I started 2022 with a post titled Things I Think Are True. It was an echo of the Hard Problems post I’d done to start 2021. That earlier post listed a (possibly surprising) number of open questions in physics. Not trivial questions, either, but big ones like: “What is time?” and “What is the shape and size of the universe?”
The post in 2022 was more of an opinion piece about things that, in the context of those open questions, I think are true. Pure speculation on my part, some of it close to mainstream thinking, some of it rather less so (but all, I would argue, grounded in what we do know).
This year, for contrast, I thought I’d make a list of stuff I don’t believe is true.
15 Comments | tags: causal determinism, computationalism, eternal inflation, ghosts, MWI, String theory, supersymmetry, time travel | posted in Opinion, Physics
Over the last nine posts I’ve been pondering the topic of Who Can Play Who when it comes to adaptations of existing works. To wrap things up, and because ten is a magic number to us humans, it seems reasonable to try to boil it all down to something coherent. If that’s even possible.
I find myself conflicted sometimes between what I’ll call a stage play sensibility that allows huge latitude in casting actors versus my sensibilities about live-action adaptations of well-established existing properties.
I think that changes the equation.
14 Comments | tags: actors, adaptations, characters, gender, race, women | posted in Movies, Opinion, Society, TV
Speaking of women-centric movies and TV shows, recently I watched Hulu’s Prey (2022), the latest entry in the Predator franchise. Not to be confused with the Aliens vs. Predators mini franchise, the crossover with the Aliens franchise.
The evening was a double feature. First, I watched the second entry in the AvP series, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007). I can’t say I’m a huge fan of these movies, but I’ve generally enjoyed them. Prey got lots of praise, and I’ve long wanted to see The AvP sequel (although I wasn’t expecting much from it).
As it turned out, AvP: Requiem won the night. Prey has a lot going for it but has too much Mulan and Dances with Wolves for my taste. I found it distracting and detracting.
6 Comments | tags: aliens, science fiction movies, SF Movies, women | posted in Movies, Opinion
Last time I asked, when it comes to actors playing roles, Who Can Play Who? To what degree do characters, particularly fictional ones, have fixed race or gender? How much latitude exists in adaptations of existing stories? Is there an acceptable spectrum from faithful retelling to jazz riff to based on to inspired by and finally to all but unrecognizable? If not, why not?
Last time I focused on race. This time I’ll focus on the gender side of the equation. Sexual differences and sexual attraction add a large and complex additional dimension. The question expands beyond matters of representation and actor swapping.
For instance, there is the additional notion of the Strong Female Character (SFC).
13 Comments | tags: actors, female characters, gender, women | posted in Movies, Opinion, Society, TV
I was born in the Bronx and became a young man in Los Angeles, so I lived in racially mixed neighborhoods during my formative years. I’m aghast at the pain we cause over what are essentially paint jobs and accessories. It’s a vast and vital topic — a needed ongoing conversation. For now, suffice that “race” should never be the answer to any important question.
Such as the question of who can — as in “is allowed to” — have what acting roles in movies and TV shows. Specifically, the issue of “race swapping” in previously established roles. Complicating the matter is an asymmetry; swapping X for Y isn’t the same as swapping Y for X.
There is also the question of “gender swapping” and the “strong female character” in modern writing. We’ve forgotten Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor.
8 Comments | tags: actors, Doctor Who, female characters, gender, James Bond, plays, race, theatre | posted in Movies, Opinion, Society, TV
Everyone knows “Eskimos have 50 words for snow.” Everyone knows that’s an urban myth. Both statements are true for appropriate values of everyone. The truth, of course and as usual, lies in the middle and is both more elusive and more nuanced.
The frosting: as with many of life’s more vexing issues, there is also a definitional component, and things depend, at least somewhat, on perspective. What constitutes a word and how does the basic language structure introduce new concepts, with new words or phrases?
But no matter because this post isn’t about the 50 words for snow.
15 Comments | tags: language, snow | posted in Opinion, Sunday Sermons
A single line from a blog post I read got me wondering if maybe (just maybe) the answer to a key quantum question has been figuratively lurking under our noses all along.
Put as simply as possible, the question is this: Why is the realm of the very tiny so different from the larger world? (There’s a cosmological question on the other end involving gravity and the realm of the very vast, but that’s another post.)
Here, the answer just might involve the wavelength of matter.
9 Comments | tags: de Broglie wavelength, QM101, quantum computing, quantum mechanics, qubits | posted in Opinion, Physics
In the last four posts (Quantum Measurement, Wavefunction Collapse, Quantum Decoherence, and Measurement Specifics), I’ve explored the conundrum of measurement in quantum mechanics. As always, you should read those before you read this.
Those posts covered a lot of ground, so here I want to summarize and wrap things up. The bottom line is that we use objects with classical properties to observe objects with quantum properties. Our (classical) detectors are like mousetraps with hair-triggers, using stored energy to amplify a quantum interaction to classical levels.
Also, I never got around to objective collapse. Or spin experiments.
23 Comments | tags: measurement problem, QM101, quantum mechanics, quantum physics, wave-function | posted in Opinion, Physics
In the last three posts (Quantum Measurement, Wavefunction Collapse, and Quantum Decoherence), I’ve explored one of the key conundrums of quantum mechanics, the problem of measurement. If you haven’t read those posts, I recommend doing so now.
I’ve found that, when trying to understand something, it’s very useful to think about concrete real-world examples. Much of my puzzling over measurement involves trying to figure out specific situations and here I’d like to explore some of those.
Starting with Mr. Schrödinger’s infamous cat.
7 Comments | tags: measurement problem, QM101, quantum mechanics, quantum physics, Schrödinger's Cat | posted in Opinion, Physics
In the last two posts (Quantum Measurement and Wavefunction Collapse), I’ve been exploring the notorious problem of measurement in quantum mechanics. This post picks up where I left off, so if you missed those first two, you should go read them now.
Here I’m going to venture into what we mean by quantum coherence and the Yin to its Yang, quantum decoherence. I’ll start by trying to explain what they are and then what the latter has to do with the measurement problem.
The punchline: Not very much. (But not exactly nothing, either.)
51 Comments | tags: measurement problem, QM101, quantum mechanics, quantum physics | posted in Opinion, Physics