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Posts posted by Carlos

  1. The Big Bang theory is definitely something from nothing, and it is absurd.

    The Big Bang theory may be wrong, but it is definitely not "something from nothing": it does not assume an empty universe, that is zero mass/energy.

    Yes it would have begun from a little dense seed that exploded outward, but that is a something with no possible meaning. It's not just that this dense seed exploded outwards into space; space was also part of the seed, so there was "nothing" that existed outside the seed. Somehow this primordial seed was space while it simultaneously is expanding (into what?) into nothing. Never mind that expansion presupposes a measurable extent, but only entities can have measurable extents; there isn't a distance "around" existence, distances exist within existence.

    There isn't even an explainable reason why it happened. So yes, it's something from nothing, because it arbitrarily states that existence appeared where there was no existence.

  2. Occasionally I hear the claim that this actually happens in nature (apparently according to some modern theories?).

    Sufficiently high energy photons of light (gamma rays) can collide to make matter antimatter particle pairs, and the process is reversible. I'm guessing this might be what you were thinking of, but it is still not "something from nothing". Photons are still entities, even if they are massless and can interact to produce entities with mass.

    The Big Bang theory is definitely something from nothing, and it is absurd. It is like manmade catastrophic global warming theory, in that it has absolutely no compelling observational evidence, and the theory has never offered any blind predictions for testing, yet a large number of scientists succumb to groupthink. It is rationalistic gobbledygook that begins with the presumption that it is true, and then searches for facts that match deductions from said presumption. Because there are a lot of facts in the universe, it is always easy to at least find one or two that are consistent (for example, the observation that a room gets dark when a light bulb breaks is consistent with the theory that light bulbs suck in darkness and when they break they release the stored darkness). But eventually the "theory" runs aground of stubborn facts that aren't consistent, so then they rewrite reality to keep the theory alive by piling on more arbitrary assumptions that magic-wand away the contradiction. For example, I think one of the earliest problems with the Big Bang was that the universe couldn't expand fast enough, so "Inflation theory" was invented, whereby they basically arbitrarily speculated that it could inflate preposterously fast with no testable way of measuring and verifying that this is even possible (except of course to charm the public into building absurdly expensive particle accelerators, baiting them with the hope of "spillover technology").

  3. The problem with nutrition is that we have no way of really testing long term effects of things. Personally, I am convinced that both *what* and *how much* we eat will have an impact on our quality of life and/or lifespan. The more I read and learn about the subject, the clearer it is that our knowledge is fuzzy. The field is also as polluted with politics as is climatology.

    You are correct to think of the state of science of nutrition as being similar to climatology. In both cases they apparently understand well some specific mechanisms in a very narrow sense. Or to put it another way, there is understanding of some of the microprocesses in the system (whether it be human, or the climate). For example, in the human body it is known as fact that adding salt causes a small rise in blood pressure, while in the climate adding small traces of CO2 has a small perturbative effect on the temperature via the greenhouse effect. But there is apparently no rigorous understanding of how the myriad microprocesses integrate together to make the system in whole, e.g. how will a high carb and salt diet affect over a period of decades the cardiovascular system of an african american male who exercises twice a week? or, how will the steady addition of CO2 affect in net the climate of the Earth, accounting for all secondary feedback effects (clouds, water vapor, aerosols) which may not even change linearly in the concentration of CO2?

    There is no answer to these things, because they don't know. They barely have a narrow understanding of only some of the relevant microprocesses, much less an understanding of how the microprocesses integrate together and are interdependent. For example, it is understood that Alzheimer's is caused by misfoldings of a protein, but the precise cause and cure for this misfolding remains mysterious. While in the climate clouds and cloud formation remain poorly understood, and notoriously difficult to model.

    So both fields have this enormous vacuum of missing knowledge, and it gets filled by hucksters and charlatans and busybody politicians who just know what's best for us. In "Climate Science" we see politically motivated environmental fads that come and go every few decades, ranging from DDT to dying coral reefs to global warming to ozone depletion to organic food crazes and fear of genetically modified crops. In nutrition we see fad diets involving organic food crazes and fear of genetically modified crops (overlap!), Atkin's Diets, demonizing Sugar, and the latest iteration of nutrition rationalism is Paleodiet, which combines gross ignorance of anthropology with nutritional voodoo.

  4. I'm glad your knee surgery went well!

    I also had an ACL reconstruction surgery, but my new ACL was grafted from my hamstring, then they drilled a hole through my femur to "thread the needle" and give me a new hamstring.

    Your recover sounds fast! I was on crutches for a long while, and couldn't jog for months for risk of irreversibly stretching the new ACL and making my knee join too "loose". Are you able to recover so fast because they used a cadaver ACL?

  5. Despite this being an old and inactive thread, I wanted to end it on a positive note to counterbalance the initial negative tone.

    In the five years since writing the opening post of this thread I have completed two graduate programs, gotten to participate in some thrilling physics research in a vibrant research group (despite being at a bottom of the barrel university), and have recently accepted a research position at a high ranking university. Despite all the negative things I've said about the university system and higher education, for what it's worth the process of doing research as a graduate student is still quite close to being a meritocracy, and if you work hard and do good work the right people will notice it and recognize you for it, no matter the low prestige of your schooling.

    With that said, many of my negative comments, which were partially inaccurate due to my own immaturity and lack of experience with the university system and grad school, were in some ways chillingly close to the mark, in that the higher ed system really is incredibly corrupt, inefficient, and essentially combines the worst aspects of the stereotypical soulless private-sector mega-corporation that buys favors from politicians with the sprawling size and wasteful ineffectiveness of a government bureaucracy. It is utterly unsustainable in its current path, and mirrors in many startling ways the housing bubble that burst so ruinously.

    But what I realized matters is that I love science more than I hate the University. At the end of the day all that matters is the enjoyment of your values, and all the negative stuff--the corruption, the cosmic scale waste of taxpayer dollars, the lack of ideals in the university system--none of it really matters in the end. I say this because I don't want to demotivate future objectivists interested in pursuing the hard science, especially into grad school; if your heart is in it, and you are willing to work hard, there are still great opportunities for young scientists, provided you enter this crazy world with eyes open, fully aware of what awaits you. Never, ever for a second, voice a single political opinion on anything; just keep your head down and work your ass off, and you will learn a lot of skills that are transferrable to other occupations even beyond science/tech/engineering industries, as well as participate in really enjoyable research.

  6. I think it's all just waiting for a new generation or technology battery. Right now they are too heavy, expensive and limited in energy supply.

    I don't think all-electric automobiles will ever be practical in the foreseeable future.

    To put the reason shortly: in a gasoline engine the design of the engine and the design of the fuel tank are completely independent, for the obvious reason that they are physically separate objects. It is a trivial matter to design a gas-guzzling high power engine but with a suitably scaled-up gas tank to allow for long use.

    But this is not the case with a battery, because speaking metaphorically, in a battery the fuel tank is inside the "engine"; in other words, the place where energy is released by the transit of ions/charge is also the place where those charges are stored. Because of this, fundamental to the engineering of a Li-ion battery is a trade-off between power-density and energy-density. If you want high power then the internal dimensions of the battery need to be designed such that the Li ions have only a short distance to travel, but this necessarily reduces the total amount of energy that your battery can store.

    When you layer on the complexities that come from high-cycling and high-power (irreversible loss of charge capacity, risk of fire, etc), there is just no way an all-electric automobile will ever be practical, maybe not even for the next 100 years. Sure by prolonged research they can be improved, but for a hell of a lot less effort much greater rewards can be reaped, and have been, by the progressive improvement of internal-combustion engines.

  7. Try taking lots of timed practice tests (maybe not full length, but at least long enough to force you to practice working rapidly). I improved my verbal score on the SAT by 100 points simply by doing this.

    I also despise timed tests, because I like to work slowly through things and actually understand them rather than be an organic calculator crunching through information rapidly. But in our high-throughput national education systems, these things are apparently important for small-minded educrats. Just bust your butt practicing for the test so you can get over it as soon as possible.


    If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands . . . and comment below!!!!!!

    Darrell Cody

    This is good news! I guess it shows that when the principles of the paternalistic-state are applied to their full logical end, then people and the courts reject them. America still isn't ready for the Progressive's vision of outright dictatorship, but they will keep pushing us closer everyday with little pragmatic "practical" steps.

  9. 'Free time' is a contradiction in terms.

    That would be funny if it weren't true!

    I went through the same thing in graduate school, knowingly putting off delving into things that I knew I had to better understand but which were not officially part of my work because there was literally too much else to do and it was ontinuously coming in, along with other distractions.

    Do you think this is part of a problem with modern science/math instruction? It seems like so much material must be covered in so much detail so fast that often one can't avoid slipping into blind memorization in some places, because actually understanding all of it would be impossible given the time constraint.

    How did you deal with this? (I guess you answered that below)

    But in the kind of career you have staked out for yourself you will always be investigating and learning new things at the fasted pace possible with no 'free time' to go back to other subjects or more background even in what you are working with at the time. Having a supposedly well-defined job with theoretical limits on the time required to spend on it, along with the requirements of improving and maintaining daily life along with other interventions, will not give you the time to do it. There are no limits on what you will be doing the best you can at any point in time. You have to plan for other work and set priorities to make sure you get in at least some of what you know is important but not immediately required, and you can start that now.

    I do try this some, such as going back and reviewing older material as often as possible, trying to make sure that I can connect the new abstract ideas I'm learning to something concrete and fundamental.

    One thing you can do right now on behalf of your future is to accumulate books and references before the prices go up even more, and so you can at least browse through them and read portions to see what is in the various sources for when you can get back to it in some more systematic order.

    I try to find good, older books when I can. Dirac's "The Principles of Quantum Mechanics" is a very nice book that I read every now and then. There's actually substantially more text than math in the book, because he spends so much time elaborating the meaning of experiments and how the math and peculiar properties of QM necessarily had to emerge from it.

  10. This doesn't mean that nothing is understood prior to the discovery of the equations. There was a good deal of conceptual motivation in terms of physical concepts and experiments during the development of both the Heisenberg and Schrodinger approaches (some of which was found to be wrong, like Schrodinger's idea of what the wave function represented), before the two approaches were found to be mathematically equivalent. The basic concepts and the equations developed simultaneously and that history is still available as a means to understand the physics instead of being handed equations and directions for using them almost as "axioms" to be accepted out of the blue. The best way to understand that is to read the history of the early development and the scientific biographies of the major participants describing how they thought about what they were doing and why, and what the various problems, debates and controversies were. The difficulties encountered in quantum mechanics and the differences in approach required from classical physics necessarily led to explicit philosophical ideas and theories during the early development, especially by Bohr, Heisenberg, Einstein and a few others, which were widely discussed and debated, and you can see how earlier philosophical trends influenced it, often not for the good.

    Yes, I agree with this. I was referring to the interpretations of the act of measurement in QM ("the wavefunction collapses"), as none of these interpretations precedes the development of QM.

    You're right that the best way to understand it is to go back to the beginning and "watch" through the history of its founders how it came about. I want to do that more in the future when I have the free time for it! :wacko:

  11. All of the major interpretations of quantum theory lead to the same mathematical model. If the interpretations were all that important why do they all lead to the same thing?

    In this case the math in question precedes these interpretations. A system is specified, leading to a Hamiltonian. The Hamiltonian is treated as an operator, and eigenfunctions of the operator are found. These eigenfunctions allow you to calculate exact probabilities related to measurements of the system in question. The interpretation of what these eigenfunctions actually are physically follows, not precedes this.

  12. The film says that quantum mechanics is true.

    The core mathematical structure of QM, meaning the part that can make incredibly accurate predictions, is correct. It's the interpretations of the math that are up in the air, and for that there are no easy answers, if there are any sensible answers at all at this point. Scientists use QM pragmatically; we don't know what the hell it means, we just know it works for what we want to do, which is describe the natural world.

    Some of the arcane theoretical physicists propose crazy ideas about multiple universes or things like that, but I doubt many scientists really truly take it seriously. It mostly makes for fluffy documentaries that sell well by exploiting public-misunderstanding of QM, like this film does.

    Interpretations are baggage. The math IS the theory.

    But reality is more than just numbers without physical context. What does the wavefunction really mean? How is it that quantum systems can tunnel through barriers? I was at a conference recently where they theoretical evidence from quantum chemistry calculations that a certain molecule could "tunnel" from one structural motif to another, and this is the particular reason that synthetic chemists have never been able to make a certain isomer of this molecule; even at absolute zero the structure will tunnel eventually from a higher-energy structure to a lower-energy structure, even if it has to pass through a very high energy transition-state by "tunneling". What does that mean conceptually? How can a quantum system jump through classically energy-forbidden barriers?? I don't think there are answers for that.

  13. The film says that quantum mechanics is true.

    The core mathematical structure of QM, meaning the part that can make incredibly accurate predictions, is correct. It's the interpretations of the math that are up in the air, and for that there are no easy answers, if there are any sensible answers at all at this point. Scientists use QM pragmatically; we don't know what the hell it means, we just know it works for what we want to do, which is describe the natural world.

    Some of the arcane theoretical physicists propose crazy ideas about multiple universes or things like that, but I doubt many scientists really truly take it seriously. It mostly makes for fluffy documentaries that sell well by exploiting public-misunderstanding of QM, like this film does.

  14. This is very cool news Jason! I'm glad you enjoy working for that tech company!

    There are 3 bulbs currently being produced: 2 60W bulbs that output 2700K warm-white and 5000K Daylight, and 1 40W equivalent bulb that outputs warm-white. They are available now online at Home Depot and will at available at Home Depot stores around the end of the month.

    When you say "warm-white", do you mean it has a warmer more yellow glow to it, like sunlight or an incandescent bulb? The only reservation I have about non-incandescent light is that it can be a sterile-white that doesn't feel as comfortable.

  15. Let's say you were in a tightly sealed container and an elemental analysis could be performed on the constituents of your body.

    Now let's say you died in that tightly sealed container and the elemental analysis performed 100 years later.

    There won't be a difference if it remains sealed.

    He'd probably reply that while the number and ratios of the elements remained unchanged, their particular structural arrangements forming his brain were destroyed. Then the argument would continue ad nauseam.

  16. This is Ruveyn's quote but I couldn't get the quote thing to function correctly.

    (moral actions should have causes just like any other action in the Cosmos)

    They do have a cause, and that is volition.

    Until Ethical THeory is firmly linked to physical laws... Ethics will remain in the realm of judgement, rather than solid empirically based testable theory.

    Ethics is not even as advanced as classical physics was in the day when The Aether filled all of Space.

    Ethics cannot be described with mathematical physical laws as with Physics or Classical Mechanics because the object of study is radically different; men have volition, they think with their minds and make decisions, and this cannot be modeled or quantitatively described like the trajectory of a cannonball.

    But ethics can still be scientific in its own way, and people often observe that good men live happy, fulfilling lives, while bad men live in grinding misery.

  17. How to recharge batteries

    How to increase your Wifi signal

    Jason tells me that these belong in the funny videos thread because "Those videos are actually intended as humor, albeit very dry, as they are half truths mixed with techno-babble."

    So, after mistakenly moving them to the technology forum, I moved them back here.

    Bone-dry humor!

  18. While consciousness perceives facts, only a conceptual level consciousness grasps "I am conscious of facts." In explicit terms, your argument amounts to, "I am conscious of the fact that I do not have a mind." As others have patiently stated, this is a bizarre and hopeless claim. Again, to defend such a claim on the basis of brain scans performed machines built not by genetic rhetoric but by the creativity and power of reason is philosophic grand larceny.

    Is it a bizarre and hopeless claim? I have been scanned by some of the most advanced equipment on the planet and I have not seen one trace of a mind. All I see are brain and glial connective tissue, nerves, blood vessels and glands. I have with the aid of a PET scan seen various parts of my brain "light up:" when I am doing certain intellectual tasks. Every thought is accompanied by a discernible physical process or event. My bizarre and hopeless claim is based on clinical facts and recorded data from some very fancy and expensive equipment.

    I have not the foggiest notion of whether you have a mind (for all I know you might) because I have not seen your scans, but I have seen mine and I see nothing (repeat nothing there) that corresponds to this mysterious entity Mind. I go on the basis of observed facts. So the claim I make is about me and I have the evidence to back it up. If some kind of equipment is produced which show in addition to all my physical parts a heretofore unseen entity, then I will change my conclusion on the matter.


    I asked you at least once before. Where is the information contained in Morse Code. You see only dots and dashes which are the physical manifestation. Please don't dodge this again; what is the form of the information? Pretend a Martian asks you to show a scan of the information, and is not satisfied with dots and dashes. He will tell you that all he sees is facts and the facts are dots and dashes. He demands you show him the information, not the dots and dashes. Please answer this time.

    And beyond this, how does he know that the blotches of color on an electronic display correspond to the spatial arrangement of types of tissue within his own head? Shouldn't he say that he sees only colors? I doubt he's ever literally sawed open a living man's head, so he's never actually detected a brain within his definition. He's only seen schematics that must be symbolically interpreted by a conceptual mind to relate to the brain that he assures to us exists. Based on this discussion, I don't believe brains exist. There are only colors on a display; red, blue, and green.