Bender

discussing philosophy in a physics textbook

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Bender    132

I just finished reading a physics textbook. The last paragraph mentions the anthropic principle and ends with (quickly translated) "A poet would say that the universe was adjusted very precisely, almost as if it was meant for our habitation."

 

Is that acceptable? What business is it of a physics textbook, clearly meant for education, to push forward such contested, theistic, world view without nuance? It doesn't even mention the possibility of manyworld interpretations or other multiverse concepts which render the anthropic principle trivial and irrelevant.

 

Otherwise the book adheres very closely to established science. The only other diversion was a paragraph about the interpretation of quantum mechanics, where it only mentions the Copenhagen interpretation and no others.

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Prometheus    337

My physics text ended with a T.S. Eliot snippet:

 

 

We shall not cease from exploration,

and the end of all our exploring

will be to arrive where we started

and know the place for the first time.

 

I quite little flourishes like this.

 

How clear is it that the quote is the author's opinion rather than consensus opinion?

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Phi for All    4741

I think it's poorly chosen, if only because it sounds just like the kind of thing Intelligent Design proponents would try to slip into a science textbook unnoticed.

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Bender    132

I think it's poorly chosen, if only because it sounds just like the kind of thing Intelligent Design proponents would try to slip into a science textbook unnoticed.

My first thought was along those lines. This could be abused by religious people: "see, this reputable physics book agrees with us"

My physics text ended with a T.S. Eliot snippet:

 

 

I quite little flourishes like this.

 

How clear is it that the quote is the author's opinion rather than consensus opinion?

I have no problem with that little snipet.

 

About this being the authors opinion: what else can it be? The book is quite thorough, spanning almost 1500 pages and all area's of physics. I would find it hard to believe he would be ignorant about the implications of this paragraph.

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swansont    6166

OTOH, it does say "a poet would say", not that physics says this.

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Bender    132

OTOH, it does say "a poet would say", not that physics says this.

Doesn't that say "I know it shouldn't be here, but I want to say it anyway"?

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swansont    6166

Doesn't that say "I know it shouldn't be here, but I want to say it anyway"?

 

 

Perhaps, but the author decides what gets put into the book (to first order).

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Bender    132

 

Perhaps, but the author decides what gets put into the book (to first order).

Of course he does. I'm not arguing the legality. I'm arguing whether it is ok to put something like that in an otherwise "opinionless" educational physics book.

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studiot    1131

I quite like the practice of heading chapters with a pithy and perhaps witty quotation.

 

One of my favorites is

 

 

Gentlemen shall I refuse my dinner because I do not fully understand the process of digestion?

 

Another good one is

 

 

The phrase "The Laws of Chance" is self contradictory. If it is chance then there are no laws, if there are laws then it is not chance.

Edited by studiot
  • Upvote 1

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Bender    132

Who doesn't like them :).

 

But those are just funny and generally don't have deeper ideological implications. The paragraph I mentioned in the OP was also in the actual text.

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Prometheus    337

Once saw a stats book dedication along the lines of: to my wife, without whom this book would have been completed much earlier. Brave.

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studiot    1131

Who doesn't like them :).

 

But those are just funny and generally don't have deeper ideological implications. The paragraph I mentioned in the OP was also in the actual text.

 

Both those quotations had deeper implications, did you recognise either?

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CharonY    1590

Actually quoted as it is, I find the statement in OP rather thoughtful. It is open to interpretation, but my first thought is rather:"yes intuitively it seems so, but why is it so?" With the latter being what sets scientists off to this journey (and rocky careers).

 

To me, any statement that makes you ponder is a worthwhile one to have and I have no issue with that. It would be different if they misstate facts, or make wrong definite statements, for example.

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Strange    2431

It might have been better as an opening, with the rest of the book showing why the poet is wrong.

 

But it was probably just that the writer thought he should end with an open-ended and (possibly) inspiring thought.

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Bender    132

Both those quotations had deeper implications, did you recognise either?

No, I'm not really into quotes.

But please enlighten me :)

 

It might have been better as an opening, with the rest of the book showing why the poet is wrong.

 

But it was probably just that the writer thought he should end with an open-ended and (possibly) inspiring thought.

That's probably it, and I might be overreacting. I would have preferred if both sides of the argument would be presented.

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swansont    6166

Of course he does. I'm not arguing the legality. I'm arguing whether it is ok to put something like that in an otherwise "opinionless" educational physics book.

 

 

Would you have a problem if the author had discussed interpretations of QM? Is acknowledging different views of the Anthropic principle very different from that?

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studiot    1131

No, I'm not really into quotes.

But please enlighten me :)

 

 

 

 

The first was by Heaviside, the originator of the operational calculus and Laplace transform.

However he was not a pure mathematician and could not prove his new methods in pure maths so he was ridiculed by pure mathematicians.

His answer was basically it works when other methods don't and I need answers.

 

The quote was to the Royal Society at a dinner where he was a guest speaker.

 

The second quote was from Lord Samuel essays in Physics.

 

 

 

 

 

Pearls of wisdom can also be found in the most unlikely of places.

There is no reason why Poet's should not create some.

 

Coleridge wrote this to his brother

 

post-74263-0-34716900-1492512065_thumb.jpg

 

 

Some scientific wisdom can even be found in the Bible

 

The Book of Ecclesiastes offers this

 

 

Time and chance happeneth to them all

 

and the Book of Kings offers a respectable (for the time) value for pi.

Edited by studiot

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DrP    347

...."The universe was adjusted very precisely, almost as if it were meant for our habitation"

 

Isn't it the same as the puddle of water saying "this hole in the ground is the perfect shape for me! It must have been made precisely for me to fit into it" ?

Maybe he meant it that way, maybe the inclusion of the word 'almost' was deliberate too. The world is an amazing place and can inspire numinous in many.

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Bender    132

Would you have a problem if the author had discussed interpretations of QM? Is acknowledging different views of the Anthropic principle very different from that?

As I said, he mentioned only the Copenhagen interpretation, and yes, I had a problem with that.

Not that he discussed it at all, but that he only gave one view.

...

thanks

...."The universe was adjusted very precisely, almost as if it were meant for our habitation"

 

Isn't it the same as the puddle of water saying "this hole in the ground is the perfect shape for me! It must have been made precisely for me to fit into it" ?

Maybe he meant it that way, maybe the inclusion of the word 'almost' was deliberate too. The world is an amazing place and can inspire numinous in many.

Perhaps, but the fact that this argument regularly shows up in religious arguments annoys me.

 

Perhaps he wanted to put in a wink towards colleges in the largely religious US, as a selling point? (The book is translated from English )

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goldglow    12

I just finished reading a physics textbook. The last paragraph mentions the anthropic principle and ends with (quickly translated) "A poet would say that the universe was adjusted very precisely, almost as if it was meant for our habitation."

 

Is that acceptable? What business is it of a physics textbook, clearly meant for education, to push forward such contested, theistic, world view without nuance? It doesn't even mention the possibility of manyworld interpretations or other multiverse concepts which render the anthropic principle trivial and irrelevant.

 

Otherwise the book adheres very closely to established science. The only other diversion was a paragraph about the interpretation of quantum mechanics, where it only mentions the Copenhagen interpretation and no others.

There is an enthralling book, readily available, entitled " The Ending Of Time " ( sometimes subtitled " Where Philosophy And Physics Meet " ) which is the record of several discussions between the eminent physicist Dr, David Bohm and the metaphysical philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti. It makes for fascinating reading, and fits comfortably into both worlds. The discussions, or dialogues, are also the subject of numerous videos, under the same title, on YouTube.

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goldglow    12

There is an enthralling book, readily available, entitled " The Ending Of Time " ( sometimes subtitled " Where Philosophy And Physics Meet " ) which is the record of several discussions between the eminent physicist Dr, David Bohm and the metaphysical philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti. It makes for fascinating reading, and fits comfortably into both worlds. The discussions, or dialogues, are also the subject of numerous videos, under the same title, on YouTube.

I am just reading a book titled " The Astonishing Hypothesis " subtitled " The Scientific Search for the Soul " by Francis Crick of DNA fame. Although somewhat out-dated compared with recent scientific understanding, ( it was published in 1994 ), it still has a great deal to offer and has an extensive " reference " and " further reading " section.

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nec209    2

I just finished reading a physics textbook. The last paragraph mentions the anthropic principle and ends with (quickly translated) "A poet would say that the universe was adjusted very precisely, almost as if it was meant for our habitation."

 

Is that acceptable? What business is it of a physics textbook, clearly meant for education, to push forward such contested, theistic, world view without nuance? It doesn't even mention the possibility of manyworld interpretations or other multiverse concepts which render the anthropic principle trivial and irrelevant.

 

Otherwise the book adheres very closely to established science. The only other diversion was a paragraph about the interpretation of quantum mechanics, where it only mentions the Copenhagen interpretation and no others.

 

You did not say if this is physics textbook for high school, college or university.

 

And quote universe was adjusted very precisely!! In reference to what?

 

Does he or she believe laws physics okay? Could be harder to understand with no God or easier to understand with a God. As God made the laws physics and nature more simplified and just right.

 

Is he or she trying to explain there are loop holes and break down with physics and nature that have scientists scratching their head to understand. That the laws physics and nature are not simplified and not just right but some what messy saying God be more order, less messy , simple and just right.

Edited by nec209

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Bender    132

The quote is as it appears in the book, translated as literally as I can.

The adjustments refer to physical constants, such as the charge of an electron, as he discusses the anthropic principle.

 

It is a book used in college (if you skip the titles indicated as harder) and university.

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MigL    489

Most forum members get their backs up at the merest implication of intelligent design.

But people are allowed personal beliefs. Even scientists !

So I don't have a problem with Newton, or Einstein, or any other scientist who has 'faith'.

Even ones that write books !

 

That being said, most scientists recognize that the anthropic principle is a consequence of the way the universe is, not a cause.

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CharonY    1590

Most forum members get their backs up at the merest implication of intelligent design.

But people are allowed personal beliefs. Even scientists !

So I don't have a problem with Newton, or Einstein, or any other scientist who has 'faith'.

Even ones that write books !

 

 

 

Agreed. There is the occasional issue when faith intersects with work. But luckily those cases are rare (and usually do not publish significant papers).

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