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PrimalMinister

What is the deepest mystery of physics and why is it so?

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When I read about physics I cannot help but think that phycists maybe barking up the wrong tree, as outlined in an article titled 'Is Theoretical Physics Wasting Our Best Living Minds On Nonsense?'. They don't seem to be answering what is surely the most important question, in fact phycists like Laurance Krauss don't think its important at all, he seems happy to just take it for granted.

So my question is what is the deepest mystery of physics and why is it so?

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The deepest mystery in physics is people who don't know things, complaining about the people who do know things - not everything - and who are trying to learn more.

Why is it so? Possibly the Dunning–Kruger effect.

 

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1 hour ago, PrimalMinister said:

They don't seem to be answering what is surely the most important question

What exactly is the most important question? You say physicists are not answering it, but you don't tell us what it is.

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For me, it would be what happened before the 'big bang'. I can day dream all day thinking about this. Black holes or fuzz balls are another favourite of mine. UFO's are fascinating as well. Not to mention the big one... "are we alone?"

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Theoretical physics ( best minds ) does seem to concentrate on subjects  which are much removed from experimental physics and our ability to verify the theories. The scales and energies which must be probed to validate SString/M theories, or LQG, won't be achievable until we can build colliders on a galactic scale.
Does that mean we should stop theorizing and allow experiment to 'catch-up' ?
I don't think so.

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5 hours ago, PrimalMinister said:

So my question is what is the deepest mystery of physics and why is it so?

It depends who you ask

Quote

 If you ask a physicist what the biggest unsolved problem facing the field today is, you’re likely to get a variety of answers. Some will point to the hierarchy problem, wondering why the masses of the Standard Model particles have the (small) values we observe. Others will ask about baryogenesis, asking why the Universe is filled with matter but not antimatter. Other popular answers are just as puzzling: dark matter, dark energy, quantum gravity, the origin of the Universe, and whether there’s an ultimate theory of everything for us to discover.

But one puzzle that never gets the attention it deserves has been known for nearly half a century: the strong CP problem.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2019/11/19/the-strong-cp-problem-is-the-most-underrated-puzzle-in-all-of-physics/#40127e0a1ea7

5 hours ago, PrimalMinister said:

When I read about physics I cannot help but think that phycists maybe barking up the wrong tree, as outlined in an article titled 'Is Theoretical Physics Wasting Our Best Living Minds On Nonsense?'. 

The thing about science is that you don't know which ideas are worth pursuing until after you have done the research. There are many different approaches to detecting dark matter, for example. We can't know in advance which ones (if any) are going to work out, so they all have to be funded so that there is a chance that one or more of them produce results.

p.s. why not link to the article if it is interesting?

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8 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Interesting that the article is by the same guy I referenced.

I had guessed the article might be by Sabine Hossenfelder, so it is interesting to see that it was about her book. I haven't read it so can't comment further. But she is an interesting and provocative writer, so it is bound to be interesting.

 

12 minutes ago, Strange said:

Interesting that the article is by the same guy I referenced.

I had guessed the article might be by Sabine Hossenfelder, so it is interesting to see that it was about her book. I haven't read it so can't comment further. But she is an interesting and provocative writer, so it is bound to be interesting.

 

Interesting that I wrote "interesting" four times in that post!

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The problems mentioned would be small science as referred to in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, that is, the belief is that we have the basic model right and it just needs tweaking. I think dark matter, energy, flow, radiation and so on are actually just a modern version of circles within circles, continually trying to fix something that is fundamentally wrong. I think the big problem with physics is why reality is mathemathical. We have had great success with the idea that reality is mathemathical but why it is still seems to illude us. These is interesting for me because I don't believe that is magically mathematical, there surely must be some sort of logic, some reason or reasons why it is mathemathical.

So why do you think it is mathematical? If why is too philosophical, how is the universe getting reality to conform to mathemathics?

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5 minutes ago, PrimalMinister said:

this is interesting for me because I don't believe that is magically mathematical, there surely must be some sort of logic, some reason or reasons why it is mathemathical.

So why do you think it is mathematical? If why is too philosophical, how is the universe getting reality to conform to mathemathics?

Maybe I've misunderstood you, but are you suggesting God is responsible for these mysteries?

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13 minutes ago, PrimalMinister said:

I think the big problem with physics is why reality is mathemathical.

There is no evidence that reality is mathematical.

It is an interesting (but flawed) philosophical idea, but I can't see how it could ever be tested so it isn't scientific.

14 minutes ago, PrimalMinister said:

there surely must be some sort of logic, some reason or reasons why it is mathemathical.

The universe can be be described fairly accurately, but not perfectly, using mathematics. So I see no reason why we should expect it to be logical or mathematical. It is what is is, and we produce our best descriptions which happen to be mathematical because we invented mathematics as a way of describing the world around us.

16 minutes ago, PrimalMinister said:

If why is too philosophical, how is the universe getting reality to conform to mathemathics?

Wrong way round: we are finding mathematics that conforms to the universe. As we try to create more accurate models, the mathematics gets increasingly complicated because the universe is not mathematical and so we need ever more complex models to approximate it better.

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1 hour ago, PrimalMinister said:

I think the big problem with physics is why reality is mathemathical.

This is a bit speculative, but might be interesting.

Key point to answer the question of why reality can be described mathematically is causality. Hard sciences approach reality as a causally related whole. But how do we get the idea that certain events are causally related? Hume gave a good point: we are inclined to 'see' causality if:

  • there is only a short duration between the events
  • there is only a short distance between the events
  • we see the same relationship between events that are similar

Latter point means more or less that there are regularities. Without observing any regularity, how could we propose a causal relationship between events? I do not see how. 

And then the next step is: can you think of a regularity that cannot be describe mathematically? Without any proof (I confess) I would say that every regularity can be described mathematically. 

But I am open to arguments against my idea...

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Perhaps the deepest mystery in physics is 'what is time'

Perhaps the reason it is so, is that mainstream physics can never unravel it, because its culture and internal discipline too readily  turns its back on philosophy, where the answer is, resulting in too many of the finest and most able intellects in our universe drowning and floundering in a quagmire of mathematics 

 

 

 

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10 minutes ago, ag400002 said:

Perhaps the deepest mystery in physics is 'what is time'

Perhaps the reason it is so, is that mainstream physics can never unravel it, because its culture and internal discipline too readily  turns its back on philosophy, where the answer is, resulting in too many of the finest and most able intellects in our universe drowning and floundering in a quagmire of mathematics 

 

 

 

Perhaps the deepest mystery in physics is "what is time"
And while we, as far as I understand, have concepts of time in both space-time and thermodynamics, 
Perhaps the reason it is so, is that pseudoscience and philosophy can never unravel this question, because their cultures and internal disciplines too readily turn their back on real measurement and theoretical modelling, where the answer is, resulting in too many people on our planet drowning and floundering in a quagmire of wild ideas, speculation and posts with many substantial claims and 0 evidence or references given.

I really like this quote: "The conquest of nature is to be achieved through number and measure."
Math is, for whatever reason reality follows these rules, the tool with which science attempts to explain reality. It is so far the most successful method,. That doesn't mean philosophy has no value (as I can see that my post may insinuate that), but that its value is not as great in the quantitative sciences as true understanding of mathematical models is.

-Dagl

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!

Moderator Note

Considering the direction of the discussion, this has been moved to Philosophy.

 

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1 hour ago, ag400002 said:

Perhaps the deepest mystery in physics is 'what is time'

Perhaps the reason it is so, is that mainstream physics can never unravel it, because its culture and internal discipline too readily  turns its back on philosophy, where the answer is, resulting in too many of the finest and most able intellects in our universe drowning and floundering in a quagmire of mathematics 

I would say you are mixing up two different things (at least) here.

There are several scientific definitions of time, used in different theories. (And, quite possibly, there will be more in future.)

Then there are philosophical and cultural concepts of time. These are not necessarily connected to science - they may not be testable, for example (that is one of the things that differentiates science and philosophy). 

I think it is unrealistic to expect to come up with a single concept or definition of time that works for all philosophies, cultures and scientific theories.

Edited by Strange

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1 hour ago, ag400002 said:

Perhaps the deepest mystery in physics is 'what is time'

 

That's much more in the realm of metaphysics (i.e. philosophy), rather than physics.

 

edit: xpost with Strange

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3 minutes ago, swansont said:

That's much more in the realm of metaphysics (i.e. philosophy), rather than physics.

 

The upper part of my post was mostly a sort of copy-paste reply to ag400002, I don't think it is the most important question, however wouldn't you agree that physics does give some description or characteristics to time through space-time/relativity, CPT symmetry (or lack thereof), thermodynamics and probably many more fields/subjects that you are way more familiar with than I am;p I feel this is still within the realm of physics than metaphysics, but maybe it is the semantics of the question "what is". 

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3 hours ago, PrimalMinister said:

  I think the big problem with physics is why reality is mathemathical.  

Physics doesn't try to describe reality. It tries to describe how nature behaves. IOW, behind the curtain, nature nature might be very different from what physics says, but that is not something we can currently test. What we can observe limits us to describing things that can be confirmed (or disproven) by we can observe.

Our models are mathematical because the best models quantify things. Maybe someone can come up with a non-mathematical model that can be tested precisely, but until they do, math is what we have.

 

2 minutes ago, Dagl1 said:

The upper part of my post was mostly a sort of copy-paste reply to ag400002,

Yes, sorry. I fixed it.

2 minutes ago, Dagl1 said:

I don't think it is the most important question, however wouldn't you agree that physics does give some description or characteristics to time through space-time/relativity, CPT symmetry (or lack thereof), thermodynamics and probably many more fields/subjects that you are way more familiar with than I am;p I feel this is still within the realm of physics than metaphysics, but maybe it is the semantics of the question "what is". 

Physics deals with time measurement and quantifiable effects.

The issue is similar to to asking "what is energy?" Once you get much past "the capacity to do work" you're typically deep in the heart of metaphysics.

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On 11/25/2019 at 11:41 AM, PrimalMinister said:

I think the big problem with physics is why reality is mathemathical. We have had great success with the idea that reality is mathemathical but why it is still seems to illude us. These is interesting for me because I don't believe that is magically mathematical, there surely must be some sort of logic, some reason or reasons why it is mathemathical.

So why do you think it is mathematical? If why is too philosophical, how is the universe getting reality to conform to mathemathics?

The more I think about it, the less I believe the universe is mathematical. We can create ever more complex models that allow us to more accurately approximate how the universe behaves. But if the universe were actually mathematical, we would be able to write down the actual mathematical equation that followed. But we can't.

And even our best approximation (GR) is not usable for even the simplest case of two masses interacting: https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2019/12/04/this-is-why-scientists-will-never-exactly-solve-general-relativity/#5f66e47c34a8

Quote

the two-body problem in General Relativity — cannot be solved exactly. There is no exact, analytical solution known for a spacetime with more than one mass in it, and it's thought (but not, to my knowledge, proven) that no such solution is possible.

We cannot even write down the Einstein field equations that describe most spacetimes or most Universes we can imagine. Most of the ones we can write down cannot be solved. And most of the ones that can be solved cannot be solved by me, you, or anyone. 

So, is the universe mathematical? No, but we make a pretty good job of making it look like it is.

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14 hours ago, Strange said:

The more I think about it, the less I believe the universe is mathematical. We can create ever more complex models that allow us to more accurately approximate how the universe behaves.

Does the universe follow rules? Then it's mathematical.  How would a non-mathematical system behave?

 

14 hours ago, Strange said:

But if the universe were actually mathematical, we would be able to write down the actual mathematical equation that followed. But we can't.

I don't see how that follows. Even for the science we have today, there was a time when the math that supports it did not exist.  

 

 

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In science, computing, and engineering, a black box is a device, system or object which can be viewed in terms of its inputs and outputs, without any knowledge of its internal workings. Its implementation is "opaque". Almost anything might be referred to as a black box: a transistor, an algorithm, or the human brain.

The universe is a black box, phycists dont understand how the universe is implemented.

To 'read the mind of god' we have to crack the black box, cracking this black box will explain why the universe is mathematical and will lead to a theory of everything.

All the other problems of physics are minor, this is the major problem and the one at least some phycists should be working on.

 

 

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24 minutes ago, swansont said:

Does the universe follow rules? Then it's mathematical.  How would a non-mathematical system behave?

I guess the question is, to some extent, does the universe follow rules; or does it just behave reasonably consistently and that allows us to invent rules that more or less work, most of time. But if our attempt to create those rules just get more and more complex (a bit like epicycles) then maybe the underlying system just isn't amenable to being (accurately/perfectly) described that way.

I don't have a very strong (or even clear) opinion on this. Rather like the (related?) question of whether math is discovered or invented.

But mainly my objection is to the stronger statement that is sometimes made, that the universe is actually "made of" mathematics; that mathematics exists and it causes the universe to exist.

 

4 minutes ago, PrimalMinister said:

In science, computing, and engineering, a black box is a device, system or object which can be viewed in terms of its inputs and outputs, without any knowledge of its internal workings. Its implementation is "opaque". Almost anything might be referred to as a black box: a transistor, an algorithm, or the human brain.

The universe is a black box, phycists dont understand how the universe is implemented.

To 'read the mind of god' we have to crack the black box, cracking this black box will explain why the universe is mathematical and will lead to a theory of everything.

All the other problems of physics are minor, this is the major problem and the one at least some phycists should be working on.

There is a difference between understanding the operation of a black box by looking at the inputs and outputs (which is pretty much what science does) and finding a way to open the box (which may be what philosophy and religion attempt, or claim, to do).

But how do you propose this box is "cracked"? The box is just an analogy; there isn't a real box out there we can take a sledgehammer to.

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4 minutes ago, Strange said:

I guess the question is, to some extent, does the universe follow rules; or does it just behave reasonably consistently and that allows us to invent rules that more or less work, most of time. But if our attempt to create those rules just get more and more complex (a bit like epicycles) then maybe the underlying system just isn't amenable to being (accurately/perfectly) described that way.

I don't have a very strong (or even clear) opinion on this. Rather like the (related?) question of whether math is discovered or invented.

But mainly my objection is to the stronger statement that is sometimes made, that the universe is actually "made of" mathematics; that mathematics exists and it causes the universe to exist.

 

If maths was * up to the task that would be a nice question .

Is the Universe  made from ideas or from things,?(an ancient discussion I think ..     Plato?)

 

*seems it is not,it just tags along behind.

 

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2 hours ago, Strange said:

 But mainly my objection is to the stronger statement that is sometimes made, that the universe is actually "made of" mathematics; that mathematics exists and it causes the universe to exist.

I also disagree with this. I'm not sure who is making that claim.

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