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review 2018-06-23 19:08
Implausifiability in Physics: “Lost in Math - How Beauty Leads Physics Astray” by Sabine Hossenfelder
Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray - Sabine Hossenfelder

“The time it takes to test a new fundamental law of nature can be longer than a scientist’s career. This forces theorists to draw upon criteria other than empirical adequacy to decide which research avenues to pursue. Aesthetic appeal is one of them. In our search for new ideas, beauty plays many roles. It’s a guide, a reward, a motivation. It is also a systematic bias“

In “Lost in Math - How Beauty Leads Physics Astray” by Sabine Hossenfelder

One of the most obnoxious notions I’ve ever read in Physics is the one that purports that we’re a simulation. If it's all a simulation, why wouldn't the world that simulated us be a simulation too? This is the turtles all the way down idea. This doesn't mean it isn't true but it's also the same question as, if God created the universe and us, who created God? The answer I sometimes get when I say it’s all hogwash, is that the theory is aesthetically pleasing. Where is the evidence? And more importantly, is it “implausifiable” (I’m borrowing here Hossenfelder’s term)? The supposed evidence for our universe being a simulation seems to largely include the idea that if we extrapolate our technological progress further ahead in time, we will be able to build such a simulation ourselves *therefore* we are a simulation.


If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-05-27 10:32
Quantum Ontology: "What is Real - The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics" by Adam Becker
What Is Real?: The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics - Adam Becker

The Universal-Wave-Function vs. The Pilot-Schrödinger-Wave-Function vs. the Collapsing-Schrödinger-Wave-function as a Stab at Explaining Reality.




The diversity of possible comments on this book reflects ironically the Everett paradigm of quantum ontology. There are as many views of reality as there are observers. Thankfully in all instances, given the depth of some of the possible interpretations, the interaction of the observer state wave and that of the rest of the universe is extremely asymmetrical - the universe has a great effect on the observer but the latter's effect on the universe is mercifully, infinitesimally small. There is no doubt that the philosophical implications of the developments in modern scientific thinking are in lagging mode. This is because of the extreme complexities of the formalisms created to describe the reality as seen by human observers with a certain evolved sense of perception. The modern philosopher has to tread wearily through the theory before emerging tired and almost at wit's end to be in a position to even expound a valid opinion, least of all an emerging new philosophy, on the ontological basis of the quantum world. This is the first time I’ve read a book on Quantum Mechanics wherein three of the major outlier physicists appear: David Bohm, Hugh Everett III, and John Stewart Bell. 



If you're into the Measurement Problem in Quantum Mechanics, read on.

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review 2018-03-29 11:32
Follow-up on ∂S/∂t + H = 0: "Reality Is Not What It Seems" by Carlo Rovelli
Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Elusive Structure of the Universe and the Journey to Quantum Gravity - Carlo Rovelli,Simon Carnell,Erica Segre
"The world of quantum mechanics is not a world of objects: it is a world of events".
In "Reality Is Not What It Seems" by Carlo Rovelli
Rovelli is more than right to rail against the schism of art and science. Theoretical physics in some sense is the poetry of science; and science in its great evolution from the classical era on was intertwined with art (Galileo was a musician, Leonardo an anatomist and technological innovator; Piero was a geometer, while painters have ever worked at the edge of physics (light properties) and materials science (pigments and chemical properties), and so on).
If you're into Quantum Mechanics, read on.
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review 2010-09-13 00:00
Quantum Mechanics: The Physics Of The Microscopic World (The Great Courses) - Benjamin Schumacher Learning about the quantum world while living in the macro world is sort of like reading Alice in Wonderland. Things just don't behave in logical ways. One needs to accept new rules for reality.

Professor Benjamin Schumacher explains the subject as simply as possible. But it's still a real mind stretcher in a knock-your-socks-off sort of way.

My main motivation for listening to these lectures is to have quantum entanglement explained again. It's the spookiness of entanglement that made me consider as possibly true the suggestion that the Higgs boson went back in time from the future in order to cause the CERN Large Hadron Collider to malfunction. I know the people who originated that story were joking, but the idea is no more strange than the evidence for entanglement.

Entanglement is the phenomenon of two particles acting on each other even though they are separated in space. But come to think about it, that's no stranger than the phenomenon of gravity. The only reason we don't think gravity is strange is because we live with it in our macro world.

If you would like to have a better understanding of fermions and bosons, I highly recommend these lectures. If you don't know what fermions and bosons are, well then you really do need these lectures.

In the later part of the lectures he talks about quantum computers and quantum communication. All I can say about that is, "huh?"

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review 1978-07-01 00:00
The Principles of Quantum Mechanics (International Series of Monographs on Physics) - Paul A.M. Dirac I read Principles shortly after graduating from college. I hadn't attended any of the courses on quantum mechanics, but a friend told me that if I read this book I'd understand what I'd missed. Good advice!

Dirac's intuition is amazing. He messes around with the equations, doesn't obviously seem to be going anywhere, and then suddenly arrives at a conclusion about the real physical world. The piece de resistance comes at the end, where he deduces the existence of the positron more or less from first principles; they were indeed observed experimentally a few years later. He did this work when he was in his mid 20s, and received the Nobel Prize for it when he was only 31.

Lee Smolin, in The Trouble with Physics, bemoans the fact that it's now almost impossible for young scientists to get funding to pursue speculative ideas of their own. They usually have to work with other people's ideas until they are in their late 30s at least, by which time it's often too late. When you look at Dirac's great book, you appreciate just how wrong that is.
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