Thursday, December 30, 2021

Quantum Mechanics needs Complex Numbers.

LiveScience reports:
Now, two studies, published Dec. 15 in the journals Nature and Physical Review Letters, have proved Schrödinger wrong. By a relatively simple experiment, they show that if quantum mechanics is correct, imaginary numbers are a necessary part of the mathematics of our universe.
Sounds big, right?

One source sends an entangled pair of photons into nodes A and B, while another sends a pair into B and C. Experiment showed that the photons in A and C were uncorrelated.

No surprise here. I am sure that no one expected correlations from light from different and unrelated sources.

Somehow this shows that some hypothetical real-number variant of quantum mechanics is wrong.

I did not follow the details, but apparently their real-number variant is a nonlocal theory. No one has discovered any experiment with this sort of nonlocal properties. Why did they bother doing any experiment? A nonlocality result like this would be one of the most important in the history of science.

Maybe they should have tested a real-number quantum with locality similar to quantum mechanics.

Quantum mechanics does use complex numbers. You could do all the calculations with real numbers if you wanted to, but there would be no point.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Spain is Sponsoring Racist Research

Why is Spain sponsoring racism, under the guise of science.

Torices, José Ramón (2021) Understanding dogwhistles politics.

This paper aims to deepen our understanding of so-called covert dogwhistles. I discuss whether a covert dogwhistle is a specific sort of mechanism of manipulation or whether, on the contrary, it draws on other already familiar linguistic mechanisms such as implicatures or presuppositions.

This paper has been funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities

A dog whistle is a high-pitched whistle that dogs can hear, but not human.

Here are the examples in the paper:

For so many in our country, the homeless, and the fatherless, the addicted—the need is great. Yet there is power—wonder-working power—in the goodness, and idealism, and faith of the American people.1

Over here you have a policy which, with Reagan and me as speaker, created millions of jobs— it’s called paychecks. Over [t]here you have the most successful food stamp president in American history, Barack Obama.

Willie Horton’s ad

If you can hear the whistle, then you are the dog.

It says these are dogwhistles because everybody knows that “African Americans are lazy”. He says they are lazy 14 times in a 19 page paper. He also says they are criminals, and particularly identifies them with “kidnapping,” “stabbing,” and “rape”.

None of this is backed up by any research on whether African Americans really are lazy and criminal.

Nor is there any pretense of political objectivity. All of the criticism is of one political party, while excusing the comments of the other party.

In case you think that the author is only recognizing those beliefs without endorsing them, then whole point of the article is to deny that anyone does that. People say dogwhistles in order to advertise racist beliefs without explicitly advocating them. Or so it says.-

I just posting this to show what garbage passes for academic work. I thought that only Americans produced this junk, but apparently it has spread to Spain, which doesn't even have any African Americans.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Why Jesuits Disbelieved Copernicism

Much has been written about how not everyone in the 16th and 17th centuries did not immediately accept heliocentrism. Usually it is implied that only narrow-minded Bible readers or Pope followers would refuse the obvious truth.

A new article on Galileo between Jesuits: The Fault is in the Stars

In the middle of the seventeenth century, André Tacquet, S.J. briefly discussed a scientific argument regarding the structure of a Copernican universe, and commented on Galileo Galilei's discussion of that same argument -- Galileo's discussion in turn being a commentary on a version of the argument by Christoph Scheiner, S.J. The argument was based on observations of the sizes of stars. This exchange involving Galileo and two Jesuits illustrates how through much of the seventeenth century, science -- meaning observations measurements, and calculations -- supported a view of the Copernican universe in which stars were not other suns, but were dim bodies, far larger than the sun. Johannes Kepler emphasized this, especially in arguing against Giordano Bruno. Jesuit astronomers like Tacquet and Scheiner understood this. Those who might have listened to Jesuit astronomers would likewise have understood this -- Robert Bellarmine, for example, whose role in the debate over Copernicanism is well known. To many, such a universe was, in the words of Galileo's Dialogue character Sagredo, "beyond belief," and no modern view of a universe of many distant suns would be scientifically supportable until after Tacquet's death in 1660. The Copernican universe of the seventeenth century looked radically different from the universe as modern astronomers understand it, and recognizing this fact allows for interesting questions to be asked regarding the actions of those, such as Bellarmine, who were responding to the work of Copernicus.
The main point here is that astronomers of the day thought that they could measure the apparent size of stars, and found them to be 1/15 the apparent size of the Moon. With better telescopes they got better estimates, but they still got apparent sizes that were much too large. There was an optical effect that made stars seem larger than they were, and the effect was not understood until centuries later.

The Jesuits were skeptical of Copernicism because it required stars to be ridiculously far and large. These were legitimate scientific objections. We now know that the stars really are far away, but they are not nearly so large as the theory of the day required.

Other objections included the lax of observed stellar parallax and Coriolis force. These were only seen centuries later.

Galileo had other arguments for heliocentrism, such as the moons of Jupiter and the phases of Venus. But as this paper notes, Tycho's geocentric model explained those just fine. And Galileops biggest argument was based on the tides, and that was completely bogus.

Merry Christmas.

Update: Leftist-atheist-evolutionist Jerry Coyne disagrees with this essay that argues that the Church was siding with the scientific consensus.

The Pope was a better scientist than Galileo, for he realized that there were arguments against Galileo’s hypothesis, and he just wanted Galileo to do good science and not assert he had “proof” of heliocentrism. ...

In taking this position, the pope was standing in a long tradition in natural philosophy that maintained that the job of astronomers was not to determine what the world was physically like but only to provide useful models for predicting the motions of planets. Stated charitably, the pope was instructing Galileo not to go beyond his evidence.

I would not say that the Pope was a better scientist, but the Church was looking for proof of heliocentrism, and Galileo did not have arguments good enough to convince most of the leading astronomers of the day.

Coyne wrote a book on Faith Versus Fact, so he overdramatizes conflict between religion and science. He says that unscientific creationism is driven almost entirely by religion. That may be true, but as a comment points out, there are lots of other unscientific ideas presented as science, such as the simulation hypothesis, and they are not driven by religion.

Coyne's targets for creationism are Evangelical Prostentants and Moslems, not Catholic. His main gripe with Catholics is the trial of Galileo 400 years ago.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Dr. Bee says Superdeterminism Disproves Free Will

Physicist Sabine Hossenfelder explains a lot of science issues very well, but she is among those who have been driven insane by quantum mechanics. Here latest weekly video is an argument for superdeterminism.

She argues that quantum theory and experiment show that a particle's past history is determined by the measurements that an experimenter chooses to do in the future.

But it means that the particle’s path depends on what measurement will take place. Because the particles must have known already when they got on the way whether to pick one of the two slits, or go through both. This is just what observations tell us.

And that’s what superdeterminism is. It takes our observations seriously. What the quantum particle does depends on what measurement will take place.

This requires her to reject free will. Either the future determines the past, or the past history of the particle determines the choice that the experimenter makes. Either way, we cannot learn the particle's history by choosing to make a measurement.

She quotes others as saying this destroys the scientific method, but this is okay because most philosophers reject free will.

I believe that free will is one of the most obvious and self-evident aspects of life, and it can only be doubted if you suffer from a severe mental disorder like schizophrenia.

Most of those philosophers subscribe to something called free will compatibilism, where we have an illusion of free will. I agree with her quote from physicist Nicolas Gisin:

“This hypothesis of superdeterminism hardly deserves mention and appears here only to illustrate the extent to which many physicists, even among specialists in quantum physics, are driven almost to despair by the true randomness and nonlocality of quantum physics. But for me, the situation is very clear: not only does free will exist, but it is a prerequisite for science, philosophy, and our very ability to think rationally in a meaningful way. Without free will, there could be no rational thought. As a consequence, it is quite simply impossible for science and philosophy to deny free will.”
Well, I actually agree with it except for the clause "the true randomness and nonlocality of quantum physics". There is no nonlocality in quantum mechanics.

Free will may be the closest thing to true randomness that we have. Free will allows us to take actions that cannot be predicted by others, and that is what randomness means.

Quantum mechanics does not correlations that some physicists have tried to explain with nonlocal hidden variables, but those explanations have never worked and they certainly are not part of quantum mechanics.

You could also say that the collapse is nonlocal, as Sabine explains:

The collapse of the wave-function doesn’t make sense as a physical process because it happens instantaneously, and that violates the speed of light limit. Somehow the part of the wave-function at the one slit needs to know that a measurement happened at the other slit. That’s Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance.”

Physicists commonly deal with this spooky action by denying that wave-function collapse is a physical process. Instead, they argue it’s just an update of information. But information about… what? In quantum mechanics there isn’t any further information beyond the wave-function. Interpreting the collapse as an information update really only makes sense in a hidden variables theory. In that case, a measurement tells you more about the possible values of the hidden variables.

Quantum mechanics is a positivist theory that only predicts observables. The wave function is not observable, and has no direct physical meaning.

The flaw in her argument is to say that information about the particle must be information about values of hidden variables. Quantum mechanics most emphatically says no such thing. The wave function allows predictions about the particle, so yes, it has info about the particle, but there are no hidden variables in the theory.

After citing Gisin, John Bell, Anton Zeilinger, Shimony, Horne, Clauser, and Tim Maudlin, she says:

As you can see, we have no shortage of men who have strong opinions about things they know very little about, but not like this is news. ...

Call me crazy if you want but to me it’s obvious that superdeterminism is the correct explanation for our observations. I just hope I’ll live long enough to see that all those men who said otherwise will be really embarrassed.

I have my own disagreements with those men, but they are all extremely knowledgeable and have well thought-out opinions.

Her main technical argument is the double-slit experiment.

Once you understand what’s going on with the double slit, all the other quantum effects that are allegedly mysterious or strange also make sense.
R.P. Feynman once said something similar. But the double-slit is not strange at all, once you once you accept that particles have wave properties. The diffraction pattern is just what we expect from a wave. You could probably make it from water waves. It is bizarre to show an example of waves causing an interference pattern, and deduce that there is no free will and all choices have been determined since the first minute of the Big Bang.

Here’s the weird bit. If you measure which slit the particles go through, the interference pattern vanishes. Why? Well, remember that the wave-function – even that of a single particle – describes probabilities for measurement outcomes. In this case the wave-function would first tell you the particle goes through the left and right slit with 50% probability each. But once you measure the particle you know 100% where it is.

So when you measure at which slit the particle is you have to “update” the wave-function. And after that, there is nothing coming from the other slit to interfere with. You’ve destroyed the interference pattern by finding out what the wave did.

You update the wave function because you have more info, but that is not what destroys the interference pattern. The measurement destroys the pattern because it breaks the coherence between the waves going thru the slits.

I am not saying anything novel here. I am just reciting textbook quantum mechanics, as it has been understood for 90 years.

Update: Anti-free-will atheist-evolutionist Jerry Coyne comments on the video.

As far as I knew, “Bell’s theorem” and subsequent tests of it completely rejected any determinism of quantum mechanics and verified it as inherently indeterministic. But, as Hossenfelder argues in this video, this is not so. She argues that a sort of “superdeterminism” holds in quantum mechanics, so that, in the end, everything in the universe is deterministic according to the known laws of physics.
More precisely, Bell's Theorem rejects a determinism of local hidden variables. Unless there is a superdeterminism that prevents experimenters from choosing what to measure.
But the part that especially interested me beyond superdeterminism is that many physicists rejected such deterministic interpretations of QM simply from their own emotional commitment to dualistic free will.
More generally, philosophers for millennia have rejected determinism out of the obvious truth of free will.
What I find fascinating is that physicists were conditioning their ideas and research directions on a philosophical belief that humans must have libertarian free will. Perhaps that impeded the ideas of “superdeterminism”.
No, I don't think physicists conditioned their research on free will. What impedes superdeterminism is that it makes it impossible to do an objective experiment on the natural world, and thereby rejects the scientific method.

If a medical study said that those getting a vaccine were healthier than those getting the placebo, the superdeterminists would say that an invisible hand rigged the randomization of the controls so that the experiment would come out that, and the experiment tells us nothing about the vaccine. We could never make any scientific progress on anything.

And if “superdeterminism” of QM is now widely accepted, let me know.
No, it is a fringe view that is only held by a handful of people.

Update: One comment says it is a "gods-of-the-gaps argument of a perceived loophole in Bell tests", and another says:

I thought of a good analogy for superdeterminism (though posting it now is likely too late for anyone to read it!).

Suppose we lived in a universe where, when we throw a dice, it always gives either 1, 3 or 5, and never 2, 4 or 6. And suppose that everything we knew about dice and physics and how the world works suggests that all 6 numbers should be equally likely. So the lack of 2, 4 and 6 would then be a big puzzle.

The superdeterminist would then say: easy, it’s simply that the universe is absolutely deterministic, and it just happens to be the case that the initial conditions of the Big Bang were such that, as the determined outcome plays out, 2, 4 and 6 never occur. Essentially, all the starting points that would have led to 2, 4 and 6 simply didn’t exist, only those leading to 1, 3 and 5 exist.

Would anyone find this convincing?

No, of course it is not convincing. But you could say the same of simulation hypothesis, many-worlds, nonlocality, multiverse, and a lot of ideas presented by modern physics popularizers. They are all gods-of-the-gaps arguments. They appeal to spooky arguments that do not really explain anything.

The term "god of the gaps" is borrowed from evolution-creationism debates. The evolutionist will point to a chain of natural development of life on Earth. The creationist will point to some gaps, and say God is responsible. I once heard of an example where an evolutionist found a fossil missing link squarely in the middle of a gap, and the creationist said that there were now two gaps!

Monday, December 13, 2021

Cargo Cult Science, Updated for Diversity

Leif Rasmussen reports:
Richard Feynman introduced a concept he called “cargo cult science” during a commencement speech at Caltech in 1974.1 ...

The NSF, an independent federal agency, has a stated mission “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense.”4 It has an annual budget of around $8.5 billion and funds approximately a quarter of all federally funded basic research at colleges and universities in the US. ...

The following figures demonstrate a considerable rise in the frequency of award abstracts that contain selected politicized terms over the past 30 years. ...

As of 2020, across all fields 30.4% of successful grant abstracts contained at least one of the terms “equity,” “diversity,” “inclusion,” “gender,” “marginalize,” “underrepresented,” or “disparity.” This is up from 2.9% in 1990 (Figure 2). This increase is seen in every field. As of 2020, the two most politicized fields seem to be Education & Human Resources (53.8%, up from 4.3% in 1990) and Biological Sciences (43.8%, up from 6.6%), although “diversity” may sometimes have non-political connotations in the latter. Even the fields that should be most disconnected from politics have seen a massive jump in these terms: Mathematical & Physical Sciences went from 0.9% to 22.6%, and Engineering from 1.6% to 25.4%.

It is not so bad in the hard sciences. Not yet, anyway.

New Zealand is now teaching crackpot science, just because it is popular among its darker-skinned natives

the government and universities in New Zealand are standing firm in their resolve to teach mātauranga Māori, or “Maori ways of knowing” alongside and coequal to modern (i.e., real) science in both high schools and universities. ...

The argument — facile beyond comprehension — is that science has been used by white, western, developed nations to underpin colonialism and is therefore tainted by its association with white supremacy. As Dawkins pointed out, science is not “white”. (The assumption that it is is surely racist.) Nor is it imperialist. It is simply a rather beautiful tool for discerning the truth.

It is not just New Zealand. Science is under attack in America and indeed here. Rochelle Gutierrez, an Illinois professor, has argued that algebra and trigonometry perpetuate white power and that maths is, effectively, racist.

Oxford University has announced that it intends to “decolonise” maths: “This includes steps such as integrating race and gender questions into topics.”

A lunacy has gripped our academics. They would be happy to throw out centuries of learning and brilliance for the sake of being temporarily right-on, and thus signalling their admirable piety to a young, approving audience.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Sokal Disavows Copycat Hoaxsters

Physicist Alan Sokal is famous for publishing a hoax article, and now he is annoyed at other hoaxsters crediting him:
From the mere fact of publication of my parody I think that not much can be deduced. It doesn’t prove that the whole field of cultural studies, or cultural studies of science — much less sociology of science — is nonsense. Nor does it prove that the intellectual standards in these fields are generally lax. (This might be the case, but it would have to be established on other grounds.) It proves only that the editors of _one_ rather marginal journal were derelict in their intellectual duty, by publishing an article on quantum physics that they admit they could not understand, without bothering to get an opinion from anyone knowledgeable in quantum physics, solely because it came from a “conveniently credentialed ally” (as Social Text co-editor Bruce Robbins later candidly admitted[12]), flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions, and attacked their “enemies”.[13]
This is a baffling comment. His article was not on quantum physics. The title was:
Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity
Quantum gravity is a failure, and has nothing to do with any real world observations or experiments. His paper is certainly not a science paper. It is a hermeneutics paper, whatever that is. He uses some physics metaphors, and makes fun of some quotes from others. That's about all.

If the edicors had sent the paper to an expert in quantum gravity, he would probably say it was an amusing little essay that should be judged for its non-physics content.

It appears that the hoax of teh Sokal hoax is that it was not really a hoax. It was a sincere expression of his opinions about physics metaphors, written in a style intended to fit the target journal.

Sokal got a lot of praise for embarrassing some humanities professors for not knowing anything about quantum gravity. But there is no reason anyone should learn anything about quantum gravity, as there are no worthwhile theories in the whole field. It is like making fun of someone for now knowing medieval scholarship on how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Job for Contemporarily Minoritized Individuals Underrepresented

Modern job announcement:
Fermilab launches the new Gates Fellowship

November 29, 2021 | edited by Lisa Roberts

The Theory Division at the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory is pleased to announce its new Sylvester James Gates, Jr. Fellowship. Inspired by the achievements of Jim Gates, currently Ford Foundation professor and director of the Brown University Theoretical Physics Center, the Gates Fellowship at Fermilab prioritizes the inclusion of first-generation college graduates, and the representation of historically and contemporarily minoritized individuals underrepresented in theoretical physics.

The new Gates Fellowship takes its name from Sylvester James “Jim” Gates, Jr., who attended a segregated African-American high school in Orlando, Florida. While earning his Ph.D. at M.I.T., he began his pioneering research on supersymmetry and supergravity, which became the basis for the string theory revolution of theoretical physics in the 1980s.

I can only guess what races and ethnic groups are eligible.

That "string theory revolution" was a failure. I don't know much about Gates, but here is a 2011 panel discussion with him and others trying to find positive things to say about various "theory of everything" failures.

The latest Lubos Motl rant:

Contemporary West's far left "religions" are as dumb and devastating as radical Islam As recently as 5-10 years ago, I took it for granted that the fuzzy region referred to as the West had an advantage in comparison with the Muslim World that was way more important than the immediate wealth: the ability to think impartially, fairly, rationally, and calmly – a broader pattern of behavior that produces things like science, mathematics, and rigorous trials in the courtrooms as special branches. The Westerners looked so different from the Palestinians or black Africans or Indonesians... when it came to such things. And the rational, balanced judgement is ultimately the primary cause that gives rise to the potential to create wealth and happiness; it is more fundamental than the wealth and happiness themselves.

In recent years and especially months, I realized that it was necessary to revise this judgement. The West's mental superiority could have looked like a fact for decades or centuries but in the truly long-term perspective, it was probably just a mirage. The brainwashed leftists that are all around us seem to act and (fail to) think in a nearly isomorphic way to the most hardcore fundamentalist Islamists. Their relationships to the "authorities" like the far left TV stations are on par with the mindless Islamists' relationship to the mullahs. And the percentage of the lies and stupidities is about the same, too.

The amount of absolute insanity that is taking place – and that is clearly devouring tons of people around us – is so high that I increasingly insert whole days when I mostly isolate myself not only from the news on the Internet and in the "media" but also from all people who seem likely to be hopelessly brainwashed morons. I just really physically suffer when I am exposed to the human stupidity and its concentration in our environment is just unbelievable these days.

A few years ago I would have said that Lumo was losing his mind. But now I agree that The West and the major media have been taken over by brainwashed morons.

Update: Good essay:

Lawrence Krauss: Why the easily offended are a threat to scientific progress

The mantras of diversity, inclusion and anti-racism are placing feelings above academic freedom

There is a growing public perception that being offended confers special rights while also imposing obligations on the offending parties. It doesn’t. Or at least it shouldn’t. Nevertheless, perhaps as a consequence of the current educational focus on issues of diversity, inclusion and anti-racism, this warped viewpoint is insinuating itself into higher education and research at a level that is increasingly threatening free speech, academic freedom and with it, scientific progress.