Monday, November 30, 2020

Most accurate in the history of science

New paper:
Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) is considered the most accurate theory in the history of science. However, this precision is limited to a single experimental value: the anomalous magnetic moment of the electron (g-factor). The calculation of the electron g-factor was carried out in 1950 by Karplus and Kroll. Seven years later, Petermann detected and corrected a serious error in the calculation of a Feynman diagram; however, neither the original calculation nor the subsequent correction was ever published.Therefore, the entire prestige of QED depends on the calculation of a single Feynman diagram (IIc) that has never been published and cannot be independently verified.
If this is really the most accurate and impressive prediction in the history of science, you are probably thinking that the theorists and experimentalists worked independently. Nope.

The theorists, who did it wrong, knew about the experimental value they were supposed to match. And they matched it, but the experimental value was wrong. The theoretical value happened to be also wrong in the same way. Then the experiment got redone to give a more accurate value, and an embarrassing disagreement with theory. So the theoretical value was redone, with this knowledge, and the new theoretical value matched the new experiment. The details were never published.

I have heard of experiments being cooked to match the theory. The history of this seems to be the opposite.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Bohm and his groundbreaking ideas

I just got an email (ie, spam) saying:
If you are considering a gift to a family member or a friend this THANKSGIVING, why not consider the gift of David Bohm and his groundbreaking ideas. Bohm’s ideas are an enduring gift to mankind, enabling a paradigm shift for the transformation of self and society.

The recent and current political events taking place in the United States and the Covid-19 pandemic has given us all time to reflect on the vulnerability of our Political, Economic, Spiritual and Social structures. David Bohm’s enduring answers to mankind’s big questions opens a door to coherence, wholeness and interconnectedness. We just need to pay more attention!

So once again we want to THANK YOU all so much for your support and encourage you to share INFINITE POTENTIAL with family, friends and those who you feel would appreciate the gift of Bohm.

Wow, is that a reference to Pres. Trump challenging the vote count in several states? That and some flu-like virus are supposed to make me purchase a movie about David Bohm and give it to a friend for Thanksgiving?!

Let us be clear about his groundbreaking ideas. He believed in (1) Communism; (2) determinism; and (3) spooky action-at-distance. Each of these is fundamentally wrong, and we should be happy that we live in a world where they are wrong. The world would be a depressing place if any of these were correct.

But do they "opens [sic] a door to coherence, wholeness and interconnectedness"? I don't know what there nuts are even thinking, and I watched the movie. I post this in case anyone else wants to try to figure it out.

For more reading, try his biography, or philosophical essays. I previously posted a link to the movie, but it has been taken down.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The dark state is erased

Mikhail Gromov, one of the greatest living geometers, once wrote:
This common and unfortunate fact of the lack of an adequate presentation of basic ideas and motivations of almost any mathematical theory is, probably, due to the binary nature of mathematical perception: either you have no inkling of an idea or, once you have understood it, this very idea appears so embarrassingly obvious that you feel reluctant to say it aloud; moreover, once your mind switches from the state of darkness to the light, all memory of the dark state is erased and it becomes impossible to conceive the existence of another mind for which the idea appears nonobvious.
This is actually a common view among mathematicians, but only mathematicians. It is one of the things that makes Mathematics difficult for outsiders.

Monday, November 23, 2020

SciAm says: Always trust the experts

SciAm reports:
To Understand How Science Denial Works, Look to History

The same tactics used to cast doubt on the dangers of smoking and climate change are now being used to downplay COVID

By Naomi Oreskes | Scientific American December 2020 Issue ...

But while the events of 2020 may feel unprecedented, the social pattern of rejecting scientific evidence did not suddenly appear this year. There was never any good scientific reason for rejecting the expert advice on COVID, just as there has never been any good scientific reason for doubting that humans evolved, that vaccines save lives, and that greenhouse gases are driving disruptive climate change.

SciAm blogger John Horgan posts a somewhat contrary opinion.

There certainly was good scientific reason for doubting expert advice on COVID.

First of all, much of the advice has been contradictory, such as whether to wear face masks.

Second, none of their predictions have come true.

Third, there was never much scientific support for their policies, such as closing the schools.

As I write this, there is a new set of lockdown orders. I believe that they are doing more harm than good. As far as I can see, there is not even any good published analysis to support these policies.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

The experiment that made Einstein famous

Einstein became world-famous on 7 November 1919, following press publication of a meeting held in London on 6 November 1919 where the results were announced of two British expeditions led by Eddington, Dyson and Davidson to measure how much background starlight is bent as it passes the Sun. Three data sets were obtained: two showed the measured deflection matched the theoretical prediction of Einstein's 1915 Theory of General Relativity, and became the official result; the third was discarded as defective. At the time, the experimental result was accepted by the expert astronomical community.
This made Einstein world-famous, as the NY Times headline was:
LIGHTS ALL ASKEW IN THE HEAVENS; Men of Science More or Less Agog Over Results of Eclipse Observations. EINSTEIN THEORY TRIUMPHS Stars Not Where They Seemed or Were Calculated to be, but Nobody Need Worry. A BOOK FOR 12 WISE MEN No More in All the World Could Comprehend It, Said Einstein When His Daring Publishers Accepted It.
There has long been some controversy about this, as they discarded the result that would have agree with Newtonian gravity. It is often cited as an example of scientists seeing what they want to see.

This paper argues that the orginal eclipse experiment was legitimate.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Many religions do reject free will

Evolutionist Jerry Coyne posts commonly against theism and free will, and complains
about a video on the physics of free will:
O’Dowd seems hung up on predictability as an important part of free will. But all of us, including hard determinists like me, realize that we will never be able to predict human behavior with 100% certainty. Not only do too many factors impact our brains and behavior, but, as O’Dowd points out, the uncertainty principle bars us from even knowing certain fundamental properties of quantum-behaving particles (although those may have a negligible effect on behavior). But whether or not we can predict behavior seems to me irrelevant about whether or not we have free will.
Coyne denies free will because he believes in determinism, but he oddly says predictability is irrelevant.

I was more surprised by this statement:

And, of course, libertarian free will is an underpinning of all Abrahamic religions.
No, it is not.

See the Wikipedia article on Free will in theology. Islam is always talking about the will of Allah determining everything. Humans have no free will. Free will plays no role in Judaism.

Catholics and Mormon believe in free will. Protestant Christians have varying views, but many of them partially or wholly reject free will.

The video says free will is “the most directly verifiably real thing you will ever observe”. [at 12:30] I agree with this. You can just close your eyes and make a choice. You can sense your free will more directly and you can sense the Sun rising in the East.

Coyne acts as if he has to disprove all the religions, and then convince everyone that they do not have free will, in order to teach them some superior atheist world view. The truth is more nearly the opposite. Religion is encouraging a denial of free will, and then bad morals.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Covariant with respect to Lorentz transformations

Philosopher Harvey R. Brown has a nice new paper on Noether and symmetry. He comments:
Einstein's 1905 derivation of the Lorentz transformations rested on two fundamental symmetry principles: the relativity principle (dynamical equivalence of inertial frames) and the isotropy of space, alongside the postulate governing the constancy of the speed of light with respect to the "resting" frame.74 The justification of all these principles did not rest, for Einstein, on any a priori notions about the structure of space and time, but was based on "plenty of experiential knowledge" related to mechanics and electrodynamics.75 Later, he would stress that the theory of special relativity could be summarised in one principle: "all natural laws must be so conditioned that they are covariant with respect to Lorentz transformations".76 This allowed Einstein to say that the theory transcended Maxwell's equations, and what he saw as the awkward emphasis on the role of light in his 1905 formulation.77 Special relativity is essentially a constraint in the sense that a symmetry is being imposed on the fundamental equations of all the non-gravitational interactions.
These EInstein opinions are from 1940 and later, long after that 1905 paper.

The principle that all natural laws must be so conditioned that they are covariant with respect to Lorentz transformations was written by Poincare in 1905 and Minkowski in 1907, but not endorsed by Einstein until about 1915. If that is really the essence of special relativity, then all the credit should go to Poincare and Minkowski, as Einstein contributed nothing to this line of thought.

This is the biggest reason I believe Einstein should not be credited with the discovery of special relativity. It is not just that others had the formula earlier. It is that the essence of the theory is Lorentz covariance, and Einstein did not even understand the concept until many years after others had published it and gained widespread acceptance.

The Brown paper does have a good discussion of the history of Noether's theorem. Nowadays, conservation of momentum and energy are considered synonomous with symmetries of spacetime. This was one of the most important insights of XX century Physics.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Scientists aghast as Trump not repudiated

Nature, the leading British science publication, endorsed Joe Biden and now reports:
Scientists aghast as hopes for landslide Biden election victory vanish With so many votes cast for Trump in US election, some researchers conclude that they must work harder to communicate the importance of facts, science and truth.

As the possibility of a land-slide victory for US presidential candidate Joe Biden vanished in the wee hours of 4 November, some scientists saw the deadlocked election as a sign of their own failure to communicate the importance of science, evidence and truth to the general population.

“This election is not going to be a decisive national categorical repudiation of Trump, regardless of who wins the presidency,” says James Lindley Wilson, a political scientist who studies elections and democracy at the University of Chicago. ...

But as in 2016, Trump outperformed polls suggesting that his opponent was positioned for a potential landslide victory. ...

“Evidently a lot of Floridians are in denial about climate change,” says Oreskes. “How do we fix that? I don’t know, but obviously what we’ve been doing has not worked.”

Michael Lubell, a physicist at the City College of New York who tracks science policy, worries about what the results of the election say about the value that many Americans put on truth.

The article was written before Biden claimed victory.

I am a big believer in science, evidence, and truth, but never had any understanding of any scientific issue, ever before he went senile. There was no scientific reason to prefer Biden over Trump. The election was decided over other issues.

I am aghast at how the scientific establishment has been politicized, and signed onto a left-wing agenda.

Biden's first act, as apparent President-elect, was science-related:
A professor with the Yale School of Medicine will serve as a co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden’s task force on the coronavirus, according to a report from CNN. ...

According to her biography on the Yale School of Medicine website, Nunez-Smith’s “research focuses on promoting health and health care equity for structurally marginalized populations with an emphasis on supporting health care workforce diversity and development, developing patient reported measurements of health care quality, and identifying regional strategies to reduce the global burden of non-communicable diseases.”

Pres. Trump appointed experts for their competence in the field. This is obviously being appointed for her skin color, sex, and attention to "structurally marginalized populations", whatever they are. Her research does not even involve communicable diseases, and may not know any more about COVID-19 than I do.

If these scientists and science organizations were really so focused on "science, evidence and truth", then they would be criticizing this appointment. They will not.

Update: Scott Aaronson celebrates the Biden-Harris win, and says "I would love for Twitter to deactivate Trump’s account". No mention of any possibility of new policies that would make America a better place.

The comments point out that the Trump administration lacked the foreign policy disasters of the previous Bush and Obama administrations. One comment points out that 70 million citizens voted for Trump, and they certainly did not believe that Trump was sent by God to fight Satanic pedophiles, as Aaronson had claimed. It is clear that his support for Biden was just Trump hatred.

Another comment says:

I don’t see how anyone who has listened to Trump’s diatribes over the past four years and still chose to vote for him could be anything other than a right wing authoritarian.
So we have 70 million right-wing authoritarians? No, I don't know any.

If Trump were really an authoritarian, he would have used the COVID-19 crisis to seize new powers, and to order compliance with his policies. He did not. Instead, Joe Biden has promised to order dictatorial mandates such as wearing masks.