Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Problems in Science and Philosophy

  1. Apr 4, 2004 #1
    I'm collecting unmanswered and unanswerable questions, paradoxes and problems from philosophy and science and would welcome any contributions.

    The sort of thing I mean is Zeno's paradoxes, Russell's paradox, the problem of attributes, the problem of consciousness, the wave-particle duality, non-locality, time, abiogenesis, why there is anything rather than nothing, the 'cause' of the Big Bang, God, the nature of time, whether 'right and wrong' exists, etc etc.

    All additions to the list welcome. (I'm not looking to argue about them, just to put a good list together).

    Thanks in advance for any contributions.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 4, 2004 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Why do you consider wave-particle duality a problem? It's a feature :biggrin:

    And nonlocality as embodied in quantum mechanics is perfectly consistent and does not lead to classical nonlocality.
  4. Apr 4, 2004 #3
    Ok, whatever. I'm not trying to start arguments here.
  5. May 24, 2004 #4
    We are the belief makers, we give everything meaning. Yet, we are also part of everything and everything is meaningless without us (sic).
  6. May 24, 2004 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Okay, let me get this straight. A is a part of B. A gives B meaning. B is meaningless without A. In order for B to acquire meaning, it must have once been without it, hence it must have once been without A. However, this means that A cannot be a part of B, as the existence of a whole cannot precede the existence of one of its parts. Seems you have a little problem here.

    By the way, I'm just screwing with you.
  7. May 24, 2004 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    If you can imagine universes with a variety of physical laws and properties, one property that probably comes close to being essential for biogenesis is that there be lots of copies of things (elementary particles, lets say) here, there and everywhere which are essentially identical to one another except for their position in space at any time. (Yeah, yeah, I am already limiting the nature of a hypothetical universe by assuming it even has dimensions that can be called space and time.)

    For example, life on Earth makes use of proteins and nucleic acids, among other things. These things have a chemistry which depends on things such as Pauli's exclusion principle, and a necessity for that to hold sway in our universe is that an electron over here is truly the same sort of entity as an electron over there. And the form of the DNA molecule is a spiral framework holding repeated base units, the base units being made of molecules which must be the same. (That is, a cytosine base on one part of the DNA better act just like a cytosine anywhere else on the DNA or on the corresponding strand of RNA.) I think Schrodinger used a term along the lines of "pseudo crystal" or maybe it was "quasi-periodic crystal" when he was writing, prior to Watson and Crick, about what must lie at the heart of organisms' ability to reproduce cells.

    Maybe string theorists are smug enough to say they know why there are a gazillion electrons, each with the same charge and mass as one another. They might explain it by saying that there are more than a gazillion strings in the universe, and the ones that are vibrating in a certain mode manifest themselves as electrons, as opposed to quarks or what have you. But that still begs the question why are there so many identical strings in the universe, each one capable of vibrating in the same set of modes as any one of the other strings.
    Last edited: May 24, 2004
  8. May 25, 2004 #7
    AB has no intrinsic meaning, but by definition A gives it meaning.
  9. May 25, 2004 #8
    The good of an individual vs good of society = moral decision pretty murky.
    Self-Euthanesia = do u allow person to kill himself even though its his own life?
  10. May 25, 2004 #9
    something (universe) coming outta nothing

    if one chicken is thretened with death if another chiken is not killed what do u do?
    (Ali G)
  11. May 25, 2004 #10
    "all cretans are liars" types of problems
  12. May 25, 2004 #11
    Do possible worlds exist?
  13. May 26, 2004 #12
    I would be interested in seeing your list, if you want to post it. I will try and come up with one, you do not know of by posting some for you.

    01-Electrons orbiting a nucleus can reside only at specific levels of energy, with no intermediate stages allowed, how does the electron change from one energy level to another? Not gradually or even rapidly moving across the divide between orbits. This transition would imply that for a finite time, no matter how brief, the electron had an energy intermediate between the higher and lower orbits. Observation shows that such a gradualism is forbidden. The electron simply leaps from one orbit to another in zero time. :confused:

    02-Hypothetical photons traveling between protons in the nucleus and orbiting electron are what keep the electron cloud on its stable course about the proton-rich nucleus, just how does the photon travel? travel takes time, yet the photon must do its work instantly. As the photon leaves the nucleus on its instant journey toward an orbiting electron cloud, how does it know what trajectory to follow? The photon must traverse a curved path or somehow "anticipate" where the electron will be so it can make its binding co tact. :confused:

    3-An atom of the metal Radium expels an alpha particle, two protons and two neutrons, it undergoes a metmorphosis, changing from a metal to a gas known as Radon. Metal to gas in one step. Now Radon, in its decay, pulls the same stunt, as it did its parent Radium. It expels another alpha particle and changes from a gas back into a metal. Both the gas and the metal are composed of the same building blocks. :confused:
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook