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Peter

Time Travel Contradictions

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Here are a smattering of letters of interest to me.

Pete Taylor

From: "George H. Smith" <smikro@earthlink.net>

Reply-To: "George H. Smith" <smikro@earthlink.net>

To: "*Atlantis" <atlantis@wetheliving.com>

Subject: ATL: Reply to Jeff Olson, Part Two (was Locke's Lament and Other Imponderables [from JeffO])

Date: Wed, 8 Jan 2003 05:24:20 -0600

[This is a continuation of my first response to Jeff Olson. I have duplicated some quotations in the beginning to set the context.]

Jeff wrote:

"This idea distills to the proposition that given a particular possible state of knowledge (a state of knowledge *logically* possible, unlike "omniscience"), one could know with certainty how any being will act in the future, without any logical implication whatever of "fate" or "control" attending this knowledge. If my argument is correct, then "Locke's Lament" -- that foreknowledge of the type God must possess is compatible with fate but not freely chosen actions -- is resolved."

Good luck, but I would caution against bringing theological arguments into this, for they are a different ball of wax altogether.

Jeff wrote:

"My proposition is principally derived from the thought-experiment of traveling back in time and observing a repeat of documented past behavior. Regardless of how theoretically free or unfree past behavior is, we will still know exactly how people's actions and other events are going to unfold. A central point is that our knowledge has zero influence over anyone's actions, and implies absolutely nothing about the freeness of these actions."

This thought-experiment is irrelevant, because (even assuming it is coherent) the actions you observe have *already* taken place. You know how events are going to unfold because they have previously happened. (It they haven't already happened, then ex hypothesi you have not traveled back in time.) You are observing history first-hand rather than reading about it in a book, but this doesn't change the principle involved, so this thought experiment doesn't help your case..

Jeff wrote:

"The logical implication is that knowledge per se does not imply "fate," if by fate we mean that our actions are somehow compelled by foreknowledge."

This is not the customary meaning of "fate." In any case, we are talking about foreknowledge, not about the backwards-looking knowledge given in your thought experiment.

Jeff wrote:

"The obvious objection, that this particular knowledge-perspective is unattainable since time-travel is generally presumed to be impossible, does not, I believe, vitiate the argument, which essentially depends on this hypothetical: Given that we found ourselves back in time, what would we be able to predict? Assuming free will, it seems we wouldn't be entitled to predict any human action with certainty, despite our historical knowledge; after all, free will volitionism holds that a person can *always* choose otherwise (through extension, we wouldn't be able to predict any event tied to human activity).

All of this depends on whether it is possible for your time traveler to intervene in what he observes and thereby change the past -- in which case it would be the present, not the past, for him and everyone else concerned. If he can, then the future actions of those who were influenced by his intervention will be unpredictable. If he cannot, then the time traveler is doing little more than watching a movie he has seen before and "predicting" the ending. More to the point would be to predict with certainty how a movie will end before it has even been thought of, much less written, produced, edited, etc.

I do happen to think that your scenario is logically impossible. I say "logically" because past events no longer exist -- if they did, they would be present events and you would not be engaged in time travel at all -- so there is literally *nothing* to "travel" TO. But, as I have indicated, an equally serious objection to your scenario is that it is beside the point. Knowledge of the past is not analogous to foreknowledge of the future. Past events are historical facts that have already occurred, whereas future events have not yet happened.

Jeff wrote:

"If George or other "free will volitionists" believe that we can in fact predict behavior given our historical knowledge -- then I would be curious about how they would reconcile this belief with free will. For acknowledging that such individuals would be incapable of changing their historical actions would be tantamount to conceding that human behavior is absolutely determined, and that the only difference between past and future actions is that we have more complete knowledge of the former."

As I said, past actions, by definition, have already occurred. They no longer exist, so there is no "there" there to change.

Jeff wrote:

"But these events have already happened!" I can hear some of your protest. "They're already facts!"

You must be clairvoyant. 8-)

Jeff wrote:

"But is the future any less of a "fact," simply because we don't have complete knowledge of it? Is not a claim about the future either true or false, and thus a fact?"

No, the future is not a "fact" because it has not yet happened. Predictions of future events, such as those an astronomer might make about planetary motions, are hypothetical in character. They implicitly assume the form, "If (or given) X, then Y should occur." The "should" is not normative in the usual sense. It refers to a deterministic outcome that presupposes the accuracy of one's present knowledge on which the prediction is based. This is the predictive "if-then" kind of "should" that I discussed in some previous posts -- one that is sometimes expressed as "If (or given) X, then Y *will* (or must) follow as a matter of causal necessity."

Even in physically determined outcomes, we don't have knowledge of future "facts" per se, because no such facts yet exist of which we can have knowledge. Rather, we have knowledge of initial conditions and causal laws from which we *infer* future events. Thus, strictly speaking, what we know is not the future qua fact, but what *should* or *must* occur in the future, given our premises and knowledge of causation.

Jeff wrote:

"Consider the implications if the future is indeed a fact. First, if future events are in fact facts, this doesn't demonstrate, given the correctness of my above argument, that the actors in those events are in any meaningful sense being compelled or otherwise constrained. We may specify any degree or definition of free action, but once the action has occurred, it is undeniable fact. By extension, any action that *will* occur, is also a fact. Therefore, if future events are facts, either freedom is an illusion -- or freedom is itself inapplicable to the actions of conscious beings."

Yes, this would follow if the future were a fact, but it is not. A fact refers to that which exists or has existed. The future does not yet exist. If it did, it would be the present or the past, not the future.

Jeff wrote:

"For it is truly a fact that all beings, insofar as they are alive, must do *something.* Freedom of action is irrelevant to that fact. We are not compelled, then, to take whatever action we take; it is simply a fact, on this account, that we do or do not take it. Freedom has no application, I would argue, to such events; they are simply factual or non-factual."

Only that which exists or has existed can be a fact. Predictions are possible or impossible, accurate or inaccurate, reasonable or unreasonable, etc. Exact predictions of physically determined events are possible; exact predictions of human action are not.

I need to take a deep breath before writing any more about this.

Ghs

From: "George H. Smith" <smikro@earthlink.net>

Reply-To: "George H. Smith" <smikro@earthlink.net>

To: "*Atlantis" <atlantis@wetheliving.com>

Subject: ATL: Aristotle's sea-fight (was Locke's Lament and Other Imponderables)

Date: Wed, 8 Jan 2003 12:45:38 -0600

[This is the third and concluding part of my reply to Jeff Olson's original post.]

Jeff Olson wrote:

" Aristotle wrestled with the question, and apparently decided, Solomon-like, that predictions of future events are *neither* true nor false. But then rumor has it that he was drinking heavily at the time."

This problem arises in Aristotle's famous discussion of the sea-fight, which appears in Ch.9 of *On Interpretation.* Here is his summary:

"Let me illustrate. A sea-fight must either take place tomorrow or not, but it is not necessary that it should take place tomorrow, neither is it necessary that it should not take place, yet it is necessary that it either should or should not take place tomorrow. Since propositions correspond with facts, it is evident that when in future events there is a real alternative, and a potentiality in contrary directions, the corresponding affirmation and denial have the same character." (Trans. E.M. Edghill, in McKeon, *Basic Works of Aristotle,* p. 48).

Aristotle's purpose is to rebut the argument (which may have been proposed by some sophists) that (1) since one of a pair of contradictory statements must be true, and (2) since this rule of logic holds for contradictory statements about the future, it follows that (3) if a statement about a (supposedly) contingent future event (i.e., one that involves deliberation and choice) can be said to be true, then that event must *necessarily* come about. For if it is true to say *now* that a sea-fight will occur tomorrow, then a sea-fight *must* occur tomorrow.

Parts of Aristotle's treatment are not as clear or fully developed as one would like (which may be because many of his extant writings are lecture notes rather than polished pieces), but his basic point is clear enough. Although the strong (or exclusive) disjunctive proposition "A sea-fight will occur tomorrow, or a sea-fight will not occur tomorrow" is necessarily true, it does not follow from this that *either* part is *necessarily* true. Again quoting Aristotle:

"One of the two propositions in such instances must be true and the other false, but we cannot say determinately that this or that is false, but must leave the alternative undecided. One may indeed be more likely to be true than the other, but it cannot be either actually true or actually false" (p. 48).

Jeff wrote:

"By extension, any action that *will* occur, is also a fact. Therefore, if future events are facts, either freedom is an illusion -- or freedom is itself inapplicable to the actions of conscious beings."

I covered this before. Future events are not "facts."

Jeff wrote:

"For it is truly a fact that all beings, insofar as they are alive, must do *something.* Freedom of action is irrelevant to that fact. We are not compelled, then, to take whatever action we take; it is simply a fact, on this account, that we do or do not take it. Freedom has no application, I would argue, to such events; they are simply factual or non-factual."

To describe an event as a "fact" is not to compel or necessitate that event, since a "fact" refers to that which is taking place (the present) or has taken place (the past).

Let us examine more closely what it means to speak of predictions of contingent human events as either true or false. Consider the statement, "George W. Bush will vote for himself in the next presidential election." This has two primary meanings -- one epistemological, the other metaphysical.

Epistemologically, there is a sense in which we can say that the prediction "President Bush will vote for himself in the next election" is true. What we mean by this is not that this prediction will necessarily come to pass -- for their are a number of contingent circumstances, such as his possible decision not to run again, that may occur -- but that the cognitive basis on which we make this prediction is accurate and well-grounded. In this case, the "fact" to which the true proposition corresponds is our state of knowledge at the *present* time. We are saying, in effect: "It is true to say, given our present knowledge and barring any unforeseen circumstances, that this event has a high probability of occurring."

Metaphysically, however, we cannot say that the same prediction is "true," for the future event which it predicts does not yet exist, so there is no "fact" to which the proposition can possibly correspond. In this case, the statement "President Bush will vote for himself" will become true only at the point when Bush actually votes for himself, if this should happen..

Similarly, if I say, "The sun will rise tomorrow," I am not *describing* a metaphysical fact; I am *predicting* a fact that I believe will occur in the future. In this metaphysical sense there is no difference between necessary facts and the contingent facts of human action. The difference arises on the epistemological level. Given our deterministic presuppositions about nature, we believe that we have adequate cognitive grounds to make accurate and *precise* predictions about future physical events. In this sphere, as Aristotle puts it, "there are no real alternatives; everything takes place of necessity and is fixed" (p.46).

But, lacking causal necessity, this kind of precise prediction is not possible about contingent human actions. As Aristotle said about human actions:

"[W]e see that both deliberation and action are causative with regard to the future, and that, to speak more generally, in those things which are not continuously actual, there is potentiality in either direction. Such

things may either be or not be; events also therefore may take place or not take place. There are many obvious instances of this" (p. 47}.

Jeff wrote:

"To conclude these recondite reflections, I'd say we face a basic choice: either events, including human action, are not fluid, but happen because they must happen -- and will always happen under identical circumstances -- or both future and past events are truly in flux, never absolutely resolving in singular events (except from a limited knowledge perspective). Stated more concretely, if we cannot state facts about the future, then we cannot state facts about the past."

This confusion between past facts and future "facts" that don't yet exist, but which may or may not come to be in the sphere of contingent human actions, has resulted here in a good deal of misunderstanding.

Jeff wrote:

"The difference between past and future events is not, I'm arguing, a matter of fact, but of knowledge. Their *factual* status must be, if we're logically consistent, identical. My assertion that my orange tree will bear fruit next fall is just as much a fact or non-fact as my assertion that Vesuvius exploded in 70 A.D. Ditto for future human actions. It is either a fact or a non-fact that I will have authored a bestseller by January 2004. I just have to wait till then to see if it's true, dammit."

I think I have already addressed these points adequately. There are serious ambiguities here that need to be clarified.

Ghs

The urge to hug a departed loved one again or prevent atrocities are among the compelling reasons that keep the notion of time travel alive in the minds of many.

While the idea makes for great fiction, some scientists now say traveling to the past is impossible.

There are a handful of scenarios that theorists have suggested for how one might travel to the past, said Brian Greene, author of the bestseller, “The Elegant Universe” and a physicist at Columbia University.“ And almost all of them, if you look at them closely, brush up right at the edge of physics as we understand it. Most of us think that almost all of them can be ruled out.”

The fourth dimension

In physics, time is described as a dimension much like length, width, and height. When you travel from your house to the grocery store, you’re traveling through a direction in space, making headway in all the spatial dimensions—length, width and height. But you’re also traveling forward in time, the fourth dimension.

“Space and time are tangled together in a sort of a four-dimensional fabric called space-time,” said Charles Liu, an astrophysicist with the City University of New York, College of Staten Island and co-author of the book “One Universe: At Home In The Cosmos.”

Space-time, Liu explains, can be thought of as a piece of spandex with four dimensions. “When something that has mass—you and I, an object, a planet, or any star—sits in that piece of four-dimensional spandex, it causes it to create a dimple,” he said. “That dimple is a manifestation of space-time bending to accommodate this mass.”

The bending of space-time causes objects to move on a curved path and that curvature of space is what we know as gravity.

Mathematically one can go backwards or forwards in the three spatial dimensions. But time doesn’t share this multi-directional freedom.

“In this four-dimensional space-time, you’re only able to move forward in time,” Liu told LiveScience.

Tunneling to the past

A handful of proposals exist for time travel. The most developed of these approaches involves a wormhole—a hypothetical tunnel connecting two regions of space-time. The regions bridged could be two completely different universes or two parts of one universe. Matter can travel through either mouth of the wormhole to reach a destination on the other side.

“Wormholes are the future, wormholes are the past,” said Michio Kaku, author of “Hyperspace” and “Parallel Worlds” and a physicist at the City University of New York. “But we have to be very careful. The gasoline necessary to energize a time machine is far beyond anything that we can assemble with today’s technology.”

To punch a hole into the fabric of space-time, Kaku explained, would require the energy of a star or negative energy, an exotic entity with an energy of less than nothing.

Greene, an expert on string theory—which views matter in a minimum of 10 dimensions and tries to bridge the gap between particle physics and nature's fundamental forces, questioned this scenario.

“Many people who study the subject doubt that that approach has any chance of working,” Greene said in an interview. “But the basic idea if you’re very, very optimistic is that if you fiddle with the wormhole openings, you can make it not only a shortcut from a point in space to another point in space, but a shortcut from one moment in time to another moment in time.”

Cosmic strings

Another popular theory for potential time travelers involves something called cosmic strings—narrow tubes of energy stretched across the entire length of the ever-expanding universe. These skinny regions, leftover from the early cosmos, are predicted to contain huge amounts of mass and therefore could warp the space-time around them.

Cosmic strings are either infinite or they’re in loops, with no ends, said J. Richard Gott, author of “Time Travel in Einstein's Universe” and an astrophysicist at Princeton University. “So they are either like spaghetti or SpaghettiO’s.”

The approach of two such strings parallel to each other, said Gott, will bend space-time so vigorously and in such a particular configuration that might make time travel possible, in theory.

“This is a project that a super civilization might attempt,” Gott told LiveScience. “It’s far beyond what we can do. We’re a civilization that’s not even controlling the energy resources of our planet.”

Impossible, for now

Mathematically, you can certainly say something is traveling to the past, Liu said. “But it is not possible for you and me to travel backward in time,” he said.

However, some scientists believe that traveling to the past is, in fact, theoretically possible, though impractical.

Maybe if there were a theory of everything, one could solve all of Einstein’s equations through a wormhole, and see whether time travel is really possible, Kaku said. “But that would require a technology far more advanced than anything we can muster," he said. "Don’t expect any young inventor to announce tomorrow in a press release that he or she has invented a time machine in their basement.”

For now, the only definitive part of travel in the fourth dimension is that we’re stepping further into the future with each passing moment. So for those hoping to see Earth a million years from now, scientists have good news.

“If you want to know what the Earth is like one million years from now, I’ll tell you how to do that,” said Greene, a consultant for “Déjà Vu,” a recent movie that dealt with time travel. “Build a spaceship. Go near the speed of light for a length of time—that I could calculate. Come back to Earth, and when you step out of your ship you will have aged perhaps one year while the Earth would have aged one million years. You would have traveled to Earth’s future.”

More about Time Travel

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Original Story: You Can't Travel Back in Time, Scientists Say

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A contributor to Owl, Dawson Bethrick, Subject: RE: OWL: Objectivism and Time

Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 18:23:52 -0800 wrote:

“I think what is important about integrating the concept of time is to understand its proper place in the knowledge hierarchy: time is not an irreducible primary, for it presupposes motion (action, causality, etc.), and thus it must presuppose existence (since you cannot have motion, action or causality without something which moves or acts). (See for instance the discussion between Rand and Professors A, B, and E in the Appendix of ITOE, pp. 256-260.) This is not how many philosophers employ the term, however. Many couple the term with space (you've probably heard of "the space-time continuum"), but I think this can be very misleading, at least so far as I have come to understand these terms. David Harriman published an interesting lecture recording called "Physicists Lost in Space," where he discusses the misuse of the concept 'space' (it may be there that he elucidates the distinction about the concept time that I mentioned above, but I'm not sure of that).”

end quote

I hope further discussion or articles can be written about “Time” here or in other venues. With the brief moments remaining I hope some light can be shed here on OWL on this subject. I apologize for my lack of scientific acumen but I keep thinking about “Time” and need more information.

In the Ayn Rand Lexicon, Leonard Peikoff wrote, “Time is a measurement of motion; as such it is a type of relationship.”

And Ayn Rand wrote in [iTOE, 2nd Ed., p. 56.]:

“The units of the concept ‘consciousness’ are every state or process of awareness that one experiences, has ever experienced, or will ever experience (as well as similar units, a similar faculty, which one infers in other living entities). The measurements omitted from axiomatic concepts are all the measurements of all the existents they subsume; what is retained, metaphysically, is only a fundamental fact; what is retained, *epistemologically*, is only one category of measurement, omitting its particulars (time) - i.e., the fundamental fact is retained independent of any particular moment of awareness.”

End quote

Stephan Hawking observed on page 22 of his tenth anniversary edition of “A Brief History of Time”:

“. . . . the theory of relativity put an end to the idea of absolute time! It appeared that each observer must have his own measure of time, as recorded by a clock carried with him, and that identical clocks carried by different observers would not necessarily agree.”

End quote

One fact to consider when considering “Time” is that light has a constant speed. If one were on a speeding train and hurled a rock forward, it would initially have the velocity of the train plus the added velocity that your throwing arm provided, until the rock was slowed by wind resistance and gravity.

However, if you turned on a flash light and focused it forward on the speeding train, there would be no added velocity from the train, or from you throwing the flashlight and the beam of light forward. Light’s speed is always constant. “The meter is defined to be the distance traveled by light in 0.000000003335640952 (of a) second, as measured by a cesium clock.”

This is a strange idea but it is true, despite being counter intuitive to this non-scientist and Objectivist! So the speed of light is an objective way to measure “Time.”

We can agree that the experience of time passing is Epistemological. It is a subjective measurement and personal feeling that describes events, differences, and changes. Yet, this personal measurement is “Objectively” identifying metaphysical events.

I have long been puzzled by the concept of time as it relates to General Relativity. If the speed of light is constant and events happen “as they happen,” then where did the “cheating” occur when three differently positioned observers record three different times for the same event?

General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics more accurately describe “Time” that is subjectively observed as “Space/Time” or “Causality,” because distance (or space) and objects (which have mass and activity at the subatomic level) objectively affect “Time.” Experiments have proven this.

Imagine three scientists, at three different spatial locations, measuring (with time,) an event as it happens on earth with the aforementioned cesium clocks, objectively shown to measure time the same way. The first scientist is on earth, measuring time within all of the earth’s gravity at the surface of the earth.

A second scientist is on the moon, traveling around the earth, as the earth travels around the sun, as the sun travels around the Milky Way Galaxy, and as the Galaxy travels through the Universe.

The third scientist is in deep space, outside the Galaxy, and relatively away from most of the affects of gravity, though he is still infinitesimally affected by gravity, as caused by all the matter in the universe.

To reiterate, all clocks are all calibrated to the same time on earth. The scientists are all measuring the same event, using the “same” measuring device, as it occurs on earth at the position of the first scientist . . . Yet, they record three different times, demonstrably outside the margin for error. This experiment is infinitely repeatable and true.

The strange but true fact is that “Time” is affected by “Space.”

“Time” is affected by gravity.

The clock on the earth will record time more slowly than the time recorded by the clock on the moon, which in turn will be slower than the time recorded by the clock in deep space.

The earth, within the Universe is analogous to a marble on the surface of an expanding balloon. Distance between objects is generally increasing due to this expansion, though we are moving relatively closer or farther from individual objects within the Universe.

Stephan Hawking observed on page 31 of his tenth anniversary edition of “A Brief History of Time”:

“In general relativity, bodies always follow straight lines in four - dimensional space – time, but they nevertheless appear to us to move along curved paths in our three - dimensional space. (This is rather like watching an airplane flying over hilly ground. Although it follows a straight line in three – dimensional space, its shadow follows a curved path on the two - dimensional ground.)

end quote

To calibrate geo-synchronous positioning satellites in earth orbit, the differences in “the same time” in and out of heavier gravity are required to correctly position objects within feet of their true location. This is one very immediate and practical application of General Relativity.

We are affected by the past, which is the nature of Causality, and we can view the past in “our future” because light travels at a constant speed as the Universe expands. We cannot change the past. We cannot view the future.

Another interesting phenomenon to consider:

If gravity slows “Time” does it slow to near zero inside a massive black hole? Of course a living being could not exist experiencing such massive gravity but would bits of information (or other non - living entities) remain static to an outside observer? What form does light take inside a massive black hole? Is it a wave or a particle or some third form? Does “Causation” cease inside a massive black hole?

These questions and The Uncertainty Principle and Quantum Mechanics need to be addressed within the contextual philosophy of Objectivism.

Thank you, you special few.

Semper cogitans fidele,

Peter Taylor

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To O.P.

Here are some things you might wish to consider.

1. What happens inside a Black Hole, which is to say on the side of the event horizon away from us is not describable by any mathematics or physical theory currently in use or on the drawing board.

2. Our intuitive notions of space and time which go back not only to Newton, but to Plato and Aristotle are just plain wrong. Absolute space and absolute time do not exist, they are in illusion. It is the kind of illuision we get when we slice things up and confuse the slice with the entirety.

3. Here is what Hermann Minkowski had to say about Space and Time based on the work of Albert Einstein in Electrodynamics (Einstein's 1905 paper):

"The views of space and time which I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality." –Hermann Minkowski, 1908. Please see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minkowski_space

4. Out notion of causality is based on a limited intuition. Kurt Go"del (yes, that Kurt Go"del) found there could exist closed timelike loops in spacetime which satisfy Einstein's field equations in General Relativity. Please see

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed_timelike_curve

One of the major mistakes made by Objectivist philosophers is to try to stuff the manifold of physical phenomena into an Aristotelian bag. It just won't fit.

It may turn out that the four dimensional spacetime manifold of General Relativity may not have enough dimensions to properly deal with all the phenomena we currently know about. One manifestation of this is that we cannot get gravitation to properly co-exist with the the other interactions we know about, to wit, electromagnetic interaction (or force), weak force and strong force. It may turn out that the four dimensional spacetime manifold is not "big" enough to hold them all. Work is ongoing, we shall see, (or if we accept Go"del's notions, we not only shall see, we already have seen).

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Time and space are intricately connected. When we look out into space we are "looking back in time". When we look at the geometric (spacial) relations of a clock we measure time. We can synchronize our clocks here on earth fairly well but that is because we are close together and not moving too fast and not in a strong gravitational field. But if we were separated by vast distances in deep space we have no way to synchronize clocks.

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One epistemological theory is that all subjects perceive only objects, and all objects are necessarily representations of past stuff. No two subjects can perceive each other in a synchronous moment because the moment of awareness has not allowed sequential time to disseminate the existence of the subject outward.

(I only read G.S.'s post. The other two were too long!)

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Christopher wrote:

One epistemological theory is that all subjects perceive only objects, and all objects are necessarily representations of past stuff. No two subjects can perceive each other in a synchronous moment because the moment of awareness has not allowed sequential time to disseminate the existence of the subject outward.

End quote

Now that is a wild thought. When you look at someone, you are actually seeing photons of what they looked liked, from a milisecond ago. If I were standing by Reese Witherspoon, it would behoove us both to get as close as possible, to ensure that there is no misunderstanding. If fact the only way we could ensure no misunderstanding would be to inhabit the same space at the same time. I like this space/time continuum.

General wrote:

Time and space are intricately connected. When we look out into space we are "looking back in time". When we look at the geometric (spacial) relations of a clock we measure time. We can synchronize our clocks here on earth fairly well but that is because we are close together and not moving too fast and not in a strong gravitational field. But if we were separated by vast distances in deep space we have no way to synchronize clocks.

End quote

Synchronization could be closely approximated, by using a pulsar burst since you know where you are, how far you are from the other clock, and how far each clock is from the burst. If gravity slows time, then time ceases in a Black Hole. On Star Trek, Sub Space communications are instantaneous but science fiction may not prove to be phrophetic. .

Ba'al Chatzaf wrote

One of the major mistakes made by Objectivist philosophers is to try to stuff the manifold of physical phenomena into an Aristotelian bag . . .

end quote

I know there is an ARI difficulty with The Big Bang, and Quantum Mechanics. They will not allow it to be a part of ‘Contextual Objectivism,’ the philosophy, at this time. Some have said my threads are too long to read, so I have just included a smattering of excerpts from over a dozen people about the schism betwenn Objectivism and Science. Then you can just stop reading if it becomes tedious. No authors names are given for the quotes but they are from OWL and Atlantis, now defunct.

Peter

The point is that existence -- reality -- cannot "begin" at some point "in" time. Time requires the existence of moving bodies, since time, by definition, is the measurement of relative motion. Moreover, something cannot come from nothing. That's a metaphysical impossibility. For an explosion -- whether it's a big bang or a little bang -- to take place, SOMETHING has to explode.

I have no problem with the big bang. What I have a problem with is the idea that prior to the big bang, nothing existed and that the universe in its present form popped into existence out of nothing. Is this what you believe?

Weaknesses in the hot "Big Bang" theory:

A. What is the source of the "Big Bang"?

B. Unknown and unobserved dark matter and dark energy is required. Not only required but all sorts of complex arrangements are needed for even the most basic observations to agree with General Relativity.

C. Where did the anti-matter go?

D. Unexplained quantized red-shifts among galaxies and within individual galaxies.

E. The unexplained existence of very high energy cosmic rays [the cosmic microwave background should slow them down]

F. No known source for the required introduction of "inflation" and questionable reasoning concerning an increasing speed of universal expansion.

G. There is a great deal of mixed evidence concerning the distribution of various bodies, the age of bodies at various red-shifts, and how fully formed apparently old galaxies and stars exist at the very edge of observation near the time the "Big Bang" is expected to have occurred.

H. The universal expansion conveniently expands between galaxies but not within galaxies due to the careful placement of dark energy and/or dark matter.

The king daddy is quantum mechanics. Nothing has caused more confusion both inside and outside of physics directly as a result of its impact on epistemology. I have let my views be known a number of times. There are many issues involved in quantum mechanics and all involve very specialized knowledge. Philosophers are right to be concerned that errors have been committed. Philosophers should not compound the error by making pronouncements on applications of epistemology when their lack of understanding of the technical issues often puts their pronouncements at odds with known facts. The only solution I see is an interactive one. Both sides need to keep pronouncements of certainty on the issues to themselves until they actually understand what it is they are talking about. Philosophers who do not understand the technical issues are at a tremendous disadvantage. Physicists often understand philosophy, I have seen few philosophers who understand physics.

Even as late as David Hume in the late 18th century, the particular sciences (such as physics, biology and psychology) were still referred to by the general name of "philosophy." Not only philosophers, but also the founders of modern science (e.g., Galileo, Lavoisier) used this kind of terminology. Scientists referred to themselves as "philosophers" and the science they were engaged in as "natural philosophy." However, in calling their work "experimental philosophy," it is clear that they were also conscious of the difference between themselves and the ancient and medieval scientists. Kant, at the end of the 18th century, laid down the distinction between the experimental sciences and the "rational sciences," among which he included philosophy and mathematics. The 19th century philosophers, such as William James, took the further step of restricting the term "science" to mathematics and experimental or empirical areas of research, as opposed to philosophy.

When I said that lacking a philosophy of science made Rand's epistemology incomplete, I didn't mean to imply that philosophy of science issues are more basic than questions about everyday knowledge. I meant that a comprehensive epistemology has to be able to answer philosophy of science questions. Rand didn't propose answers to them, so we're not even at the point of "validation"--judging whether her answers were good ones or not.

Rand had much to teach us but her lack of scientific understanding of reality forces the scientific literate to pick and choose the correct elements out of her philosophy. Her philosophy no longer forms a coherent whole in agreement with what is known from observation. Rand created an inflexible structure which cannot adapt to new knowledge from the sciences. As such big "O" Objectivism will have to be rolled over (401K rollover) into another philosophy not hostile to new scientific developments affecting the philosophic foundation. Your foundation must adapt as your house changes in size or grows in weight or the whole thing will collapse. Its evolution: adapt or die.

I am aware that Harry Binswanger did embrace and promote an experimentally disproven alternative quantum mechanical theory, apparently because of the author's philosophical outlook.

I am also aware that some Objectivist speakers on relativity have mistakenly taken a slant against relativity as implying philosophical content it does not. Some advocates may have represented relativity as implying this philosophical content but their battle should be against the advocates, not relativity itself [in this particular respect].

I aware that David Harriman has been working his way up at ARI in the arena of science but I have not heard the specifics about what errors he has advocated. An abstract of his work on the Web makes him sound extreme in his lumping together of a diverse community to fit his theses, but no completely incorrect statement is apparent, just an error of degree. Could Prof. Gould or Ellen give us a short summary what his problem is?

I think it is telling that ARI is so nervous about science and has been putting much effort into extricating Objectivism from some of the corners it has painted itself into.

JR c. 1950: "As for atomic physics, I'm quite willing to label it pseudo- science. Its basic methodology, stripped of its self-serving and obfuscating jargon, is as follows: if certain submicroscopic particles existed and had certain characteristics, then we would observe certain phenomena; we observe these phenomena; therefore these sub-microscopic particles (atoms) exist and have the assumed characteristics. In ordinary logic textbooks, this is known as the Fallacy of Affirming the Consequent."

In other words, was it the Fallacy of Affirming the Consequent for scientists in 1900 or 1925 or 1950 to accept the existence of atoms before they had visual evidence (from electron microscopes) of their existence? Or, instead, didn't they in fact have ample other evidence to hypothesize the existence of atoms, ~even without~visual evidence showing the little buggers in all (or some of) their glory?

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In other words, was it the Fallacy of Affirming the Consequent for scientists in 1900 or 1925 or 1950 to accept the existence of atoms before they had visual evidence (from electron microscopes) of their existence? Or, instead, didn't they in fact have ample other evidence to hypothesize the existence of atoms, ~even without~visual evidence showing the little buggers in all (or some of) their glory?

I don't think you can see atoms with electron microscopes but it doesn't matter anyway. We certainly cannot and never will see electrons, for example. The question of whether or not they exist is irrelevant for physicists, who are perfectly comfortable in postulating their existence and studying their behaviour whatever the case. :) Wondering about "existence" is something philosophers are fond of doing.

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Christopher wrote:

One epistemological theory is that all subjects perceive only objects, and all objects are necessarily representations of past stuff. No two subjects can perceive each other in a synchronous moment because the moment of awareness has not allowed sequential time to disseminate the existence of the subject outward.

End quote

Now that is a wild thought. When you look at someone, you are actually seeing photons of what they looked liked, from a milisecond ago. If I were standing by Reese Witherspoon, it would behoove us both to get as close as possible, to ensure that there is no misunderstanding. If fact the only way we could ensure no misunderstanding would be to inhabit the same space at the same time. I like this space/time continuum.

General wrote:

Time and space are intricately connected. When we look out into space we are "looking back in time". When we look at the geometric (spacial) relations of a clock we measure time. We can synchronize our clocks here on earth fairly well but that is because we are close together and not moving too fast and not in a strong gravitational field. But if we were separated by vast distances in deep space we have no way to synchronize clocks.

End quote

Synchronization could be closely approximated, by using a pulsar burst since you know where you are, how far you are from the other clock, and how far each clock is from the burst. If gravity slows time, then time ceases in a Black Hole. On Star Trek, Sub Space communications are instantaneous but science fiction may not prove to be phrophetic. .

Ba'al Chatzaf wrote

One of the major mistakes made by Objectivist philosophers is to try to stuff the manifold of physical phenomena into an Aristotelian bag . . .

end quote

I know there is an ARI difficulty with The Big Bang, and Quantum Mechanics. They will not allow it to be a part of ‘Contextual Objectivism,’ the philosophy, at this time. Some have said my threads are too long to read, so I have just included a smattering of excerpts from over a dozen people about the schism betwenn Objectivism and Science. Then you can just stop reading if it becomes tedious. No authors names are given for the quotes but they are from OWL and Atlantis, now defunct.

Peter

The point is that existence -- reality -- cannot "begin" at some point "in" time. Time requires the existence of moving bodies, since time, by definition, is the measurement of relative motion. Moreover, something cannot come from nothing. That's a metaphysical impossibility. For an explosion -- whether it's a big bang or a little bang -- to take place, SOMETHING has to explode.

I have no problem with the big bang. What I have a problem with is the idea that prior to the big bang, nothing existed and that the universe in its present form popped into existence out of nothing. Is this what you believe?

Weaknesses in the hot "Big Bang" theory:

A. What is the source of the "Big Bang"?

B. Unknown and unobserved dark matter and dark energy is required. Not only required but all sorts of complex arrangements are needed for even the most basic observations to agree with General Relativity.

C. Where did the anti-matter go?

D. Unexplained quantized red-shifts among galaxies and within individual galaxies.

E. The unexplained existence of very high energy cosmic rays [the cosmic microwave background should slow them down]

F. No known source for the required introduction of "inflation" and questionable reasoning concerning an increasing speed of universal expansion.

G. There is a great deal of mixed evidence concerning the distribution of various bodies, the age of bodies at various red-shifts, and how fully formed apparently old galaxies and stars exist at the very edge of observation near the time the "Big Bang" is expected to have occurred.

H. The universal expansion conveniently expands between galaxies but not within galaxies due to the careful placement of dark energy and/or dark matter.

The king daddy is quantum mechanics. Nothing has caused more confusion both inside and outside of physics directly as a result of its impact on epistemology. I have let my views be known a number of times. There are many issues involved in quantum mechanics and all involve very specialized knowledge. Philosophers are right to be concerned that errors have been committed. Philosophers should not compound the error by making pronouncements on applications of epistemology when their lack of understanding of the technical issues often puts their pronouncements at odds with known facts. The only solution I see is an interactive one. Both sides need to keep pronouncements of certainty on the issues to themselves until they actually understand what it is they are talking about. Philosophers who do not understand the technical issues are at a tremendous disadvantage. Physicists often understand philosophy, I have seen few philosophers who understand physics.

Even as late as David Hume in the late 18th century, the particular sciences (such as physics, biology and psychology) were still referred to by the general name of "philosophy." Not only philosophers, but also the founders of modern science (e.g., Galileo, Lavoisier) used this kind of terminology. Scientists referred to themselves as "philosophers" and the science they were engaged in as "natural philosophy." However, in calling their work "experimental philosophy," it is clear that they were also conscious of the difference between themselves and the ancient and medieval scientists. Kant, at the end of the 18th century, laid down the distinction between the experimental sciences and the "rational sciences," among which he included philosophy and mathematics. The 19th century philosophers, such as William James, took the further step of restricting the term "science" to mathematics and experimental or empirical areas of research, as opposed to philosophy.

When I said that lacking a philosophy of science made Rand's epistemology incomplete, I didn't mean to imply that philosophy of science issues are more basic than questions about everyday knowledge. I meant that a comprehensive epistemology has to be able to answer philosophy of science questions. Rand didn't propose answers to them, so we're not even at the point of "validation"--judging whether her answers were good ones or not.

Rand had much to teach us but her lack of scientific understanding of reality forces the scientific literate to pick and choose the correct elements out of her philosophy. Her philosophy no longer forms a coherent whole in agreement with what is known from observation. Rand created an inflexible structure which cannot adapt to new knowledge from the sciences. As such big "O" Objectivism will have to be rolled over (401K rollover) into another philosophy not hostile to new scientific developments affecting the philosophic foundation. Your foundation must adapt as your house changes in size or grows in weight or the whole thing will collapse. Its evolution: adapt or die.

I am aware that Harry Binswanger did embrace and promote an experimentally disproven alternative quantum mechanical theory, apparently because of the author's philosophical outlook.

I am also aware that some Objectivist speakers on relativity have mistakenly taken a slant against relativity as implying philosophical content it does not. Some advocates may have represented relativity as implying this philosophical content but their battle should be against the advocates, not relativity itself [in this particular respect].

I aware that David Harriman has been working his way up at ARI in the arena of science but I have not heard the specifics about what errors he has advocated. An abstract of his work on the Web makes him sound extreme in his lumping together of a diverse community to fit his theses, but no completely incorrect statement is apparent, just an error of degree. Could Prof. Gould or Ellen give us a short summary what his problem is?

I think it is telling that ARI is so nervous about science and has been putting much effort into extricating Objectivism from some of the corners it has painted itself into.

JR c. 1950: "As for atomic physics, I'm quite willing to label it pseudo- science. Its basic methodology, stripped of its self-serving and obfuscating jargon, is as follows: if certain submicroscopic particles existed and had certain characteristics, then we would observe certain phenomena; we observe these phenomena; therefore these sub-microscopic particles (atoms) exist and have the assumed characteristics. In ordinary logic textbooks, this is known as the Fallacy of Affirming the Consequent."

In other words, was it the Fallacy of Affirming the Consequent for scientists in 1900 or 1925 or 1950 to accept the existence of atoms before they had visual evidence (from electron microscopes) of their existence? Or, instead, didn't they in fact have ample other evidence to hypothesize the existence of atoms, ~even without~visual evidence showing the little buggers in all (or some of) their glory?

The plasma cosmology view of the universe handles those weaknesses of the 'big bang' theory much better...

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The plasma cosmology view of the universe handles those weaknesses of the 'big bang' theory much better...

Could you provide reference to refereed physics journals please? Thank you.

The last time I checked the journals the Standard Model for Particles and Fields was pretty much the benchmark.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Peter

that was a very nice post about science and objectivism. I was reading a book by Ken Wilber recently in which he critically blasts a number of new-age "philosophers" who attempt to use the intricacies of science incorrectly to explain philosophical premises. A lot of the misunderstanding appears to stem from symantic differences and contextual meaning that is misapplied when attempting to explain philosophy by borrowing words from science. Since objectivism as a philosophy cannot deny reality, it seems that some of these references you discuss are individuals attempting to discuss scientific propositions outside the context of science. For example, I recall recently that gs and I were talking about symantics and catgorization. We quoted something like "a tree is not a tree," with the meaning that catgory "tree" is not an element of that category (elements are also named "tree"). Someone came by and called this proposition nonsense, saying a=a and therefore a tree must be a tree. The point is, he as wrong. He had no idea of the symanics bring used, so he misapplied a philosophical point.

Another funny thing (one which I myself have misapplied in the past) is the concept of probability in quantum mechanics. Many cite either that this "randomness" can be the cause of so much unknown, while others say it is absurd to think of nature as random. What both parties miss is that quantum mechancs doesn't have any notable influence on macrostructures in the random probabilistic sense. To paraphrase another: I have never seen a dog suddenly appear in a new place due to qm.

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http://www.plasmacosmology.net/

http://vodpod.com/watch/1806765-comets-extended-ver-plasma-cosmology-electric-universe

http://vodpod.com/watch/1806785-plasma-cosmology-a-brief-introduction

http://www.amazon.com/Electric-Sky-Donald-E-Scott/dp/0977285111/ref=tag_dpp_lp_edpp_ttl_in_f

http://vodpod.com/watch/1806715-cosmology-quest-2-plasma-cosmology-part-1-of-5

To Alfven, the Big Bang was a myth devised to explain creation:

"I was there when Abbe Georges Lemaitre first proposed this theory. Lemaitre was, at the time, both a member of the Catholic hierarchy and an accomplished scientist. He said in private that this theory was a way to reconcile science with St. Thomas Aquinas' theological dictum of creatio ex nihilo or creation out of nothing.

"There is no rational reason to doubt that the universe has existed indefinitely, for an infinite time. It is only myth that attempts to say how the universe came to be, either four thousand or twenty billion years ago.

"Since religion intrinsically rejects empirical methods, there should never be any attempt to reconcile scientific theories with religion. An infinitely old universe, always evolving, may not be compatible with the Book of Genesis. However, religions such as Buddhism get along without having any explicit creation mythology and are in no way contradicted by a universe without a beginning or end. Creatio ex nihilo, even as religious doctrine, only dates to around AD 200. The key is not to confuse myth and empirical results, or religion and science."

Edited by anonrobt

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I want to thank everyone for their posts and links on this subject. My web title solarwind does not come from any knowledge of plasmacosmology, but rather from a scifi novel I read.

I have always been bemused by the Big Bang and its reconcilation with creationists including the Vatican.

The Plasmacosmology.net site is well done. The fact that "their case" is not the consensus view does not discredit it. Look at the consensus view, up until recently, about Global Warming. Unfortunately those who are in the mainstream get the government grants.

I will revisit those sites to see if a nonscientist can learn something from them.

Peter

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The Plasmacosmology.net site is well done. The fact that "their case" is not the consensus view does not discredit it. Look at the consensus view, up until recently, about Global Warming. Unfortunately those who are in the mainstream get the government grants.

What credits a theory is a string of successful predictions, verified by independent confirmation particularly predictions of effects not predicted by other theories or predicted incorrectly. That last word is with experimental corroberation.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Ba'al Chatzaf wrote:

What credits a theory is a string of successful predictions, verified by independent confirmation particularly predictions of effects not predicted by other theories or predicted incorrectly. That last word is with experimental corroboration.

End quote

Excellent point. I can’t wait until we get a space ship to approach the speed of light. I remember a lot of scoffing at Einstein’s predictions, about what would happen, back in the fifties when I was a kid, even though his other predictions lead to the atom bomb.

Verify by experimentation. What will happen when the ship is at nine tenths of the speed of light or more?

Peter

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Verify by experimentation. What will happen when the ship is at nine tenths of the speed of light or more?

Already been done with mu meson particles which are like electrons and have a negative charge but are about 250 times heavier than electrons. They tend to decay rather quickly into neutrinos and phontons. When they move real fast in an accelerator their decay is delayed by exactly the time dilation factor predicted by Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity. The energy required to get them to that speed indicates a mass increase exactly the amount predicted by Einstein's Special Theory. These particles come naturally to the earth as cosmic rays. If they moved slowly they would decay before they hit the ground. But they are detected at mountain top stations and at ground stations. The differential survival rate indicates that the particles traverse a reduced distance exactly the amount of distance reduction predicted by the Special Theory of Relativity.

Experiments done and verified to great accuracy for going on 70 or 80 years.

'tis done 'tis done.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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regarding the experimental and verification approach, here's from Plasmacosmology.net, over the difference between its view and the 'big bang' -

...................

The 'Actualistic' versus the 'Prophetic'

Following in the footsteps of their famous predecessors, plasma physicists are keen to take an Actualistic approach, that of working backwards from observation, and taking a broad approach to science. Birkeland, for example, believed in experimentation and observation in addition to mathematical modelling, despite having trained as a mathematician. He was famous for his Terella experiments , and for expeditions to polar regions to observe auroras at first hand.

Big Bangers, by contrast, exhibit a preference for the Prophetic approach, that of starting out from idealised mathematical principles. This theoretical approach, however, is fraught with problems, as the history of science testifies. For example:

1. Sidney Chapman's mathematical models failed to predict the complex three dimensional nature of the Earth's magnetosphere.

2. The Kinetic theory of Ordinary gases fails to predict the behaviour of Plasmas (originally called ionised gases), because of their electrodynamic interactions. The mathematics may work for ordinary gases, but it fails hopelessly for plasmas.

3. Ptolemaic epicycles were mathematically elegant, and they worked, but they failed to recognise the underlying mechanism.

4. The prophetic approach postulates a number of entities prior to their discovery. Hypotheticals like Dark Matter and dark Energy are required to balance the equations in Big Bang cosmology.

5. Mathematical proofs were cited to support the claim that heavier-than-air flight was impossible! These, of course, turned out to be total nonsense.

"After all, to get the whole universe totally wrong in the face of clear evidence for over 75 years merits monumental embarrassment and should induce a modicum of humility." Halton Arp

“We have to learn again that science without contact with experiments is an enterprise which is likely to go completely astray into imaginary conjecture.” Hannes Alfvén

Mathematics and Science

The importance of mathematics in science cannot be denied. It is an essential tool for both measurement and prediction, principles on which science is based, but history teaches us to be cautious before relying on mathematics as a starting point.

Ptolemaic epicycles, mentioned above, highlight the dangers of the mathematical approach. They were a series of circular orbits within orbits, and with a few tweaks they would probably still work today, but the point is that -- although mathematically correct, and indeed elegant -- they failed to reflect the underlying reality.

Einstein himself had reservations about the mathematical approach favoured by expanding universe proponents:

"Since the mathematicians have invaded the theory of relativity, I do not understand it myself any more."

"To the extent that the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not true; and to the extent that they are true, they do not refer to reality."

In other words, Math should be subordinate to Physics, and not the other way around, as it is now.

“... Lorentz, in order to justify his transformation equations, saw the necessity of postulating a physical effect of interaction between moving matter and æther, to give the mathematics meaning. Physics still had de jure authority over mathematics: it was Einstein, who had no qualms about abolishing the æther and still retaining light waves whose properties were expressed by formulae that were meaningless without it, who was the first to discard physics altogether and propose a wholly mathematical theory...” Herbert Dingle, Science at the Cross-Roads.

Epicycles

"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." Albert Einstein

Math and Logic

It is all too often assumed that mathematics is a form of pure logic, and therefore above reproach. Although it contains many logical elements, the relationship between math and logic is not simple. Bertrand Russell and a number of other philosophers have dedicated no little time in trying to prove the relationship, but all have failed. Math is only pure in so far as much of it reflects the realm of pure thought, and not necessarily reality. Unfortunataly, math all too often drives modern cosmology. The trouble is, math should be our slave ... not our master.

Plasma Cosmology works backwards from observation, not forwards from perfect theoretical principals. Additionally, plasma behaviours are not always easy to model mathematically. Langmuir, after all, borrowed the term from blood plasma because of its life-like qualities.

Russell's Paradox highlights a math-logic problem via the agent of Set Theory.

"Physics is mathematical not because we know so much about the physical world, but because we know so little." Bertrand Russell

Matters of some gravity

It is easy to forget that we do not understand the mechanism behind gravity. It is a force which is described mathematically. Newton admitted as much:

"But hitherto I have not been able to discover the cause of those properties of gravity from phenomena, and I frame no hypotheses." Isaac Newton

Einstein further muddied the waters when he replaced a mathematical description of gravity with an abstract mathematical description, by factoring in time as a physical dimension. Can empty space really be curved?

“Einstein was quite simply contemptuous of experiment, preferring to put his faith in pure thought." Paul Davies

..........

Doesn't speak well of the mathematical methodology as opposed to the experimental...

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"But hitherto I have not been able to discover the cause of those properties of gravity from phenomena, and I frame no hypotheses." Isaac Newton

Einstein further muddied the waters when he replaced a mathematical description of gravity with an abstract mathematical description, by factoring in time as a physical dimension. Can empty space really be curved?

"Einstein was quite simply contemptuous of experiment, preferring to put his faith in pure thought." Paul Davies

Even so, Einstein was a happy fellow when Eddington's crew corroberated his prediction that light would bend in the neighborhood of the sun because the spacetime manifold was curved. Five years previous to Eddington's success Einstein importuned the astronomers to find a solar eclipse to correberate his theory. This was in 1914. Freundlich and his team went to the Crimea to attempt a check. Alas, the Great War broke out and Freundlich and his team were arrested as spies because (1) they were German nationals and (2) they were hauling telescopes, cameras etc. Eventually they were released unharmed, and not shot dead as spies. They and the equipment were interned and the attempt to corroberate Einstein's prediction was aborted. Einstein never quite forgave Freundlich for the misfortune that befell him.

You can bet Einstein was hot and anxious to find out if experiment backed up his prediction. And he would have been a Sad Einstein if the experiment had been either inconclusive or counter indicating.

Moral of the story: Don't believe all those Einstein stories you hear from people other than Einstein.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Big Bangers, by contrast, exhibit a preference for the Prophetic approach, that of starting out from idealised mathematical principles. This theoretical approach, however, is fraught with problems, as the history of science testifies.

The Big Bangers (as you put it) still rely on experimental corroberation. Do you know why the Big Bang theory won out over the Hoyle Steady State hypothesis. Because some engineers working for Bell Telephone Labs in Holmsdale N.J. thought their antenna was fouled by bird shit but further investigation revealed the presence of cosmic background radiation in all directions. This was predicted by George Gamow. It was a happy accident. The crew of theoretical cosmologists at nearby Princeton University were contemplating the construction of a radio telescope to verify the presence of cosmic background radiation, and the Bell-Tel engineers Wilson and Penzias accidentally found it.

The hypothesis first got traction from the observation of red shift of light from distant galaxies spotted by Ed Hubble with the 100 inch telescope. It was from that observation that it became obvious the cosmos was expanding. Now run that backwards and you have the Big Bang or at least a set of ideas heading in that direction. It was the theoretical cosmologist Le Maittre who presumed the Universe grew from small object. He presumed this for metaphysical (not experimental) reasons. But Hubble's discovery gave Le Maittre a boost and convinced Einstein that he (Einstein) made a big mistake in placing a fudge factor in the General Relativity Field Equations to ensure a steady state Cosmos. The rest is history. Both theory and experiment were very, very busy.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Big Bangers, by contrast, exhibit a preference for the Prophetic approach, that of starting out from idealised mathematical principles. This theoretical approach, however, is fraught with problems, as the history of science testifies.

The Big Bangers (as you put it) still rely on experimental corroberation. Do you know why the Big Bang theory won out over the Hoyle Steady State hypothesis. Because some engineers working for Bell Telephone Labs in Holmsdale N.J. thought their antenna was fouled by bird shit ** but further investigation revealed the presence of cosmic background radiation in all directions. This was predicted by George Gamow. It was a happy accident. The crew of theoretical cosmologists at nearby Princeton University were contemplating the construction of a radio telescope to verify the presence of cosmic background radiation, and the Bell-Tel engineers Wilson and Penzias accidentally found it.

The hypothesis first got traction from the observation of red shift of light from distant galaxies spotted by Ed Hubble with the 100 inch telescope. It was from that observation that it became obvious the cosmos was expanding. Now run that backwards and you have the Big Bang or at least a set of ideas heading in that direction. It was the theoretical cosmologist Le Maittre who presumed the Universe grew from small object. He presumed this for metaphysical (not experimental) reasons. But Hubble's discovery gave Le Maittre a boost and convinced Einstein that he (Einstein) made a big mistake in placing a fudge factor in the General Relativity Field Equations to ensure a steady state Cosmos. The rest is history. Both theory and experiment were very, very busy.

Ba'al Chatzaf

** In the paper they published, Wilson and Penzias referred to the bird shit they found as "white dialectrical material".

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Ba'al Chatzaf, please write down any more thoughts you have. Your historical view is impressive.

What is the latest view on what would happen if a ship LEFT earth, approached the speed of light, slowed to zero in relative speed, reversed direction, approached the speed of light as it retuned to earch, slowed down and landed on earth. What happended on earth? What happened on the space craft? Would there be a time differential?

If there were it would be advisable to send out round trip ships with the ingredients to reestablish human civilization on earth, if some catastrophe did befall us earthlings. A roboticized ship could attempt communications, and if we are all gone, recreate civilization using frozen sperm and embryos, data bases of all knowlege, robot caretakers if any humans on the ship have died, etc. If people still exist on earth, but have regressed, these arks could re-educate us. What a shame it would be if a ruined earth seemed like 10,000 years before the present again.

Peter

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What is the latest view on what would happen if a ship LEFT earth, approached the speed of light, slowed to zero in relative speed, reversed direction, approached the speed of light as it retuned to earch, slowed down and landed on earth. What happended on earth? What happened on the space craft? Would there be a time differential?

Yup. There is no "latest view". This is known since Einstein's theory of relativity and it has never changed. The time differential may made as large as you want by traveling long enough at nearly the speed of light.

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What is the latest view on what would happen if a ship LEFT earth, approached the speed of light, slowed to zero in relative speed, reversed direction, approached the speed of light as it retuned to earch, slowed down and landed on earth. What happended on earth? What happened on the space craft? Would there be a time differential?

Yup. There is no "latest view". This is known since Einstein's theory of relativity and it has never changed. The time differential may made as large as you want by traveling long enough at nearly the speed of light.

Of course this is in theory only. Getting a spaceship anywhere near the speed of light is not possible in the forseeable future. :) But it makes for good science fiction.

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Of course this is in theory only. Getting a spaceship anywhere near the speed of light is not possible in the forseeable future. :) But it makes for good science fiction.

No, it is not only theory, it has been verified experimentally with satellites. Due to the relatively slow speeds the effect is of course very small, but measurable and conform the theory of relativity.

On the other hand particle accelerators couldn't work if we ignored the time dilation according to the theory of relativity. Electrons can be accelerated to 0.9999999 times the speed of light. The formulas still work fine.

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Of course this is in theory only. Getting a spaceship anywhere near the speed of light is not possible in the forseeable future. :) But it makes for good science fiction.

No, it is not only theory, it has been verified experimentally with satellites. Due to the relatively slow speeds the effect is of course very small, but measurable and conform the theory of relativity.

On the other hand particle accelerators couldn't work if we ignored the time dilation according to the theory of relativity. Electrons can be accelerated to 0.9999999 times the speed of light. The formulas still work fine.

Yup. Every time the GPS takes one to within inches of the correct location it is yet another corroberation of both the General Theory of Relativity and the Special Theory of Relativity.

The O.P. should be aware that both of Einstein's relativity theories have been heavily corroberated in laboratories for over 100 years. "Just a theory" simply does not apply to Einstein's work or any of the major quantum theories in physics.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Edited by BaalChatzaf

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Of course this is in theory only. Getting a spaceship anywhere near the speed of light is not possible in the forseeable future. :) But it makes for good science fiction.

No, it is not only theory, it has been verified experimentally with satellites. Due to the relatively slow speeds the effect is of course very small, but measurable and conform the theory of relativity.

On the other hand particle accelerators couldn't work if we ignored the time dilation according to the theory of relativity. Electrons can be accelerated to 0.9999999 times the speed of light. The formulas still work fine.

Yup. Every time the GPS takes one to within inches of the correct location it is yet another corroberation of both the General Theory of Relativity and the Special Theory of Relativity.

The O.P. should be aware that both of Einstein's relativity theories have been heavily corroberated in laboratories for over 100 years. "Just a theory" simply does not apply to Einstein's work or any of the major quantum theories in physics.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Oh, I'm fine with the theory, but accelerating a large mass like a spaceship is much different than accelerating an electron to near light speeds. It's an engineering problem that I don't think we shall be tackling for 100's or thousands of years to come.

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I recall in my engineering physics class some 12 years ago that the issue with accelerating a ship to near-light-speed was that mass increases at relativistic speeds so there is the issue of carrying the fuel necessary for continued acceleration while attempting to accelerate the ship (and the mass of the fuel still aboard). In other words, I seem to recall that it is impossible to accelerate a ship to near light-speed because of the mass of the fuel required for continuous acceleration as you move closer to relativistic speeds.

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