29 posts tagged with physics and philosophy.
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The observer at the end of time: Of immortal watchers and imaginary data

In a Multiverse, What Are the Odds? "Testing the multiverse hypothesis requires measuring whether our universe is statistically typical among the infinite variety of universes. But infinity does a number on statistics." (previously) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Nov 9, 2014 - 47 comments

there's nothing that is scientifically proven

(A theoretical physicist explains why) Science Is Not About Certainty [more inside]
posted by flex on Aug 5, 2014 - 33 comments

Time : a flat circle :: Consciousness : a state of matter?

"While the problem of consciousness is far from being solved, it is finally being formulated mathematically as a set of problems that researchers can understand, explore and discuss.

Today, Max Tegmark, a theoretical physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, sets out the fundamental problems that this new way of thinking raises. He shows how these problems can be formulated in terms of quantum mechanics and information theory. And he explains how thinking about consciousness in this way leads to precise questions about the nature of reality that the scientific process of experiment might help to tease apart.

Tegmark’s approach is to think of consciousness as a state of matter, like a solid, a liquid or a gas. 'I conjecture that consciousness can be understood as yet another state of matter. Just as there are many types of liquids, there are many types of consciousness,' he says."
posted by Strange Interlude on Jun 12, 2014 - 235 comments

That’s why it doesn’t matter if God plays dice with the Universe

Discovering Free Will (Part II, Part III) - a nice discussion of the Conway-Kochen "Free Will Theorem". [more inside]
posted by Wolfdog on Mar 4, 2014 - 92 comments

I Was Told There Would Be No Math

M.I.T. professor Max Tegmark explores the possibility that math does not just describe the universe, but makes the universe.
posted by COD on Jan 14, 2014 - 111 comments

Nothing is the most important part of the Universe.

The concept of nothing is as old as zero itself. How do we grapple with the concept of nothing? From the best laboratory vacuums on Earth to the vacuum of space to what lies beyond, the idea of nothing continues to intrigue professionals and the public alike. Join moderator and Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson as he leads a spirited discussion with a group of physicists, philosophers and journalists about the existence of nothing. The event, which was streamed live to the web, took place at the American Museum of Natural History on March 20, 2013. [more inside]
posted by lazaruslong on Mar 25, 2013 - 32 comments

the power and beauty of mathematics

An eternity of infinities (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Feb 2, 2013 - 23 comments

direct realism

The Nature of Computation - Intellects Vast and Warm and Sympathetic: "I hand you a network or graph, and ask whether there is a path through the network that crosses each edge exactly once, returning to its starting point. (That is, I ask whether there is a 'Eulerian' cycle.) Then I hand you another network, and ask whether there is a path which visits each node exactly once. (That is, I ask whether there is a 'Hamiltonian' cycle.) How hard is it to answer me?" (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Dec 1, 2012 - 19 comments

What's gonna happen outside the window next?

Noam Chomsky on Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong
posted by cthuljew on Nov 18, 2012 - 55 comments

Standing On The Shoulders of Giants

Holt’s philosophers belong to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Compared with the giants of the past, they are a sorry bunch of dwarfs. They are thinking deep thoughts and giving scholarly lectures to academic audiences, but hardly anybody in the world outside is listening. They are historically insignificant. At some time toward the end of the nineteenth century, philosophers faded from public life. Like the snark in Lewis Carroll’s poem, they suddenly and silently vanished. So far as the general public was concerned, philosophers became invisible. [more inside]
posted by jason's_planet on Oct 21, 2012 - 130 comments

noncommutative balls in boxes

Morton and Vicary on the Categorified Heisenberg Algebra - "In quantum mechanics, position times momentum does not equal momentum times position! This sounds weird, but it's connected to a very simple fact. Suppose you have a box with some balls in it, and you have the magical ability to create and annihilate balls. Then there's one more way to create a ball and then annihilate one, than to annihilate one and then create one. Huh? Yes: if there are, say, 3 balls in the box to start with, there are 4 balls you can choose to annihilate after you've created one but only 3 before you create one..." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jul 21, 2012 - 78 comments

The Strangest Man

The trend of mathematics and physics towards unification provides the physicist with a powerful new method of research into the foundations of his subject, a method which has not yet been applied successfully, but which I feel confident will prove its value in the future. The method is to begin by choosing that branch of mathematics which one thinks will form the basis of the new theory. One should be influenced very much in this choice by considerations of mathematical beauty. [1939] [more inside]
posted by smcg on Apr 28, 2012 - 8 comments

Much Ado About Nothing

Physicist Lawrence Krauss wrote a book titled A Universe from Nothing. Philosopher David Albert wrote a rather scathing review. In a later interview with The Atlantic, Krauss suggested that philosophers feel threatened by science "because science progresses and philosophy doesn't." Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci weighed in on Krauss' comments, and Krauss non-apologized to philosophers who may have been offended. Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne reflects on the controversy.
posted by Jonathan Livengood on Apr 27, 2012 - 84 comments

42

What Happened Before the Big Bang? The New Philosophy of Cosmology
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 24, 2012 - 50 comments

Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Time

Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Time.
posted by empath on Sep 1, 2011 - 131 comments

The Purpose Of The Universe And Other Easy Questions

The Disenchanted Naturalist's Guide to Reality (see also)
posted by anotherpanacea on Feb 9, 2010 - 31 comments

"What happened to then?" "We passed it." "When?" "Just now. We're at now now."

"It doubtless seems highly paradoxical to assert that Time is unreal, and that all statements which involve its reality are erroneous. ... I believe that time is unreal. But I do so for reasons which are not, I think, employed by any of the philosophers whom I have mentioned, and I propose to explain my reasons in this paper." ~McTaggart, The Unreality of Time, 1908. (Bonus: The Kant Song.)
posted by voltairemodern on Feb 10, 2009 - 96 comments

The Spherical Wave Structure of Matter in Space

On Truth and Reality. Despite several thousand years of failure to correctly understand physical reality (hence the current postmodern view that this is impossible) it is actually very simple to work out how matter exists and moves about in Space. The rules of Science (Occam's Razor / Simplicity) and Metaphysics (Dynamic Unity of Reality) require that reality be described from only one single source existing, as Leibniz wrote: "because of the interconnection of all things with one another." [more inside]
posted by netbros on Jan 30, 2009 - 46 comments

Plurality of Words

Anathem, Neal Stephenson's new book, is stupendous, possibly his best.  But his acknowledgments page (summarized in the print version and as expansive as ever on the Internet Reticulum) might be even more interesting, and poignant, especially as an introduction to the niftiest piece of metaphysics in the book: the quantum effects  (PDFs) of consciousness among many worlds[more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Sep 25, 2008 - 141 comments

Reality

The Reality Tests. "A team of physicists in Vienna has devised experiments that may answer one of the enduring riddles of science: Do we create the world just by looking at it?"
posted by homunculus on Jun 4, 2008 - 82 comments

free Yale courses online

Open Yale Courses provides free and open access to seven introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University:Astronomy, English, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Religious Studies: a full set of class lectures produced in high-quality video, syllabi, suggested readings, and problem sets. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Dec 14, 2007 - 30 comments

Learning can be fun.

Science sites of all kinds for kids. Archeology. Entomology. Natural Symphony. Baseball in Space. Philosophy. Process or Content. Science songs. Physics songs, relativity. String theory. Science and Art.
posted by nickyskye on Jun 26, 2006 - 9 comments

Odd but fun short films...

The odd films of Neural Surfer. I've yet to watch them all but my fave so far is Little Things that Jiggle: Richard Feynman and Atomic Physics {google vid}, which is part of the Philosophy in less than five minutes (sometimes) series.
posted by dobbs on May 10, 2006 - 10 comments

The physics of reality

Does God Play Dice?
posted by Gyan on Dec 3, 2005 - 104 comments

Negative knowledge (or more precisely negative information)

Know less than nothing!? What could negative knowledge possibly mean? In short, after I tell you negative information, you will know less... "In this week's issue of Nature, however, Michal Horodecki and colleagues present a fresh approach to understanding quantum phenomena that cannot be grasped simply by considering their classical counterparts." [via slashdot :]
posted by kliuless on Aug 8, 2005 - 26 comments

(S/W)AP

Smolin vs. Susskind on the anthropic principle. For those keeping score: Stephen Hawking is for it. Brian Greene is not.
posted by kliuless on Sep 4, 2004 - 10 comments

Hooft

Essence of Everything? According to Zuse, cellular automata (PDF). He's not alone.
posted by Gyan on May 1, 2004 - 9 comments

On phenotropy and causal bandwidth

Jaron Lanier talks about philosophy, computer science and physics. Suppose poor old Shroedinger's Cat has survived all the quantum observation experiments but still has a taste for more brushes with death. We could oblige it by attaching the cat-killing box to our camera. So long as the camera can recognize an apple in front of it, the cat lives.
posted by kliuless on Nov 20, 2003 - 11 comments

Interesting way to look at time

The cable clock. This clocks tells time, just like any other clock, but the movement of the hands is hypnotic and beautiful. To physicists, time is defined by quantum mechanics. A photon with energy h (Planck's constant) behaves as though it were oscillating once per second. For Philosphers, time is less concrete, and they love to talk about it. Western society lives by the clock - does it make a difference if this is the kind of clock that you live by? After all, everyone knows that time is money. If you have to be a clock watcher, does it help if the clock is as calming as the Cable Clock is?
posted by kristin on Sep 9, 2003 - 20 comments

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