Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Blogosphere as Quantum

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Nothing resembles quantum artifacts so much as does the blogging universe.

Schrodinger’s “alive or dead cat” scenario, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, and Bohr’s Copenhagen Interpretation apply as much to blogging and the blogosphere as it does to “quantum reality.”

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Let us explain….

A blog doesn’t really exist until it is measured (observed), but even then the measurement doesn’t guarantee that the blog is alive. It may be dead, depending upon the kind of measurement (observation) that it gets – the “approval factor.”

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The proper measurement of a blog will keep it alive, in existence, for a period of time that varies with the momentum of the blog (where it’s going, its intent) or the exact location of the blog (its content within the blog universe).

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If, for example, a blog is frivolous in a mundane or unfunny way, that content won’t be measured (or observed) meaningful enough to keep it in existence.

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If the intention of the blog is unclear, any measurement (observation) will be transitory and the blog will atrophy before it obtains actual existence; the time period of its transitory existence will be, for all practical purposes, nil.

When a camera (still or video) is brought into a room of persons, the dynamics within the room change appreciably.

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The camera as observer or measurer alters the events in the room just as a measurement of quanta (or observation of Schrodinger’s cat) alters the quanta (or keeps the cat alive or kills it).

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Blogs are as ubiquitous as quantum artifacts, and most are just as invisible.

However, a blog with atomic consequence will interact with other blogs, locally, and in the blogosphere, non-locally, sometimes instantaneously, sometimes after an insignificant duration; but either way, a palpable blog will interact.

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Blogs that are without measurable substance do not exist, not in real terms. They may come into being but are so inconsequential that one can say they do not exist and did not exist.

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Thus, if one wants to have or produce a blog that has some kind of quantum shelf-life, they must make sure that the blog is measured (or observed) and that measurement (observation) continues, unabated.

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This is tough. Quantum reality is short-lived. But in the context of a living blogosphere, one blog (or many) can survive if it (or they) have enough substance to produce a nuclear reaction; that is, such blogs will persist forever (in quantum terms) unless someone or something deactivates them.

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Measurement (observation) of such blogs is secondary to their perpetuality. Atomic blogs cannot be destroyed by mere measurement. It takes a self-induced action to kill such blogs, or a massive influx of obtuse or negative observations from other blogs in the blogosphere to undo atomic blogs.

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Nonetheless, blogs, and the blogosphere itself, are always subject to the vicissitudes of quantum measurement, uncertainty, and the Copenhagen Interpretation: the potentiality of life (or death).

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Leonard Susskind is mostly right

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Theoretical physicist Leonard Susskind, in his wonderful book, The Cosmic Landscape [Little, Brown and Company, NY, 2006] insists that “The Laws of Physics” (and their accoutrements) can explain creation on Earth and the Universe’s origin pretty much also, although mysteries remain (and will remain it seems).

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Physicists are loath to see an intelligence behind the reality that we experience.

But the Laws of Physics didn’t arrive ex nihilo. Mathematics didn’t either.

And while Darwin’s theory defines how mankind and the Earth’s creatures developed, one has to wonder how it is that copulatory activity came to evolve in such a way that it allows most species to procreate, spurred on by the pleasurable attributes of the sexual fusion: the orgasmic thrill.

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(Some species bifurcate without the interconnectiveness of a sexual union but they are in the minority among Earth’s creatures.)

The ingenious add-on to copulation (the orgasm) has to be the concoction of a wily creator or intelligence. The physical manifestation of the orgasm, where the pleasure is almost intangible, could not have arrived by natural selection; it had to be instigated by conscious contrivance.

But that aside, the elegance of mathematics, that physicists and scientists extol, did not, as we note, arrive out of nothing nor did it evolve. And the same applies to Susskind’s Laws of Physics.

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The Laws and mathematics seem to have been part of the Universe at the Big Bang and before. Both are omnipresent and have been since the beginning of time – space-time too.

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Maybe The Laws of Physics and the laws of mathematics are inherent aspects of the intelligence or consciousness of the Designer.

One can call the Designer God if they like. The word “God” makes it easy to discuss the possible [sic] creator of the Reality about us. (It’s much better, that God word, than Anselm’s ontological definition of God: "that than which nothing greater can be thought.")

But since Susskind (and his colleagues) repudiate a God as the progenitor of life and the Universe, we’ll accept their reticence, since we believe that God, for all practical purposes, is impersonal or ineffable (as we note elsewhere here).

One can easily substitute The Laws of Physics or Darwin’s Theory of Evolution for the word “God” or for God Itself.

(The God of the Hebrew Bible, Yahweh, is dead, or comatose, as Nietzsche metaphorically intuited, as are the gods referenced by other myths and religions, so one needn’t spend time debating that alternate reality.)

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The quibble is about how physicists, such as Susskind, just can’t bring themselves to admit to a supreme intelligence responsible for all that we experience as Reality.

Even the Anthropic Principle is anathema to most in the scientific community, although it is a sensible principle on the face of it.

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Nonetheless, we understand (or think we do) the hubris that keeps science from accepting a Supreme Intelligence (or God) as the underlying Principle for everything in creation.

The idea of a God is just too easy. It’s a cop-put for thoughtful persons as it posits a simple meaning for life which itself is too complex to be relegated to a First Cause and jut left there, unexplained as it were.

Science has to know what the mechanisms for Life are; how the mind of God works.

They can skip the Being and just work with the thought processes, which is an okay way to get at the truth of this existence.

Gos doesn’t matter. When everything is considered, it’s the agenda or mental machinations that matter – The Laws of Physics.

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God, the real God (the God above god), can actually die, but the laws instituted by Him or It continue on, or should, unless everyhting comes to an end. (But that’s a whole other matter for discussion.)

So, we enjoy Susskind, and his ilk. The represent brilliant minds – minds not as great as the mind of God, but we can at least get in touch with Leonard Susskind.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Numb and Number

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Mathematics don’t take us where we want to go – to reality, the ultimate reality actually.

Math isn’t even a means to that end, although theoretical physicists would like to think it is.

The surreal abstractions that math addresses – and this has nothing to do with the practical applications of arithmetic – mimic Plato’s “real reality” but that reality is not accessible to mankind as it (mankind) is now configured.

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There is a mundane reality, the one which we all experience daily. And there is a profound or transcendental reality, which has eluded humankind since the inception of consciousness or thought.

What is the best way to get at that transcendental reality?

Early philosophers – the Greeks mostly – thought mathematical constructs were the doorway to the reality that underlies life.

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Religious thinkers thought prayer and rites would take them to that underlying (or overhead) reality.

The Orientals suggested meditation and fasting to arrive at Tao or Nibbana.

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Philosophers such as the scholastics (Anselm, Aquinas, et al.) down through those of the Enlightenment right on up to the modern era believed that cogitation would provide the answer(s) to what reality is.

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Today, physicists and an array of peripheral scientists seek The Theory of Everything (aka reality) by mathematical theory and experimentation.

From the burial evidence of primitive man, through the Mesopotamian cultures, the
Chinese and Indian tracts, the Greek and Roman ruminations, the Christian dialogues, and so on, man has tried to fathom what the Ultimate Reality was and is.

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Today, science eschews the methodologies of the past, and rightfully so. None have worked.

But are mathematical theorems, and the hypotheses or theories derived from them, any more effective. That is, are we closer to determining what reality, the Real Reality, is?

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No. We’re actually further away since today’s science has created more questions than answers. The more science pursues reality the more complex it appears to be.

String theory won’t simplify the meaning of the world, just as quantum significantly confuses the issue.

What is to be done? Should we throw up our hands, in a kind of metaphysical despair, as Aquinas did when he had his vision or as Te Shan did when he had his?

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The likes of physicists, such as Penrose, Susskind, Greene, Gribbin, Davies, et alia,
attempt to help us out, to help themselves out, but to no avail. They all are whistling in the dark matter.

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Of course one can’t fault them for trying to decipher the mystery of the origin of the Universe or Life. That’s that Socrates encouraged us all to do.

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But is math or theoretical physics the way to go about the discernment of what this life really means? Such posturings haven’t worked so far and, as noted, more questions have been raised than answered.

Nope. Math and science as we know it are just as arcane and useless as the dialectics of Aristotle or the collations of Meister Eckhart.

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It’s time for a new science, one that emerges from but goes beyond Vico, and one that is able to synthesize the truths from the past with the discoveries of the present.

Otherwise we’re right back where we started, and that doesn’t help anyone….

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Something happened...

Familiarity with the earliest writings and oral legends, from every culture around the globe, as delineated by such scholars as Mircea Eliade, shows commonality: gods created mankind, some even created the Earth, and others created the Universe.

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The stories are not disparate, but they are diffuse, so that one cannot attribute them to one unique source.

Early man, and early societies, scattered as they were and separated not only by distances and geography, experienced incursions by entities that anthropomorphism can’t account for.

[See, particularly, Eliade’s A History of Religious Ideas, Three Volumes, University of Chicago, 1978.]

The Hebrew Bible, the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, the Greek myths, the Vedic writings, along with later accounts by native Americans, the ideographs of the Maya, and so on all attribute creation, in toto, to gods, or “supreme beings.”

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All these writings and/or remembrances have a uniformity which indicates something specific happened during the primitive stages of humanity.

Joseph Campbell’s renderings of the world’s myths don’t make the accusation that the myths represented something real, in the mundane sense certainly.

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Carl Jung, however, felt that myth was an overlay of truthful events.

To argue either way is futile, we think. The creation stories that have arisen from every corner of the world, during varying times, most before the common era and many harking back from later dates to a culture’s primeval past (The Incan and Inuit societies, among others).

The “fact” is that some intrusions occurred during the formative history of mankind. That is hardly arguable. The nature of those intrusions are diverse in kind but only as far as the minutiae involved; the episodes are pretty much alike in the renditions.

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Unfortunately, there are no tangible proofs that allow us to zero in on who those gods were or what their motivations, if any, were.

But they arrived. They mucked around. And here we are, millennia later, no wiser about what this existence is all about and what our real role in this existence is.

So, we move on….to an existential milieu (where everything is nothing) or we settle down to exploration of the Universe, where the answer may lie, but don’t count on it.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Fringe

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Scientists – real scientists – rightfully eschew the fringe phenomena that afflicts some of humanity: UFOs, alien abduction, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, parapsychology, ghosts, et cetera.

It’s not that the phenomena isn’t worthy of a look-see by bona fide professionals (as physicist Michio Kaku suggests); it’s that the phenomena has been corrupted by the madness, the insanity as it were, of those who’ve adopted some phenomenon or other to flesh out their morbidly dull lives.

Any scrutiny of a fringe topic, say UFOs, for example, will show that the strangeness of the thing(s) is offset by the even stranger reaction to it by a diverse group of sociopaths, expert-wannabes, narcissists, and just plain crazy people.

(Hoaxers are also a ubiquitous bane.)

Admittedly there are some serious, somewhat credentialed persons seeking answers to the phenomenon that interests them, but they dilute that seriousness by popping up in various milieux where the crazies reside.

These serious quasi-investigators can’t help but appear in and at venues where every wacko has admittance and is granted a kind of respected credibility, no matter how ridiculous their position may be.

Why would a serious scientist invest time and besmirch his or her career by associating with those who have little (if any) training or expertise about the subject matter at hand?

Jacques Vallee, a scientist with expertise in computer matters mostly, has withdrawn from the UFO debate, to study, privately, the phenomenon within what he calls The Invisible College.

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But even that hasn’t tarnished his reputation as a serious scientist. The phenomenon Vallee studies subliminally is rife with baggage that doesn’t allow it to be taken seriously by anyone, other than him.

The sasquatch (bigfoot) appearances are also avoided by primate specialists. The sightings (and alleged evidence: footprints, hair, and feces) are without substance.

Even the (in)famous Patterson film has become too controversial, with accusations of fraud or hoaxing, for any primatologist to weigh in on.

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And Loch Ness, which already has a plethora of admitted hoax sightings and photos, can’t be researched by marine biologists, unless they desire a short-circuited career.

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But a raft of true mental defectives can best be found in the vast, and it is vast, UFO community.

A perusal of UFO books, web-sites, blogs, and other flying saucer venues (such as the Roswell “museum” in Roswell, New Mexico) will convince anyone with a smidgen of psychological acumen that the phenomenon has been encrusted by a patina of psychopathology.

Scientists with any academic respectability are wise to avoid getting down and dirty with the UFO crowd. By sinking to the mire of “ufology” – the made-up term to imbue UFOs with a false credibility – a scientist would ruin (not could ruin but would ruin) their professional lives inexorably and definitively, as was the case with Dr. James McDonald and Harvard professor John Mack (both deceased) who were castigated unmercifully by their peers.

This doesn’t mean that UFOs, Bigfoot, and Nessie are without curious elements.

It just means that they, as phenomena worthy of study, have been tainted by the maniacs who’ve glommed on to them for various reasons, which are suspect, nefarious, or psychotically induced.

So science is wise to stay away. Why would anyone with personal integrity get involved with the fringe? It just doesn’t make sense….

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The [Real?] Meaning of Life

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No, the question isn’t a profound one, by a long shot.

It’s a simple existential query that each person should address, but most do not.

For instance, is life meant to be enjoyed haphazardly, in the sense that one should merely indulge their senses hedonistically, as golfers, outdoor grillers, party-goers, cruise-ship mavens, and other pleasure seekers do?

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Or is life meant to be contemplative, in the Socratic sense, where moderation in all things physical is seconded by intense rumination on the purpose of being?

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Lecomte du Nouy, in his book Human Destiny, posits an evolutionary tendency for mankind, which has the purpose of reaching an Omega point.

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We’re not sure what happens when and if the Omega point is reached, but the idea is enticing in an amorphous Thomistic way.

Aquinas thought we – mankind – were supposed to join the Godhead, as John of the New Testament gospel indicated also.

Joining, or rejoining some say, the Godhead is what life is all about many theologians tell us. But we don’t find comfort, philosophically, in the vagueness of the outcome. What happens after we join (or rejoin) the Godhead?

Do we just partake of the Buddhistic or Hindu concept Nirvana? That doesn’t strike us as satisfactory in some ways, but it intrigues if one sees passive bliss as a better “existence” than the one we now struggle with.

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Is life meant to be enjoyed, emotionally, sexually, physically, sensuously, in the here and now, every moment, of every day? Most persons live life exactly that way.

But what is the purpose of that, since such activity always is deterred or halted by the aging process that men and women are cursed with?

And what happens to the transcendental elements of the sensual life, such as hearing a Beethoven symphony or viewing a Michelangelo sculpture or tasting a very fine Chablis, when one passes on?

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Do the memories of those delights linger, and are they able to be recalled in an afterlife?

Or do the pleasures cease when the body ceases to exist in this worldly milieu?

Do we cease altogether, even though Einstein told us that matter can neither be created nor destroyed – it just is?

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Scientists cogitate on the origins of the Universe, life, various species of flora and fauna, and lots of other things that are certainly transitory in that they will stop existing, for those who die or in and of themselves.

The aim of evolution is to perfect the organism that is struggling to be the fittest.

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But to what ultimate end? After an organism (man?) reaches perfection, what happens? What’s the point?

But let’s look at the final destination of evolutionary constructs: death.

Is it possible that the pinnacle of humanity – evidenced by Plato, Aristotle, K’ung Fu-tse (Confucius), Chaucer, Dante, Copernicus, Maimonides, Leonardo, Copernicus, Shakespeare, Newton, Chopin, Darwin, Einstein, et alia – is thwarted by death?

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That is, how does evolution, especially the kind that du Nouy and Teilhard advances, account for the stoppage of mental or spiritual progression when, in fact, the fittest of the mental giants die, and their thought processes with them?

Freud presented the idea that there is a death wish (Thanatos) inherent to the psyche of man.

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Does mankind really want to revert to an inert state, Sartre’s “nothingness”?

Certainly not. Men (and women) want to live forever, usually. Or, at least, as long as Methuselah.

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Personal evolution benefits civilization’s evolution. And if there were a purpose to being, that would be the sine qua non.

However, death obstructs evolution altogether, so the purpose of life, its meaning, is not evolution, not physical evolution anyway.

And a spiritual evolution, per du Nouy, is iffy, since it has to complete in a hereafter, and that milieu is not quite a reality, not even in the Platonic sense.

So what is the meaning of life? No one knows. Not even us.

Yet, it (the meaning of life) is grist for discussion, so we’ll continue to do so, here and elsewhere….