MichaelJ

Scale model of hydrogen atom

40 posts in this topic

Nobody sensible is claiming that the "aether" is matter, obviously it is not. My question remains: What *stuff* is being warped by matter density in the theory of G.R.? It is senseless to assert that it is literally nothing, that just leaves open the question of the properties of this stuff, of which G.R. provides a partial description.

Further elaboration of the nature of "the stuff" is still an open question, but if you are looking for a direct metaphysical referrent that is directly observable, there is no such thing. We can only directly observe through our senses a narrow range of physical reality; everthing else -- from the nature of light and E&M waves to electrons to gravity and more -- is knowable to us only through inference based on a complex hierarchy of abstract concepts ultimately rooted in what we can directly observe and measure. What is known about the nature of "the stuff" you refer to is the evidence that leads to our current state of knowledge in physics in the form of our abstract formulations of the theory, including the experimental confirmations and complex chain of inferences leading Einstein to his general theory of relativity and the tensor components g_mu_nu expressed in abstract mathematical form that describes "empty space". For now that's about it for what we know about "the stuff" -- only a partial, highly abstract knowledge of some aspects of it. What else may be discovered about "the stuff" is for the future in terms of more advanced measurements and complex theory, but it won't be in the form of a directly perceivable metaphysical referent by itself and further explanation is unlikely to be simple.

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Nobody sensible is claiming that the "aether" is matter, obviously it is not. My question remains: What *stuff* is being warped by matter density in the theory of G.R.? It is senseless to assert that it is literally nothing, that just leaves open the question of the properties of this stuff, of which G.R. provides a partial description.

Further elaboration of the nature of "the stuff" is still an open question, but if you are looking for a direct metaphysical referrent that is directly observable, there is no such thing.

I really have no idea why you think that I think that it would be. Your Einstein quote from 1920 is perfectly sensible to me, and moreover, I have my own surmises on this nature of that "stuff", and I am sure that whatever mathematics is required to grasp the connection between it and that which is directly observable by our senses, is anything but simple. My reply to ruveyn was mostly philosophically based, anyway - whatever it *is*, it is *something*, not *nothing*, which does not contradict anything held by Einstein, myself, or the rest of what you write.

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Everyone knows that physical theories must be in accordance with the facts. Bromides about "prediction" and "falsifiability" add nothing to this discussion. The theories of physics are not just "predictions" based on manipulations of mathematics. Scientific theories must be conceptually explanatory and that is what knowledgeable Forum members expect when they discuss these issues. One does not just "go by results", taking it "seriously" until someone "busts it", as if science is nothing but the Kantian inspired Pragmatism and Positivism that has been commonly misrepresented as science. Echoing the common bromides and cliches currently prevalent in the name of "science", whether coming from professional physicists or serious "hobbyists", is not the authoritative answer to these questions that you think it is.

Science is quantitative model building, reflecting correctly (modulo some error bound), observable aspects of the world.

Correct prediction IS explanation. As Hertz once said -- Maxwell's theory is Maxwell's Equations. Hertz experiments showed that Maxwell's Equations correctly predicted the light-like aspects of electromagnetic radiation (i.e. light as a wave). Maxwell's theory, it turns out, completely missed the photo electric effect, because Maxwell had no idea that electric charge is quantized (electrons were unknown to Maxwell and Hertz). So Maxwell's electrodynamic theories gave us a partial (and within those bounds) correct model for what is observed.

A theory correctly predicts observed phenomena or it doesn't. If it doesn't fix it or toss it. If it does, use it. And that is basically what is what.

If you think our current theories capture reality down to the ground floor think again. Our best theories approximate the phenomena fifteen orders of magnitude shy of Planck Length (10 ^ -35 meters). I do not plan to hold my breath until physics can get us within grabbing distance of Planck Length. That would require energies that we cannot achieve. What we have are models, which when properly used produce first rate technology. The gold standard of scientific theory is predictive correctness. The -cash value- of scientific theory is the technology that its application produces.

Yup. I am a pragmatist. I ride to work on things that work, not on perfection. Philosophical perfection and $2.67 will get me a hot French roast coffee at Dunkin' Donuts . All in all we do pretty well even if we are short of Planck Length by fifteen orders of magnitude.

ruveyn

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I am no physicist and don't keep up with developments in the field, but here is my take on the thread if anyone is interested. I will use what I know, mathematics, something I do know well to help illustrate my point.

I see the role of concepts as a method of simplifying the whirlwind of concretes in this world, into units that the mind can understand and relate to each other. The more efficient a concept(meaning the simplest differentia and genus that covers the criteria required for that knowledge), the more our minds can handle in a shorter period of time, meaning greater productiveness.

If scientists don't think philosophy is necessary, and don't try to simplify knowledge and only keep adding on bits and pieces of concretes gathered from experiments without integrating it all together, we will end up with some horrific equation someday that nobody can understand, takes forever to work out and makes expanding knowledge much harder.

It might be the physics equivalent of this - "2(sqroot(x^2) / 50 * 100 / 2 + 200 - 100 - 40 - 60)"

Epistemology is the theory of knowledge, it serves the same purpose for all knowledge that simplification serves for mathematics. It allows us to figure out which bits of information are necessary for the concept, and which is not to bring more of the world into grasp of our minds. Sure that super long theory might be accurate to 12 decimal places but so is the physics equivalent of 2x, which is far easier to explain to people and much easier to mentally process and much more usable.

Philosophy makes the world easy and while a philosopher might not know how to calibrate the instruments or the large amount of facts involved in physics, a philosopher can help physics people by utilising their advanced knowledge of epistemology to offer guidance to physicists in how to construct a simpler explanation and what questions to ask themselves in their work.

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Science is quantitative model building, reflecting correctly (modulo some error bound), observable aspects of the world.

I disagree. Science is the study of entities in reality in order to explain their properties and actions.

Correct prediction IS explanation.

A correct prediction may be due to a proper explanation or it may just be an accident. The only proper explanation is a causal explanation that explains why things must be what they were/are predicted to be.

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Yup. I am a pragmatist.

Yup, we know, which begs the question of why are you here on a site where pragmatism is thrown out as an illogical way to come to proper conclusions?

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Yup. I am a pragmatist.

Yup, we know, which begs the question of why are you here on a site where pragmatism is thrown out as an illogical way to come to proper conclusions?

I know "ruveyn" and he is not an Objectivist. He's here because he is a fan of Ayn Rand and also has been a fan of many people who are Objectivists including me and Stephen.

You don't have to be an Objectivist or agree with everything in Objectivism to be a member of THE FORUM. You just have to be an admirer of Ayn Rand and treat her, her ideas, and the other members of THE FORUM with benevolence and respect.

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Nobody sensible is claiming that the "aether" is matter, obviously it is not. My question remains: What *stuff* is being warped by matter density in the theory of G.R.? It is senseless to assert that it is literally nothing, that just leaves open the question of the properties of this stuff, of which G.R. provides a partial description.

Further elaboration of the nature of "the stuff" is still an open question, but if you are looking for a direct metaphysical referrent that is directly observable, there is no such thing.

I really have no idea why you think that I think that it would be. Your Einstein quote from 1920 is perfectly sensible to me, and moreover, I have my own surmises on this nature of that "stuff", and I am sure that whatever mathematics is required to grasp the connection between it and that which is directly observable by our senses, is anything but simple. My reply to ruveyn was mostly philosophically based, anyway - whatever it *is*, it is *something*, not *nothing*, which does not contradict anything held by Einstein, myself, or the rest of what you write.

There was nothing wrong with your post. My emphasis was due to a history on the Forum of some people seeking direct metaphysical referents for abstractions. Your question, as a rhetorical question, was an appropriate response to the philosophical evasions of ruveyn, and also represents a legitimate probe for more knowledge than what is currently available scientifically.

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You don't have to be an Objectivist or agree with everything in Objectivism to be a member of THE FORUM. You just have to be an admirer of Ayn Rand and treat her, her ideas, and the other members of THE FORUM with benevolence and respect.

Which does not justify repeatedly and dogmatically promoting philosophical ideas that are known to be false and to fundamentally oppose Objectivism.

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Science is quantitative model building, reflecting correctly (modulo some error bound), observable aspects of the world.

I disagree. Science is the study of entities in reality in order to explain their properties and actions.

Correct prediction IS explanation.

A correct prediction may be due to a proper explanation or it may just be an accident.

Or it may be stolen from a correct explanation without acknowledging it. Pragmatism is notorious for its parasatic philosophical nature, relying implicitly on unstated views of how concepts are formed and validated, and of the criteria by which one knows something 'works'.

'Ruveyn' is not just misappropriating what a correct prediction is 'due to', but denying the nature of explanation as such in claiming the equivalence of 'explanation' and 'prediction'.

The only proper explanation is a causal explanation that explains why things must be what they were/are predicted to be.

Which is impossible under the notion of science misconstrued as 'model building'. That 'model mentality' is thoroughly Kantian. It replaces the concept of knowledge as a form of awareness of reality through concepts hierarchically based on observed fact with a mental realm concocted in parallel with an unknowable reality. Mental 'models' are manipulated as floating abstractions, then partially 'hooked' to 'experience' and claimed only to 'reflect' reality as it 'appears'. There is a legitimate role for physical and conceptual 'models' in engineering, but as a fundamental view of scientific theory, the 'model mentality' is nonsense. As an Objectivist, when someone says to you that what you have said is 'only true in your model' you know what kind of danger you are up against.

Science as 'model building' is a common cliche now heard on a wide scale and often accepted indiscriminantly. Forum members, especially those beginning carreers in science and engineering, should be especially alert for it and avoid it like the plague.

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You don't have to be an Objectivist or agree with everything in Objectivism to be a member of THE FORUM. You just have to be an admirer of Ayn Rand and treat her, her ideas, and the other members of THE FORUM with benevolence and respect.

Which does not justify repeatedly and dogmatically promoting philosophical ideas that are known to be false and to fundamentally oppose Objectivism.

If an idea is opposed to Objectivism, as long as it is offered in good faith or possibly out of ignorance, it may be of value to explain why it is wrong. Even if the person proposing the wrong idea isn't enlightened or persuaded, the rest of us might learn from the discussion.

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Forum members, especially those beginning carreers in science and engineering, should be especially alert for it and avoid it like the plague.

Thank you for the well-stated information and warning.

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You don't have to be an Objectivist or agree with everything in Objectivism to be a member of THE FORUM. You just have to be an admirer of Ayn Rand and treat her, her ideas, and the other members of THE FORUM with benevolence and respect.

Which does not justify repeatedly and dogmatically promoting philosophical ideas that are known to be false and to fundamentally oppose Objectivism.

If an idea is opposed to Objectivism, as long as it is offered in good faith or possibly out of ignorance, it may be of value to explain why it is wrong. Even if the person proposing the wrong idea isn't enlightened or persuaded, the rest of us might learn from the discussion.

The first time -- not stubbornly repeated over and over without regard for its having been rejected and with no further elaboration attempting to discuss it.

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If an idea is opposed to Objectivism, as long as it is offered in good faith or possibly out of ignorance, it may be of value to explain why it is wrong. Even if the person proposing the wrong idea isn't enlightened or persuaded, the rest of us might learn from the discussion.

The first time -- not stubbornly repeated over and over without regard for its having been rejected and with no further elaboration attempting to discuss it.

If it bothers you, please either ignore it or report it.

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