Tag Archives: Questions

Episode Twenty Five – Fragment and Pandemonium Interview with Warren Fahy (No Spoilers)

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Today we have an interview with Warren Fahy, author of the books Fragment and Pandemonium. We are going to talk about these books as well as about some biology stuff. Should be fun!

Some of you may not know what these books are. Well, Warren is going to tell us all about them in a little bit. But they are science thrillers something along the lines of Jurassic Park.

You can probably gather by the fact that I am interviewing him about these books, that I have read them and probably enjoy them.

Yes, I have read them and I do enjoy them. Fragment and the sequel are amazingly interesting books with some extremely compelling biological theories.

There are some truly terrifying, nightmare creatures in both of them. They make the dinosaurs and monsters in other books seem tame. Dragons? T-Rexes? The critters in these books, such as spigers are much deadlier and scarier.

I also quite like the main cast of characters, but I cannot talk about that very much without spoilers. But two of them are biologists and they may or may not have some fascinating biological ideas, new and old.

Highly recommended. But more than that and as entertaining as the scary monsters are, you might also learn something reading this.

You can find out more about and buy both of these books here:

Fragment
Buy from Amazon
Pandemonium
Buy from Amazon

This is the non-spoiler version of this episode. If you have read these books, you might want to go to the other version of the podcast here. It has a lot of the same stuff, but without spoiler content removed.

Please note that we cannot be 100% sure that there is not some spoiler we missed in here. It might be best to read the books before listening to this podcast!

We have not presented the transcript of this in web page form. Instead, you can listen to the audio or download the PDF transcript.

However, there may be mistakes in the transcript. Any mistakes in transcription represent our own errors or a transcription error we missed.

Click here to download the PDF transcript.

Episode Twenty Five – Fragment and Pandemonium Interview with Warren Fahy

Play

Today we have an interview with Warren Fahy, author of the books Fragment and Pandemonium. We are going to talk about these books as well as about some biology stuff. Should be fun!

Some of you may not know what these books are. Well, Warren is going to tell us all about them in a little bit. But they are science thrillers something along the lines of Jurassic Park.

You can probably gather by the fact that I am interviewing him about these books, that I have read them and probably enjoy them.

Yes, I have read them and I do enjoy them. Fragment and the sequel are amazingly interesting books with some extremely compelling biological theories.

There are some truly terrifying, nightmare creatures in both of them. They make the dinosaurs and monsters in other books seem tame. Dragons? T-Rexes? The critters in these books, such as spigers are much deadlier and scarier.

I also quite like the main cast of characters, but I cannot talk about that very much without spoilers. But two of them are biologists and they may or may not have some fascinating biological ideas, new and old.

Highly recommended. But more than that and as entertaining as the scary monsters are, you might also learn something reading this.

You can find out more about and buy both of these books here:

Fragment
Buy from Amazon

 

Pandemonium
Buy from Amazon

 

If you have not read these books, you might want to go to the non-spoiler version of the podcast here. It has a lot of the same stuff, but with some spoiler content removed.

Please note that we cannot be 100% sure that there is not some spoiler we missed. It might be best to read the books before listening to this podcast!

We have not presented the transcript of this in web page form. Instead, you can listen to the audio or download the PDF transcript.

However, there may be mistakes in the transcript. Any mistakes in transcription represent our own errors or a transcription error we missed.

Click here to download the PDF transcript.

Water wave.

Episode Twelve – Quora Questions on Physics

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Today we answer some Quora questions about physics. We cover string theory, particle-wave duality, thought experiments and more!

Click here to download the PDF transcript. The PDF version does not have illustrations, but might be easier to read on certain devices, such as your eReader.

Episode Transcript

[Please note that this may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences.]

Introduction

Hi everyone! This is episode twelve of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast.

With this show, we are fighting for a more rational world, mostly by looking through the lens of the philosophy of science. We raise awareness of issues within the philosophy of science and present alternative and rational approaches.

You can find all the episodes, transcripts and subscription options on the website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

I am Ashna, your host and guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science. Thanks for tuning in!

Today we are going to answer some Quora questions relating to physics.

What are the signs that must exist in the universe so that we consider the string theory correct?

It is widely believed that one of the main problems with string theory is that nobody has a good idea of which practically observable facts would verify string theory. Or, to put it another way: We really have little idea of any practical way to test it.

string theory
Kind of hard to test a theory that talks about stuff like this …

There are of course people who believe that there are ways it can be verified. But, the problem is that they are not what we could currently call practical.

It is generally thought that we would need particle accelerators far more energetic than anything we know how to build with existing technology. It simply requires far too much energy.

In fact, so much energy that it is conceivable that no amount of technological advancement will ever make it practical.

There are a couple of indirect methods through gravity waves and the like that people think might be able to verify string theory. However, I think all of this rather misses the point. Let me explain.

Let us suppose that now or in a hundred years, someone comes up with an experiment that seems to suggest string theory is true. What would this imply?

Would it imply that all of the mathematics of string theory is true? Let us suppose this is the case.

Does this prove that reality has nine, ten, eleven or whatever number of dimensions? No. Because the entire concept of dimensions is an abstraction and no amount of evidence will validate “the universe having X dimensions”.

Dimensions are a mathematical concept. They have no physical existence and you cannot explain anything by saying “space” or “reality” has ten dimensions.

Dimensions graph
Dimensions are a mathematical concept. The higher dimensions are not shown here, but the concept is similar

When we say that “space” has three dimensions, we simply mean that we can identify three abstract spatial relationships, height, length, depth or whatever terms you want to use for those three spatial relationships.

But, those relationships are purely mathematical, they are not physical. Space itself has no dimensions, we simply identify mathematical relationships to describe spatial relationships.

So, even if tomorrow I showed that all of the math of string theory works, you still have an issue. What does the math really mean? Does it mean that space has all those dimensions?

If not, what does it mean?

You see, you have to be aware that your theory requires a rational interpretation of observable reality. You cannot simply come up with a series of equations, show the math works and then interpret that math however you want. That is a huge failing of modern physics and why so much of it makes little or no sense.

You have to provide a rational interpretation of the math that is concordant with a rational metaphysics and which describes how reality actually works. Not how you think it works.

Which is the real issue here: What do you think string theory implies? Because many of the things that people think it implies cannot be proven to be true, as they violate rational metaphysics.

Hence, in a sense, much of string theory can never be proven to be true. If you hope to be able to prove any of it to be true, then you have to make sure it is rational as well.

As it stands right now, I see very little chance of that happening…

Why are there still opponents of the theory of relativity?

Inductive Newton

Upcoming Plans for Metaphysics of Physics

I thought now that 2019 has just started, I would share some of our plans for Metaphysics of Physics.

Metaphysics of Physics got started in early August of 2018. Since then we have seen ten podcast episodes, a few non-podcast blog entries and the addition of new features, our “Random Scary Quote” widget.

Well, as far as our first five or so months ago and considering we only release episodes every two weeks, that is not too awful. But, I think we can do better in 2019. How so? Let me share some of the ways, in no particular order:

Additional Content

We produce a podcast episode every two weeks. We are pretty happy with this and except as noted below, we are unlikely to produce podcast episodes more frequently than this. But this does not mean that we will not produce more content!

We will be releasing longer text articles at least once a week, including the weeks on which we produce podcast episodes. These will not be short blog text posts like we have seen on the site so far, but medium or long sized text equivalents of podcast episodes.

However, for the most part these will be available only to those who have made a donation. With some regular or additional content being made freely available.

If you want to see the extra content, then all you have to do is donate at least $2 or $5 a month to get perks respectively.

This is essentially a subscription service where you get additional content, starting at the low price of $2/month.

See the section below for more on donations and subscription.

So, when does this new content start? It was intended to be by the second week of January, but we we are pushing this forward to the first week of April.

Donations/Subscriptions

Earlier in the year, we set up a Patreon account. We have not really been promoting it much. Nor have we really spent a great deal of time trying to find the best reward incentives. We have decided that Patreon was not really the platform for us, we have set up a donation platform here on the website, using PayPal.

But, why do we need a donation platform?

We will continue to produce Metaphysics of Physics content as long as we have time and the means to do so. However, we still put in a fair bit of time bringing you this content. So, any donations you might like to make would be greatly appreciated.

In order to encourage you to donate, we are planning on offering content which is exclusive to donating members. They will get access to member only content. Which will mostly take the form of additional content. This is basically a subscription to additional content.

If you would like to find out more about how to make a donation and our membership perks, you find out on our Join Us page by clicking here.

Free Stuff!

If you are not willing to become a member, then fear not, we will be creating free additional content as well. This will take the form of shorter, but far more regular blog posts. These will not follow any set schedule or frequency. However, about once or twice a week on average seems fairly likely at the time of writing.

Lectures

Our podcast episodes are usually between twenty minutes, up to about an hour, with some being a little longer. Usually, we do not go into great depth in any one episode. Although, future multi-part episodes will go into greater depth on some issues.

This is all well and good, but we would like to cover some topics in greater depth and devote more time to them. To this end, we will be producing audio lectures on topics such as the fundamental issues in modern physics and their causes, the true nature and importance of mathematics and more.

This will, of course, be in addition to whatever else is going on with Metaphysics of Physics content.

We will be selling these lectures once produced. Although, for a very reasonable price. We have not decided on the pricing, but they will be somewhere around the range of 2 to 5 dollars each.

How often will we be able to produce these? It is hard to say, it depends on how much time we have to create them. But, I hope to get at least two done in the first half of 2019.

Metaphysics of Physics Merchandise

As well as running Metaphysics of Physics, we also run a t-shirt store selling stuff to pondering minds such as yourself. There we also have a Metaphysics of Physics Merch line. This is Metaphysics of Physics related stuff. All proceeds from this merchandise goes back into funding Metaphysics of Physics.

So, if you want to help support Metaphysics of Physics, this is another way to do that!

Boltzmann

Episode Nine – An Interview with the Physicist Juanma

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Today we interview the Spanish physicist Juanma on physics, the role of philosophy in physics and what can be done to improve the state of modern physics.

Episode Transcript

[Please note that this may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences.  Also, note that the audio may of poorer quality than previous episodes, so you might want to keep this in mind.]

Hi everyone! This is episode nine of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast.

I am Ashna, and I your host and guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science. Thanks for tuning in!

With this show, we are fighting for a more rational world, mostly by looking through the lens of the philosophy of science.  We raise awareness of issues within the philosophy of science and present alternative and rational approaches.

You can find all the episodes, transcripts and subscription options on the website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

Today we have an interview with Juanma, physics and mathematics researcher, Objectivist and a fellow student of the philosophy of physics!

Dwayne originally performed this interview. But, for various reasons we won’t go into here, his segments were rerecorded by myself.

The audio may be of lower quality than normal. This is due to the fact that the interview was performed over Skype and the connection was of fairly low quality.

For the most part, the audio should be of acceptable quality, but if parts are less clear there is a transcript which may help to clarify parts of the audio which might be difficult to make out.

Note that the transcript includes the answers Juanma prepared in advance and does not include extra commentary improvised during the interview.  This extra content is nice, but it is not crucial. You should be able to get the gist of the answers provided to the questions from the transcript.

But, without further ado, let us start the interview.

Interview

Juanma, please introduce yourself to our audience.
I am Juanma, my name is Jaun Manuel.  I am a Spanish physicist and I majored in theoretical physics.  And then I spent a year doing research in the foundation of quantum mechanics.

And now I am living in London doing an MSc course in quite a different thing, which is the physics of complex systems.  And I am also interested in philosophy and quantum mechanics interpretations.  Which has been my motive even since I got into the science world.

1) What did you study and why?
In Madrid, I could have chosen mathematics or physics. In the end, I decided to major in physics.

I decided this quite early during high school. I decided this quite early during high school because the thing that most resonates with me is discovering and understanding natural phenomena.

I mean, I love mathematics, but I felt it was too far from the real world.  So, in the end, I wanted something a little bit more hands-on, even if I have always been more inclined to the more fundamental and theoretical side.

2) What are the right reasons to pursue an academic career in physics or other sciences? What will enable you to make it?
Well, first of all, being quite the vocational career, so it takes a lot of dedication and interest. This is not a job that you can forget about once you get home, for example.

Many scientists spend many more hours at work than they would normally have to, and some keep working even at home, even at night.

My supervisor, last year, was hoping for the family to go to sleep so he could keep doing research, after past, I don’t know, midnight.

cat nap long hours
If you want to go into the sciences, learn to catnap so you can better handle those long hours.

It takes so much dedication: it must be your passion, your job and your hobby.  Which is quite of a thing to request for an interest in life.

Yeah, it just becomes your life.  Everyone I have known who was taking a Ph.D. or just researching, have just turned science into their life.

Many jobs in this world, you can just forget about them once you are finished.  But, science, particularly theoretical and fundamental sciences, you can to go bed and then come up with something, wake up (or stand up), take a note and then go back to bed.

3) Alright, what are the things you did not like in academia?
In the end, even if it seems to be quite a free enterprise, to decide what you are going to research, you actually depend on other people’s approval just to thrive.

You can’t just do some research without telling your university, for example. Your university must approve of your research interests; your peers must accept your papers for publication.

This sometimes turns into compliance with the status quo, you know. And so some arbitrary ideas grow over time simply because it’s not easy to get a voice if you disagree with the mainstream. Even if you present loads of compelling evidence, bring lots of information, sometimes the world of academia is quite reluctant to accept it.

This, in turn, compromises the quality of the science you produce. That is an inherent thing in academia, it has been ever since universities were built and began being a thing in the scientific literature world.  So, I don’t think there is much we can do about that.

Ashna: What is it they say? Publish or perish? Well, they want you to publish stuff they think will bring in the funding. Which is fair, they obviously need the funding. But, less mainstream ideas might not be perceived as highly fundable ideas.

4) What are the things you liked being in academia?
Well, you rarely meet people that aren’t passionate about their job, so everyone is pretty much up for discussion, time permitting, of course.

You can just go downstairs to the cafeteria and find some coffee and some interesting talk. For half an hour, one hour, about your research interests.  So, you can share your passion with people.

You don’t usually find this in some other jobs. People are usually willing to forget about their jobs once they are done.  But, in science, since it is such a vocational thing, you are always finding someone, some peers. I love that.

Also, when you don’t push reviewers’ tolerance too much, you enjoy a lot of creative freedom and it rarely becomes monotonous.  Because you can always job back and forth between different research topics.

Ashna: Yeah, even the most irrational of them, say, Max Tegmark, are very passionate. I dont like what he has to say, but he is passionate.

5) Do you wish you had studied something different and if so, why?
Thinking back, had I known how academic research would turn out, I would probably have gone for something I can still be creative at, but something that doesn’t demand some gentle form of compliance.

There is also this Atlas Shrugged-related dilemma. I don’t know if your audience is familiar with Atlas Shrugged plot, I won’t disclose that much.  But, this dilemma is basically that that scientists get scorned and underestimated, usually poorly paid and discredited. While for example, pseudoscience gets more and more popular because people nowadays prefer being told what they want to believe rather than the blatant truth.

Engineering
Engineering is a more practical, hands on job than the theoretical sciences. You also are more likely to be paid for your overtime.

So that plays against science and for say, religious or pseudoscientific views.

I think it’s healthier for one’s emotional wellbeing to pursue a career where you get what you earn. I sometimes think that becoming a researcher somehow resembles becoming a nun…

It’s implicitly written in the terms of your job that you will dedicate as much as it takes of yourself to science and that what you get from becomes pretty much irrelevant. You have decided to put your whole life, all your time, all that it takes, into science.  And you are pretty much signing up for a contract where all your time, all your spare time, isn’t that valuable.

If you are about to publish some paper or if you are collaborating with someone, maybe you have to put in 18 hours. Well, that is a bit of an exaggeration, you have to put in a lot of hours into the day, perhaps sometimes skipping meals or coming home at past 10.

It’s just a scientist’s life. Nobody will see that, it is a strange thing.

If you get some other job, you might get paid for extra hours. In science, it is implicitly accepted that you will have to do some extra hours at some point. But you just won’t get paid for that. Simply because you are expected to be so committed to science that you are not expected to expect something else in return.

I would probably have gone for something which is more efficient in these terms. Where I can really get what I am working for and earn a decent amount to simply enjoy other aspects of life and not just let science absorb all of my time, all of my dedication.

I was about to move to naval engineering, which is something where I can see the results of my work in my hands, where I can touch the results of my work. Which I don’t think is necessarily worse than doing science.  But I also like to see where all of my work has got to.

So, looking back, I might have chosen something of the sort.

Ashna: Imagine how much better it would be if people lived in a world where we had greater respect for good science and more appreciation for how hard scientists work. I think they would be better off and might make more progress.
6) What do you think about string theory?
Ah well, to paraphrase The Fountainhead, “I don’t think of string theory”. No, really, I think the methodology adopted by theoretical physicists in the last century inevitably leads to arbitrariness and, what’s even worse, a complete disregard for understanding natural phenomena.

Creator God

Episode Eight – Quora Questions on Creationism

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Today we go over some Quora questions on the universe and Creationism and answer a question from one of our listeners.

We have been asked how to download episodes so that they can be downloaded onto portable devices. Please see the post here which explains how this can be done.

Episode Transcript

[Please note that this may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences.]

Hi everyone! This is episode eight of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast.

I am Ashna, your host and guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science. Thanks for tuning in!

With this show, we are fighting for a more rational world, mostly by looking through the lens of the philosophy of science.  We raise awareness of issues within the philosophy of science and present alternative and rational approaches.

You can find all the episodes, transcripts and subscription options on the website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

Today we will be doing a Q&A episode revolving around the theme of the universe and creationism. These are questions we found looking around the Quora platform where Dwayne has an account if you wish to follow. We will also be answering a question submitted by one of our listeners.

Ok so let’s begin.

What would a non-mathematical universe look like?

It would, ignoring parts of Earth (and possibly other worlds with intelligent life) look much the same as it does now.

Mathematics is a science of method invented by people to help them measure things. Without it, we would lack the ability to do much science and we would know almost nothing about the world or our universe.

Pythagoras
Go away Pythagoras, nobody asked you about your mathematical universe.

Without it, we would know nothing about engineering and we would be unable to build most of the technology that we have.

But, other than the fact that the universe would lack all those things people built, it would be much the same.

Despite what many physicists believe, mathematics is not fundamental to the universe. It is just something people use to measure things in the universe.

Some people cannot understand the “unreasonable success” of mathematics.

Well, it is not unreasonable at all, it is entirely predictable and obvious, if you understand what mathematics is: a method of quantifying relationships and performing measurements!

If you know that, then why should it be surprising that mathematics is able to … quantify and measure the universe?

How or why did the creator create the universe?

Firstly, who said the universe was created? The universe is simply “all that exists”. It presupposes some kind of existence.

There is no explaining existence, an explanation would require something to already exist. Any explanation would presuppose something to exist.

A creator would suppose that something existed. At least himself. But are we meant to suppose that he is the only thing that existed way back in time? That he is some kind of omnipotent being?

Sorry, everything that exists has a nature.  But, to have a specific nature means that there are some things you can do and somethings that you cannot.  That therefore limits and logically excludes omnipotence. Or even the kind of power that allows one to create a universe.

How is having a creator that can create a universe any kind of logical explanation?

And more obviously, once you decide that the universe has to be created, you need to invent a creator. But, then you need to explain that creator. You need another creator and then another one and another one. It is creators all the way down.

I suppose one could assume that the creator just magically appeared out of nothing. But, if we are going to accept that, is it not simply easier to assume the universe appeared out of nothing?

But, neither the universe nor a creator can appear out of nowhere. If nothing existed, then there is nothing that can cause a creator or a universe to come to exist.

No. The only possibility we are really left with is that the universe always existed. Which is the same as saying that something has always existed.

No creator, sorry.

Creator God
Sorry God, you still are not needed.

How are atheists so adamant that there’s no “god”? Isn’t that just as naive as believing there is one?

No, there is nothing “naive” about requiring evidence to believe that something exists. And there is absolutely no evidence that God exists. Just a bunch of claims that never match observable reality and never stand up to a moment of rational thought.

Why should we believe that there is a God? I guess if we ignore logic and reality and just accept nonsensical claims of faith, then we could find a so-called “reason”. But, I am not willing to do those things.

But, it is worse than that, the very nature of God is just impossible. The laws of nature and logic make it clear that no such being could ever exist. By definition, any god is supernatural and thus outside the bounds of nature.

There is nothing at all naive about not finding any reason to believe God is possible and indeed finding a thousand reasons why he could not possibly exist.

Let me deal with one objection some of you might raise: Isn’t this trying to prove a negative? I thought you could not prove a negative…

That does not apply here. If someone makes a claim that contradicts rational metaphysics, the laws of physics or other known aspects of reality, then you most certainly can prove that it is false.

Simply show that if it was true, it would contradict reality. This establishes that it is false.

So, let’s try to prove that there are no gods.