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Steven Weinberg, RIP
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The great physicist, who won the Nobel in 1979, has died at 88. Weinberg’s fellow U. of Texas physicist Scott Aaronson has written an appreciation. Here’s one part of it that’s not over my head:

It would be an understatement to call Steve “left-of-center.” …

All the same, during the “science wars” of the 1990s, Steve was scathing about the academic left’s postmodernist streak and deeply sympathetic to what Alan Sokal had done with his Social Text hoax.

Steve also once told me that, when he (like other UT faculty) was required to write a statement about what he would do to advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, he submitted just a single sentence: “I will seek out the best candidates, without regard to race or sex.” I remarked that he might be one of the only academics who could get away with that.

 
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  1. Aaronson is not a physicist, he is a guy who works on the sort of things Claude Shannon worked on. He has a one in a thousand, maybe a one in two thousand, talent at having a good knack at that sort of thing, but …. but so what?

    The “tribute” was full of self-serving tripe and fawning compliments that would have embarrassed Weinberg.

    Very very few people can possibly know if Weinberg was a great physicist or not. Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists – in such a world the poor old man was a great physicist.

    I read Aaronson’s self-serving tribute a week ago, and it made me sad. There was nothing in the tribute about Weinberg loving TRUTH, or about poor Weinberg ever displaying the sort of intellectual humility that anyone in his position should have —- it was mostly about how quick-witted the poor little man was.

    Sad.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @very old statistician

    Scott Aaronson is always autistically name-dropping. He's a good physicist though.

    Replies: @Pericles

    , @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    very old statistician wrote:


    Very very few people can possibly know if Weinberg was a great physicist or not. Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists – in such a world the poor old man was a great physicist.
     
    Well... I am one of those "very very few people" who can know if Steve was a great physicist: I took Intro to Quantum Field Theory from Steve in the late 1970s when he did a sabbatical year at Stanford, and my thesis work was related to his path-breaking work on the so-called "Standard Model."

    Steve was not Einstein (and never claimed to be). Steve was not as entertaining as Feynman (whom I also had as a professor, when I was an undergrad at Caltech), though I did like Steve personally.

    Was Steve as great a physicist as Newton or Maxwell or Einstein No. Feynman? Debatable. Hawking? Yeah, I think so.

    Steve was a very, very significant figure in late-twentieth century physics. Most importantly, everything I know about him shows a rigorous commitment to scientific integrity: in his later years, for example, he came to realize that there is something wrong with quantum mechanics and said so publicly.

    As to your apparent claim that engineers solve the same sorts of problems Steve solved... well, I have worked extensively in both physics and engineering. If you mean what you seem to be saying, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

    Replies: @Unladen Swallow, @Bardon Kaldian, @lavoisier, @donut, @very old statistician, @That Would Be Telling

  2. Anonymous[423] • Disclaimer says:

    Back in the 90’s I sent Steven Weinberg an email asking him a question about something he wrote in his book The First Three Minutes. I was just a nobody general reader and my question probably seemed stupid to Weinberg. But he was kind enough to email me back with a thoughtful response. So nice.

    RIP Steven Weinberg

  3. I’m sure Steve and many readers would appreciate Weinberg’s essay “Against Philosophy”:

    http://joelvelasco.net/teaching/167win10/Weinberg%20against%20philosophy.pdf


  4. [MORE]

    • Replies: @Uncle Dan
    @MEH 0910

    Perhaps Weinberg would have been reconciled to “the Heavens declare the glory of God” if he had updated it to “the universe exhibits the glory of pointlessness.”

  5. I loved his quote, in answer to Alan Watts:

    “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless,” Steven Weinberg (b. May 3, 1933)

    I share his birthday. But I am nowhere near his birth YEAR.

    Good question for class: Why do pointy-heads live so long? And different magnitudes for different skills. The great Hungarian film composer, Miklos Roza, was still working at 100.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    @Franz


    The great Hungarian film composer, Miklos Roza, was still working at 100.
     
    Elliot Carter was busy composing when he died at 103. Kirk Douglas, Olivia de Havilland, Beverly Cleary, and Vera Lynn were all born in 1916 or 1917 and lived until the past year or so. But I don't think any of them were active for their last decade or two. Character actor Charles Lane joked at his 100th birthday party that he was "still available".

    More down to earth, 104-year-old Florence Teeters bagged a buck in 2019, and is apparently still with us.
    , @black sea
    @Franz


    Why do pointy-heads live so long?
     
    I've wondered this myself. My guess is that an ordered mind leads to an ordered life. Contrast with the life expectancy of artists, who seem to check out in their 60s, if they don't die by their own hand even sooner.

    Replies: @Jim, @Anon

    , @AnotherDad
    @Franz


    Good question for class: Why do pointy-heads live so long?
     
    88 really isn't super long anymore.

    It's a pretty "standard issue" age of death of upper-middle class people who don't do anything particularly stupid in the smoking/drinking/drugs--i.e. haven't lived a "hard life"--and aren't in the specifically unlucky bucket with cancer or the like.

    My parents were in a very nice, upper middle class, retirement home. Definitely a skewed sample as the move in demographic is 75ish and you have to be able to walk in. But i met a lot of my parents friends and neighbors over the years they were there. Some get knocked out in their early 80s, but late 80s is nothing special and a lot cruise right on into their 90s. Guy right across the hall went to 100 and something. And there's several of those 100ers running around the joint.

    You can run through the list of recent presidents (with Carter still trucking at 96 and change) and get an idea. These are basically upper middle class people--college educated, with the exception of Truman--who had decent political skills and good luck and were in decent enough health in middle age to run. (Heck with Biden's media cover, he could even be demented and run!)

    My 10,000 foot take:

    The average "body wears out" age right now is 90ish. For some down toward 80 for other up over 100. Life expectancy obviously lower because people abuse their bodies, have accidents, get some infectious disease, get unlucky with early cancer. But if you avoid all those things--which is easier to do then ever before--having a four score and eight is unremarkable.
    , @Bardon Kaldian
    @Franz


    I loved his quote, in answer to Alan Watts:

    “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless,” Steven Weinberg (b. May 3, 1933)
     
    He frequently regretted that witty, but ultimately dumb statement.

    More than regret, that's why he supported multiverse in order to avoid a god when confronting that ogre of the anthropic principle. He was very clear about it in his contribution to Carr's book, pp. 29 and later, & especially Conclusion:

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/512u3FQfMEL._SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_FMwebp_.jpg

    The book is here: http://libgen.rs/book/index.php?md5=96C481B825A0FF7B94158DE5D77220B4

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @El Dato

  6. Anonymous[353] • Disclaimer says:
    @very old statistician
    Aaronson is not a physicist, he is a guy who works on the sort of things Claude Shannon worked on. He has a one in a thousand, maybe a one in two thousand, talent at having a good knack at that sort of thing, but .... but so what?

    The "tribute" was full of self-serving tripe and fawning compliments that would have embarrassed Weinberg.

    Very very few people can possibly know if Weinberg was a great physicist or not. Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists - in such a world the poor old man was a great physicist.

    I read Aaronson's self-serving tribute a week ago, and it made me sad. There was nothing in the tribute about Weinberg loving TRUTH, or about poor Weinberg ever displaying the sort of intellectual humility that anyone in his position should have ---- it was mostly about how quick-witted the poor little man was.

    Sad.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @PhysicistDave

    Scott Aaronson is always autistically name-dropping. He’s a good physicist though.

    • Replies: @Pericles
    @Anonymous


    Scott Aaronson is always autistically name-dropping. He’s a good physicist though.

     

    He seems mostly like a publicity hound to me. Is he in the top 1000 in his field? Top 10,000? Just something of a physicist mensch?
  7. It would be an understatement to call Steve “left-of-center.” …

    All the same, during the “science wars” of the 1990s, Steve was scathing about the academic left’s postmodernist streak and deeply sympathetic to what Alan Sokal had done with his Social Text hoax.

    I believe that Sokal himself was a lefty too.

    Everyone is a conservative about that they know the best. You’d think that they might draw some wider conclusions from that, yet strangely most people don’t.

    • Replies: @Engels
    @Mr. Anon

    Yes, Sokal was of the left…but of the old left, ie of anti-imperialist socialism. The word left has undergone semantic shift and now means something closer to pro-imperialist liberal.

  8. @Franz
    I loved his quote, in answer to Alan Watts:

    “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless,” Steven Weinberg (b. May 3, 1933)

    I share his birthday. But I am nowhere near his birth YEAR.

    Good question for class: Why do pointy-heads live so long? And different magnitudes for different skills. The great Hungarian film composer, Miklos Roza, was still working at 100.

    Replies: @Reg Cæsar, @black sea, @AnotherDad, @Bardon Kaldian

    The great Hungarian film composer, Miklos Roza, was still working at 100.

    Elliot Carter was busy composing when he died at 103. Kirk Douglas, Olivia de Havilland, Beverly Cleary, and Vera Lynn were all born in 1916 or 1917 and lived until the past year or so. But I don’t think any of them were active for their last decade or two. Character actor Charles Lane joked at his 100th birthday party that he was “still available”.

    More down to earth, 104-year-old Florence Teeters bagged a buck in 2019, and is apparently still with us.

  9. @Franz
    I loved his quote, in answer to Alan Watts:

    “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless,” Steven Weinberg (b. May 3, 1933)

    I share his birthday. But I am nowhere near his birth YEAR.

    Good question for class: Why do pointy-heads live so long? And different magnitudes for different skills. The great Hungarian film composer, Miklos Roza, was still working at 100.

    Replies: @Reg Cæsar, @black sea, @AnotherDad, @Bardon Kaldian

    Why do pointy-heads live so long?

    I’ve wondered this myself. My guess is that an ordered mind leads to an ordered life. Contrast with the life expectancy of artists, who seem to check out in their 60s, if they don’t die by their own hand even sooner.

    • Replies: @Jim
    @black sea

    Both good health and high IQ come in great part from good genetics. Any genetic defect or mutation someone has may very well adversely affect the functioning of many of their organ systems including their neurological system.

    Some of the mathematicians who lived past 100 were I believe Hadamard, Frechet, and Henri Cartan. Leopold Vietoris lived to something like 112. He was born in the 19th century and died in the 21st century. He published his last mathematical paper at the age of 98 I think.

    , @Anon
    @black sea

    Highly skilled individuals such as master mechanics or electricians and those men who have lots of responsibility are most likely to commit suicide.

  10. Weinberg, was a really smart guy and excellent physicist. And within physics he had a decent insistence on keeping theories tied to empirical data–not float too far afield where no predictions are on offer–perhaps more so than many theoreticians.

    But outside physics his musings, especially on politics and any human matters are mostly boring and silly.

    Weinberg’s mostly just a reminder that even really smart guys, while often interested and/or opinionated on other matters, rarely bring their critical faculties to bear outside their field. Often they are simply prisoners thoroughly pickled in their own family, ethnic, religious, racial, political bubble and no better at being self-critical with any of it nor being guided extant reality than the next guy.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @AnotherDad


    Weinberg’s mostly just a reminder that even really smart guys, while often interested and/or opinionated on other matters, rarely bring their critical faculties to bear outside their field.
     
    It is more of a reminder that intelligence and wisdom are not the same thing, and they do not necessarily go together.

    Gary Gygax was right.
    , @TTSSYF
    @AnotherDad

    It's like the description of Larry Summers I read awhile back as "the stupidest smart person" he'd ever met.

  11. @Franz
    I loved his quote, in answer to Alan Watts:

    “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless,” Steven Weinberg (b. May 3, 1933)

    I share his birthday. But I am nowhere near his birth YEAR.

    Good question for class: Why do pointy-heads live so long? And different magnitudes for different skills. The great Hungarian film composer, Miklos Roza, was still working at 100.

    Replies: @Reg Cæsar, @black sea, @AnotherDad, @Bardon Kaldian

    Good question for class: Why do pointy-heads live so long?

    88 really isn’t super long anymore.

    It’s a pretty “standard issue” age of death of upper-middle class people who don’t do anything particularly stupid in the smoking/drinking/drugs–i.e. haven’t lived a “hard life”–and aren’t in the specifically unlucky bucket with cancer or the like.

    My parents were in a very nice, upper middle class, retirement home. Definitely a skewed sample as the move in demographic is 75ish and you have to be able to walk in. But i met a lot of my parents friends and neighbors over the years they were there. Some get knocked out in their early 80s, but late 80s is nothing special and a lot cruise right on into their 90s. Guy right across the hall went to 100 and something. And there’s several of those 100ers running around the joint.

    You can run through the list of recent presidents (with Carter still trucking at 96 and change) and get an idea. These are basically upper middle class people–college educated, with the exception of Truman–who had decent political skills and good luck and were in decent enough health in middle age to run. (Heck with Biden’s media cover, he could even be demented and run!)

    My 10,000 foot take:

    The average “body wears out” age right now is 90ish. For some down toward 80 for other up over 100. Life expectancy obviously lower because people abuse their bodies, have accidents, get some infectious disease, get unlucky with early cancer. But if you avoid all those things–which is easier to do then ever before–having a four score and eight is unremarkable.

    • Agree: PhysicistDave
  12. @very old statistician
    Aaronson is not a physicist, he is a guy who works on the sort of things Claude Shannon worked on. He has a one in a thousand, maybe a one in two thousand, talent at having a good knack at that sort of thing, but .... but so what?

    The "tribute" was full of self-serving tripe and fawning compliments that would have embarrassed Weinberg.

    Very very few people can possibly know if Weinberg was a great physicist or not. Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists - in such a world the poor old man was a great physicist.

    I read Aaronson's self-serving tribute a week ago, and it made me sad. There was nothing in the tribute about Weinberg loving TRUTH, or about poor Weinberg ever displaying the sort of intellectual humility that anyone in his position should have ---- it was mostly about how quick-witted the poor little man was.

    Sad.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @PhysicistDave

    very old statistician wrote:

    Very very few people can possibly know if Weinberg was a great physicist or not. Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists – in such a world the poor old man was a great physicist.

    Well… I am one of those “very very few people” who can know if Steve was a great physicist: I took Intro to Quantum Field Theory from Steve in the late 1970s when he did a sabbatical year at Stanford, and my thesis work was related to his path-breaking work on the so-called “Standard Model.”

    Steve was not Einstein (and never claimed to be). Steve was not as entertaining as Feynman (whom I also had as a professor, when I was an undergrad at Caltech), though I did like Steve personally.

    Was Steve as great a physicist as Newton or Maxwell or Einstein No. Feynman? Debatable. Hawking? Yeah, I think so.

    Steve was a very, very significant figure in late-twentieth century physics. Most importantly, everything I know about him shows a rigorous commitment to scientific integrity: in his later years, for example, he came to realize that there is something wrong with quantum mechanics and said so publicly.

    As to your apparent claim that engineers solve the same sorts of problems Steve solved… well, I have worked extensively in both physics and engineering. If you mean what you seem to be saying, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

    • Thanks: ic1000
    • Replies: @Unladen Swallow
    @PhysicistDave

    I would think greater than Hawking, because he made conributions to both high energy physics and cosmology, whereas Hawking was almost entirely the latter, right? I can remember a comment by Gell-Mann implying that relativistic physics wasn't that important in American universities and very few of them had more than a couple people in that specialty in their physics departments.

    I don't what time period he was talking about, I know Kip Thorne was at Caltech when Gell-Mann was there. Did you know either at Caltech?

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    , @Bardon Kaldian
    @PhysicistDave

    He was more important than Hawking.

    Otherwise, yes.

    There are a few great guys left, t'Hooft, Glashow & a few others.

    Also, one should not overlook that his books on cosmology are still the best.

    He did, occasionally, veered into "metaphysical" and social questions, but not too often. He could have just said: Not my business, I don't know nor care. It looks improbable, but it would take us too long to delve into philosophical questions I don't have patience & interest in.

    , @lavoisier
    @PhysicistDave

    I attended a few of his lectures on symmetry at the University of Texas at Austin.

    He was very engaging.

    At one of his general talks one commenter in the audience asked him what the humanities could offer to an understanding of the origins of the universe.

    His simple answer was "nothing."

    He was a scientist and proud of that. And I say that with the utmost respect.

    , @donut
    @PhysicistDave

    OT : thinking about what that guy told Max Planck as a young student "In this field, almost everything is already discovered, and all that remains is to fill a few holes." I watch a few physics youtubers Sabine Hossenfelder because she's hot and Anton Petrov mostly and a few random others and I get the impression that even today the "few holes" are vastly larger than the little we think we know . I don't have the brains to understand more than a little of what they are saying but I think It must be an exciting field to be working in . Lucky you .

    , @very old statistician
    @PhysicistDave

    Thanks.
    Now that I have said thanks ---
    Your misunderstanding of English, as used by those who understand English well, is the reason you think I have "absolutely" no idea of what I am talking about. Start with Johnson's dictionary, then look up the relevant terms in the multi-volume Oxford dictionary - not only scientist and engineer, but the related terms.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    , @That Would Be Telling
    @PhysicistDave


    As to your apparent claim that engineers solve the same sorts of problems Steve solved… well, I have worked extensively in both physics and engineering. If you mean what you seem to be saying, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.
     
    As a biology and eventually chemistry type who spent a lot of time around engineers and had a software and systems development career due to insufficient money to get a bachelor's degree, I can confirm what PhysicistDave says. Engineers and engineering have a great deal to contribute to what scientists do, but it's very much not the same thing, a lot of it when you get deep enough is applying physics to real world problems. What holds concrete together, for example.

    For non-classical physics I only have a "poet's" level of understanding, but based on that (corrections, please!) and echoing "Eustace Tilley (not)," you can describe this second half of the 20th Century's physics in short as:

    Feynman created the first relativistic quantum field theory, that is a theory incorporating both special relativity (stuff moving fast) and quantum theory for electromagnetism, which you can view as one of the four fundamental forces of the universe along with gravity, still best covered by Einstein's general relativity, and the weak and strong nuclear forces. Feynman's real long term accomplishment as I understand it was the approach, tools etc. he developed for his quantum electrodynamics (QED).

    The weak nuclear force per my randomly looking it up yesterday on Wikipedia due to a parcel of radioactive iridium that's gone missing in the US has a length of action around the size of a proton, that is very very small, and mediates things like beta "radiation," in which a neutron throws off a high speed electron (which makes it somewhat dangerous), a neutrino, and since charge is conserved the neutron becomes a proton. Weinberg's Nobel cited work was contributing to the unification of QED with the weak force.

    Following that is the Standard Model which adds the strong nuclear force, which is what holds the nucleus of an atom together. It's got to be pretty strong because it has all those positively charged protons in it repelling each other, the latter as I understand it is the major immediate source of energy from fission, the two parts of a nucleus strongly repelling each other once they're far enough from each other than the strong force doesn't hold them together.

    Gravity, well it's fascinating and Kip Thorne wrote a very thick and heavy book on it of some note that I've held and glanced through, but a lot of physicists including Einstein had bashed their heads against a thick wall trying to unify it with any of the other three forces.

    Replies: @Morris39, @PhysicistDave

  13. It used to be that you could paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr and get all the diversity points you needed. Now that only works if you are an 80-year-old Nobel prize winner.

  14. @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    very old statistician wrote:


    Very very few people can possibly know if Weinberg was a great physicist or not. Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists – in such a world the poor old man was a great physicist.
     
    Well... I am one of those "very very few people" who can know if Steve was a great physicist: I took Intro to Quantum Field Theory from Steve in the late 1970s when he did a sabbatical year at Stanford, and my thesis work was related to his path-breaking work on the so-called "Standard Model."

    Steve was not Einstein (and never claimed to be). Steve was not as entertaining as Feynman (whom I also had as a professor, when I was an undergrad at Caltech), though I did like Steve personally.

    Was Steve as great a physicist as Newton or Maxwell or Einstein No. Feynman? Debatable. Hawking? Yeah, I think so.

    Steve was a very, very significant figure in late-twentieth century physics. Most importantly, everything I know about him shows a rigorous commitment to scientific integrity: in his later years, for example, he came to realize that there is something wrong with quantum mechanics and said so publicly.

    As to your apparent claim that engineers solve the same sorts of problems Steve solved... well, I have worked extensively in both physics and engineering. If you mean what you seem to be saying, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

    Replies: @Unladen Swallow, @Bardon Kaldian, @lavoisier, @donut, @very old statistician, @That Would Be Telling

    I would think greater than Hawking, because he made conributions to both high energy physics and cosmology, whereas Hawking was almost entirely the latter, right? I can remember a comment by Gell-Mann implying that relativistic physics wasn’t that important in American universities and very few of them had more than a couple people in that specialty in their physics departments.

    I don’t what time period he was talking about, I know Kip Thorne was at Caltech when Gell-Mann was there. Did you know either at Caltech?

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    @Unladen Swallow

    Unladen Swallow asked me:


    I would think [Weinberg was] greater than Hawking, because he made conributions to both high energy physics and cosmology, whereas Hawking was almost entirely the latter, right?
     
    Well, hard to say. I don't know of any major contributions Weinberg made to cosmology. I myself do tend to be biased in Weinberg's direction since his work was so important in the field I did my doctorate in and, of course, since he was a professor of mine.

    US also asked:

    I can remember a comment by Gell-Mann implying that relativistic physics wasn’t that important in American universities and very few of them had more than a couple people in that specialty in their physics departments.

    I don’t what time period he was talking about...
     
    Back in the 1950s, General Relativity was viewed as sort of a physics backwater: it basically works to give (very tiny) corrections for the solar system and it gives a nice framework for cosmology. But gravity waves, black holes, etc. seemed rather science-fictional.

    John Wheeler and his students in the States (notably Kip Thorne, who was also a professor of mine), along with some Soviets, probably deserve credit for changing that in the '60s and '70s.

    Of course, observational astronomy also played a big role --notably the discovery of quasars (presumably black holes) and of the black hole in the center of our galaxy as well as smaller black holes.

    And of course the more recent detection of gravitational waves is also a big deal.

    Replies: @Unladen Swallow, @Anonymous

  15. @Anonymous
    @very old statistician

    Scott Aaronson is always autistically name-dropping. He's a good physicist though.

    Replies: @Pericles

    Scott Aaronson is always autistically name-dropping. He’s a good physicist though.

    He seems mostly like a publicity hound to me. Is he in the top 1000 in his field? Top 10,000? Just something of a physicist mensch?

  16. Anonymous[771] • Disclaimer says:
    @AnotherDad
    Weinberg, was a really smart guy and excellent physicist. And within physics he had a decent insistence on keeping theories tied to empirical data--not float too far afield where no predictions are on offer--perhaps more so than many theoreticians.

    But outside physics his musings, especially on politics and any human matters are mostly boring and silly.

    Weinberg's mostly just a reminder that even really smart guys, while often interested and/or opinionated on other matters, rarely bring their critical faculties to bear outside their field. Often they are simply prisoners thoroughly pickled in their own family, ethnic, religious, racial, political bubble and no better at being self-critical with any of it nor being guided extant reality than the next guy.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @TTSSYF

    Weinberg’s mostly just a reminder that even really smart guys, while often interested and/or opinionated on other matters, rarely bring their critical faculties to bear outside their field.

    It is more of a reminder that intelligence and wisdom are not the same thing, and they do not necessarily go together.

    Gary Gygax was right.

  17. @Unladen Swallow
    @PhysicistDave

    I would think greater than Hawking, because he made conributions to both high energy physics and cosmology, whereas Hawking was almost entirely the latter, right? I can remember a comment by Gell-Mann implying that relativistic physics wasn't that important in American universities and very few of them had more than a couple people in that specialty in their physics departments.

    I don't what time period he was talking about, I know Kip Thorne was at Caltech when Gell-Mann was there. Did you know either at Caltech?

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    Unladen Swallow asked me:

    I would think [Weinberg was] greater than Hawking, because he made conributions to both high energy physics and cosmology, whereas Hawking was almost entirely the latter, right?

    Well, hard to say. I don’t know of any major contributions Weinberg made to cosmology. I myself do tend to be biased in Weinberg’s direction since his work was so important in the field I did my doctorate in and, of course, since he was a professor of mine.

    US also asked:

    I can remember a comment by Gell-Mann implying that relativistic physics wasn’t that important in American universities and very few of them had more than a couple people in that specialty in their physics departments.

    I don’t what time period he was talking about…

    Back in the 1950s, General Relativity was viewed as sort of a physics backwater: it basically works to give (very tiny) corrections for the solar system and it gives a nice framework for cosmology. But gravity waves, black holes, etc. seemed rather science-fictional.

    John Wheeler and his students in the States (notably Kip Thorne, who was also a professor of mine), along with some Soviets, probably deserve credit for changing that in the ’60s and ’70s.

    Of course, observational astronomy also played a big role –notably the discovery of quasars (presumably black holes) and of the black hole in the center of our galaxy as well as smaller black holes.

    And of course the more recent detection of gravitational waves is also a big deal.

    • Replies: @Unladen Swallow
    @PhysicistDave

    He wrote a book " Gravitation and Cosmology " in 1972 which was about General Relativity, and I guess a sequel, "Cosmology" in 2008, in addition he wrote the popular book " The First Three Minutes" which although for a general audience was an influence on other physicists regarding the Big Bang.

    I did know about relativity being a bit of a backwater until Wheeler, Sciama, and Zeldovich pushed it forward at Princeton, Cambridge, and Moscow because I read Kip Thorne's book " Black Holes and Time Warps" where he goes into detail about that. The comment about not having many relativists by Gell-Mann I believe was much later than the earlier time period, I think Gell-Mann may have wrote that in the late 80's, maybe even early 90's time period although I'm not sure where I read it.

    , @Anonymous
    @PhysicistDave

    If someone is a bigshot in the field of physics yet has never won the Nobel Prize in Physics to outsiders their career is like the top pro tennis player who never won Wilmbeldon or the great pro golfer who never won the Masters.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

  18. @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    very old statistician wrote:


    Very very few people can possibly know if Weinberg was a great physicist or not. Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists – in such a world the poor old man was a great physicist.
     
    Well... I am one of those "very very few people" who can know if Steve was a great physicist: I took Intro to Quantum Field Theory from Steve in the late 1970s when he did a sabbatical year at Stanford, and my thesis work was related to his path-breaking work on the so-called "Standard Model."

    Steve was not Einstein (and never claimed to be). Steve was not as entertaining as Feynman (whom I also had as a professor, when I was an undergrad at Caltech), though I did like Steve personally.

    Was Steve as great a physicist as Newton or Maxwell or Einstein No. Feynman? Debatable. Hawking? Yeah, I think so.

    Steve was a very, very significant figure in late-twentieth century physics. Most importantly, everything I know about him shows a rigorous commitment to scientific integrity: in his later years, for example, he came to realize that there is something wrong with quantum mechanics and said so publicly.

    As to your apparent claim that engineers solve the same sorts of problems Steve solved... well, I have worked extensively in both physics and engineering. If you mean what you seem to be saying, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

    Replies: @Unladen Swallow, @Bardon Kaldian, @lavoisier, @donut, @very old statistician, @That Would Be Telling

    He was more important than Hawking.

    Otherwise, yes.

    There are a few great guys left, t’Hooft, Glashow & a few others.

    Also, one should not overlook that his books on cosmology are still the best.

    He did, occasionally, veered into “metaphysical” and social questions, but not too often. He could have just said: Not my business, I don’t know nor care. It looks improbable, but it would take us too long to delve into philosophical questions I don’t have patience & interest in.

  19. @Franz
    I loved his quote, in answer to Alan Watts:

    “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless,” Steven Weinberg (b. May 3, 1933)

    I share his birthday. But I am nowhere near his birth YEAR.

    Good question for class: Why do pointy-heads live so long? And different magnitudes for different skills. The great Hungarian film composer, Miklos Roza, was still working at 100.

    Replies: @Reg Cæsar, @black sea, @AnotherDad, @Bardon Kaldian

    I loved his quote, in answer to Alan Watts:

    “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless,” Steven Weinberg (b. May 3, 1933)

    He frequently regretted that witty, but ultimately dumb statement.

    More than regret, that’s why he supported multiverse in order to avoid a god when confronting that ogre of the anthropic principle. He was very clear about it in his contribution to Carr’s book, pp. 29 and later, & especially Conclusion:

    The book is here: http://libgen.rs/book/index.php?md5=96C481B825A0FF7B94158DE5D77220B4

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Bardon Kaldian

    https://vdare.com/articles/the-left-doesn-t-like-darwin-either

    , @El Dato
    @Bardon Kaldian

    We just don't know much, we can't imagine much, we can't test much (in particular, nothing at acceptable energies, distances or timespans), we are adapted to problems that are about subsisting in the savannah and our computational limits are frankly ass (ask Scott Aaronson about *that*: https://complexityzoo.net/Complexity_Zoo)

    For all we know the universe could be God's coffee grounds, cooling off on his desk.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

  20. @Mr. Anon

    It would be an understatement to call Steve “left-of-center.” …

    All the same, during the “science wars” of the 1990s, Steve was scathing about the academic left’s postmodernist streak and deeply sympathetic to what Alan Sokal had done with his Social Text hoax.
     
    I believe that Sokal himself was a lefty too.

    Everyone is a conservative about that they know the best. You'd think that they might draw some wider conclusions from that, yet strangely most people don't.

    Replies: @Engels

    Yes, Sokal was of the left…but of the old left, ie of anti-imperialist socialism. The word left has undergone semantic shift and now means something closer to pro-imperialist liberal.

  21. @Bardon Kaldian
    @Franz


    I loved his quote, in answer to Alan Watts:

    “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless,” Steven Weinberg (b. May 3, 1933)
     
    He frequently regretted that witty, but ultimately dumb statement.

    More than regret, that's why he supported multiverse in order to avoid a god when confronting that ogre of the anthropic principle. He was very clear about it in his contribution to Carr's book, pp. 29 and later, & especially Conclusion:

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/512u3FQfMEL._SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_FMwebp_.jpg

    The book is here: http://libgen.rs/book/index.php?md5=96C481B825A0FF7B94158DE5D77220B4

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @El Dato

    • Thanks: Bardon Kaldian
  22. @AnotherDad
    Weinberg, was a really smart guy and excellent physicist. And within physics he had a decent insistence on keeping theories tied to empirical data--not float too far afield where no predictions are on offer--perhaps more so than many theoreticians.

    But outside physics his musings, especially on politics and any human matters are mostly boring and silly.

    Weinberg's mostly just a reminder that even really smart guys, while often interested and/or opinionated on other matters, rarely bring their critical faculties to bear outside their field. Often they are simply prisoners thoroughly pickled in their own family, ethnic, religious, racial, political bubble and no better at being self-critical with any of it nor being guided extant reality than the next guy.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @TTSSYF

    It’s like the description of Larry Summers I read awhile back as “the stupidest smart person” he’d ever met.

  23. @Bardon Kaldian
    @Franz


    I loved his quote, in answer to Alan Watts:

    “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless,” Steven Weinberg (b. May 3, 1933)
     
    He frequently regretted that witty, but ultimately dumb statement.

    More than regret, that's why he supported multiverse in order to avoid a god when confronting that ogre of the anthropic principle. He was very clear about it in his contribution to Carr's book, pp. 29 and later, & especially Conclusion:

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/512u3FQfMEL._SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_FMwebp_.jpg

    The book is here: http://libgen.rs/book/index.php?md5=96C481B825A0FF7B94158DE5D77220B4

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @El Dato

    We just don’t know much, we can’t imagine much, we can’t test much (in particular, nothing at acceptable energies, distances or timespans), we are adapted to problems that are about subsisting in the savannah and our computational limits are frankly ass (ask Scott Aaronson about *that*: https://complexityzoo.net/Complexity_Zoo)

    For all we know the universe could be God’s coffee grounds, cooling off on his desk.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    @El Dato

    Well, let’s try to be concise.

    Many physicists tend to dabble in “whole world is simply like that” stuff. They, the greatest of them, try to prove their world-view (which I would call modernized materialism/physicalism) is the only one correct, while others are just projections of sorry states of fear, ignorance, delusion, projections…ruling our ancestors.

    One cannot prove or disprove a world-view. You cannot say that “all” is like this, and unlike that. If you check catalogues of all philosophies, religions, cultures… you’ll see that, give or take, there are, basically, 20-50 world-views (at most). Only parts of them can be (dis)proven as relics of the past- tales that Buddha had destroyed thousands of planets with the focused ray emanating from his third eye; that Yahweh was provoked into flood by human licentiousness etc. etc.

    Human beings’ picture of the world depends on being human.

    For example, although snakes can barely see, they scan the outer world through a temperature detector, while frogs have a rudimentary pattern of reaction to stimuli
    that basically consists of eating whatever is smaller than them, copulating with whatever is the same size, and fleeing from whatever is larger. The inner universe of a snake or a frog is so unfamiliar to us that we scarcely can imagine it, even with the wildest effort. Yet in all these cases a correlation between the inner world and the outer world exists. (cf. Ioan Culianu)

    So- human beings perceive the world "out there" determined by their human physiology & human life. Also, their perception depends on other elements: their culture’s knowledge, temperament, intelligence, experiences, general values of a society ...

    That's why descriptions of the afterlife tend to look all too human, although with expanded awareness.

    So, both orthodox religionists & orthodox atheists seem to agree that this, physical life, Carbon-based, is of some supreme importance. For atheists, it is simple: it is all that is for us as human beings, and it is useless to speculate about anything further. For orthodox theists, this world is of supreme importance, too, because they see it as something affirming the centrality of humanity (and all Carbon-based life), and that's why the anthropic principle is so important to them- they link their God(s) with the existence of human physical life serving some "higher", revealed or imagined purpose that lies outside of cause-effect world of physical events.

    Needless to say, for most metaphysicians- this is not so. For them- and it doesn't matter whether they're essentially right or just hallucinating- any, including human, life on earth has some "higher" purpose, but limited & circumscribed by physicality. It is, as Wittgenstein had concluded in his Tractatus, basically unspeakable. For guys from Empedocles to Schelling- there is more to it all, but as long as we are human beings, we are unable to formulate it, except through metaphors & myths.

    So, main questions like, for instance:

    Can human individual consciousness function without a brain?

    Is there some superior Intelligence, in some respects co-natural with human & at the same time “operating” on the empirical world, the latter being a manifestation of a more encompassing reality ?

    Are there supra-physical worlds?

    Are there superior ways of cognition of “all” (or “more”) that surpass our ways of thinking, both quantitatively & qualitatively (or- are there beings who, cognitively in the widest sense, are to us what we are to, say, frogs?

    Etc. etc… remain unanswered.

    One just cannot prove a world-view & most modern people, who speculate from time to time, tend to think that we have amassed enough knowledge & structured explanations which render all “old” world-views definitely dated or wrong.

    Well, they’re wrong.

    Replies: @El Dato, @PhysicistDave

  24. @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    very old statistician wrote:


    Very very few people can possibly know if Weinberg was a great physicist or not. Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists – in such a world the poor old man was a great physicist.
     
    Well... I am one of those "very very few people" who can know if Steve was a great physicist: I took Intro to Quantum Field Theory from Steve in the late 1970s when he did a sabbatical year at Stanford, and my thesis work was related to his path-breaking work on the so-called "Standard Model."

    Steve was not Einstein (and never claimed to be). Steve was not as entertaining as Feynman (whom I also had as a professor, when I was an undergrad at Caltech), though I did like Steve personally.

    Was Steve as great a physicist as Newton or Maxwell or Einstein No. Feynman? Debatable. Hawking? Yeah, I think so.

    Steve was a very, very significant figure in late-twentieth century physics. Most importantly, everything I know about him shows a rigorous commitment to scientific integrity: in his later years, for example, he came to realize that there is something wrong with quantum mechanics and said so publicly.

    As to your apparent claim that engineers solve the same sorts of problems Steve solved... well, I have worked extensively in both physics and engineering. If you mean what you seem to be saying, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

    Replies: @Unladen Swallow, @Bardon Kaldian, @lavoisier, @donut, @very old statistician, @That Would Be Telling

    I attended a few of his lectures on symmetry at the University of Texas at Austin.

    He was very engaging.

    At one of his general talks one commenter in the audience asked him what the humanities could offer to an understanding of the origins of the universe.

    His simple answer was “nothing.”

    He was a scientist and proud of that. And I say that with the utmost respect.

    • Thanks: That Would Be Telling
  25. Great kudos, ElectroWeak Steve:
    For showing what Man can conceive;
    Who, from laurels heaped high,
    Could stare down to deny
    What the lowly pretend to believe.

    • Thanks: Calvin Hobbes
    • LOL: Harry Baldwin
  26. @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    very old statistician wrote:


    Very very few people can possibly know if Weinberg was a great physicist or not. Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists – in such a world the poor old man was a great physicist.
     
    Well... I am one of those "very very few people" who can know if Steve was a great physicist: I took Intro to Quantum Field Theory from Steve in the late 1970s when he did a sabbatical year at Stanford, and my thesis work was related to his path-breaking work on the so-called "Standard Model."

    Steve was not Einstein (and never claimed to be). Steve was not as entertaining as Feynman (whom I also had as a professor, when I was an undergrad at Caltech), though I did like Steve personally.

    Was Steve as great a physicist as Newton or Maxwell or Einstein No. Feynman? Debatable. Hawking? Yeah, I think so.

    Steve was a very, very significant figure in late-twentieth century physics. Most importantly, everything I know about him shows a rigorous commitment to scientific integrity: in his later years, for example, he came to realize that there is something wrong with quantum mechanics and said so publicly.

    As to your apparent claim that engineers solve the same sorts of problems Steve solved... well, I have worked extensively in both physics and engineering. If you mean what you seem to be saying, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

    Replies: @Unladen Swallow, @Bardon Kaldian, @lavoisier, @donut, @very old statistician, @That Would Be Telling

    OT : thinking about what that guy told Max Planck as a young student “In this field, almost everything is already discovered, and all that remains is to fill a few holes.” I watch a few physics youtubers Sabine Hossenfelder because she’s hot and Anton Petrov mostly and a few random others and I get the impression that even today the “few holes” are vastly larger than the little we think we know . I don’t have the brains to understand more than a little of what they are saying but I think It must be an exciting field to be working in . Lucky you .

  27. @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    very old statistician wrote:


    Very very few people can possibly know if Weinberg was a great physicist or not. Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists – in such a world the poor old man was a great physicist.
     
    Well... I am one of those "very very few people" who can know if Steve was a great physicist: I took Intro to Quantum Field Theory from Steve in the late 1970s when he did a sabbatical year at Stanford, and my thesis work was related to his path-breaking work on the so-called "Standard Model."

    Steve was not Einstein (and never claimed to be). Steve was not as entertaining as Feynman (whom I also had as a professor, when I was an undergrad at Caltech), though I did like Steve personally.

    Was Steve as great a physicist as Newton or Maxwell or Einstein No. Feynman? Debatable. Hawking? Yeah, I think so.

    Steve was a very, very significant figure in late-twentieth century physics. Most importantly, everything I know about him shows a rigorous commitment to scientific integrity: in his later years, for example, he came to realize that there is something wrong with quantum mechanics and said so publicly.

    As to your apparent claim that engineers solve the same sorts of problems Steve solved... well, I have worked extensively in both physics and engineering. If you mean what you seem to be saying, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

    Replies: @Unladen Swallow, @Bardon Kaldian, @lavoisier, @donut, @very old statistician, @That Would Be Telling

    Thanks.
    Now that I have said thanks —
    Your misunderstanding of English, as used by those who understand English well, is the reason you think I have “absolutely” no idea of what I am talking about. Start with Johnson’s dictionary, then look up the relevant terms in the multi-volume Oxford dictionary – not only scientist and engineer, but the related terms.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    very old statistician wrote to me:


    Your misunderstanding of English, as used by those who understand English well, is the reason you think I have “absolutely” no idea of what I am talking about. Start with Johnson’s dictionary, then look up the relevant terms in the multi-volume Oxford dictionary – not only scientist and engineer, but the related terms.
     
    Well, let's see.

    I have published papers in leading physics journals (PhysRev and NuclPhys) on elementary-particle physics. I have taken four year-long classes from three Nobel laureates in physics (Feynman, Weinberg, and Thorne).

    I am also co-inventor on various patents in engineering. And I have worked with and been friends with the inventor of TTL logic (Jim Buie) and the inventor of the Lange coupler (Julius Lange).

    But you -- oh infinitely wise one! -- know better than I do the differences between physics and engineering!

    No doubt you are right. No doubt my ignorance would be lifted if I only found out what Dr. Johnson had to say on the subject.

    But still...

    You initially wrote:

    Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists
     
    Just maybe you could help me in my incredible ignorance if you could give just one single example of the "the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving" that are in fact problems that "engineers are called on to solve."

    Just one specific example to help poor ignorant little me resolve my invincible ignorance.

    Pretty please.

    That is, if you do not mind lowering your incredible intellect down to my lowly level.

    Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom, @very old statistician

  28. Great kudos, ElectroWeak Steve:
    For showing what Man can conceive;
    Who, from laurels heaped high,
    Could stare down to deny
    What the lesser pretend to believe.

  29. @PhysicistDave
    @Unladen Swallow

    Unladen Swallow asked me:


    I would think [Weinberg was] greater than Hawking, because he made conributions to both high energy physics and cosmology, whereas Hawking was almost entirely the latter, right?
     
    Well, hard to say. I don't know of any major contributions Weinberg made to cosmology. I myself do tend to be biased in Weinberg's direction since his work was so important in the field I did my doctorate in and, of course, since he was a professor of mine.

    US also asked:

    I can remember a comment by Gell-Mann implying that relativistic physics wasn’t that important in American universities and very few of them had more than a couple people in that specialty in their physics departments.

    I don’t what time period he was talking about...
     
    Back in the 1950s, General Relativity was viewed as sort of a physics backwater: it basically works to give (very tiny) corrections for the solar system and it gives a nice framework for cosmology. But gravity waves, black holes, etc. seemed rather science-fictional.

    John Wheeler and his students in the States (notably Kip Thorne, who was also a professor of mine), along with some Soviets, probably deserve credit for changing that in the '60s and '70s.

    Of course, observational astronomy also played a big role --notably the discovery of quasars (presumably black holes) and of the black hole in the center of our galaxy as well as smaller black holes.

    And of course the more recent detection of gravitational waves is also a big deal.

    Replies: @Unladen Swallow, @Anonymous

    He wrote a book ” Gravitation and Cosmology ” in 1972 which was about General Relativity, and I guess a sequel, “Cosmology” in 2008, in addition he wrote the popular book ” The First Three Minutes” which although for a general audience was an influence on other physicists regarding the Big Bang.

    I did know about relativity being a bit of a backwater until Wheeler, Sciama, and Zeldovich pushed it forward at Princeton, Cambridge, and Moscow because I read Kip Thorne’s book ” Black Holes and Time Warps” where he goes into detail about that. The comment about not having many relativists by Gell-Mann I believe was much later than the earlier time period, I think Gell-Mann may have wrote that in the late 80’s, maybe even early 90’s time period although I’m not sure where I read it.

  30. @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    very old statistician wrote:


    Very very few people can possibly know if Weinberg was a great physicist or not. Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists – in such a world the poor old man was a great physicist.
     
    Well... I am one of those "very very few people" who can know if Steve was a great physicist: I took Intro to Quantum Field Theory from Steve in the late 1970s when he did a sabbatical year at Stanford, and my thesis work was related to his path-breaking work on the so-called "Standard Model."

    Steve was not Einstein (and never claimed to be). Steve was not as entertaining as Feynman (whom I also had as a professor, when I was an undergrad at Caltech), though I did like Steve personally.

    Was Steve as great a physicist as Newton or Maxwell or Einstein No. Feynman? Debatable. Hawking? Yeah, I think so.

    Steve was a very, very significant figure in late-twentieth century physics. Most importantly, everything I know about him shows a rigorous commitment to scientific integrity: in his later years, for example, he came to realize that there is something wrong with quantum mechanics and said so publicly.

    As to your apparent claim that engineers solve the same sorts of problems Steve solved... well, I have worked extensively in both physics and engineering. If you mean what you seem to be saying, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

    Replies: @Unladen Swallow, @Bardon Kaldian, @lavoisier, @donut, @very old statistician, @That Would Be Telling

    As to your apparent claim that engineers solve the same sorts of problems Steve solved… well, I have worked extensively in both physics and engineering. If you mean what you seem to be saying, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

    As a biology and eventually chemistry type who spent a lot of time around engineers and had a software and systems development career due to insufficient money to get a bachelor’s degree, I can confirm what PhysicistDave says. Engineers and engineering have a great deal to contribute to what scientists do, but it’s very much not the same thing, a lot of it when you get deep enough is applying physics to real world problems. What holds concrete together, for example.

    For non-classical physics I only have a “poet’s” level of understanding, but based on that (corrections, please!) and echoing “Eustace Tilley (not),” you can describe this second half of the 20th Century’s physics in short as:

    Feynman created the first relativistic quantum field theory, that is a theory incorporating both special relativity (stuff moving fast) and quantum theory for electromagnetism, which you can view as one of the four fundamental forces of the universe along with gravity, still best covered by Einstein’s general relativity, and the weak and strong nuclear forces. Feynman’s real long term accomplishment as I understand it was the approach, tools etc. he developed for his quantum electrodynamics (QED).

    The weak nuclear force per my randomly looking it up yesterday on Wikipedia due to a parcel of radioactive iridium that’s gone missing in the US has a length of action around the size of a proton, that is very very small, and mediates things like beta “radiation,” in which a neutron throws off a high speed electron (which makes it somewhat dangerous), a neutrino, and since charge is conserved the neutron becomes a proton. Weinberg’s Nobel cited work was contributing to the unification of QED with the weak force.

    Following that is the Standard Model which adds the strong nuclear force, which is what holds the nucleus of an atom together. It’s got to be pretty strong because it has all those positively charged protons in it repelling each other, the latter as I understand it is the major immediate source of energy from fission, the two parts of a nucleus strongly repelling each other once they’re far enough from each other than the strong force doesn’t hold them together.

    Gravity, well it’s fascinating and Kip Thorne wrote a very thick and heavy book on it of some note that I’ve held and glanced through, but a lot of physicists including Einstein had bashed their heads against a thick wall trying to unify it with any of the other three forces.

    • Replies: @Morris39
    @That Would Be Telling

    Physics is about accumulating knowledge not solving problems as a little bit of reflection will suggest. Engineering/tech is applying knowledge to solve tractable problems. That requires a marketable return on the costs incurred i.e.successful experiments undertaken on speculation. That in turn determines cost and time constraints re which problems are possible to solve.
    Science is publicly funded without time or success constraints strictly imposed on the individual or on the utility of the research program.

    Engineering and (hard) science share some tools e.g, math but cannot be compared as they are different realms. There seems to be some little tension between the two but engineers don't engage in narratives for obvious reasons.

    Replies: @That Would Be Telling

    , @PhysicistDave
    @That Would Be Telling

    To That Would Be Telling,

    You give Feynman a bit too much credit, but aside from that, your summary is more or less correct in its outline. (I took two years of classes from Feynman, and I am not downgrading his contributions: it's just that the history is a bit more complex than your summary.)

    I want to underline one point you made:


    Following that is the Standard Model which adds the strong nuclear force, which is what holds the nucleus of an atom together. It’s got to be pretty strong because it has all those positively charged protons in it repelling each other, the latter as I understand it is the major immediate source of energy from fission, the two parts of a nucleus strongly repelling each other once they’re far enough from each other than the strong force doesn’t hold them together.
     
    Yeah, that's right: the energy from fission is essentially the electrostatic energy of repulsion of different part of the nucleus. Strangely enough, that did not hit me until, years after I got my PhD, when I saw a docudrama about Lise Meitner, and I realized what calculation she and Frisch had done.

    I knew all about QCD and electroweak unification and yet no one had ever pointed out this simple fact. We tend to attribute "nuclear power" to the strong force, and yet, as you say, the only role of the strong force is to hold the nucleus together against the electrostatic repulsion, until, by chance, the nucleus distorts enough for the electrostatic repulsion to win out. Fission energy is indeed electrical.

    Funny how we can learn very high-level stuff and not discuss the very basics.

    Of course, fusion really is a matter of the strong force. The game with fusion is to have enough kinetic energy to overcome enough of the the electrostatic force to get close enough that the nuclei can "tunnel through" and the strong force can take over. And then you get a very big bang indeed from the strong force.

    By the way, I once had a similarly simple-minded conversation with Weinberg about whether a quantum field actually creates a particle isolated at a single point. It turns out that it quite clearly does not: the particle is smeared out over a finite distance. This had never occurred to Steve, even though he was one of the top experts in the world on quantum field theory.

    It is good to ask simple questions.

    Replies: @That Would Be Telling

  31. Steve also once told me that, when he (like other UT faculty) was required to write a statement about what he would do to advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, he submitted just a single sentence: “I will seek out the best candidates, without regard to race or sex.” I remarked that he might be one of the only academics who could get away with that.

    That would send some DIE advocates insane. They would feel it to be the absolute antithesis of what they are about. Perhaps because it is? Perhaps their inclusion is a masked attempt to help the worst candidates get included?

    Plaques for blacks. Medals for participation. Standards are the problem. No wonder corporations and blockbusters are on board. They’ve loved lowest common denominator dumbing down from the very beginning. Anything that is too rigorous, subtle or sophisticated is “white supremacy.” But who wants to come out and admit to themselves that they’re campaigning on behalf of sub-mediocrity, of obtuseness and of the least intelligent?

    Our society valorises intelligence to such a ridiculous degree that we feel we need to balance this off. Even calculating the long-term cost of a mortgage is beyond most people, so why shouldn’t the paper of record have long meanderings on black hair to compensate?

    Look I am smart, I understood that this black lady is upset about her hair. I understand the NYT. I will subscribe. And subscriptions go through the roof.

    The Franfurt School didn’t win. They got hoodwinked. They wanted high culture and to protect it from capitalism, but now their supposed intellectual descendants are all having to pretend that rap battle “!Hamilton!” is a work of transcendental genius, or, worse, that DiAngelo is a deep and serious thinker, and all of this sub-Transformers 3 cultural produce is even sponsored by big tech.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
    @Triteleia Laxa

    That would send some DIE advocates insane. They would feel it to be the absolute antithesis of what they are about. Perhaps because it is? Perhaps their inclusion is a masked attempt to help the worst candidates get included?

    Note that Weinberg's principle is what you'd expect of a steward of an institution focused on an essential mission and a person whose commitment to his vocation wasn't trumped by the object of navigating his social matrix. He's oriented toward the goal, not toward extraneous projects, human relations, social work, or process. He also thinks about observed performance; your problems in living (if he thinks about them at all) are (1) your business and (2) were challenges you met.

    Maybe our problem is that higher education has been taken over by (1) men who think like women and (2) women who think like women.

    Replies: @Triteleia Laxa

  32. @MEH 0910
    https://twitter.com/danfalk/status/1418821835710509056

    https://twitter.com/danfalk/status/1418823411032338432
    https://twitter.com/danfalk/status/1418825047352004616
    https://twitter.com/danfalk/status/1418827433751494661
    https://twitter.com/danfalk/status/1418829172529672196
    https://twitter.com/danfalk/status/1418848720058257411
    https://twitter.com/danfalk/status/1419023079376830466
    https://twitter.com/danfalk/status/1419057332156309507
    https://twitter.com/danfalk/status/1419103619950039040
    https://twitter.com/danfalk/status/1419683942689562627

    Replies: @Uncle Dan

    Perhaps Weinberg would have been reconciled to “the Heavens declare the glory of God” if he had updated it to “the universe exhibits the glory of pointlessness.”

  33. @Triteleia Laxa

    Steve also once told me that, when he (like other UT faculty) was required to write a statement about what he would do to advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, he submitted just a single sentence: “I will seek out the best candidates, without regard to race or sex.” I remarked that he might be one of the only academics who could get away with that.
     
    That would send some DIE advocates insane. They would feel it to be the absolute antithesis of what they are about. Perhaps because it is? Perhaps their inclusion is a masked attempt to help the worst candidates get included?

    Plaques for blacks. Medals for participation. Standards are the problem. No wonder corporations and blockbusters are on board. They've loved lowest common denominator dumbing down from the very beginning. Anything that is too rigorous, subtle or sophisticated is "white supremacy." But who wants to come out and admit to themselves that they're campaigning on behalf of sub-mediocrity, of obtuseness and of the least intelligent?

    Our society valorises intelligence to such a ridiculous degree that we feel we need to balance this off. Even calculating the long-term cost of a mortgage is beyond most people, so why shouldn't the paper of record have long meanderings on black hair to compensate?

    Look I am smart, I understood that this black lady is upset about her hair. I understand the NYT. I will subscribe. And subscriptions go through the roof.

    The Franfurt School didn't win. They got hoodwinked. They wanted high culture and to protect it from capitalism, but now their supposed intellectual descendants are all having to pretend that rap battle "!Hamilton!" is a work of transcendental genius, or, worse, that DiAngelo is a deep and serious thinker, and all of this sub-Transformers 3 cultural produce is even sponsored by big tech.

    Replies: @Art Deco

    That would send some DIE advocates insane. They would feel it to be the absolute antithesis of what they are about. Perhaps because it is? Perhaps their inclusion is a masked attempt to help the worst candidates get included?

    Note that Weinberg’s principle is what you’d expect of a steward of an institution focused on an essential mission and a person whose commitment to his vocation wasn’t trumped by the object of navigating his social matrix. He’s oriented toward the goal, not toward extraneous projects, human relations, social work, or process. He also thinks about observed performance; your problems in living (if he thinks about them at all) are (1) your business and (2) were challenges you met.

    Maybe our problem is that higher education has been taken over by (1) men who think like women and (2) women who think like women.

    • Replies: @Triteleia Laxa
    @Art Deco

    I don't think women are more inclusive than men.

    I also don't think men are more prone to appreciating high culture and subtlety than women.

    Steven Weinberg doesn't represent "men." He represents, if his actions were aligned with his words, an intellectual elite that is confident of themselves. Though, like commenter DforDoom, he may also have just been unaware of how much more psychologically resilient and intelligent he was than others, and so came to his correct conclusion based on faulty premises. Who knows?

    Replies: @Art Deco

  34. @Art Deco
    @Triteleia Laxa

    That would send some DIE advocates insane. They would feel it to be the absolute antithesis of what they are about. Perhaps because it is? Perhaps their inclusion is a masked attempt to help the worst candidates get included?

    Note that Weinberg's principle is what you'd expect of a steward of an institution focused on an essential mission and a person whose commitment to his vocation wasn't trumped by the object of navigating his social matrix. He's oriented toward the goal, not toward extraneous projects, human relations, social work, or process. He also thinks about observed performance; your problems in living (if he thinks about them at all) are (1) your business and (2) were challenges you met.

    Maybe our problem is that higher education has been taken over by (1) men who think like women and (2) women who think like women.

    Replies: @Triteleia Laxa

    I don’t think women are more inclusive than men.

    I also don’t think men are more prone to appreciating high culture and subtlety than women.

    Steven Weinberg doesn’t represent “men.” He represents, if his actions were aligned with his words, an intellectual elite that is confident of themselves. Though, like commenter DforDoom, he may also have just been unaware of how much more psychologically resilient and intelligent he was than others, and so came to his correct conclusion based on faulty premises. Who knows?

    • Replies: @Art Deco
    @Triteleia Laxa

    I don’t think women are more inclusive than men. I also don’t think men are more prone to appreciating high culture and subtlety than women.

    I neither stated nor implied either.

    Replies: @Triteleia Laxa, @Morris39

  35. @That Would Be Telling
    @PhysicistDave


    As to your apparent claim that engineers solve the same sorts of problems Steve solved… well, I have worked extensively in both physics and engineering. If you mean what you seem to be saying, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.
     
    As a biology and eventually chemistry type who spent a lot of time around engineers and had a software and systems development career due to insufficient money to get a bachelor's degree, I can confirm what PhysicistDave says. Engineers and engineering have a great deal to contribute to what scientists do, but it's very much not the same thing, a lot of it when you get deep enough is applying physics to real world problems. What holds concrete together, for example.

    For non-classical physics I only have a "poet's" level of understanding, but based on that (corrections, please!) and echoing "Eustace Tilley (not)," you can describe this second half of the 20th Century's physics in short as:

    Feynman created the first relativistic quantum field theory, that is a theory incorporating both special relativity (stuff moving fast) and quantum theory for electromagnetism, which you can view as one of the four fundamental forces of the universe along with gravity, still best covered by Einstein's general relativity, and the weak and strong nuclear forces. Feynman's real long term accomplishment as I understand it was the approach, tools etc. he developed for his quantum electrodynamics (QED).

    The weak nuclear force per my randomly looking it up yesterday on Wikipedia due to a parcel of radioactive iridium that's gone missing in the US has a length of action around the size of a proton, that is very very small, and mediates things like beta "radiation," in which a neutron throws off a high speed electron (which makes it somewhat dangerous), a neutrino, and since charge is conserved the neutron becomes a proton. Weinberg's Nobel cited work was contributing to the unification of QED with the weak force.

    Following that is the Standard Model which adds the strong nuclear force, which is what holds the nucleus of an atom together. It's got to be pretty strong because it has all those positively charged protons in it repelling each other, the latter as I understand it is the major immediate source of energy from fission, the two parts of a nucleus strongly repelling each other once they're far enough from each other than the strong force doesn't hold them together.

    Gravity, well it's fascinating and Kip Thorne wrote a very thick and heavy book on it of some note that I've held and glanced through, but a lot of physicists including Einstein had bashed their heads against a thick wall trying to unify it with any of the other three forces.

    Replies: @Morris39, @PhysicistDave

    Physics is about accumulating knowledge not solving problems as a little bit of reflection will suggest. Engineering/tech is applying knowledge to solve tractable problems. That requires a marketable return on the costs incurred i.e.successful experiments undertaken on speculation. That in turn determines cost and time constraints re which problems are possible to solve.
    Science is publicly funded without time or success constraints strictly imposed on the individual or on the utility of the research program.

    Engineering and (hard) science share some tools e.g, math but cannot be compared as they are different realms. There seems to be some little tension between the two but engineers don’t engage in narratives for obvious reasons.

    • Replies: @That Would Be Telling
    @Morris39


    Physics is about accumulating knowledge not solving problems as a little bit of reflection will suggest. Engineering/tech is applying knowledge to solve tractable problems.
     
    Afraid I see physics etc. including a whole lot of "applying knowledge to solve tractable problems" (I'm ignoring the string theory debacle). What do you think theoretical physicists do when they have an unexplained phenomena, often from observations by experimental physicists? And of course the reverse holds true, a theorist comes up with something that should be observable and the experimentalists then work hard to see if they can observe it or not. Einstein famously started out with a small list of phenomena unexplainable by Newtonian mechanics that his theory of gravity, General Relativity would have to explain to be correct. Of course some of what physicists do is mere "accumulating knowledge," see the interesting story of deducing the charge of the electron, but someone had to deduce there was such a thing as the electron to begin with, right?

    It's clear that while you understand in general terms what engineers do and under what constraints, you don't have this for physicists, at least during the pioneering days, not sure we have so much of that anymore. I can strongly recommend two things to read, Gamow's Thirty Years that Shook Physics: The Story of Quantum Theory, and the first half of Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb which has superb coverage of the physics that led up to the point it could become engineering problems to solve. It's been decades since I read the former, but for the latter you don't need all that much of a general science background, probably.

  36. Anonymous[121] • Disclaimer says:
    @PhysicistDave
    @Unladen Swallow

    Unladen Swallow asked me:


    I would think [Weinberg was] greater than Hawking, because he made conributions to both high energy physics and cosmology, whereas Hawking was almost entirely the latter, right?
     
    Well, hard to say. I don't know of any major contributions Weinberg made to cosmology. I myself do tend to be biased in Weinberg's direction since his work was so important in the field I did my doctorate in and, of course, since he was a professor of mine.

    US also asked:

    I can remember a comment by Gell-Mann implying that relativistic physics wasn’t that important in American universities and very few of them had more than a couple people in that specialty in their physics departments.

    I don’t what time period he was talking about...
     
    Back in the 1950s, General Relativity was viewed as sort of a physics backwater: it basically works to give (very tiny) corrections for the solar system and it gives a nice framework for cosmology. But gravity waves, black holes, etc. seemed rather science-fictional.

    John Wheeler and his students in the States (notably Kip Thorne, who was also a professor of mine), along with some Soviets, probably deserve credit for changing that in the '60s and '70s.

    Of course, observational astronomy also played a big role --notably the discovery of quasars (presumably black holes) and of the black hole in the center of our galaxy as well as smaller black holes.

    And of course the more recent detection of gravitational waves is also a big deal.

    Replies: @Unladen Swallow, @Anonymous

    If someone is a bigshot in the field of physics yet has never won the Nobel Prize in Physics to outsiders their career is like the top pro tennis player who never won Wilmbeldon or the great pro golfer who never won the Masters.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    @Anonymous

    Anonymous[121] wrote to me:


    If someone is a bigshot in the field of physics yet has never won the Nobel Prize in Physics to outsiders their career is like the top pro tennis player who never won Wilmbeldon or the great pro golfer who never won the Masters.
     
    I assume you are referring to the fact that Hawking never won a Nobel?

    Penrose did win a Nobel in 2020 for work that Hawking was involved with.

    I think there is a widespread feeling among physicists that Hawking deserved one, but they cannot be awarded posthumously.
  37. @Morris39
    @That Would Be Telling

    Physics is about accumulating knowledge not solving problems as a little bit of reflection will suggest. Engineering/tech is applying knowledge to solve tractable problems. That requires a marketable return on the costs incurred i.e.successful experiments undertaken on speculation. That in turn determines cost and time constraints re which problems are possible to solve.
    Science is publicly funded without time or success constraints strictly imposed on the individual or on the utility of the research program.

    Engineering and (hard) science share some tools e.g, math but cannot be compared as they are different realms. There seems to be some little tension between the two but engineers don't engage in narratives for obvious reasons.

    Replies: @That Would Be Telling

    Physics is about accumulating knowledge not solving problems as a little bit of reflection will suggest. Engineering/tech is applying knowledge to solve tractable problems.

    Afraid I see physics etc. including a whole lot of “applying knowledge to solve tractable problems” (I’m ignoring the string theory debacle). What do you think theoretical physicists do when they have an unexplained phenomena, often from observations by experimental physicists? And of course the reverse holds true, a theorist comes up with something that should be observable and the experimentalists then work hard to see if they can observe it or not. Einstein famously started out with a small list of phenomena unexplainable by Newtonian mechanics that his theory of gravity, General Relativity would have to explain to be correct. Of course some of what physicists do is mere “accumulating knowledge,” see the interesting story of deducing the charge of the electron, but someone had to deduce there was such a thing as the electron to begin with, right?

    It’s clear that while you understand in general terms what engineers do and under what constraints, you don’t have this for physicists, at least during the pioneering days, not sure we have so much of that anymore. I can strongly recommend two things to read, Gamow’s Thirty Years that Shook Physics: The Story of Quantum Theory, and the first half of Rhodes’ The Making of the Atomic Bomb which has superb coverage of the physics that led up to the point it could become engineering problems to solve. It’s been decades since I read the former, but for the latter you don’t need all that much of a general science background, probably.

    • Agree: PhysicistDave
  38. Jim says:
    @black sea
    @Franz


    Why do pointy-heads live so long?
     
    I've wondered this myself. My guess is that an ordered mind leads to an ordered life. Contrast with the life expectancy of artists, who seem to check out in their 60s, if they don't die by their own hand even sooner.

    Replies: @Jim, @Anon

    Both good health and high IQ come in great part from good genetics. Any genetic defect or mutation someone has may very well adversely affect the functioning of many of their organ systems including their neurological system.

    Some of the mathematicians who lived past 100 were I believe Hadamard, Frechet, and Henri Cartan. Leopold Vietoris lived to something like 112. He was born in the 19th century and died in the 21st century. He published his last mathematical paper at the age of 98 I think.

  39. @Triteleia Laxa
    @Art Deco

    I don't think women are more inclusive than men.

    I also don't think men are more prone to appreciating high culture and subtlety than women.

    Steven Weinberg doesn't represent "men." He represents, if his actions were aligned with his words, an intellectual elite that is confident of themselves. Though, like commenter DforDoom, he may also have just been unaware of how much more psychologically resilient and intelligent he was than others, and so came to his correct conclusion based on faulty premises. Who knows?

    Replies: @Art Deco

    I don’t think women are more inclusive than men. I also don’t think men are more prone to appreciating high culture and subtlety than women.

    I neither stated nor implied either.

    • Replies: @Triteleia Laxa
    @Art Deco


    I neither stated nor implied either.
     
    Sorry, although I believe I improved your argument, rather than strawmanning it.

    He’s oriented toward the goal, not toward extraneous projects, human relations, social work, or process.
     
    You have assumed that your own definition of "the goal" is "the goal", as if there is some goal intrinsic to these human-managed institutions, which exists independently of those humans' goals.

    He also thinks about observed performance; your problems in living (if he thinks about them at all) are (1) your business and (2) were challenges you met.
     
    You have reduced a complicated problem down to two dimensions so that you can give an answer that seems clear and straightforward, but it doesn't address the problem as you may assume it does.

    He said "best candidates", but "best" is not easy to ascertain, and often it would include an appreciation of the "challenges you met."

    The "challenges you met" may have effected your scores on the tests, that you are evaluated on. This means that it is reasonable to make an appreciation of those challenges and adjust for them in order to ensure that those admitted will end up doing "best".

    This sounds complicated to put into practice, but it isn't that hard to have some useful effect. You could look at how particular groups do at the University compared to how well they do on the exams and then adjust their exam scores in kind to make them better predictors and improve the admissions process.

    Someone might argue that this is a blunt force that could be "unfair", but it would still better fulfill Steve Weinberg's desire than would admitting strictly on unadjusted test scores.

    It is also an excellent argument against affirmative action as currently implemented and it would reduce mismatch and provide a reasonable measure of whether the university's admittance procedures, as they become even more obviously subjective, fit the goal of admitting students who will perform best, if that is indeed "the goal."

    Replies: @Art Deco

    , @Morris39
    @Art Deco

    Can you provide examples of actual problems solved (last 80 years) in particle physics, cosmology, evolution etc. Not newer/better hypotheses but actual solutions which result in some measurable benefit? This does not mean that there is no value, rather that the benefits are implied at some future time or that gains don't happen at the margin e.g. some smart people may achieve something by serendipity.
    You might agree that all theories are wrong but some are useful. The important part of that proverb is missing, PROVE IT by experiment.
    Unlike the late 19th C physics, since then nothing like Faraday/Maxwell duo e.g. Rutherford's experiment blows any other claims for a breakthrough out of the water but it's old news.
    100 years since QM there are still no practical applications but arguments about observers and multiverses.

    Replies: @That Would Be Telling, @Art Deco, @Unladen Swallow

  40. @Art Deco
    @Triteleia Laxa

    I don’t think women are more inclusive than men. I also don’t think men are more prone to appreciating high culture and subtlety than women.

    I neither stated nor implied either.

    Replies: @Triteleia Laxa, @Morris39

    I neither stated nor implied either.

    Sorry, although I believe I improved your argument, rather than strawmanning it.

    He’s oriented toward the goal, not toward extraneous projects, human relations, social work, or process.

    You have assumed that your own definition of “the goal” is “the goal”, as if there is some goal intrinsic to these human-managed institutions, which exists independently of those humans’ goals.

    He also thinks about observed performance; your problems in living (if he thinks about them at all) are (1) your business and (2) were challenges you met.

    You have reduced a complicated problem down to two dimensions so that you can give an answer that seems clear and straightforward, but it doesn’t address the problem as you may assume it does.

    He said “best candidates”, but “best” is not easy to ascertain, and often it would include an appreciation of the “challenges you met.”

    The “challenges you met” may have effected your scores on the tests, that you are evaluated on. This means that it is reasonable to make an appreciation of those challenges and adjust for them in order to ensure that those admitted will end up doing “best”.

    This sounds complicated to put into practice, but it isn’t that hard to have some useful effect. You could look at how particular groups do at the University compared to how well they do on the exams and then adjust their exam scores in kind to make them better predictors and improve the admissions process.

    Someone might argue that this is a blunt force that could be “unfair”, but it would still better fulfill Steve Weinberg’s desire than would admitting strictly on unadjusted test scores.

    It is also an excellent argument against affirmative action as currently implemented and it would reduce mismatch and provide a reasonable measure of whether the university’s admittance procedures, as they become even more obviously subjective, fit the goal of admitting students who will perform best, if that is indeed “the goal.”

    • Replies: @Art Deco
    @Triteleia Laxa

    Thanks for the hand waving. Always an education.

  41. @Art Deco
    @Triteleia Laxa

    I don’t think women are more inclusive than men. I also don’t think men are more prone to appreciating high culture and subtlety than women.

    I neither stated nor implied either.

    Replies: @Triteleia Laxa, @Morris39

    Can you provide examples of actual problems solved (last 80 years) in particle physics, cosmology, evolution etc. Not newer/better hypotheses but actual solutions which result in some measurable benefit? This does not mean that there is no value, rather that the benefits are implied at some future time or that gains don’t happen at the margin e.g. some smart people may achieve something by serendipity.
    You might agree that all theories are wrong but some are useful. The important part of that proverb is missing, PROVE IT by experiment.
    Unlike the late 19th C physics, since then nothing like Faraday/Maxwell duo e.g. Rutherford’s experiment blows any other claims for a breakthrough out of the water but it’s old news.
    100 years since QM there are still no practical applications but arguments about observers and multiverses.

    • Replies: @That Would Be Telling
    @Morris39


    100 years since QM there are still no practical applications
     
    You really need to learn more on the subject. I guess you haven't heard of the modern semiconductors without which this conversation would be impossibly expensive?

    In my own field the 20th Century's preeminent chemist graduated from CalTech at just the right time for a post-doc in Europe where he learned about QM from some of the best in that book I recommenced, and applied it to his own field. You don't begin to learn chemistry at the college level without dipping into the results of for example orbitals and hybrid ones, how for example both carbon and silicon below it on the periodic table can make bonds with up to four atoms.

    Afraid you earn a Troll and Ignore Commenter with this comprehensively ignorant claim.

    Replies: @Morris39

    , @Art Deco
    @Morris39

    It was suggested by other commenters above that one not confound science and engineering.

    , @Unladen Swallow
    @Morris39

    Practical applications? semiconductors, lasers, LED's, nuclear weapons, nuclear power, NMR/MRI, that's for starters, I'm sure physicists would know of others.

  42. @black sea
    @Franz


    Why do pointy-heads live so long?
     
    I've wondered this myself. My guess is that an ordered mind leads to an ordered life. Contrast with the life expectancy of artists, who seem to check out in their 60s, if they don't die by their own hand even sooner.

    Replies: @Jim, @Anon

    Highly skilled individuals such as master mechanics or electricians and those men who have lots of responsibility are most likely to commit suicide.

  43. @El Dato
    @Bardon Kaldian

    We just don't know much, we can't imagine much, we can't test much (in particular, nothing at acceptable energies, distances or timespans), we are adapted to problems that are about subsisting in the savannah and our computational limits are frankly ass (ask Scott Aaronson about *that*: https://complexityzoo.net/Complexity_Zoo)

    For all we know the universe could be God's coffee grounds, cooling off on his desk.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

    Well, let’s try to be concise.

    Many physicists tend to dabble in “whole world is simply like that” stuff. They, the greatest of them, try to prove their world-view (which I would call modernized materialism/physicalism) is the only one correct, while others are just projections of sorry states of fear, ignorance, delusion, projections…ruling our ancestors.

    One cannot prove or disprove a world-view. You cannot say that “all” is like this, and unlike that. If you check catalogues of all philosophies, religions, cultures… you’ll see that, give or take, there are, basically, 20-50 world-views (at most). Only parts of them can be (dis)proven as relics of the past- tales that Buddha had destroyed thousands of planets with the focused ray emanating from his third eye; that Yahweh was provoked into flood by human licentiousness etc. etc.

    Human beings’ picture of the world depends on being human.

    For example, although snakes can barely see, they scan the outer world through a temperature detector, while frogs have a rudimentary pattern of reaction to stimuli
    that basically consists of eating whatever is smaller than them, copulating with whatever is the same size, and fleeing from whatever is larger. The inner universe of a snake or a frog is so unfamiliar to us that we scarcely can imagine it, even with the wildest effort. Yet in all these cases a correlation between the inner world and the outer world exists. (cf. Ioan Culianu)

    So- human beings perceive the world “out there” determined by their human physiology & human life. Also, their perception depends on other elements: their culture’s knowledge, temperament, intelligence, experiences, general values of a society …

    That’s why descriptions of the afterlife tend to look all too human, although with expanded awareness.

    So, both orthodox religionists & orthodox atheists seem to agree that this, physical life, Carbon-based, is of some supreme importance. For atheists, it is simple: it is all that is for us as human beings, and it is useless to speculate about anything further. For orthodox theists, this world is of supreme importance, too, because they see it as something affirming the centrality of humanity (and all Carbon-based life), and that’s why the anthropic principle is so important to them- they link their God(s) with the existence of human physical life serving some “higher”, revealed or imagined purpose that lies outside of cause-effect world of physical events.

    Needless to say, for most metaphysicians- this is not so. For them- and it doesn’t matter whether they’re essentially right or just hallucinating- any, including human, life on earth has some “higher” purpose, but limited & circumscribed by physicality. It is, as Wittgenstein had concluded in his Tractatus, basically unspeakable. For guys from Empedocles to Schelling- there is more to it all, but as long as we are human beings, we are unable to formulate it, except through metaphors & myths.

    So, main questions like, for instance:

    Can human individual consciousness function without a brain?

    Is there some superior Intelligence, in some respects co-natural with human & at the same time “operating” on the empirical world, the latter being a manifestation of a more encompassing reality ?

    Are there supra-physical worlds?

    Are there superior ways of cognition of “all” (or “more”) that surpass our ways of thinking, both quantitatively & qualitatively (or- are there beings who, cognitively in the widest sense, are to us what we are to, say, frogs?

    Etc. etc… remain unanswered.

    One just cannot prove a world-view & most modern people, who speculate from time to time, tend to think that we have amassed enough knowledge & structured explanations which render all “old” world-views definitely dated or wrong.

    Well, they’re wrong.

    • Thanks: El Dato
    • Replies: @El Dato
    @Bardon Kaldian

    I'm currently at the point where a day w/o suicide is a win, and the hope is still that a series of baby steps brings us closer to something noticeably different than the scene in "2001: A Space Odyssey" entitled "The Dawn of Man".

    Would be a shame otherwise.

    I have the feeling this universe is a big incubator, but of what?

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

    , @PhysicistDave
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Bardon Kaldian wrote:


    Many physicists tend to dabble in “whole world is simply like that” stuff. They, the greatest of them, try to prove their world-view (which I would call modernized materialism/physicalism) is the only one correct...
     
    Well... I think physicists may be a bit less guilty of that than people in some other fields (I have in mind an awful lot of mid-twentieth-century philosophers!). See, for example, Eugene Wigner's famous essay, ""Remarks on the Mind-Body Question." Lots of physicists, from Schrödinger to Penrose, have acknowledged that consciousness is a problem for physical science.

    BK also wrote:


    So, main questions like, for instance:

    Can human individual consciousness function without a brain?

    Is there some superior Intelligence, in some respects co-natural with human & at the same time “operating” on the empirical world, the latter being a manifestation of a more encompassing reality ?

    Are there supra-physical worlds?

    Are there superior ways of cognition of “all” (or “more”) that surpass our ways of thinking, both quantitatively & qualitatively (or- are there beings who, cognitively in the widest sense, are to us what we are to, say, frogs?

    Etc. etc… remain unanswered.
     

    I think you will find that most physicists, indeed most natural scientists, will agree that natural science does not (currently) give a definitive answer to such questions.

    What many scientists will claim, however, is that people who claim to have definitive answers to such questions -- whether "religious" or "metaphysical" -- do not have good reasons or evidence to back up their claims.

    Also, msot non-scientists do not realize how much of the real world is now covered by physics: we really do understand, in principle, how the laws of physics explain what makes stars shine, what binds atoms into molecules, how heredity works, etc.

    None of that was understood at the turn of the twentieth century.

    So, twentieth-century science really is the story of the "physicalization" of the other natural sciences.

    But consciousness does indeed, for now, remain a mystery.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

  44. @Morris39
    @Art Deco

    Can you provide examples of actual problems solved (last 80 years) in particle physics, cosmology, evolution etc. Not newer/better hypotheses but actual solutions which result in some measurable benefit? This does not mean that there is no value, rather that the benefits are implied at some future time or that gains don't happen at the margin e.g. some smart people may achieve something by serendipity.
    You might agree that all theories are wrong but some are useful. The important part of that proverb is missing, PROVE IT by experiment.
    Unlike the late 19th C physics, since then nothing like Faraday/Maxwell duo e.g. Rutherford's experiment blows any other claims for a breakthrough out of the water but it's old news.
    100 years since QM there are still no practical applications but arguments about observers and multiverses.

    Replies: @That Would Be Telling, @Art Deco, @Unladen Swallow

    100 years since QM there are still no practical applications

    You really need to learn more on the subject. I guess you haven’t heard of the modern semiconductors without which this conversation would be impossibly expensive?

    In my own field the 20th Century’s preeminent chemist graduated from CalTech at just the right time for a post-doc in Europe where he learned about QM from some of the best in that book I recommenced, and applied it to his own field. You don’t begin to learn chemistry at the college level without dipping into the results of for example orbitals and hybrid ones, how for example both carbon and silicon below it on the periodic table can make bonds with up to four atoms.

    Afraid you earn a Troll and Ignore Commenter with this comprehensively ignorant claim.

    • Replies: @Morris39
    @That Would Be Telling

    Name calling is the ultimate proof of ignorance. End of conversation.
    If you are truly interested look up Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder's recent blog on the promises yet to be achieved by QM.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

  45. @Bardon Kaldian
    @El Dato

    Well, let’s try to be concise.

    Many physicists tend to dabble in “whole world is simply like that” stuff. They, the greatest of them, try to prove their world-view (which I would call modernized materialism/physicalism) is the only one correct, while others are just projections of sorry states of fear, ignorance, delusion, projections…ruling our ancestors.

    One cannot prove or disprove a world-view. You cannot say that “all” is like this, and unlike that. If you check catalogues of all philosophies, religions, cultures… you’ll see that, give or take, there are, basically, 20-50 world-views (at most). Only parts of them can be (dis)proven as relics of the past- tales that Buddha had destroyed thousands of planets with the focused ray emanating from his third eye; that Yahweh was provoked into flood by human licentiousness etc. etc.

    Human beings’ picture of the world depends on being human.

    For example, although snakes can barely see, they scan the outer world through a temperature detector, while frogs have a rudimentary pattern of reaction to stimuli
    that basically consists of eating whatever is smaller than them, copulating with whatever is the same size, and fleeing from whatever is larger. The inner universe of a snake or a frog is so unfamiliar to us that we scarcely can imagine it, even with the wildest effort. Yet in all these cases a correlation between the inner world and the outer world exists. (cf. Ioan Culianu)

    So- human beings perceive the world "out there" determined by their human physiology & human life. Also, their perception depends on other elements: their culture’s knowledge, temperament, intelligence, experiences, general values of a society ...

    That's why descriptions of the afterlife tend to look all too human, although with expanded awareness.

    So, both orthodox religionists & orthodox atheists seem to agree that this, physical life, Carbon-based, is of some supreme importance. For atheists, it is simple: it is all that is for us as human beings, and it is useless to speculate about anything further. For orthodox theists, this world is of supreme importance, too, because they see it as something affirming the centrality of humanity (and all Carbon-based life), and that's why the anthropic principle is so important to them- they link their God(s) with the existence of human physical life serving some "higher", revealed or imagined purpose that lies outside of cause-effect world of physical events.

    Needless to say, for most metaphysicians- this is not so. For them- and it doesn't matter whether they're essentially right or just hallucinating- any, including human, life on earth has some "higher" purpose, but limited & circumscribed by physicality. It is, as Wittgenstein had concluded in his Tractatus, basically unspeakable. For guys from Empedocles to Schelling- there is more to it all, but as long as we are human beings, we are unable to formulate it, except through metaphors & myths.

    So, main questions like, for instance:

    Can human individual consciousness function without a brain?

    Is there some superior Intelligence, in some respects co-natural with human & at the same time “operating” on the empirical world, the latter being a manifestation of a more encompassing reality ?

    Are there supra-physical worlds?

    Are there superior ways of cognition of “all” (or “more”) that surpass our ways of thinking, both quantitatively & qualitatively (or- are there beings who, cognitively in the widest sense, are to us what we are to, say, frogs?

    Etc. etc… remain unanswered.

    One just cannot prove a world-view & most modern people, who speculate from time to time, tend to think that we have amassed enough knowledge & structured explanations which render all “old” world-views definitely dated or wrong.

    Well, they’re wrong.

    Replies: @El Dato, @PhysicistDave

    I’m currently at the point where a day w/o suicide is a win, and the hope is still that a series of baby steps brings us closer to something noticeably different than the scene in “2001: A Space Odyssey” entitled “The Dawn of Man”.

    Would be a shame otherwise.

    I have the feeling this universe is a big incubator, but of what?

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    @El Dato


    I have the feeling this universe is a big incubator, but of what?
     
    "All are clear, I alone am clouded"

    Lao- Tzu
  46. @Morris39
    @Art Deco

    Can you provide examples of actual problems solved (last 80 years) in particle physics, cosmology, evolution etc. Not newer/better hypotheses but actual solutions which result in some measurable benefit? This does not mean that there is no value, rather that the benefits are implied at some future time or that gains don't happen at the margin e.g. some smart people may achieve something by serendipity.
    You might agree that all theories are wrong but some are useful. The important part of that proverb is missing, PROVE IT by experiment.
    Unlike the late 19th C physics, since then nothing like Faraday/Maxwell duo e.g. Rutherford's experiment blows any other claims for a breakthrough out of the water but it's old news.
    100 years since QM there are still no practical applications but arguments about observers and multiverses.

    Replies: @That Would Be Telling, @Art Deco, @Unladen Swallow

    It was suggested by other commenters above that one not confound science and engineering.

  47. @Triteleia Laxa
    @Art Deco


    I neither stated nor implied either.
     
    Sorry, although I believe I improved your argument, rather than strawmanning it.

    He’s oriented toward the goal, not toward extraneous projects, human relations, social work, or process.
     
    You have assumed that your own definition of "the goal" is "the goal", as if there is some goal intrinsic to these human-managed institutions, which exists independently of those humans' goals.

    He also thinks about observed performance; your problems in living (if he thinks about them at all) are (1) your business and (2) were challenges you met.
     
    You have reduced a complicated problem down to two dimensions so that you can give an answer that seems clear and straightforward, but it doesn't address the problem as you may assume it does.

    He said "best candidates", but "best" is not easy to ascertain, and often it would include an appreciation of the "challenges you met."

    The "challenges you met" may have effected your scores on the tests, that you are evaluated on. This means that it is reasonable to make an appreciation of those challenges and adjust for them in order to ensure that those admitted will end up doing "best".

    This sounds complicated to put into practice, but it isn't that hard to have some useful effect. You could look at how particular groups do at the University compared to how well they do on the exams and then adjust their exam scores in kind to make them better predictors and improve the admissions process.

    Someone might argue that this is a blunt force that could be "unfair", but it would still better fulfill Steve Weinberg's desire than would admitting strictly on unadjusted test scores.

    It is also an excellent argument against affirmative action as currently implemented and it would reduce mismatch and provide a reasonable measure of whether the university's admittance procedures, as they become even more obviously subjective, fit the goal of admitting students who will perform best, if that is indeed "the goal."

    Replies: @Art Deco

    Thanks for the hand waving. Always an education.

  48. I’d encourage non-physicists, of which I’m one, to read the biographies and popular science books put out by prominent physicists.

    I’d read John Archibald Wheeler’s autobiography a while back. I think I learned something. Fallow and productive sub-fields in physics; academic politics and bureaucracy; the exhilaration of major breakthroughs and working with the leaders in one’s field; mentorship of doctoral advisees; personal matters of various sorts. Plus, Wheeler’s humility (as I read him) before his subject matter, and generous temperament made him a likeable guy.

    His advocacy for Hugh Everett and Everett’s “many-worlds” idea seemed to me touching and admirable. The example of the enormously talented Dr. Wheeler going to bat for his doctoral advisee seemed to me grossly at odds with the grubby world of idea thieves and credit grabbers.

  49. @That Would Be Telling
    @Morris39


    100 years since QM there are still no practical applications
     
    You really need to learn more on the subject. I guess you haven't heard of the modern semiconductors without which this conversation would be impossibly expensive?

    In my own field the 20th Century's preeminent chemist graduated from CalTech at just the right time for a post-doc in Europe where he learned about QM from some of the best in that book I recommenced, and applied it to his own field. You don't begin to learn chemistry at the college level without dipping into the results of for example orbitals and hybrid ones, how for example both carbon and silicon below it on the periodic table can make bonds with up to four atoms.

    Afraid you earn a Troll and Ignore Commenter with this comprehensively ignorant claim.

    Replies: @Morris39

    Name calling is the ultimate proof of ignorance. End of conversation.
    If you are truly interested look up Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder’s recent blog on the promises yet to be achieved by QM.

    • Thanks: Grahamsno(G64)
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    @Morris39

    Morris39 wrote:


    If you are truly interested look up Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder’s recent blog on the promises yet to be achieved by QM.
     
    Sabine is a "Web friend" of mine. She is very bright, and she and I agree that there are serious conceptual problems with the existing formulations of quantum mechanics (Weinberg also held that view).

    But I am genuinely curious if you can point to anything Sabine has written that suggests that there have been "no practical applications" of quantum mechanics or that the conceptual problems that bother Sabine and me are likely to lead to dramatic practical applications.

    I really think you are misunderstanding Sabine's views. But by all means show me something she has written that I have missed that shows I am wrong. I am truly curious.

    Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom, @Morris39

  50. @Morris39
    @Art Deco

    Can you provide examples of actual problems solved (last 80 years) in particle physics, cosmology, evolution etc. Not newer/better hypotheses but actual solutions which result in some measurable benefit? This does not mean that there is no value, rather that the benefits are implied at some future time or that gains don't happen at the margin e.g. some smart people may achieve something by serendipity.
    You might agree that all theories are wrong but some are useful. The important part of that proverb is missing, PROVE IT by experiment.
    Unlike the late 19th C physics, since then nothing like Faraday/Maxwell duo e.g. Rutherford's experiment blows any other claims for a breakthrough out of the water but it's old news.
    100 years since QM there are still no practical applications but arguments about observers and multiverses.

    Replies: @That Would Be Telling, @Art Deco, @Unladen Swallow

    Practical applications? semiconductors, lasers, LED’s, nuclear weapons, nuclear power, NMR/MRI, that’s for starters, I’m sure physicists would know of others.

    • Agree: PhysicistDave
  51. @That Would Be Telling
    @PhysicistDave


    As to your apparent claim that engineers solve the same sorts of problems Steve solved… well, I have worked extensively in both physics and engineering. If you mean what you seem to be saying, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.
     
    As a biology and eventually chemistry type who spent a lot of time around engineers and had a software and systems development career due to insufficient money to get a bachelor's degree, I can confirm what PhysicistDave says. Engineers and engineering have a great deal to contribute to what scientists do, but it's very much not the same thing, a lot of it when you get deep enough is applying physics to real world problems. What holds concrete together, for example.

    For non-classical physics I only have a "poet's" level of understanding, but based on that (corrections, please!) and echoing "Eustace Tilley (not)," you can describe this second half of the 20th Century's physics in short as:

    Feynman created the first relativistic quantum field theory, that is a theory incorporating both special relativity (stuff moving fast) and quantum theory for electromagnetism, which you can view as one of the four fundamental forces of the universe along with gravity, still best covered by Einstein's general relativity, and the weak and strong nuclear forces. Feynman's real long term accomplishment as I understand it was the approach, tools etc. he developed for his quantum electrodynamics (QED).

    The weak nuclear force per my randomly looking it up yesterday on Wikipedia due to a parcel of radioactive iridium that's gone missing in the US has a length of action around the size of a proton, that is very very small, and mediates things like beta "radiation," in which a neutron throws off a high speed electron (which makes it somewhat dangerous), a neutrino, and since charge is conserved the neutron becomes a proton. Weinberg's Nobel cited work was contributing to the unification of QED with the weak force.

    Following that is the Standard Model which adds the strong nuclear force, which is what holds the nucleus of an atom together. It's got to be pretty strong because it has all those positively charged protons in it repelling each other, the latter as I understand it is the major immediate source of energy from fission, the two parts of a nucleus strongly repelling each other once they're far enough from each other than the strong force doesn't hold them together.

    Gravity, well it's fascinating and Kip Thorne wrote a very thick and heavy book on it of some note that I've held and glanced through, but a lot of physicists including Einstein had bashed their heads against a thick wall trying to unify it with any of the other three forces.

    Replies: @Morris39, @PhysicistDave

    To That Would Be Telling,

    You give Feynman a bit too much credit, but aside from that, your summary is more or less correct in its outline. (I took two years of classes from Feynman, and I am not downgrading his contributions: it’s just that the history is a bit more complex than your summary.)

    I want to underline one point you made:

    Following that is the Standard Model which adds the strong nuclear force, which is what holds the nucleus of an atom together. It’s got to be pretty strong because it has all those positively charged protons in it repelling each other, the latter as I understand it is the major immediate source of energy from fission, the two parts of a nucleus strongly repelling each other once they’re far enough from each other than the strong force doesn’t hold them together.

    Yeah, that’s right: the energy from fission is essentially the electrostatic energy of repulsion of different part of the nucleus. Strangely enough, that did not hit me until, years after I got my PhD, when I saw a docudrama about Lise Meitner, and I realized what calculation she and Frisch had done.

    I knew all about QCD and electroweak unification and yet no one had ever pointed out this simple fact. We tend to attribute “nuclear power” to the strong force, and yet, as you say, the only role of the strong force is to hold the nucleus together against the electrostatic repulsion, until, by chance, the nucleus distorts enough for the electrostatic repulsion to win out. Fission energy is indeed electrical.

    Funny how we can learn very high-level stuff and not discuss the very basics.

    Of course, fusion really is a matter of the strong force. The game with fusion is to have enough kinetic energy to overcome enough of the the electrostatic force to get close enough that the nuclei can “tunnel through” and the strong force can take over. And then you get a very big bang indeed from the strong force.

    By the way, I once had a similarly simple-minded conversation with Weinberg about whether a quantum field actually creates a particle isolated at a single point. It turns out that it quite clearly does not: the particle is smeared out over a finite distance. This had never occurred to Steve, even though he was one of the top experts in the world on quantum field theory.

    It is good to ask simple questions.

    • Thanks: That Would Be Telling
    • Replies: @That Would Be Telling
    @PhysicistDave


    You give Feynman a bit too much credit
     
    Ah, yeah, he's a big figure in the science for poets world thanks to his two very approachable autobiographies (I love the way he got a reputation for math by solving integrals others' couldn't because he'd learned that on his own and thus had a non-standard tool box) and his role in the Challenger committee. Plus I went to school with his son and got a characteristicly too late offer to work at Thinking Machines. But of course others contributed to the theory; my biggest point which I perhaps didn't get across or as you say gave him too much credit for was the creation of tools used to develop subsequent quantum field theories.

    As for the energy from fission, while only at the poets level, I too had all the pieces to put it together, and as a child of the Cold War with a Civil Defense Block Mother very shortly after I'd realized SCIENCE!!! was my calling, I became a nuclear war survivalist in early grade school and fission and fusion then became interesting and important.

    But it took chapter nine of Rhode's book where it was all made explicit using the liquid drop model of the nucleus. As you say, it happened in that amazing Christmas vacation when Lise Meitner and her nephew Otto Frisch made sense of Otto Hahn's feat of radiochemistry. Pretty amazing when you can get results from a few as 1,000 atoms, that's not a scale in which "normal" chemistry is thought about to the extent I learned it, that was when I realized why it was an important subfield.


    And I have worked with and been friends with the inventor of TTL logic (Jim Buie)
     
    That must have been interesting. I didn't run in those circles, but for a long time TTL was the logic family with which you created all but the fastest computers which used finicky and hot ECL. As Wikipedia says, "TTL was invented in 1961 by James L. Buie of TRW, which declared it, 'particularly suited to the newly developing integrated circuit design technology.'"

    From the late 1960's or so, like the later PDP-8s and the 1970 first PDP-11 till well into the 1980s as VLSI started eating the world, was used for glue chips, is in fact still manufactured and used today. Even with Moore's "Law" operative it took quite some time for single chip CPU densities to get big enough for really serious 32 bit work (that started with the 68000 which was 16 bits on the inside but had a 32 bit macroarchitecture), and they tended to have larger non-recurring engineering costs, limited numbers of foundries so you might have to build your own fab line, unless you used gate arrays, etc.

    That continues to be a very hard field at the bleeding edge, right now TSMC is the only company able to build state of the art chips economically, while Samsung is overpromising and Intel is in its second generation of failure. I heavily used, helped repair, and was involved in the design of a complicated CPU all in TTL. Good times.

    So why the sort of off topic computer stuff above? It's quantum mechanics in the real world, in one of the latest general purpose technologies, and enables the subsequent ones of the Internet and AI, although the latter got its start on vacuum tube computers like the IBM 704.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

  52. @Anonymous
    @PhysicistDave

    If someone is a bigshot in the field of physics yet has never won the Nobel Prize in Physics to outsiders their career is like the top pro tennis player who never won Wilmbeldon or the great pro golfer who never won the Masters.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    Anonymous[121] wrote to me:

    If someone is a bigshot in the field of physics yet has never won the Nobel Prize in Physics to outsiders their career is like the top pro tennis player who never won Wilmbeldon or the great pro golfer who never won the Masters.

    I assume you are referring to the fact that Hawking never won a Nobel?

    Penrose did win a Nobel in 2020 for work that Hawking was involved with.

    I think there is a widespread feeling among physicists that Hawking deserved one, but they cannot be awarded posthumously.

  53. @Bardon Kaldian
    @El Dato

    Well, let’s try to be concise.

    Many physicists tend to dabble in “whole world is simply like that” stuff. They, the greatest of them, try to prove their world-view (which I would call modernized materialism/physicalism) is the only one correct, while others are just projections of sorry states of fear, ignorance, delusion, projections…ruling our ancestors.

    One cannot prove or disprove a world-view. You cannot say that “all” is like this, and unlike that. If you check catalogues of all philosophies, religions, cultures… you’ll see that, give or take, there are, basically, 20-50 world-views (at most). Only parts of them can be (dis)proven as relics of the past- tales that Buddha had destroyed thousands of planets with the focused ray emanating from his third eye; that Yahweh was provoked into flood by human licentiousness etc. etc.

    Human beings’ picture of the world depends on being human.

    For example, although snakes can barely see, they scan the outer world through a temperature detector, while frogs have a rudimentary pattern of reaction to stimuli
    that basically consists of eating whatever is smaller than them, copulating with whatever is the same size, and fleeing from whatever is larger. The inner universe of a snake or a frog is so unfamiliar to us that we scarcely can imagine it, even with the wildest effort. Yet in all these cases a correlation between the inner world and the outer world exists. (cf. Ioan Culianu)

    So- human beings perceive the world "out there" determined by their human physiology & human life. Also, their perception depends on other elements: their culture’s knowledge, temperament, intelligence, experiences, general values of a society ...

    That's why descriptions of the afterlife tend to look all too human, although with expanded awareness.

    So, both orthodox religionists & orthodox atheists seem to agree that this, physical life, Carbon-based, is of some supreme importance. For atheists, it is simple: it is all that is for us as human beings, and it is useless to speculate about anything further. For orthodox theists, this world is of supreme importance, too, because they see it as something affirming the centrality of humanity (and all Carbon-based life), and that's why the anthropic principle is so important to them- they link their God(s) with the existence of human physical life serving some "higher", revealed or imagined purpose that lies outside of cause-effect world of physical events.

    Needless to say, for most metaphysicians- this is not so. For them- and it doesn't matter whether they're essentially right or just hallucinating- any, including human, life on earth has some "higher" purpose, but limited & circumscribed by physicality. It is, as Wittgenstein had concluded in his Tractatus, basically unspeakable. For guys from Empedocles to Schelling- there is more to it all, but as long as we are human beings, we are unable to formulate it, except through metaphors & myths.

    So, main questions like, for instance:

    Can human individual consciousness function without a brain?

    Is there some superior Intelligence, in some respects co-natural with human & at the same time “operating” on the empirical world, the latter being a manifestation of a more encompassing reality ?

    Are there supra-physical worlds?

    Are there superior ways of cognition of “all” (or “more”) that surpass our ways of thinking, both quantitatively & qualitatively (or- are there beings who, cognitively in the widest sense, are to us what we are to, say, frogs?

    Etc. etc… remain unanswered.

    One just cannot prove a world-view & most modern people, who speculate from time to time, tend to think that we have amassed enough knowledge & structured explanations which render all “old” world-views definitely dated or wrong.

    Well, they’re wrong.

    Replies: @El Dato, @PhysicistDave

    Bardon Kaldian wrote:

    Many physicists tend to dabble in “whole world is simply like that” stuff. They, the greatest of them, try to prove their world-view (which I would call modernized materialism/physicalism) is the only one correct…

    Well… I think physicists may be a bit less guilty of that than people in some other fields (I have in mind an awful lot of mid-twentieth-century philosophers!). See, for example, Eugene Wigner’s famous essay, “”Remarks on the Mind-Body Question.” Lots of physicists, from Schrödinger to Penrose, have acknowledged that consciousness is a problem for physical science.

    BK also wrote:

    So, main questions like, for instance:

    Can human individual consciousness function without a brain?

    Is there some superior Intelligence, in some respects co-natural with human & at the same time “operating” on the empirical world, the latter being a manifestation of a more encompassing reality ?

    Are there supra-physical worlds?

    Are there superior ways of cognition of “all” (or “more”) that surpass our ways of thinking, both quantitatively & qualitatively (or- are there beings who, cognitively in the widest sense, are to us what we are to, say, frogs?

    Etc. etc… remain unanswered.

    I think you will find that most physicists, indeed most natural scientists, will agree that natural science does not (currently) give a definitive answer to such questions.

    What many scientists will claim, however, is that people who claim to have definitive answers to such questions — whether “religious” or “metaphysical” — do not have good reasons or evidence to back up their claims.

    Also, msot non-scientists do not realize how much of the real world is now covered by physics: we really do understand, in principle, how the laws of physics explain what makes stars shine, what binds atoms into molecules, how heredity works, etc.

    None of that was understood at the turn of the twentieth century.

    So, twentieth-century science really is the story of the “physicalization” of the other natural sciences.

    But consciousness does indeed, for now, remain a mystery.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    @PhysicistDave


    What many scientists will claim, however, is that people who claim to have definitive answers to such questions — whether “religious” or “metaphysical” — do not have good reasons or evidence to back up their claims.
     
    Here is the difference: no, most physicists (an other "natural scientists", as well as ordinary, normal people) simply avoid the real, disturbing stuff. Consciousness, as a "problem", is basically something tackled within a naturalist/physicalist world-view (which is understandable), but those things that imply fundamental alteration of such a world view are ignored.

    For instance, such a trivial thing as precognition. I've had 3 precognitive dreams that proved to be true- basically, I've dreamed about unimportant things that happened the next day or two weeks after the dream. And they had nothing to do with my action or inaction. Most people have had such events in their lives, but tend to dismiss them. It is understandable, because it could, at least, imply the existence of some "deeper" underlying reality.

    Then, there is, some call it "cosmic joke", while C.G.Jung called it synchronicity & interpreted it as some acausal connection (while the term "super-causal" would be more appropriate).

    An illustration is this (only one among many):

    A  certain  M.  Deschamps,  when  a  boy  in  Orleans,  was  once  given  a piece  of plum-pudding by a  M. de Fortgibu. Ten  years later he discovered another plum-pudding  in a Paris restaurant, and  asked if he could  have a piece. It turned out,  however,  that  the  plum-pudding  was already  ordered— by  M.  de Fortgibu. Many  years  afterwards  M. Deschamps was invited  to  partake of a plum-pudding as a  special rarity. While  he was eating it he remarked that  the  only  thing lacking was M. de Fortgibu. At that  moment the  door opened  and an old, old man in the last stages  of disorientation walked  in: M. de  Fortgibu, who had got hold of the wrong address  and burst in on the party by mistake.
     
    What scientists do is that they tend to dismiss such things as either fictions, lies or anecdotal unrepeatable stuff. This may be the case on many occasions- but in a non-negligible number of cases- not.

    There are numerous other areas, but some of them point to old world-view of Plato & comp: we live a perceptually limited existence, while there is much more, and while we are getting, now & then, signs of that "more" - we mostly ignore such things, relegating them to projections or fictions.

    Or, what old boys of yore used to say- we are not human beings having, sometimes, "spiritual" experience. We are "spiritual" beings, having, for the time being, a human experience.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

  54. @very old statistician
    @PhysicistDave

    Thanks.
    Now that I have said thanks ---
    Your misunderstanding of English, as used by those who understand English well, is the reason you think I have "absolutely" no idea of what I am talking about. Start with Johnson's dictionary, then look up the relevant terms in the multi-volume Oxford dictionary - not only scientist and engineer, but the related terms.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    very old statistician wrote to me:

    Your misunderstanding of English, as used by those who understand English well, is the reason you think I have “absolutely” no idea of what I am talking about. Start with Johnson’s dictionary, then look up the relevant terms in the multi-volume Oxford dictionary – not only scientist and engineer, but the related terms.

    Well, let’s see.

    I have published papers in leading physics journals (PhysRev and NuclPhys) on elementary-particle physics. I have taken four year-long classes from three Nobel laureates in physics (Feynman, Weinberg, and Thorne).

    I am also co-inventor on various patents in engineering. And I have worked with and been friends with the inventor of TTL logic (Jim Buie) and the inventor of the Lange coupler (Julius Lange).

    But you — oh infinitely wise one! — know better than I do the differences between physics and engineering!

    No doubt you are right. No doubt my ignorance would be lifted if I only found out what Dr. Johnson had to say on the subject.

    But still…

    You initially wrote:

    Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists

    Just maybe you could help me in my incredible ignorance if you could give just one single example of the “the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving” that are in fact problems that “engineers are called on to solve.”

    Just one specific example to help poor ignorant little me resolve my invincible ignorance.

    Pretty please.

    That is, if you do not mind lowering your incredible intellect down to my lowly level.

    • Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom
    @PhysicistDave

    Clearly one of the big problems is the use of Taylor expansions that don't converge. Everyone knows this is hoakey, and the work arounds fail non-perturbative systems and with gravity.

    This indicates a representation problem. The neat world of Feynman diagrams can't be quite right. A mathematician friend a more fundamental geometric, rather than numeric integral, representation might be involved in the ultimate solution. I'll have to did up that old paper he showed me.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    , @very old statistician
    @PhysicistDave

    Sarcasm does not become the elderly. I did not claim to be wise, so in addition to sarcasm, you engaged in dishonesty, which is unbecoming in people of all ages.

    However, to make you happy, you apparently in this very thread mentioned that Weinberg did not realize something basic about the timing of a quantum event (7:19 AM GMT July 31).

    Of course, that is not an answer to your question, because I was talking about the discoveries he is famous for, not the lack of understanding that the best of us have about fields we are experts in.

    Nevertheless, that is a good example of an issue that an engineer would have spotted but which the bright student of physics, even with a Nobel Prize in his background, flubbed, according to your account of a conversation you had with him.

    If you apologize, I will offer a detailed analysis of my personal views of the commonly held views of the overlap between engineering and "pure science" in the relevant time period in a way that might interest you. That is, if you are not certain I have nothing of interest to say.

    Replies: @very old statistician, @PhysicistDave

  55. @Morris39
    @That Would Be Telling

    Name calling is the ultimate proof of ignorance. End of conversation.
    If you are truly interested look up Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder's recent blog on the promises yet to be achieved by QM.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    Morris39 wrote:

    If you are truly interested look up Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder’s recent blog on the promises yet to be achieved by QM.

    Sabine is a “Web friend” of mine. She is very bright, and she and I agree that there are serious conceptual problems with the existing formulations of quantum mechanics (Weinberg also held that view).

    But I am genuinely curious if you can point to anything Sabine has written that suggests that there have been “no practical applications” of quantum mechanics or that the conceptual problems that bother Sabine and me are likely to lead to dramatic practical applications.

    I really think you are misunderstanding Sabine’s views. But by all means show me something she has written that I have missed that shows I am wrong. I am truly curious.

    • Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom
    @PhysicistDave


    I really think you are misunderstanding Sabine’s views. But by all means show me something she has written that I have missed that shows I am wrong. I am truly curious.
     
    This sounds like a misinterpretation of her recent vlog about the the process of science, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f23eWOquFQ0 .
    I once had an office one floor under that of Clarence Zener. The Zener diode is used in pretty much all modern electronics. Plenty of other QM effects appear in diffraction, holograms, chemistry, LEDs.... Sabine has also vloged on Quantum Computing. "practical applications" is not worth discussing further and any statement questioning would be a serious mistake, inconsistent with her brand.

    What Sabine did in the above vlog was comment on was getting ahead of real science. She essentially said (not in so many words) that Popper's testability was inadequate, but that we could categorize science into Progressive, degenerative, unscientific, and bad (crank). See for example "multiverse is a religion, not a science.
    , @Morris39
    @PhysicistDave

    Dave
    It is not my wish to argue for some course of action, I am far from qualified, but rather to point out the situation as it exists IMHO.
    When I say that we do not have practical applications of QM I mean as measured on economic basis or on entropy basis. In other words the proposed process should result in benefits that exceed the costs in (economically) or not violate thermodynamics (entropy) in a working demonstration. That has not happened yet but of course might in the future.

    Read Sabine's posts dated Saturday, February 06, 2021 and Tuesday, August 13, 2019 for example where she explores the state of development of QM based processes which have not as yet reached practical demonstration.

    So that's the beef? For one, assertions are made without explanation for practical examples, b/c that is the zeitgeist. Secondly QM of necessity requires that entropy and time be spontaneously reversible. We have no observable situations of such a thing but it seems accepted as "settled" science. If you can address my points or show that they are not relevant I would like to hear.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave, @Bardon Kaldian

  56. @PhysicistDave
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Bardon Kaldian wrote:


    Many physicists tend to dabble in “whole world is simply like that” stuff. They, the greatest of them, try to prove their world-view (which I would call modernized materialism/physicalism) is the only one correct...
     
    Well... I think physicists may be a bit less guilty of that than people in some other fields (I have in mind an awful lot of mid-twentieth-century philosophers!). See, for example, Eugene Wigner's famous essay, ""Remarks on the Mind-Body Question." Lots of physicists, from Schrödinger to Penrose, have acknowledged that consciousness is a problem for physical science.

    BK also wrote:


    So, main questions like, for instance:

    Can human individual consciousness function without a brain?

    Is there some superior Intelligence, in some respects co-natural with human & at the same time “operating” on the empirical world, the latter being a manifestation of a more encompassing reality ?

    Are there supra-physical worlds?

    Are there superior ways of cognition of “all” (or “more”) that surpass our ways of thinking, both quantitatively & qualitatively (or- are there beings who, cognitively in the widest sense, are to us what we are to, say, frogs?

    Etc. etc… remain unanswered.
     

    I think you will find that most physicists, indeed most natural scientists, will agree that natural science does not (currently) give a definitive answer to such questions.

    What many scientists will claim, however, is that people who claim to have definitive answers to such questions -- whether "religious" or "metaphysical" -- do not have good reasons or evidence to back up their claims.

    Also, msot non-scientists do not realize how much of the real world is now covered by physics: we really do understand, in principle, how the laws of physics explain what makes stars shine, what binds atoms into molecules, how heredity works, etc.

    None of that was understood at the turn of the twentieth century.

    So, twentieth-century science really is the story of the "physicalization" of the other natural sciences.

    But consciousness does indeed, for now, remain a mystery.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

    What many scientists will claim, however, is that people who claim to have definitive answers to such questions — whether “religious” or “metaphysical” — do not have good reasons or evidence to back up their claims.

    Here is the difference: no, most physicists (an other “natural scientists”, as well as ordinary, normal people) simply avoid the real, disturbing stuff. Consciousness, as a “problem”, is basically something tackled within a naturalist/physicalist world-view (which is understandable), but those things that imply fundamental alteration of such a world view are ignored.

    For instance, such a trivial thing as precognition. I’ve had 3 precognitive dreams that proved to be true- basically, I’ve dreamed about unimportant things that happened the next day or two weeks after the dream. And they had nothing to do with my action or inaction. Most people have had such events in their lives, but tend to dismiss them. It is understandable, because it could, at least, imply the existence of some “deeper” underlying reality.

    Then, there is, some call it “cosmic joke”, while C.G.Jung called it synchronicity & interpreted it as some acausal connection (while the term “super-causal” would be more appropriate).

    An illustration is this (only one among many):

    A  certain  M.  Deschamps,  when  a  boy  in  Orleans,  was  once  given  a piece  of plum-pudding by a  M. de Fortgibu. Ten  years later he discovered another plum-pudding  in a Paris restaurant, and  asked if he could  have a piece. It turned out,  however,  that  the  plum-pudding  was already  ordered— by  M.  de Fortgibu. Many  years  afterwards  M. Deschamps was invited  to  partake of a plum-pudding as a  special rarity. While  he was eating it he remarked that  the  only  thing lacking was M. de Fortgibu. At that  moment the  door opened  and an old, old man in the last stages  of disorientation walked  in: M. de  Fortgibu, who had got hold of the wrong address  and burst in on the party by mistake.

    What scientists do is that they tend to dismiss such things as either fictions, lies or anecdotal unrepeatable stuff. This may be the case on many occasions- but in a non-negligible number of cases- not.

    There are numerous other areas, but some of them point to old world-view of Plato & comp: we live a perceptually limited existence, while there is much more, and while we are getting, now & then, signs of that “more” – we mostly ignore such things, relegating them to projections or fictions.

    Or, what old boys of yore used to say- we are not human beings having, sometimes, “spiritual” experience. We are “spiritual” beings, having, for the time being, a human experience.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Bardon Kaldian wrote to me:


    What scientists do is that they tend to dismiss such things as either fictions, lies or anecdotal unrepeatable stuff. This may be the case on many occasions- but in a non-negligible number of cases- not.
     
    Well... seems to me that it always is " fictions, lies or anecdotal unrepeatable stuff."

    After all, if it were "repeatable," you could indeed repeat it and thereby get the attention of us scientists!

    You are of course correct that we scientists have trouble dealing with phenomena that are not verifiable, repeatable, or quantifiable.

    But so does everyone else.

    People believe in all sorts of things that other people think are nonsense since the claims are not repeatable, verifiable, or quantifiable. Just get pious Christians, Muslims, and Hindus together and urge them to present what they "know" to be true based on their religious commitments!

    BK also wrote:

    There are numerous other areas, but some of them point to old world-view of Plato & comp: we live a perceptually limited existence, while there is much more, and while we are getting, now & then, signs of that “more” – we mostly ignore such things, relegating them to projections or fictions.
     
    Well, you know, scientific instrumentation, for more than four centuries, has allowed us to extend our perception far, far beyond our natural senses. I'm not sure that we scientists are as limited in our perception as you imply.

    Perhaps the real issue here comes from your earlier comment in which you described as a "witty, but ultimately dumb statement." Steve's claim that “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless."

    On the contrary, Steve was just accurately summarizing the results of modern science.

    In Aristotle's time, it seemed reasonable to think that heavy objects fall because they are pursuing their purpose of trying to achieve their natural position at the center of the earth.

    After Galileo and Newton, that no longer made sense.

    As late as 1800, it seemed natural to think that an acorn is somehow trying to become an oak tree, that the purpose of the heart is to pump blood, that plants are trying to grow upwards towards the light.

    After Darwin, and especially in the wake of modern biochemistry and molecular biology, those are, at best, anthropomorphic metaphors.

    The heart does indeed pump blood, but it does so because blind developmental processes, ultimately controlled by genes, physically cause it to do so.

    Isn't that just miraculous?

    No. Random mutations produced changes in structure, some of which produced hearts that made organisms more likely to survive and procreate, most of which made organisms less likely to survive and procreate. Obviously, the former mutations were more likely to be passed on.

    That's all. That is the only sense in which the "purpose" of the heart is to pump blood.

    Prior to the rise of modern science, "purpose" and "meaning" seemed to be not merely a matter of human or divine motives but rather "purpose" and "meaning" seemed, quite obviously, to be deeply embedded in natural phenomena.

    That is no longer true.

    Steve was just pithily summarizing that enormous transformation in how we understand reality.

    Most people have not fully grasped this, largely because most people understand very little about science.

    Can we completely rule out, say, some sort of divine purpose?

    No, but the sort of purpose that used to be seen as embodied in everyday natural phenomena is gone. Steve was right about that.

    Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom

  57. @El Dato
    @Bardon Kaldian

    I'm currently at the point where a day w/o suicide is a win, and the hope is still that a series of baby steps brings us closer to something noticeably different than the scene in "2001: A Space Odyssey" entitled "The Dawn of Man".

    Would be a shame otherwise.

    I have the feeling this universe is a big incubator, but of what?

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

    I have the feeling this universe is a big incubator, but of what?

    “All are clear, I alone am clouded”

    Lao- Tzu

  58. @PhysicistDave
    @Morris39

    Morris39 wrote:


    If you are truly interested look up Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder’s recent blog on the promises yet to be achieved by QM.
     
    Sabine is a "Web friend" of mine. She is very bright, and she and I agree that there are serious conceptual problems with the existing formulations of quantum mechanics (Weinberg also held that view).

    But I am genuinely curious if you can point to anything Sabine has written that suggests that there have been "no practical applications" of quantum mechanics or that the conceptual problems that bother Sabine and me are likely to lead to dramatic practical applications.

    I really think you are misunderstanding Sabine's views. But by all means show me something she has written that I have missed that shows I am wrong. I am truly curious.

    Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom, @Morris39

    I really think you are misunderstanding Sabine’s views. But by all means show me something she has written that I have missed that shows I am wrong. I am truly curious.

    This sounds like a misinterpretation of her recent vlog about the the process of science,

    .
    I once had an office one floor under that of Clarence Zener. The Zener diode is used in pretty much all modern electronics. Plenty of other QM effects appear in diffraction, holograms, chemistry, LEDs…. Sabine has also vloged on Quantum Computing. “practical applications” is not worth discussing further and any statement questioning would be a serious mistake, inconsistent with her brand.

    What Sabine did in the above vlog was comment on was getting ahead of real science. She essentially said (not in so many words) that Popper’s testability was inadequate, but that we could categorize science into Progressive, degenerative, unscientific, and bad (crank). See for example “multiverse is a religion, not a science.

  59. Back on topic,
    Weinberg’s move to UT created quite a buzz. I recall two stories going around the physics department.
    1) he demanded to get paid more than the football coach, and
    2) when he accepted, the university president cried, not for joy, because he actually accepted an outrageous contract.

  60. @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    very old statistician wrote to me:


    Your misunderstanding of English, as used by those who understand English well, is the reason you think I have “absolutely” no idea of what I am talking about. Start with Johnson’s dictionary, then look up the relevant terms in the multi-volume Oxford dictionary – not only scientist and engineer, but the related terms.
     
    Well, let's see.

    I have published papers in leading physics journals (PhysRev and NuclPhys) on elementary-particle physics. I have taken four year-long classes from three Nobel laureates in physics (Feynman, Weinberg, and Thorne).

    I am also co-inventor on various patents in engineering. And I have worked with and been friends with the inventor of TTL logic (Jim Buie) and the inventor of the Lange coupler (Julius Lange).

    But you -- oh infinitely wise one! -- know better than I do the differences between physics and engineering!

    No doubt you are right. No doubt my ignorance would be lifted if I only found out what Dr. Johnson had to say on the subject.

    But still...

    You initially wrote:

    Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists
     
    Just maybe you could help me in my incredible ignorance if you could give just one single example of the "the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving" that are in fact problems that "engineers are called on to solve."

    Just one specific example to help poor ignorant little me resolve my invincible ignorance.

    Pretty please.

    That is, if you do not mind lowering your incredible intellect down to my lowly level.

    Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom, @very old statistician

    Clearly one of the big problems is the use of Taylor expansions that don’t converge. Everyone knows this is hoakey, and the work arounds fail non-perturbative systems and with gravity.

    This indicates a representation problem. The neat world of Feynman diagrams can’t be quite right. A mathematician friend a more fundamental geometric, rather than numeric integral, representation might be involved in the ultimate solution. I’ll have to did up that old paper he showed me.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    @Dr. DoomNGloom

    Dr. DoomNGloom wrote to me:


    Clearly one of the big problems is the use of Taylor expansions that don’t converge.
     
    Well, yeah, but you know we physicists have been aware of this for a very, very long time, certainly more than a half century.

    For the electromagnetic and weak interactions, power series expansions work very, very well indeed at reasonable energies. The expansions are probably only "asymptotic" but the first few terms work very, very well.

    And we do have well-known non-perturbative approaches: most obviously, lattice gauge theory.

    So, I am doubtful that this is really a problem.

    On the other hand, the so-called "measurement problem," which has Sabine upset... I really think there is something important we are missing there.

    Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom

  61. @PhysicistDave
    @That Would Be Telling

    To That Would Be Telling,

    You give Feynman a bit too much credit, but aside from that, your summary is more or less correct in its outline. (I took two years of classes from Feynman, and I am not downgrading his contributions: it's just that the history is a bit more complex than your summary.)

    I want to underline one point you made:


    Following that is the Standard Model which adds the strong nuclear force, which is what holds the nucleus of an atom together. It’s got to be pretty strong because it has all those positively charged protons in it repelling each other, the latter as I understand it is the major immediate source of energy from fission, the two parts of a nucleus strongly repelling each other once they’re far enough from each other than the strong force doesn’t hold them together.
     
    Yeah, that's right: the energy from fission is essentially the electrostatic energy of repulsion of different part of the nucleus. Strangely enough, that did not hit me until, years after I got my PhD, when I saw a docudrama about Lise Meitner, and I realized what calculation she and Frisch had done.

    I knew all about QCD and electroweak unification and yet no one had ever pointed out this simple fact. We tend to attribute "nuclear power" to the strong force, and yet, as you say, the only role of the strong force is to hold the nucleus together against the electrostatic repulsion, until, by chance, the nucleus distorts enough for the electrostatic repulsion to win out. Fission energy is indeed electrical.

    Funny how we can learn very high-level stuff and not discuss the very basics.

    Of course, fusion really is a matter of the strong force. The game with fusion is to have enough kinetic energy to overcome enough of the the electrostatic force to get close enough that the nuclei can "tunnel through" and the strong force can take over. And then you get a very big bang indeed from the strong force.

    By the way, I once had a similarly simple-minded conversation with Weinberg about whether a quantum field actually creates a particle isolated at a single point. It turns out that it quite clearly does not: the particle is smeared out over a finite distance. This had never occurred to Steve, even though he was one of the top experts in the world on quantum field theory.

    It is good to ask simple questions.

    Replies: @That Would Be Telling

    You give Feynman a bit too much credit

    Ah, yeah, he’s a big figure in the science for poets world thanks to his two very approachable autobiographies (I love the way he got a reputation for math by solving integrals others’ couldn’t because he’d learned that on his own and thus had a non-standard tool box) and his role in the Challenger committee. Plus I went to school with his son and got a characteristicly too late offer to work at Thinking Machines. But of course others contributed to the theory; my biggest point which I perhaps didn’t get across or as you say gave him too much credit for was the creation of tools used to develop subsequent quantum field theories.

    As for the energy from fission, while only at the poets level, I too had all the pieces to put it together, and as a child of the Cold War with a Civil Defense Block Mother very shortly after I’d realized SCIENCE!!! was my calling, I became a nuclear war survivalist in early grade school and fission and fusion then became interesting and important.

    But it took chapter nine of Rhode’s book where it was all made explicit using the liquid drop model of the nucleus. As you say, it happened in that amazing Christmas vacation when Lise Meitner and her nephew Otto Frisch made sense of Otto Hahn’s feat of radiochemistry. Pretty amazing when you can get results from a few as 1,000 atoms, that’s not a scale in which “normal” chemistry is thought about to the extent I learned it, that was when I realized why it was an important subfield.

    And I have worked with and been friends with the inventor of TTL logic (Jim Buie)

    That must have been interesting. I didn’t run in those circles, but for a long time TTL was the logic family with which you created all but the fastest computers which used finicky and hot ECL. As Wikipedia says, “TTL was invented in 1961 by James L. Buie of TRW, which declared it, ‘particularly suited to the newly developing integrated circuit design technology.’”

    From the late 1960’s or so, like the later PDP-8s and the 1970 first PDP-11 till well into the 1980s as VLSI started eating the world, was used for glue chips, is in fact still manufactured and used today. Even with Moore’s “Law” operative it took quite some time for single chip CPU densities to get big enough for really serious 32 bit work (that started with the 68000 which was 16 bits on the inside but had a 32 bit macroarchitecture), and they tended to have larger non-recurring engineering costs, limited numbers of foundries so you might have to build your own fab line, unless you used gate arrays, etc.

    That continues to be a very hard field at the bleeding edge, right now TSMC is the only company able to build state of the art chips economically, while Samsung is overpromising and Intel is in its second generation of failure. I heavily used, helped repair, and was involved in the design of a complicated CPU all in TTL. Good times.

    So why the sort of off topic computer stuff above? It’s quantum mechanics in the real world, in one of the latest general purpose technologies, and enables the subsequent ones of the Internet and AI, although the latter got its start on vacuum tube computers like the IBM 704.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    @That Would Be Telling

    That Would Be Telling wrote to me:


    That must have been interesting. I didn’t run in those circles, but for a long time TTL was the logic family with which you created all but the fastest computers which used finicky and hot ECL
     
    I love ECL. I myself never used TTL and really do not have much of a feel for it.

    I happened by dumb luck to be Jim Buie's office mate for a year towards the end of his life. He was a very nice guy, never mentioned to me his work on TTL.

    He did teach me how to use "dithering" to increase the resolution of an A/D converter. He also taught me how to take a numerical approach to solving Laplace's equation that I ran with and dramatically improved.

    Looking back, I think that Jim decided that I was actually smart enough to learn stuff from a very bright old-timer and so went to the effort to help me out. Yet, he came across as sort of your favorite uncle. A great guy.

    My observation has been, by the way, that the people with really noteworthy achievements -- Nobel laureates, Jim Buie, Lange -- tend to be decent, honorable people, at least in their professional lives. I've noticed the same thing about several WW II flyers I have known. I suppose that these guys feel they do not have to "prove anything" and so can just be decent human beings.
  62. @PhysicistDave
    @Morris39

    Morris39 wrote:


    If you are truly interested look up Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder’s recent blog on the promises yet to be achieved by QM.
     
    Sabine is a "Web friend" of mine. She is very bright, and she and I agree that there are serious conceptual problems with the existing formulations of quantum mechanics (Weinberg also held that view).

    But I am genuinely curious if you can point to anything Sabine has written that suggests that there have been "no practical applications" of quantum mechanics or that the conceptual problems that bother Sabine and me are likely to lead to dramatic practical applications.

    I really think you are misunderstanding Sabine's views. But by all means show me something she has written that I have missed that shows I am wrong. I am truly curious.

    Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom, @Morris39

    Dave
    It is not my wish to argue for some course of action, I am far from qualified, but rather to point out the situation as it exists IMHO.
    When I say that we do not have practical applications of QM I mean as measured on economic basis or on entropy basis. In other words the proposed process should result in benefits that exceed the costs in (economically) or not violate thermodynamics (entropy) in a working demonstration. That has not happened yet but of course might in the future.

    Read Sabine’s posts dated Saturday, February 06, 2021 and Tuesday, August 13, 2019 for example where she explores the state of development of QM based processes which have not as yet reached practical demonstration.

    So that’s the beef? For one, assertions are made without explanation for practical examples, b/c that is the zeitgeist. Secondly QM of necessity requires that entropy and time be spontaneously reversible. We have no observable situations of such a thing but it seems accepted as “settled” science. If you can address my points or show that they are not relevant I would like to hear.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    @Morris39

    Morris39 wrote to me:


    Read Sabine’s posts dated Saturday, February 06, 2021 and Tuesday, August 13, 2019 for example where she explores the state of development of QM based processes which have not as yet reached practical demonstration.
     
    I of course agree with what Sabine says in the two posts you mention.

    But what you fail to understand is that for a very, very long time -- probably your entire life unless you are even older than me -- there has been very well-established technology based on QM: lasers, NMR/MRI, and, most importantly, semiconductor electronics.

    You seem not to know this.

    Morris39 also wrote:

    Secondly QM of necessity requires that entropy and time be spontaneously reversible.
     
    You are just wrong about that. QM does not violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics (the law of increasing entropy) any more than Newtonian physics does.

    Somehow, you are getting very, very confused.

    I am sure you would never read a few web articles or a pop-sci book about brain surgery and then conclude that you are actually ready to do brain surgery.

    But lots of guys like you seem to think that you can read a little bit about QM and then proudly declaim as to what QM really says and what its shortcomings are.

    I have spent decades learning about QM -- I have a PhD in an area of quantum physics! -- and yet I am less sure than you as to what is really going on in QM.

    Perhaps you can see that this is rather odd?

    Or maybe you think you can do brain surgery?

    Replies: @Morris39

    , @Bardon Kaldian
    @Morris39


    When I say that we do not have practical applications of QM I mean as measured on economic basis or on entropy basis.
     
    ? This is a very strange statement.

    QM is all around us- cars, watches, all types of digital display, wash machines, cell phones, computers...because of lasers, semiconductors, transistors, integrated circuits, electronic (and other types of) microscope, applied superconductivity & supefluidity in various machines, cesium clock .. Everywhere from astronomy to medicine and all kinds of technology.

    A better question would be: where QM is not applied?
  63. @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    very old statistician wrote to me:


    Your misunderstanding of English, as used by those who understand English well, is the reason you think I have “absolutely” no idea of what I am talking about. Start with Johnson’s dictionary, then look up the relevant terms in the multi-volume Oxford dictionary – not only scientist and engineer, but the related terms.
     
    Well, let's see.

    I have published papers in leading physics journals (PhysRev and NuclPhys) on elementary-particle physics. I have taken four year-long classes from three Nobel laureates in physics (Feynman, Weinberg, and Thorne).

    I am also co-inventor on various patents in engineering. And I have worked with and been friends with the inventor of TTL logic (Jim Buie) and the inventor of the Lange coupler (Julius Lange).

    But you -- oh infinitely wise one! -- know better than I do the differences between physics and engineering!

    No doubt you are right. No doubt my ignorance would be lifted if I only found out what Dr. Johnson had to say on the subject.

    But still...

    You initially wrote:

    Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists
     
    Just maybe you could help me in my incredible ignorance if you could give just one single example of the "the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving" that are in fact problems that "engineers are called on to solve."

    Just one specific example to help poor ignorant little me resolve my invincible ignorance.

    Pretty please.

    That is, if you do not mind lowering your incredible intellect down to my lowly level.

    Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom, @very old statistician

    Sarcasm does not become the elderly. I did not claim to be wise, so in addition to sarcasm, you engaged in dishonesty, which is unbecoming in people of all ages.

    However, to make you happy, you apparently in this very thread mentioned that Weinberg did not realize something basic about the timing of a quantum event (7:19 AM GMT July 31).

    Of course, that is not an answer to your question, because I was talking about the discoveries he is famous for, not the lack of understanding that the best of us have about fields we are experts in.

    Nevertheless, that is a good example of an issue that an engineer would have spotted but which the bright student of physics, even with a Nobel Prize in his background, flubbed, according to your account of a conversation you had with him.

    If you apologize, I will offer a detailed analysis of my personal views of the commonly held views of the overlap between engineering and “pure science” in the relevant time period in a way that might interest you. That is, if you are not certain I have nothing of interest to say.

    • Replies: @very old statistician
    @very old statistician

    To be fair, I can honestly say that I very much appreciate your contributions, Professor Dave, and I would like you to know that it does not hurt my feelings that I failed to convince you, so far (and probably forever - I do not expect a sincere apology) that I am not one of those "crackpots" who you (rightly, in the case of genuine crackpots) enjoy saying rude things to.

    (I was impressed with the rhetorical skill of the "pretty please" gambit but, on the other hand, the mountebank question - as if under one of these three cups (the reference, in case English is not your native language, is also to Three-Card Monty) there really is a published article by Professor Weinberg with a mistake that either an engineer or genuine colleague could "point out" - was sort of a giveaway that you weren't really trying to rise above your anger, in order to initiate a real conversation among equals).

    Anyway, no matter what, I plan to write a little bit for my very small public in the near future, about the engineer/scientist interplay, and I will probably drop some mention of that into a soon-to-come Amazon review, in case you wish to look for it - probably of one of the recent books of Penrose or Smolin or, after all these years, I might get around to reviewing Derbyshire's classic on the futile hunt for triumph where Riemann himself was baffled - as a token of friendship to you, I shall include these three words, in this order, in the review "material science: pottery".

    Thanks again.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    , @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    very old statistician wrote to me:


    However, to make you happy, you apparently in this very thread mentioned that Weinberg did not realize something basic about the timing of a quantum event (7:19 AM GMT July 31).
     
    Uh, no, I didn't. I said nothing about "the timing of a quantum event."

    You are making my point for me: you have no idea at all what you are talking about.

    VOS also wrote:

    Nevertheless, that is a good example of an issue that an engineer would have spotted but which the bright student of physics, even with a Nobel Prize in his background, flubbed, according to your account of a conversation you had with him.
     
    You really have no idea what you are talking about! What I referred to is a very subtle effect due to relativistic quantum field theory: I know of no engineer who would have had a prayer of seeing it (and, yes, I have talked to engineers about quantum mechanics!). The effect does not even occur in non-relativistic quantum mechanics.

    VOS also wrote:

    If you apologize, I will offer a detailed analysis of my personal views of the commonly held views of the overlap between engineering and “pure science” in the relevant time period in a way that might interest you. That is, if you are not certain I have nothing of interest to say.
     
    Oh, I apologize deeeply, because you do indeed interest me: you are a very interesting example of psychopathology.

    I am always fascinated by how some human beings have as little connection to reality as you have. So, yes, I apologize deeply for offending you since I wish to further explore your psychopathology: how is it that you are so sure of yourself in a field about which you know nothing?

    Replies: @very old statistician

  64. @very old statistician
    @PhysicistDave

    Sarcasm does not become the elderly. I did not claim to be wise, so in addition to sarcasm, you engaged in dishonesty, which is unbecoming in people of all ages.

    However, to make you happy, you apparently in this very thread mentioned that Weinberg did not realize something basic about the timing of a quantum event (7:19 AM GMT July 31).

    Of course, that is not an answer to your question, because I was talking about the discoveries he is famous for, not the lack of understanding that the best of us have about fields we are experts in.

    Nevertheless, that is a good example of an issue that an engineer would have spotted but which the bright student of physics, even with a Nobel Prize in his background, flubbed, according to your account of a conversation you had with him.

    If you apologize, I will offer a detailed analysis of my personal views of the commonly held views of the overlap between engineering and "pure science" in the relevant time period in a way that might interest you. That is, if you are not certain I have nothing of interest to say.

    Replies: @very old statistician, @PhysicistDave

    To be fair, I can honestly say that I very much appreciate your contributions, Professor Dave, and I would like you to know that it does not hurt my feelings that I failed to convince you, so far (and probably forever – I do not expect a sincere apology) that I am not one of those “crackpots” who you (rightly, in the case of genuine crackpots) enjoy saying rude things to.

    (I was impressed with the rhetorical skill of the “pretty please” gambit but, on the other hand, the mountebank question – as if under one of these three cups (the reference, in case English is not your native language, is also to Three-Card Monty) there really is a published article by Professor Weinberg with a mistake that either an engineer or genuine colleague could “point out” – was sort of a giveaway that you weren’t really trying to rise above your anger, in order to initiate a real conversation among equals).

    Anyway, no matter what, I plan to write a little bit for my very small public in the near future, about the engineer/scientist interplay, and I will probably drop some mention of that into a soon-to-come Amazon review, in case you wish to look for it – probably of one of the recent books of Penrose or Smolin or, after all these years, I might get around to reviewing Derbyshire’s classic on the futile hunt for triumph where Riemann himself was baffled – as a token of friendship to you, I shall include these three words, in this order, in the review “material science: pottery”.

    Thanks again.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    very old statistician wrote to me:


    there really is a published article by Professor Weinberg with a mistake that either an engineer or genuine colleague could “point out” – was sort of a giveaway that you weren’t really trying to rise above your anger, in order to initiate a real conversation among equals).
     
    Maybe Steve did make such an error: humans do make mistakes, even brilliant humans.

    So why not tell us what this mistake is?


    Given your behavior thus far, I strongly suspect you just misunderstand what you have read, but maybe not. Of course, Steve would be as prone to error on matters outside of physics (say economics) as any other reasonably intelligent person speaking outside his area of expertise.

    And you and I are not equals,
    not when it comes to physics.

    Just as Michael Phelps and I are not equals when it comes to talking about swimming: quite aside from his phenomenal athletic ability, Phelps of course knows enormously more about the subject of swimming than I do.
  65. @very old statistician
    @PhysicistDave

    Sarcasm does not become the elderly. I did not claim to be wise, so in addition to sarcasm, you engaged in dishonesty, which is unbecoming in people of all ages.

    However, to make you happy, you apparently in this very thread mentioned that Weinberg did not realize something basic about the timing of a quantum event (7:19 AM GMT July 31).

    Of course, that is not an answer to your question, because I was talking about the discoveries he is famous for, not the lack of understanding that the best of us have about fields we are experts in.

    Nevertheless, that is a good example of an issue that an engineer would have spotted but which the bright student of physics, even with a Nobel Prize in his background, flubbed, according to your account of a conversation you had with him.

    If you apologize, I will offer a detailed analysis of my personal views of the commonly held views of the overlap between engineering and "pure science" in the relevant time period in a way that might interest you. That is, if you are not certain I have nothing of interest to say.

    Replies: @very old statistician, @PhysicistDave

    very old statistician wrote to me:

    However, to make you happy, you apparently in this very thread mentioned that Weinberg did not realize something basic about the timing of a quantum event (7:19 AM GMT July 31).

    Uh, no, I didn’t. I said nothing about “the timing of a quantum event.”

    You are making my point for me: you have no idea at all what you are talking about.

    VOS also wrote:

    Nevertheless, that is a good example of an issue that an engineer would have spotted but which the bright student of physics, even with a Nobel Prize in his background, flubbed, according to your account of a conversation you had with him.

    You really have no idea what you are talking about! What I referred to is a very subtle effect due to relativistic quantum field theory: I know of no engineer who would have had a prayer of seeing it (and, yes, I have talked to engineers about quantum mechanics!). The effect does not even occur in non-relativistic quantum mechanics.

    VOS also wrote:

    If you apologize, I will offer a detailed analysis of my personal views of the commonly held views of the overlap between engineering and “pure science” in the relevant time period in a way that might interest you. That is, if you are not certain I have nothing of interest to say.

    Oh, I apologize deeeply, because you do indeed interest me: you are a very interesting example of psychopathology.

    I am always fascinated by how some human beings have as little connection to reality as you have. So, yes, I apologize deeply for offending you since I wish to further explore your psychopathology: how is it that you are so sure of yourself in a field about which you know nothing?

    • Replies: @very old statistician
    @PhysicistDave

    You poor poor loser, you are lying at a simple grammatical level about what you claimed to say. You can't back up your claim with an equation (beyond engineer understanding) because you did not understand English well enough to know what you were saying.
    Where does your anger come from?

    Replies: @very old statistician, @PhysicistDave

  66. @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    very old statistician wrote to me:


    However, to make you happy, you apparently in this very thread mentioned that Weinberg did not realize something basic about the timing of a quantum event (7:19 AM GMT July 31).
     
    Uh, no, I didn't. I said nothing about "the timing of a quantum event."

    You are making my point for me: you have no idea at all what you are talking about.

    VOS also wrote:

    Nevertheless, that is a good example of an issue that an engineer would have spotted but which the bright student of physics, even with a Nobel Prize in his background, flubbed, according to your account of a conversation you had with him.
     
    You really have no idea what you are talking about! What I referred to is a very subtle effect due to relativistic quantum field theory: I know of no engineer who would have had a prayer of seeing it (and, yes, I have talked to engineers about quantum mechanics!). The effect does not even occur in non-relativistic quantum mechanics.

    VOS also wrote:

    If you apologize, I will offer a detailed analysis of my personal views of the commonly held views of the overlap between engineering and “pure science” in the relevant time period in a way that might interest you. That is, if you are not certain I have nothing of interest to say.
     
    Oh, I apologize deeeply, because you do indeed interest me: you are a very interesting example of psychopathology.

    I am always fascinated by how some human beings have as little connection to reality as you have. So, yes, I apologize deeply for offending you since I wish to further explore your psychopathology: how is it that you are so sure of yourself in a field about which you know nothing?

    Replies: @very old statistician

    You poor poor loser, you are lying at a simple grammatical level about what you claimed to say. You can’t back up your claim with an equation (beyond engineer understanding) because you did not understand English well enough to know what you were saying.
    Where does your anger come from?

    • Replies: @very old statistician
    @very old statistician

    "Pretty please" quote one equation that Weinberg understood that a top-flight engineer would not have understood. And stop bragging so much, it makes you look petty.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    , @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    very old statistician wrote to me:


    You poor poor loser, you are lying at a simple grammatical level about what you claimed to say.
     
    Our exchange started when you slimed a great physicist, who happens to be a former teacher of mine, with no basis at all for your sliming.

    A reasonable person could fairly say that you lied when you stated a falsehood about Steve Weinberg, although I prefer to say that you are so incredibly stupid that you cannot tell truth from falsehood.

    But you then accuse me of lying, without quoting my supposed lie??

    I think it is fair to say that that is indeed a lie.

    You are something else, old man.

    The liar also wrote:

    You can’t back up your claim with an equation (beyond engineer understanding) because you did not understand English well enough to know what you were saying.
    Where does your anger come from?
     
    I am not willing to play your stupid game. I could of course give a large number of equations from Weinberg's work that neither you nor most engineers could understand at all, because you lack a conceptual understanding of the physics behind those equations.

    But I will not play that game. If you want, check out electroweak unification in some reliable reference, and you will find plenty of such equations.

    As to my anger, all my life I have deeply hated pathological liars and con artists. I always will. I think the world would be a better place, a much better place, if they all just dropped dead.

    Does that answer your question?

    Replies: @very old statistician

  67. @That Would Be Telling
    @PhysicistDave


    You give Feynman a bit too much credit
     
    Ah, yeah, he's a big figure in the science for poets world thanks to his two very approachable autobiographies (I love the way he got a reputation for math by solving integrals others' couldn't because he'd learned that on his own and thus had a non-standard tool box) and his role in the Challenger committee. Plus I went to school with his son and got a characteristicly too late offer to work at Thinking Machines. But of course others contributed to the theory; my biggest point which I perhaps didn't get across or as you say gave him too much credit for was the creation of tools used to develop subsequent quantum field theories.

    As for the energy from fission, while only at the poets level, I too had all the pieces to put it together, and as a child of the Cold War with a Civil Defense Block Mother very shortly after I'd realized SCIENCE!!! was my calling, I became a nuclear war survivalist in early grade school and fission and fusion then became interesting and important.

    But it took chapter nine of Rhode's book where it was all made explicit using the liquid drop model of the nucleus. As you say, it happened in that amazing Christmas vacation when Lise Meitner and her nephew Otto Frisch made sense of Otto Hahn's feat of radiochemistry. Pretty amazing when you can get results from a few as 1,000 atoms, that's not a scale in which "normal" chemistry is thought about to the extent I learned it, that was when I realized why it was an important subfield.


    And I have worked with and been friends with the inventor of TTL logic (Jim Buie)
     
    That must have been interesting. I didn't run in those circles, but for a long time TTL was the logic family with which you created all but the fastest computers which used finicky and hot ECL. As Wikipedia says, "TTL was invented in 1961 by James L. Buie of TRW, which declared it, 'particularly suited to the newly developing integrated circuit design technology.'"

    From the late 1960's or so, like the later PDP-8s and the 1970 first PDP-11 till well into the 1980s as VLSI started eating the world, was used for glue chips, is in fact still manufactured and used today. Even with Moore's "Law" operative it took quite some time for single chip CPU densities to get big enough for really serious 32 bit work (that started with the 68000 which was 16 bits on the inside but had a 32 bit macroarchitecture), and they tended to have larger non-recurring engineering costs, limited numbers of foundries so you might have to build your own fab line, unless you used gate arrays, etc.

    That continues to be a very hard field at the bleeding edge, right now TSMC is the only company able to build state of the art chips economically, while Samsung is overpromising and Intel is in its second generation of failure. I heavily used, helped repair, and was involved in the design of a complicated CPU all in TTL. Good times.

    So why the sort of off topic computer stuff above? It's quantum mechanics in the real world, in one of the latest general purpose technologies, and enables the subsequent ones of the Internet and AI, although the latter got its start on vacuum tube computers like the IBM 704.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    That Would Be Telling wrote to me:

    That must have been interesting. I didn’t run in those circles, but for a long time TTL was the logic family with which you created all but the fastest computers which used finicky and hot ECL

    I love ECL. I myself never used TTL and really do not have much of a feel for it.

    I happened by dumb luck to be Jim Buie’s office mate for a year towards the end of his life. He was a very nice guy, never mentioned to me his work on TTL.

    He did teach me how to use “dithering” to increase the resolution of an A/D converter. He also taught me how to take a numerical approach to solving Laplace’s equation that I ran with and dramatically improved.

    Looking back, I think that Jim decided that I was actually smart enough to learn stuff from a very bright old-timer and so went to the effort to help me out. Yet, he came across as sort of your favorite uncle. A great guy.

    My observation has been, by the way, that the people with really noteworthy achievements — Nobel laureates, Jim Buie, Lange — tend to be decent, honorable people, at least in their professional lives. I’ve noticed the same thing about several WW II flyers I have known. I suppose that these guys feel they do not have to “prove anything” and so can just be decent human beings.

    • Thanks: That Would Be Telling
  68. @very old statistician
    @PhysicistDave

    You poor poor loser, you are lying at a simple grammatical level about what you claimed to say. You can't back up your claim with an equation (beyond engineer understanding) because you did not understand English well enough to know what you were saying.
    Where does your anger come from?

    Replies: @very old statistician, @PhysicistDave

    “Pretty please” quote one equation that Weinberg understood that a top-flight engineer would not have understood. And stop bragging so much, it makes you look petty.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    very old statistician wrote with regard to me:


    “Pretty please” quote one equation that Weinberg understood that a top-flight engineer would not have understood. And stop bragging so much, it makes you look petty.
     
    Neither science nor engineering works one equation at a time.

    But I know of no engineer (aside from those like me who started in physics) who fully understands Weinberg's work on electroweak unification.

    But of course I cannot convince you of that, since you have no idea what I am talking about.

    And I am petty. l like being petty when I deal with pompously arrogant ignoramuses.

    What's the point of life if you cannot have some fun?

    Let me be brutally frank: those of us who are good at STEM realize that we have an obligation, if we think we have a clever new idea, to explain our idea to our colleagues and peers in a way that they can understand.

    After all, our oh-so-clever idea may turn out to be wrong: happens even to guys as brilliant as Einstein.

    But jerks like you on the Web have learned how to take parasitic advantage of this admirable trait that any good STEM person possesses, even though you are certainly not our peer or our colleague.

    You make an outrageously ridiculous statement and, when we point out your error, you demand that we prove to your satisfaction that you are wrong, just as if we owe the same obligation to you that we owe to peers and colleagues.

    It's a chump's game, of course. You are so ignorant that no matter how much evidence we present, you will claim that you are not convinced and therefore we lose.

    I have run into this silly game with Young Earth Creationists, with a number of people who think they are philosophers, with one guy who was an advocate of geocentrism, and, again and again, in discussions involving quantum mechanics, such as this discussion with you.

    What is the ethical way to deal with this? I submit that making fun of people like you is eminently fair and reasonable and, indeed, the only sane way to handle you at all.

  69. @Morris39
    @PhysicistDave

    Dave
    It is not my wish to argue for some course of action, I am far from qualified, but rather to point out the situation as it exists IMHO.
    When I say that we do not have practical applications of QM I mean as measured on economic basis or on entropy basis. In other words the proposed process should result in benefits that exceed the costs in (economically) or not violate thermodynamics (entropy) in a working demonstration. That has not happened yet but of course might in the future.

    Read Sabine's posts dated Saturday, February 06, 2021 and Tuesday, August 13, 2019 for example where she explores the state of development of QM based processes which have not as yet reached practical demonstration.

    So that's the beef? For one, assertions are made without explanation for practical examples, b/c that is the zeitgeist. Secondly QM of necessity requires that entropy and time be spontaneously reversible. We have no observable situations of such a thing but it seems accepted as "settled" science. If you can address my points or show that they are not relevant I would like to hear.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave, @Bardon Kaldian

    Morris39 wrote to me:

    Read Sabine’s posts dated Saturday, February 06, 2021 and Tuesday, August 13, 2019 for example where she explores the state of development of QM based processes which have not as yet reached practical demonstration.

    I of course agree with what Sabine says in the two posts you mention.

    But what you fail to understand is that for a very, very long time — probably your entire life unless you are even older than me — there has been very well-established technology based on QM: lasers, NMR/MRI, and, most importantly, semiconductor electronics.

    You seem not to know this.

    Morris39 also wrote:

    Secondly QM of necessity requires that entropy and time be spontaneously reversible.

    You are just wrong about that. QM does not violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics (the law of increasing entropy) any more than Newtonian physics does.

    Somehow, you are getting very, very confused.

    I am sure you would never read a few web articles or a pop-sci book about brain surgery and then conclude that you are actually ready to do brain surgery.

    But lots of guys like you seem to think that you can read a little bit about QM and then proudly declaim as to what QM really says and what its shortcomings are.

    I have spent decades learning about QM — I have a PhD in an area of quantum physics! — and yet I am less sure than you as to what is really going on in QM.

    Perhaps you can see that this is rather odd?

    Or maybe you think you can do brain surgery?

    • Replies: @Morris39
    @PhysicistDave

    I'm retiring from this discussion as your propositions are based entirely on your opinion about my ignorance and confusion but not on what I have advanced.
    For examples you site, all are within existing concepts of classical physics (Maxwell) i.e. interaction of charge distribution in matter , electric and magnetic fields. QM concepts are not needed or provided.
    The salient QM concepts are founded on amplitude probability ( basis for the entire hypothesis), mon locality and quantum states of particles. These concepts apply to particles in prepared states and in small numbers not in the bulk where decoherence ruins things. How do these axioms play into the examples you provide? You have evaded this question by just asserting. These ideas are clever and seductive maybe b/c they are mathematically simple. Quantum states do seem very promising as they promise smaller. faster, less energy demanding devices (computers) however this has not been realized. If /when that is achieved there needs to be a reckoning of total energy needed (entropy) not just inside that particular system to determine if it is in fact a practical solution.
    It is pointless to debate time reversal and entropy as we can just go to the leading experts own statements . Cosmology and QM field equations depend on TR and entropy reversal .

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

  70. @Morris39
    @PhysicistDave

    Dave
    It is not my wish to argue for some course of action, I am far from qualified, but rather to point out the situation as it exists IMHO.
    When I say that we do not have practical applications of QM I mean as measured on economic basis or on entropy basis. In other words the proposed process should result in benefits that exceed the costs in (economically) or not violate thermodynamics (entropy) in a working demonstration. That has not happened yet but of course might in the future.

    Read Sabine's posts dated Saturday, February 06, 2021 and Tuesday, August 13, 2019 for example where she explores the state of development of QM based processes which have not as yet reached practical demonstration.

    So that's the beef? For one, assertions are made without explanation for practical examples, b/c that is the zeitgeist. Secondly QM of necessity requires that entropy and time be spontaneously reversible. We have no observable situations of such a thing but it seems accepted as "settled" science. If you can address my points or show that they are not relevant I would like to hear.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave, @Bardon Kaldian

    When I say that we do not have practical applications of QM I mean as measured on economic basis or on entropy basis.

    ? This is a very strange statement.

    QM is all around us- cars, watches, all types of digital display, wash machines, cell phones, computers…because of lasers, semiconductors, transistors, integrated circuits, electronic (and other types of) microscope, applied superconductivity & supefluidity in various machines, cesium clock .. Everywhere from astronomy to medicine and all kinds of technology.

    A better question would be: where QM is not applied?

  71. @very old statistician
    @very old statistician

    "Pretty please" quote one equation that Weinberg understood that a top-flight engineer would not have understood. And stop bragging so much, it makes you look petty.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    very old statistician wrote with regard to me:

    “Pretty please” quote one equation that Weinberg understood that a top-flight engineer would not have understood. And stop bragging so much, it makes you look petty.

    Neither science nor engineering works one equation at a time.

    But I know of no engineer (aside from those like me who started in physics) who fully understands Weinberg’s work on electroweak unification.

    But of course I cannot convince you of that, since you have no idea what I am talking about.

    And I am petty. l like being petty when I deal with pompously arrogant ignoramuses.

    What’s the point of life if you cannot have some fun?

    Let me be brutally frank: those of us who are good at STEM realize that we have an obligation, if we think we have a clever new idea, to explain our idea to our colleagues and peers in a way that they can understand.

    After all, our oh-so-clever idea may turn out to be wrong: happens even to guys as brilliant as Einstein.

    But jerks like you on the Web have learned how to take parasitic advantage of this admirable trait that any good STEM person possesses, even though you are certainly not our peer or our colleague.

    You make an outrageously ridiculous statement and, when we point out your error, you demand that we prove to your satisfaction that you are wrong, just as if we owe the same obligation to you that we owe to peers and colleagues.

    It’s a chump’s game, of course. You are so ignorant that no matter how much evidence we present, you will claim that you are not convinced and therefore we lose.

    I have run into this silly game with Young Earth Creationists, with a number of people who think they are philosophers, with one guy who was an advocate of geocentrism, and, again and again, in discussions involving quantum mechanics, such as this discussion with you.

    What is the ethical way to deal with this? I submit that making fun of people like you is eminently fair and reasonable and, indeed, the only sane way to handle you at all.

  72. @PhysicistDave
    @Morris39

    Morris39 wrote to me:


    Read Sabine’s posts dated Saturday, February 06, 2021 and Tuesday, August 13, 2019 for example where she explores the state of development of QM based processes which have not as yet reached practical demonstration.
     
    I of course agree with what Sabine says in the two posts you mention.

    But what you fail to understand is that for a very, very long time -- probably your entire life unless you are even older than me -- there has been very well-established technology based on QM: lasers, NMR/MRI, and, most importantly, semiconductor electronics.

    You seem not to know this.

    Morris39 also wrote:

    Secondly QM of necessity requires that entropy and time be spontaneously reversible.
     
    You are just wrong about that. QM does not violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics (the law of increasing entropy) any more than Newtonian physics does.

    Somehow, you are getting very, very confused.

    I am sure you would never read a few web articles or a pop-sci book about brain surgery and then conclude that you are actually ready to do brain surgery.

    But lots of guys like you seem to think that you can read a little bit about QM and then proudly declaim as to what QM really says and what its shortcomings are.

    I have spent decades learning about QM -- I have a PhD in an area of quantum physics! -- and yet I am less sure than you as to what is really going on in QM.

    Perhaps you can see that this is rather odd?

    Or maybe you think you can do brain surgery?

    Replies: @Morris39

    I’m retiring from this discussion as your propositions are based entirely on your opinion about my ignorance and confusion but not on what I have advanced.
    For examples you site, all are within existing concepts of classical physics (Maxwell) i.e. interaction of charge distribution in matter , electric and magnetic fields. QM concepts are not needed or provided.
    The salient QM concepts are founded on amplitude probability ( basis for the entire hypothesis), mon locality and quantum states of particles. These concepts apply to particles in prepared states and in small numbers not in the bulk where decoherence ruins things. How do these axioms play into the examples you provide? You have evaded this question by just asserting. These ideas are clever and seductive maybe b/c they are mathematically simple. Quantum states do seem very promising as they promise smaller. faster, less energy demanding devices (computers) however this has not been realized. If /when that is achieved there needs to be a reckoning of total energy needed (entropy) not just inside that particular system to determine if it is in fact a practical solution.
    It is pointless to debate time reversal and entropy as we can just go to the leading experts own statements . Cosmology and QM field equations depend on TR and entropy reversal .

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    @Morris39

    Morris39 wrote to me:


    For examples you site [lasers, NMR, and semiconductor electronics], all are within existing concepts of classical physics (Maxwell) i.e. interaction of charge distribution in matter , electric and magnetic fields. QM concepts are not needed or provided.
     
    You are simply, incredibly, and dramatically wrong, and I will give you the courtesy of explaining this in a particular case in which I myself have extensive experience: semiconductor electronics.

    Both bipolar and CMOS electronics work because of the nature of what we call "holes": quasiparticles that correspond to an absence of electrons in the valence band.

    Now, classically, electrons of course have a positive mass. One would therefore expect a hole, the absence of an electron to have an effective negative mass. And that is indeed what happens for holes near the bottom of the valence band.

    But, in practice, the holes that actually matter are those near the top of the valence band. And, for quantum mechanical reasons, the electrons near the top of the valence band have effective masses, due to their quantum-mechanical interactions with the lattice, that are negative. Therefore, the absence of one of these electrons, a hole, has an effective positive mass.

    It is this which allows us to treat holes as if they are particles with a positive charge and positive mass. It is all due to quantum mechanics.

    It cannot be explained by classical physics.

    Indeed, the very existence of the valence band, the crucial "band gap" between the valence band and the conduction band... all of that is due to quantum mechanics.

    Without all this, there is no semiconductor electronics.

    You won't care, but anyone who wants to learn about the historic role that quantum physics played in semiconductor physics and, in particular the invention of the transistor, should try reading Riordan and Huddleson's Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age , which is lengthy but surprisingly readable.

    Despite my own knowledge of the physics and the technology, I was surprised at how closely tied the inventors of the transistor were to developments in quantum physics.

    Morris39 also wrote:

    The salient QM concepts are founded on amplitude probability ( basis for the entire hypothesis), mon locality and quantum states of particles. These concepts apply to particles in prepared states and in small numbers not in the bulk where decoherence ruins things. How do these axioms play into the examples you provide? You have evaded this question by just asserting. These ideas are clever and seductive maybe b/c they are mathematically simple.
     
    You are spouting utter nonsense and publicly making a fool of yourself.

    Go to any university library and look at some books on solid-state physics, like this one. Such books are chock full of QM, because quantum mechanics is the basis of solid-state physics.

    Solid-state physics is based in quantum mechanics and has been since the second quarter of the twentieth century.

    Morris39 also wrote:

    I’m retiring from this discussion as your propositions are based entirely on your opinion about my ignorance and confusion but not on what I have advanced.
     
    No, my opinion about your invincible ignorance is based on the quotes from you that I have just given and the fact that I am an actual expert on this stuff: at one point in my career, I was a semiconductor device physicist at a firm that manufactured integrated circuits.

    Morris39 also wrote:

    If /when that is achieved there needs to be a reckoning of total energy needed (entropy) not just inside that particular system to determine if it is in fact a practical solution.
    It is pointless to debate time reversal and entropy as we can just go to the leading experts own statements . Cosmology and QM field equations depend on TR and entropy reversal
     
    I am one of those experts, and I am informing anyone reading this that you have been proven to be a pompous, ignorant fool.

    If anyone wishes more information on all this, I will consider discussing it further. But if anyone insists on arrogantly pretending to knowledge they clearly do not have, I will call them out as an ignorant fool just like you.

    Replies: @very old statistician

  73. @very old statistician
    @very old statistician

    To be fair, I can honestly say that I very much appreciate your contributions, Professor Dave, and I would like you to know that it does not hurt my feelings that I failed to convince you, so far (and probably forever - I do not expect a sincere apology) that I am not one of those "crackpots" who you (rightly, in the case of genuine crackpots) enjoy saying rude things to.

    (I was impressed with the rhetorical skill of the "pretty please" gambit but, on the other hand, the mountebank question - as if under one of these three cups (the reference, in case English is not your native language, is also to Three-Card Monty) there really is a published article by Professor Weinberg with a mistake that either an engineer or genuine colleague could "point out" - was sort of a giveaway that you weren't really trying to rise above your anger, in order to initiate a real conversation among equals).

    Anyway, no matter what, I plan to write a little bit for my very small public in the near future, about the engineer/scientist interplay, and I will probably drop some mention of that into a soon-to-come Amazon review, in case you wish to look for it - probably of one of the recent books of Penrose or Smolin or, after all these years, I might get around to reviewing Derbyshire's classic on the futile hunt for triumph where Riemann himself was baffled - as a token of friendship to you, I shall include these three words, in this order, in the review "material science: pottery".

    Thanks again.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    very old statistician wrote to me:

    there really is a published article by Professor Weinberg with a mistake that either an engineer or genuine colleague could “point out” – was sort of a giveaway that you weren’t really trying to rise above your anger, in order to initiate a real conversation among equals).

    Maybe Steve did make such an error: humans do make mistakes, even brilliant humans.

    So why not tell us what this mistake is?

    Given your behavior thus far, I strongly suspect you just misunderstand what you have read, but maybe not. Of course, Steve would be as prone to error on matters outside of physics (say economics) as any other reasonably intelligent person speaking outside his area of expertise.

    And you and I are not equals,
    not when it comes to physics.

    Just as Michael Phelps and I are not equals when it comes to talking about swimming: quite aside from his phenomenal athletic ability, Phelps of course knows enormously more about the subject of swimming than I do.

  74. @Dr. DoomNGloom
    @PhysicistDave

    Clearly one of the big problems is the use of Taylor expansions that don't converge. Everyone knows this is hoakey, and the work arounds fail non-perturbative systems and with gravity.

    This indicates a representation problem. The neat world of Feynman diagrams can't be quite right. A mathematician friend a more fundamental geometric, rather than numeric integral, representation might be involved in the ultimate solution. I'll have to did up that old paper he showed me.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    Dr. DoomNGloom wrote to me:

    Clearly one of the big problems is the use of Taylor expansions that don’t converge.

    Well, yeah, but you know we physicists have been aware of this for a very, very long time, certainly more than a half century.

    For the electromagnetic and weak interactions, power series expansions work very, very well indeed at reasonable energies. The expansions are probably only “asymptotic” but the first few terms work very, very well.

    And we do have well-known non-perturbative approaches: most obviously, lattice gauge theory.

    So, I am doubtful that this is really a problem.

    On the other hand, the so-called “measurement problem,” which has Sabine upset… I really think there is something important we are missing there.

    • Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom
    @PhysicistDave


    Well, yeah, but you know we physicists have been aware of this for a very, very long time, certainly more than a half century.
     
    That's why I said "clearly. Yes, once you plug in the empirical mass and charge of the electron, the calculations are remarkably precise. Of course that a similar trick doesn't work for gravity has been known for at least half a century. There may be a sound concept behind the subtract an infinity from an infinity and set the residual to the mass of the electron, but it still seems more of a mathematical convenience than a physical description.

    My PhD was on the Strong force, but I did experiment not theory. When I was active, the calculations were sort of "meh", they may be better now.

    The measurement problem gets at some serious quantum weirdness, and leads to entanglement . This elicits the "just calculate" response.

    And that ,reminds me of the joke about Schrodinger and Heisenberg tooling down the highway at high speed. A cop pulls them over, he asks the driver (Schrodinger)

    Cop: "do you know how fast you were going?
    Schrodinger responds "I have no idea, but i know exactly where I am",

    The cop thinks this is strange so he decides to search the car for the illicit substances that might or might not be in use.

    Opening the trunk, the cop discovers a horrible stench.

    Cop "Ew, Do you know there's a dead cat in you trunk?"
    Heisenberg responds "I do now!"
  75. Well, I am a friend of a friend of Sakharov’s, and I helped out one of the greatest linear algebraists of our time with his ground-breaking textbook.

    But all I ever do is claim to be a talented statistician who understands what engineers and scientists do.
    You go on being you, keep on bullying people who ask you for an equation when you say (Nah, bro, I ain’t able to do that).

    You ASKED ME FOR ONE, PRETTY PLEASE, ONE MISTAKE, and I asked you for ONE EQUATION.

    I said there were no PUBLISHED MISTAKES, and I referenced a fundamental misunderstanding that you referenced, and you you said “I am basically Michael Phelps, ” and “I do not have to respond to you.” And you lied about the importance of stand-alone equations (if you did not lie u are obviously faking about your alleged competence.)

    You lost. Go away. Don’t ever make fun of your betters again.

  76. @very old statistician
    @PhysicistDave

    Well, I am a friend of a friend of Sakharov's, and I helped out one of the greatest linear algebraists of our time with his ground-breaking textbook.

    But you go on being you.

    You ASKED ME FOR ONE, PRETTY PLEASE, ONE MISTAKE, and I asked you for ONE EQUATION.

    I said there were no PUBLISHED MISTAKES, you said "I am basically Michael Phelps, " and do not have to respond to you.

    Go away. Don't ever make fun of your betters again.

    Replies: @very old statistician

    Steve – that was a little harsh. Let Dave have the last word, Once again, Please don’t publish it (for the record, Sakharov had no idea who I was, but the linear algebra guy – he never checks in on the internet, but he would be so so on my side …..)

  77. @Morris39
    @PhysicistDave

    I'm retiring from this discussion as your propositions are based entirely on your opinion about my ignorance and confusion but not on what I have advanced.
    For examples you site, all are within existing concepts of classical physics (Maxwell) i.e. interaction of charge distribution in matter , electric and magnetic fields. QM concepts are not needed or provided.
    The salient QM concepts are founded on amplitude probability ( basis for the entire hypothesis), mon locality and quantum states of particles. These concepts apply to particles in prepared states and in small numbers not in the bulk where decoherence ruins things. How do these axioms play into the examples you provide? You have evaded this question by just asserting. These ideas are clever and seductive maybe b/c they are mathematically simple. Quantum states do seem very promising as they promise smaller. faster, less energy demanding devices (computers) however this has not been realized. If /when that is achieved there needs to be a reckoning of total energy needed (entropy) not just inside that particular system to determine if it is in fact a practical solution.
    It is pointless to debate time reversal and entropy as we can just go to the leading experts own statements . Cosmology and QM field equations depend on TR and entropy reversal .

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    Morris39 wrote to me:

    For examples you site [lasers, NMR, and semiconductor electronics], all are within existing concepts of classical physics (Maxwell) i.e. interaction of charge distribution in matter , electric and magnetic fields. QM concepts are not needed or provided.

    You are simply, incredibly, and dramatically wrong, and I will give you the courtesy of explaining this in a particular case in which I myself have extensive experience: semiconductor electronics.

    Both bipolar and CMOS electronics work because of the nature of what we call “holes”: quasiparticles that correspond to an absence of electrons in the valence band.

    Now, classically, electrons of course have a positive mass. One would therefore expect a hole, the absence of an electron to have an effective negative mass. And that is indeed what happens for holes near the bottom of the valence band.

    But, in practice, the holes that actually matter are those near the top of the valence band. And, for quantum mechanical reasons, the electrons near the top of the valence band have effective masses, due to their quantum-mechanical interactions with the lattice, that are negative. Therefore, the absence of one of these electrons, a hole, has an effective positive mass.

    It is this which allows us to treat holes as if they are particles with a positive charge and positive mass. It is all due to quantum mechanics.

    It cannot be explained by classical physics.

    Indeed, the very existence of the valence band, the crucial “band gap” between the valence band and the conduction band… all of that is due to quantum mechanics.

    Without all this, there is no semiconductor electronics.

    You won’t care, but anyone who wants to learn about the historic role that quantum physics played in semiconductor physics and, in particular the invention of the transistor, should try reading Riordan and Huddleson’s Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age , which is lengthy but surprisingly readable.

    Despite my own knowledge of the physics and the technology, I was surprised at how closely tied the inventors of the transistor were to developments in quantum physics.

    Morris39 also wrote:

    The salient QM concepts are founded on amplitude probability ( basis for the entire hypothesis), mon locality and quantum states of particles. These concepts apply to particles in prepared states and in small numbers not in the bulk where decoherence ruins things. How do these axioms play into the examples you provide? You have evaded this question by just asserting. These ideas are clever and seductive maybe b/c they are mathematically simple.

    You are spouting utter nonsense and publicly making a fool of yourself.

    Go to any university library and look at some books on solid-state physics, like this one. Such books are chock full of QM, because quantum mechanics is the basis of solid-state physics.

    Solid-state physics is based in quantum mechanics and has been since the second quarter of the twentieth century.

    Morris39 also wrote:

    I’m retiring from this discussion as your propositions are based entirely on your opinion about my ignorance and confusion but not on what I have advanced.

    No, my opinion about your invincible ignorance is based on the quotes from you that I have just given and the fact that I am an actual expert on this stuff: at one point in my career, I was a semiconductor device physicist at a firm that manufactured integrated circuits.

    Morris39 also wrote:

    If /when that is achieved there needs to be a reckoning of total energy needed (entropy) not just inside that particular system to determine if it is in fact a practical solution.
    It is pointless to debate time reversal and entropy as we can just go to the leading experts own statements . Cosmology and QM field equations depend on TR and entropy reversal

    I am one of those experts, and I am informing anyone reading this that you have been proven to be a pompous, ignorant fool.

    If anyone wishes more information on all this, I will consider discussing it further. But if anyone insists on arrogantly pretending to knowledge they clearly do not have, I will call them out as an ignorant fool just like you.

    • Replies: @very old statistician
    @PhysicistDave

    Me: "Pompous Dave, show me an equation you understand that a top-flight engineer would not understand"

    Dave "I can't"

    Me " "You lost the argument, fool"

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

  78. @PhysicistDave
    @Morris39

    Morris39 wrote to me:


    For examples you site [lasers, NMR, and semiconductor electronics], all are within existing concepts of classical physics (Maxwell) i.e. interaction of charge distribution in matter , electric and magnetic fields. QM concepts are not needed or provided.
     
    You are simply, incredibly, and dramatically wrong, and I will give you the courtesy of explaining this in a particular case in which I myself have extensive experience: semiconductor electronics.

    Both bipolar and CMOS electronics work because of the nature of what we call "holes": quasiparticles that correspond to an absence of electrons in the valence band.

    Now, classically, electrons of course have a positive mass. One would therefore expect a hole, the absence of an electron to have an effective negative mass. And that is indeed what happens for holes near the bottom of the valence band.

    But, in practice, the holes that actually matter are those near the top of the valence band. And, for quantum mechanical reasons, the electrons near the top of the valence band have effective masses, due to their quantum-mechanical interactions with the lattice, that are negative. Therefore, the absence of one of these electrons, a hole, has an effective positive mass.

    It is this which allows us to treat holes as if they are particles with a positive charge and positive mass. It is all due to quantum mechanics.

    It cannot be explained by classical physics.

    Indeed, the very existence of the valence band, the crucial "band gap" between the valence band and the conduction band... all of that is due to quantum mechanics.

    Without all this, there is no semiconductor electronics.

    You won't care, but anyone who wants to learn about the historic role that quantum physics played in semiconductor physics and, in particular the invention of the transistor, should try reading Riordan and Huddleson's Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age , which is lengthy but surprisingly readable.

    Despite my own knowledge of the physics and the technology, I was surprised at how closely tied the inventors of the transistor were to developments in quantum physics.

    Morris39 also wrote:

    The salient QM concepts are founded on amplitude probability ( basis for the entire hypothesis), mon locality and quantum states of particles. These concepts apply to particles in prepared states and in small numbers not in the bulk where decoherence ruins things. How do these axioms play into the examples you provide? You have evaded this question by just asserting. These ideas are clever and seductive maybe b/c they are mathematically simple.
     
    You are spouting utter nonsense and publicly making a fool of yourself.

    Go to any university library and look at some books on solid-state physics, like this one. Such books are chock full of QM, because quantum mechanics is the basis of solid-state physics.

    Solid-state physics is based in quantum mechanics and has been since the second quarter of the twentieth century.

    Morris39 also wrote:

    I’m retiring from this discussion as your propositions are based entirely on your opinion about my ignorance and confusion but not on what I have advanced.
     
    No, my opinion about your invincible ignorance is based on the quotes from you that I have just given and the fact that I am an actual expert on this stuff: at one point in my career, I was a semiconductor device physicist at a firm that manufactured integrated circuits.

    Morris39 also wrote:

    If /when that is achieved there needs to be a reckoning of total energy needed (entropy) not just inside that particular system to determine if it is in fact a practical solution.
    It is pointless to debate time reversal and entropy as we can just go to the leading experts own statements . Cosmology and QM field equations depend on TR and entropy reversal
     
    I am one of those experts, and I am informing anyone reading this that you have been proven to be a pompous, ignorant fool.

    If anyone wishes more information on all this, I will consider discussing it further. But if anyone insists on arrogantly pretending to knowledge they clearly do not have, I will call them out as an ignorant fool just like you.

    Replies: @very old statistician

    Me: “Pompous Dave, show me an equation you understand that a top-flight engineer would not understand”

    Dave “I can’t”

    Me ” “You lost the argument, fool”

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    A pathological liar wrote to me:


    Me: “Pompous Dave, show me an equation you understand that a top-flight engineer would not understand”

    Dave “I can’t”

    Me ” “You lost the argument, fool”

     

    It is dishonest to attribute to me in quotation marks words I did not say.

    You and I are not having an argument that can be won or lost.

    I do not respect you enough to argue with you. I have contempt for you.

    You are a pathological liar and I am exposing you publicly for what you are

    Not an argument, just a public exposé.
  79. @very old statistician
    @PhysicistDave

    You poor poor loser, you are lying at a simple grammatical level about what you claimed to say. You can't back up your claim with an equation (beyond engineer understanding) because you did not understand English well enough to know what you were saying.
    Where does your anger come from?

    Replies: @very old statistician, @PhysicistDave

    very old statistician wrote to me:

    You poor poor loser, you are lying at a simple grammatical level about what you claimed to say.

    Our exchange started when you slimed a great physicist, who happens to be a former teacher of mine, with no basis at all for your sliming.

    A reasonable person could fairly say that you lied when you stated a falsehood about Steve Weinberg, although I prefer to say that you are so incredibly stupid that you cannot tell truth from falsehood.

    But you then accuse me of lying, without quoting my supposed lie??

    I think it is fair to say that that is indeed a lie.

    You are something else, old man.

    The liar also wrote:

    You can’t back up your claim with an equation (beyond engineer understanding) because you did not understand English well enough to know what you were saying.
    Where does your anger come from?

    I am not willing to play your stupid game. I could of course give a large number of equations from Weinberg’s work that neither you nor most engineers could understand at all, because you lack a conceptual understanding of the physics behind those equations.

    But I will not play that game. If you want, check out electroweak unification in some reliable reference, and you will find plenty of such equations.

    As to my anger, all my life I have deeply hated pathological liars and con artists. I always will. I think the world would be a better place, a much better place, if they all just dropped dead.

    Does that answer your question?

    • Replies: @very old statistician
    @PhysicistDave

    Your supposed lie was your backtracking from your claim to have pointed out to Weinberg that he missed, in a "fairly simple-minded conversation" a basic fact (you claimed) "that had never occurred to Steve", followed by your claim that I "had no absolutely idea" what I was talking about when I said an engineer would have picked up on the basic fact you claim to have pointed out to Weinberg, to whom the idea had never occurred (I was talking about top-level engineers who would be making applications - above your level and my level, of course).

    I asked you for an equation and you refused "to play that game."

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

  80. @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    very old statistician wrote to me:


    You poor poor loser, you are lying at a simple grammatical level about what you claimed to say.
     
    Our exchange started when you slimed a great physicist, who happens to be a former teacher of mine, with no basis at all for your sliming.

    A reasonable person could fairly say that you lied when you stated a falsehood about Steve Weinberg, although I prefer to say that you are so incredibly stupid that you cannot tell truth from falsehood.

    But you then accuse me of lying, without quoting my supposed lie??

    I think it is fair to say that that is indeed a lie.

    You are something else, old man.

    The liar also wrote:

    You can’t back up your claim with an equation (beyond engineer understanding) because you did not understand English well enough to know what you were saying.
    Where does your anger come from?
     
    I am not willing to play your stupid game. I could of course give a large number of equations from Weinberg's work that neither you nor most engineers could understand at all, because you lack a conceptual understanding of the physics behind those equations.

    But I will not play that game. If you want, check out electroweak unification in some reliable reference, and you will find plenty of such equations.

    As to my anger, all my life I have deeply hated pathological liars and con artists. I always will. I think the world would be a better place, a much better place, if they all just dropped dead.

    Does that answer your question?

    Replies: @very old statistician

    Your supposed lie was your backtracking from your claim to have pointed out to Weinberg that he missed, in a “fairly simple-minded conversation” a basic fact (you claimed) “that had never occurred to Steve”, followed by your claim that I “had no absolutely idea” what I was talking about when I said an engineer would have picked up on the basic fact you claim to have pointed out to Weinberg, to whom the idea had never occurred (I was talking about top-level engineers who would be making applications – above your level and my level, of course).

    I asked you for an equation and you refused “to play that game.”

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    The old liar wrote to me:, referring to:


    your claim that I “had no absolutely idea” what I was talking about when I said an engineer would have picked up on the basic fact you claim to have pointed out to Weinberg, to whom the idea had never occurred
     
    Exactly. It was a basic fact for anyone who understood relativistic quantum field theory. I have never met an engineer who understands relativistic quantum field theory, except for people like me who started in physics of course.

    The pathological liar also wrote:

    I asked you for an equation and you refused “to play that game.”
     
    Indeed, because your game is idiotic: physics and engineering do not work with one isolated equation separated from the larger context.

    In any case, you are the one making a claim that is, on the face of it, truly bizarre: i.e., that the work of one of the top physicists of the last half of the twentieth century is the sort of work that engineers are called upon to do. You have accused me of lying without quoting my supposed lie. I will quote the idiotic statement that you said initially:

    Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists – in such a world the poor old man was a great physicist.

     

    No one with any knowledge of physics or engineering would say that: engineers are "called on" to solve the problem of electroweak unification that Weinberg solved.

    You, or anyone else, can do a bit of research on the Web and find out that electroweak unification is not the sort of problem that engineers are called upon to solve!

    Why are you making a fool of yourself in public like this?

    Really -- why?

    You know that I have a PhD in the field Weinberg did his work in and that I studied under Weinberg. You know that I have worked in engineering and am actually co-inventor on various patents in engineering.

    So, surely you are sane enough to know that I can judge, much, much better than you, whether or not Weinberg's work on electroweak unification is the sort of problem engineers are called upon to solve!

    On second thought, no, I guess you are not same enough.
  81. Your supposed lie was your backtracking from your claim to have pointed out to Weinberg that he missed, in a “fairly simple-minded conversation” a basic fact (you claimed) “that had never occurred to Steve”, followed by your claim that I “had no absolutely idea” what I was talking about when I said an engineer would have picked up on the basic fact you claim to have pointed out to Weinberg, to whom, according to you, the idea had never occurred (I was talking about top-level engineers who would be making applications – above your engineering level and my engineering level, of course).

    I asked you for an equation and you refused “to play that game,” claiming that the “conceptual background” prevented you from doing so. Then you expressed hatred for people you consider to be “con-artists”, apparently believing that someone who dares to rank Weinberg against other physicists must be a “con-artist” …..

    I think you are not very skilled at communication, plus not very nice.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    @very old statistician

    An old liar wrote to me:


    I think you are not very skilled at communication, plus not very nice.
     
    I am not very nice at all to pathological liars and con artists.

    On the contrary, I hate them deeply and hope that profoundly horrible things happen to them.

    Improve the species and make the planet a better place to live!
  82. @Bardon Kaldian
    @PhysicistDave


    What many scientists will claim, however, is that people who claim to have definitive answers to such questions — whether “religious” or “metaphysical” — do not have good reasons or evidence to back up their claims.
     
    Here is the difference: no, most physicists (an other "natural scientists", as well as ordinary, normal people) simply avoid the real, disturbing stuff. Consciousness, as a "problem", is basically something tackled within a naturalist/physicalist world-view (which is understandable), but those things that imply fundamental alteration of such a world view are ignored.

    For instance, such a trivial thing as precognition. I've had 3 precognitive dreams that proved to be true- basically, I've dreamed about unimportant things that happened the next day or two weeks after the dream. And they had nothing to do with my action or inaction. Most people have had such events in their lives, but tend to dismiss them. It is understandable, because it could, at least, imply the existence of some "deeper" underlying reality.

    Then, there is, some call it "cosmic joke", while C.G.Jung called it synchronicity & interpreted it as some acausal connection (while the term "super-causal" would be more appropriate).

    An illustration is this (only one among many):

    A  certain  M.  Deschamps,  when  a  boy  in  Orleans,  was  once  given  a piece  of plum-pudding by a  M. de Fortgibu. Ten  years later he discovered another plum-pudding  in a Paris restaurant, and  asked if he could  have a piece. It turned out,  however,  that  the  plum-pudding  was already  ordered— by  M.  de Fortgibu. Many  years  afterwards  M. Deschamps was invited  to  partake of a plum-pudding as a  special rarity. While  he was eating it he remarked that  the  only  thing lacking was M. de Fortgibu. At that  moment the  door opened  and an old, old man in the last stages  of disorientation walked  in: M. de  Fortgibu, who had got hold of the wrong address  and burst in on the party by mistake.
     
    What scientists do is that they tend to dismiss such things as either fictions, lies or anecdotal unrepeatable stuff. This may be the case on many occasions- but in a non-negligible number of cases- not.

    There are numerous other areas, but some of them point to old world-view of Plato & comp: we live a perceptually limited existence, while there is much more, and while we are getting, now & then, signs of that "more" - we mostly ignore such things, relegating them to projections or fictions.

    Or, what old boys of yore used to say- we are not human beings having, sometimes, "spiritual" experience. We are "spiritual" beings, having, for the time being, a human experience.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    Bardon Kaldian wrote to me:

    What scientists do is that they tend to dismiss such things as either fictions, lies or anecdotal unrepeatable stuff. This may be the case on many occasions- but in a non-negligible number of cases- not.

    Well… seems to me that it always is ” fictions, lies or anecdotal unrepeatable stuff.”

    After all, if it were “repeatable,” you could indeed repeat it and thereby get the attention of us scientists!

    You are of course correct that we scientists have trouble dealing with phenomena that are not verifiable, repeatable, or quantifiable.

    But so does everyone else.

    People believe in all sorts of things that other people think are nonsense since the claims are not repeatable, verifiable, or quantifiable. Just get pious Christians, Muslims, and Hindus together and urge them to present what they “know” to be true based on their religious commitments!

    BK also wrote:

    There are numerous other areas, but some of them point to old world-view of Plato & comp: we live a perceptually limited existence, while there is much more, and while we are getting, now & then, signs of that “more” – we mostly ignore such things, relegating them to projections or fictions.

    Well, you know, scientific instrumentation, for more than four centuries, has allowed us to extend our perception far, far beyond our natural senses. I’m not sure that we scientists are as limited in our perception as you imply.

    Perhaps the real issue here comes from your earlier comment in which you described as a “witty, but ultimately dumb statement.” Steve’s claim that “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.”

    On the contrary, Steve was just accurately summarizing the results of modern science.

    In Aristotle’s time, it seemed reasonable to think that heavy objects fall because they are pursuing their purpose of trying to achieve their natural position at the center of the earth.

    After Galileo and Newton, that no longer made sense.

    As late as 1800, it seemed natural to think that an acorn is somehow trying to become an oak tree, that the purpose of the heart is to pump blood, that plants are trying to grow upwards towards the light.

    After Darwin, and especially in the wake of modern biochemistry and molecular biology, those are, at best, anthropomorphic metaphors.

    The heart does indeed pump blood, but it does so because blind developmental processes, ultimately controlled by genes, physically cause it to do so.

    Isn’t that just miraculous?

    No. Random mutations produced changes in structure, some of which produced hearts that made organisms more likely to survive and procreate, most of which made organisms less likely to survive and procreate. Obviously, the former mutations were more likely to be passed on.

    That’s all. That is the only sense in which the “purpose” of the heart is to pump blood.

    Prior to the rise of modern science, “purpose” and “meaning” seemed to be not merely a matter of human or divine motives but rather “purpose” and “meaning” seemed, quite obviously, to be deeply embedded in natural phenomena.

    That is no longer true.

    Steve was just pithily summarizing that enormous transformation in how we understand reality.

    Most people have not fully grasped this, largely because most people understand very little about science.

    Can we completely rule out, say, some sort of divine purpose?

    No, but the sort of purpose that used to be seen as embodied in everyday natural phenomena is gone. Steve was right about that.

    • Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom
    @PhysicistDave


    Solid-state physics is based in quantum mechanics and has been since the second quarter of the twentieth century.
     
    Einstein received his PhD for the photoelectric effect rather than relativity or Brownian motion. At the time, the Nobel committee was reluctant to award more theoretical work, so even Hubble's confirmation of how light bends in a gravity field didn't seem consequential enough.

    The photoelectric effect, however, resolved the problem of ultraviolet catastrophe of blackbody radiation. This is a macroscopically visible manifestation of a QM phenomenon.

    Not only is all solid state physics based on QM, the actual behavior of the vacuum tube relies on QM effects of thermionic emission.

    There are a number of speculations and interpretations of QM that have little practical use, but harnessing of QM made the 20th century economy.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

  83. @PhysicistDave
    @Dr. DoomNGloom

    Dr. DoomNGloom wrote to me:


    Clearly one of the big problems is the use of Taylor expansions that don’t converge.
     
    Well, yeah, but you know we physicists have been aware of this for a very, very long time, certainly more than a half century.

    For the electromagnetic and weak interactions, power series expansions work very, very well indeed at reasonable energies. The expansions are probably only "asymptotic" but the first few terms work very, very well.

    And we do have well-known non-perturbative approaches: most obviously, lattice gauge theory.

    So, I am doubtful that this is really a problem.

    On the other hand, the so-called "measurement problem," which has Sabine upset... I really think there is something important we are missing there.

    Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom

    Well, yeah, but you know we physicists have been aware of this for a very, very long time, certainly more than a half century.

    That’s why I said “clearly. Yes, once you plug in the empirical mass and charge of the electron, the calculations are remarkably precise. Of course that a similar trick doesn’t work for gravity has been known for at least half a century. There may be a sound concept behind the subtract an infinity from an infinity and set the residual to the mass of the electron, but it still seems more of a mathematical convenience than a physical description.

    My PhD was on the Strong force, but I did experiment not theory. When I was active, the calculations were sort of “meh”, they may be better now.

    The measurement problem gets at some serious quantum weirdness, and leads to entanglement . This elicits the “just calculate” response.

    And that ,reminds me of the joke about Schrodinger and Heisenberg tooling down the highway at high speed. A cop pulls them over, he asks the driver (Schrodinger)

    Cop: “do you know how fast you were going?
    Schrodinger responds “I have no idea, but i know exactly where I am”,

    The cop thinks this is strange so he decides to search the car for the illicit substances that might or might not be in use.

    Opening the trunk, the cop discovers a horrible stench.

    Cop “Ew, Do you know there’s a dead cat in you trunk?”
    Heisenberg responds “I do now!”

    • Thanks: That Would Be Telling
  84. @PhysicistDave
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Bardon Kaldian wrote to me:


    What scientists do is that they tend to dismiss such things as either fictions, lies or anecdotal unrepeatable stuff. This may be the case on many occasions- but in a non-negligible number of cases- not.
     
    Well... seems to me that it always is " fictions, lies or anecdotal unrepeatable stuff."

    After all, if it were "repeatable," you could indeed repeat it and thereby get the attention of us scientists!

    You are of course correct that we scientists have trouble dealing with phenomena that are not verifiable, repeatable, or quantifiable.

    But so does everyone else.

    People believe in all sorts of things that other people think are nonsense since the claims are not repeatable, verifiable, or quantifiable. Just get pious Christians, Muslims, and Hindus together and urge them to present what they "know" to be true based on their religious commitments!

    BK also wrote:

    There are numerous other areas, but some of them point to old world-view of Plato & comp: we live a perceptually limited existence, while there is much more, and while we are getting, now & then, signs of that “more” – we mostly ignore such things, relegating them to projections or fictions.
     
    Well, you know, scientific instrumentation, for more than four centuries, has allowed us to extend our perception far, far beyond our natural senses. I'm not sure that we scientists are as limited in our perception as you imply.

    Perhaps the real issue here comes from your earlier comment in which you described as a "witty, but ultimately dumb statement." Steve's claim that “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless."

    On the contrary, Steve was just accurately summarizing the results of modern science.

    In Aristotle's time, it seemed reasonable to think that heavy objects fall because they are pursuing their purpose of trying to achieve their natural position at the center of the earth.

    After Galileo and Newton, that no longer made sense.

    As late as 1800, it seemed natural to think that an acorn is somehow trying to become an oak tree, that the purpose of the heart is to pump blood, that plants are trying to grow upwards towards the light.

    After Darwin, and especially in the wake of modern biochemistry and molecular biology, those are, at best, anthropomorphic metaphors.

    The heart does indeed pump blood, but it does so because blind developmental processes, ultimately controlled by genes, physically cause it to do so.

    Isn't that just miraculous?

    No. Random mutations produced changes in structure, some of which produced hearts that made organisms more likely to survive and procreate, most of which made organisms less likely to survive and procreate. Obviously, the former mutations were more likely to be passed on.

    That's all. That is the only sense in which the "purpose" of the heart is to pump blood.

    Prior to the rise of modern science, "purpose" and "meaning" seemed to be not merely a matter of human or divine motives but rather "purpose" and "meaning" seemed, quite obviously, to be deeply embedded in natural phenomena.

    That is no longer true.

    Steve was just pithily summarizing that enormous transformation in how we understand reality.

    Most people have not fully grasped this, largely because most people understand very little about science.

    Can we completely rule out, say, some sort of divine purpose?

    No, but the sort of purpose that used to be seen as embodied in everyday natural phenomena is gone. Steve was right about that.

    Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom

    Solid-state physics is based in quantum mechanics and has been since the second quarter of the twentieth century.

    Einstein received his PhD for the photoelectric effect rather than relativity or Brownian motion. At the time, the Nobel committee was reluctant to award more theoretical work, so even Hubble’s confirmation of how light bends in a gravity field didn’t seem consequential enough.

    The photoelectric effect, however, resolved the problem of ultraviolet catastrophe of blackbody radiation. This is a macroscopically visible manifestation of a QM phenomenon.

    Not only is all solid state physics based on QM, the actual behavior of the vacuum tube relies on QM effects of thermionic emission.

    There are a number of speculations and interpretations of QM that have little practical use, but harnessing of QM made the 20th century economy.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    @Dr. DoomNGloom

    Dr. DoomNGloom wrote to me:


    The photoelectric effect, however, resolved the problem of ultraviolet catastrophe of blackbody radiation. This is a macroscopically visible manifestation of a QM phenomenon.
     
    That's not quite right. It is Planck's original work in 1900 on black-body radiation that resolved the UV catastrophe.

    By the way, resolving the UV catastrophe seems not to have been how Planck was thinking about his work: he seems to simply have been trying to fit the experimental data.

    Dr DnG also wrote:

    Not only is all solid state physics based on QM, the actual behavior of the vacuum tube relies on QM effects of thermionic emission.
     
    I'm not sure I take your point: is thermionic emission really a quantum effect? In some sense, I suppose that everything -- from ordinary chemistry to the existence of metals -- is a quantum effect, but I think you have something more specific in mind.

    Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom

  85. @very old statistician
    @PhysicistDave

    Your supposed lie was your backtracking from your claim to have pointed out to Weinberg that he missed, in a "fairly simple-minded conversation" a basic fact (you claimed) "that had never occurred to Steve", followed by your claim that I "had no absolutely idea" what I was talking about when I said an engineer would have picked up on the basic fact you claim to have pointed out to Weinberg, to whom the idea had never occurred (I was talking about top-level engineers who would be making applications - above your level and my level, of course).

    I asked you for an equation and you refused "to play that game."

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    The old liar wrote to me:, referring to:

    your claim that I “had no absolutely idea” what I was talking about when I said an engineer would have picked up on the basic fact you claim to have pointed out to Weinberg, to whom the idea had never occurred

    Exactly. It was a basic fact for anyone who understood relativistic quantum field theory. I have never met an engineer who understands relativistic quantum field theory, except for people like me who started in physics of course.

    The pathological liar also wrote:

    I asked you for an equation and you refused “to play that game.”

    Indeed, because your game is idiotic: physics and engineering do not work with one isolated equation separated from the larger context.

    In any case, you are the one making a claim that is, on the face of it, truly bizarre: i.e., that the work of one of the top physicists of the last half of the twentieth century is the sort of work that engineers are called upon to do. You have accused me of lying without quoting my supposed lie. I will quote the idiotic statement that you said initially:

    Undoubtedly, in a world where engineers are called on to solve the sort of problems Weinberg made so much of his reputation on solving are considered to be great physicists – in such a world the poor old man was a great physicist.

    No one with any knowledge of physics or engineering would say that: engineers are “called on” to solve the problem of electroweak unification that Weinberg solved.

    You, or anyone else, can do a bit of research on the Web and find out that electroweak unification is not the sort of problem that engineers are called upon to solve!

    Why are you making a fool of yourself in public like this?

    Really — why?

    You know that I have a PhD in the field Weinberg did his work in and that I studied under Weinberg. You know that I have worked in engineering and am actually co-inventor on various patents in engineering.

    So, surely you are sane enough to know that I can judge, much, much better than you, whether or not Weinberg’s work on electroweak unification is the sort of problem engineers are called upon to solve!

    On second thought, no, I guess you are not same enough.

  86. @very old statistician
    Your supposed lie was your backtracking from your claim to have pointed out to Weinberg that he missed, in a "fairly simple-minded conversation" a basic fact (you claimed) "that had never occurred to Steve", followed by your claim that I "had no absolutely idea" what I was talking about when I said an engineer would have picked up on the basic fact you claim to have pointed out to Weinberg, to whom, according to you, the idea had never occurred (I was talking about top-level engineers who would be making applications - above your engineering level and my engineering level, of course).

    I asked you for an equation and you refused "to play that game," claiming that the "conceptual background" prevented you from doing so. Then you expressed hatred for people you consider to be "con-artists", apparently believing that someone who dares to rank Weinberg against other physicists must be a "con-artist" .....

    I think you are not very skilled at communication, plus not very nice.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    An old liar wrote to me:

    I think you are not very skilled at communication, plus not very nice.

    I am not very nice at all to pathological liars and con artists.

    On the contrary, I hate them deeply and hope that profoundly horrible things happen to them.

    Improve the species and make the planet a better place to live!

  87. @very old statistician
    @PhysicistDave

    Me: "Pompous Dave, show me an equation you understand that a top-flight engineer would not understand"

    Dave "I can't"

    Me " "You lost the argument, fool"

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    A pathological liar wrote to me:

    Me: “Pompous Dave, show me an equation you understand that a top-flight engineer would not understand”

    Dave “I can’t”

    Me ” “You lost the argument, fool”

    It is dishonest to attribute to me in quotation marks words I did not say.

    You and I are not having an argument that can be won or lost.

    I do not respect you enough to argue with you. I have contempt for you.

    You are a pathological liar and I am exposing you publicly for what you are

    Not an argument, just a public exposé.

  88. @Dr. DoomNGloom
    @PhysicistDave


    Solid-state physics is based in quantum mechanics and has been since the second quarter of the twentieth century.
     
    Einstein received his PhD for the photoelectric effect rather than relativity or Brownian motion. At the time, the Nobel committee was reluctant to award more theoretical work, so even Hubble's confirmation of how light bends in a gravity field didn't seem consequential enough.

    The photoelectric effect, however, resolved the problem of ultraviolet catastrophe of blackbody radiation. This is a macroscopically visible manifestation of a QM phenomenon.

    Not only is all solid state physics based on QM, the actual behavior of the vacuum tube relies on QM effects of thermionic emission.

    There are a number of speculations and interpretations of QM that have little practical use, but harnessing of QM made the 20th century economy.

    Replies: @PhysicistDave

    Dr. DoomNGloom wrote to me:

    The photoelectric effect, however, resolved the problem of ultraviolet catastrophe of blackbody radiation. This is a macroscopically visible manifestation of a QM phenomenon.

    That’s not quite right. It is Planck’s original work in 1900 on black-body radiation that resolved the UV catastrophe.

    By the way, resolving the UV catastrophe seems not to have been how Planck was thinking about his work: he seems to simply have been trying to fit the experimental data.

    Dr DnG also wrote:

    Not only is all solid state physics based on QM, the actual behavior of the vacuum tube relies on QM effects of thermionic emission.

    I’m not sure I take your point: is thermionic emission really a quantum effect? In some sense, I suppose that everything — from ordinary chemistry to the existence of metals — is a quantum effect, but I think you have something more specific in mind.

    • Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom
    @PhysicistDave

    PhyD commented


    That’s not quite right. It is Planck’s original work in 1900 on black-body radiation that resolved the UV catastrophe.
     
    True. The photoelectric effect solved a different problem. I think I was trying to say that this paper provided the conceptual foundation for thinking about the related problems.

    I’m not sure I take your point: is thermionic emission really a quantum effect?
     
    This was a clumsy allusion to both the photo electric effects and blackbody radiation problems.
    While the, the photo-electric effect probes electron by electron, thermionic emission probes by energy state. The energy states of the electrons are one factor, but as temperatures get high enough it will matter less, so results will approach classical behavior.

    However, IIRC, while you can get thermionic effect with classical electrons, the constants will vary by material. One of the quantum effects is quantum reflection at the metal boundary.

    On reflection, unlike a Zener diode, which uses tunneling, one could build a vacuum tube without any deep understanding of the underlying physics. So it's not the best place to stake the argument

    A more obviously quantum effect is neutron production (cold fusion) from vacuum tubes.

  89. @PhysicistDave
    @Dr. DoomNGloom

    Dr. DoomNGloom wrote to me:


    The photoelectric effect, however, resolved the problem of ultraviolet catastrophe of blackbody radiation. This is a macroscopically visible manifestation of a QM phenomenon.
     
    That's not quite right. It is Planck's original work in 1900 on black-body radiation that resolved the UV catastrophe.

    By the way, resolving the UV catastrophe seems not to have been how Planck was thinking about his work: he seems to simply have been trying to fit the experimental data.

    Dr DnG also wrote:

    Not only is all solid state physics based on QM, the actual behavior of the vacuum tube relies on QM effects of thermionic emission.
     
    I'm not sure I take your point: is thermionic emission really a quantum effect? In some sense, I suppose that everything -- from ordinary chemistry to the existence of metals -- is a quantum effect, but I think you have something more specific in mind.

    Replies: @Dr. DoomNGloom

    PhyD commented

    That’s not quite right. It is Planck’s original work in 1900 on black-body radiation that resolved the UV catastrophe.

    True. The photoelectric effect solved a different problem. I think I was trying to say that this paper provided the conceptual foundation for thinking about the related problems.

    I’m not sure I take your point: is thermionic emission really a quantum effect?

    This was a clumsy allusion to both the photo electric effects and blackbody radiation problems.
    While the, the photo-electric effect probes electron by electron, thermionic emission probes by energy state. The energy states of the electrons are one factor, but as temperatures get high enough it will matter less, so results will approach classical behavior.

    However, IIRC, while you can get thermionic effect with classical electrons, the constants will vary by material. One of the quantum effects is quantum reflection at the metal boundary.

    On reflection, unlike a Zener diode, which uses tunneling, one could build a vacuum tube without any deep understanding of the underlying physics. So it’s not the best place to stake the argument

    A more obviously quantum effect is neutron production (cold fusion) from vacuum tubes.

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