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Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being 
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Post Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being

Please use this thread for discussing Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being.



Sat Oct 09, 2010 11:46 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Chapter One is short and serves as a launching point for the rest of the book.

Topics mentioned are:

Richard Phillips Feynman's path integral formulation of quantum mechanics

M-Theory which is a conglomeration of 5 related Superstring theories

No math is involved, nor difficult concepts presented, except that due to the above theories, there may be an infinite number of universes and humans just happen to live in the ones that support human life.

Interesting that Professor Hawking ends this chapter with a quote from Douglas Adam's "Life, the Universe, and Everything" being that the answer to everything is the number 42.

Today is 10/10/10. If you make that binary (base 2 which computers use) that's 101010 (b2), converted to decimal (base 10), that is 42 (which is also my, Chris, and Frank's age). Alright, enough with the freak show.



Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:31 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
I can see this is going to be an interesting book discussion with you at the helm! LOL


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Sun Oct 10, 2010 12:05 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Don't take off too fast. Some of us don't have the book yet.



Sun Oct 10, 2010 4:50 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
O.K. Chapter 1 was very short and I just gave a summary with links to topics in Chapter 1 that readers might be interested in reading more about. This is a teaser for when the November-December discussions start.



Sun Oct 10, 2010 5:01 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Here's a recent video of Brian Greene discussing some of the ideas behind extra dimensions beyond the 4 of space-time. (This is a Richard Dawkins production.)




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Wed Oct 13, 2010 11:33 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Chris OConnor wrote:
I can see this is going to be an interesting book discussion with you at the helm!


It will be interesting, I'm excited. Thank you Jim for taking the helm!
I should be receiving my book within the next couple of days.



Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:48 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Thank you Suzanne. I've been following this stuff for 24 years now and have accumulated a couple hundred books over the years on these topics in physics.

I showed Chris one of Stephen Hawking's books I have where I can't understand the mathematics (yet) "The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time".

I look forward to your participation soon! :)



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
First I would like to say I very much enjoyed this book. It did a good job of balancing accessibility and accuracy. Quantum mechanics is contrary to common sense and therefore lots of my questions and comments are going to sound like criticism—I do not intend to cast aspersions at the book, only my own inability to step out of what I call rational.

“Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.”

I think the point is that traditional philosophy which tried to answer all questions has been replaced by modern science. Probably got that right. But, since the book is almost completely philosophy of science, philosophy is far from dead.

Who wrote this book? Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow share author credits but I wonder. A Brief History of Time felt like Hawking was taking us, along with Roger Penrose, on a journey of discovery. The style of this book is different; it is a protracted lecture. Has Hawking's style changed, it has been a long time since the publication of A Brief History of Time, or are we seeing Mlodinow's influence? Nothing left to be discovered, we have the answers. I know that is not their theme but the style implies such.

According to Feynman, a system has not just one history but every possible history.

Now, that certainly sounds like something Feynman would say but, since there are no formal references in this book, there is no easy way to know for sure. In fact, everything presented here seems like it is to be taken as received truth. Another point: when philosopher, theologian, and professor Peter Abelard was asked in the 12th century, to explain how God could be omniscient and still allow free will Abelard's response was that God knew all possible histories and all possible futures given any history but we were free to chose our own actual futures. Interesting, a rationalization is found for one of the mysteries about God and the same rationalization is used to explain what to me is a mystery of science.


More later. I don't want to spoil anyone's fun.


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Sat Oct 16, 2010 5:14 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
When the book states that philosophy is dead, they meant that the various systems of beliefs about the nature of reality do not encapsulate the scientifically proven reality that quantum mechanics is. (Though in the 1930's attempts were made to develop philosophies around quantum mechanics such as the Copenhagen interpretation). I have an old book called Quantum Reality that gets into many "philosophies" based on "classical" quantum mechanics.

Some book reviews on "The Grand Design" state that it sounds like the authors are talking down to us like we are children. Chris can collaborate on the one who had most influence on writing the book as he has contacted the authors!

The way I understood Feyman's sum-over-histories (Path Integral) approach, which has been scientifically proven correct in so many ways, is his thought experiment of the standard double-slit experiment:



Except Feynman asked what if you had another barrier with two slits halfway between the first barrier of two slits and the detector? And what if one of the barriers had three slits instead? What if you place 50 slitted barriers in front of the detector? Finally, what about an infinite number of barriers with an infinite number of slits? That would mean there would be nothing between the projector and the screen. Mathematically you can sum up all possible histories of a quantum particle to get the result. I couldn't find a better link: blogs.uslhc.us/the-double-slit-experime ... over-paths

The Path Integral approach was used in deriving Quantum Electrodynamics (he received a Nobel Price for this), which is the most accurate model in physics. It is also used in the other field theories which have been able to predict new particles and phenomena had hadn't been discovered at the time yet, but were eventually discovered at the energies predicted by the mathematical models.



Last edited by Jim Watters on Sun Oct 24, 2010 1:48 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Though I haven't read the book, my Ph.D. in physics makes me inclined to join the discussion anyway.
GaryG48 wrote:
“Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.”

I think the point is that traditional philosophy which tried to answer all questions has been replaced by modern science. Probably got that right. But, since the book is almost completely philosophy of science, philosophy is far from dead.

The point is probably that traditional philosophy, which largely ignores physics theories like quantum mechanics, can't be taken seriously as a way of understand the nature of reality.
GaryG48 wrote:
According to Feynman, a system has not just one history but every possible history.

Now, that certainly sounds like something Feynman would say but, since there are no formal references in this book, there is no easy way to know for sure.

Actually, that sounds a bit poetic for Feynman. That statement is more a way of translating the path-integral formulation into words.

Jim Watters wrote:
The way I understood Feyman's sum-over-histories (Path Integral) approach, which has been scientifically proven correct in so many ways, is his thought experiment of the standard double-slit experiment:

Actually, there are (at least) three different ways of expressing the equations of quantum mechanics: matrices / Hilbert spaces, operators / differential equations, and path integrals / sum-over-histories. However, they are all mathematically equivalent, which implies that the correctness of one implies the correctness of the others.

However, there's definite value in having multiple mathematical representations. From a technical standpoint, different formulations are more helpful in modeling different physical situations. Philosophically, each mathematical structure provides a different perspective of the physical world.



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Sun Oct 24, 2010 12:32 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Thank you for contributing JulianTheApostate, I hope you will be interested enough to get the book and remark on it given your Ph.D in physics.

I was referring to path integrals in the Quantum Field Theory (second quantization) sense, not the simple formalizations of Quantum Mechanics of wave-particle duality (Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Dirac).

In quantum field theory, path integrals are essential. All of the Standard Model is based on path integrals, the most successful being Quantum Electrodynamics.



Sun Oct 24, 2010 1:46 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
The point is probably that traditional philosophy, which largely ignores physics theories like quantum mechanics, can't be taken seriously as a way of understand the nature of reality.....Julian the Apostate.

However, if the early philosophers hadn't thought about the issues first, perhaps the world wouldn't have arrived at the proof of them with physics.



Sun Oct 24, 2010 10:30 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Quote:
Philosophically, each mathematical structure provides a different perspective of the physical world.


So then, all three would be accurate in a way that depends on a single underlying principle, or two could in the future found to be less accurate than the third?



Sun Oct 24, 2010 12:26 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
lindad_amato wrote:
However, if the early philosophers hadn't thought about the issues first, perhaps the world wouldn't have arrived at the proof of them with physics.



I can understand the statement “philosophy is dead” in regard to theories. But what about hypothesis? Are modern scientists who form a hypothesis different from past philosophers? It is my understanding that philosophy and hypothesis both start with an idea, an idea formed by observation. It is not until this idea is tested successfully that it becomes theory. Has theory replaced philosophy?



Sun Oct 24, 2010 12:51 pm
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