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
It’s actually an old debate — in fact, it’s a variation on the Ship of Theseus — but modern day science fiction gives it a new spin. At root it’s a question about exactly where our identity as self-aware conscious beings actually resides. I don’t find it paradoxical so much as intriguing.
Recently Sabine Hossenfelder jumped into the discussion with a video asking whether Captain Kirk dies every time he uses the transporter. Not just him, of course, but everyone who uses it.
As with trees falling in forests, the answer depends on defining key terms. This case depends on exactly what we mean by “dies” and “Kirk” — the latter being the Ship of Theseus.
16 Comments | tags: Captain Kirk, Sabine Hossenfelder, Star Trek, transporters | posted in Opinion, Science
I finished The Quantum Labyrinth: How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Reality (2017), by Paul Halpern. As the title implies, the book revolves around the careers and lives of John A. Wheeler (1911–2008) and Richard Feynman (1918–1988). After Feynman graduated from MIT he became Wheeler’s teaching assistant at Princeton. The two men, despite very different personalities, became life-long friends and collaborators.
One of Wheeler’s many claims to fame is his promotion of Hugh Everett’s PhD thesis, The Theory of the Universal Wave Function. That paper, of course, is the seed from which grew the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.
The thing is, there are two major versions of the MWI.
3 Comments | tags: Many Worlds Interpretation, Paul Halpern, quantum mechanics, Sabine Hossenfelder | posted in Brain Bubble, Physics
Back in 2015, to celebrate Albert Einstein’s birthday, I wrote a month-long series of posts about Special Relativity. I still regard it as one of my better efforts here. The series oriented on explaining to novices why faster-than-light travel (FTL) is not possible (short answer: it breaks reality).
So no warp drive. No wormholes or ansibles, either, because any FTL communication opens a path to the past. When I wrote the series, I speculated an ansible might work within an inertial frame. A smarter person set me straight; nope, it breaks reality. (See: Sorry, No FTL Radio)
Then Dr Sabine Hossenfelder seemed to suggest it was possible.
12 Comments | tags: Albert Einstein, ansible, causality, causality violation, Einstein, faster than light, frame of reference, FTL, FTL radio, light, light speed, light year, Sabine Hossenfelder, simultaneity, spacetime, Special Relativity, speed of light | posted in Physics