…If the question is whether I think that there is a person who has created Heavens and Earth, and responds to our prayers, then definitely my answer is no, with much certainty.


If the question is whether I believe that “God” is a powerful something in the people, which causes a lot of disasters but also a lot of good, then of course I believe it. In fact, I am extremely curious about religion. I think that we should study what is religion much more than what is done. There is a sort of taboo in this, a sort of respect towards people who “believe in God”, which makes it difficult to understand better.


I think that viewing the “belief in God” just as a bunch of silly superstitions is wrong. The “belief in God” is one form of human religious attitude, and human religious attitude is something very general and universal about our functioning. Something which is important for man, and we have not yet understood.

…you can be great in solving Maxwell’s equations and pray to God in the evening. But there is an unavoidable clash between science and certain religions, especially some forms of Christianity and Islam, those that pretend to be repositories of “absolute Truths.” The problem is not that scientists think they know everything. It is the opposite: scientists know that there are things we simply do not know, and naturally question those who pretend to know. Many religious people are disturbed by this, and have difficulty in coping with it. The religious person says, “I know that God has created light saying, ‘Fiat Lux.’” The scientist does not believe the story. The religious people feel threatened. And here the clash develops. But not all religions are like that. Many forms of Buddhism, for instance, have no difficulty with the continual critical attitude of science. …

Response from an interview with physicist Carlo Rovelli, to the questions: “Do you believe in God?” and “Are science and religion compatible?”

August 21, 2014

…Einstein, Heisenberg, Newton, Bohr… and many … of the greatest scientists of all times … read philosophy, learned from philosophy, and could have never done the great science they did without the input they got from philosophy, as they claimed repeatedly. You see: the scientists that talk philosophy down are simply superficial: they have a philosophy (usually some ill-digested mixture of Popper and Kuhn) and think that this is the “true” philosophy, and do not realize that this has limitations.

Excerpt from an interview with physicist Carlo Rovelli of Aix-Marseille University and the Intitut Universitaire de France.

August 21, 2014

••••••
A beautiful interview, in many ways. Although I understand why it happens to an extent, it’s still baffling to see such an agitated response against philosophy, from some students of science.
Science stemmed from philosophy, from the human desire to understand the world around us. And it is a cycle: science does not only produce technologies, but philosophies as well. When we gain a new understanding of our universe, we also learn how to better respond to nature — how to live better. Philosophy in action.

What is the “mystery of the universe”? There isn’t a “mystery of the universe.” There is an ocean of things we do not know. Many of them we’ll figure out, if we continue to be somewhat rational and do not kill one another first (which is well possible.) There will always be plenty of things that we will not understand, I think, but what do I know? In any case, we are very very very far from any complete comprehension of everything we would like to know.

I have no idea what “absolute truth” means. I think that science is the attitude of those who find funny the people saying they know something is absolute truth. Science is the awareness that our knowledge is constantly uncertain. What I know is that there are plenty of things that science does not understand yet. And science is the best tool found so far for reaching reasonably reliable knowledge.

Responses from an interview with physicist Carlo Rovelli, to the questions: “Can physics—or science in general—ever completely solve the mystery of the universe?” and “Can science attain absolute truth?”

August 21, 2014

I found physics, where … revolutions succeed. I got in love with it. It has been a passion that hasn’t ended. … [Physics] has been much better than I expected. Infinite fun and enthusiasm. Investigating the secrets of the world. Thinking things that nobody else has thought before. Great adventures in thinking. Great companions of travel. Fantastic.

Excerpts from an interview with physicist Carlo Rovelli of Aix-Marseille University and the Intitut Universitaire de France.

August 21, 2014

infinity-imagined
Symbolic representation of the Universe as a self-excited system brought into being by ‘self-reference’. The universe gives birth to communicating participators. Communicating participators give meaning to the universe…With such a concept goes the endless series of receding reflections one sees in a pair of facing mirrors.

J.A. Wheeler
(via n9nlinear)

••••••

Wiki:

John Archibald Wheeler (July 9, 1911 – April 13, 2008) was an American theoretical physicist who was largely responsible for reviving interest in general relativity in the United States after World War II. Wheeler also worked with Niels Bohr in explaining the basic principles behind nuclear fission. … He is also known for … for coining the term “quantum foam"…

proofmathisbeautiful
ketchuprocket:

all-the-other-humans:

Fucking physics

Somewhere in the world, a physics professor writes the perfect exam question.

••••••
This is actually not a physics assignment, but an artwork by Michael Craig-Martin, titled “On the Table” — a part of his conceptual explorations featuring similar balance problems, from the 1970s.

ketchuprocket:

all-the-other-humans:

Fucking physics

Somewhere in the world, a physics professor writes the perfect exam question.

••••••

This is actually not a physics assignment, but an artwork by Michael Craig-Martin, titled “On the Table” — a part of his conceptual explorations featuring similar balance problems, from the 1970s.

proofmathisbeautiful
mothernaturenetwork:

Scientists get first glimpse into workings of Higgs boson particlesWhat role do the Higgs bosons play in scattering and sticking to atoms?

••••••
MNN:

So far, the team has seen hints of just 34 W-boson scattering events, which showed that the Higgs boson does play some role in this scattering process. But there is still too little data to say exactly how “sticky” the Higgs boson is to these W-bosons, which would reveal how sticky the Higgs field is. That, in turn, could help reveal more details about how the Higgs field gives other particles their mass, … If follow-up data reveals that the Higgs Boson doesn’t seem to be sticky enough, that’s an indication that other subatomic particles may be involved in W-boson scattering, …

mothernaturenetwork:

Scientists get first glimpse into workings of Higgs boson particles
What role do the Higgs bosons play in scattering and sticking to atoms?

••••••

MNN:

So far, the team has seen hints of just 34 W-boson scattering events, which showed that the Higgs boson does play some role in this scattering process.
 
But there is still too little data to say exactly how “sticky” the Higgs boson is to these W-bosons, which would reveal how sticky the Higgs field is. That, in turn, could help reveal more details about how the Higgs field gives other particles their mass, …
 
If follow-up data reveals that the Higgs Boson doesn’t seem to be sticky enough, that’s an indication that other subatomic particles may be involved in W-boson scattering, …

mucholderthen

mucholderthen:

THE OPERATING SYSTEM
Created by Olena Shmahalo

Far-long ago, in a distant space-time,
a n0thing exploded over eons,

rippling into the here-now.

Over billions of years, anxious bits vibrated into “being”,
in every direction stacking and multiplying,
creating branches of { Unimportance },
of complexity and necessity, until, eventually,
that explosion became themselves.

See and read the entire “Operating System”

Your father was a space rock;
you were born a cosmonaut.

You are a cosmic accident —
a system of instructions,
 achieving self-recognition. 

You are nature looking in, 
at once mundane and sublime.

See and read the entire “Operating System” …

RIGHTS: Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike

Thanks for featuring my site!

subatomicuniverse

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons createphyd within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.

Aaron Freeman (via indecenciesandobscurities)
subatomicuniverse
humanoidhistory:

Albert Einstein in Princeton, New Jersey, 1947, photo by Philippe Halsman, Magnum.

••••••
I don’t recall the source now, but I read or heard somewhere (and I agree) that it’s funny we always show and see pictures of Einstein as an old man, and associate those images with the brilliant mind that was. But it was in his younger, less frizzy-haired years that he conceived of his famed ideas about Relativity. As he aged, the science he helped plant grew into something immensely strange and unrecognizable to him (Quantum Mechanics), which he resisted vehemently.

humanoidhistory:

Albert Einstein in Princeton, New Jersey, 1947, photo by Philippe Halsman, Magnum.

••••••

I don’t recall the source now, but I read or heard somewhere (and I agree) that it’s funny we always show and see pictures of Einstein as an old man, and associate those images with the brilliant mind that was. But it was in his younger, less frizzy-haired years that he conceived of his famed ideas about Relativity. As he aged, the science he helped plant grew into something immensely strange and unrecognizable to him (Quantum Mechanics), which he resisted vehemently.

subatomicuniverse
I was an ordinary person
who studied hard.

Richard Feynman, theoretical physicist, d. 1988 (via whats-out-there)

••••••

Context:

"You ask me if an ordinary person could ever get to be able to imagine these things like I imagine them. Of course! I was an ordinary person who studied hard. There are no miracle people. It happens they get interested in this thing and they learn all this stuff, but they’re just people. There’s no talent, no special ability to understand quantum mechanics, or to imagine electromagnetic fields, that comes without practice and reading and learning and study. I was not born understanding quantum mechanics — I still don’t understand quantum mechanics! I was born not knowing things were made out of atoms, and not being able to visualize, therefore, when I saw the bottle of milk that I was sucking, that it was a dynamic bunch of balls bouncing around. I had to learn that just like anybody else. So if you take an ordinary person who is willing to devote a great deal of time and work and thinking and mathematics, then he’s become a scientist!”

••••••

True of art, as well.

fouriestseries
fouriestseries:

Chaos and the Double Pendulum
A chaotic system is one in which infinitesimal differences in the starting conditions lead to drastically different results as the system evolves.
Summarized by mathematician Edward Lorentz, ”Chaos [is] when the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.”
There’s an important distinction to make between a chaotic system and a random system. Given the starting conditions, a chaotic system is entirely deterministic. A random system, on the other hand, is entirely non-deterministic, even when the starting conditions are known. That is, with enough information, the evolution of a chaotic system is entirely predictable, but in a random system there’s no amount of information that would be enough to predict the system’s evolution.
The simulations above show two slightly different initial conditions for a double pendulum — an example of a chaotic system. In the left animation both pendulums begin horizontally, and in the right animation the red pendulum begins horizontally and the blue is rotated by 0.1 radians (≈ 5.73°) above the positive x-axis. In both simulations, all of the pendulums begin from rest.
Mathematica code posted here.
[For more information on how to solve for the motion of a double pendulum, check out my video here.]

fouriestseries:

Chaos and the Double Pendulum

chaotic system is one in which infinitesimal differences in the starting conditions lead to drastically different results as the system evolves.

Summarized by mathematician Edward Lorentz, ”Chaos [is] when the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.”

There’s an important distinction to make between a chaotic system and a random system. Given the starting conditions, a chaotic system is entirely deterministic. A random system, on the other hand, is entirely non-deterministic, even when the starting conditions are known. That is, with enough information, the evolution of a chaotic system is entirely predictable, but in a random system there’s no amount of information that would be enough to predict the system’s evolution.

The simulations above show two slightly different initial conditions for a double pendulum — an example of a chaotic system. In the left animation both pendulums begin horizontally, and in the right animation the red pendulum begins horizontally and the blue is rotated by 0.1 radians (≈ 5.73°) above the positive x-axis. In both simulations, all of the pendulums begin from rest.

Mathematica code posted here.

[For more information on how to solve for the motion of a double pendulum, check out my video here.]

inthenoosphere
inthenoosphere:

Symbolic representation of the participatory universe as developed by physicist, John Archibald Wheeler

••••••
“We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” ― Carl Sagan
A video of John Wheeler talking about this image.
Christopher Langan’s animated gif version of John’s idea, via Imagining the Tenth Dimension.
••••••
I’m curious, who’s the artist of the above drawing? I haven’t been able to find a real source yet. It is Wheeler’s idea, but it’s unclear if this particular picture was drawn by him — seems not.

inthenoosphere:

Symbolic representation of the participatory universe as developed by physicist, John Archibald Wheeler

••••••

We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” ― Carl Sagan

A video of John Wheeler talking about this image.

Christopher Langan’s animated gif version of John’s idea, via Imagining the Tenth Dimension.

••••••

I’m curious, who’s the artist of the above drawing? I haven’t been able to find a real source yet. It is Wheeler’s idea, but it’s unclear if this particular picture was drawn by him — seems not.

TIL that Jason Silva calls himself a Futurist.
I want to talk about this. Because someone has to offer an opposing view, lest minds — especially young ones who haven’t read enough to know better — fall in this hole, never to return again. Mine nearly did, but I chose to hear out and learn from the skeptics, despite their “negativity”.
Silva is simply a filmmaker who enthusiastically uses buzzwords like “mindgasm" and "feedback loops" and "Quest Physics" — he borrows credibility. Many people are evidently apt to confuse this with profundity.
[[MORE]]
For ease, the Wiki definition of a futurist:

Futurists (not in the sense of [the early 20th century art movement, futurism]) or futurologists are scientists and social scientists whose speciality is … to systematically explore predictions and possibilities about the future and how they can emerge from the present, whether that of human society in particular or of life on earth in general.

I don’t know if he does any of the above, but I can infer from what I’ve seen of it that Silva’s work does NOT involve science. It cannot. A scientifically literate person would not ever say the things this man says.
While many futurists do hold fringe beliefs/values/etc., futurism stems from a consideration of science and technology, and where they may lead us. Not New Age philosophy. NOT “The Secret”, not “intentions”, not “positive energy”, not mystical quantum anything. Some futurists may espouse those ideas, but they aren’t intrinsic to the movement.
••••••
For more info about futurism, please visit:
SpaceCollective.org
KurzweilAI.net
To learn more about differentiating between New Age BS and science, please visit the following links. (In no specified order, just a small sampling):
Scientific Literacy (list on Goodreads)If you don’t have time for whole books, at least start with a few quotes or a wiki summary. But please don’t make the mistake of rejecting outright or arguing based on a few excerpts. (Here, one might try to say the same about how I’m reacting to Silva. But the truth is, I was deeply immersed in material like his in my teen years, ergo I accepted and understood it before critically dissecting and rejecting it.)
Skepdic: New Thought"The dominating idea of all forms of New Thought is that thoughts or beliefs have an effect on things and people around us independently of our doing anything. Thinking creates reality."
Skepdic: “Energy” (New Age)"New Age spiritualism has co-opted some of the language of physics, including the language of quantum mechanics, in its quest to make ancient metaphysics sound like respectable science."
Skepdic: “Law” of AttractionAn offshoot of New Thought. Central tenet of “The Secret”.
Carl Sagan’s CosmosVideo series; a historical overview of science. Part of Sagan’s agenda toward scientific literacy. Things we all should’ve learned in grade school. Available for free, nearly everywhere.
"Science Saved My Soul" by Phil HellenesA 5-min excerpt of the original video.
Excerpt from Feynman’s The Meaning of it All

••••••
All that said… it’s difficult to live. People need the inspiration and personal values and philosophies that help them do so. Understanding that, I’m not anti-god nor anti-spirituality, etc. I am anti-obfuscation. There’s much more to this than I can cover in several paragraphs on a blog post.
I’m writing this not out of anger (although let’s be honest, some of this shit makes my blood boil), but in hopes of holding out yet another Candle in the Dark to anyone who may not otherwise have an opportunity to see one.

TIL that Jason Silva calls himself a Futurist.

I want to talk about this. Because someone has to offer an opposing view, lest minds — especially young ones who haven’t read enough to know better — fall in this hole, never to return again. Mine nearly did, but I chose to hear out and learn from the skeptics, despite their “negativity”.

Silva is simply a filmmaker who enthusiastically uses buzzwords like “mindgasm" and "feedback loops" and "Quest Physics" — he borrows credibility. Many people are evidently apt to confuse this with profundity.

Read More

Besides the few famous ones in film and books, do theoretical physicists actually exist, happily, doing interesting things?

Or are they magical unicorn butterfly creatures that are only rumored to have been seen in the wild, but are only miserably locked away in towers, trying to get impossible tenure positions?

••••••

edit:

@ redcloud: haha. good one. yes.

@ thenoobyorker: the honest answer, I guess. I’m guessing it’s the latter. Janna Levin is one such unicorn that comes to mind, but… that’s just it. One. I don’t understand how one acquires the finances to live this life.