Housellama wrote:Comparatively speaking, you're absolutely right. I know a little, but not much. More than the average person, but nowhere close to a professional. Then again, I never claimed to be a professional.
But that's the problem. Criticism with incomplete understanding is infectious. Making a good argument against something you don't fully understand, but something other people do understand, only corrupts knowledge. I'm not about to tell a chef he's a bad cook, even though I can make dinner each night. But that's what you're doing.
It took me 5 tries to pass Calc 1. It's not that I don't like it, it's just that I can't do it. Calc doesn't fit in my brain, for whatever reason. It's actually a little frustrating to me because I wanted to be an engineer. Can't be an engineer if you can't do higher level math.
I broke the bell curve and got 105% in High School Calculus. In Ontario, at that time, that was not your US Calculus, but the same calculus I got the next year in First Year University. (Ontario has since changed to match all other provinces and states at Grade 12, instead of ending with Grade 13.) Calculus, to me, is natural. I was developing the next day's theorems after finishing the homework in class time, because the Teach didn't like me reading novels while everyone else was working. I only got a couple right, but I was able to see the next step based on the next day's problems.
When I said "new math", what I was trying to say was new equations.
And that's confusing to neophytes. They don't know enough to understand what you mean. Math hasn't changed in hundreds of years. It's Physics' theorems that have changed. Physics will change: the methods it uses to derive the equations to describe the universe will not.
Woah... slow down there. I got some history wrong. Fair cop.
The problem is that I've heard that mangled history before. There are books out there that misrepresent QM the way you claim. I've faced down these very arguments. You're more responsive, and that's good. But you're on the edge of common quackery and a semi-organized disinformation campaign. I suggest you back off and stop. If you don't have full understanding, then you're causing damage the way "they" are, where "they" are a small group of conspiracy theorists and their legion of drone believers convinced that there must be a conspiracy of thought control, for lord knows what purpose, since tenure would happen regardless of the Physics being taught. You claim that you aren't one, and I'll accept it because you are willing to listen. Those brainwashed drones won't even look up the sources the way you did, because they believe them all corrupted or whatever. But you're putting yourself in their crowd, when you present their arguments.
This is another case of me not communicating well. When I said why, I didn't mean in a philosophical sense, I meant it in a causation sense. In your example, the nail moves because the forces were carried through the subatomic particles. That's a causation.
You'll notice that I used two examples. Gravity. We know the effect, but not the vector for the force, which you call causation. The theoretical "graviton" has no foundation and no mathematical construct to represent it. So I demonstrated a lack of causation in a known effect everyone can observe. to demonstrate that your view of causation is a distraction. If we accept gravity wihtout causation, why should we reject QM for the same reason? Double standard.
But I also demonstrated Magnetism. Few know that it is transmitted by the same photon that light is transmitted by. And I gave the vector -- a sub-atomic particle (though I didn't look up the name). But then I presented that our knowledge ends where the particle strikes the atom. We do not know the next level of causation. We have your causation in this case, but causation runs deeper... I showed that there is a lower level of causation that you're not recognizing. All Physics theories end the same way. Everything ends at some level of lack of knowledge of your causation. That's what Physicists work at, and every new step of causation reveals another level of causation to discover. All Physics ends in a "blank spot" of a lack of causation. All of it. If it didn't, then there would be nothing new to discover.
The process is the same, absolutely. The way math describes the world is the same in all physics. But there is something fundamentally different about QM, something that makes it distinct from everything else: uncertainty. More later.
This leads back to why I think QM is different. If you told scientists that you couldn't predict where a particular electron is going to be, they would think you were out of your head without the math to back it up. And many people did. Einstein's "spooky action at a distance", for example. But QM worked, so crazy as it is, it was kept.
What is different about QM is that it deals heavily in statistics, and stats is harder for most mathematicians than any other branch of science. (I was also good at stats.) I watched guys that massacred 3D Calculus almost fall to tears when they failed the only course in University they didn't get an A in.. Statistics. Probabilities are foreign to the logical mind that has developed to deal with absolutes. But statistical theory is understood by the right kind of mathematician, even though it boggles the minds of others. All Physicists need some understanding of statistics in order to explain experiments, but QM deals directly in probability in nature, where other branches reject it in nature, and accept it only as a consequence of error inherent in experimental results.
Perhaps I'm putting the 'blame' in the wrong place here. It would be more accurate to say that Nature is weird and therefore QM is weird. It accurately models what is there, but what is there is freaking bizarre. Yeah, the basics of QM are scientifically accepted these days, but when you look at it from an outside point of view, it's pretty booped up. But that's Mother Nature's fault. You guys are just going where the equations take you.
Not me. I understand a lot of it, but not enough to take on the task of advancing the science of WM. I accept that I will never understand the rest, and trust those that do to get the job done. That's why i'm an engineer. I'm good at solving problems, not looking into the unknown. I chose my branch of science correctly, entirely by accident. I leave that task to others.
Because I have met them and I know what they are capable of. And that is, in the end, what makes me different. Only the best got into my course... the University of Waterloo runs a math contest every year, and you didn't get in without taking it. I knew 5 of the top 10 that year, and 1 I couldn't know because he was 15 and still in high school. Three were in my Computer Engineering class (Electrical with computer options, really. It's been redefined since I took it.) I'm going to describe one. He got 3rd. (UW was attractive because it had an extremely good co-op program. It was called MIT North for darn good reason.)
I met him the Monday of Frosh week, since he went to my college. James was 17, while we were all 19 (one extra year of high school, as prev. mentioned.) And he turned that only 1 week before. He was out of his depth socially. Quirky and strange, like a 15-year old kid seeking attention, probably because his intelligence isolated him. But he could play the piano. He invited me to his Concert for his Performance later. He was incredible. But he was mechanical... he had no emotion in his music. Technically perfect. Long thin fingers to go wiht his thin body. And this translated into another ability.
Video games. Hand-eye coordination was astounding. I watched him enter the last stage of a bottom-up shooter on 1 quarter. He failed that stage four times, and was about to turn away out of cash, but I put him back and paid 75c to see him finish the game. He could process all of those hundreds of shots on the screen and find those holes, when I was just looking at a fog of moving dots. Incredible processing power.
In the third week, I had a set of math problems to finish and hand in that day. I was uncertain of #3 of 5 since it didn't meet my guesstimate, so went looking for the usual suspects to compare with. None were around, so I found James. He was studying, because he was taking two Advanced Honours Math courses on top of my Engineering workload, through agreement with the Math department. (You get special service when you're #3. BTW, #2 was across the hall from me in the same college, but he was taking Pure Math with agreement that he did not need to take any computer courses.) So I asked him, "James, have you handed in your Math problems yet?"
"Yes, last Friday," he replied.
"Why do you ask?"
"I think I got one wrong, but can't find the mistake," I stated.
He put his fingers on his temples and looked like he was concentrating. He was a bad actor. Or I'm a good profiler. He gave me an answer in the ballpark I thought was correct, four digits to two decimal places, like the problem demanded.
"How about #1?" He gave me tha answer on my page. "#2?" Again correct. Same for 4 and 5. I screwed my face up as I considered the problem again. Now I knew #3 was wrong.
"#3 is different."
james said, "I could be wrong."
Frustrated, I replied a little short, "You're not wrong James... there it is. I flipped a sign. And if I correct that... yep, it'll be close if not correct. Thanks James." But I didn't leave. I looked at him, but he was staring at his books again. "James, do you have an eiditic memory." He slumped.
"Almost," he said quietly. The temple thing was a distraction. He was trying to hide his memory from me, but i saw through it. I think he had been punished by his peers in high school for his talents, and he was afraid that we would treat him the same. He was still special, brilliant, even in comparison to us, but we all had our talents, and all gone through what he did.
"James, can you sight read music, throw it away and play from memory?"
He slumped again. "Yes."
For the first time, his roommate took notice. "Really? Wow, I've got to see that!" Eventually, we did. Someone found a piece and put him to it. And when we did, he got what he'd never had before -- he got cheers. i outed him, but he found that his talents were respected, not feared, now. Others taught him the social skills that he was lacking, and he came out of University a powerful, confident, talented individual.
James was terrified of his talents. He had so many powerful ones. I can't give you an example of his raw intelligence, except to say that he took the most difficult math courses in the school on top of doing the most difficult Engineering course in the school. He went on to easily get his Ph.D., develop new analog to digital silicon, and write a Scrabble program used by professionals players for practice. Before he turned 25. Last time I saw him, he had memorized all of the 2, 3, 6, 7, and 8 legal scrabble words and was working on the 4's. I was the only one that could provide any challenge for him at Scrabble in the crowd of 14, all University grads or nearly. He easily beat me, and I scored higher than I had ever done before. No one else would even sit at the table, but we had a bunch watching.
It is men like this, with talents like this, that are advancing science. They are, literally, just that intelligent. Until you've met one, you don't know genius. I've seen so many fools think that everyone can do what everyone else can with practice, but no, you can't. You can't understand the foundations of what he develops on. Until you can, you have no right to suggest he is wrong. Some of my classmates got through to their degrees using study tricks, instead of intelligence. Those will invent nothing. I did poorly in class, but I understood what I knew, and there were those that thought I was high rank in the class because I could use what I learned. But men like James out-think me. I tried to act as a foil for James, to make him strive for more than that attention seeking, ego-less kid feared he could do. To get him to accept that he could be confident without being arrogant. That was his weakness. He was afraid of a growing ego and suppressing his talent for fear of arrogance.