A hat-tip to the great Gurwinder.

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Discussion (40)¬

  1. Deimos says:

    A “Qatar World Cup” level cartoon this week, good but not quite great.

  2. Laripu says:

    We can think (and I do think this way) that perception is the way it is because each change or addition was of survival benefit, and caused genes to be passed on.

    But there’s still an assertion about “reality” there, based on our perceptions about genes. Namely that genes are real and do more or less what we think they do.

    I’m ok with that level of acceptance of our shared myth of reality, as long as it continues to work, as long as we get results that confirm our beliefs about it.

    It gets hairy at quantum levels though, where the behavior of the perceived events depends on the mechanism of perception.

  3. James R. Baerg says:

    The Gurwinder link gets me to a “this tweet has been deleted page”

  4. Donn says:

    Liked this quote from wikipedia “naive realism”:
    Simon Blackburn has argued that whatever positions they may take in books, articles or lectures, naive realism is the view of “philosophers when they are off-duty.”

  5. M27Holts says:

    Aye, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and the evolution of the Bloch vector always confuses most laymen, however pious morons would get stuck with “here are three spades, take your pick” uncertainty principle…

  6. Laripu says:

    You can probably explain the Uncertainty Principle to average people, with enough analogies, if you say things carefully and slowly. On the other hand, qubits involve vectors over the Complex field and both of those things are too much for most people, even ones who aren’t either pious or moronic or both.

    On the other hand, talking snakes, pillars of salt, trumpets and walls coming down are visual images that almost everyone can understand, down to IQ 65.

  7. M27Holts says:

    Trying to use analogies is like trying to describe a womans face from her shadow. You have to understand the math, that underpins the principle. And most laymen are incapable, fortunately for me one of my mates daughters is a bone fide maths wizard with a first in mathematics and theoretical physics. She has talked me through quite a few of the more esoteric parts of quantum theory maths. Incidentally, she is also rocket-fit so would be an ideal model for a Dan Brown novel female character…

  8. Donn says:

    There are two Uncertainty Principles in question – Heisenberg’s, and then the question of whether you really understood it.

  9. Son of Glenner says:

    Trying to read all your comments, but most of it seems to me as incomprehensible as theology. Surprise – when I was typing this, autocorrect changed my “as theology” to “astrology”! Obviously, autocorrect is not without a sense of humour!

    Actually, I find astrology much easier to understand than your quantum stuff, not that that stops astrology from being a load of nonsense.

  10. Laripu says:

    SoG, here’s a nice simple explanation, and also slightly more sophisticated ones:

    I think that main thing is that we’ve evolved to easily understand things at the scales we’re mostly using: between a fleck of dandruff and a large mammal. Anything outside that range takes some thinking.

  11. Donn says:

    “… scales we’re mostly using: …”

  12. Son of Glenner says:

    Donn: Pedant!

  13. M27Holts says:

    Is that a split-infinitive? Ooo er missus…

  14. M27Holts says:

    The thing is SOG, without Q.P and the standard model we would never have been able to replace valves with transistors and transistors with Inte grated circuits to the latest quantum computers…the thing is physics is useful, astrology is not….simples…

  15. Donn says:

    I can afford to ignore Heisenberg Indeterminacy, or take whatever nonsense I read about it on faith, because the one thing for sure is that it’s immaterial. It could be as fanciful as Gnostic theology, and it’s the physicists’ worry if so – no such knowledge has been or will be any use to me. Newton was all over our real world; quantum physics is indistinguishable from fantasy.

  16. M27Holts says:

    Most people can get by with basic mathematics. I have had to use advanced math several times in my career and I mostly use statistical and set math as well as boolean logic in my work as a business/Systems analyst. But everybody wants the biggest, clearest and thinnest tv’s on their walls, and those are all made possible by use of the standard model and quantum mechanics…

  17. M27Holts says:

    And thats what differentiates it from the total bollocks of religion, astrology, and all flavours of new-age “knowledge”…

  18. jb says:

    Actually I’m pretty sure that the full Standard Model is currently unnecessary for designing integrated circuits, quantum or otherwise. In fact, given that the electromagnetic force is the only one of the four primary forces that we are ever likely to have direct control over, bog standard Quantum Electrodynamics will probably always be sufficient for any and all practical applications. It’s a little scary actually to think that we may be well past the point where research into fundamental physics is ever likely to have any monetary returns, since I very much want the research to continue and I don’t want the funding spigot to dry up.

  19. James R. Baerg says:

    I have a lot more than a quibble with that.
    We need understanding of the 2 nuclear forces to make nuclear reactors work & use radioactive materials. We are not going to maintain industrial civilization without either lots of fossil fuel use or nuclear energy, & we can’t continue massive fossil fuel use without heating up the planet harmfully, even if we can continue to extract fossil fuels economically.
    Also much of modern medicine uses radioactive materials made in nuclear reactors.

  20. M27Holts says:

    Think it’s more of the research into devices that can test and verify the standard model has lead to advancement in electro-magnetic effects, thus the standard model is just a set of equations that have led to more and more subtle devices to test them. Quantum mechanics is also valuable when studying the human brain, since , clearly the mist powerful organic computer must store information at a quantum level, how else can I remember such vast amounts of memories and useful factoids….might find out in my lifetime hopefully…

  21. M27Holts says:

    My 5 yo grandson is showing remarkable aptatude for math. He asked me if it was possible to divide infinity into two. The fact that he has grasped the unusual properties of infinity at such a young age astounded me. We also play a game with his life size stuffed elf, we imagine that Elfie gets into mischief, but only when there are no observers, the moment he is observed the wave form is broken and he appears frozen in whatever state he was in when larking about….thus I placed elfie near his advent calendar this morning as I am taking my grandson for his swimming lesson this snowy morning, later mcdonalds for dinner then snowball fight…

  22. Rrr says:

    Some 40 years ago a friend tried to explain to me how tunnel diodes work. All I retain now is something about quantum properties, but that theory was sufficiently well understood (in the field) at the time to sell such gadgets in bulk quantity at reasonable prices. AND have them function!

  23. M27Holts says:

    The absolute tragedy of it all , is that without the hand-brake of religious morons, mankind could have been on the moon, possibly a millenium before they actually did. I think the Hitch expressed this as the victory of messianic Jews over the Hellenic Jews….

  24. M27Holts says:


  25. jb says:

    You don’t need the Standard Model for nuclear reactors — we had those back in the 1950s. Even today the Standard Model is of no use in understanding in detail the properties of massive nuclei like uranium, which are far to complicated to model. It’s hard enough to model a single proton!

    Instead of starting from theory, nuclear technology is based on experimental measurements of properties like radioactive decay or nuclear cross sections. GPS is an example of a technology that actually requires theory — calculations involving the equations of General Relativity — in order to function. But there are no technologies that comparably rely on calculations involving equations of the Standard Model, and I’m pretty sure there never will be. The energies involved are just too high.

  26. James R. Baerg says:

    OK jb, I see where you are coming from on that, but quantum theory is used to at least explain things like the binding energies of nuclei, especially the anomalously high binding energies of ‘magic number’ nuclei.
    I will concede that quark theories of the substructure of protons etc. are unlikely to result in useful technology.

  27. Son of Glenner says:

    I did not get into the local big-screen football pub until well into the second half. The score was 1:1. As far as I could see, each side had a good chance of winning – either of them just needed one goal. It dawned on me – this is what those clever buggers mean by the “Uncertainty Principle”!

    When the side I favoured scored a second goal, their victory became more and more Certain until the final whistle – after some minutes of added time just to give the other side a last chance to equalise. I shouted “Vive la France” and ordered a small glass of fine French brandy. (I normally drink beer or a Scotch whisky.) The brandy was wonderful – it tasted of success!

    I hope the Froggies will now manage to hop their way to earning the World Cup, but of course, that is still Uncertain! I think they now have to face Morocco, who had a surprise win earlier in the day!

  28. M27Holts says:

    As soon as England and Brazil are out. Not interested in the competition. Can catch up with watching the documentaries that my sky box has kindly recorded for me….

  29. M27Holts says:

    On more local news, some geezer has thrown a pigs head onto the roof of a mosque in Stockport. A “hate” crime apparently. I think they can consider themselves lucky, if we took England back to the barbaric age of the “prophet” the geezer would almost certainly have beheaded a few saracens and thrown them on the roof instead….my mums local pub in stalmine was called “The Saracens Head” with an equally graphic pub sign…its been closed for about 20 years…

  30. Laripu says:

    The Gurwinder link works for me and it has many incisive observations. It’s very much worth spending a few minutes reading it

  31. M27Holts says:

    Yeah. I followed tbe link on your recom. I am now following Gurwinder…it is good though I have come across many of the items in that list…

  32. M27Holts says:

    Tho i’m not sure about 33? Sounds a bit like “to understand all is to forgive all” to me…

  33. jb says:

    “To understand all is to forgive all” is one of those aphorisms that sounds seriously profound early in life, and then at some point later on you think about it again and realize how totally wrong it is. (That said, it’s still a good idea to try to understand your enemies. It’s possible you’ll acquire some sympathy for them and their positions, but even if you don’t you’ll still be better able to anticipate their next moves. Also, I think you meant 39 on the list, not 33?)

  34. M27Holts says:

    Yeah. By the time I’d started to type I had forgotten which one it was. I guessed at 33 🙂

  35. M27Holts says:

    And I will never have any sympathy for any numb-nut who accepts anything on “faith”. I suspect that whoever created my character in this simulation was a right cynical bastard, a hard-nosed code-monkey. 🙂

  36. James R. Baerg says:

    FWIW I tried the Gurwinder link again a day or two after my comment that it didn’t work for me, & found it did work. Who knows why it didn’t work the 1st time?
    Yes many of points there are worth reading.

  37. M27Holts says:

    Anyway. Fusion experiment outputs more energy than was input…If nature can do it, then we can too. QED…

  38. Postdoggerel says:

    The fusion experiment proved a feat,
    Outputting energy more than we put in,
    A glimpse of nature’s endless prowess,
    A glimpse of what we too can begin.

    With boundless potential in our grasp,
    We can harness the power of the stars,
    And fuel our world with limitless gas,
    Erasing the limits of what’s been ours.

    But let us not forget the cost,
    For with great power comes great responsibility,
    We must tread lightly on this new path,
    Lest we become our own adversity.

    So let us strive for progress and growth,
    But always with caution and care,
    For the power of fusion is no small thing,
    And it’s up to us to use it fair

  39. M27Holts says:

    Nice one Centurion!

  40. Laripu says:

    When (not if) fusion becomes commercially viable and lives up to its promise, countries that get most of their revenue from fossil fuels will be in some trouble.

    How will Russia survive this? My guess: the oligarchs will seek citizenship and new opportunity elsewhere, and whoever remains in power will sell nuclear weapons and missile technology to whoever puts up huge amounts of money.

    Terror groups will scramble to gain enough money to afford this, so they’ll be even more involved in drugs, human trafficking and identity theft.

    It’ll be a wild ride, folks. Big changes in how societies produce value cause big distruptions. And big changes come ever more quickly as technology accelerates. (Think of the changes over the last 50 years due to the rise of computing and internet.)


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