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Is this the Best Possible World?

  1. Jul 22, 2010 #1
    I am venturing back into my old haunts, spurred, in part, by a recent review in the NYT of Erik Verlinde's new take on gravity. Thus my https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=2810058#post2810058" here, on the Verlinde thread........

    What I would like to do here is lay out some views that may be of some interest and/or amusement to a few folks in the physics community.

    Perhaps I should be starting a blog here, but I notice the blogs are temporarily disabled, due to spam. On another forum, Open Minds, where I have been a prolific poster-boy, I have maintained an exclusive 'blog' thread, alongside a discussion thread. I have no idea what sort of response the Best Possible World Hypothesis (BPWH) may garner here. There is an extensive http://www.bestpossibleworld.com/index06.htm" [Broken] website, which has not been updated for the last three years, while I've been at OM.

    It is my wont to keep adding to a single blog-like post, rather than clutter the new message channel. So, if anyone is inclined to respond, and it seems to merit just a brief response, I just make that response in the current message, continuing on my merry way........

    Okay, enough with the protocol, let's consider the motivation.......

    I went into physics, many years ago, I'll warrant it was well before most PFers were born.

    I was a pre-boomer-baby, more like a bomb(er)-baby, and, sure, the A/H bombs were primary motivators of my physics quest. My dad was only an economist, poor guy.

    In retrospect, I could say that I was looking for free-energy. Back in '66 while still a physics grad at Princeton, I came to the conclusion that free-energy was an unlikely prospect.

    Without free-energy, we were going to be stuck right here on Earth, along with its rapidly burgeoning population, and dwindling resources.

    So........ I went into population control/ZPG, while also working at Hewlett-Packard, as a sales engineer. But I soon discovered that population control was a lot easier said than done, unless you happened to be the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, bless his soul. At one point, in Idaho, I was a metal-building laborer, while lecturing to the Mormons about the importance of 'family-planning', I kid you not. I was fired from my day-job by Burnsides&Sons, all 7 of them! At one point I did get to speak with the Mormon Elder, Ezra Taft Benson, who had been a colleague of my Dad's, in the Eisenhower administration. He informed me that it was their patriotic to have more babies, to be soldiers in future wars. Again, I kid you not, and so much for religion. Well, not quite......

    In some sense, the rest of my life might be characterized as a sometimes amusing attempt to go over Ezra's head, with some possible assistance from the CIA, I kid you not, and using my dwindling knowledge of physics as a springboard to metaphysics, and thus the BPWH.

    To make a long story-short, I'm now an eschatologist. Yes, folks, without a new energy source, it may well be curtains for humanity. So, what else is new? Yes, I've been an eschatologist since 1981, when I also became an immaterialist. We are in a bit of scrape, but, every dark cloud has a silver lining, and it is that lining that I would like to discuss with a few of my former colleagues.

    I remain under the naive impression that Erik Verlinde's http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/science/13gravity.html" [Broken] could be a helpful starting point, in this regard.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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  3. Jul 22, 2010 #2


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    Welcome Dan,
    (completely unofficial welcome, I have no role in running or moderating)
    Just my personal view is that Philosophy forum is the right place to post the kind of thoughts you have posted on your BPW blog (best possible world).

    I just happened to glance at http://www.bestpossibleworld.com/next81.htm
    your brief remark about Charles Sanders Peirce. An important philosopher, possibly important to us today (if we try to understand what natural laws---like the apparent regularities in physics---are).

    Philosophy is an important activity. You should be encouraged. What you do doesn't really belong in the science forums but it could interest people if they come here in philosophy forum and happen to see it.

    I probably wouldn't agree with Anthropic Multiverse speculations or the idea of the World having been made for us. But agreement/disagreement is a second-order difference. I am glad to see someone thinking about philosophical things---particularly the philosophy of science---the foundations of our view of reality, our basic concepts, etc.

    BTW Peirce seems to have proposed the view that the apparent laws of physics---the regularities in nature---might have evolved! Might in fact even still be (very gradually I suppose) changing. To me that seems extremely radical. Wasn't he writing back in the 1890s when everybody thought that the Laws of Physics were eternal set in stone and mostly all neatly discovered by Newton and Maxwell? How could it have occurred to him that the laws might actually have evolved? By what kind of evolutionary process?

    Do you know the quote from Peirce that i'm referring to? If not, tell me and I may be able to find it in books.google or online somewhere, in case you're interested. Anyway good luck and have fun.
  4. Jul 22, 2010 #3
    Thank you, Marcus, for the 'unofficial' welcome. I do come back to a physics venue, with more than a a bit of trepidation, so every smile is very important. But there is still a ways to go in the above exposition, and I do hope/'pray' that no smile will be worn thin. I am very far from being a bible pounder. I have spent most of my time at OM, arguing with my fundie-friends, but........ well, we shall soon be seeing how this little cookie crumbles.

    I have only taken a few courses in philosophy, mainly at U/Md ('77). I have sensed that Charlie was a fellow traveler, but I'm not aware of the specific quote.

    As an idealist/immaterialist, I don't take time all that seriously, except when it comes to eschatology, as in 'bed-time for Bonzo'.

    Don't get me wrong, the Big-Bang (theory/data) represents a fundamental advancement in human understanding, BUT, for an idealist, it may best be viewed as a metaphor for a deeper understanding of 'who we are, from whence we came, and whither we go' (Paul Gauguin).

    Okay, I'll let the first shoe drop. I believe that there are only a handful of professional materialists who actually believe that you and I are nothing more than meat-machines.

    Typically, physics students, or any kind of students, are not exposed to the mind/body problem. I forget when I first even became aware of it. The only serious question about the mind/body question is whether it is a serious question, or merely another scientific puzzle.

    Considering that this is a physics audience, allow me to point out the probable connection between the UEM (Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics) (Wigner, fellow private pilot, and one of my profs. Yes, I will drop names. Truth be known, it's not only what you know, it may also be about who you know. I may be here for that very purpose.) and the mind/body problem. Reminds me of the philosophy wag, who is the only human who ever claimed to solve this problem: Nobody, nevermind! A sentiment with which most of us Monists have to be highly sympathetic...... monism being simply the other side of the nihilist coin.

    So, yes, I'm also very sympathetic with the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivism_(mathematics)" [Broken]. God created mathematics, then, kind of as an afterthought, viz. Spinoza/Wigner/Pythagoras, she created the world.

    [Golly, gosh, there have been 83 views, already. This is more personal attention than I have received on OM or RU. If you would like to see Danianity being roasted, you are welcome to visit http://www.realityuncovered.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=1810&p=29118#p29118". I am begging them to roast me there, rather than here.]

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  5. Jul 22, 2010 #4


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    Proceed, Dan. Go for it. As a self-avowed meat machine I expect you may have to rack up many consecutive posts before getting a response. Which is not to say your writing won't be viewed.
  6. Jul 22, 2010 #5
    Okay, Marcus, here is my simple question for you........

    Would you actually prefer to be a meat-machine, or do you believe that you have no choice in this matter........ as in the sense of 'dust to dust'?

    Just wondering...............

    IOW, you are hereby implicitly claiming to have solved the mind/body problem in favor of the material body.

    If you don't wish to be quite so intellectually presumptuous, might I interest in a ticket on the Glory Train? Or do you reject "[URL [Broken] Wager[/URL]?

    After the mind/body problem, I believe that the Cosmological Anthropic Problem, is the most important intellectual problem.

    BUT, I also believe that Erik Verlinde has cast a new light on the Cosmological Anthropic Principle, by following Wheeler's (yes, another one of my profs) into the realm of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Archibald_Wheeler" [Broken]. BTW, my wife is DJ Wheeler, who is often supposed, falsely, to be related to John, because, like his father, she also works for the Baltimore Library.

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  7. Jul 22, 2010 #6


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    I'm just going to "lurk", not discuss philosophy. I offer encouragement and I sometimes read a post or two. (That's what we meat machines like to do :biggrin:)

    Try this essay, if you haven't already read it. It won first prize in an essay contest on "On the Limits of Physics" that was held around 2009 by a Templeton Foundation offshoot called Foundational Questions Institute (abbr. FQXi). Louis Crane is a professor in the Math department at U Kansas, if I remember right.

    Starships and Spinoza
    Louis Crane
    First prize winner FQXi contest "On the limits of Physics"
    (Submitted on 21 Jan 2010)
    "We discuss a proposal to make small artificial black holes (ABH's) using a huge laser. Because of Hawking radiation, they would be extremely powerful energy sources. We investigate the technical problems of using them to make power plants and starships. The first suggestion is due to Hawking. Next, we consider what challenges the ABH proposal would pose for a future quantum theory of gravity. The form of a theory which would allow us to compute the necessary corrections to classical theory is considered. It is widely believed that every black hole produces a new baby universe on the other side of its singularity. If this is true, ABH technology will involve future humanity in the creation process of universes. Finally, we ponder the effects that the ABH proposal would have on the culture of a future society, particularly if the baby universe theory is correct. The changes in our economic life and understanding of our role in the cosmos would be so profound as to have a 'spiritual' aspect."

    I'm planning to reply only very rarely because I'm more interested in what you write in a series of autonomous posts about your philosophical views..
  8. Jul 22, 2010 #7
    It's either that the search for fundamental constituents of reality is completely mistaken, or everything, incl. the wave structure that is normally called 'matter', is only a secondary manifestation. Perhaps reality is holistic or as your reference says - space, time, gravity and matter might be a hologram and a reflection of events going on in a deeper and different domain. In general, 'reality' is a much better term than 'universe', as it doesn't strictly require the use of much common-sense.

    I wouldn't worry. A useful 'coincidence'(or two) will present an opportunity for more energy sources. Enjoy the universe of strange coincidences(chances are there no other 100^128989 universes out there).
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2010
  9. Jul 22, 2010 #8


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    Peirce was more devo than evo - a developmental metaphysics rather than an evolutionary one.

    He of course was informed by the Darwinism of his day, but was also smart enough to realise that natural selection is a secondary thing. You have to have self-organising development first to give you the basic processes to be harnessed via evolutionary mechanism.

    I know Smolin name-checked Peirce in reference to evolving multiverse scenarios, but that would in fact be a rather un-Peircean metaphysics.

    Peirce's actual thinking (being in the Hegelian tradition) was in fact much more subtle. It is summed up in his philosophy of Synechism.

    One problem with Peirce is that he gets religious (like Hegel) and that can be off-putting for many. Another is that he wrote so much, and much of it changed as he went along, that you can easily get lost in what he eventually had to say.

    I've also mentioned often enough before that Peirce's metaphysics is really an update on Anaximander's metaphysics - and I'm waiting on a translation of Rovelli's book to see if he really got what Anaximander was saying.
  10. Jul 23, 2010 #9


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    Hi Dan;

    Give 'em free energy (or something close to it) and ye shall have your eschaton !
  11. Jul 24, 2010 #10
    Thank you, everyone, for bearing with me, here @PF. Yesterday, I took time off to do some serious navel gazing, also known as 'hello-darkness'. Today, I feel tanned, ready and relaxed. Tomorrow, Debbie, her nephew and I are headed for a week in London, where my access will be nil to none. So, please, pardon me if I try to say too much with too little.

    Basically, my posture here will be that of a post-modern Luther, nailing my hypo-Thesis (BPWH) to the door of my former Cathedral, the King of the Sciences. To do something that serious, one does need a serious sense of humor, which, hopefully, will be sorely tested in the days ahead.

    If I figured out anything, yesterday, communing with my tough-love Muse/Sophia, my whole life has been a preparation for what may or may not transpire here within the next few days, but hopefully it will be a few months, before I can ride off into the sunset.

    Yes, sports fans, I'm an ex-physicist and a very heterodox, born-again Christian, with two, count them, 2 masters degrees in physics, which ought to set me apart from the crowd of PhD's, who may or may not frequent these environs. I have paid my dues, although I am now in arrears.

    Here is the BPWH, modulo physics..........

    We got the world into it's dire-straights, and now we can get it/us out of those straights.


    Just by using our little noggins....... and, looking at the world through the other end of our physics Scope.

    Yes, I take this trick from Tom Sawyer....... here is the fence that needs to be painted, and see how much fun it's gonna be to paint it. In point of fact, you will soon be paying me, lip-service, for that privilege.

    Yes, a vision that was planted in brain (in 1977), still remains........

    Curiosity killed the cat, but sacrilege brought it back.

    Our only sacrilege will be to look at the world from God's PoV, kinda like the bumper sticker.... WWGD, but now on steroids.

    To get this mission launched, we only need to take two things seriously.....

    1.) the Anthropic Principle

    2.) the mind-body problem

    After that, everything falls into place.

    Yes, as someone once said, and as most of us (Pythagorean) physicists fervently believe, the World is more like a great thought, than a great machine. Anyone for a Self-composing symphony? Yes, we are the Six (billion) Characters in Search of an Author. And guess what, we're not gonna have to look very far.

    If you all can just latch on to that Thought, then I'll take you someplace you've never been before. Along the way, you and I will solve all the world's problems. But, hey, you don't have to believe me, just watch me.

    To make a very long story very short...........

    1.) The World is like an Ouroboros or a Closed Time-like Curve (CTC), yes, a Self-excited, maximal-action, Feynman/Leibnizian vacuum-loop.

    2.) We are the Creator(s) of this loop, the very best possible, very Singular, Cosmic loop, and what we are about to see is what we'll get (WWAASIWWG).

    3.) The Earth is about to be Enchanted, from the Inside/Out. And, yes, our BPW is very post-modern, pre-Copernican, and Geo/Anthro/Theo/Christo-centric. AND, if you don't like it, well, just darn it........

    That's all, sports fans. I hummed a few bars, now you sharpen your little pencils, and write the symphony, while I ride off into the sunset.

    Last edited: Jul 24, 2010
  12. Jul 24, 2010 #11


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    Earlier you said;

    In retrospect, I could say that I was looking for free-energy. Back in '66 while still a physics grad at Princeton, I came to the conclusion that free-energy was an unlikely prospect.

    Without free-energy, we were going to be stuck right here on Earth, along with its rapidly burgeoning population, and dwindling resources.

    I was wondering if you could elaborate on that. You were looking for it (free energy) so you must have been serious, but it seems to me that giving free energy to rapidly burgeoning population (or any population for that matter) would be about the WORST thing you coud do.
  13. Jul 24, 2010 #12
    If they can't have free-energy, then give them free-spirit.
  14. Jul 24, 2010 #13


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    I'll 'have a pint !

    (Nice dodge, btw)
  15. Jul 24, 2010 #14
    Could you think of this CTC as a focal point or a twist in time?
  16. Jul 24, 2010 #15
    Focal point......?

    Hmmm........ As in, the hopes and fears of all the years are born in thee tonight?

    Or, as in, give me a fulcrum, and I'll move the world?

    A twist in time...........?

    Saves Nine (billion)?

    Just off the top........

  17. Jul 24, 2010 #16

    If I'm not totally mistaken, it was your name-sake who, very knowingly, committed the greatest sin in the world, when, reluctantly, not unlike Darwin's reluctance, reified/deified Infinity, which, until then, had merely been an abstraction. Ever since then, 'we' physicists have been jumping through hoops/loops to cut-off/take-back the infinite Night. Erik Verlinde will become (more) famous as the guy who turned the corner on the IR/UV infinities, or so my muse told me. And I trust her, http://www.realityuncovered.net/blog/2010/07/child-brides-from-outer-space-part-2/" [Broken], all the way to PayPal.

    The latest/greatest 'infinite' sinner is, of course, http://space.mit.edu/home/tegmark/crazy.html" [Broken]. Do you resemble that remark?

    How many (sub-genius) universes can dance on the head of a pin, or do I read you wrong?

    Reality? OMG, are you a fellow-traveling, trans-pantheist Monist?

    Or, Georg, are you a waffle genius?

    Wrt the BPWH, you pays your money, and you takes your (best possible) choice!

    Just don't meditate. Just don't look back. All the mass is in the past.

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  18. Jul 24, 2010 #17
    I do not know if you are fancying yourself some type of Zarathustra, who descends from the mountains of solitude to preach to humanity the ways of wisdom, but may I ask you to at somepoint take some time to clearly lay out your ideas/ philosophy. This is not soley for my sake, but also your own, as I am sure the thread will die down unless a solid line of thought is provided.
    As somebody who went into metaphysics/philosophy, surely you must know of the importance of the thought process and the reasoning of which it was borne out as opposed to simply the idea, so please give us more. What made you come to the notion that we are a "self-excited, maximal action closed-timelike curve", also what made you come to the idea that we are the creators of this, the best possible loop? What do you mean by "possible"? "Possible" meaning logically coherent and conceivable, in that case I may find a better world, what distinguishes ours as being the "Best"? Isn't that an arbritrary distinction?" What is "best?" ethically best? physically? what?....
    I always wish to remain receptive towards others ideas, which is why I inquire, though I must say that the things you have laid down, with nothing to support it, right now sound slightly like the unscrutinized "revelations" of a first-time moderate dose of acid trip.
  19. Jul 24, 2010 #18

    33 years with a tough-love muse/lme(78d wilderness trekker). The CIA may not (have been) an accidental BPW tourist, or so I'm still wont to believe, despite LP.

    The Best-Possible? In the light of Feynman/Leibniz, the BPW implies (almost/virtually) the only (3+1)D world.

    Is there a better number of on-mass-shell dimensions? Just wondering.......

    How best? Best in all possible/imaginable space-time (3+n D) embedded ways.

    Acid? Try Aqua Regia.

    I am a very (guiness) stout defender of the CTT (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth-coherence/" [Broken] of the (living!) Truth).

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  20. Jul 24, 2010 #19
    O.k. nobody will ever know your philosophy, it is doomed to be locked away within the recesses of your head, possibly confused and contorted, possibly not, but we shall never know. Unless you decide to communicate, not just say
  21. Jul 24, 2010 #20

    I aim to please. You aim, too, please.

    There are 20k posts, on 109 topics, in the DS section at OM.

    There are 1k (indexed) pages at the BPW site.

    Just ask me a specific question......

    Last edited: Jul 24, 2010
  22. Jul 24, 2010 #21


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    Dan, you've already been asked specific questions. If you do not wish to answer them, that's fine, I will close the thread.
  23. Jul 24, 2010 #22

    I have, very honestly and sincerely, answered every single question, to the very best of my limited ability.

    Yes, I do believe that, quite often, brevity is the soul of wit.

    Is my rusty physics ability not adequate to the PF standards? That's precisely why I have come here, to be tutored in the Leibnizian physics.

    A retired (Methodist) preacher (non-physicist) friend of mine has just sent me the following link......

    There are very many people in the world who are, very sincerely, looking to the best and brightest minds, in the world, to come to a deeper understanding of the nature of reality.

    That is the only reason why I am here, to bring their very sincere petition to you.

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  24. Jul 24, 2010 #23


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    Dan, alt and JDStupi both asked questions which you sidestepped. The answers don't have to be lengthy, actually I personally would prefer them to not be lengthy.

    This is really a blog about you. The blogs are functioning for new members right now. The feedback thread on blogs is misleading, so not your fault at all for posting here instead. Perhaps you should move this into a blog.

    I find your demeanor refreshing. We do, however, have certain criteria for starting a discussion here. Have you read the posting guidelines at the top of the forum?
  25. Jul 24, 2010 #24
    Isn't this some tautological truth, when reasoned from the fact that if a different world or different circumstances could exist, this would already have been the case.
  26. Jul 24, 2010 #25

    I appreciate your being refreshed, more than you might imagine.......

    https://www.physicsforums.com/blog.php?b=2174 [Broken]

    Please, anyone interested, join me over there.

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