Earlier this month I posted about Quantum Reality (2020), Jim Baggott’s recent book about quantum realism. Now I’ve finished another book with a very similar focus, Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution: The Search for What Lies Beyond the Quantum (2019), by Lee Smolin.
One difference between the books is that Smolin is a working theorist, so he offers his own realist theory. As with his theory of cosmic selection via black holes (see his 1997 book, The Life of the Cosmos), I’m not terribly persuaded by his theory of “nads” (named after Leibniz’s monads). I do appreciate that Smolin himself sees the theory as a bit of a wild guess.
There were also some apparent errors that raised my eyebrows.
6 Comments | tags: Copenhagen Interpretation, Lee Smolin, ontological anti-realism, quantum mechanics, quantum physics, realism | posted in Books, Physics
I recently read, and very much enjoyed, Quantum Reality (2020) by Jim Baggot, an author (and speaker) I’ve come to like a lot. I respect his grounded approach to physics, and we share that we’re both committed to metaphysical realism. Almost two years ago, I posted about his 2014 book Farewell to Reality: How Modern Physics Has Betrayed the Search for Scientific Truth, which I also very much enjoyed.
This book is one of a whole handful of related books I bought recently now that I’m biting one more bullet and buying Kindle books from Amazon (the price being a huge draw; science books tend to be pricy in physical form).
The thread that runs through them is that each author is committed to realism, and each is disturbed about where modern physics has gone. Me, too!
24 Comments | tags: Jim Baggott, Lee Smolin, ontological anti-realism, Peter Woit, quantum mechanics, quantum physics, realism, Roger Penrose, Sabine Hossenfelder | posted in Books, Physics
I’ve been reading science texts almost as long as I’ve been reading anything. Over those years, many scientists and science writers have taught me much of what I know about science. (Except for a Computer Science minor, and general science classes, most of my formal education was in the Liberal Arts.)
Recently I read Time Reborn (2013), by Lee Smolin, a theoretical physicist whose personality and books I’ve enjoyed. I don’t always agree with his ideas, but I’ve found I do tend to agree with his approaches to, and overall sense of, physics.
However in this case I almost feel Smolin, after long and due consideration, has come around to my way of thinking!
23 Comments | tags: arrow of time, is time fundamental, Lee Smolin, spacetime, time | posted in Books, Physics
I read Three Roads to Quantum Gravity (2001), by Lee Smolin, a theoretical physicist whose thoughtful style I’ve always appreciated. I don’t always agree with his ideas, though. This book is about Loop Quantum Gravity, in which Smolin has invested considerable effort, and that idea I’m utterly neutral on. It does seem to make more sense than string theory.
One notion I have a lot of trouble swallowing (like a cup of coffee with eight lumps of sugar) is the relational view. (As a philosophy, relationism. Al stayed home.) It’s a fundamental aspect of LQG.
But I (and apparently Kant agrees) think Leibniz was wrong.
7 Comments | tags: Lee Smolin, Loop Quantum Gravity, quantum gravity | posted in Books, Brain Bubble
I read Three Roads to Quantum Gravity (2001), by Lee Smolin, a theoretical physicist whose thinking I’ve appreciated since I read his 2006 book, The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next.
Three Roads, as the title suggests, is about the efforts to reconcile quantum mechanics and General Relativity, our two best physical theories. String theory is one road, Loop Quantum Gravity (Smolin’s preferred approach) is another. The third road is complete theory reconstruction (such as discussed by Philip Ball in his book Beyond Weird).
None of that is the subject of this post.
2 Comments | tags: General Relativity, Lee Smolin, Loop Quantum Gravity, quantum gravity | posted in Books, Brain Bubble
I finished reading Three Roads to Quantum Gravity (2001), by Lee Smolin, a theoretical physicist whose general sensibility I’ve always appreciated. I don’t always agree with his ideas, but I like the thoughtful way he expresses them. Smolin brings some philosophical thinking to his physics.
While he added a lengthy Postscript to the 2017 edition, the book is outdated both by time and by Smolin. In 2006 he published The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next, which explored issues in the practice of theoretical physics. But in 2001 he still thought string theory was (at least part of) The Answer.
Almost none of which is the subject of this post.
15 Comments | tags: black hole, Lee Smolin, Loop Quantum Gravity, quantum gravity | posted in Books, Brain Bubble
I’ve gotten spoiled. Writing about the con carne topics is much harder than writing about the life stories and the off-the-cuff opinions. Meaty topics require research and fact-checking (and often I need to create the images). And I expect they’re also harder to read!
My intention here was always to write mostly about ideas with a fallback of writing about things and, to a lesser extent, writing about life (which is to say, about people).
Today’s post keys off a Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal cartoon I saw a while back. At first the cartoon spoke to me, but the more I thought about it, the less I agreed with it.
8 Comments | tags: Dune, Fahrenheit 451, Frank Herbert, George Carlin, Ken Follett, Larry Niven, Lee Smolin, Pillars of the Earth, Ray Bradbury, Ringworld, Robert Pirsig, SMBC, Winston Churchill, Zen Motorcycle | posted in Books, Life, Philosophy, Religion, Science, Writing
My recent post about how the Big Bang and “Let there be Light” seem equally fantastic to me triggered an interesting comment from a reader. A detailed response requires more elbow room than a comment allows, so here’s a follow-up article instead.
One of the points involved that our scientific ideas, no matter how inaccurate they may turn out to be, are at least based on evidence. And to the credit of science, when we recognize errors in our interpretation of the evidence, science changes to accommodate the new interpretation.
This has been, as I mentioned in that post, hugely successful. One of the failures of our spiritual metaphysics is that it clings to frameworks defined thousands of years ago and often stubbornly refuses to accommodate new information.
7 Comments | tags: atheism, big bang, brain mind problem, Gandhi, Kurt Gödel, Lee Smolin, Max Planck, quantum physics, Roger Penrose, Sheldon Glashow, spacetime, spirituality, String theory, theism, Theory of Consciousness, Yin and Yang | posted in Philosophy, Physics, Religion, Science