Monday, August 28, 2023

We are not Empty

From the new movie:
Kitty Oppenheimer: Can you explain quantum mechanics to me?
  • J. Robert Oppenheimer: Well, this glass, this drink, this counter top, uhh.. our bodies, all of it. It's mostly empty space. Groupings of tiny energy waves bound together.
  • Kitty Oppenheimer: By what?
  • J. Robert Oppenheimer: Forces of attraction strong enough to convince us
  • [that]
  • J. Robert Oppenheimer: matter is solid, to stop my body passing through yours.
  • [gently places his palm against hers]
  • Mario Barbatti says this is all a big misconception, and the empty atom is a myth.

    I agree. Electrons can seem like point particles when observed, but in atoms they fill up orbitals.

    People like to say that solid matter is mostly empty space, but that is like saying fire is mostly cold. It is nonsense.

    People say galaxies are mostly empty space because they can collide, and the inhabitants barely notice as they pass through each other. But solid objects cannot pass through each other.

    Monday, August 21, 2023

    The Historical Acceptance of Negative Numbers

    Mathematician tries to trace the acceptance of negative numbers, in 2010 essay:
    I was flabbergasted when I first read Augustus De Morgan’s writings about negative numbers1. For example, in the Penny Cyclopedia of 1843, to which he contributed many articles, he wrote in the article Negative and Impossible Quantities:
    It is not our intention to follow the earlier algebraists through their different uses of negative numbers. These creations of algebra retained their existence, in the face of the obvious deficiency of rational explanation which characterized every attempt at their theory.
    In fact, he spent much of his life, first showing how equations with these meaningless negative numbers could be reworked so as to assert honest facts involving only positive numbers and, later, working slowly towards a definition of abstract rings and fields, the ideas which he felt were the only way to build a fully satisfactory theory of negative numbers. On the other hand, every school child today is taught in fourth and fifth grade about negative numbers and how to do arithm
    Wallis and Newton had fully accepted negative numbers by 1685.

    Closely related is the discovery of zero.

    It is repeated everywhere that the Indians invented zero and place notation and that the Arabs learned it from them and later transmitted this to Europe. It’s bizarre that such a misunderstanding should be widespread but in fact, the Babylonians invented place notation (albeit using base 60) and their arithmetic was used by many Greeks, e.g. Ptolemy. I hope I have made the case that the most substantial arithmetic discovery of the Indians – and independently the Chinese – was not merely that of zero but the discovery of negative numbers. Sadly this discovery was not absorbed in any but a superficial way by the Arabs.
    His essay has examples of famous mathematicians being leery about negative numbers. Also imaginary numbers, infinities, and other constructs.

    I am not sure how well these are accepted today, outside of Mathematics. If you read the business section of the newspaper, a company's loss is just a negative profit, but the articles hardly every express it that way.

    Friday, August 18, 2023

    FQXi Essay Contest Winners

    FQXi has announced its essay contest winners. They were supposed to answer: How Could Science be Different?

    First place is a tie between a silly feminist rant:

    Before delving into the discussion on science and feminism, we cannot avoid the issue of the absence of women in scientific research. It is a revealing issue and a good starting point. I prefer to leave it to other readings to discuss how millennia of patriarchy have led to this.

    Here, I want to start with today's data and from my perspective, wondering where women are in scientific research. For example, which country in the world has the highest percentage of women in the research world? The answer may surprise you. The first is Myanmar with 75.6%, followed by Venezuela with 61.4%, Azerbaijan with 59%, Mongolia with 57.5%, Tunisia with 55.4%... The first European country on the list is North Macedonia with 52.3%, while countries that prominently feature in the European scientific landscape in terms of resources and visibility such as Germany, France, and the Netherlands only reach a measly 28.0%, 27.0%, and 25.8%, respectively.

    No, not surprising. Countries fail to accomplish decent scientific research, if they let women dominate it.

    The other winning essay argues that science was able to distinguish subject and object from 1619 to 1925.

    The idea that we are Cartesian subjects, locked up in the ivory towers of our brains, unable to truly know anything or anyone outside of ourselves, has left us in a hyper-individualistic, solipsistic state, where nothing and no one is quite real, and nothing exactly matters. On the flipside, the idea that the world is made of objects, bumping around mechanistically in third person has allowed us to treat the planet as a resource rather than an unfolding, creative, and crucial part of our own embodied existence.

    ... how could science be different? is this: Science is different when philosophy is different. Science could have been different had Descartes never split the world, and science needs to be different for us to put it back together.

    This essay was more interesting to read, but still did not really tell us how science could be different.

    What these essays have in common is that they both do a lot of name-dropping. They both cite a lot of famous scholars. They also have a lot of vague and incoherent ramblings about how science is too objective.

    Monday, August 14, 2023

    The Truth behind Einstein Historian Stachel

    I just found this video:
    Christopher Jon Bjerknes celebrates the 20th anniversary of the release of his historic book ALBERT EINSTEIN THE INCORRIGIBLE PLAGIARIST and discusses his groundbreaking work on the history of the theory of relativity
    He says that the leading Einstein historian John Stachel was a Communist, and the son of the famous Jewish Communist Jack Stachel. Wikipedia does not mention the connection. I do not know why. According to the video, John Stachel was a hard-core Marxist Communist who spent several years supporting his father's Communist causes. His father went to prison for this work.

    Einstein was a member of Communist front organizations, and also was active in Jewish and Zionist causes.

    Wikipedia says:

    John Stachel (1995)[B 18] argued that there is a debate over the respective contributions of Lorentz, Poincaré and Einstein to relativity. These questions depend on the definition of relativity, and Stachel argued that kinematics and the new view of space and time is the core of special relativity, and dynamical theories must be formulated in accordance with this scheme. Based on this definition, Einstein is the main originator of the modern understanding of special relativity. In his opinion, Lorentz interpreted the Lorentz transformation only as a mathematical device, while Poincaré's thinking was much nearer to the modern understanding of relativity. Yet Poincaré still believed in the dynamical effects of the aether and distinguished between observers being at rest or in motion with respect to it. Stachel wrote: "He never organized his many brilliant insights into a coherent theory that resolutely discarded the aether and the absolute time or transcended its electrodynamic origins to derive a new kinematics of space and time on a formulation of the relativity principle that makes no reference to the ether".
    I had wondered how anyone could say such nonsense. Him being a Marxist doubletalker seems like a good explanation.

    The new view of space and time at the core of special relativity is Minkowski spacetime, and Einstein had nothing to do with it. Minkowski got it from Poincare, Poincare wrote it before EInstein wrote anything.

    Lorentz wrote about his transformations as explaining experiments. They were not only mathematical devices. Lorentz's papers were much more directly tied to experiment than Einstein's.

    Poincare did not believe that the aether had any observable effects, and argued that it would be discared as unnecessary. Einstein denied that he discarded the aether. Poincare was also the one to formulate the relativity principle, without reference to the aether, years ahead of Einstein.

    Stachel obviously knows all this. He studied Einstein all his life. He is just like one of those academic Marxists spewing complex lies to promote their ideological goals.

    Bjerknes tells a story about how someone destroyed a half-page from a Hilbert paper in order to give credit to Einstein for general relativity field equations. It might have been Stachel, it is not clear. According to the video, Stachel admits that he helped to cover it up.

    Friday, August 11, 2023

    Bose Discovered Photon Spin in 1924

    Bose–Einstein statistics are crucial in quantum mechanics for describing systems of multiple identical bosons, like photons. Wonder what Einstein had to do with it?

    A new paper tells the story:

    As we approach the centenary of the discovery of quantum statistics in 1924, it is important to revisit Bose’s original derivation of Planck’s law usually ignored in most standard presentations of Bose-Einstein statistics. It introduced not only the novel concept of the indistinguishability of photons but also of their intrinsic spin, a fact unknown to most physicists. ...

    On June 4, 1924 he sent a short paper ‘Planck’s Law and the Light-Quantum Hypothesis’ to Albert Einstein with the humble request, ‘You will see that I have tried to deduce the co- efficient 8πν2/c3 in Planck’s law independent of the classical electrodynamics, only assuming that the ultimate elementary regions in the Phase space have the content h3. I do not know sufficient German to translate the paper. If you think the paper worth publication, I shall be grateful if you arrange its publication in Zeitschrift f¨ur Physik’.

    In a post card dated 2nd July, 1924 Einstein wrote to Bose, ‘Dear Colleaugue, I have translated your work ... It signifies an important step forward and I liked it very much ...... You are the first to derive the factor quantum theoretically, even though because of the polarization factor 2 not wholly rigorously. It is a beautiful step forward’

    Bose not only derived the Planck law using the statistics, he descovered spin to account for that factor of 2. He later explained:
    ‘You know’, he said, ‘my deduction of the Planck law had a factor of 2 missing. So I proposed that it came from the fact that the photon had a spin, and that it can spin either parallel or antiparallel to its direction of motion. That would give the additional factor of 2. But the old man (meaning Einstein) crossed it out (‘budho k´et´e dil´e’ in Bengali, his mother tongue) and said it was not necessary to talk about spin, the factor of 2 comes from the two states of polarization of light.’
    Today we call this Bose-Einstein because Einstein translated the paper from English to German, recommended it for publication, and deleted one of the brilliant ideas.

    Now we know spin and polarization are the same thing, but we say spin for particles, and polarization for waves.

    Quantum spin has a long history of physicists denying that it was real. According to Wikipedia, W. Pauli introduced it in 1924 as an electron having "two-valuedness not describable classically". He first denied that it was spin, and then published a quantum spin theory in 1927.

    Tuesday, August 8, 2023

    Carroll Trashes Copenhagen Interpretation

    Physicist Sean M. Carroll posted his monthly AMA, and he answers a question about interpretations of quantum mechanics.

    He trashes the Copenhagen interpretation as being too vague and incoherent to be worthy of serious consideration.

    He says he favors the many-worlds interpretation, and then Bohmian mechanics as a distant second. He is so strongly in favor of many-worlds, that he says it is not worth time thinking about interpretations.

    This opinion is so crazy that it discredits much of what he says.

    Copenhagen is what the textbooks teach. We have about a trillion dollar sector based on QM, notably semiconductors and lasers, and it all uses Copenhagen. If that is not a scientific theory worthy of consideration, then something is wrong with your definition of theory.

    No one has ever used many-worlds or Bohmian to do a practical QM calculation. That is, $0 based on it.

    He is like someone saying that everyone should use teleportation for transportation, because cars do not meet his definition of a vehicle.

    In other podcasts, he argues that MWI is the most testable, because it could be refuting by refuting the Schroedinger equation. This is wrong because those textbook applications of QM use that equation, but do not use many-worlds. His many-worlds are not observable, so no one could ever say whether they obey equations or not.

    He previously had a long rambling over-opinionated podcast on whether there is a crisis in Physics. I tried to listen, but it was boring and stupid.

    Here is a recent paper on How Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation is realist and solves the measurement problem. It looks at what Bohr actually said and wrote, and says he did not believe that Schroedinger's cat was really in a superposition of alive and dead states, or some of the other views attributed to him, and that he had a sensible view of the real world.

    Wednesday, August 2, 2023

    Minkowski Space was the Revolution

    From a new paper on relativity:
    So, Copernicus, and later Galileo, revolutionized our view on movement, allowing us to become aware of the existence of movements that until then we were unaware of, and this not because they were hidden. As Edgar Allen Poe famously emphasized, the best place to hide something is often right out in the open. We humans were all openly moving together with the planet, but precisely because of that, we were not able to detect the planet’s motion. ...

    Einstein’s relativity is the next great revolution about motion, but similarly to Copernican revolution its acceptance does not appear to be easy, and it is the thesis we defend in this article that it has not been fully achieved, because what we physicists have not fully realized is that ‘Mikowski space’ is as real as its little brother ‘Newton space’, hence the material entities move much more and rather differently than the way Copernicus told us.

    The paper is really about Minkowski space, not Einstein's relativity. They are not the same.

    Minkowski's papers of 1907-8 built on those of Lorentz and Poincare. It is not clear that he learned anything from Einstein's famous 1905 paper.

    Poincare wrote in 1905 that he was proposing something revolutionary, like Copernicus. Minkowski also wrote that his spacetime was a whole new way of looking at the world. einstein rejected Minkowski's view for several years.

    Einstein did not claim any such radical break from the past. His theory was called Lorentz-Einstein theory, and both Lorentz and Einstein always denied that there were any significant differences between their relativity theories.