Does The Universe Really Come Down To A Dice Throw

265 magnify

Veracity issues extend beyond the calculations in your equations

Discussion in thin air

Peter, what you’re saying is interesting,” the Physic’s Professor responded, “but we really don’t want to go there?”

“Careful Tony,” Noel interrupted, “You’re patronizing. Don’t you think the boy has a point? I mean, no individual can claim to grasp absolute reality. How do you know the plane of the zodiac is out of synch? In fact, what makes a statement meaningful, anyway? Or, more to the point, how do you ‘know’ anything at all? Veracity issues, as I am sure you are aware, extend beyond the calculations in your equations. I would think that you physicists should be extremely sensitive to reality claims—of all varieties.

“Always the philosopher, eh Noel,” replied Tony.

“Yeah,” I interrupted, “what about the problems in quantum physics? Where is the reality there? I don’t know much, but I do know that at the subatomic level, some things just ain’t right. A couple of other campers and myself, in fact, discussed that subject just a couple of weeks ago. Help me out. What’s the real deal there?”

“Woe fellows,” the English Professor, Stan, said, “you’re about to put old Tony on the spot. Noel, you set this up, so I guess the question now is, ‘What are we going to do with it?’”

“What about mass and energy,” I said, “not to mention cause and effect. What’s going on there? Do they even exist anymore?”

“Of course they do,” Tony replied, “it’s just that we understand them from a slightly different perspective now. Actually, we have two different perspectives, one at the quantum level and one on a larger scale, on the scale of Einstein’s universe. At the quantum level, mass and energy are still in tact; it’s just that their quantification is a bit problematic. Our knowledge of small quantities is restricted. At that level, nature, apparently harbors secrets, but that has nothing to do with whether mass or energy exists. They do, or put more accurately, it does. We don’t want to forget Einstein’s equivalence equation. As far as cause and effect goes, well, again, we can only know it through statistical analysis at the quantum level.”

“What about Einstein?’ I said. “What’s his perspective? What’s he got to say about Virgo?” “I’m sure Peter would like to know?”

“Yeah, what’s the haps there, anyway;” responded Peter, “where does Virgo fit into Einstein’s universe?

“Einstein tells us,” replied Tony, “that the large-scale universe is a curved surface of four dimensions, three of space and one of time. The gravitational force, the force that binds us to the earth, and Virgo to the zodiac, arises from the very structure of that space-time continuum. Many believe, including myself, that mass/energy points will one day be understood as field intensities, and thus as a manifestation of that very same continuum. But that day hasn’t arrived yet. That’s what Einstein wanted to prove. It’s much too big a problem for me, though, but that doesn’t mean that someday somebody else won’t solve it.”

“I guess we’ll just have to wait for another Einstein,” I said.

“Well, maybe,” Noel added, “but Einstein spent thirty good years trying to answer that problem and came up with zilch. I’m afraid those fuzzy little phantoms at the small-scale end of the universe are not going to go away. We would be better off to recognize and accept that. It’s time to move on.”

“Oh, do I smell a snide comment or what?” exclaimed Tony. “Move on to what, to where? I feel we are about to hear a different set of conjectures, never mind that Noel and I have agreed to disagree on this subject before. But, if you must Noel, go ahead, enlighten us.”

What are you guys talking about,” said Peter, “If there’s anything I hate it’s being left out a conversation.”

“Sorry old boy,” replied Tony, “Its just that Noel has this unorthodox way of looking at things. You’ll have to excuse him, though, his genealogy lists an ancestry of university professors and his father, a Philosophy Professor himself, went to Yale back in the ‘40’s and studied under this guy called Ernst Cassirer. Noel likes to bang Cassirer’s drum whenever he gets a chance. Like father, like son, eh Noel!”

“Cassirer, I know that guy,” I said. “He was one of my philosophy teacher’s favorite people. I had to read his books on symbolic form. But what’s he got to do with Einstein?”

“And,” Peter added, “I wouldn’t exactly call him unorthodox. Being German, I can vouch for the guy. I assure you that his work is well respected, at least in my country.”

“Well, before he published his work on symbolic forms,” Tony continued, “he wrote a short piece on Einstein’s Relativity Theory. In it he attempted show how Einstein’s work was an extension, if not a confirmation, of his own epistemology. Is that about right Noel? He even sent the manuscript to Einstein for his comments, but I don’t think the old man was impressed.”

“He published that book, Tony,” responded Noel. “You can check it out of the library if you want too. And Einstein was impressed. It’s just that his stubbornness, his psychological need to prove laws of strict causality, would not allow him to take Cassirer’s epistemology seriously. In fact, that same stubbornness never allowed him to take quantum mechanics seriously. Einstein’s obsession, answering the question—does the universe really come down to a dice throw, albeit by the hand of God—carried him, some might say sent him, to his grave. What a waste!”

“I’m not too sure that’s an accurate description of Einstein,” Tony replied, “ but you’re right, he challenged quantum mechanic’s credibility to the end.”

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One Response to “Does The Universe Really Come Down To A Dice Throw”

  1. wings Says:

    Hello from me and Mrs. B. 🙂
    http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2005/12/27/science/27eins_GRAPIC.html

    I like your blog pic too – it makes me want to go camping.

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