What does physics describe?

  • Thread starter RuroumiKenshin
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  • #1
My mom and I were debating what physics described. Here is my mom's argument:
"Everything is a result of physics".

My argument: "Mom, the semantics you're using is incorrect. Physics only describes the universe; it doesn't cause it. The correct semantics is as follows: the universe is the result of what physics describes."

Okay, she seems to surrender...but still holds on to hope. We agreed that I post it here, to get your comments.

Another thing: My mom says "We know only 1/8 of physics".

Me: "This paradoxical, mom! In order to make an estimate, in this case a fractional estimate, we need to know the denominator. The denimonator is everything we know and everything we don't know. Therefore, since we can't know what we don't know, the statistics you present have no meaning."

Is my logic right?

Thank you! :wink:
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
newton1
152
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i dun think everything is result of physics
beside physics , we still have the other knowledge
even the physics also should consider the probability in sometime
my idea is physics describes why the result come out like that from universe:wink:
 
  • #3
The physics we have today, is only a model of nature, while nature is still mysterious. Take a falling ball, for example. Newtonian physics will describe the motion in a vacuum to nearly 10 decimal places. Add a small correction, air resistance, and Mechanics still works, but it is a more complicated differential equation. Adding relativistic corrections takes more work, but gives you the highest relavent accuracy (QM corrections for macroscopic objects are truly negligable).
Philosophically, physics is the language of nature, but in reality we just have a very good 'map.'
 
  • #4
Majin - If I were you I'd be proud your mom has the general logistical capability to say such a statement as:

"Everything is a result of physics."

Argueing the truth of that could sure be done, but dammit if your mom ain't making a statement that most people couldn't even understand.

The majority of this idiotic planet would say:

"Everything is a result of God."

I'd be proud. Is she single? Gimme her number!
 
  • #5
ahrkron
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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Originally posted by MajinVegeta
My mom and I were debating what physics described. Here is my mom's argument:
"Everything is a result of physics".

My argument: "Mom, the semantics you're using is incorrect. Physics only describes the universe; it doesn't cause it. The correct semantics is as follows: the universe is the result of what physics describes."

If I had to choose only between those two statements, I'd definitely go for yours, Majin.

I would state it in yet another way: What we call physics seems able to describe everything we can measure.

or: The universe is a result of entities and interactions that we can measure and describe ("physics" is just the name of such description and the method by which we obtain it).

Another thing: My mom says "We know only 1/8 of physics".

Me: "This paradoxical, mom! In order to make an estimate, in this case a fractional estimate, we need to know the denominator. The denimonator is everything we know and everything we don't know. Therefore, since we can't know what we don't know, the statistics you present have no meaning."

Is my logic right?

Absolutely.

Finally, allow me to say, you both should be really proud of each other. I don't think it is common for mother and daughter to have such kind of discussions.
 
  • #6
wuliheron
2,135
0
Originally posted by MajinVegeta
My mom and I were debating what physics described. Here is my mom's argument:
"Everything is a result of physics".

My argument: "Mom, the semantics you're using is incorrect. Physics only describes the universe; it doesn't cause it. The correct semantics is as follows: the universe is the result of what physics describes."

Okay, she seems to surrender...but still holds on to hope. We agreed that I post it here, to get your comments.

Another thing: My mom says "We know only 1/8 of physics".

Me: "This paradoxical, mom! In order to make an estimate, in this case a fractional estimate, we need to know the denominator. The denimonator is everything we know and everything we don't know. Therefore, since we can't know what we don't know, the statistics you present have no meaning."

Is my logic right?

Thank you! :wink:

Although to the causual listener your conversation might sound intelligible, it sounds like something out of Alice in Wonderland to me. Saying everything is the result of physics can be interpreted as tongue in cheek humor. Its like saying "Everything is a result of Quantum Mechanics, which is random and has no cause." To then add that we only know 1/8th of physics is like saying, "We only know 1/8th of the unknowable, 1/8th of that which has no cause and is random."
 
  • #7
Originally posted by MajinVegeta
My mom and I were debating what physics described. Here is my mom's argument:
"Everything is a result of physics".


Majin, she is partially correct (read the link below). Tell her that actually everything (including physics, of course) is the result of math (which is just logic).

This is so simply because both logic and universe have the same original presumptions.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #8
Originally posted by LogicalAtheist

The majority of this idiotic planet would say:

"Everything is a result of God."

Hey, don't offend the whole planet. This is only true for uneducated nations. I've been in most of Europe and people there do not think this way, especialy in Eastern part of it.

What country have you made this observation from?
 
  • #9
Eh
746
1
It's most of the west.
 
  • #10
wuliheron
2,135
0
Originally posted by Eh
It's most of the west.

Exactly, I would not call the US uneducated for example. The real issue seems to be how capitalistic a country is. The more capitalistic, the more religious. The more impoverished and capitalistic, the more fundamentalist and Catholic.
 
  • #11
drag
Science Advisor
1,100
1
Greetings !
Originally posted by MajinVegeta
My mom and I were debating what physics described.
Here is my mom's argument:
"Everything is a result of physics".
This statement implies a certain definition
of physics which equates it to all observation -
data input we have as well as things that
exist in some reasonable or unreasonable
for us manner and that may not be indicated
in any way by observation.

So, that definition is incorrect I think.
Physics is defined as the basic axioms we conclude
solely from observation (at their lower level of
complexity behavior) first. Second, if we have not
yet included some of the observed in physics
then the everything part is again problematic.
Originally posted by MajinVegeta
My argument: "Mom, the semantics you're using
is incorrect. Physics only describes the universe;
it doesn't cause it. The correct semantics is
as follows: the universe is the result of what
physics describes."
I'm not entirely certain what you meant
by that statement. It sounds like one and the
same as your mom's, except you changed "physics"
into "what physics discribes".

Again, the approach is actually reversed.
Physics is the result of the Universe.
Further more, only of what we can observe
of it. Physics is a human-made theory, not
a word meant to imply some all-inclusive
Universal stuff(though that's its eventual -
probably unprovable purpose).

I agree with you about the "1/8" stuff.
btw, did you ask your mom why she said that ?
Originally posted by Alexander
Majin, she is partially correct (read the link
below). Tell her that actually everything
(including physics, of course) is the result of math
...
and universe have the same original presumptions.
Indeed, but I think you should add - "probably"
(in this and any other case related to the Universe).

As for that "just logic" part, I'm not entirely
certain what you're talking about. There
are potentially infinite definitions possible for
that word, not to mention that it's original
assumptions in the more familiar to us cases
are also enitially based on observation.

It is probably pointless, and constitutes
absolute assumptions or at least unlikely - beliefs,
to postulate things that are not related to
observation - "closed loops" as I call them,
that have not originated from observation and
do not make conclusions solely regarding
observations.
Originally posted by LogicalAtheist
Majin - If I were you I'd be proud your mom has the general logistical capability to say such a statement as:

"Everything is a result of physics."
...
The majority of this idiotic planet would say:

"Everything is a result of God."
...

LA makes good points...

Live long and prosper.
 
  • #12
newton1
152
0
Originally posted by wuliheron
Exactly, I would not call the US uneducated for example. The real issue seems to be how capitalistic a country is. The more capitalistic, the more religious. The more impoverished and capitalistic, the more fundamentalist and Catholic.


yes...i agree:wink:
 
  • #13
drag
Science Advisor
1,100
1
Originally posted by Newton1
Exactly, I would not call the US uneducated
for example. The real issue seems to be how
capitalistic a country is. The more capitalistic,
the more religious. The more impoverished and
capitalistic, the more fundamentalist and Catholic.
Yep, definately sounds like total BS to me...:wink:
 
  • #14
Dissident Dan
237
2
The problem is just semantics. It depends on what you define "physics" as. Is it "the study of", "rules formulated from the study of", or what you're actually studying? ...However you want to define it.
 
  • #15
wuliheron
2,135
0
Originally posted by Dissident Dan
The problem is just semantics. It depends on what you define "physics" as. Is it "the study of", "rules formulated from the study of", or what you're actually studying? ...However you want to define it.

Physics is the useful study of motion. Some ways are more accurate than others, but require unnecessary mathematical precision and complexity for what people usually want to use them for. What matters is how useful they are to us as individuals and organizations. Needless to say, because we are ignorant we can find the answers.
 
  • #16
drag
Science Advisor
1,100
1
Originally posted by Dissident Dan
The problem is just semantics. It depends
on what you define "physics" as.

The definition of the science of physics is
indeed unclear - how can you define things
that you do not yet fully know, after all.
However, it's NOT THAT unclear as you imply.

Live long and prosper.
 
  • #17
Mentat
3,918
3
Originally posted by MajinVegeta
My mom and I were debating what physics described. Here is my mom's argument:
"Everything is a result of physics".

My argument: "Mom, the semantics you're using is incorrect. Physics only describes the universe; it doesn't cause it. The correct semantics is as follows: the universe is the result of what physics describes."

I agree. You should probably ask her why physics is any more likely to be the "cause" of existence than other fields of study.

Okay, she seems to surrender...but still holds on to hope. We agreed that I post it here, to get your comments.

Another thing: My mom says "We know only 1/8 of physics".

Me: "This paradoxical, mom! In order to make an estimate, in this case a fractional estimate, we need to know the denominator. The denimonator is everything we know and everything we don't know. Therefore, since we can't know what we don't know, the statistics you present have no meaning."

Is my logic right?

Thank you! :wink:

Beautifully reasoned, if I may say so.
 
  • #18
Mentat
3,918
3


Originally posted by Alexander
Majin, she is partially correct (read the link below). Tell her that actually everything (including physics, of course) is the result of math (which is just logic).

This is so simply because both logic and universe have the same original presumptions.

The Universe cannot be said to have "pre-assumptions". It's not a field of study. It's a collection of all things. Maths, on the other hand, is just one (of the many) ways that we have to describe the universe.

If you'd like, I can re-post my original "Hurdles" thread - though I thought the point had been made.
 
  • #19
I'm not entirely certain what you meant
by that statement. It sounds like one and the
same as your mom's, except you changed "physics"
into "what physics discribes".

What physics describes is the universe. Physics is a study of, whereas in my mom's point of view, the universe was a result of physics. This doesn't make sense because the universe can't be a result of physics because physics describes the universe.
My analogy I presented to her: 'Think of it this way: you're describing a mountain range, and you're writing your observations down. The mountain range is not a result of the observations you wrote down. But the observations are the result of the mountain range, so to speak. Note that's only partially true...'

That was the point I was trying to make, drag.

Could we say that mathematics is only an approximation of the universe as we see it?
 
  • #20


Originally posted by Mentat
The Universe cannot be said to have "pre-assumptions". It's not a field of study. It's a collection of all things.

That is the presumption whivh makes logic and math to work - that something exists.


Maths, on the other hand, is just one (of the many) ways that we have to describe the universe.

Nope. Description never PREDICTS how things will work. Math does. Math is not a description - it is the way things work. (And the only way, because it is just the way of logic).
 
  • #21
drag
Science Advisor
1,100
1
Originally posted by MajinVegeta
That was the point I was trying to make, drag.
If you reread your original message you'll see that
you wrote "The Universe is a result of what physics
discribes." and not "What physics discribes is the
result of the Universe.". Maybe you just wrote it
incorrectly ?

Peace and long life.
 
  • #22
Alex Said:

"Nope. Description never PREDICTS how things will work. Math does. Math is not a description - it is the way things work. (And the only way, because it is just the way of logic)."

Yes, math is a description of the universe.
If we had a 1000 page book of all the priniciple equations which govern the universe (as many that could fit on 1000 pages at least) these equation to describe as they do define the universe.

We could take this book to another universe, and compare the defining properties.

They do describe our universe.

In fact, math is the ONLY UNIVERSAL and thus proper way, to descrive the universe.
 
  • #23
Originally posted by MajinVegeta
What physics describes is the universe. Physics is a study of, whereas in my mom's point of view, the universe was a result of physics. This doesn't make sense because the universe can't be a result of physics because physics describes the universe.


Universe comes from physics, physics comes from math, math -from logic. Logic comes from just fact of existense.

So, universe obeys math simply because objects in universe exist.
 
  • #24
Alex - Here is an example of my claim.

Let's pretend I have a beach ball in front of me.

linguistic description - It's round, spherical, transparent, 4 colors each in the same shape, which is a slice of the sphere.

mathematic description - list such values as radius, volume, all dimensions, list the parameters of the light striking the ball, and the light bouncing off, list the dimensions of each area of color.

See? both describe it, but not only are you wrong on that math isn't descriptive. it's the only way to properly descrive something fully.

Saying the ball is red won't make sense to the chinese, let alone alines from another entire universe.

But if I tell them the light wave content hitting and bouncing off it, it makes sense.
 
  • #25
Originally posted by drag
If you reread your original message you'll see that
you wrote "The Universe is a result of what physics
discribes." and not "What physics discribes is the
result of the Universe.". Maybe you just wrote it
incorrectly ?

Peace and long life.

Okay, I need to work on my simantics.

"What physics describes is the result fo the universe" implies that comes from the universe, it is a result of the universe; "the universe is a result of what physics describes" implies that the universe came from what physics describes.

We (well, at least I can't) can't get definite answer as to which one's right. I think the second one I described is right. But I can't say...
 
  • #26
drag
Science Advisor
1,100
1
Originally posted by MajinVegeta
We (well, at least I can't) can't get definite
answer as to which one's right. I think the
second one I described is right.
In that case you are a supporter of
the Mind hypothesys. Also, in that case
you are making an unnecessary - not supported
by the data, assumption. Whereas, the first
statement just matches the data - we observed
the Universe and created physics as a THEORY
to explain it.

Live long and prosper.
 
  • #27
Simple example of how math creates NEW object.

Say, take a proton and trow it in 1/r potential hole. What happens? Well, electron being a wave starts sloshing back and forth in it, right? Right. Boundary conditions (U=1/r) mathematically results in only certain harmonics to exist (because they shall coincide with themselves upon reflection from boundary). Lets' call first harmonic (n=1 solution) as K state, second harmonic (n=2 solution of wave equation) as L state and so on.

Voila - we created primitive H atom. We who? No one. It arises from allowed by math solution. It (atom) simply is the allowed by math solution itself.

[It is tempting to say that H atom comes from electron, or from 1/r central potential (=proton) - but recall that there is NO atom in electron, nor in proton].

Same with all other objects and phenomena in uviverse - they are created by solutions given certain constrains (1/r potentials, symmetries, etc).
 
  • #28
Mentat
3,918
3


Originally posted by Alexander
That is the presumption whivh makes logic and math to work - that something exists.

Yes, these fields of description are based on that assumption.

Nope. Description never PREDICTS how things will work.

Dead wrong! To predict is merely to describe that which will happen.

Math does. Math is not a description - it is the way things work.

It is a description of the way things work, yes, but it is not what causes them to work that way. If it were, then it would be used to describe itself, and would thus be self-referntial (paradoxical).
 
  • #29
Mentat
3,918
3
Originally posted by Alexander
Simple example of how math creates NEW object.

Say, take a proton and trow it in 1/r potential hole. What happens? Well, electron being a wave starts sloshing back and forth in it, right? Right. Boundary conditions (U=1/r) mathematically results in only certain harmonics to exist (because they shall coincide with themselves upon reflection from boundary). Lets' call first harmonic (n=1 solution) as K state, second harmonic (n=2 solution of wave equation) as L state and so on.

Voila - we created primitive H atom. We who? No one. It arises from allowed by math solution. It (atom) simply is the allowed by math solution itself.

[It is tempting to say that H atom comes from electron, or from 1/r central potential (=proton) - but recall that there is NO atom in electron, nor in proton].

Same with all other objects and phenomena in uviverse - they are created by solutions given certain constrains (1/r potentials, symmetries, etc).

Don't you see that all you just did was describe a physical phenomenon? If you had described it in plain English, could one then assume that English is the producer of all reality?
 
  • #30
Like Mentat said, Alex just used language to say something. And thus assumed if that language could say it, it must be occurring in nature.

"100 is the same as 90" I say. So I said it, so it must be true.

Alex, how about this in math terms...

100 = 90

Math says it, so it must be true? I mean, who says 100 doesn't equal 90, they're just numbers created in a language.

Furthermore, math can say all sorts of things that are impossible.
 
  • #31
Mentat
3,918
3
Originally posted by LogicalAtheist
Like Mentat said, Alex just used language to say something. And thus assumed if that language could say it, it must be occurring in nature.

"100 is the same as 90" I say. So I said it, so it must be true.

Alex, how about this in math terms...

100 = 90

Math says it, so it must be true? I mean, who says 100 doesn't equal 90, they're just numbers created in a language.

Furthermore, math can say all sorts of things that are impossible.

These and other points were discussed in the old Forums (in my original "Hurdles" thread), and I thought the issue was resolved (as no one - Alexander included - could present a good enough argument for the Causal Mathematics idea, against the arguments of myself and a few other members).

I could look for that thread in the PF Archive, and re-post it here, if you'd like.
 
  • #32


Originally posted by Mentat

Dead wrong! To predict is merely to describe that which will happen.


Excuse me? How can you DESCRIBE what have not happened yet?
 
  • #33
Originally posted by Mentat
Don't you see that all you just did was describe a physical phenomenon?

No. What is PHYSICAL here? Nothing. Just math: take an equation of a wave and place a constrains 1/r on it.
 
  • #34
Originally posted by LogicalAtheist


Alex, how about this in math terms...

100 = 90

Math says it, so it must be true?

No, math does NOT say so. You do. You are NOT math.



I mean, who says 100 doesn't equal 90, they're just numbers created in a language.

Numbers are NOT language.
 
  • #35
Originally posted by Mentat
These and other points were discussed in the old Forums (in my original "Hurdles" thread), and I thought the issue was resolved (as no one - Alexander included - could present a good enough argument for the Causal Mathematics idea, against the arguments of myself and a few other members).

Beg you to differ presenting arguments (as I did many times over in favor of causal origin of logic) and understanding them. Two different things.
 

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