25 July, 2018

Reviews of popular science writing...

Anil Ananthaswamy’s reportage of the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory:
a critique by Jim Schofield.

Click reviews above for more.

Idealist Physics: How on earth do they get away with it?

The only valid criticism about the way Physics is currently conducted is undoubtedly philosophical.

But surely, Physics is a Science, dealing with the Real World, and therefore must be materialist... so, how can this "science" fulfil its everyday concrete functions, yet, nevertheless, continue to be essentially Idealist, in both its Theories and even in its Practice?

Well, for the bulk of its development during the Industrial Revolution that was indeed true. But, there has never been a wholly consistent, overall stance in Human Thinking. For initially, such a process, as could be termed Reasoning, didn't even exist for the vast majority of humankind's existence upon this planet: and we must never forget that Man evolved from his Ape ancestry, bringing with them their means of surviving first! For Pragmatism, and its sole tenet - "If it works, it is right!" ruled OK entirely alone, for the vast majority of that History.

So, when new things were discovered, or even contrived to work, it was by a trial-and-error method rather than being conceived of cognitively.

Absolutely NO overall set of conceptions was already in place, to receive such revelations into a meaningful structure of ideas: they were NOT explained, but merely "remembered" - often with the help of rituals and chants to guarantee no drifting away from the "magical route to success"! We must never impose upon our ancestors, the results of many thousands of years of Social Development, which were wholly absent in Early Man.

Now, most certainly, as such proliferated, there would be differences between the attitudes of those who found and used such new means. compared with those who never did.

So, whatever-could-be was compartmentalised for particular kinds of people, those that did that sort of thing. Certainly, NO overall stance covering everything was initially developed.

The Neolithic Revolution transformed the means of life of the majority of people, who now lived together with others in settled communities, rather than the prior, ever-wandering, small-family-groups, that were unavoidable with the Hunter/Gatherer way of Life. And, that transformation proliferated new areas of expertise, especially as instead of struggling just to survive, increased time to do other things within a community, allowed new specialised livelihoods and specialist knowledge to grow - but all in compartmentalised groups.

The Greek Intellectual Revolution, some 2,500 years ago, gave birth to attempts to co-ordinate all Knowledge.

But, nevertheless, in quick succession Idealism and Materialism presented totally incompatible possibilities. and though a special kind of Simplification and Abstraction emerged in Euclidian Geometry, though it enabled the development of consistent disciplines like Mathematics and then Formal Reasoning, they were all based upon an enabling imposition of the Principle of Plurality, which focussed upon Stability as the only route to Truth!

And, when an early version of Science was added by Aristotle, a remarkable amalgam of contradictory stances emerged "legitimised" by "If it works, it is right!", and an increasingly compartmentalised aggregation of Knowledge.

Indeed, the Amalgam wasn't only Idealism and Materialism, but included both explanations and descriptions brought about by Formal Reasoning and justified by Plurality, and, of course, Pragmatism. And, whenever a non-transcend-able-impasse was encountered, (indeed, where Dialectics should intervene) the simplest "solution" was just to set up a new "Specialism" or even "Subject", there-and-then, and merely ensure that such impasses were avoided by only seeking solutions withinthe newly-defined-area.

The strategy could never be a real solution, however, because, the general pluralist prohibition of any kind of Qualitative Change, naturally totally excluded the very things which could explain the impasses, and all necessary cross-discipline explanations were accordingly simply excluded.

So, with a total ban upon width-type explanations, the ancient depth-first and reductionist methods were all that remained.

And, when these too began to also cause problems, Explanation as the primary theoretical means within Physics, was also dropped, leaving only the fitting-up of known perfect forms to experimental data.

And, when these too came to a dead-end, the only recourse was to extend the aegis of Mathematics dramatically via adding to the usual 3 dimensions, and bringing in New Rules such as Symmetry to provide "new reasons"!

Now, I could track this decline in detail: after all I am a physicist, but the retreat was just too great. I'm certain there will be those who will make that descent, if only to prove me wrong, so I will leave that disappointment in their hands.

Of course, even such a criticism as this contribution involves is nowhere near enough! The demand must be for a clear alternative path, and that is now well underway. But, of course, it will not be the same path treated differently. It will have to be made to diverge long ago, probably sometime in the 19th century. And, many of the paths taken then, both theoretically and experimentally will NOT be taken this time around.

But, clearly, the environment will be the same, and literally everybody will still be involved in the old stance, and the old routes, so finding experimentalists to take on the validating of the new routes will NOT be easy. And, finding theorists to take on aspects of the new direction will also be very difficult.

But, without the last ten years of research, it would be impossible!

Significant work has been done, and surely out there, there must be someone like the young Jim Schofield, who can't stomach the drivel that they now call Sub Atomic Physics, and who sincerely seeks a much better explanation than is currently available.

Walk this way!

18 July, 2018

SHAPE Reviews

Click the button above to read more reviews of science and philosophy books and videos

Feynman's Idealism

His magnificent voyages of discovery are most certainly not-of-this-world

On noticing on YouTube, a video of a Feynman Lecture, which he had given many years ago at Cambridge University, I eagerly called it up, to see what he had to say. For, though a physicist myself, I had missed his contributions when he originally did them, as I had long ago abandoned Physics, due to the (in my view) inexcusable retreat embodied in the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory, and had consequently turned, exclusively, to other areas of study.

Finally, some 10 years ago, I returned to Physics with new philosophic insight, with the steadfast intention to demolish the Copenhagen Stance and deliver a cogent alternative.

Nevertheless, Feynman has a great reputation, and I anticipated some "Words of Wisdom", at the very least, from the great man, so I began to watch his Lecture. But, to say I was disappointed, would be a truly great understatement: I was aghast!

It was clear that Feynman was a total idealist - believing that his mathematical encapsulations were indeed the true essences of real world phenomena. And, also that the pluralist formalism of mathematics, along with all its premises and rules, were the only way to study Sub Atomic Physics.

Indeed, he embraced multi-dimensional geometry, not only as a formal aid to dealing with multiple variables, but also as a perfectly acceptable formal framework for what was going on in the real World.

All the sound criticisms of Mathematics and Formal Logic, gradually achieved from Zeno to Hegel, and thereafter to the Dialectical Materialism of Marx, were clearly well outside of where Feynman had chosen to dwell. And, the mismatch between always simplified-and-idealised Mathematics, and a creatively-developing World, was simply "not his concern" - as also was not the main Foundation Stone of his Formalist Philosophy - Plurality!

Now, I am very clear why Feynman and the vast majority of physicists chose that route: I know because I was also enamoured in exactly the same way, when I first came across the rational power of idealised Mathematics in substantial extension of the "Truths of Mathematics" via geometrical methods. So, I became a convinced, and ultimately an extremely-able, Mathematician, until I expected it to deal with more than just Idealised Forms! For then, not only did it fail, but actually also severely misled the serious seeker for the Explanatory Truth of Concrete Reality.

It was, I discovered (by actually doing Mathematical Research) the key to an infinite World of Pure Forms alone, and absolutely nothing else - which I thereafter dubbed Ideality.

But that stance has a much greater set of supporters than just mathematicians, because the Rules of Formal Logic were originally imported directly from Mathematics, by the Ancient Greeks, following the resounding successes of Theorems and Proofs, in extending and establishing an apparently consistent and developable overall discipline, presumably transferable to all other intellectual disciplines too. So, all the significant rules-of-use of Formal Logic came directly from Mathematics, and BOTH are consequently wholly pluralist, which means they are only concerned with qualitatively unchanging elements and processes.

They worship Stability!

And they see only quantitative changes.

And, when what they require isn't naturally available, they have to construct it, and denounce all diversions from that Stability as contradictory and therefore WRONG!

Interestingly, the mathematicians' other allies turn out to have always been essential to the discipline of Physics: they are the Experimental Physicists and the Technologists - for their job has always been to provide the ideal and maintained circumstances for experiments to be always successfully conducted, and predictably completed, and also, therefore, for the so-extracted Laws to also always be in the right environments to be successfully used.

These two groups spend their lives delivering Stable Environments, in which relations between variables will indeed conform to Ideal Laws, and hence, if the exact same situations are delivered for use, also guarantee success in that theatre too.

But, these practitioners never take Reality-as-is, as their objective: it is always only their starting-point, and out-of-it, by exclusions and steadfast controls, they have to produce artificial environments with usually only a single factor still functioning. Now, it is at such points that the Principle of Plurality comes in, for such a construction delivers only an idealised situation. And, that false and engineered-for set-up CANNOT exist in Reality-as-is, BUT does indeed occur in these Perfect Stabilities, and all the rules defined in that Principle will hold only in such constructed domains, but nowhere else.

There is, therefore, a realm where such a discipline works, but it isn't Reality: it is the World of Pure-Form-alone termed Ideality, imposed upon Reality, which therefore delivers, at best, only a distorted reflection of Reality-as-is.

Feynman's world is, indeed, both rich and extensive, but it is, at the same time, both restricted-to significantly less, while also, extended-to greatly more than Reality.

Its considerable extent, and its eminently-useable pluralist reasoning, make it considerably attractive: but its prohibition of all qualitative change, means it can NEVER form the basis for actually understanding Reality!

There are two immediately evident ways of reasoning, quite apart from Rules and Method.

The first, always accompanies writing, for it is primarily directed by the current point being made: and, consequently, its extensions, as-you-write, will always be add-ons to your current point. I call it pen-in-hand-thinking.

But, the second is when you are sitting-and-thinking about as yet unresolved problems, for - you search absolutely everywhere for some way out, and find similarities and resonances all over the place. It is always during this mode, when possible solutions are actually arrived at: I call this head-up-thinking, and it is very different from the pen-in-hand alternative. Indeed, it is both explorative and adventurous and generates its own sub-problems as it goes.

I mention these two, because the former dominates, and you can see why: it starts from a seemingly universal set of premises and method, involving a supposed "legitimate" system of manipulations.

And, this is not only the case in Mathematics, but in Formal Reasoning too - the pieces in both games are unchanging, yet like Chess there seem to be an infinite number of moves, as well as terminators such as Contradiction, that play a similar role to Checkmate!

Genetic Code Development in Hominids

The Ed Green lecture is in the second half of the video above, if you want to see it.

In this excellent recent lecture upon early pre-humans and Neanderthals, Richard “Ed” Green delivered a fascinating description of what is now possible from “decoding” the found Genomes of now extinct near- humans, and comparing them with both living and long deceased Humans.

I cannot do justice to his remarkable revelations amd conclusions, but they are all available on YouTube, and should be obtained directly, and in full, from the producing source. And, though Green does not make the same conclusions as myself, there is little doubt that what he derives from the now available evidence, takes him a long way from the prevailing Pluralist philosophical stance, and much closer to the alternative Holist stance.

For, I can draw, and indeed have-drawn, conclusions which, I believe, are extractable from Green and his many colleagues’ work, when early humans are compared with other animals, in terms of their then unavoidable “Means-of-Life! Green arrives at remarkable results for the natures of the Genome in all the early Humans and near humans investigated. They are considerably different from what happens in herd animals and also sedentary groups of animals, for they seem to bear the genetic stamp of being isolated Hunter/Gatherers, which, necessarily, imposed upon them a lifestyle of constantly- wandering small family groups, and even spread them, even at that early stage over extensive areas of the Planet.

And, such a lifestyle meant that to reproduce they would have to come across other, maybe very different family groups, from which partners were found and new mixes produced to then continue the incessant wandering.

The evidence available to Green, indicates the “localisation” of genetically different groups - not only Neanderthals, but others in both different parts of Asia and in Southern Africa, and interbreeding causing present day Genomes of particular humans to include a mosaic of features from “ostensibly-different” hominids - yet, still producing viable humans as a result!

Clearly, in spite of long periods of time, and extensive spatial separations, these populations are more like country or regional differences of today, for they all remained humans, according to all agreed definitions, and they would certainly have continued to have the same conditions and consequent lifestyles too.

Finally, if a holist stance is taken as the basis for all analyses in such developments, the emergence of the wholly new - the change to a new species, would have to involve a major crisis, which dissociated the prior Stability, and from its dissolution a new stability - a new species could result.

For, with such a stance Evolution CANNOT be incrementally achieved: the changes that occur without such an Emergence are NOT qualitative, but merely quantitative, the species has new varieties within it, but its essential nature is unchanged.

In other words, the lifestyle tended to isolate families over extensive areas. But the necessity of Reproduction also required access to others, probably forming still- separated, but communicating overall groups, which later came across one another (probably in the form of individual wandering families).

So, though such “local groups” might become extinct, something of their Genome would be preserved within surviving individuals long separated from that group by joining a still wandering group and contributing, genetically, to some its offspring.

This short paper appears in the new issue of SHAPE Journal on Evolution

Issue 60: Evolution

Here we return, at long last, to the theme of Evolution. How might our recent insights into the notion of Holist Science affect our study of biological change?

This is certainly not a full-and-final definition of an Alternative Approach to the Study and Explanation of Evolution. But, it is something of a well-informed muse upon how that might be addressed - contributed by a philosopher who has specialised in just such an approach in Sub Atomic Physics, primarily in opposing, and finally disproving the current consensus stance of the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory.

It resolutely rejects the universally-supported Pluralist Stance, which underpins not only Mathematics and the Sciences, but crucially Formal Logic too. And, the reason for its failures is that it focuses exclusively upon Stability, not only as the underlying basis, but as the only means to expose and allow the extraction of Reality’s supposed “Eternal Natural Laws”.

It thus necessarily excludes all Qualitative Change in all its analyses, and uses only Quantitative Change - thus substituting Amount for Quality, and Complexity for Emergence!

It has, of course, proved to be invaluable in dealing with situations within such Stability, but useless in coping with Qualitative Development such as Evolution.

It is also significant that the Holist alternative to Plurality was, and is still, a widespread philosophical standpoint, particularly in Asia, and among Buddhists, for it was first extensively described and used by the Buddha in his many Suttas. But the modern version arose out of Hegel’s criticisms of Formal Logic, and was developed as a system by Karl Marx in his Dialectical Materialism.

This short collection of papers is an initial argument for the holist stance to be applied to Evolution, as it was originally defined by Marx in his analyses of the development of Human Social Systems, and their transformations in Social Revolutions. And, also as demonstrated by this writer via the application of his Theory of Emergences, in his works on Philosophy, Mathematics, Science and Formal Logic

16 July, 2018

SHAPE videos

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“Time is invention and nothing else.” Henri Bergson
Time is not a ticking clock. It is the measure of qualitative change. 

The Time Machine (1960)

A recent BBC Horizon programme, which purports to be a serious, if popularising regular Science event, took an odd and askance view of Time, even including Time Machines and the possibility of building one. But, in the part of the programme I was able to catch, only one scientist, Lee Smolin, addressed Real Time.

For, Time is what separates incremental, quantitative science, from developing, indeed, evolutionary science: The Science of Qualitative and Revolutionary-Creative Changes. The rest talked at length about "Time" as it occurs in Formal Equations, in other words, NOT time in the Real Concrete World, but "Time" as it exists in Ideality, (along with the "Dimensions of Space", which in Ideality can be as many as you like) within the world of Pure Forms alone- the realm of Mathematics, a totally pluralist world, which can only be made to approximate to Reality in very carefully filtered-and-constrained Stabilities. For, Reality-as-is is most definitely holistic and NOT pluralistic.

Now, one of the features of the Pluralist Stance, apart from its tenet of a World composed only of eternal Natural Laws, and hence wholly excluding any possibility of Qualitative Change, or any means of explaining real development, has therefore, to be the surprising inclusion of Time at all (apart, that is, as relegated to a purely quanitative variable - as with everything else in that realm). Indeed, even when Time is included in Equations, it is only as just such a variable: "Time simply passes, proceeds incrementally, as do all other variables along with it!".

Hence, such time doesn't change qualitatively, into something else: it is more like an alternative "ruler" of merely quantitative changes in something else! Like the dimensions of Space, that of Time is similar, merely an overall context - an independant stage upon which everything happens.

Yet, Qualitative Changes do indeed happen to other variables, and the precise times when they occur are important. Indeed, using a particular quantitative variable to signal exactly when a qualitative change is due to happen (from prior experience), became a regular totally non-causal pragmatic frig within all scientific reasoning.

Absolutely NO explanation would be involved, just a pragmatic if-then insertion to a wholly new situation where the change was already ready and waiting to be involved. Indeed, sometimes a whole set of techniques can be recorded exclusively using such flips and no explanations whatsoever, in producing a required result: it is termed Technology! And, as one of my disciplines is Computing, (particularly Computers-in-Control), I am well aware of its value in Computer Programming too.

But, Time has, in all of these situations, been totally dredged of all its qualities, which are necessarily-intrinsic to literally all Qualitative Changes, but never revealed. We see Time as merely an accumulating number - an abstraction - much more easily handled, than its necessary role in many qualitative changes.

Let us take a crucial one - Birth!

In every single second, literally millions of new living entities are born.

The time since their conception is, for each type of entity relatively fixed, but it cannot be wholly embodied in a ticking clock. Indeed, what must be going on, has to be a complex, multi-interacting set of processes of development that can only deliver its result, when all of those finally deliver-together a viable entity, which is then born!

What results is an integrated and persisting, self-maintaining system, in which vast numbers of contributing components, are now integrated and co-operating parts.

With human beings, we may give the period of pregnancy a quantitative-length of 9 months, with the Birth happening at the end of such a period, but what has had to actually occur, in turning a single fertilised egg into a new human being, is the caused development of an amazing system: that 9 months is only an overall measure in time of that miraculous, time-involved, real process!

Time is not just a significant quantitative measure of time-elapsed, but what is involved in every contributing process, and affecting inter-relationship in allowing all of that system to deliver appropriately. And, the final Time will be intimately determined by the conditions involved: the overall time will vary dependant upon different conditions. And sometimes those conditions are not fulfilled, and the whole process is aborted automatically.

The arguments involved here may seem somewhat laboured, but the intention is to bury the myth that Time is a mere incremental measure, and consider it as intrinsic in all holistic systems of processes delivering qualitative change.

The above ideas can only mean something significantly new within a Holist stance, rather than the usual pluralist stance, and the clearest example of the differences are delivered in the events involved in major significant qualitative changes - that is within Emergent Episodes, when systems of interacting processes actively and causally precipitate the final flip into a new mode.

And, widening the study drastically over longer time periods, and significantly different Levels of Reality bring both the Origin of Life, and its subsequent Evolution, and even Social Revolutions into consideration too. At such scales Qualitative Changes are the only significant ones, and alone enable Real Explanations for what is going on.

Perhaps the most revealing and crucial System of such processes, is that revealed by this theorist, in his description of what he termed Truly Natural Selection, as it pertained to the evolution of non-living processes in the necessary precursor developments to the amazing Origin of Life itself.
Indeed, it was only in addressing this essential Phase that he, himself, finally realised the only way that usually separate-and-transitory chemical processes could finally become both continuing and integrating factors, and, without which, Life could never have emerged!

NOTE: Inspect any diagram of Metabolic Pathways to see just how amazing that chemical system had to become before Life could become possible.

All the metabolic pathways which happen inside every living cell