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

What physicists think about physics: What is real?

Please check the things that are real.

Poll closed Oct 31, 2003.
  1. The earth

    8 vote(s)
  2. Colors

    5 vote(s)
  3. Wavelength

    7 vote(s)
  4. Hallucinations

    6 vote(s)
  5. Atoms

    7 vote(s)
  6. Excited states of atoms

    6 vote(s)
  7. Mass

    7 vote(s)
  8. Wave-function - state of a system

    5 vote(s)
  9. Electrons

    7 vote(s)
  10. Direction of time

    7 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Jul 23, 2003 #1

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    A survey taken among physicists about the concept of "real" in physics is linked and I think most interesting. First, I am posting a similar poll for comparison.

    The survey is at the bottom of the linked page:

    I posted this in the Theoretical Physics section also. Please vote in the forum most appropriate to your perspective; but not both.

    At Whimms suggestion, all non-science persons please vote here. This will add another dimension to the poll.
    Thanks Wimms
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2003
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 23, 2003 #2
    All of them are real...and many other...
  4. Jul 23, 2003 #3
    Fascinating article, I was suprised at the differences in defenition of what is real.
    Reality is what exists by defenition and perhaps isn't only detected by the senses, that the degree of truthfulness of an abstract concept such as the model of the atom(very imperfect at first)can lead to experiments that can readily be seen with the eyes and lead to practical uses, that all forms of reasoning are other senses not unlike the eye but not as clear. Our understanding of the universe isn't perfect but we get results anyway in relation to that understanding just as we get results from our understanding of a concept such as hallucinations, in other words we know that hallucinating is a sign that something is wrong and we need water or sleep or mushrooms(store bought instead), the particular hallucination itself is most likely not real or a less true representation of reality but it is a choice that we make to see the truthfulness of the concept or its practical use or choose to see it as meaning the actual hallucinations themselves and unreal and useless. Real things get good results, imaginary things usually get poor results.
  5. Jul 23, 2003 #4
    Weird, I could note only Earth and Time as real. Earth because it is real at its level of abstraction, time because it touches everything. All the rest seems either subjective or merely description of the day.
  6. Jul 23, 2003 #5
    Notably, this survey left out the rudamentary catagories of information, entropy, change, etc. Makes you wonder if the author was biased....
  7. Jul 23, 2003 #6
    The only thing that I didn't "check" off as real was the direction of time, as time is an 'ideal' exsistent only as the illusion of motion/movement.

    It is, none the less, sorta humorous to me that the only thing that anyone can ever do, to "Attest to a Reality", is to make a subjective testimony to it, nothing more, nothing less.

    A pressure wave in the atmosphere, thats the proof!
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook