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Everything posted by disarray

  1. Speaking for laypersons, I can see that it is often unclear as to what might have some objective correlative that one designates as real. Even quantum physicists have different opinions as to whether one should continue to ask such questions as to whether the position of an electron is definite before being observed, or to take the more practical/applied approach of to just "shut up and calculate." There seems to be a difference between appearance and reality in many cases (though sometimes they are the same) as with the apparent curvature of a stick in a beaker of water. In Relativity, it makes sense to me that (from the pov of a person on earth looking at the clock on a rocket speeding away at near the speed of light) that the clock would just appear to slow down, but then there is the further claim that time actually slows down so that the returning traveler will not be as old as his companion who stayed on earth. Similarly (by virtue of the equivalence principle), one wonders whether (space)time itself actually slows down in a gravitational well, or whether there is some change in the velocity at which EM waves (of any clock) are moving, even though, for all practical purposes, it doesn't make any difference. Also, there is some confusion as to whether space(time) actually "curves" in the usual sense of the word , e.g., light passing by the sun, or whether saying that space curves is just a mathematical convention that shouldn't be taken literally. I can see though that it doesn't matter all that much as to what we mean when we say that spacetime "curves," as long as we can improve the accuracy of our GPS/satellite systems. Semantics. Indeed, the two main schools of thought with regards to whether reality is fundamentally mathematical in nature is the Platonic approach (e.g., Godel) who sees our mathematical systems as a reflection of the mathematical structure inherent in the universe, and the constructionist/paradigm approach in which mathematics is seen to effectively (to varying degrees as with competing superstring theories) map the structures in the universe, but in a way that is arbitrary and never absolute or definitive. Certainly one hears that much of superstring theory "works," but that people have no idea whether 'reality' has 'really' 10 or 11 dimensions or not. On the other hand, it does seem that science sometimes does take a step forward if we can more accurately identify something (however physical or ephemeral) that matches up with the math model that works so well and perhaps, in some cases, help us to understand the nature of cauality/acausality in a situation a little better, e.g., the discovery of CBR to help validate Big Bang theory, the discovery of the Higgs Boson, and the possible discovery of gravitons. In any case, I think that focusing on semantics (unlike perhaps more vague aspects of philosophy such as ontology which asks why things are as they are) is useful. For example, there does seem to be some confusion even in this thread as to what a "field" is, or rather, what different meanings it might take on depending upon the context in which it is used. Thus, Mike might agree that there is a gravitational "field," but then say "hang on a moment" when you clarify that the field of which you speak is just a mathematical grid with mathematical metrics/tensors, and says nothing about the 'ingredients' of gravity or gravitational waves beyond that. In a recent post, it seems to me, that he is saying that the EM field has so many properties that we can think of it as a (physical?) medium, so why not just say the same thing about the gravitational field? My own wild stab at putting a basic label on the word, "gravitation" is to agree that it is just a term for what we see happening in and to spacetime with respect to factors such as mass/energy momentum, and I personally would be "satisfied" with that and everyone can go home. I do think, as an aside, that, in accordance with various quotes I have posted recently, that spacetime is inextricably and ineluctably bound up with gravity and that gravity is similarly bound up with energy (levels), so that one might suggest that one is referring to some sort of "field" of energy when one speaks of spacetime curvature, gravitation, or gravitational waves. But even if this is an acceptable statement, however simplistic, one might further ask, perhaps somewhat obsessive/compulsively, what is "energy" or "mass/energy," be it with reference to EM or gravitational waves, and here, apart from describing their respective characteristics, I would agree is the end of the line, and a scientist can do no more and should not be expected to do any more than to say that 'it is what it is'.
  2. Here you are downplaying the role of punishment and reward, or perhaps saying punishment is not necessary if you always do the right thing (a tall order), so focus more on determining what is right/wrong. I agree that we are social animals, as many from Aristotle to David Brooks insist, but that observation in itself is open to interpretation. It appears that you are recapitulating Freud’s notion of internalizing the moral instructions of others, much as parents tell their children to pretend that the parents are always around, as if listening to the inner voice that their parents have put their. But at some point, unless one is just a moral automaton, one might find it desirable to reassess what society, ones parents, ones coworkers, ones country, or ones religion tells one. This transition is reflected in Kohlberg’s highest stage of moral development in which, though taking into consideration the wishes of society, “I decide what is right or wrong based upon my own self-ethical principles.” Kohlberg also claims that one realizes at this level that there are universal moral truths, but personally acknowledged that this is only speculation. Indeed, some religions suggest that one doesn’t follow ones own moral judgments, but just follows the external moral guidelines given to one by God, and to follow God’s plan for your life, not your own plan, and to let your conscience be guided by God, not just taking you where it wants. In an nutshell, there is always the issue as to how extrinsic or intrinsic this sort of moral companionship (not being alone) of which you speak actually is. It is similar to the question as to whether one needs extrinsic verification from others that one is loved, or whether one ultimately relies most on loving oneself so that one is not reliant on others for constant self-validation and approval.
  3. No, Einstein is suggesting that it is not a good situation if one is worried about punishments and rewards when it comes to how one behaves. If one looks at the rest of what he says about ethics, this is clear, e.g., he has little regard for conventional morality and certainly does not look to religion to get moral guidelines. It doesn't matter how severe the punishment or how enticing the reward, the humanitarian view is to simply do something out of empathy. Doing something because we want praise from others or want to avoid their dark looks at us is doing something for reasons other than just empathy. Kohlberg lists 6 or 7 stages of moral development, with fear of punishment being the lowest: Stage One: (obedience and punishment driven) An example of obedience and punishment driven morality would be a child refusing to do something because it is wrong and that the consequences could result in punishment. For example, a child's classmate tries to dare the child to skip school. The child would apply obedience and punishment driven morality by refusing to skip school because he would get punished. Stage Two: (self-interest driven) expresses the "what's in it for me" position, in which right behavior is defined by whatever the individual believes to be in their best interest but understood in a narrow way which does not consider one's reputation or relationships to groups of people. Stage two reasoning shows a limited interest in the needs of others, but only to a point where it might further the individual's own interests. As a result, concern for others is not based on loyalty or intrinsic respect, but rather a "You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours" mentality. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Kohlberg%27s_stages_of_moral_development In the real world, people tend to be very derogatory....putting down others in order to make themselves look better, so that for many, being able to live their lives without living in constant fear of unfair criticism, as many, for example, famous people do, is an attitude that allows them to grow as a person. Similarly, the use of positive and negative punishments to modify people's behavior may have the tendency to dehumanize them. Of course, it is good to have goals and set standards of behavior for oneself, but again, it can be a neurotic pattern to beat oneself up too much, so to speak, when one does not live up to standards that are too high or ideal. In any case, I don't see that living in a community whose cohesion is almost entirely based upon punishment and reward is particularly consoling or comforting, nor a particularly good way to feel that one is not alone.
  4. Yes, I see what you mean, though in some countries I think that one can find a greater disparity between they average citizen's culture and his/her religious beliefs and/or rituals and/or practices. In the U.S., for example, we say that many people just put on their Sunday hat or clothes on Sunday morning and then forget about church the rest of the week (and, in many cases, cheat customers and have affairs the rest of the week without batting an eye). Indeed, part of the reason that religion is said to be struggling in the U.S., and perhaps one of the reasons it has largely disappeared from many European communities, is that it has not kept up with changes in culture, changes brought about by industrialism, commercialism, democracy, feminism, technology, as well as the direct influence of science. So yes, in many cases the doctrine comes first, or rather, people are exposed as they enter the world and grow up to doctrines that do not match what they see actually happenening in everyday society....which tends to lead to a degree of cynicism and often hypocrisy. This is another example of the way in which the rise of reason and the demise of traditional religion has been a double-edged sword, so to speak. As Jung and Einstein and numerous other thinkers have noted, our moral progress has not kept up with technological progress, (or morality is perhaps regressing in many ways rather than progressing, though it is a mixed bag since there does seem to be a lot of progress in the West being made in terms of treating people of different gender(s) and ethnicities equally. What is needed is for religion to adopt a more contemporary approach without losing its core values, and for communities to find ways to encourage empathy, reciprocation, and bonding in a world where fraternities and sororities and other community organizations are gradually becoming a thing of the past.
  5. I would suggest that those who cannot reconcile their ethics and "spiritual" views with their intellectual ones are most likely to experience some degree of cognitive dissonance. As for the importance of including conditions for rewards and punishments in ones worldview, I share Einstein's humanistic approach, "If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed."
  6. Very interesting hair to split, or should I refer to the metaphor of whether the chicken or the egg came first. That doctrine came first, e.g., God's alleged self-revelation to Moses or Allah is the view base on religion, namely that doctrine is divinely inspired and thus has a divine origin, with culture, e.g., the nature of Jewish communities developing in accordance with such doctrine. Science, e.g., anthropology, tends to take the flip side view, which is that culture develops, largely in accordance with the bio-physical environment (e.g., nomadic, agricultural, hunter-gatherer), and that the doctrine/attribute of community religions follows from the culture, largely, as I discussed above, in an effort to solidify and validate social norms on a grander scale than just human opinion. Thus, when it comes to the traditions you mention, one might point out the arguably instinctive need to offer sacrifices. In particular, though, some argue that even traditions revolving around what foods one should or should not eat are an attempt to keep people from mingling with tribes with different culinary choices. Courting and marital traditions easily take on religious formalities and rituals. But again, environment has a lot to do with doctrine and rituals. For example, it has pointed out that the climate of Germany and England were fertile ground for austere forms of Christianity (e.g., Calvinism/puritanism) while Mediterranean countries such as Italy held fast to more flamboyant and colorful Catholicism, as well as Islam in the case of Spain. A generalization, of course, but I think that even a cursory glance at world cultures will show that the religious rituals, traditions, and often even doctrines of each harmoniously dovetail into all the other traditions, such as dress, dance, music, art, architecture, etc.
  7. In general, it appears that oscillation seems to imply/require elasticity (typically as a result in some disturbance in an equilibrium) . It would seem that spacetime has both oscillation (of gravitational waves) and elasticity (e.g., typical of thermodynamic materials): "We present the theory of spacetime elasticity and demonstrate that it involves traditional thermoelasticity. Assuming linear-elastic constitutive behavior and using spacetime transversely-isotropic elastic constants, we derive all principal thermodynamic relations of classical thermoelasticity... spacetime elasticity directly implies the Fourier and the Maxwell–Cattaneo laws of heat conduction. However, spacetime elasticity is richer than classical thermoelasticity, and it advocates its own equations of motion for coupled thermoelasticity" http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S0217979212500324 How is it that we can describe spacetime as oscillating and perhaps of being elastic, yet not ascribe any physical properties to it whatsoever? In short, does not the putative elasticity of spacetime imply a degree of 'substantiality' if not 'physicality' as opposed to its being thought of as just passive and invariant "emptiness?" I return to the idea that expansion needs gravity needs energy, and would not exist in a universe in which there was spacetime but nothing else: "What can possibly make the expansion [of the universe] speed up, then? Well, general relativity says that if the vacuum has energy density, it must also have pressure! In fact, it must have a pressure equal to exactly -1 times its energy density, in units where the speed of light and Newton's gravitational constant equal 1. Positive energy density makes the expansion of the universe tend to slow down... but negative pressure makes the expansion tend to speed up.More precisely, the rate at which the expansion of the universe accelerates is proportional to - ρ - 3P But as I mentioned, for the vacuum the pressure is minus the energy density: P = -ρ. So, the rate at which the vacuum makes the expansion of the universe accelerate is proportional to 2 ρ From this, it follows that if the vacuum has positive energy density, the expansion of the universe will tend to speed up! This is what people see. And, vacuum energy is currently the most plausible explanation known for what's going on." http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/vacuum.html But without expansion, there could not be spacetime...so energy is necessary for not only the existence of gravity, but also of spacetime itself.
  8. As I suspected you might, you are introducing the notion of (a particular) religion into the discussion, which is a matter of speculative faith that I don't think is particularly relevant to those taking a secular/scientific approach. I did mention Eastern religions (shorn of any names for deities, rituals, historical circumstances, creeds, etc.) myself, but that is in connection with what is arguably a scientific approach to consciousness or a life force, even if it is very speculative. But yes, let's assume that we are all part of universal consciousness, life force, genetic tree, creative force, ground of Being (Tillich), individually developing consciousness template (Heidegger), green fuse (Dylan Thomas), cosmic spirit (Whitman), national spirit (Hegel), natural spirit (Wordsworth), elan vital (Bergson), will to power (Nietzsche), will of Nature (Schopenhauer), or what have you. Again, this may give some a sense of wonderment and awe (cf. Rudolph Otto's sense of numinous awe), but I do not think that it automatically follows that we can from thence build some sort of (universal) ethical system upon that philosophical foundation. The idea that everyone wins is not necessarily a consequent of believing that there are shared DNA or consciousness, or whatever genealogy (unless, of course, one starts bringing in religious views that are inherently ethical as you have). Your notion that "it is OK to look after your own interests before others...with an eye on trying to do it in such a way as every wins, when possible," is something of a tautology, even from an evolutionary standpoint, and therefore gives the impression of being an inherently universal characteristic of humankind. Furthermore, though it is validated by many (but not all) religions, such altruism need not be a logical consequence of believing in a universal consciousness or life force or even in the shared thought that we all belong to this universe. As history has shown, believing that we are all members of the human race spinning on the same globe in the same universe, or even believing that we are all under the watchful eye of some God(s) has not done a great deal to reduce human conflict and violence, much less make us one big tribe of loving people with a shared sense of belonging. Indeed, what you have stated is a form of utilitarianism that, I would suggest, got its wings in an economic/philosophic sense (e.g., Bentham, Adam Smith) as a development of, for example, Western Enlightenment/humanism, e.g., as the result of such factors as a growing sense of democracy, the leveling of social classes, the rise of the mercantile/middle class, the implementation of democratic measures such as welfare, unions, and fair working conditions, etc.
  9. I won't make any universal claims, but when it comes to most if not all major monotheistic religions, there is little question that superstition, violence, and prejudice are part of the woof and weave of their (historically/culturally) common fabric, so there is no need to take political and/or religious sides in this regard. As Weber points out, religion consecrates and validates social norms. If the social norm is to castigate ones enemies in order to take their women and land, then religion helps justify such efforts. As most if not all societies were and are patriarchal, religion also helps justify controlling women, e.g., isolating during menstrual cycle, stoning women or otherwise castigating or punishing women who engage in pre/extramarital sex, even, in some circumstances, if they are raped, and generally upholding the double standard. Similarly, religion helps justify the excessive punishment of those whose sexual or other practices did not (in keeping with the norm that was connected with group survival) help increase the population of the tribe/group, e.g., abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, etc. Religion also helps validate and give a face/persona to superstition, e.g., fear of death and consequent ostracism, punishment, or killing of heretics/nonbelievers; fear of insanity and illness in general and consequent punishment and ostracism of individuals presumed (even in modern churches today) to be inhabited by evil spirits; and fear of ones enemies who (even in perhaps most "modern" countries today) routinely assume and announce that their enemies are evil or filled with evil, thereby making it easier to hate and, as the need arises, summarily wipe out millions of people with little, if any, remorse. In short, despite its potential for doing good, religion has historically and perhaps inherently the potential for acting as a catalyst for acting out negative feelings and normative attitudes. That some progressive non-fundamentalistic Christians, perhaps influenced by the rise of Western science/egalitarianism/rationalism have become less violent, superstitious, and prejudiced and violent than Christians a mere half century ago (let's not forget Ku Klux Klan, Spanish Inquisition, Crusades, etc.) is hardly a pat on the back for religion in general or Christianity in particular. Indeed, given the level historical playing ground of say 6th -7th c AD Europe, Muslims were arguably less vicious than Christians. Indeed, even today, the majority of Christians still believe in the existence of a literal hell and I suspect, given the current political climate, are not averse or above torturing ones enemies. (One can routinely read comments about sending everyone from an opposing religion, be they Muslims or Christians, to hell just for the heck of it and not for any pressing national security reason, on social media such as facebook and twitter). So please, let's not assume that there is some substantial, intrinsic difference between Islam and Christianity.... I suspect that to do so merely underscores residual prejudice and ethnocentrism, again, fueled by the need to think that ones own religion is superior.
  10. Tar: Yes, I suspected that is the Carollian rabbit hole down which I thought you might choose to go. Indeed, it seems that your are virtually restating a form of oriental philsophy with perhaps a dash of the concept of universal quantum consciousness (I am guessing). As to how much self-identity one has when alive as opposed to a post-mortem state of universal consciousness is anyone's philosophical guess. In any case, a common metaphor for such a situation is that we are all but drops in the ocean (trying to make sense of it). In terms of reincarnation, one might extend the metaphor somewhat by using the metaphor of the entire rain cycle, where we continually separate and reunite with the totality. But apart from afterlife speculations, I can see that one could find a degree of solace or sense of sisterhood/brotherhood or empathy with all living things (as oriental religions tend to suggest we should have) if we think that we all share in some sort of universal consciousness or life tree. But again, even if we do share in a common consciousness or common DNA sequences or all driven by the same life force or whatever, the inconvenient truth is that the universal need to survive/reproduce puts, in practice, a damper on universal brotherhood, identification, and compassion, particularly when there are such factors as overcrowding and a shortage of resources. As an aside, that is why I have always wondered about the typical Christian notion that people miraculously ascend into heaven in bodily form as God presumably recomposes even the molecules of buried corpses.....Presumably everyone gets along in heaven so that sin and evil and conflict are non-issues. I wonder how that might be possible if people are still in their physical bodies: Don't they then still need to eat and sleep, for instance....and if so, where do they shop, etc.? What happens when two male angels take a shining for the same female angel? Do angels tend to sleep on clouds with a silver lining? etc.
  11. I was assuming, for the sake of argument, that spacetime was a medium: In general, "different materials also have differing degrees of springiness or elasticity. A more elastic medium will tend to offer less resistance to the force and allow a greater amplitude pulse to travel through it; being less rigid (and therefore more elastic), the same force causes a greater amplitude." http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/waves/Lesson-2/Energy-Transport-and-the-Amplitude-of-a-Wave By "principle," I presume you mean in accordance with Relativity theory....but given that things happen the way that they did and that even in the early moments of the "Big Bang" things seemed intricately connected, can we speculate or assume that our universe could have developed in such a way that there was only spacetime and no matter/energy or any forces? Furthermore, if the universe was composed of just spacetime, we presumably would not have such things as gravity (much less time dilation).....? If gravity is a key ingredient in the expansion of the universe, and gravity is also dependent upon the existence of energy/matter, and expansion is necessary for entropy and the arrow of time, it would seem to follow that we can't have a universe that consists of just spacetime. By "two," are you referring to matter/energy. If so, can we not consider that one "thing?" More likely, I suspect that you mean that I am arguing for 1) spacetime and 2) matter/energy. If so, I presume that there are other things not in these two categories, e.g., strong and weak force. ----------------------------------------- I guess my own biggest "hangup" is on the idea that "time" is as much a functioning dimension as are the 3D of space. It seems more likely to be just a human/mathematical construct that, like the term "God," is used as a filler to explain that which we don't yet understand. I am not looking for a physical-like medium per se, but rather just noting that space does seem to have qualities that make it variable, e.g., when one reads that gravitational waves correspond to bands of more space/less space and to higher and lower levels of energy. Indeed, it sounds as if space or spacetime itself can have variations in what one might refer to as "density." So, whether it be a person speeding off in a rocket at near c velocity, or measurements at various levels in a gravity well, it would seem that it might be possible that the clocks we use to measure time/motion slows down in such a way that we think that 'time' slows down, given Maxwell's claim that at the quantum level, all things (e.g., EM waves) travel at the speed of light . Presumably, this notion would require either that we don't notice that EM waves slow down given our frame of reference....This might seem credible when it comes to an earth observer vs. a space travelers impressions of time, but does not when we talk about clocks varying at various levels above sea level. This leaves the possibility that EM waves (e.g., light) can physically slow down, e.g., in terms of variations in energy levels in (bands or areas of) space......so: can we rule out the possibility of light (and other EM-related processes such as metabolism) slowing down in an effort to explain time dilation? "researchers from the University of Glasgow and Heriot-Watt University describe how they have managed to slow photons in free space for the first time. They have demonstrated that applying a mask to an optical beam to give photons a spatial structure can reduce their speed." http://www.gla.ac.uk/news/headline_388852_en.html
  12. From a scientific pov, morality, be it on whatever level of 'consciousness', is a combination of the influence of genes/mental hardwiring interacting with the social and physical environment. So while females may instinctively protect their young (to help them survive), male apes will kill the offspring of a female if they are not his own (after the death or defeat of her previous mate), in part to spread his genes and maintain his dominance. Human males have similar instincts, though seldom committing infanticide, with added motivations such as not wanting to provide (or be seen as providing) for the offspring of some other male, either while he is alive or after his death. Indeed, sometimes female apes will preempt the new males killing of the offspring of her previous mate by killing the offspring herself. In general, when it comes to what is 'ingrained in the consciousness' of a species, one finds that behavior based upon emotions such as jealousy, anger, territoriality, possessiveness, greed, lust, hunger, etc. are the most universal, owing to survival/reproductive mechanisms, and things such as passive resistance and universal compassion are exceptions typically based on the less stable foundation of reason. (Of course there are extreme outliers with ab-normal psychological propensities when it comes to basic emotions, e.g., serial killers, but such exceptions do not contradict the general principle that people ultimately act in terms of what is best for them and their immediate social group.) As for other aspects of sexual morality, a study of chimps, gorillas, orangutans, baboons, bonobos, and modern humans will give us a wide array of socially 'acceptable' behaviors. Indeed, from an anthropological standpoint, morality is so varied that any valid generalizations provide little more than tautologies or self-contradictory statements, e.g., 'people tend to do what is good for themselves and/or for others'.
  13. I believe that the response I got was that, yes one could shake a rug in outer space. Though I can't see how it would wave (or at least no in the same way) unless there was some sort of resistance (normally, air), since amplitude is related to energy and the amount of resistance. But in terms of EM waves, I am getting the impression that the term I should sometimes be using is 'impedance' rather than resistance. (I think that one can discuss EM waves and then jump to a discussion of gravity waves, despite obvious differences.) "The impedance of free space is sqrt (mu 0/ eps 0) but it is not resistance, because it is non dissipative. An e.m. wave does not lose energy and can propagate through very long distances, even from another galaxy. The energy passes forward as the electric field, changing in time, causes the magnetic field to change in space, and vice versa, but it is not lost from the wave." https://www.researchgate.net/post/why_there_should_be_a_resistance_for_the_propagation_of_electromagnetic_waves_at_all_in_free_space The literature tends, I found, to emphasize that the actual vacuum of even outer space contains all sorts of 'things/materials' that could provide impedance to EM waves. As for gravitational waves, the better term to use perhaps would be that they disperse, while perhaps maintaining uniform wavelength and frequency. On the other hand, it seems that the term "waves" is a bit of a misnomer (and just a graphical term) with reference to gravitational waves, as "gravity does not have peaks and troughs [in the usual sense], but rather there are bands with more and less space existing in the bands [!]....'Things' are generally attracted to more space so that oscillation occurs with the frequency of a wave." As for a perfect vacuum, this general comment might be relevant to gravitational waves: "on one hand we say perfect vacuum is without material, and on the other hand [we claim that] quantum vacuum says vacuum density is very high. I am putting very strong objection towards these contradictory results and statements" In any case, one might entertain the concept that 'gravity originates from variable energy density of quantum vacuum: "Mass itself is not producing gravity, gravity is a result of lower energy density (in GR described as higher curvature of space) of local areas of quantum vacuum." vixra.org/pdf/1111.0015v2.pdf Perhaps it is relevant that "When quantifying the sensitivity of a GW detector and the loudness of a GW source, there are three commonly used quantities: the characteristic strain, the power spectral density, and the spectral energy density." www.ast.cam.ac.uk/~cjm96/noise_curve.pdf As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. Albert Einstein "Geometry and Experience", January 27, 1921
  14. These are the sort of arguments that seem ungrounded in any sort of empirical information, and thus rather metaphysical, but here is my response in any case. You begin by positing the possibility of a universal consciousness, which, fapp, could be said to be a definition of God; but then you seem to contradict this assertion by claiming that God could not be a part of the universe as "he" would need to stand outside of it to create and/or witness its beginning and end. But there are all sorts of alternative speculations, e.g., that the universe is either created by a God who is external to the universe or it is not created by a universal consciousness at all. Indeed, a bottom up approach would be to suggest that the universe is self creating, while life forms evolve via reincarnation to the point where they achieve universal consciousness. As far as being alone, it is not clear whether there is any pervasive life force or pervasive animistic consciousness that we all share, in keeping with, for example, Bergson's elan vital or Schopenhauer's Will; but even if we did, such blind entropy-resistant drives would generally be seen from an evolutionary standpoint as being rather blind (i.e., reliant on trial and error) and brute (seemingly indifferent to suffering), rather than the sort of advanced and enlightened creatures most people in search of transcendental companionship prefer to 'keep company' with, but rather they tend to seek what might be deemed as superior role models: super intelligent extra terrestrial beings, channeling spirits, guardian angels, wise ancestral spirits, etc.
  15. I gather that gravitational waves can extract or donate mechanical energy. I gather that the sticky bead thought experiment supports the notion (e.g., arguments by Feynman) that the waves themselves transport (transmit?) this energy. I gather that the gravitational waves produced an audible rising chirp (via the instruments) as the two black holes accelerated towards each other, with a frequency that starts in the range of around 35 Hz and rises to around 250 Hz, corresponding to wavelengths of 7,000 to 1,000 kilometers, and amplitude being around the size of an atomic nucleus. I wonder whether the notion that a gravitational wave has amplitude implies that the "waves" experience some sort of resistance. If so, would such resistance imply that gravitational waves are more than just the results of mathematical descriptions, e.g., with respect to fluctuations in spacetime? I find it interesting that Einstein and Rosen published a paper in 1936 claiming that gravitational waves were a mathematical artifact, and did not actually exist. Is a gravitational "field" more mathematical and less "physical" than, say, the field of an electron? Just as the human eye can only experience an extremely minute fraction of the EM spectrum, we nevertheless say that the part we can't experience exists, even if it is just from a mathematical standpoint. I wonder if we might say the same about gravity, viz., that it exists even though the "waves" are outside our ability to experience it with our senses. I gather that gravity doesn't cause spacetime to curve - matter/energy does. The curvature of spacetime is simple called gravity. So do we then say that gravitational waves/ripples in spacetime are caused by changes in matter/energy? Can we then in practice have spacetime without matter/energy?
  16. Though a layperson, I have been saying this in so many words in more than one post now. So, even though much different from gravitational or electromagnetic waves, is it too ridiculous to point out the obvious fact which is that water (as with perhaps all 'mechanical' waves) is also itself 'the medium' or perhaps one might, for sake of analogy, say "is itself the field". So one is not denying that the medium of gravitational waves/field exist and exist in such a way that they have different properties from or are somehow different in nature (unavoidable pun) in some way from electromagnetic waves/field. I mention this since being different from one another emphasizes the notion that they have properties and that the medium as well as the wave exists. So, though not like a classical aether, gravitational waves provide (or are) their own wavelike. Perhaps ditto for electromagnetic waves, but in this case it would seem that one is getting into the Schrodinger's Cat issue of whether Bohr was right to presume that the unobserved particle with such a field (e.g., an electron) has no definite (other than statistical) position/velocity. If this be the standard approach, this would suggest that electromagnetic waves (and perhaps gravitational waves) are extremely unmechanical in nature. As an aside, if it is true that one can shake a rug in a vacuum, then there are mechanical examples of waves that don't have a medium anyway, and do not even have a field which is the medium through which they allegedly might need to travel (in this case, air. Though, I would actually like to see an astronaut do the rug test, as again it seems to me that it either would not shake or would shake quite differently if in a vacuum).
  17. Well, certainly on a practical level if one recalls the fabled grasshopper who lazily sings all the time while the industrious ants prepare for the summer, well, sure...one reaps what one sows, or, what one doesn't sow, and finds oneself starving or feasting as the case may be. But yes, it is rather tautological to say that "good" is what works towards survival and happiness, since that is how we might define "goodness." But that doesn't tell us a whole lot about the real world, since, when it comes to putting principles into practice, we have to ask whose survival and whose happiness counts most, so that one has to decide what is more moral when winter hits and the poor grasshopper is begging for food: Apparently the original version has the ants refusing to help the grasshopper as if to teach the moral lesson of industry and forethought, though in some versions of the story the ants are seen as selfish and self-serving unless they charitably give to the grasshopper. So again, morality is a complicated issue, and the proof is in the pudding (real world cases) rather than in vague concepts such as karma. I have a little trouble seeing how this relates to being alone in the universe, though i can see that Tragedy (e.g., Greek, Shakespearean) is fundamentally based on the notion that there are figures that can be taken either in a metaphorical or realistic sense whose job it seems to be to ensure that justice is always dispensed and people always get their just deserts...usually on earth, rather than after the fact in some distant heaven/hell. Though our modern notions of justice are becoming less focused on such things as evil and punishment, it would be comforting indeed to feel assured that humans are not alone in the universe, but that there are forces, feminine fates, superheroes, karmic principles, Olympian Gods, or whatever who are also always present and who ensure that goodness ultimately triumphs and that the guys who wear black helmets or hats invariably end up falling off their steed and biting the dust.
  18. According to evolutionary psychologists, anthropologists, nutritionists, etc., our propensity to overeat sugar and fat results from a delay in evolutionary adaptation, since the atavistic desire goes back to those days when there was such a shortage of sugary fruits and fat animal carcasses, with the result that people splurged when they had the chance. Arguably, wiping out other groups, in Europe or elsewhere, is often advantageous for the aggressive group, even in the long run. Presumably Ancient Imperial Rome might have been less wealthy and civilized and longliving had it not had such a well-trained and aggressive army. Evolution suggests that aggressors are not always punished by some sort of natural karma, if that is what you are implying, though whether such aggression ultimately leads to some sort of advancement in humankind, as Hitler claimed, is another question altogether. Another problem is that "punishment" often does not fit the crime and is applied artificially from without. For example, if a person robs a gas station we put him/her in jail for 5 years or so. Being in jail is not even a natural consequence of stealing, though there are perhaps a few other species that punish stealing in some way. It may or may not be true that crime does not pay....but in any case, punishment is a social mechanism that varies in nature and severity from one culture to another. In practice, it seems that we have found that punishments are not always that effective anyway with regards to achieving the social goals of rehabilitation, deterrence, etc. (e.g, Obama just releasing a large number of federal prisoners with drug related records). So I think that showing that karma, or your version of karma, is some sort of innate principle in nature would be a difficult theory to defend, particularly since values vary from one group to another, e.g, is abortion innately wrong in all circumstances according to some innate principle of morality/punishment? As I mentioned earlier, even the word "punishment" has rather inevitable connotations of (irrational) vengeance and is, imo, a rather unfortunate term to use in a discussion of criminal justice for this very reason.
  19. As a layperson, I get the impression that, with respect to explaining the nature of time dilation, there is some speculation that one can emphasize the more materialistic role that variations in mass(/gravitation) might play in certain situations rather than the more mathematical role that variations in spacetime plays: Ex. 1: Cordus Time Theory: "It is known from general relativity that a body experiences time dilation in any of the following three situations: relativistic velocity, or acceleration, or in a high gravitation field. According to the Cordus time theory, all these are situations of greater fabric density: the first because the fast-moving particule is at a speed approaching that of the fabric [of spacetime] itself and therefore emission of the particule’s discrete forces is resisted (from the perspective of the particule, the external fabric is saturated), the second because the accelerating particule emits discrete forces which it then moves into, thus creating its own locally high fabric density, and the third because high gravitation field is intrinsically a high external fabric density. https://cordus.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/how-does-time-dilation-work/ (Comment) Space time density should be the reason for time dilation, light and time remain relative within it. If you had a chunk of space time that was reduced some way in density, time should move faster, the same goes for light, space time may be regulated by the mass of the virtual particles or matter, the more mass in one region of space time, the slower things interact with each other." Ex. 2: James Carter approach: "If we discard the metaphysical idea of gravitational potential then there is no mystery or need for General Relativity to explain the gravitational changes of clock rates. The cause of gravitational time dilation can only be attributed to a simple Lorentz Transformation of mass resulting from the different escape velocities of these locations. The higher escape velocity at the Dead Sea causes an increase in the mass of that clock’s internal mechanism and this slows the clock’s rate through the conservation of angular momentum." http://www.circlon.com/living-universe/020-einstein-gravity-time-dilation.html I like the standard dilation-of-spacetime explanation that time dilates as one inertial framework zooms off from another one as illustrated by the notion that as one moves off in a rocket at, for example, a velocity near the speed of c, one is going almost as fast as the flow of EM waves in the universe, so that the movement of massive bodies, e.g,, movement of clock hands or trains (fapp: for all practical purposes) slows down, just as debris (things in the universe) in a river seems to flow more slowly if one is in a boat adrift in a stream in comparison to what a man standing on the shore looking ahead at the middle of the stream sees. ( It doesn't matter in which direction the rocket is going since the universe expands equally in all directions and there is no center of the universe). However, it seems that mass and angular momentum also increase greatly, esp., as the rocket (in the twin thought experiment) approaches the speed of c, so that one might devise mathematical models that argue that spacetime per se doesn't dilate, but rather 'massive' things within it become for (or less) compressed/dense, thereby moving more slowly and with increased angular momentum. So again, I am not sure how one distinguishes between variations in spacetime and variations of mass within spacetime when it comes to saying what causes time to dilate. Do variations in spacetime ("fabric") cause changes in mass and velocity of massive things, or do changes in mass/velocity cause variations in spacetime, or are spacetime/mass so interwoven that one can't have one without the other, and neither on its own can be said to be the cause of time dilation. It seems that gravity is central to an explanation as to what causes the universe to expand. Also, it seems that it is necessary for spacetime to expand (otherwise we would have no arrow of time) in order for time effects such as time dilation to take place.
  20. Trying to tag along here. Is the question now whether gravitational waves can operate without a medium, e.g., in a perfect vacuum with all of distributed matter in space, etc., removed? If so,here is an excerpt from a icts physics lecture if the math is relevant:: Propagation of gravitational waves in vacuum In vacuum, the wave equation becomes hαβ = 0; the solution is a superposition of plane waves traveling at the speed of light: hαβ(x) = ReZ d3~ k (2π)3 Aαβ(~ k)eikµxµ (11) 2 where kµ = (ω,~ k) and ω =qδij~ ki~ kj........ https://webcache.goo...n&ct=clnk&gl=us In any case, it seems that gravity is not even a force, but rather variable curvature of space that results in the expansion of space, so we should not expect to interpret gravitational waves as being like mechanical waves connected with some force.
  21. I take your point, particularly given, for example, the fact that photons and presumably gravitational waves can 'travel' in a vacuum. The thought that the fields/influence of electrons and photons and perhaps gravity are so extensive and diffuse that they provides their own field for propagating their respective waves is tempting, particularly when some physicists talk about electrons being connected or rather being able to exchange information at opposite ends of the universe, as if the reach or arm of their fields is so long that their presence is all pervasive. The idea that velocity or acceleration/gravity (equivalence principle) not only seems to make things slow down, but actually makes them slow down physically (e.g., metabolic rates of the proverbial rocket ship inhabitants), owing to the fact that the speed of light is limited, is a hard one to grasp. Given the equivalence between gravity and velocity (or acceleration?) in terms of time dilation, a layperson such as myself might wonder why there are not waves associated with (changes in) velocity just as there are waves associated with gravitation. (I do like speculation, but also, I am making efforts to understand the math, e.g., have set up an accurate and working formulas in Excel for determining time dilation that matches the results that one gets with an online applet. Just having trouble grasping how the fact that the speed of light is constant makes the formulas get the results that they do.)
  22. It seems that there is some agreement that the "distribution of matter" or (electromagnetic) charges provides its own diffuse field in which waves are propagated, I think that the term "aether" has anti-relativity theory connotations in terms, for example, of positing absolute frames of reference, spatial or otherwise, and that therefore the term should not be used unless one is actually trying to prove the antiquated concept in its original sense. Perhaps there is an instinctive/intuitive tendency to think of space/time itself as being a medium since not only do some waves 'require' a medium, but also because we think of spacetime as existing in its own right, given that it does seem to have properties/qualities (rather than being nothing at all and having no properties) such as the ability to fluctuate (e.g., time dilation) and to expand, and therefore we think of spacetime being some sort of medium in which waves might also exist. To the extent that we can isolate spacetime from every other thing we know about in the universe, it seems to have unique properties....or perhaps it does not exist at all per se, but is really just the mathematically describable playing field in which events take place. Given that t ("time") is just an abstract symbol, is it just mathematical/linguistic convention for one to speak of time (spacetime) as slowing down (e.g., with respect to variations in gravitation/acceleration) or is it more 'accurate' to suggest that 'things' themselves just slow down (e.g., molecular velocity) in certain situations (e.g., in a hypothetical rocket going near the speed of light or objects getting closer to a large massive body such as a planet)? That is, since neither space nor time (spacetime) seem to have, unlike water, any perceptible 'material'/mechanical properties, it seems to me that, backed into a semantic corner, one might suggest that we can only logically say that the movement of things themselves (however explicably or inexplicably) just slow down (e.g., metabolic rate) in certain situations, rather making the "empty" (apart from its abstract mathematical content) statement that timespace dilates. In a nutshell: Does relativity describe the way "things" slow down, or the way spacetime slows down, or can we just not say one way or the other, since these two ways of looking at what relativity describes seems, for all practical purposes, to be identical.
  23. If a layman such as myself is allowed to throw in 2 cents, it seems to me that, if one had to make a choice, it would be more likely that gravitational waves would be qualitatively more like electromagnetic waves than the ‘mechanical’ waves found, for example in water, so that it is more logical in the first place that gravitational waves would not need a medium in order to propagate. Furthermore, I see no reason to assume that there are more examples of waves in nature that require a medium than those that don’t, e.g., Maxwell's equations predicted an infinite number of frequencies of electromagnetic waves, all traveling at the speed of light (though apparently we have narrowed down the number from his rather overboard estimate). Also, I am guessing that theories about the early inflation of the universe suggest that electromagnetic waves do not provide any alleged medium through which electromagnetic and/or gravity waves might supposedly travel, since they only travel at the speed of light, whereas the rate of expansion owing to early inflation is postulated to be many times greater than the speed of light, suggesting that electromagnetic/gravitational waves neither rely on nor are coextensive with the alleged medium of space. Finally, whether electromagnetic waves, for example, are so cosmically diffuse as to provide their own medium is, I gather, something which there is no known means of testing, and is meaningless speculation because such a theory lacks any substantiating or suggestive evidence, and at present seems to be neither verifiable or falsifiable.
  24. I tried to show in my last post that there seems to be some semantic confusion here. Again, even if one brings religious arguments into the discussion, it is, from a strictly ‘armchair philosophy’ point of view, objectively true in a logical sense that one can’t derive absolute and universal ethical standards from a plurality of individuals and cultures (i.e., owing to cultural relativism). But it is just as objectively true that it is illogical for a society to be inconsistent with regards to the manner in which it defines and distributes justice: It is objectively true that it is illogical for a society that claims that killing someone is always wrong except in cases of self defense (if that is indeed what the society claims) to kill (via the death penalty) for any number of other reasons such as murdering one’s wife in a jealous rage. It is objectively true that it is illogical for a society that claims that guilt (or innocence) should be determined and dealt with in a rational and equitable manner if, in practice, it creates and implements a law (i.e., the option of capital punishment) largely (in a real world/historical sense) on beliefs based on such irrational emotions as vengeance and hatred. In American society, (i.e., U.S.), as well as many others, blind Justice is the theory that law should be viewed objectively with, for example, the determination of innocence or guilt made without bias or prejudice. It is the idea behind the United States Supreme Court motto “Equal Justice Under Law” and is symbolized by the blindfolded statue of Lady Justice which is the symbol of the judiciary. The existence and dispensation of a law (e.g., the irreversible death penalty as an alternative to imprisonment) that can be defended at an ethical level for no other discernible "reason" other than prejudicial retribution and venomous vengeance is not in keeping with the concept and spirit of blind justice, particularly when it tends to uphold the right of an accused/convicted person to gain a reprieve or even compensation for a miscarriage of justice in all other situations other than those involving a handful of transgressions such as rape, murder, or stealing a cow.
  25. Yes, I agree, particularly from the standpoint of science. But my own point, with which Ten Oz is agreeing, is that, when the death penalty is an option, there are those who will either make mistakes in judgment owing to such things as the paucity of information available at the time of sentencing (e.g., exoneration that occurs when DNA is found after someone has been sent to death row), and mistakes in judgment owing to prejudgment (aka, prejudice) and other irrational emotions (e.g., public outrage, the instinct for revenge, the outrage of victim's families, the desire for district attorneys to win the next election, etc.), as well as other mistakes that frequently occur in the course of the legal process. A case that comes to mind is the guilty verdict given to Lindy Chamberlain (reversed after years of imprisonment) in which she was found guilty of murdering her baby while camping outside of Ayers Rock in Australia. The trial caused a huge media firestorm, with the public and media coming up with all sorts of bizarre forms of "evidence" such as her home Bible being found open to a page that refers to the death of an infant in the wilderness. The fact that she was a seventh day Adventist further aroused suspicion in this regard. The government, and arguably police, may have been biased in that they did not want a lucrative tourist area to be seen as having animals around that were dangerous to humans (It turned out that an aborigine tracker found part of the babies clothing a long distance from the camping site as confirmation that a dingo had stolen the baby so that the case was reopened). Wiki notes that "the media focus for the trial was unusually intense and aroused accusations of sensationalism, while the trial itself was criticized for being unprofessional and biased." Indeed, the main reason she was found guilty at the time was that a single local forensic gal had mistaken car rust for the baby's blood, as Lindy supposedly stashed the baby in the car for a period of time (I don't know what the odds of a professional forensic expert making such a mistake, but it seems like a pretty questionable finding to me). Eventually Lindy was awarded 1.7 million for false imprisonment, an amount that she couldn't have spent had she been given the death penalty. Hence, while it is reasonable to claim that the matter of ethics is a subjective one, it is also logical to note that it is often essential that those determining the ethics of a situation (by arriving at a verdict) do so on an emotional level that is not at odds with the intellectual goal of achieving (the ethical value of) justice that is as impartial, effective, and fair as possible. Until the day when such things as irrational outrage, political bias, vengeance, projection of guilt, sensationalism, etc., no longer exist (i.e., never), I submit that such irrational mistakes in judgment provide an insurmountable difficulty. Again, all things being equal, and given the irrational (subjective) emotions often at the heart of calls for the death penalty, once one discards technical issues (e.g., the relative cost of imprisonment vs. capital punishment), and considering the, arguably, insurmountable problem of mistakes in judgment, often the result of irrational (subjective) emotions, the most objective and logical conclusion is that one choose for the reversible or attenuating (where necessary) option of life imprisonment over the option of the death penalty.
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