Sandbox (4)

Sometimes very active discussions about peripheral issues overwhelm a thread, so this is a permanent home for those conversations.

I’ve opened a new “Sandbox” thread as a post as the new “ignore commenter” plug-in only works on threads started as posts.


2,020 thoughts on “Sandbox (4)

  1. walto: I hope you make it big time on the podcast circuit.

    I wanted to mention that one podcast I’d be def be interested in being on is Sean Carroll’s, which you turned me on to. Strangely, he’s had a couple of episodes on books on democracy. On one, devoted to Astra Taylor’s recent “Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone,” Carroll asks a ton of very good questions but gets very few intelligent answers.

    I feel like I couldn’t do much worse than she did–though he’s smarter than I am too.

  2. walto: I wanted to mention that one podcast I’d be def be interested in being on is Sean Carroll’

    Sean has emphasized on AMAs that he wants to have a variety of guests — his latest is the musician Grimes — and not just talk physics.

    I agree that Sean has to work hard with some guests to get them to express their views fully. From what I have read so far of the transcripts, the two previous guests (on knowledge and on end of the universe) fall into that category.

    On the other hand, his previous guest Goff is very articulate in explaining his version of monism, and gets the better of Sean several times when Sean tries to make a philosophical counter (eg on knowledge argument or in discussing ontology of Sean’s Everettian views).

    You might also like Tyler Cowen’s podcasts. He is an excellent interviewer, although I don’t always like his economics views. Also fun is anything thing with Jeremy Black on NBN, especially the “Arguing History” series with him (which is actually mostly Black pontificating on history).

  3. BruceS:
    Tim Maudlin on whyphysics needs quantum theory in addition to QM formalism.

    I watched. I’m inclined to disagree on quantum theory. Or, to say it differently, my quantum theory says that there will never be a satisfactory quantum theory.

    I agree with Maudlin on Schrödinger’s cat. But I also disagree about quite a bit.

  4. Neil Rickert: But I also disagree about quite a bit

    All well and good, but did you notice the naked man at the start?

    I think Maudlin should have at least mentioned the Many-Worlds Interpretation, if only to dismiss it (I know he has little regard for it). But other than that, what he said is the consensus viewpoint of people working in quantum foundations, at least among the realists.

    So I am not surprised you disagree with a lot he said.

    ETA: Given your view of Bayesian epistemology, I will guess that you are also not a fan of the main anti-realist position, Quantum Bayesianism.

  5. BruceS:
    Tim Maudlin on whyphysics needs quantum theory in addition to QM formalism.

    Interesting asides on the role of the manifest image, whether relativity implies time is an illusion, Bohr’s obscurity, the purpose of Schrodinger’s cat thought experiment,the shut-up-and-calculate school, and political/institutional power in physics.

    Didn’t you already post this a while back? Not complaining at all, it’s just that I seem to remember us briefly discussing this clip

  6. BruceS,

    Just finished watching that again, and a question sprung to mind.

    It doesn’t sound right to me when people claim that a scientific theory is an upgrade from a scientific hypothesis after being supported by (enough) evidence.

    Maudlin refers to QM interpretations as different theories that map QM concepts to the real world, and tell us how it’s like, so even though they’re not supported by evidence, the fact that they’re not just a mathematical predictive model, means that QM interpretations are actual scientific theories, which seems right to me (assuming that I’m not misrepresenting Maudlin’s views, that is)

    OTOH, I remember you told me you think QM interpretations are philosophy, not science, when I asked what you thought about it, so I’m a bit confused.

    Would you mind shedding some light on this, please?

  7. dazz: It doesn’t sound right to me when people claim that a scientific theory is an upgrade from a scientific hypothesis after being supported by (enough) evidence.

    That doesn’t sound right to me, either.

  8. Neil Rickert: That doesn’t sound right to me, either.

    Thanks Neil. A theory is a much broader concept than a hypothesis in my (probably uninformed) view, isn’t it?

  9. dazz: QM interpretations are actual scientific theories,

    I think it is important to understand what Maudlin expects from a scientific theory: that explains why he thinks the QM formalism is not there yet (see extended quote at end of this post for Maudlin’s view).

    Not everyone agrees with Maudlin on this point; for example, there are some MWI supporters who think the mathematical wave function itself represents reality and everything else is emergent in some sense (Sean C is in this camp ). They see no need for a theory to include local beables.

    Here is an extended quote from his latest book to explain what Maudlin thinks is a requirement of a theory (Maudlin is a realist, of course):

    [start of quote]
    What principle guided these choices? The central problem facing attempts to understand a quantum theory is how it manages to model empirical phenomena in a principled way. This is often referred to as “the measurement problem,” because the sorts of laboratory operations used to provide data are called “measurements.” But the problem has a much wider scope. Any macroscopic phenomenon can in principle test a fundamental physical theory, because the theory should be able to provide a physical account of it. Erwin Schrödinger famously asked how quantum theory could model how a cat in a particular experimental setting ends up either alive or dead. It is irrelevant for his point whether the experiment counts as a “measurement.”

    John Stewart Bell made a proposal about how this can be done, which he called the theory of local beables. “Beables” refers to the ontology of a theory: what it postulates to exist. “Local” indicates a beable that exists in a small region of space or space-time. Fixing the distribution of local beables at a microscopic scale fixes the location, shape, and motion of their macroscopic aggregates and thereby can solve the measurement problem and Schrödinger’s cat problem. What one needs from such a theory is an inventory of local beables and an account of their dynamics: how they get distributed in space-time.
    [end of quote]

  10. BruceS,

    Thanks, Bruce. That was very helpful.
    Well, at least Maudlin and Carroll agree on the importance of fundamental physics and QM interpretations. Let’s hope someone listens and more physicists are able to work on that

  11. Look at this, science has discovered a new species of animal!

    It looks sort of like a German Shepherd, but it is smaller, much smaller. So far there is only one known to exist in the entire world. Its unknown whether it can possibly breed to create some kind of hybrid animal.

    But it just goes to show you the incredible power of natural selection. It doesn’t need to create something whole cloth, instead it can take what already exists, and in just a short amount of time, create something entirely new an unique. Imagine in 1 million years what an animal like this could do. It could become so small, but with such intense guarding abilities, that you could keep it in a locket around your neck. Then in emergencies it would burst out and ward off any possible threats of harm.

    Or better yet, it could become so small, like the size of just a few molecules, and then you could put it in a pill you could swallow. It would then go sniffing around looking for cancers. And by then it will probably so smart, doing taxes will be a thing of the past. Just get them to do it. They won’t need much in the way of food for a reward, probably a crumb could last them months, maybe years.

    Amazing! But not a problem for evolution.

  12. My previous test was in sandbox. So I’ll test again here. This is using my (rarely used) test account.

    I guess it now works.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.