February 14, 2008
boyd:
> It seems to me that quantum physics is just an admittance that we don't really know what the heck is going on. It's not science, it's philosophy.

Well, we aren't sure what a gravity field is (despite there are few theories for that too), still we can use newtonian laws (with a bit of help from relativistic ones when necessary) to predict certain future parameters of certain physical systems.
Predicting the future is one of main kinds of science.
Quantum physics doesn't know much what's the underlaying metaphysics, but it allows us to make very precise (and very useful in practice) predictions about certain aspects of certain physical systems (sometimes up to 13 digits of precision!) so that's science too ;-)
"Science" doesn't imply understanding everything below the level you experiment too, you can have black boxes too.

Bye,
bearophile
February 14, 2008
"boyd" <gaboonviper@gmx.net> wrote in message news:op.t6i7hhrc1auoiy@company-3328781.home.nl...
> It seems to me that quantum physics is just an admittance that we don't really know what the heck is going on. It's not science, it's philosophy. And the thing about the mind sounds a lot like the main principle of the philosopher Descartes: 'there's only one thing that I can be sure about: I think, therefore I exist'
>
> This isn't proof of the existence of anything. In fact, it's more a theory that nothing can truly be proven. Any proof is based on what we can observe, but we can't be sure that anything we observe actually is.
>
> Greetz,
> Boyd.

You may be right ...but there's no harm in trying then is there?

BTW, since posting this I have discovered that this topic (both pros and cons) is discussed on Wikepedia.  It basically states that this is one interpretation of quantum mechanics, whereas in the link I provided it is communicated as a conclusion.  There are other ideas that attempt to resolve the strangeness of quantum mechanics with the determinism of the macroscopic world.  This particular interpretation is not without problems, but it does have the interesting quality that it concurs with some religious world views.

-Craig


February 14, 2008
"bearophile" <bearophileHUGS@lycos.com> wrote in message news:fp2arv$dg7$1@digitalmars.com...
> Craig Black:
>> The fact that there are correlations between neurons firing and consciousness is a profound observation.
>
> It was profound 200-300 years ago, today it's well known, like many other things in science.
>
>
>> However, it doesn't really address the ideas presented, unless I am missing something.
>
> You are probably missing some things, that's why reading a big university manual about neurobiology may help you.
>
>
>> Furthermore, the
>> assumption that the configuration of matter known as the brain is the
>> cause
>> of consciousness may be fundamentally flawed
>
> A very important part is the configuration of the activation patterns too,
> that the dynamic state too, it includes the electrical fields of the many
> charges that create that chemistry dance too.
> I think you are making the phenomenon of consciousness more mysterious and
> strange than necessary. Learning more about nematode and aplysia nervous
> systems may help you see that the situation is quite more mundane, despite
> being really complex anyway.
> In the end quantum mechanics may have some role in animal brains (but I
> know no concrete facts about this has being found so far), but surely
> that's not the most important layer of the reality you have to look at if
> you want to understand how a living brain works (like a grizzly brain).
> You have to learn about signal processing, neural dynamics, neural groups,
> neural networks, neurology, neurobiology, linguistics, sociology... :-)
>
> Bye,
> bearophile

Thanks for your input.  I indeed know little about such subjects and am not even aware of the scope of our current understanding of them.

BTW, (as I mentioned already to boyd) I think I can agree with you now that this issue is not as conclusive as the link seems to convey.  I discovered that this topic (both pros and cons) is discussed on Wikepedia.  It basically states that this is one interpretation of quantum mechanics, whereas in the link I provided it is communicated as a conclusion.  There are other ideas that attempt to resolve the strangeness of quantum mechanics with the determinism of the macroscopic world.  This particular interpretation is not without problems, but it does have the interesting quality that it concurs with some religious world views.

-Craig


February 14, 2008
"Yigal Chripun" <yigal100@gmail.com> wrote in message news:fp29k3$adk$1@digitalmars.com...
>I haven't read the link but my view on such issues (as an atheist)  is
> as follows:
> science deals only with certain questions, namely ones he can find an
> answer to, other questions are just left to philosophy.
> from your description that links falls under the realm of the latter
> more than the former.
> the Schrödinger cat experiment for example is a way to illustrate
> Heisenberg's uncertainty law. It's a way to explain statistics.
> science uses math as a language to express concepts, for example we use
> fields to explain magnetism but that does not mean that there's such a
> thing as a magnetic field, cause a field is just another mathematical
> entity, nothing more.
> trying to extract any philosophical ideas out of those ideas and math
> concepts is wrong as it violates Okham's razor principal and is not
> science.
> As I've stated already, those are my views only, and I of course do not
> want to insult anyone's beliefs. I just prefer the science continue
> expanding our understanding of the universe while our philosophy
> continues to debate other questions and those remain separated.
>
> --Yigal
>
> PS - http://digg.com/comedy/Atheist_Sees_Image_of_Big_Bang_in_Piece_of_Toast

Yep.  That's generally a good approach to science.  However, considering how much ground has been covered by science in recent times, I have the hope that ultimately science will be able to answer philosophical questions too. Being a curious person, it would be nice to have a definitive answer to the big questions.

-Craig


February 14, 2008
Craig Black wrote:
> I apologize for the inappropriate post, but I read this material last night and am still buzzing about it.  I just have to share it.  I personally am an agnostic, so not trying to preach anything, but I thought this was very interesting.  I didn't realize that modern science has such a solid theory about consciousness.  Namely, that there is only one conscious mind in the universe, and that matter is the result of observations of that mind.  At the subatomic level, there are only possibilities that require a mind to bring into actual reality.  And that mind is not Many but One.  The universe essentially consists of a single Indivisible Mind from which matter emmanates.
> 
> Are these the ramblings of a deluded philosopher or religious cult?  Nope. The conclusions that result due to observations and discoveries made by Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, and Niels Bohr, all pioneers of quantum mechanics.
> 
> http://www.integralscience.org/ConsciousQM.html
> 
> -Craig
> 
> 

I've seen this sort of argument a thousand times, and as per usual, it's veiled in extremely long and complicated prose which completely ignores one fact: There is a competing theory of quantum waveform collapse that does not require one to hold the ridiculous belief that certain complicated chemical reactions are endowed with the magical property of consciousness. Better yet, this theory is extremely simple, and Occam's Razor always likes simplicity. It is the many-worlds hypothesis.

Essentially, the hypothesis this page (and so many others) professes as proven truth is that the consciousness of a being causes the quantum state of things that being observes to collapse. It requires that you believe that certain beings are endowed with this mystical power of causing collapse, which is contrary to hundreds of years of science suggesting that humans (and all other forms of life) are physical/chemical/electrical reactions (albeit extremely complicated ones).

One property of quantum mechanics that has been observed and proven fairly well is quantum entanglement. Put simply, one quantum state can be defined with another quantum state as variables. A simplified example:

1) You have a cat in a box. For simplicity, we will say that it has a 50% probability of being alive and a 50% probability of being dead.

2) You shoot the box. The bullet has a 99.99% probability of passing through the box and the cat (killing it), and a 0.01% probability of jumping spontaneously and missing the cat entirely.

3) Because the bullet affects the cat, the quantum state of the cat is now defined with the bullet as a variable:
    The 50% chance that the cat was alive now becomes a 49.995% chance that the cat is dead and a 0.005% chance the cat is dead.
    The 50% chance that the cat was dead is still a 50% chance that the cat is dead (no use shooting a dead cat :P )
    So: The cat's state is now 99.995% dead and 0.005% alive.

4) You observe the cat.

By the theory on this page (observation causes waveform collapse), your observing the cat causes it to resolve to either 100% dead or 100% alive, with a 0.005% probability and 99.995% probability respectively. However, there is no explanation for why you, the observer, are not entangled just like everything else is.

Here's a simple explanation: You ARE entangled. Your state becomes 99.995% the-cat-is-dead, 0.005% the-cat-is-alive. What does this mean? This means that you exist simultaneously in two worlds, one with a living cat and one with a dead cat. Your consciousness is entangled, and so becomes divided into two universes (in a matter of speaking). What do you observe? Well, you can't simultaneously observer both universes (they are two separate streams of consciousness), so it appears that the state has collapsed. In reality, you've just become part of it.

This is called the many-worlds hypothesis. It makes sense and doesn't require a philosophical definition of "observer". It's compatible with the well-supported notion that humans are NOT special, merely complicated. And, sci-fi loves it :P

 - Gregor Richards
February 14, 2008
"Gregor Richards" <Richards@codu.org> wrote in message news:fp2e2k$jvj$1@digitalmars.com...
> Craig Black wrote:
>> I apologize for the inappropriate post, but I read this material last night and am still buzzing about it.  I just have to share it.  I personally am an agnostic, so not trying to preach anything, but I thought this was very interesting.  I didn't realize that modern science has such a solid theory about consciousness.  Namely, that there is only one conscious mind in the universe, and that matter is the result of observations of that mind.  At the subatomic level, there are only possibilities that require a mind to bring into actual reality.  And that mind is not Many but One.  The universe essentially consists of a single Indivisible Mind from which matter emmanates.
>>
>> Are these the ramblings of a deluded philosopher or religious cult? Nope. The conclusions that result due to observations and discoveries made by Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, and Niels Bohr, all pioneers of quantum mechanics.
>>
>> http://www.integralscience.org/ConsciousQM.html
>>
>> -Craig
>>
>>
>
> I've seen this sort of argument a thousand times, and as per usual, it's veiled in extremely long and complicated prose which completely ignores one fact: There is a competing theory of quantum waveform collapse that does not require one to hold the ridiculous belief that certain complicated chemical reactions are endowed with the magical property of consciousness. Better yet, this theory is extremely simple, and Occam's Razor always likes simplicity. It is the many-worlds hypothesis.
>
> Essentially, the hypothesis this page (and so many others) professes as proven truth is that the consciousness of a being causes the quantum state of things that being observes to collapse. It requires that you believe that certain beings are endowed with this mystical power of causing collapse, which is contrary to hundreds of years of science suggesting that humans (and all other forms of life) are physical/chemical/electrical reactions (albeit extremely complicated ones).
>
> One property of quantum mechanics that has been observed and proven fairly well is quantum entanglement. Put simply, one quantum state can be defined with another quantum state as variables. A simplified example:
>
> 1) You have a cat in a box. For simplicity, we will say that it has a 50% probability of being alive and a 50% probability of being dead.
>
> 2) You shoot the box. The bullet has a 99.99% probability of passing through the box and the cat (killing it), and a 0.01% probability of jumping spontaneously and missing the cat entirely.
>
> 3) Because the bullet affects the cat, the quantum state of the cat is now
> defined with the bullet as a variable:
>     The 50% chance that the cat was alive now becomes a 49.995% chance
> that the cat is dead and a 0.005% chance the cat is dead.
>     The 50% chance that the cat was dead is still a 50% chance that the
> cat is dead (no use shooting a dead cat :P )
>     So: The cat's state is now 99.995% dead and 0.005% alive.
>
> 4) You observe the cat.
>
> By the theory on this page (observation causes waveform collapse), your observing the cat causes it to resolve to either 100% dead or 100% alive, with a 0.005% probability and 99.995% probability respectively. However, there is no explanation for why you, the observer, are not entangled just like everything else is.
>
> Here's a simple explanation: You ARE entangled. Your state becomes 99.995% the-cat-is-dead, 0.005% the-cat-is-alive. What does this mean? This means that you exist simultaneously in two worlds, one with a living cat and one with a dead cat. Your consciousness is entangled, and so becomes divided into two universes (in a matter of speaking). What do you observe? Well, you can't simultaneously observer both universes (they are two separate streams of consciousness), so it appears that the state has collapsed. In reality, you've just become part of it.
>
> This is called the many-worlds hypothesis. It makes sense and doesn't require a philosophical definition of "observer". It's compatible with the well-supported notion that humans are NOT special, merely complicated. And, sci-fi loves it :P
>
>  - Gregor Richards

Yeah.  I have just been on Wikipedia reading about this.  The article I read originally incorrectly promoted the "Continuous infinity of minds" hypothesis as a conclusion.  It's hard because I can barely follow the logic of the that hypothesis, let alone try to digest this one too.  It's very interesting that both of these hypothetical ideas have huge and quite strange implications.  Either you believe in God or you believe in parallel universes.  It's nuts.

-Craig


February 14, 2008
"Craig Black" <cblack@ara.com> wrote in message news:fp2c33$fnp$1@digitalmars.com...
>
> "boyd" <gaboonviper@gmx.net> wrote in message news:op.t6i7hhrc1auoiy@company-3328781.home.nl...
>> It seems to me that quantum physics is just an admittance that we don't really know what the heck is going on. It's not science, it's philosophy. And the thing about the mind sounds a lot like the main principle of the philosopher Descartes: 'there's only one thing that I can be sure about: I think, therefore I exist'
>>
>> This isn't proof of the existence of anything. In fact, it's more a theory that nothing can truly be proven. Any proof is based on what we can observe, but we can't be sure that anything we observe actually is.
>>
>> Greetz,
>> Boyd.
>
> You may be right ...but there's no harm in trying then is there?
>
> BTW, since posting this I have discovered that this topic (both pros and cons) is discussed on Wikepedia.  It basically states that this is one interpretation of quantum mechanics, whereas in the link I provided it is communicated as a conclusion.  There are other ideas that attempt to resolve the strangeness of quantum mechanics with the determinism of the macroscopic world.  This particular interpretation is not without problems, but it does have the interesting quality that it concurs with some religious world views.

You might find this interesting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mind

I actualy strugled my way through the book Shadows of The Mind, mentioned in the page, and tbh i can remember very little from it. It was mostly way over my head at the time, and no doubt still is.

That said I did find the idea quite engaging.

But I also remind myself that the science of conciousness / mind / brain is still very young. We are still poking the brain with electrodes, or at best replaying recorded electical signals to it. It's still a naive poke it and see what happens kind of science as far as I can see.

You just have to look at our utter ineptitude at treating mental disorders to see how little we understand it.

So i think anyone who claims we know more than a little about what conciousness is and how it comes about is seriously mistaken.

It also reminds me of how in the late 19th centuary scientists were starting to think there wasnt much left to discover. Newton had sorted physics out, the earth was mostly mapped. All the interesting stuff had been done.

Then we got relativity, then quantum mechanics, and physics has got weirder and ever more complicated ever since.

I suspect we are in for that kind of ride with conciousness & mind.


February 14, 2008
I've been reading a little bit more about quantum physics, and you're right. As far as I can tell it's a bunch of scientific theories for calculating...well... I'm not quite sure what it's calculating. Most stuff I heard about quantum mechanics before was the kind of philophising that occurs in that article. It seems people are mixing these two quite different things up. Or maybe just me.

Greetz,
Boyd.
----
On Thu, 14 Feb 2008 22:20:39 +0100, bearophile <bearophileHUGS@lycos.com> wrote:

> boyd:
>> It seems to me that quantum physics is just an admittance that we don't
>> really know what the heck is going on. It's not science, it's philosophy.
>
> Well, we aren't sure what a gravity field is (despite there are few theories for that too), still we can use newtonian laws (with a bit of help from relativistic ones when necessary) to predict certain future parameters of certain physical systems.
> Predicting the future is one of main kinds of science.
> Quantum physics doesn't know much what's the underlaying metaphysics, but it allows us to make very precise (and very useful in practice) predictions about certain aspects of certain physical systems (sometimes up to 13 digits of precision!) so that's science too ;-)
> "Science" doesn't imply understanding everything below the level you experiment too, you can have black boxes too.
>
> Bye,
> bearophile
February 14, 2008
"Craig Black" <cblack@ara.com> wrote in message news:fp2cu3$hcc$1@digitalmars.com...
> Yep.  That's generally a good approach to science.  However, considering how much ground has been covered by science in recent times, I have the hope that ultimately science will be able to answer philosophical questions too. Being a curious person, it would be nice to have a definitive answer to the big questions.

As soon as science provides an answer it stops being a philosophical question. ;-)

But tbh, you just have to accept that some stuff is and always will be beyond our understanding.

Is the universe infinate or finite?

Either answer is utterly perplexing and uncomprehendable. Anyone who claims otherwise doesnt understand the question.

Why does anything exist at all? Why is there not just nothing?

Again what possible answer could there be that makes any sense to a human?


February 14, 2008
Craig Black wrote:
> "Yigal Chripun" <yigal100@gmail.com> wrote in message
> news:fp29k3$adk$1@digitalmars.com...
> 
>> I haven't read the link but my view on such issues (as an atheist)  is
>> as follows:
>> science deals only with certain questions, namely ones he can find an
>> answer to, other questions are just left to philosophy.
>> from your description that links falls under the realm of the latter
>> more than the former.
>> the Schrödinger cat experiment for example is a way to illustrate
>> Heisenberg's uncertainty law. It's a way to explain statistics.
>> science uses math as a language to express concepts, for example we use
>> fields to explain magnetism but that does not mean that there's such a
>> thing as a magnetic field, cause a field is just another mathematical
>> entity, nothing more.
>> trying to extract any philosophical ideas out of those ideas and math
>> concepts is wrong as it violates Okham's razor principal and is not
>> science.
>> As I've stated already, those are my views only, and I of course do not
>> want to insult anyone's beliefs. I just prefer the science continue
>> expanding our understanding of the universe while our philosophy
>> continues to debate other questions and those remain separated.
>>
>> --Yigal
>>
>> PS -
>> http://digg.com/comedy/Atheist_Sees_Image_of_Big_Bang_in_Piece_of_Toast
>> 
>
> Yep.  That's generally a good approach to science.  However, considering how much ground has been covered by science in recent times, I have the hope that ultimately science will be able to answer philosophical questions too. Being a curious person, it would be nice to have a definitive answer to the big questions.
>
> -Craig
>
>
> 
there are various proofs in math [for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_incompleteness_theorems] which place limitations one what science can do. thus hope is irrelevant, and fact is that some questions simply has no scientific answer.

--Yigal
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