Dennis Hardin

The Finite Universe and the Fallacy of Composition

55 posts in this topic

That's a summary based on my notes. One of these days, I will take the time to listen to the lectures again to see if I missed something. Unless, of course, everyone at OL takes one look at my present explanation and is so impressed that no further debate is needed. :P

Put a mirror at B. Shine a light from A to B and record the time until the reflection is detected. This time divided by the speed of light is the distance between A and B. Light does not need a medium to get from here to there so the space could be empty.

There is no aether that fills space. This has been known since 1887 when the negative result of the Michelson-Morley interferometer experiment indicated that there is no medium to carry light. This experiment has been done year after for 123 years with ever improving technology and the same negative result. No aether. Space is mostly empty.

You will rely on philosophy. I will rely on careful experimentation and measurement. Who do you think will profit the most?

Ba'al Chatzaf

Insofar as "space" is empty it does not exist, but it is not empty; it is suffused with radiation. Even then what exists is something else and space is just an idea connoting place and distance. Time is also only an idea--a measurement of motion. Space-time is an epistemological construct whose metaphysical referents are other things.

--Brant

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That's a summary based on my notes. One of these days, I will take the time to listen to the lectures again to see if I missed something. Unless, of course, everyone at OL takes one look at my present explanation and is so impressed that no further debate is needed. :P

Put a mirror at B. Shine a light from A to B and record the time until the reflection is detected. This time divided by the speed of light is the distance between A and B. Light does not need a medium to get from here to there so the space could be empty.

There is no aether that fills space. This has been known since 1887 when the negative result of the Michelson-Morley interferometer experiment indicated that there is no medium to carry light. This experiment has been done year after for 123 years with ever improving technology and the same negative result. No aether. Space is mostly empty.

You will rely on philosophy. I will rely on careful experimentation and measurement. Who do you think will profit the most?

Ba'al Chatzaf

Insofar as "space" is empty it does not exist, but it is not empty; it is suffused with radiation. Even then what exists is something else and space is just an idea connoting place and distance. Time is also only an idea--a measurement of motion. Space-time is an epistemological construct whose metaphysical referents are other things.

--Brant

Brant’s analysis is excellent.

Bob--The fact that the theoretical notion of ether has been superseded by energy fields and radiation is totally irrelevant to the validity of the concept of "empty space."

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Brant's analysis is excellent.

Bob--The fact that the theoretical notion of ether has been superseded by energy fields and radiation is totally irrelevant to the validity of the concept of "empty space."

radiation is the motion of particles. One does not need a visco-elastic medium for particles to move through empty space.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Brant's analysis is excellent.

Bob--The fact that the theoretical notion of ether has been superseded by energy fields and radiation is totally irrelevant to the validity of the concept of "empty space."

radiation is the motion of particles. One does not need a visco-elastic medium for particles to move through empty space.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Nobel Prize laureate and MIT Physics Professor Frank Wilczek talks about the Long Hadron Collider project and the search for the actual physical nature of so-called ‘empty space.’

The Long Hadron Collider Project

Firstly, equations tell us that what appears to us in ordinary life as empty space is actually a material which affects the properties of matter in ways that our very successful equations tell us, but we've never yet really broken down this material to see what it's made out of. So it's as if we have been fish in an ocean, surrounded by water, and for a long time we've taken the water for granted because it's the only thing we know, we couldn't imagine a world without it.

But then if we were smart fish we would eventually realize that we are surrounded by something that is slowing us down and changing the way we move and function, and then the next step would be to figure out what this founding medium is made out of.

That's what the LHC is going to be able to do for the world we actually live in and the complex medium that we call empty space. For the first time we're going to be able to tell what kinds of things it is made out of. This is usually called looking for the “Higgs particle,” but it might not be one particle, it might be a whole bunch of things.

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I find this topic of spatial infinity and (or versus) finitude pretty interesting. I think, Dennis, you are right--this topic hasn't been addressed as much as it should be by philosophers. However, although I think agnosticism is an honest answer to the question, I don't think agnosticism in general is where any philosophy should end--shouldn't we always probe the mysteries of things to better understand them, and use the best logic or sustem we can attain at the time, even if the questions can't ever be fully centain to us?

I generally agree with Ted that there can be a finite matter-energy in the universe yet an unbounded construct to space-time, making sense with what scientists have observed and Big Bang theorists have posited. But I may even go further than this. For example, in comment to the post by George H. Smith above:

"The concept of 'infinity' has a very definite purpose in mathematical calculation, and there it is a concept of method. But that isn't what is meant by the term "infinity" as such. "Infinity" in the metaphysical sense, as something existing in reality, is another invalid concept. The concept "infinity," in that sense, means something without identity, something not limited by anything, not definable.

Peikoff, OPAR, p,. 31-32."

This to me is too limited an observation. Isn't Rand's concept of "existence" as anything and everything, really not limited by anything as well, yet still definable? If Peikoff means that metaphysically, in the context of space-time, that infinity cannot be defined, what about the idea that space could nave no external spatial boundary, yet have internal ones, as may have been already suggested when Ted explained the universe as "self-bounded." Couldn't some infinite, most basic, spatial substance isotropically be moving inward at the same rate and "inward" direction (like gravity) from all points in space to manifest or evolve into finite forms? Furthermore, I don't think infinity has to be caught up in the idea of curvature to be classified only that way as "unbounded." For example, what exists on each side of that curve? If "something" permeates all space, then there shouldn't be any gaps in the space-time continuum, right?

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