Infinity Ruining Physics?

I ran across an interesting article by Max tegmark:

"*Physics is all about predicting the future from the past, but inflation seems to sabotage this. When we try to predict the probability that something particular will happen, inflation always gives the same useless answer: infinity divided by infinity. The problem is that whatever experiment you make, inflation predicts there will be infinitely many copies of you, far away in our infinite space, obtaining each physically possible outcome; and despite years of teeth-grinding in the cosmology community, no consensus has emerged on how to extract sensible answers from these infinities. So, strictly speaking, we physicists can no longer predict anything at all!

This means that today’s best theories need a major shakeup by retiring an incorrect assumption. Which one? Here’s my prime suspect: ∞**.**"
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cr…/#.VOfdSfnF_gV

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Max Tegmark is some kind of ultra-Platonist who believes not only that mathematical truths and structures exist in and of themselves, independent of any kind of creator, but that the reality of the universe itself actually is a mathematical structure. While he is a respected physicist this is not anywhere near a mainstream belief that can be hung around the neck of the physics community as a whole. Most physicists are of the opinion that mathematical equations can model physical systems within a certain range of validity; for example the kinetic theory of gases is valid for macroscopic systems but meaningless if applied to individual molecules. Additionally anytime infinity comes out as a result it is taken to mean only that the theory has exceeded its limits and needs to be revised. Moreover, mathematics itself is not without problems and controversy at its foundations. The current model based on Set Theory allows the Banach-Tarski paradox where a three dimensional ball may be cut into 5 pieces, the pieces translated and rotated in space and reassembled into 2 balls, each identical with the original.

“The Theory of Everything is just around the corner” is hubris. It is good for selling copies of Scienticic American and obtaining government grants, but I am OK with that. We have to keep looking.

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Like you said, Tegmark is OUT THERE. He thinks the universe is made of math (whatever that means). He’s also a brilliant mathematician working at one of the top science universities in the world.

Science is getting stranger and stranger.

[quote=“Swaggy_D, post:3, topic:46095”]
Like you said, Tegmark is OUT THERE. He thinks the universe is made of math (whatever that means). He’s also a brilliant mathematician working at one of the top science universities in the world.

Science is getting stranger and stranger.
[/quote] I was taught that the universe was made of matter and non-matter. (Yep, I was going to school at around the same time as Abe Lincoln.) As time went on, I came to suspect that there was less to the matter v. non-matter distinction than met the eye. I suspected that the universe was made of energy–just energy organized in different ways.

Eventually, I thot, but wait a minute. If what “mattered” (pun intended!) was how the energy was organized–then the organizing principle or principles were the real stuff of the universe. And that meant that information is the building blocks of our universe.

To what extent will information eventually be reducible to math? I don’t know. But Tegmark doesn’t seem so far out there to me. Of course, that’s because I’m out there. And, at my age, I don’t give a hoot about that.

I was taught that the universe was made of matter and non-matter. (Yep, I was going to school at around the same time as Abe Lincoln.) As time went on, I came to suspect that there was less to the matter v. non-matter distinction than met the eye. I suspected that the universe was made of energy–just energy organized in different ways.

Eventually, I thot, but wait a minute. If what “mattered” (pun intended!) was how the energy was organized–then the organizing principle or principles were the real stuff of the universe. And that meant that information is the building blocks of our universe.

To what extent will information eventually be reducible to math? I don’t know. But Tegmark doesn’t seem so far out there to me. Of course, that’s because I’m out there. And, at my age, I don’t give a hoot about that.

That is a Platonically tinged ontological argument that I actually ascribe to in a large part. I arrive at your conclusion in a slightly different way but you do have an interesting thought process.

Essentially Plato said that the sensible world (the world we see) is not the best representation of reality, but that the “forms” of which each sensible object is an iteration are the best definition of reality. In other words, he believed that reality wash the cookie-cutter and not the cookies.

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[quote=“cynicaloptimist, post:5, topic:46095”]
That is a Platonically tinged ontological argument that I actually ascribe to in a large part. I arrive at your conclusion in a slightly different way but you do have an interesting thought process.

Essentially Plato said that the sensible world (the world we see) is not the best representation of reality, but that the “forms” of which each sensible object is an iteration are the best definition of reality. In other words, he believed that reality wash the cookie-cutter and not the cookies.
[/quote] I like the way he thinks! (smile)

Are you a philosopher? You seem really into this subject.

You missed your calling Patricia. The mathematical study of information (both classical and quantum) is a huge area of research. There are several proposed theories that the fundamental building blocks of the universe are information. Vlatko Verdal and Seth Lloyd both champion this idea and I think that both of them have authored popular physics (few or no equations) books on the subject. One nagging question I have is: Whose information is it? God?

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Yep.

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As somebody that swings Astrophysics and Quantum Physics in his spare time, I only have 2 things to say about this.

  1. The more we learn, the more questions are discovered that need to be asked.
  2. Sometimes, the truth is stranger than fiction. Welcome to quantum physics buddy.
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As somebody that swings Astrophysics and Quantum Physics in his spare time…

I’m trying to get to the point where I can do that same thing - I don’t really want to be a physicist, but I want to know all about it. So I’m trying to learn as much calculus, algebra and topology (my weakest subject) as I can so I can pursue that stuff on my own time. Plus the math is just useful on the off chance I decide to be an engineer or computer scientist.

so your major is… math??

I don’t know yet - I applied to all liberal arts colleges so that I could figure out what I wanted to do and explore my many interests (from theology, physics, literature, business and many more) without being locked in. So I probably won’t know what I’ll study for at least two years. Who knows, maybe I’ll even take a “Woman, Gender, and Sexuality” class. :banana:.

Don’t get discouraged, my major was MIS (Management Information Systems) and that doesn’t have a lick to do at all with Astrophysics and Quantum Physics. The important part is you booker down and start to learn the stuff you need to regarding the subject matter that really interests you. And if you can, don’t just learn it, APPLY IT!

Look at this guy here: Working toward a warp drive: In his garage lab, Omahan aims to bend fabric of space - Omaha.com: Living

That dude is trying to build a warp bubble in his flipping garage. This guy is clearly a dreamer, who is doing his damnedest to try to advance humanity and our understand of space/time itself. Will he be successful? Well… who knows, but he is gaining a following of people that at first were completely dismissive of his ideas, and now they are starting to change their tune.

Dare to dream, and dream BIG. That’s not something that can be taught at a university or in some classroom textbook. If people doubt you, press forward regardless. Only you should be the decider of when you’re done or not. Oh, and my sig is amusingly relevant.

Infinity is not physics’ most pressing problem. The real problems are related to our perception of reality. First, they have to get it fixed in their minds there is a difference between ‘zero’ and ‘nothing’. Zero is a mathematical placeholder representing an absence of anything within a given context while ‘nothing’ signifies there is no context at all.

The second problem, is neither the Wave or Particle models work. Wave theory implies a there is always something but with no gaps between whatever makes up the waves, how do you get movement. Particle theory says there is emptiness between particles but then how do you get those last smallest particles to bound or do anything but collide. And if there is nothing between particles, then they should be able to transverse any distance instantaneously.

Any defined volume is not ‘nothing’. There maybe a lack of known components or context within the volume, which establishes it as having zero contents, but zero is more than nothing.

Thus we come to the third problem. We define space as X, Y, Z axis and anything that changes position is defined as movement. But how big is big? How far does existance go?

In looking at the equation E=MC², what many fail to realize is there is only one real value C². Effectively what it says is M (Mass) and (E) Energy, are just states of (C²) or velocity. In other words they are just states of motion. If everything is either energy or matter, then it’s all motion and thus any X, Y, Y coordinates are established by that motion not the other way around.

With this realization, you no longer have the zero/nothing conflict, there are no gaps required to get motion and big is only as big as it needs to be.

[quote=“Superpsycho, post:14, topic:46095”]
Infinity is not physics’ most pressing problem. The real problems are related to our perception of reality. First, they have to get it fixed in their minds there is a difference between ‘zero’ and ‘nothing’. Zero is a mathematical placeholder representing an absence of anything within a given context while ‘nothing’ signifies there is no context at all.

The second problem, is neither the Wave or Particle models work. Wave theory implies a there is always something but with no gaps between whatever makes up the waves, how do you get movement. Particle theory says there is emptiness between particles but then how do you get those last smallest particles to bound or do anything but collide. And if there is nothing between particles, then they should be able to transverse any distance instantaneously.

Any defined volume is not ‘nothing’. There maybe a lack of known components or context within the volume, which establishes it as having zero contents, but zero is more than nothing.

Thus we come to the third problem. We define space as X, Y, Z axis and anything that changes position is defined as movement. But how big is big? How far does existance go?

In looking at the equation E=MC², what many fail to realize is there is only one real value C². Effectively what it says is M (Mass) and (E) Energy, are just states of (C²) or velocity. In other words they are just states of motion. If everything is either energy or matter, then it’s all motion and thus any X, Y, Y coordinates are established by that motion not the other way around.

With this realization, you no longer have the zero/nothing conflict, there are no gaps required to get motion and big is only as big as it needs to be.
[/quote] where does information fit in your paradigm?

Information can be defined broadly. DNA is information, simple one’s and zero’s can be defined as information. A zero or one state at the base of a transistor can be a powerful tool capable of unleashing massive amounts of power. Every ripple in time and space is information. Everything in the universe affects everything else to some degree, though it may be infinity small. That affect is information. The influence every location and motion has, is information that defines it’s relationship to everything else. It is the memory of what came before and promise of what will be.

[quote=“Superpsycho, post:16, topic:46095”]
Information can be defined broadly. DNA is information, simple one’s and zero’s can be defined as information. A zero or one state at the base of a transistor can be a powerful tool capable of unleashing massive amounts of power. Every ripple in time and space is information. Everything in the universe affects everything else to some degree, though it may be infinity small. That affect is information. The influence every location and motion has, is information that defines it’s relationship to everything else. It is the memory of what came before and promise of what will be.
[/quote] Therefore information is the conceptual key to understanding the universe.

Understanding requires information, though information does not necessarily guarantee understanding. It is how we see the information that determines our level of understanding of an issue or subject. Often it is how well we can relate our understanding of the simple things, to the more complex issues, that provides us with the key.

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Infinity is not physics’ most pressing problem. The real problems are related to our perception of reality. First, they have to get it fixed in their minds there is a difference between ‘zero’ and ‘nothing’. Zero is a mathematical placeholder representing an absence of anything within a given context while ‘nothing’ signifies there is no context at all.

The second problem, is neither the Wave or Particle models work. Wave theory implies a there is always something but with no gaps between whatever makes up the waves, how do you get movement. Particle theory says there is emptiness between particles but then how do you get those last smallest particles to bound or do anything but collide. And if there is nothing between particles, then they should be able to transverse any distance instantaneously.

Any defined volume is not ‘nothing’. There maybe a lack of known components or context within the volume, which establishes it as having zero contents, but zero is more than nothing.

Thus we come to the third problem. We define space as X, Y, Z axis and anything that changes position is defined as movement. But how big is big? How far does existance go?

In looking at the equation E=MC², what many fail to realize is there is only one real value C². Effectively what it says is M (Mass) and (E) Energy, are just states of (C²) or velocity. In other words they are just states of motion. If everything is either energy or matter, then it’s all motion and thus any X, Y, Y coordinates are established by that motion not the other way around.

With this realization, you no longer have the zero/nothing conflict, there are no gaps required to get motion and big is only as big as it needs to be.

So I only have a year of formal physics training under my belt, but I can see a couple of problems with these problems you laid out.

The zero/nothing conflict is not something physicists worry about. That is more philosophical.

The particle/wave duality is also a resolved issue. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle states that it is impossible to know both the position and velocity of a particle. Yet this is not just a statement about experimental limitations, it is an assertion about a physical reality. More generally, the principle states that particles do not have a fixed velocity and/or position. Therefore, to describe a particle, you have to sum up all the potential states of the particle (the “eigenstates” as far as I know), which ends up being a wave. Because that summation is just a description of physical reality, that wave-like quality is an actual quality of the particle. That is my understanding. There isn’t really a problem there.

As for your third problem, both velocity and size are relative, meaning big is whatever you experience it to be. Also energy and mass are not movement, C^2 is just the conversion factor between mass and energy (the speed of light is a frequently occurring constant in physical equations).

Your parroting, not thinking. You’re making theoretical assumptions that cloud the issues without really hearing what you’re saying. It avoids the fundamental question of the nature of movement. Can you have movement without empty space and if you have empty space how do you get particle bounding. Wave particle duality does not answer that question.

The Wave/particle duality model was constructed because they could not explain why light in some experiments acts alike a particle and a wave in others. Duality is not an answer just an observational place holder until they figure out something better. In the case of light affects, until they realize they have not included the relative impedance affects of the particle streams. All forms of energy follow the same basic rules. Essentially, everything will follow the path of least resistance, relative to its context. Every particle will have spin, that spin is seen as impedance to every other particle. It’s not magic. Some things may not be measurable or observable but they are not clouds of mystic states.

There is an average density of mass throughout the universe and nowhere is that density equal to zero.