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Science approaching science fiction

  1. Mar 9, 2010 #1
    I hate it how science is fast approaching the realms of science fiction, it seems as if it diminishes the quality of the real subject. Trying to explain principles of general relativity and quantum to my father, and it sounds like some script from startrek. How can it be taken seriously by any layperson when theyre just as crazy?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 9, 2010 #2
    Fact: Nature is weird.
  4. Mar 9, 2010 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    Note that the best science fiction is merely an extrapolation, albeit far-fetched in most cases, of known science.

    The fact is that you are complaining about theories that are already a century old, or nearly so! Relativity and QM predate Star Trek by 40-60 years. Just tell dad that this stuff has been around longer than he has. :biggrin: In terms that we, in this fast-pace world of rapidly evolving technolgy, are familiar, the Relativity and QM theories are ancient; and most importantly, well tested.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
  5. Mar 9, 2010 #4
    Heh, if you find QM and Relativity weird, you should check out some string theory. String theory is something that I find pretty outlandish at times.
  6. Mar 9, 2010 #5
    I have strong doubts. Let me remove supersymmetry as a prediction belonging to string theory itself. Supersymmetry is quite a prediction, it can be interpreted in superspace as the addition of fermionic dimensions to our beloved familiar up/down-left/right-front/back bosonic dimensions, but it does not require string theory, or if it does, one has to argue about local supersymmetry as a gauge, that is to say supergravity and M-theory, which I will assume would take us too far. What I mean to say is, quantum mechanics in itself is quite weird already and this is often overlooked. For instance, it is pretty well established that local determinism is dead by the violation of Bell's inequalities, although some people on this very forum seem to have time to discuss it. To me, for instance additional (bosonic) space dimensions, be them curled up, are rather pale and straightforward extension in comparison with the death of local determinism. Can you give an instance of string weirdness which, according to you, supersedes quantum mechanics ?

    Although I could quote amazing predictions such as antimatter by Dirac, or the pion by Yukawa, the simplest prediction from quantum mechanics + relativity which is often overlooked and I wish to emphasize is the following : all electrons are the same. Offering a solution to this puzzle is astounding. We tend to take for granted previously established answers to simplest questions which once upon a time seemed simply impossible to address.
  7. Mar 9, 2010 #6
    I was reading a bit about the fusion experiments that will be going on at the national fusion center in scientific american. That laser they are using to initiate the fusion sounds an awful lot like the "phaser" from star trek!
  8. Mar 9, 2010 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    Check out the size of the memory devices that Spock uses in the original series. They are arguably out of date! It struck me one day that much of TOS is no longer sci-fi. No warp drive or human transporters, but many of the practical devices used are now mundane.

    The modern cell phone pretty handily competes with Kirk's communicator.
  9. Mar 9, 2010 #8


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    I don't want to be off topic in any way, I just want to say thank you for this little comment
    . I gave up trying to explain that indeterminism is present in QM and in any other theory that pretends to replace it (as proven it seems by physicists, but I don't remember where I've read this). People saying that determinism still exist and that QM has some "God" idea in it were not physicists. I'm just glad to know that a physicist agree on the fact that "local determinism is dead".
  10. Mar 9, 2010 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    Huh, I assume, Humanino, that by "some people", you are referring to non-physicists?
  11. Mar 9, 2010 #10
    While I remotely grasp what you are talking about in your initial paragraph, note that I am only a first year mathematical physics student and I will not be able to parallel your level of understanding.

    I also now understand what you mean when you say that quantum mechanics is plenty weird enough without being given due credit. I am thinking now I should have held my tongue, as there is much I do not know.

    But, on with it.
    It is not necessarily string theory itself that I find particularly weird, as you said, it is easy to visualize extra dimensions being wrapped up. What I find weird is but a spawn off of some of the math used in string theory; called Dirichlet branes.

    I quote from String theory lecture notes by Gerard't Hooft. Found here: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=383289 Page 41.

    This whole notion of branes, is quite bizarre to me, perhaps it is because I cannot visualize it, or maybe its because I cannot understand the notion of having more than 3 internal dimensions while there are only 3 external dimensions. It is a very interesting subject though.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
  12. Mar 9, 2010 #11
    Thanks for offering an answer. The full weirdness of D-brane I think can only occur in M-theory, which I already acknowledge could supersede quantum mechanics, and as we do not know yet I did not want to go into. But in principle I could agree, although brane model building remains usually quite traditional geometry, not weird at all in comparison with non-commutative geometry which is _the_ geometry of quantum mechanics.

    Otherwise, probably my most useful comment here, the exponent can be obtained with brackets x^{25} :
    (in general, you can click on the code to see the LaTeX source)
    There are physicists who insist to keep quantum mechanics deterministic, or at least investigate whether it could be the case in principle, some of whom have achieved in a few weeks more than I will achieve in my entire life
    Determinism beneath Quantum Mechanics
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
  13. Mar 9, 2010 #12
    Not sure if that is sarcasm, tough to catch on forums. But the three dots were meant to annotate sections that I did not need to quote.

    And thanks for the info; both of physics and code.
  14. Mar 9, 2010 #13
    No, that was not :smile:
    I used three dots myself as a reference to the message I was answering, your entire message, without needing a specific quote from it.

    I also have communication issues when facing people in real life. Seriously.
  15. Mar 9, 2010 #14
    Join the club. Have you see the relationship section on PF? :approve:

    What do you guys think of Edward Witten, Leonard Susskind, David Gross, Yoichiro Nambu, Michio Kaku, and so on?
    They seem like brilliant people, but wouldn't it be better if guys like them weren't string theorists?
  16. Mar 9, 2010 #15
    I only send private messages to Cyrus, he's a great advisor for relationship issues.
  17. Mar 9, 2010 #16


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    Your starting premise is faulty. Try explaining flight or a TV to a primitive tribe. They'll think YOU are crazy.

    What YOU consider to be crazy, many of us accept easily and USE every day.

  18. Mar 9, 2010 #17
    BTW KrisOhn, I am sorry if I offended you with my answer, as a first year student I trust you will soon understand this business better than me. :smile:
  19. Mar 9, 2010 #18
    Hah, I am with you on that one. I find I talk faster than I think, and that can turn into a problem sometimes. But I am working on it.

    Oh! Not at all! It was I that should have held my tongue, but I am kind of glad I didn't. I find that discussions/arguments are the best way to realize what you know, and more importantly, what you don't know. All in all, I'm glad people challenge each other, I don't think science would be as far along as it is today without that.
    Thanks :smile:
  20. Mar 11, 2010 #19

    Ivan Seeking

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  21. Mar 11, 2010 #20


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    Blenton, try to see this as an opportunity to catch up instead of watching the train pull away. :smile: If your trouble is in explaining it to a layperson, consider it an opportunity to gain a greater/new conceptual understanding of a given topic. It is very exciting, and rewarding, to find new ways to explain things.
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