At 12:46 PM 31-05-04 -0500, Neil wrote:
>> >Fundamental determinism has no dependency on our ability to
>> >things, it is based on an orderly progression from one moment to
>> >next. IOW, what makes for fundamental determinism is what each
>> >subatomic entity "determines", not what we determine. HUP does
>> >nothing to restrict an entity from possessing a particular
>> >time/position/momentum in this momentum, and proceeding to another
>> >precise time/position/momentum in the next.
>> All true, yet does not go far enough. HUP is not just a statement
>> ability to measure, it is an observation about a fundamental propery
>Neil2: No, it is a statement about the behavior of some very large
>scale objects, that we normally think of as very small.
That's just not so. HUP applies to /all/ objects, regardless of scale. It
applies to a Neil-size object walking down the street, a Jupiter-object
orbiting the sun, an electron hitting (or not) an anti-electron in a
pseudo-atom of electronium. The scale of HUP is set by the value of h-bar:
We /think/ of it as applying to atoms, nuclei, electrons, because that's
the largest scale at which HUP first dominates "ordinary" physics. But as
things get smaller, the the apparent effect of HUP only increases. Below
the scale of an atom, HUP _is_ the "ordinary" physics, and Keplers laws
fade while Scroedinger becomes the norm.
>a property which affects the behavior of matter whether there's
>> anyone around to see it, or not. One example would be the hydrogen
>> One can think of it (mind u this is an analogy not a proof) as an
>> wandering around in the inverse-square field of a proton, and face
>> question physics faced in 1899: why don't the electrons fall into
>Neil2: Good question. Unfortunately nobody knows what an electron is
>made of, or what quarks are made of. So all anybody can do is watch
>these huge objects (electrons and quarks) do unpredictable things and
>use probability to make some descriptions of their behavior.
Yeah - some extremely _accurate_ statistical descriptions.
>> Teeny little orbits like planets wouldn't serve, because an orbiting
>> electron is a constantly accelerated electron, and Maxwell had
>> shown that an accelerated charge radiates energy (EMR), so such a
>> should spiral in and crash.
>> A later interpretation (post-Heisenberg) is that the electron cannot
>> confined too closely near a proton because that would violate HUP.
>> some sentient observer, but in a sense the "proton" that would
>> electron's momentum x velocity too closely. So as a direct
>> the electron's HUP-shyness, it sits sort of near the proton, neither
>> falling onto it nor circling around it, held there in a little
>> probabilistic cloud by whatever it is that HUP really means.
>> Shroedinger put this on a quantitatively mathematical basis with his
>> equation. The psi term which represents the "wave", has
>> _no_physical_interpretation_. Only the square of psi has, and that
>> interpretation is "the probability of finding the electron in a
>> volume" (the volume over which psi is integrated). The fact that
>> atoms exist, is an example of HUP being an attribute of matter,
>> of "observation" in the sense of a person is looking.
>Neil2: If you define matter as the smallest things we currently know
>of, OK. Problem is, there has to be something a great deal smaller
>that we haven't figured out yet.
I just said that. I also said, HUP will rule smaller things - whatever they
are - even more than it affects "great big" things like electrons. Don't
start groping for a "Deterministic God of the Gaps", you'll look like a
>> >> While we don't know everything about the nature of matter,
>> >> points to this principle being universal, thus if, as, or when
>> >> structures are discovered, they will also be subject to HUP. In
>> >> it will be impossible even in principle to know their momentum x
>> >> or energy x time, below h-bar.
>> >Neil: True, we can never know these things precisely, but
>> >determinism does not rest on our knowledge, it rests on
>> >actions at a the most fundamental level, whatever that turns out to
>> It rests on that and on one other thing...
>> >> Turning to chaos theory, one sees that even small uncertainties
>> >> scale of h-bar) are quickly magnified as real events unfold, to
>> >> predictability (even in principle) to gross statistical analysis
>> >> than specific, deterministic calculations. I see no way to
>> >> universe-as-clockwork from this.
>> >Neil: OK, Grant, you don't see it, and it seems to me that you are
>> >looking for determinism from a human perspective on down. Try to
>> >your mind's eye to the fundamental and build up.
>> One of us isn't seeing it, and i think it's u...
>Neil2: I don't think so Grant, you keep trying to use a probabilistic
>analysis of a large scale object to "prove" what "can't" be happening
>to something that hasn't been observed or modeled yet.
I'm not "using" probabilistic analysis, i'm telling u that the very best
theory we have for how matter behaves at scales below molecules
(Schroedinger), tells us we're /limited/ to probabilistic analysis, because
that's how matter really works. We've only been allowed to think "planets
have orbits" and "billiard balls have trajectories" as long as we've been
confining our observations to stuff so big (larger than molecules), and
measurements so imprecise (under 6 decimal places or so), that HUP can be
But if u want to take a system even as simple as 1000 He atoms in a box,
and "determine" it for as briefly as even a second, you just can't ignore
HUP any more. All chaos theory does, is explain why HUP reaches out of the
atomic scale so fast, to bollix up the larger scale.
>> >Assume, just for a moment, that the Universe is a perfect
>> >and every cog is deterministically engaged with its surrounding
>> Wait. Right there, in that assumption, is your violation of HUP.
>Neil2: No, because HUP applies to large scale objects, not the
Dead wrong. HUP applies to /all/ objects. The smaller the objects, the
greater they are affected by HUP. Of course, physics cannot prove some
small object may be found which violates this so-far universal principle,
in the same sense physics cannot prove God didn't make the Earth some day
in October 4004 BC with all the fossils, photons and radioisotopes
_just_so_, but to me the two suppositions are comparably plausible.
>> assumption already puts us in a different universe than the one we
>> The one we inhabit does not _allow_ perfect little cogs.
>Neil2: Since you don't know what those cogs are, how they operate, or
>how they travel through space, you have no basis for this statement.
I have this basis: no particle in the history of particle physics has been
found to violate HUP, at any scale, under any circumstances. Even empty
space is not immune. Quantum foam is a HUP phenomenon. Your speculation is
wildly out of step with established physics. If u keep this up, you're
gonna have to cross the floor and sit with the YECs! ;)
[snip multiple copies of "does too!" - "does not!"]
>> >So, sadly, we are at base still stuck with philosophical arguments
>> >about fundamental determinism. So I ask, what does fundamental
>> >non-determinism even mean? Action without cause? Things are a
>> >certain way and then all of a sudden something just goes poof for
>> Examples of that abound. "Poof", there goes an atom of Co-60. Now
>> atom of Ni60, and an electron, and a gamma photon.
>Neil2: Again you confuse the actions of electrons, quarks, and
>photons with fundamental actions. These things just are not
>fundamental. They seem to go "poof" because we don't know how they
>work. These things are huge black boxes, and we don't know their
>internal functions, the best we can do is a probabilistic analysis of
>these enormous black boxes. No fundamental "poof" here at all.
>U think there's a way,
>> even in principle, to tell which nucleus is about to pop?
>Neil2: As an observational matter it may be impossible to get to that
>level, I don't know. If, by "in principle"
By "in principle" i mean, whatever that level is, and the 42 levels below
/it/, they /all/ are constrained by HUP. ("Oops - '42' - i shouldn'ta told
ya that" <- lame Hagrid imitation ;)
> you mean do I think that
>the quarks of a nucleus are made up something very much smaller that
>behaves deterministically, and if that deterministic operation could
>somehow be precisely modeled in a closed form solution, would the
>decay then be predictable? Yes.
That would be nice. Unfortunately Schroedinger and Heisenberg tell us "no",
and they've been right more than either of us. Well, more that you, anyway ;))
>One bit of evidence pointing to this is the great regularity of half
>lives. A particular nuclear configuration decays with a particular
>probability. If, at base, it was all just random poof, why would it
>be so regular and so dependant on nuclear configuration?
Look, i too want to say that predictable statistics is underlain by
clockwork. I also want to say there's no cosmic speed limit, and if it were
up to me, electrons would either share the same quantum numbers or give us
a good reason why they don't. The annoying fact is, our common sense simply
has to be checked at the door, if we want the right answers when we go
really small or really fast. Schroedinger rules molecules and below, until
a better theory comes along. And that better theory will absolutely have to
converge to Schroedinger's in the limit, just as QM and GR converge to
Newton in the limit. I know this, because Schroedinger /already/ works.
Heck, it's good enough to explain the whole Periodic Table of the Elements,
ab initio from a proton and an electron.
>Consider a deck of 52 playing cards, fairly shuffled, on a table face
>down. If one turns them over one at a time the order of appearance is
>deterministic, the order is predetermined by the placement which
>already exists. But since I left my X-Ray vision glasses at home, I
>can't predict precisely what card will appear. I can us a very valid
>probabilistic model to analyze the order of appearance of the cards.
>Now let's say I take out all the hearts, reshuffle the deck, and again
>place the deck face down on a table. I still have a deterministic
>order of appearance, but now a different probabilistic model is valid.
>Thus, the validity of the probabilistic model is based upon the black
>box deterministic process of the system.
Sure, we can use analyses like that, but at atomic scale, they're just
analogies. U can call a Co-60 nucleus a bag of nuclear fluid if u want, u
can call a proton a pair of up quarks and a down quark if it makes u feel
better about understanding it, but if u want to do _science_ you have to
get the math right too. And the math will only take u so far in a
commonsense, physical understanding, and no farther. In particular, at no
scale and in no phenomenon or analysis will the math take u lower than HUP.
If u want to think this is a coincidence, fine - the world needs optimists.
Personally, i (and every physicist i ever met) think it's telling us
something about how matter actually works: "Uncertainly".
>U think there's
>> little gears inside, little quarks or strings or even smaller, more
>> fundamental stuff, whose trajectories could in principle be tracked
>> predicted? Not.
>Neil2: Simply saying the word "not" is hardly a substantial argument
>A quark is huge. Strings are still highly speculative at best. A
>gear is just a metaphor which ties into the notion of a universal
As a thought-experiment, have at it, knock yourself out. As a way of saying
"the universe is predictable in principle", it's simply not talking about
_this_ universe. In this universe, not only are the interactions between
particles unpredictable, but u can't even know the exact starting
conditions, below HUP.
>> Why not? Because of HUP. HUP says u can't even track the electron
>> proton, because it's too fuzzy.
>Neil2: Electrons are great big huge black boxes. What is inside the
In fact electrons have never been found to have any structure whatsoever
AFAIK, but if there /is/ something inside, it's subject to HUP too.
>The _electron_ is too fuzzy, not the
>> observations. Even when no one's looking, hydrogen atoms don't
>> And the nucleus is an environment orders of magnitude smaller than a
>> big barn of a hydrogen atom.
>Neil2: Ok, now go down who knows how many orders of magnitude below
>the quarks in the nucleus. Unfortunately, nobody knows what that is.
Every order of magnitude you drop down, HUP becomes even more powerful.
Well, HUP stands still at 1.05456e-034 Js, and u drop farther and farther
into the mists.
>> > Something from nothing? Nothing from something?
>> >Teleportation of something through absolutely nothing at all for no
>Neil2: Nope. Maybe the problem here is that you are a big thinker,
>and I think such small thoughts:-)
>it's called tunneling.
>Neil2: This happens to huge things like electrons, and they don't go
>through nothing at all, they go through space. Tunnels give the
>appearance of things popping from one place to another, but when the
>tunnel is discovered the transportation isn't mysterious anymore.
There is no "tunnel". There is only "here", "there", and an electron,
sharing time between them, notwithstanding a barrier higher than it has
energy to cross. Schroedinger is very good at calculating this.
>By way of another very rough metaphor, I am proposing that the
>electron gets broken down for shipment, transported through something
>called space (not nothing at all), and put back together at the
>Electrons do it. Whole helium atoms do it.
>> Schroedinger's equation tells us how much, how far, how fast, how
>> But not "how", and not "which one"
>Neil2: That's why Schroedinger's equation is so incomplete.
It may be incomplete, but it isn't _wrong_. It already works, quantitatively.
cheers - grant