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What is "real" in physics?

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I can tell by looking at a stone or star shape if it is round or pointed. I can say an apple is round, but a banana is stick shaped.

I said that science devises methods of measuring the roundness or angularity or other shapes, where the assessment is more vague in common English.

And the locations of different components of the rocks are physical.

Furthermore I said that If the object exists, its shape exists.

But if no one was around to label it as such, who would there be to distinguish what a shape is?

I can prove that by tracing round the outside and removing the object from the universe (ie destroying it)

But I still have the shape.

I'm pretty 100% sure you can't just magically pull a circle out of the universe.

Again maths provides us with ways of measuring. It is not usual to describe a circle by the emthod of envelopes, but it can be done.

And math itself isn't physical, nor the universe itself, it is simply a tool for approximating.

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But I still have the shape.

Shape of physical object changes depending who is watching it, and distance to object.

Distant galaxy seen by naked eye or cheap telescope looks like spherical blob.

Metal plate, or wall, looks flat to us, but after large zooming by microscope they will reveal to be mountain-like irregular.

So, observed shape is or might be just an illusion, depending on capabilities of observer or device and/or distance.

Just a thought irrelevant to whole discussion.

ps. I have no idea why it was moved to Philosophy..

Edited by Sensei
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I'm sorry, Sam, I still don't understand your point or points, in relation to either my post or the thread topic.

Sensei, the question was about reality, not faulty perception of reality.

If I miscount the number of £100 notes in my wallet and find there are only 24 instead of 25 it does not alter the reality to be found in my wallet by any competent mugger.

I have noted that there are nouns that refer to material objects and other nouns that refer to to non material objects.

I offered the proposition that one type is as real as the other, with the proof to be founf in post#22

Edited by studiot
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I'm sorry, Sam, I still don't understand your point or points, in relation to either my post or the thread topic.

You don't have to, because questions are just questions, not necessarily points. Just answer the questions.

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You don't have to, because questions are just questions, not necessarily points. Just answer the questions.

I meant to ask if you were just asking questions.

An unanswered question is a logical argument?

I don't understand this. Who hasn't answered what?

But, how do you measure something that's "immaterial"? And since can't measure it, then how do you know it exists?

I answered this in post#25 with two examples. You cannot seriously expect me to list a measurement method for every possible non material noun?

But if no one was around to label it as such, who would there be to distinguish what a shape is?

Whether there are any observers for any phenomena does not alter their reality.

The fact that you can say something is immaterial proves there is a difference between something physical and something that is immaterial.

This is a statement not a question, but I think I agree with it if by something physical you mean the same as I mean when I say a noun describing something material.

I offered a counterexample to those who believe that real and material are synonmous.

They are not.

Nouns can be material or non material.

The opposite of real is imaginary.

A 25 foot spider is material and imaginary.

A 55 week summer holiday is non material and imaginary.

I'm sure you can think of plenty more examples.

Edited by studiot
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I meant to ask if you were just asking questions.

Yeah

I don't understand this. Who hasn't answered what?

Anyone.

I answered this in post#25 with two examples. You cannot seriously expect me to list a measurement method for every possible non material noun?

But then we can't prove anything immaterial exists.

Whether there are any observers for any phenomena does not alter their reality.

Exactly, so if there's no one around to invent the word "math," and there's no symbols and equations floating around through space, yet reality still exists, so math is separate from reality.

Nouns can be material or non material.

Nouns are an arbitrary label, they have no physical relevance.

The opposite of real is imaginary.

Any word you use was imagined.

A 25 foot spider is material and imaginary.

No it's not materiel because you just imagined it, and you already said what you imagine is the opposite of real.

I'm sure you can think of plenty more examples.

Imagining something doesn't magically make it exist.

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Really Sam, I'm disappointed.

I thought your counterarguments would be better than this.

SamBridge

An unanswered question is a logical argument?

StudioT

I don't understand this. Who hasn't answered what?

SamBridge

Anyone.

Discussion like this is just an insulting waste of time.

SamBridge

No it's not materiel because you just imagined it, and you already said what you imagine is the opposite of real.

I didn't say anything of the sort.

Of course it is easy to change what someone said to attempt to falsify their assertion.

SamBridge

Any word you use was imagined.

Nouns are an arbitrary label, they have no physical relevance.

If you wish to dispense with English, the official language of this forum, there is nothing more we can discuss.

Nouns are, of course, a very precisely defined part of English.

Since post#5, I have been offering the suggestion that misunderstanding and/or miscommunication has arisen because some folks mistakenly identify the meaning of the English word 'real' with the requirement that only concrete noun represent reality.

This is of course not true but since you eschew English itself how can we discuss whether anything is 'real' or not?

Edited by studiot
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But, how do you measure something that's "immaterial"? And since can't measure it, then how do you know it exists?

That's a circular argument. You can't show that something can't be measured by claiming it can't be measured.

Physical and immaterial are antonyms, something cannot be physically immaterial just as a red object can't be blue and going left isn't the same as going right. The fact that you can say something is immaterial proves there is a difference between something physical and something that is immaterial.

Sorry, what? Red? Blue? Left, right? These are abstractions. According to your previous question, they don't actually exist. We cannot speak of them, since they are immaterial.

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is anything really "real" in this universe, if everything is information ? If everything is information, reality is a description of what we presume is real. Not that it has no "realness", as the information is supported by logic, which is the true determinant of the % of realness of this universe. Although shades of illogic get expressed also in the "real world" as quantum effects...all from the IBH...

Edited by hoola
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Really Sam, I'm disappointed.

I am too, I thought you knew better than to say an imaginary thing is real.

Discussion like this is just an insulting waste of time.

Then don't discuss that way.

Of course it is easy to change what someone said to attempt to falsify their assertion.

It's also easy to use the quote system,

Reality includes both material and non material nouns. Neither type is more real than the other.

A 25 foot spider is material and imaginary.

To see you're clearly using faulty logic to being with. A material 25 foot spider is material, and an imaginary 25 foot spider is imaginary. An imaginary spider is not a real spider.

If you wish to dispense with English, the official language of this forum, there is nothing more we can discuss.

If I wasn't using English you wouldn't be able to provide a counterargument to anything, obviously.

This is of course not true but since you eschew English itself how can we discuss whether anything is 'real' or not?

I dare you to find a quote where I said "let's not use English anymore." Now you're just being insulting.

That's a circular argument. You can't show that something can't be measured by claiming it can't be measured.

Oh, so I can measure the imaginary 25 foot spider then? Where is it? I don't see it anywhere...

Sorry, what? Red? Blue? Left, right? These are abstractions. According to your previous question, they don't actually exist. We cannot speak of them, since they are immaterial.

The word itself doesn't exist as anything more than electrical pulses, but the thing they are used to describe can exist in the same exact manner that mathematics itself doesn't physically exist at all, but things like motion and forces still exist. Mathematics is merely an abstract language to try and describe measurements. Unless you're saying measurements don't exist...

Edited by SamBridge
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SamBridge

I dare you to find a quote where I said "let's not use English anymore." Now you're just being insulting.

Since you ask so nicely

Any word you use was imagined.

English is made up of words.

Since words are imaginary and you declare (again so nicely) that anything imaginary doesn't exist, English doesn't exist.

SamBridge

I am too, I thought you knew better than to say an imaginary thing is real.

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Oh, so I can measure the imaginary 25 foot spider then? Where is it? I don't see it anywhere…

That wasn't my example. I was discussing physics.

The word itself doesn't exist as anything more than electrical pulses, but the thing they are used to describe can exist in the same exact manner that mathematics itself doesn't physically exist at all, but things like motion and forces still exist. Mathematics is merely an abstract language to try and describe measurements. Unless you're saying measurements don't exist...

I don't know what your position is. Previously you asked "If something isn't real, how is it being measured?". Above you imply that you acknowledge abstractions are permitted to exist. Which are you arguing for?

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as regards to the imaginary/real discussion, I see both as the informational product of the IBH, and the imaginary is not supported by the underlying logic, and the real is. Quantum phenomena are partially supported by logic. The maths of the universe construction spits out all the information contained within this universe, of all three types...one can only imagine a 25' spider if the universe provides the informational context to have it imaginable. This puts a limit on free will of sentient beings to act or even think supposedly novel thoughts...and (most) anything you might think do or say was encoded before the big bang occurred in the period after logic construction. Since the IBH is still active, new information is being provided for additional "comment"...of which I "imagine" will be forthcoming .....as to how silly this all sounds...

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as regards to the imaginary/real discussion, I see both as the informational product of the IBH, and the imaginary is not supported by the underlying logic, and the real is. Quantum phenomena are partially supported by logic. The maths of the universe construction spits out all the information contained within this universe, of all three types...one can only imagine a 25' spider if the universe provides the informational context to have it imaginable. This puts a limit on free will of sentient beings to act or even think supposedly novel thoughts...and (most) anything you might think do or say was encoded before the big bang occurred in the period after logic construction. Since the IBH is still active, new information is being provided for additional "comment"...of which I "imagine" will be forthcoming .....as to how silly this all sounds...

But quantum mechanics is a mental construct, an abstraction. It's a description that gives the right answers, not one that claims to be descriptive of the mechanisms of reality. Assuming that these things are more than abstractions eventually leads to difficulty.

What is IBH?

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IBH is the informational black hole that describes this and other universes...I have in several related posts defined it and given broad parameters and how it came to be. Since it already is in the site, I will refer you to my posts, mostly in speculations or cosmology - astronomy. One prediction of the IBH system is that there are no purely mental constructs. Anything you or any sentient being can think do or say was in the "roster" of the well of the IBH before the big bang within the "junk DNA" of the IBH...hence the limitation of "free will"...the IBH generates information. Most of it is junk (illogic), a small percentage describes reality, as a sort of available programming material for the universe in the classic sense...in short, the universe is the result of mathematics in the process of calculating an endless (?) algorithm of PI, and thank you for the comment about QM being an abstraction. The whole universe is an abstraction (more of a holographic description) when placed under close enough scrutiny...QM is a more obvious form of abstraction, as it has a lower percentage of information that is supported by the underlying logic that guides IBH output, but has enough correlation to pure logic to translate into a property of the material universe... I will be most happy to answer any questions related to this area if previous posts are unclear...

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IBH is the informational black hole that describes this and other universes...

So what is your definition of information?

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sequences of numbers so as to describe some agency or thing so completely it somehow becomes real to an intended observer...

Edited by hoola
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IBH is the informational black hole that describes this and other universes...I have in several related posts defined it and given broad parameters and how it came to be. Since it already is in the site, I will refer you to my posts, mostly in speculations or cosmology - astronomy.

I'd prefer we stick to the topic I started.

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sorry, I am trying to describe a mechanism that determines what is real in the universe, and that is different then what -is -real -in -physics...as physics is bound to the strictures of mathematical measurements and cannot look very much deeper into time than the big bang of which could be a recent event in comparison to the overall TOE.timeline. This being a philosophy forum, I thought my commentary appropriate...

Edited by hoola
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sorry, I am trying to describe a mechanism that determines what is real in the universe, and that is different then what -is -real -in -physics...as physics is bound to the strictures of mathematical measurements and cannot look very much deeper into time than the big bang of which could be a recent event in comparison to the overall TOE.timeline. This being a philosophy forum, I thought my commentary appropriate...

You're free to start a new thread to discuss it. What I'm talking about is the reification of abstract ideas in physics.

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I only just found this thread, It's an interesting one. My original comment about the difference between being real and being fundamental was woolly because I didn't want to get into a debate about the definition of the words. It seems, though, that I mostly agree with Swansont.

The word 'real' is difficult. I would use it to mean non-contingent or independently existing. Or, maybe we could say that a thing is not real if it can be reduced. So, with Beaudrillard, I'd say that money is not real in this strong sense. A ten pound note is just a bunch of anonymous electrons, and it might as well be a fifty pound note for all they care, or a horse.

'Fundamental' for me would mean irreducible or independently-existing (not a relative phenomenon). So for me a reducible phenomenon would be not real and not fundamental, while an irreducible phenomenon would be real and fundamental. In this way 'real' and 'fundamental' would mean the same thing. We see this use of the words in Bradley's book-title 'Appearance and Reality'. Reality would be that to which everything else reduces, and would be the only phenomenon that is non-relative, non-contingent and irreducible.

Briefly. if a phenomenon can cease to exist then it would not be real or fundamental.

I'm not sure of the importance of this issue, but clarifying how we are each using the words must be a useful exercise.

Edit: Another thought. Beaudrillard calls that which is left over once we reduce the unreal phenomenon of everyday life the 'Desert of the Real'. That is, when we look at them closely they are not there. What is there is an empty desert devoid of features.

This leads us straight into mysticism, but I won't go there.

Edited by PeterJ
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• 3 weeks later...

I know I shouldn't, but I can't resist.

Since this is under philosophy and I accept that one's philosophy of or about some subject is that one's approach to that subject, I explain that my approach to what is "real" is that everything must start with something. I accept that the volume we call space is real. This means that space comes from something.

So far my least bad idea is that space is composed of the smallest units of something that can be something. Nature's most efficient shape for enclosing a volume seems to be the sphere. I expect the smallest units of volume are spheres. I believe we can say that anything that can be deformed or changed must be composed of other, smaller, things. (Big problem for strings). What this means for the spheres is that they can have no property other than that they enclose volume and as a consequence they occupy place.

I believe the only force we understand really well is the one that causes displacement. It might be that that force is the only force. I expect that the result of the little spheres of space being displaced could be the formation of waves, currents and vortices. These structures could form larger structures, those larger structures could form even larger structures, and so on until the really large apparently coherent structures we call fundamental particles are formed. (What we call fundamental particles have properties that distinguish them from other fundamental particles, thus, they seem to be made of smaller stuff.) This idea of really small structures allows room for particles small enough to be the flow we detect as fields.

So, what all this comes down to is that I can call "real" anything made from units of space, perhaps I should say disturbances in space and the resulting larger constructs.

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No, no. That isn't your least bad idea.

It is a very unorthodox idea that what is emergent is less real than what it emerges from. Is a piano more real than the electrons from which it is made? I find your idea back to front. You say that space comes from something, therefore it is real. I would say it comes from something, therefore it is not real.

It does go to show that one cannot take anything for granted in these discussions. I never would have guessed that someone would see emergence in this way, as a movement towards reality rather than away from it. I see now why we are at odds, and why my view must seem strange to you.

I see no reason to assume that space is real, but I see your line of thought. My response would be that if space is a continuum there are no little spheres from which to build anything.

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I don't understand your comment "It is a very unorthodox idea that what is emergent is less real than what it emerges from." I didn't mean to imply that. I would take both what is emergent and what it emerges from as equally real. Or perhaps I don't understand emergence.

I did not say "space comes from something, therefore it is real". I said "I accept space is real, [therefore] it comes from something. I do not understand why you would say "it comes from something, therefore it is not real". I say the little spheres, the quarks, the molecules and the piano are all equally real. I do not see how a microscope can change reality. Maybe our definitions of "real" are different.

I'm not sure what you mean by "continuum". You know from my posts in other threads that I don't believe time is real. I don't accept a union of space and time. I don't like the idea of infinite divisibility; not sure about infinite size, but probably not, more likely a size too large to measure. I expect there is no empty space between the spheres; as one is displaced, it displaces others. Does this qualify as a continuum?

The spheres would be rigid and not deform. Since they would have no properties such as mass, and there would be no surface friction (and nothing we would describe as a surface), I can't begin to figure what it would take to displace the first sphere if they were all at a rest state. I think what we would mean if we were to say that all the energy in the universe was to be used up would be that all the little spheres had achieved a rest state. At that point the only thing left would be space, consisting of the set of all the little spheres. I see this as an independent reality which could not be reduced and would not be eliminated by the displacement of the first sphere.

I think it would be impossible to construct anything if we had to start building with something infinetly small. A building constructed of infinitely small bricks, even an infinite number of such bricks, would still be infinitely small. The experience of having finite things constructed of other smaller finite things seems to me to argue for a finite smallest thing.

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Okay. Sorry. I must have misread your post.

I find a lot to disagree with here. First would be the idea that there is empty space between the spheres that space is made out of. The second would be the idea that a continuum can be extended. I see the logic that leads you to posit a finite smallest thing, but the same logic can be made to lead to the idea that all things are composite, and reduce to voidness or emptiness. But I don't want to argue. Just saying there's another view.

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