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A universe from nothing… BS
Posted: 08 January 2012 03:28 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I just read the blog post: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/everything-and-nothing/


It looks like his only argument in favor of getting a universe from nothing is that “it may be true, even if (religious) people dont like it”. He then admits there exists no model that tells us a universe can come from nothing… but it is a possibility! Then he says that we may not be able to understand/visualise something, but that it can mathematically make sense.


My response:
A. whether (religious) people dont like something is irrelevant, and adds no support to the opposite.
B. if there is no model to get something from nothing, why say it is a possibility and suggest it will make sense mathematically?
C. We can observe in nature that conscious beings create/shape the world around them. Why prefer an unnatural (never observed and there is not even a model) “universe from nothing” idea over a “creator shapes universe” idea which is based on extrapolation from natural facts?
D. if the universe is inherently mathematical, then: 1) this is not “nothing”. 2) this is called platonic idealism, which is the exact opposite of a universe without a “creator”.

[ Edited: 08 January 2012 03:31 AM by srrr]
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Posted: 09 January 2012 04:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Here’s your problem. You don’t get to posit anything when there is no information. That means a lack of knowledge about a topic is NOT a hole that YOU get to fill with whatever theory you want, including the theory that some God must have made everything.
This argument you’re making - that all things must have an X, an origin,  beginning time, a creator, etc etc is a known fallacy. It’s an inductive argument (it’s like this over here, so it’s like this over there also!) where the induction is from a sort of folk theory of the universe.
A lack of knowledge about a subject is not a green light for religionists to rush and say “see, you have no explanation for this… now listen to my Bronze Age explanation for this!”

At the bottom of all this lies a simple disquieting fact: the origins and true nature of time, matter and the universe may not be a thing our brains were made to understand. Just like a fish can’t tell what a watch is for and will never understand what it’s for, so also these questions we’re asking about thing, our entire understanding of things may be partial, fragmentary and ultimately incorrect in all the important details.

If that is true, it’s just tough luck for us. We may be so far removed from the “real” reality that we never even know it.
What that DOESN’T imply is that some fairy tale about some Santa Gawd that pre-scientific people’s dreamed up in the Bronze Age to explain the universe to themselves is therefore correct.

There are unknown unknowns- an idea that did NOT originate with Rumsfeld . That may always be true. Get used to it.

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Posted: 09 January 2012 09:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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srrr - 08 January 2012 08:28 AM

We can observe in nature that conscious beings create/shape the world around them.

Here we go again, pure solipsism. Truly a legend in you’re own mind srrr.

No, we observe no such thing. We observe that a some people are very misguided with respect to their relationship to the real, physical world.

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Posted: 10 January 2012 01:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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t looks like his only argument in favor of getting a universe from nothing is that “it may be true, even if (religious) people dont like it”. He then admits there exists no model that tells us a universe can come from nothing… but it is a possibility! Then he says that we may not be able to understand/visualise something, but that it can mathematically make sense.


My response:
A. whether (religious) people dont like something is irrelevant, and adds no support to the opposite.


But he didn’t say it did add support. So what you’re doing is creating a “strawman” argument. You set up a strawman which you yourself create (your opponent never said X, but you claim he did say X) then you courageously knock X down ! You win! (Not!)

B. if there is no model to get something from nothing, why say it is a possibility and suggest it will make sense mathematically?


Saying there isn’t a model is not the same as saying there CAN BE no model. Think about it. Admitting something is a possibility is mere speculation, and he’;s not claiming it a anything but speculation.

 

 

Specifically, he doesn’t claim to have such a model, nor is he   trying to pass off his “non-model” as some form of knowledge. He is wondering, which is not a form of knowing, but can lead eventually to knowledge. Of course, that knowledge still has to pass all the rigorous tests that all knowledge has to pass in order to be admitted as “knowledge”.

 

C. We can observe in nature that conscious beings create/shape the world around them. Why prefer an unnatural (never observed and there is not even a model) “universe from nothing” idea over a “creator shapes universe” idea which is based on extrapolation from natural facts?

Yeah this is the argument the Greeks had about the world and so they populated it with lots of Gods for everything. Other pre-scientific   societies have done likewise.  Later Judaism reduced that to one God, a pre-scientific idea that both Islam and Christianity copied.

It’s wrong for the same reason the Greeks were wrong. It is FALSE to say that because we see conscious things acting upon matter and their environment and “molding” (changing) it that THERFORE when the environment is acted upon and changed, it must have been by a conscious entity. 

 

In fact, if we’re going to use inductive arguments to assign probabilities to the veracity of various explanations (but let’s not do that, because it leads to its own set of falsehoods!... but since you did… ) then the God hypothesis is a total failure and the mathematically based theories of chemistry biology and physics are a whopping success.


Compare the command over the physical world we post-Enlghtenment people have against the command over the physical world the people before us had. Before us, all explanations were Ecclesiastical, and all this pious, God centered theorizing led to- nearly nothing.

Enter the Enlightenment and the overthrow of the Church’s authority by the scientific method and science and BAM! things get moving, don’t they?


That’s the power of a correct theory. As Einstein said, there’s nothing so practical as a good theory.


No scientific mathematical theory has as a tenet that an animate being caused the phenomena . Things don’t resolve to “and finally Poseidon   (in modern parlance, God) drew a breath and made the hurricane”. All that molding and changing of the physical world is not traced to a conscious entity.

D. if the universe is inherently mathematical, then: 1) this is not “nothing”. 2) this is called platonic idealism, which is the exact opposite of a universe without a “creator”.


Mathematical theories are not circumscribed, defined or otherwise “owned” by Plato and whatever he either did or did not believe. 


Whatever Plato believed is actually irrelevant. In science   the originator’s philosophical ideas do not deserve any special reverence.  If Plato originated the idea of a mathematical universe, (which is debatable) it just doesn’t matter what else he thought unless those thoughts are shown to be correct, except to historians.


That sounds irreverent and it is, by design. Science only cares about what can be proven to be true and not the unprovable beliefs of interesting , even brilliant,  historical or even modern personalities.


This is in contrast to conservative thinking where the older the idea, the more veracity it’s given by members of the tribe.  The old ideas are right and the people who had those ideas are revered and deified. In science, ideas are always available for the chopping block, irrespective of who had them.


Once again, compare the progress of post-scientific people’s to pre-scientific peoples to see which approach better describes reality.


Finally, IMO it’s not possible to arrive at accurate descriptions of the universe and it’s origins using our natural vocabulary with everyday words and their everyday meanings. To say that things being and end and have a cause and exist in time may already be wrong. The language of physics is math. If you want to describe something, then you have to be a mathematician. That’s undemocratic in the extreme and non-mathematicians rebel under its tyranny, but it is, nevertheless true.

But don’t waste too much time feeling excluded. There is no guarantee, as I said earlier, that reality and our minds were ultimately made for each other.


What we DO know is that some descriptions of reality are much more wrong than others. Science is nothing more than a collection of the best methods for discovering ACCURATE pictures of reality that humankind has ever devised.  It especially provides   built-in checks against BAD theories, such as the one that says “all changes in matter are a result of some self conscious agent’s actions”.


You can claim scientific knowledge as your own if you’re 1) human and 2) take the time to really understand it.


If you really can’t understand it at all - by which I mean you just cannot understand science even in its outlined form, which is highly unlikely- but if this does describe you,  then for Christ’s sake (ha ha) have a little humility and defer to those who can.


You strike me as a guy who perhaps doesn’t like Big Government telling businesses how to run themselves.  But you’re nothing more than that times one million when you start telling scientists what’s what about their own fields of endeavor and expertise, aren’t you? 

As they say, don’t be that guy!

[ Edited: 10 January 2012 04:26 AM by softwarevisualization]
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Posted: 10 January 2012 02:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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For other people who reply to this. Not everyone has the same cultural background. People come here who don’t really know what the Enlightenment is, what happened then what the arguments against their naturalistic arguments are, what makes for a valid argument or even how science is conducted. 


Instead they come from backgrounds in which everyone “knows ” that religion = morality,  that only conscious beings cause events, and that science is a gigantic liberal conspiracy.


When I see an arguer that takes these kinds of position, I always try to just explain what the problem with their arguments are. Literally, they don’t know. It’s like an ancient Greek popped in and started talking. What’s the benefit of being dismissive? He literally has been out of the loop for centuries.


The fact is, there are people in today’s society that that is basically true of also. Why this is the case is another 1000 characters, at least! But the point is, you have to take people as they come to you and engage them as they are, not as we think they “ought” to be.  If you’re here, if you’re posting, you’re probably sincere, even if you’re angry and dismissive of Sam and something he’s written. That sincerity is a good starting point for opening a dialog.


Some people literally don’t know about things you consider must be common knowledge. This is the first time they’ve heard anyone seriously rebut their arguments.

Even being able to be consistent in your argument, to argue rationally, all these kinds of things that just seem like “duh” are learned behaviours and skills that we’re all only more or less good at.


Not knowing is not a form of stupidity. They’re not stupid, at least until they prove themselves otherwise.  Even stupid people probably aren’t stupid, just extremely untrained, under exercised. Stupidity is not the enemy. Mendaciousness   of the Rush Limbaugh / Fox News / Rupert Murdoch / Koch Brother sort is. When you’re smart enough to know you’re wrong and just don’t care because you’re a sociopath and you’re in it for just yourself, then you’re the problem When you’re all of the above and you advocate for positions which will foreseeably cause the deaths of hundreds of millions of innocent people, as with deny man made climate change, then you’re a criminal just waiting for society and the law to catch up to you.


Those kinds of people are genuinely dangerous get the full force of ridicule and humiliation and much more.

[ Edited: 10 January 2012 04:45 AM by softwarevisualization]
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Posted: 10 January 2012 11:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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softwarevisualization - 09 January 2012 09:40 PM

Here’s your problem. You don’t get to posit anything when there is no information. That means a lack of knowledge about a topic is NOT a hole that YOU get to fill with whatever theory you want, including the theory that some God must have made everything.
This argument you’re making - that all things must have an X, an origin,  beginning time, a creator, etc etc is a known fallacy. It’s an inductive argument (it’s like this over here, so it’s like this over there also!) where the induction is from a sort of folk theory of the universe.
A lack of knowledge about a subject is not a green light for religionists to rush and say “see, you have no explanation for this… now listen to my Bronze Age explanation for this!”

At the bottom of all this lies a simple disquieting fact: the origins and true nature of time, matter and the universe may not be a thing our brains were made to understand. Just like a fish can’t tell what a watch is for and will never understand what it’s for, so also these questions we’re asking about thing, our entire understanding of things may be partial, fragmentary and ultimately incorrect in all the important details.

If that is true, it’s just tough luck for us. We may be so far removed from the “real” reality that we never even know it.
What that DOESN’T imply is that some fairy tale about some Santa Gawd that pre-scientific people’s dreamed up in the Bronze Age to explain the universe to themselves is therefore correct.

There are unknown unknowns- an idea that did NOT originate with Rumsfeld . That may always be true. Get used to it.

This has nothing to do with anything i wrote. It seems you make the same mistake as Krauss does: you make some complaints about religion, but do not in any way support the idea that the universe can come from nothing. In other words, you get dragged down by religion.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 12:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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softwarevisualization - 10 January 2012 06:58 AM

But he didn’t say it did add support. So what you’re doing is creating a “strawman” argument. You set up a strawman which you yourself create (your opponent never said X, but you claim he did say X) then you courageously knock X down ! You win! (Not!)

Sam Harris specifically asked him:


“Is there any physical reason to believe that such nothing was ever the case? Might it not be easier to think about the laws of physics as having always existed?”


Krauss respons that “the universe is the way it is, whether we like it or not” and that “there is no model”. He basically admits his own idea is crazy and there is no reason to think its true.

Saying there isn’t a model is not the same as saying there CAN BE no model. Think about it. Admitting something is a possibility is mere speculation, and he’;s not claiming it a anything but speculation.

He admits there is no model. There is no math. Then he tries to support his argument by saying that math can model such a universe. How does he know there can be such a model then? Furthermore, if the universe operates according to such a model, then why say it is nothing. Math is math. Math is not “nothing”.


It could be that when Krauss says “nothing”, he actually means “nothing physical”. Similarly, Victor Stenger has once written a paper about a universe that can come from nothing, and his nothingness turned out to consist of an “unphysical region” where math occurs. He too seemed to think that a unphysical yet mathematical origin of the universe somehow was an argument against the idea that god did it. Quite strange… why would the idea of a nonphysical thinker that brings the universe into existence be an argument against god?

t’s wrong for the same reason the Greeks were wrong. It is FALSE to say that because we see conscious things acting upon matter and their environment and “molding” (changing) it that THERFORE when the environment is acted upon and changed, it must have been by a conscious entity.

You misread what i wrote. I merely wrote that an environment being acted upon by conscious beings, is an observable and natural phenomenon. It is entirely rational to extrapolate from known natural facts. What Krauss does is: he claims that it is possible that something can come from nothing. He offers no arguments. He offers no examples of observed natural instances. He offers no logic or rationality and tries to hide the lack of rationality of his ideas with “the universe doesnt have to make sense”.  To top it off, Krauss then refers to the craziness of quantum mechanics to support his view.


So to summarise: consciousness acting on the environment is a naturally observable phenomenon. It is rational and logical to extrapolate from that. The idea that something can come from nothing has never been observed in nature. There is no math, theory, logic, or rationality to support the idea, or to suggest it is even possible. In fact, the very possibility of it is a self-contradicting paradox. And finally, his own idea entails that god created the universe, even though he set out to achieve the exact opposite.


Its a complete mess.

 

That’s the power of a correct theory. As Einstein said, there’s nothing so practical as a good theory.

Wait a second: remember he says there is no model. There is no theory and no math to support his ideas.

All that molding and changing of the physical world is not traced to a conscious entity.

Even a conscious human drinking a cup of coffee falsifies that claim.

Mathematical theories are not circumscribed, defined or otherwise “owned” by Plato and whatever he either did or did not believe.

Then ignore the “plato” part. Its still idealism. Math is conceptual, concepts are thoughts, thoughts are had by a thinking being. So you see that a fundamentally mathematical universe is a form of idealism. Just like the idea that the universe is a dream.

Finally, IMO it’s not possible to arrive at accurate descriptions of the universe and it’s origins using our natural vocabulary with everyday words and their everyday meanings. To say that things being and end and have a cause and exist in time may already be wrong. The language of physics is math. If you want to describe something, then you have to be a mathematician. That’s undemocratic in the extreme and non-mathematicians rebel under its tyranny, but it is, nevertheless true.

But don’t waste too much time feeling excluded. There is no guarantee, as I said earlier, that reality and our minds were ultimately made for each other.

Wait a second again: remember Krauss said there is no model to support his ideas. There is no math and no science to support his ideas.

[ Edited: 11 January 2012 02:37 AM by srrr]
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Posted: 11 January 2012 01:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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eucaryote - 10 January 2012 02:08 AM

Here we go again, pure solipsism. Truly a legend in you’re own mind srrr.

No, we observe no such thing. We observe that a some people are very misguided with respect to their relationship to the real, physical world.

Funny how you talk about the physical world in one topic, yet deny all of science in another topic (not to mention your hypothesis that all humans are possessed by paranormal entities).

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Posted: 11 January 2012 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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srrr:


First you say:

A. whether (religious) people dont like something is irrelevant, and adds no support to the opposite.

Then I said this argument you use above is a red harring.


Then your rebutal to me, such as it is, is this:

Sam Harris specifically asked him:


“Is there any physical reason to believe that such nothing was ever the case? Might it not be easier to think about the laws of physics as having always existed?”


Krauss respons that “the universe is the way it is, whether we like it or not” and that “there is no model”. He basically admits his own idea is crazy and there is no reason to think its true.

 

This is not a rebutal to my claim that your argument is a red herring.


What I said specifically was - no one made the claim that because religious people didn’t like it that this consituted proof of anything. Kraus never says this, neither does Harris.


But you claim they did do this; you make that claim right here:

A. whether (religious) people dont like something is irrelevant, and adds no support to the opposite.


Because they did not make this claim, your assertion, which once again was:

A. whether (religious) people dont like something is irrelevant, and adds no support to the opposite.


is clearly a red herring- you’re rebutting a point neither Harris nor Kraus made.


Talk specifically to this point, then when it’s resolved we can move on to the other points you’re trying to make.


Did they make this claim you’re accusing them of and if so where exactly? Where do they say that because religious people don’t like it, therefore this fact is evidence for something


If they did not make this claim then as a matter of honesty you need to concede that you are wrong on this point and retract your accusation against them.


Stay on point, Don’t introduce extraneous assertions and arguments. Either back up what you said or concede (or the third choice is to expose yourself as an irrational incapable of engaging in a logical debate)

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Posted: 11 January 2012 09:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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srrr - 11 January 2012 06:00 AM

(not to mention your hypothesis that all humans are possessed by paranormal entities).

No, my hypothesis is that you think you are possessed.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 09:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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.

[ Edited: 31 January 2012 06:07 PM by ...]
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Posted: 11 January 2012 12:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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softwarevisualization - 11 January 2012 01:19 PM

This is not a rebutal to my claim that your argument is a red herring.

First of all, this is the first time you mention that my argument is a “red herring”. Secondly, saying that my argument is a red herring is not a counterargument.

What I said specifically was - no one made the claim that because religious people didn’t like it that this consituted proof of anything. Kraus never says this, neither does Harris.

Krauss writes:

Indeed, the question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” [...], is often used by the faithful as an unassailable argument that requires the existence of God, because of the famous claim, “out of nothing, nothing comes.”  [...]the second goal (of this book) is to point out that this long-held theological claim is spurious. Modern science has made the something-from-nothing debate irrelevant.  It has changed completely our conception of the very words “something” and “nothing”.  Empirical discoveries continue to tell us that the Universe is the way it is, whether we like it or not, and ‘something’ and ‘nothing’ are physical concepts and therefore are properly the domain of science, not theology or philosophy.

So one of the goals of his book is to show that the theological claim is not true (spurious). He then tries to back this up with the claim that empiricial discoveries tell us that the universe is the way is is, whether we (refering to the people making the theological claim) like it or not. I then pointed out that that is not an argument.

Did they make this claim you’re accusing them of and if so where exactly?

Who are “they”? The book is written by Krauss. Harris is not the one making claims about getting a universe from nothing, he merely interviews Krauss. Harris asks some good questions, but Krauss gives evasive answers that are devoid of arguments. Perhaps he doesnt want to give too much away about his book, but its more likely that his wild and supernatural booktitle about getting a universe from nothing is just a trick to get people to buy the book.


Actually, i see whats going on now. I think his book is more like Dennetts “consciousness explained”. Its a nice and attentiongrabbing booktitle, but Dennett just redefines the word “consciousness” and then explains that other phenomenon. So, if i define consciousness as “a telephone”, then i can explain it by describing the mechanics of a telephone. The booktitle is then justified, even though i explained a telephone instead of consciousness. Now look at what Krauss writes:

‘something’ and ‘nothing’ are physical concepts and therefore are properly the domain of science, not theology or philosophy.

It looks like he will redefine “nothing” in physical terms in his book, and then of course he can let physics loose on it. Its the exact same telephone trick. A more accurate booktitle would probably be “how a physical universe can cange over time”.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 01:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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See A universe from nothing

From nothing, according to the quantum law, something will appear, that’s the simple answer, you can’t put a lid on it.

Vaccum fluctuations are also extremely well verified over and over in many different experiments and it causes all sorts of effects that we measure.

The mass of a proton. you know, is made up of quarks. But if you add up the mass of quarks that within a proton, you don’t get the mass of the proton. But there are the vaccum fluctuations that add to it. This is a standard part of particle physics, it’s extremely well tested.

Most of the mass of the proton comes not from the quarks but from the empty space between the quarks.

Leonard Mlodinow
physicist Cal Inst of Tech
co-author with Steven Hawking


This is the space inside a proton, the empty space inside a proton. Not where the quarks are, but the empty space between the quarks.
And this is an animation, but an exact animation, based on physical calculations, this is what the space looks like. ... It turns out that most of the mass of the proton comes not from the quarks within a proton but from the empty space between the quarks, these fields popping in and out of existence, produce about 90% of the mass of a proton. And since protons and neutrons are dominant stuff in your body, the empty space is responsible for 90% of your mass.

Lawrence Krauss, A universe from nothing.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 04:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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srrr,

I said red herring where I mean strawman. My error.

My point still stands. Sorry.

No where did anyone make the claim that “because religious people don’t like it, therefore it’s true”.

Yet you accused Kraus of just this claim in your first post, part A,  as I have repeatedly pointed out.

You’ve said a lot of new things, but you still haven’t cleaned up after your original remarks. You original A is a strawman argument. Either admit this to be the case or defend yourself by citing where Kraus did say this.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 06:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Eucaryote:

Exactly right. The common sense notions of time, causality, before, after, even existence begin to have extremely different meanings when we start to examine matter on very small scales or very long time frames, i.e back in the singularity.


Really, we can’t use our ordinary language to represent reality. That’s why we use math.


So the point is, getting messy diapers over these topics as they’re expressed in normal language is really sort of a waste of time. If you want to kick around ideas and talk, that’s fine, but none of it is accurate enough to be worth either attacking or defending.


I remember Hawking’s publisher telling him that he’d lose another half his remaining audience for every additional equation he included in his book; picture people browsing in a bookstore, hitting another equation and concluding, “meh. Not for me”. 


So we get books for layman and they contain some fantastical seeming pronouncement because scientists are trying to map the theories into English and everyday notions- even for themselves they do this.


But really, getting upset over the answers to these kinds of questions is a waste of time.

[ Edited: 11 January 2012 06:51 PM by softwarevisualization]
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Posted: 11 January 2012 07:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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I have an advantage. My son is doing his post doctoral work in experimental particle physics at CERN in Switzerland.

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