JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Feb, 2010 11:23 am
@Cyracuz,
My general perspective is reflected in your signature line: "We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are."
Order theories and disorder theories reflect basic internal states (biases) of their respective theorists.
My math illiteracy prevents me from contributing meaningfully to this thread, as a technical discussion. It does, however, provide an opportunity for the expression of my bias (true or false, useful or useless as it may be).
But ultimately everything we say reflects our biases--Nietzsche's perspectivism.
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Feb, 2010 08:21 pm

Thomas.
I read that elsewhere too, that it is impossible to predict precicely when an atomic nuclei will decay. But isn't this quantum physics? Quantum physics deals with probability and potential. "Actual reality" as we percieve with our senses isn't really touched by quantum mechanics, is it? I mean, classical physics is still more efficient at explaining the world on the macroscopic level, and it is in classical physics that the term random has any meaning.
To the best of my knowledge, in quantum physics, "random" isn't a concept that is particularly meaningful. "Random" implies the contrast condition "predictable". The two are mutually implicit, and for something to be predictable it has to manifest, or actually happen. But if, as in quantum physics, calculations deal with potential and probability rather than actual events, a concept like "random" becomes superfluous does it not?
In all honesty, I don't know, I am striving to understand quantum physics..

George
Weather forecasts is mentioned everywhere I look for information on chaos theory. I can't help but wonder how many variables are included in forecasting the weather. As you say, weather forecasts diverge from real outcomes after just a few days. But what affects air? Or more generally, what affects substances that are in a state that allows them to be affected by events that concern weather? With all the knowledge we currently command, and the computing power we are capable of, are we able to identify and calculate all the variables that apply in weather forecasting? I mean, even the amount and temperature of co2 released from Giotto's shoe factory in italy makes a difference... Even if that was the only unknown variable, given enough time, predictions would inevitably diverge from actual observation.
And it seems to me that if "random" is a property of our system of measurment rather than the world we measure, it is merely an indication that our methods, however nearly acurate, are not completely applicable to the observable world.

JL
I think that science too is confined by this bias. At the base of any scientific discovery is the ability to imagine. Creativity is the start, but ultimately science is confined by our ability to imagine it's boundaries. That certain aspects of reality are beyond mathematical prediction indicates that our horizon perhaps ends short of the full extent, so to speak. Or perhaps it just means that the anticipations we have of how the world really is may not be entorely justified...
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Feb, 2010 09:55 pm
@Cyracuz,
Very well stated. Not only is it sensible to realize that not all aspects of Reality are amenable to mathematical processes, but some are not amenable to ANY human process. Perhaps that's what you are suggesting by "ultimately science is confined by (the limitations of our) ability to imagine its [or Reality's] boundaries". We cannot identify the parameters for the mathematical treatment of aspects of reality that are beyond our ken.
Obviously I'm a bit of a skeptic and nihilist, but that is not arrogance; it is a reflection of my realization that my--and anyone's--intellect is too small for this vast world. Ideally we would like to shrink the world to the size of our brains. But we can only know our "human" portion or participation in it.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Feb, 2010 02:59 pm
@Cyracuz,
Cyracuz wrote:
Actual reality" as we percieve with our senses isn't really touched by quantum mechanics, is it?

When an atomic core decays, it will emit a particle. If that particle enters a nearby Geiger counter, it will cause the counter to click. You can hear this with your ears. So the answer to your question is "yes": Yes, if "actual reality" means "things we can perceive with our senses", it is indeed touched by quantum mechanics. You can't philosophize your way around it.
0 Replies
 
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Feb, 2010 03:24 pm
@Cyracuz,
Cyracuz wrote:
..."Actual reality" as we percieve with our senses isn't really touched by quantum mechanics, is it?...

Well that depends on where exactly you happen to be standing at the time "actual reality" decides to go ka-BOOM:
http://eurekaweb.free.fr/image/h-bomb.jpg
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Feb, 2010 03:27 pm
@Cyracuz,
Cyracuz wrote:


George
Weather forecasts is mentioned everywhere I look for information on chaos theory. I can't help but wonder how many variables are included in forecasting the weather. As you say, weather forecasts diverge from real outcomes after just a few days. But what affects air? Or more generally, what affects substances that are in a state that allows them to be affected by events that concern weather? With all the knowledge we currently command, and the computing power we are capable of, are we able to identify and calculate all the variables that apply in weather forecasting? I mean, even the amount and temperature of co2 released from Giotto's shoe factory in italy makes a difference... Even if that was the only unknown variable, given enough time, predictions would inevitably diverge from actual observation.
And it seems to me that if "random" is a property of our system of measurment rather than the world we measure, it is merely an indication that our methods, however nearly acurate, are not completely applicable to the observable world.

You are correct that forecasting the weather potentially involves more details and small forcing factors than are usually included even in the largest and most comples analyses. However, chaos, unpredictability and randomness also occur in much simpler processes. Consider the flow of water in a smooth pipe, without any heat transfer or like effects. In some classical experiments, done well over a century ago, Osborne Reynolds demonstrated the sudden transformation of a smooth ("laminar") flow to chaotic turbulence that occurs when the average flow velocity exceeds a certain value (that also depends on the density & viscosity of the fluid in motion). Indeed this, on a larger scale, is what makes the weather unpredictable. The equations of motion are well known and exact. However, because they are highly non-linear and coupled, they cannot be solved, except in certain simplified (and rather trivial) cases. Piping systems and aircraft wings are designed with empirically derived fudge factors that account for some of the average effects of this turbulence, but the details remain unpredictable and describable with random models. This is not a matter of perception, it is objective fact.

Consider also another well-known number, "e" , the base of natural logarithms. This number is defined as the sum of an infinite, convergent series; e = sum 1/n! for values of n from 0 to infinity. (n! simply means the product of all integers up to and including n, with 0! defined to equal 1). Like all irrational numbers, e involves an infinitely long string of decimal digits which involve no cyclic repition at any period - they satisfy all the statistical tests for randomness, despite the fact that the rule for calculating them is known and definite.

So you have these examples, plus the fact of quantum uncertainty that Thomas just noted, all illustrating objective randomness independent of the perceptions of any observer, and all involving processes that are ultimately deterministic.
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Feb, 2010 03:36 pm
@georgeob1,
Hm. Your post (addressing what is essentially the identical question) was incomparably better documented, containing vastly more scientific info, and all, but will you bet on which of our posts really sinks into readers' brains - and stays in?!
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Feb, 2010 03:44 pm
@High Seas,
I see you're not one for subtleness today. Smile
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Feb, 2010 03:48 pm
@Thomas,
Subtlety was never my strong point, Thomas - as you perfectly well know from meeting me. Btw, I do so wish you would translate "Schwerpunkt" as used by C v C in Vom Kriege - somehow neither the literal "center of gravity" nor "strong point" (as I just used it) quite convey the brute force in the original.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Feb, 2010 03:51 pm
@Thomas,
Hard to compete with a bomb !
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Feb, 2010 03:53 pm
@georgeob1,
Point, set, and match. Hope to see you again soon, that was fun Smile
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Feb, 2010 04:17 pm
@Thomas,
Thea is pretty quick with that "Point, set and match" stuff when she thinks she's
won ! Cool
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 08:38 am
It still seems to me that "random" is a condition evident in our various means of measurment and calculations, and thus is not in itself "objective fact" but a value derived from the act of observing itself, not what is being observed.
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 08:55 am
@Cyracuz,
Perhaps so, but you are ignoring the contrary evidence of objective randomness presented to you above. Willful ignorance is a sometimes remarkable, but fairly common thing.
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 09:20 am
@georgeob1,
I am not ignoring it george. But to be honest, I am still working to understand it fully.
As of now, it seems to me, the evidence of objective randomness presented above is merely objective randomness of the system we use to determine it. I understand that some things, calculated with the most efficient and appropriate systems we are currently aware of, will show as being random. But can we show conclusively that this randomness isn't a product of these systems?
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 09:57 am
@Cyracuz,
Cyracuz wrote:

It still seems to me that "random" is a condition evident in our various means of measurment and calculations, and thus is not in itself "objective fact" but a value derived from the act of observing itself, not what is being observed.

Then what we may have here, in the words of Strother Martin, is a "failure to communicate." I don't think anyone here would argue that the concept of randomness is not based upon observation. As a concept, randomness is most certainly dependent upon measurement and observation, and we define "random" as something that does not fit into any kind of recognizable pattern. "Randomness," in other words, is always observer-dependent, just as any definition is "definer-dependent."

On the other hand, if you're saying that the only alternative to randomness is determinism, then I think you have a serious problem, just as anyone who argues for strict determinism in the area of free will has serious problems. If that's your argument, then it's probably a good idea to make that clear.
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 10:37 am
@joefromchicago,
I see no problems with an absolutely deterministic world in which free will can exist. At least not with free will as we define it in humans. But unless we are including observers in our calculations this point is slighly on the side of what is relevant here, is it not?

And on a side note, my position on the concept of free will has always been that it is an insuficcient concept to describe the mechanics of choice and self. Will is not entirely free, nor is it entirely bound. And my will isn't detatched from yours, or anyone else's. I believe that to ponder the issues of free will is to delve into a misconception that will never yield any truth. But like I said, that's a different discussion altogether.

But back to the point. In the case of the decaying atomic nuclei, which measurement of time is used in determining that the exact moment of decay is random?
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 11:03 am
@Cyracuz,
Cyracuz, the more I read of your perspective the more I'm impressed.
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 11:15 am
@JLNobody,
Thank you and likewise JL. Just trying to make sense of the world we percieve. Smile
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 11:17 am
@Cyracuz,
Cyracuz wrote:

I see no problems with an absolutely deterministic world in which free will can exist. At least not with free will as we define it in humans. But unless we are including observers in our calculations this point is slighly on the side of what is relevant here, is it not?

What do you mean by "including observers in our calculations"?

Cyracuz wrote:
But back to the point. In the case of the decaying atomic nuclei, which measurement of time is used in determining that the exact moment of decay is random?

I'm not sure I understand your question. The measure of time doesn't determine randomness at all.
0 Replies
 
 

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