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My problem with today's physics

  1. Mar 12, 2010 #1
    I am not a physicist nor am I a philosopher but I do have a fair understanding of both disciplines. My interests force me to compare the relationship between consciousness, perception and physics.

    I have been reading a few books on the lives of famous scientists, (e.g., Pauli, Einstein, etc...) and find it interesting that their initial theories were often scoffed or ridiculed when initially presented. I suppose that there are many reasons for this and most driven by individual motivations.

    I find the relationships between quantum mechanics and consciousness laughingly obvious but it is so difficult to find scientists that are willing to engage in serious discussions about it. I ask questions about this relationship at the risk of sneers and snickers. There are few that cover it but not seriously, maybe at the risk of their reputation. I'm not a physicist so I don't care about my reputation, but I can understand one that depends on it to hold a job or tenure.

    At the turn of the century, Einstein turned the scientific world upside down with E=mc^2 and so on. It seems to me that the next revolution in physics is the realization of our integration with everything--for lack of a better explanation--and to have a better understand how we relate to the Theory of Everything (TOE). Isn't TOE what Einstein was working on?

    Why do physicists--and the scientific communitiy, in general--continue to scoff at this fileld of study? Were I physicist, this is where I would put my attention. Am I being unrealistic? Perhaps. But where would our understanding of science be today if revolutionary scientists gave in to the popular opposition?

    ** if this post is in the wrong forum, please advise. Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 12, 2010 #2


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    Physics is, in my opinion, the use of mathematics to explain the universe we live in. Physicists scoff at the kinds of statements you are referring to because they are just words, not mathematical models that make testable predictions that can be checked with experiments. Einstein's contributions were not just ideas, but concrete mathematical statements. If you can present a sound mathematical "theory of everything", people will definitely listen. If not, they will continue to scoff.
  4. Mar 12, 2010 #3
    What if mathematical models don't apply? What else is there? (out of the box) There were scientists who dared to venture into the unknown only to invent a "new" method of understanding the universe. I think of people like Michael Faraday who also made significant contributions without formal mathematics training. Although Maxwell helped him later, how did Faraday initiate his ideas?
  5. Mar 12, 2010 #4


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  6. Mar 12, 2010 #5
    :eek: I love this topic, but there is no one thing about it that is "laughingly obvious". Care to enlighten me?

    Do you find Roger Penrose's "Emperor's new mind" shy? Cautious because author's afraid for his reputation? C'mon, that's such a cliche! Lonely scientist fighting for the true against evil scientific community? You can for surely do better than that.

    If this is some kind of offer of forgiveness for our silence, it is hereby declined! :approve:
    I am physicist and I do care about my reputation, but I don't see how does this disqualify me from debate. When I have a case, I'm loud as hell!

    And he failed, may I add. Throughout your post you, and I apologize if I'm wrong, you are making subtle parallel that your case is somehow more based if you are "scoffed" on-line. Prof. Dutch noticed that this "Galileo fallacy" is widespread among cranks: they persecuted Galileo and he was right. They persecute me, therefore I am also right.

    But like I said, I withdraw this and I apologize should this be wrong. But you are getting mighty defensive way before you stated your case. Just ... don't be that guy :-)

    You are kidding, for sure. Anthony Leggett, a Nobel prize winner, stated in an interview (which was published in European Journal of Physics) that he thinks that there may be some valuable *scientific* discoveries in extrasensory perception field. :surprised The whole point is that there are *no* forbidden topics in physics. All you need to do is to identify genuine physical phenomena and offer good explanation. You, personally, probably know more mathematics than Faraday knew, but he is great physicist because he did some good physics and describe it by words. Not formulae, *words*. You think you got case? I'm all ears.
  7. Mar 12, 2010 #6
    Xlines, I don't have a case, I'm looking for one. The point I failed to make was that *I feel* that there are relationships between qm and consciousness that should be explored by professionals--such as yourself--with a solid education in physics or a similar discipline. Unless, there really is no relationship, which I would find hard to believe. I suppose that it's just one of those hunches that I've had all my life. I'm tired of reading misrepresented, new age (for lack of a better word) literature--if you can call it that, where one listless theory hazily links to another. I know "that's" not the answer. So, I'm wondering where things would be if "real" scientists examined these relationships? Yeah, whenever I brought this subject up in the past, it has been scoffed at and I can't understand why?

    Perhaps writing, "laughingly obvious" was too strong a word for a scientific community and I should rescind. The obvious relationship that I can make is in the transfer of energy and I can't get more specific than that.

    You are exactly the type of person who's opinion I'm looking for. You're a physicist and admit that you love this topic, and no, you are obviously not disqualified from having an opinion--I'm looking for it.

    But a better question for you is this: what specifically do you love about this topic?

    Thank you for the Galileo Fallacy note, I didn't know about it--I see what you're saying.

    So, do you think that there is absolutely no connection between qm and consciousness?
  8. Mar 12, 2010 #7
    Thank you for this link, I didn't know about this.
  9. Mar 13, 2010 #8
    I don't know if I am addressing your question but physics can now say that the idea of predestination is false. Predestination is based on the idea that if only we had a big enough computer and knew the current position/momentum of every thing we could calculate what will occur in the future. The combination of Chaos theory and quantum electrodynamics addresses this from two directions.

    Chaos theory shows that modeled solutions to complex non-linear problems will drift wildly from a repeated run of the same model if the inputs to the model are changed an immeasurable amount. We cannot measure the inputs to everything accurately enough.

    Quantum electrodynamics requires the formation virtual particle/anti-particles pairs everywhere and around everything. The product of delta E times delta t for the fleeting existence of these pairs is less than Heisenberg's uncertainty principle so we do not see them directly but the effects of their existence must be calculated for QE to work. I once thought that the only machine that could predict the future would be an exact copy of the universe running someplace else. QE shows that the virtual particle production is completely random and spontaneous so even the exact copy would rapidly deviate from our universe.

    Predestination is therefore false and free will and consciousness are allowed.
  10. Mar 14, 2010 #9


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    Then they wouldn't be "scientists" anymore. Scientists use the scientific method because they are scientists.

    You are digging for problem that doesn't exist because you are making a comparison that doesn't apply. Your problem with physics(science) is that it isn't philosophy. Well science doesn't claim to be philosophy, so it is pointless to criticize it for that.

    Might that mean that there are times when science doesn't provide the best "method for understanding the universe"? Perhaps. Science may not be the most useful method for understanding love or empathy, for example.

    Don't ask science to do something it wasn't designed to do.

    [edit] That said, if there is a link between QM and consciousness, I seriously doubt it would be outside the scope of science to examine it.
  11. Mar 14, 2010 #10


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    I agree there is a connection between quantum phyics and consiousness - afterall we have conciousness and it appears difficult to explain. Quantum tunneling has been proposed to explain brain processes. But, that does not forbid mathematics as a tool to explore that realm. It may require math as we do not yet understand. I prefer Shannon as a starting point.
  12. Mar 14, 2010 #11


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    Nothing is known about the physical causes of consciousness. Not the slightest clue or shred of data regarding how a universe following rigorous laws could allow for a conscious mind. How would a physicist even begin to investigate how QM relates to consciousness?
  13. Mar 14, 2010 #12
    By asking the question how does QM relate to consciousness. How scary huh?
  14. Mar 14, 2010 #13

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    Einstein and Pauli both received the Nobel prize (at a fairly young age as such things go - in their 40's). If this is getting scoffed at, I wish someone would scoff at me in such a way!

    "They laughed at Einstein" is a specious argument anyway. They also laughed at the Three Stooges.

    You've provided no evidence for your suppositions - just an assertion that it's "laughingly obvious". That's not how science works. Science requires evidence. Science has developed an authority over the centuries because it works. It works because the final arbiter of what is true and what is not is nature, not an individual. You're trying to have it both ways - having us accept something on your say-so because it is "laughingly obvious", but then calling it science. That won't go anywhere.
  15. Mar 14, 2010 #14
    All right, all right... let's just forget that I started this post and I'll relegate this sort of stuff to another forum--philosophy or something. Forget I said "laughingly obvious". I was writing and probably got caught up in the moment. It's not obvious and I have nothing except the desire to get people to think about something different.

    But I still have a lot of questions about more pragmatic issues in physics and astronomy so I'll stick to that. Thank you for your comments.
  16. Mar 14, 2010 #15
    I have a theory of everything that is based on mathematical equations and yet I cannot get any professor of physics to take the time to see what I found. My equation uses the proton-electron mass ratio, the fine-structure constant, and the Planck units to determine the mass of the proton and electron. One prediction that it makes is a value for the gravitational constant with eight digits of precision. It also unites all 4 forces to equal the Planck force at the beginning of time. The equation is simple, and in my opinion it is elegant. How can I get someone to seriously listen to me, and have a dialogue?
  17. Mar 14, 2010 #16
    let me get this straight---

    A thought does physical things to happen?

    consciousness causes a reaction?

    It sounds like witches, wizards, and magical incantations to me...
  18. Mar 14, 2010 #17
    All I can say is:
    Physical trauma to the head affects consciousness, and QM attracts a lot of crackpots, spiritualists, etc... If you're interested in QM and consciousness, feel free to look up Deepak Chopra.
  19. Mar 14, 2010 #18


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    I guess it depends on what kind of relationship. Seeing analogies between two branches of science does not mean there is a meaningful connection.

    As a spurious example: analogies used to be drawn between atomic orbits and planetary systems, but that does not mean there is a correlation between them. Attempts to understand one in terms of the other will quickly go awry.

    How can you be sure you're not simply seeing a superfluous similarity?
  20. Mar 14, 2010 #19


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    I'm still not sure of what the argument is for why there should be a "quantum consciousness".

    Anyway, I have a degree in physics and I'm going into neuroscience, but QC has no allure to me.
  21. Mar 14, 2010 #20


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    Write a paper on it in a way that makes it look like a theory.

    Frankly, though, what you describe doesn't bear any relation to the concept of a "theory", much less a theory of everything.
  22. Mar 14, 2010 #21


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    Unless you have some evidence that backs up your ideas, what you have is not a theory but a hypothesis.
  23. Mar 15, 2010 #22


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    Here's wikipedia speaking for the scientific community:

    Still not sure what the argument for QC is though.
  24. Mar 15, 2010 #23
    How about you use it to predict something that isn't already known? Anyone can predict what is already known. Without any evidence, why should any physicist waste their time on what is most likely crack-pottery?

    Edit: I guess I should have finished reading the thread, Russ and Dave beat me to it.
  25. Mar 15, 2010 #24


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    Have you read his post in detail? He claims that he can predict G to 8 decimal places. As of now G is only known to 4 decimal places.
  26. Mar 15, 2010 #25
    As a masters student, I would hope that you would know by now that part of any new theory is that it should agree with existing results as part of its validation. I think your comment is a bit harsh for no good reason.
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