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← Everything and Nothing - An Interview with Lawrence Krauss

Everything and Nothing - An Interview with Lawrence Krauss - Comments

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 1 by rod-the-farmer

OK, as one with little formal education in quantum theory, I would be interested in reading more about particles popping in and out of existence so rapidly we cannot detect them. If I were a creationist, I might find this hard to believe. Can you suggest reading material to help me understand how this concept can be proved ? I would like to be able to explain this with at least a bit of comprehension and authority should I run up against scepticism.

Wed, 04 Jan 2012 22:47:08 UTC | #905388

thpoc's Avatar Comment 2 by thpoc

"Modern science has made the something-from-nothing debate irrelevant. It has changed completely our conception of the very words “something” and “nothing”. Empirical discoveries continue to tell us that the Universe is the way it is, whether we like it or not, and ‘something’ and ‘nothing’ are physical concepts and therefore are properly the domain of science, not theology or philosophy. (Indeed, religion and philosophy have added nothing to our understanding of these ideas in millennia.)"

"do we have any reason to suppose the laws themselves came into existence along with our universe? [..] No."

I disagree with what's said here. First off, it's philosophy that's driving science, they're not mutually exclusive, much like agnosticism and atheism. I don't like this dismissive attitude towards philosophy, the philosophy of mind and phenomenology can really help putting some perspective on things. Second, definition and words might change, ideas don't, they just add up. Nothing is not just part of the physical domain. Having no feeling, no sound, no sense would be nothing as well.

Nonetheless a great book no doubt which I will grab a copy off.

Wed, 04 Jan 2012 23:21:36 UTC | #905397

Wayne Tomsett's Avatar Comment 3 by Wayne Tomsett

Hi Rod, check out The Quantum Universe by Brian Cox, it's new and aimed at enthusiasts as a really good introduction to quantum theory.

Wed, 04 Jan 2012 23:29:45 UTC | #905398

Lonard's Avatar Comment 4 by Lonard

Fascinating. But as a strong anti-theist, artist and inventor, I would like to know what the secret of existence is. Not our human existence of course (it follows from the big bang) but the secret of the existence of things popping in and out of existence. Why is it? No, what is it? I personally get an itch in my crotch when I try to think what it could be. I can imagine that simple people turn to religion to get a placebo answer.

Will science ever be able to answer the mother of all questions?

Give me your thoughts and let us make it a perpetual topic on the RDF

Wed, 04 Jan 2012 23:50:27 UTC | #905401

Billions and Billions's Avatar Comment 5 by Billions and Billions

Comment 2 by thpoc :

First off, it's philosophy that's driving science

I disagree. Aristotle was a renowned philosopher and yet never tested his claims -- such as a heavier rock falling faster than a lighter one when dropped. Philosophy may still have value when it comes to the intangible, such as love and consciousness, but has little value when explaining our universe.

Wed, 04 Jan 2012 23:51:24 UTC | #905402

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 6 by DocWebster

Comment 4 by Lonard :

Fascinating. But as a strong anti-theist, artist and inventor, I would like to know what the secret of existence is. Not our human existence of course (it follows from the big bang) but the secret of the existence of things popping in and out of existence. Why is it? No, what is it? I personally get an itch in my crotch when I try to think what it could be. I can imagine that simple people turn to religion to get a placebo answer.

Will science ever be able to answer the mother of all questions?

Give me your thoughts and let us make it a perpetual topic on the RDF

That's easy, there isn't any. I'm satisfied that everything just is, except for that which isn't.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 00:10:32 UTC | #905403

xsjadolateralus's Avatar Comment 7 by xsjadolateralus

@ Comment 2 by thpoc

You said some things that sounded like deepities to me.

"Ideas don't change, they just add up..." etc.

Just silly bullshit you would hear from drunkards at the local pub.

Good thing existence is the way it is, even if idiots disagree.

In all seriousness, you have a great deal of reading to do. Go start with Daniel Dennett, if you're so interested in philosophy.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 00:14:02 UTC | #905404

thpoc's Avatar Comment 8 by thpoc

You said some things that sounded like deepities to me."Ideas don't change, they just add up..." etc.Just silly bullshit you would hear from drunkards at the local pub.

A certain idea is that certain idea, if it's 'changed' through time then it's not that certain idea anymore but an other idea. In that sense I mean by 'ideas add up'. The idea of 'nothing' at one time in history cannot be dismissed because Kraus holds another definition for it today. And i've already explained how something-nothing does not solely describe physical reality. Sorry, English is not my native tongue. I'm an undergraduate in philosophy.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 00:27:08 UTC | #905405

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 9 by Neodarwinian

@ Rod

Detect the directly! I am sure you can think of other things we can not detect directly but are still there nonetheless. Things past and things now.

@ thpoc

Philosophy driving science? Was molecular cell biology driven by science?

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 01:15:28 UTC | #905410

Michael Fisher's Avatar Comment 10 by Michael Fisher

Comment 1 by rod-the-farmer :

...particles popping in and out of existence so rapidly we cannot detect them. If I were a creationist, I might find this hard to believe. Can you suggest reading material to help me understand how this concept can be proved ?...

THE CASIMIR EFFECT is an example of a simple phenom at the human scale which is [best] explained by the briefly existing virtual particles of the quantum world. A neat & simple demonstration.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 03:06:36 UTC | #905427

I'm_not's Avatar Comment 11 by I'm_not

Comment 10 by Michael Fisher :

Comment 1 by rod-the-farmer :

...particles popping in and out of existence so rapidly we cannot detect them. If I were a creationist, I might find this hard to believe. Can you suggest reading material to help me understand how this concept can be proved ?...

THE CASIMIR EFFECT is an example of a simple phenom at the human scale which is [best] explained by the briefly existing virtual particles of the quantum world. A neat & simple demonstration.

Thanks for the link my friend.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 11:19:45 UTC | #905480

thpoc's Avatar Comment 12 by thpoc

To those who have problems with my earlier statement "philosophy driving science". I did not think this was a controversial thing to say. I understand science as the acceptance of the idea of a world external to my mind, that other minds exist, the acceptance of logic and evidence above faith to have this external world explained. Science cannot justify itself. Philosophy has taught me that words like physical, mental, space, time, wave, particle, everything, nothing etcetc should ultimately not be seen as pure categories of the universe but rather categories of the mind, the phenomenological. Sam would probably agree, although he'd phrase it much better than I.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 12:47:10 UTC | #905497

Marc Country's Avatar Comment 13 by Marc Country

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument.

A far cry from religion...

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 15:09:28 UTC | #905527

Misfire's Avatar Comment 14 by Misfire

@ Comment 7 by xsjadolateralus

Let's not let these comments devolve into nastiness.

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 00:54:27 UTC | #905696

qsa's Avatar Comment 15 by qsa

Comment 4 by Lonard :

Fascinating. But as a strong anti-theist, artist and inventor, I would like to know what the secret of existence is. Not our human existence of course (it follows from the big bang) but the secret of the existence of things popping in and out of existence. Why is it? No, what is it? I personally get an itch in my crotch when I try to think what it could be. I can imagine that simple people turn to religion to get a placebo answer.

Will science ever be able to answer the mother of all questions?

Give me your thoughts and let us make it a perpetual topic on the RDF

finally your prayer has been answered. I derive the whole of physics from a simple postulate " Reality is a Mathematical structure". It is the only dynamic structure possible using fundamental entity which is a random line.

Behind it all is surely an idea so simple, so beautiful, that when we grasp it - in a decade, a century, or a millennium - we will all say to each other, how could it have been otherwise? How could we have been so stupid? John Archibald Wheeler

http://www.qsa.netne.net

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 03:55:23 UTC | #905730

Lonard's Avatar Comment 16 by Lonard

finally your prayer has been answered. I derive the whole of physics from a simple postulate " Reality is a Mathematical structure". It is the only dynamic structure possible using fundamental entity which is a random line.

OK, but then the 'existence' of mathematics is the next mystery. You see what I mean?

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 12:21:10 UTC | #905833

qsa's Avatar Comment 17 by qsa

Comment 16 by Lonard :

finally your prayer has been answered. I derive the whole of physics from a simple postulate " Reality is a Mathematical structure". It is the only dynamic structure possible using fundamental entity which is a random line.

OK, but then the 'existence' of mathematics is the next mystery. You see what I mean?

While Mathematics also has its philosophical issues.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/philosophy-mathematics/

but they are of different nature. There are two main issues. Do mathematical facts have a deeper explanation and if numbers actually exist , where do they exist. The debate is decades old and the majority point of view is that mathematics does not need a foundation, it is what it is. A circle is a fact, that is it.

the biggest problem is the the later, and my theory sort of solves that. Mathematics creates reality and reality confirms the existence of mathematics, i.e. we are the living proof.

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 14:35:19 UTC | #905881

Lonard's Avatar Comment 18 by Lonard

the biggest problem is the the later, and my theory sort of solves that. Mathematics creates reality and reality confirms the existence of mathematics, i.e. we are the living proof.

Could it be argued that reality and mathematics are two sides of one coin i.e. numbers exist only in tangible objects and vice versa? Like matter and energy are two exchangeable manifestations?

And, going back to the mystery, that the coin is the (so far) unknown 'substance'?

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 15:48:18 UTC | #905917

qsa's Avatar Comment 19 by qsa

Comment 18 by Lonard :

the biggest problem is the the later, and my theory sort of solves that. Mathematics creates reality and reality confirms the existence of mathematics, i.e. we are the living proof.

Could it be argued that reality and mathematics are two sides of one coin i.e. numbers exist only in tangible objects and vice versa? Like matter and energy are two exchangeable manifestations?

And, going back to the mystery, that the coin is the (so far) unknown 'substance'?

well let me put the postulate in a more blunt form

" Reality is a Mathematical structure, literally" . I hope you have heard of Dr. Tegmark and his mathematical universe hypothesis. I came up with my theory and only got to know about him later. But we are essentially saying that reality and a particular mathematical structure are identical, they are one and the same. Reality is akin to a circle, which is a set of numbers with a particular relationship between them. Also, in my theory matter is made out of the random lines which are interpreted as energy.

The random lines lengths and positions are nothing but numbers. so the coin is a bunch of NUMBERS that is all. and the debate has always been do numbers exist in a platonic sense. The answer is yes, our reality testifies to that with my theory.

Also, these numbers do not represent anything deeper. Because the mathematical structure that gives rise to reality is pretty much unique and unavoidable, i.e. like I said before

It is the only dynamic structure possible

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 23:32:58 UTC | #906089

hellosnackbar's Avatar Comment 20 by hellosnackbar

Jim Al khalili made an outstandong series called '"everything and nothing" It was available on BBC iplayer but is definitely available onwww.demenoid.me. Physics is the subject I wish I had studied but am dubious as to whether I have the talent. I'm so happy that Stephen Hawkin has made it to seventy and hope he'll continue as an example to us all.

Sat, 07 Jan 2012 11:23:48 UTC | #906191

kriton's Avatar Comment 21 by kriton

If "The State Formerly Known As Nothing" (TSFKAN) is really a boiling bubbling brew of virtual particles, popping in and out of existence in a time so short that we cannot detect them directly, does it still make sense to use the word "nothing" to describe it?

Hey, that sounds like a philosophical question to me.

It's also a common claim that space and time began did not exist before Big Bang. But if we ask ourselves the philosophical question "What is time, anyway?" I do think that adds something to the discussion.

If we have a state where absolutely nothing changes, it would be like time was frozen. So time and change seems to be linked. Where there is change from one state to another, there is a passage of time.

But in Big Bang there seems to be a change frome a state where Big Bang did not happen to a state where it did. How could there be a change from one state to another if there was no time?

It is one thing to claim that spacetime as we know it began to exist, but a different thing altogether to claim that there was no kind of time at all.

Philosophical reasoning, it seems to me, is in fact very much necessary in order to sort these issues out.

Strauss says things like "I have never been sympathetic to the notion that creation requires a creator." and "I find the possibility of living in a universe that was not created for my existence, in which my actions and thoughts need not bend to the whims of a creator, far more enriching and meaningful than the other alternative" but he doesn't seem to realize that thinking about such issues is philosophy.

So perhaps Strauss should take some time to think about how many important questions actually require some philosophical thinking. But of course, that would require some philosophical thinking.

Sat, 07 Jan 2012 13:41:01 UTC | #906220

Nietzsche2's Avatar Comment 22 by Nietzsche2

We need these books translated to Spanish, please... And those of Sam Harris too...

Sun, 08 Jan 2012 10:06:07 UTC | #906432

Terry Cupp's Avatar Comment 23 by Terry Cupp

Misfire, thank you for the reminder that these are respectful arguments. All anyone proves by becoming "nasty" is that they are condescending and believe their point of view to be the only one. These arguments here have been put forth for thousands of years. The fact that science has better tools now for seeing "reality", in my mind, does not answer some the fundamental question. As I mentioned in an earlier post, science has stated a point is infinitely small. If that is the case, then "nothing" cannot possibly exist because it will always come from something else. The theists want to know what this "something else" is, and I don't blame them. I simply do not care that physics can see deeper and deeper into the mysteries of origin. I only care about the philosophical question, "how can something come from absolutely nothing". It does not comfort me that Mr. Krauss argues that physics is "redefining" nothing. I would love to "redefine" anything to make it suit my purposes, but that begs the question, does it not? For me, that is a convenient way to avoid the ultimate question.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 01:11:56 UTC | #913284