Monday, April 29, 2019

Tegmark believes in math, but not time

Nautilus interview:
In his book Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality, Max Tegmark writes that “time is not an illusion, but the flow of time is.” ...

[Tegmark] It certainly feels to us like time is flowing. Yet that’s not the only way of looking at this reality. ... Einstein pointed out that the most elegant way of describing this mathematically is to say, Let’s look at where each particle is in the three-dimensional space at each time, and draw this in a four-dimensional spacetime, where time is the fourth dimension.
He is referring to the Minkowski diagram. Einstein had nothing to do with it. Minkowski relied on Lorentz and Poincare, not Einstein.
We’ve seen a lot of examples of how things feel very different from the way they look in the equations. I would argue that almost all of the big breakthroughs in physics have this as their most difficult element. If you rewind to when Einstein came up with special relativity, you would find people like Lorentz and Minkowski had already written down a lot of the math. But Einstein was the guy who managed to figure out what it was going to feel like. He said if these are the equations, the way it’s going to feel is if you go near the speed of light, you’re going to feel time slowing down.
This is just nonsense. Einstein added nothing to that.

It is very strange how everyone who explains some aspect of relativity goes into a digression about Einstein deserves more credit than others. Why? It is almost as if he has been hypnotized by the Einstein fans.
David Wineland ... told me that he’d built two atomic clocks that are super precise, and put one of them one foot below the other, and was able to measure that it runs slower!
I think Einstein could be fairly credited for that. If Tegmark said that, I wouldn't mind.
Then quantum mechanics came along. It’s so complicated people still argue about it 100 years later! The math, though, is beautiful and clean. Randomness is fundamentally an illusion because there is no randomness in the math, even though it might feel random. I’m saying the same thing about time. Even though the flow of time is fundamentally an illusion, there is nothing flowing about the math, the equations aren’t changing, there is just a single four-dimensional pattern, albeit a very complicated and beautiful one, in spacetime. If you study it carefully, you’ll realize it’s going to feel like a flow of time.
Now Tegmark is back to complete nonsense. Yes, of course quantum mechanics has randomness in the math. How else would we calculate probabilities?

Yes, there is something flowing about the math. How else would we make predictions?

Saying "there is just a single four-dimensional pattern" is a way of arguing for the philosophy of Eternalism, but it has little to do with physics. If you look at the quantum history of an electron, it is not just a curve in spacetime. That would violate Heisenberg uncertainty. It has a funny wave-like existence, best represented by a wave-function. Its future is random and indeterministic, as far the theory says.

Tegmark claims to be a big believer in whatever the math says, but all this stuff about does not follow from the math.


  1. Being that you can't pass basic arithmetic (or get a correct answer) without following an order or operations, how pray tell does Tegmark do his sums?

    Without that pesky flow of time allowing for a sequence of order/operations to even be computationally possible, he sure must be getting some very interesting answers...for griefs sake, basic counting (much less a number line) is NOT even logically possible or meaningful without sequence.

    There simply is no math without time, since all logical procedures/operations requires it, and YES, math is a subset of logic.

    If Tegmark wants to believe in the mysticism of a timeless platonic existence of mathematical forms, he should leave the pursuit of reality alone.

    1. LOL! Good answer!!

      ... And here I was, writing a big note on how order is important to any physical change (in any physically existing characteristic), and how time is always monotonously increasing (within an adjustment of the sign) even if periodic phenomena do alternate between them (and non-periodic ones can be expressed in their terms), and, above all, the good old Aristotle: Time is a measure of motion.

      May be, there is no real motion in this world. ... LOL!!!

      ... Ok, bye for now...