simply, representing the same symbol over and over again takes zero bits of information. Representing a change just between two states requires a bit (a bit is a 1 or 0 ... 2 states)

2. I don't understand what that has to do with the Bekenstein bound; the "systems" are quantum systems (that is what is meant by "perfectly" represented.) The wiki gives an example of the human brain's Bekenstein bound (i.e. how many bits it would take to represent all the possible states of the ensemble that makes up the brain).

I'm not sure where a square wave (which I wasn't aware we've even observed in nature) fits in.
 
  • #29
ZachHerbert
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Firstly, thank you to everyone who is actually engaging in the discussion - even though I may not always use explicit enough language to express my ideas. I appreciate the effort.
The answer (as perhaps ZapperZ was trying to say) is that charge-like properties aren't considered primitive concepts anymore. In fact, the paper I cited has a discussion about the emergence of classical properties and how human subjectivity play a role in them:
I know that they aren't fundamental in the same way, but it seems that Jammer's critique still applies. If "quark color" can't be meaningfully isolated from "the symmetry of rotations in SU(3)" - and it seems that it can't - then doesn't that fall into the same circular mess as force/mass? The strong force wasn't invented arbitrarily. It was introduced to explain the behavior of physical systems - just like force/mass was used to explain why some things "weigh more" than others (I know, oversimplified again). I agree that the symmetry route is much cleaner. But it still doesn't make it through the field of play unscathed.

1. A value that's changing. Quite simply, representing the same symbol over and over again takes zero bits of information. Representing a change just between two states requires a bit (a bit is a 1 or 0 ... 2 states)
My point is that if the value must demonstrate variation initially (to individuate it from the environment), and then change (to be considered dynamic) - and do both from a relative context (and not from a static absolute) - then even the initial value requires information to model. And if that value never changes, then by what criteria do we claim that time has passed? (Unless, like Newton, we assign time to a static, absolute point of reference. But then we're back to unobservable metaphysics.)

and later he cites WH Zurek:

And, moreover, observation tells us that definiteness is in fact not a universal property of nature, but rather a property of macroscopic objects
This is where I depart a bit. I don't believe there is "definiteness" outside of a metaphysical (unobservable) ideal. Merely citing "macroscopic objects" is not sufficient. The observing system (as frame of reference, means of interaction, and consciousness interpreting the result) can not be ignored in any philosophically viable description of reality. (We don't experience true "definiteness," we experience "information" that has been pre-molded by unseen cognitive structures.) And I don't see that we have any established mechanism to adequately integrate an "observer" into a "system" without succumbing to Jammer's trap and preserving the gap between kinematics and dynamics - and thus (at least to my mind) failing to establish a truly adequate model of unification. (Yes, Jammer was partly a ruse to initiate the conversation, but the reference is still both valid and applicable to the topic of discussion. In case anyone forgot, it was to talk about the role of dynamical qualities in a potentially unified, informational model of reality. :tongue:)
 
  • #30
apeiron
Gold Member
2,131
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Wow! You also read minds in your spare time?

What am I supposed to "own up" here? Considering that the OP even admitted that these were something he didn't include is clear proof that there are large part of physics that were omitted.

I simply note that you have yet to furnish an explanation of why you put Jammer in quarantine quote marks, so we must continue to draw our own conclusion.

I'm sorry, but "actual infinities"? "tricks that shortcut infinity"? What are these? How does this have anything to do with the fact that I have an infinite series, and the convergence to that series give me a finite number?

Again, you either do not understand, or are deliberately evading, the difference between reality and our models of reality - ontology and epistemology.

And this is perfectly valid? Where is "force/mass" concept in the Standard Model as I've indicated earlier? When we indicate that the mass of an "electron" in the ruthenates to often be more than 200 times the electron bare mass, what "force/mass" was being used here?

The point was not whether the Jammer-based argument was correct (I don't think it is) but that you had not presented the actual argument.

So just on this small sample, you appear to have disembled (one minute Jammer is a nobody, the next you know him of course), you appear not to respect a most basic philosophical distinction, and you appear unable to read posts with sufficient care to respond to what was actually said.
 
  • #31
ZachHerbert
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Some of this has to be a language problem, because Jammer’s point is so simple as to not even be worth arguing over. So let me define some terms as I am using them. (And if someone wants to tell me an alternate, more appropriate term, I’m happy to use it.)

When I say Primitive, I mean a “fundamental unit of measure” - like “centimeter” and “second.” Or, more specifically, I mean class of unit. (So “centimeter” and “mile” are equally fundamental and are really just faces of the same underlying primitive: “space.”)

Now, if I ask everyone to rebuild the Standard Model without any other units at all, I’m assuming that it can’t be done. That means you get to have distance and duration, and that’s it. No charge. No spin. No color. No energy. No electron mass. No nothing. Just distance and duration. The request isn’t just impossible, it’s nonsensical.

Even if we adopted a dualistic ontology, and said that particles were little point-like lumps of "stuff" floating through a void, all we could do with units of space and time is to describe the motions of the particles. We would have kinematics, but that’s it.

If it turned out that some of the particle trajectories looked different than others after intersecting one another, we would then look for a way to explain the difference. To do that we might introduce a new categorical property, with a new primitive unit of measure – a primitive dynamical quality. (Primitive because the units cannot be reduced to seconds and centimeters. Dynamical because the units will ultimately be used to explain the behavior of the objects that "carry" the unit.) But introducing the unit itself is not enough. We also need a set of rules that govern the behavior of objects that carry the units. The two are intrinsically linked. The units don’t mean anything without the rules, and the rules don’t mean anything without the units. We can’t explain the relation between the two, because they come together by definition. We simply have to accept them as-is. And when we ask “why” a particle does this or that, all we can do to "provide an answer" is plug some numbers into that loop, and see what the rules tell us. And this in itself is plenty good enough to take a utilitarian approach to physics!

Jammer’s point is that the only way to truly integrate kinematics and dynamics is to use a mechanism that doesn’t follow this self-referential loop. And that means taking a completely different approach to the problem. Because if we try to explain one dynamical quality by invoking another, we’ll need a new set of rules, and the loop continues at a lower level. That isn’t to say that there may not be a valid reason for doing this. But it doesn’t solve the loop. It just relocates it.

Now, the reason that I brought up the information topic is that it forces us to think in a different way anyway. In an informational paradigm, the value of any dynamical qualities must be distributed over a region of spacetime – and not simply ascribed to a point. We can still treat them as categorical properties. But these properties cannot be assigned to individual events - or even drawn as an interval between two events - and so can't be considered fundamental. The relationships are more complicated than that.

Finally, the reason I suggested introducing a new non-dynamical primitive concept - a new unit of measure - is because it gives us an alternative path: a free variable that doesn't follow the same rules as the units that are intrinsically meant to "explain." Space and time can give us kinematics, but once they do, they're all used up. The units of the new dimension would provide a point of contrast to the units of space and time, and allow us to carry the model beyond simple kinematics. Now, when it comes time to re-introduced dynamics to the system - which we must if we want to "explain" anything - we can define the dynamical qualities (axiomatically) so that they break down into conglomerations of the three non-dynamical units. We get dynamics back. But the "charges" aren't fundamental.

Now, is what I’ve just suggested a viable theory of physics? Absolutely not. Without defining the details of the relations, it can’t be used in practice at all. That's why I'm in the philosophy forum. Is it an original philosophical premise that could be further developed into a potentially viable theory of physics? You bet.
 
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  • #32
ThomasT
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Hi ZachHerbert. I'm still not sure what the problem is and exactly how you propose to solve it. Isn't everything (that's physically meaningful) in modern physics ultimately reducible to distance and duration observations (ie., communicable in units thereof)? Isn't this what the term information ultimately refers to?

It does seem that, as yet, mainstream physics has proceeded without specifying a unifying fundamental dynamical principle. If the goal is to attempt to proceed along that line, then wouldn't it have to begin as some kinematical abstraction regarding either particle or wave, or both, behavior?
 
  • #33
ZachHerbert
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Isn't everything (that's physically meaningful) in modern physics ultimately reducible to distance and duration observations (ie., communicable in units thereof)? Isn't this what the term information ultimately refers to?

Naively, yes. But only if we take both observation and https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=467357" (which is what we’ve always done). If we begin by assuming a dualistic ontology – where particles are fundamentally distinct from spacetime – then yes, all measurements are ultimately kinematic in nature. But if we adopt a unified ontology, then we need a way to individuate a particle from the background before we can talk about location or motion. (Basically, assuming individuation through duality gives us kinematics for free.)

A wave ontology helps on the surface, but if the wave is background dependent and inherits its location and motion in a parasitic way from an independent spacetime metric, then we’re back in essentially the same situation. The wave is somehow distinct from the spacetime.

But that isn't the main problem.

then wouldn't it have to begin as some kinematical abstraction regarding either particle or wave, or both, behavior?

No, I don’t think so. Ultimately, those things are needed. But the process needs to begin from a lower level. The idea is to acknowledge the associations that are implicitly assumed in the very concept of “information” and build that into the model. Entanglement provides a stark example.

Without arguing whether entanglement rises to that standard of “causation” or “transmission” we can at least acknowledge that at a bare minimum it involves the “association” of information distributed over space-like intervals. But if the information that embodies even a single particle and its properties is spread out over a region of spacetime, then we have essentially the same issue. It may not appear as spectacular as an entangled two-particle system that is spatially discontiguous, but we’re still in the same situation. Events at space-like intervals must somehow be associated with one another.

Now, we can of course just accept “nonlocality” and run with it. And that’s fine for utilitarian purposes. But that avoids the real mystery. Everyone has gone crazy asking "what is wave collapse?" and "what is it exactly that relativity forbids?" But the real question is, what is “association?” We can classify the intervals between events as “space-like” or “time-like.” But how does a space-like interval between “associated” events differ from a space-like interval between “non-associated” events? There is a demonstrably different relation at work. But the relation has never been formally classified. We can’t “explain” it using the charge/force dynamic (in whatever clothes we choose to dress it in). And we can't account for it using space and time alone. We've run out of variables.

My argument is that by classifying the relation axiomatically, and relating this "new primitive” to space and time, we can stop taking this omnipresent phenomenon for granted - and, ultimately, kill a whole flock of birds with one stone.
 
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  • #34
Maui
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It does seem that, as yet, mainstream physics has proceeded without specifying a unifying fundamental dynamical principle. If the goal is to attempt to proceed along that line, then wouldn't it have to begin as some kinematical abstraction regarding either particle or wave, or both, behavior?


I am sure he will answer for himself(i don't understand his points, as i have no idea what information really is), but i wish to point out that the MAIN problem he seems interested in is the rift that emerged after the abolishment of the old paradigm based on obvious and self-evident truths(that were later found to be blatantly wrong). Fundamental dynamics is a very very deep problem even for the most knowledgeable physicists working on QG today and talking about it here may be a waste of time. Solving the problem of fundamental dynamics will involve nothing short of solving the deepest problems of our best theories of physics - the infinities of QFT, the singularities of GR and the measurement problem of QM. Unfortunately nobody on this forum is up to the task, so proposing even a vague idea about a how a successful unification might work is empty talk, IMO.
 
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  • #35
Maui
767
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Everyone has gone crazy asking "what is wave collapse?" and "what is it exactly that relativity forbids?" But the real question is, what is “association?” We can classify the intervals between events as “space-like” or “time-like.”



A spacetime-like interval is a worldline, so we can classify them as spacetime-like.


But how does a space-like interval between “associated” events differ from a space-like interval between “non-associated” events?


Associated in what way? By causality? What is an interval between non-associated events? It would be helpful if you give examples as your way of reasoning seems hard to follow.


There is a demonstrably different relation at work. But the relation has never been formally classified. We can’t “explain” it using the charge/force dynamic (in whatever clothes we choose to dress it in). And we can't account for it using space and time alone. We've run out of variables.

My argument is that by classifying the relation axiomatically, and relating this "new primitive” to space and time, we can stop taking this omnipresent phenomenon for granted - and, ultimately, kill a whole flock of birds with one stone.



I wish to comment but might err in interpreting what you mean, so i'd like to see what you mean by "associated events" and which events are not associated and why.
 
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