The time honored debate about the role of laws in physics has received an influx of fresh views with the increased significance of symmetries in quantum field theories. Crudely, the symmetries appear to bind the physical properties of spacetime in such a way as to make the traditional Humean views of properties as being categorical untenable, which, in turn, reinforces the views of laws as ‘guiders’ rather than ‘describers’. This paper argues that this position is wrong, supporting the viability of Humeanism about laws.
The emergence of statistical mechanics (SM) as a science in the late 19th century was marred by conceptual difficulties from the outset. Past Hypothesis is hailed as the solution to the issue of matching time-reversal invariant laws of motion and thermodynamic processes that evolve monotonically in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics. PH establishes the link between statistical mechanics and early universe cosmology and is an exercise loaded with controversy. I point out the arguments that would make it more credible.
Rarely does a present-day philosopher of natural science make reference to, let alone engage with, the views of Kant and Hegel. This paper claims that such a connection exists and is relevant. I will illuminate the playing field by running parallels with the topical issue of the foundations of physics, the specifications for quantum mechanical systems. The discussion will touch upon some technical aspects of properties of such systems. I will strive not to lose the reader in the field-specific jargon.
Best popular science books covering present day outlook on everything from Quantum Mechanics to Cosmology and written by bone fide professors of physics (as opposed to the esoteric charlatans) are: more
Every country is unique but Japan is the treasure-trove of uniqueness. For all my dislike for travel, this is the only place that I feel compelled to visit regularly. The country and its people are extraordinary and exquisite, their culture and habits forged by centuries of fighting the elements of nature. Persistent earthquakes and typhoons, the remoteness of the Japanese isles from the trodden paths of Western civilizations, self-imposed millenium of isolation – all contributed to the formation of this fairy tale of a country. more
In order to make any sense of the current European economics, let’s address the relevant issues of economic methodology. more
Philosophers of science are a verbose bunch of people. Most often they discuss the foundational paradoxes of physics using common language. Linguistics of any kind, even the most precise sort, is a poor substitute for the mathematical rigor when applied to the description of the fundamental fabric of reality for two reasons. One is that it carries a semantic load, therefore subjecting the definitions to interpretation based on the meaning of the words used, and meanings are often different to different users. The second reason is that the languages we use are conditioned on human experience that is inevitably classical in nature and therefore is nigh on useless when applied to non-classical settings, such as those of Quantum Mechanics or General Relativity. more
I am not qualified to opine on whether the CERN announcement on July 4 2012 validates the existence of the elusive particle, although the statistical significance at a level of 5.1 sigma is above the 5 mark – a threshold that is commonly assumed to qualify for a scientific discovery. more
Popular journalistic coverage of the recently trendy branch of astronomy – finding planets outside our solar system (exoplanets, as they are known) is fraught with high drama and false expectations. The reviewers often guide the reader towards the imminency of discovering extraterrestrial intelligent life – which, of course, is nonsense. Even the theoretical possibility of such a result – ever! – is a matter of substantial debate among scientists, notwithstanding my emotional sympathy to humanity’s feeling of universal loneliness. more
- Should intelligence capable of space travel necessarily be able to understand and represent number Pi?
- What makes for a perfect mathematician?
- Does any logical truth necessarily need to be representable mathematically?