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Physicist, Startup Founder, Blogger, Dad

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Through the wormhole: Q&A



Below are some of the follow up questions I answered for viewers of Through the Wormhole. I was very impressed with the quality of the show after watching the episode I had taped.

We know that time and space are relative, is 'information'?
Information can be defined in relative terms, as in what is known to a particular observer. There are also notions of absolute information, as in what is the total amount of information (bits or qubits) required to specify the exact quantum state of a system, or even of the entire universe. (See here, here and here.)


How is our scientific knowledge going to progress in the coming centuries? Right now, there are certain scientific properties and equations that only a handful of genius humans can grasp. Are we to evolve better brains?
Unfortunately, the conceptual frontiers of modern science are only comprehensible to a small fraction of humans. Perhaps genetic engineering in the future will raise the average intelligence level, but there will always be outliers in the intelligence distribution and they will likely be the ones driving scientific progress. It is possible that someday machine intelligence will surpass that of all humans and our entire species will become spectators to scientific progress. (See here and here.)

Is reality a perception of one's own mind? Or does it exist at all? No one knows the answer to this deep philosophical question. Most scientists make the assumption that our senses and devices convey information about a "real" universe of which we are a part. Our job is to understand how that universe works. (See here.)

52 comments:

Carson Chow said...

is there anywhere I can watch it online?

steve hsu said...

AFAIK only the excerpt I linked to.

TheGuyFromEarlier said...

If you search a certain popular video service, you can find it.

"Can we travel faster than light?"

MtMoru said...

"No one knows the answer to this deep philosophical question."

That's because it's a bullshit un-question. I guess Steve is one of Feyerabend's savages. So is Bostrom, a "professional philosopher". At least Steve has a genuine profession.

Carson Chow said...

I like that Sean Carroll gets to drive a sports car and you a bug.

Yan Shen said...

You can purchase the episode from iTunes for $1.99, like I did. :)

steve hsu said...

The sports car (jag) is actually his, whereas the bug was a rental :-)

TheGuyFromEarlier said...

[dramatic music]
MORGAN FREEMAN:  And now, one physicist is daring to enter these strange portals.

[Camera tilts up to reveal Steve Hsu in mysterious cape and tights, fists on hips, pensively gazing into the distance.]

...at least, that's what I thought was going to happen.  VW Bug will suffice.

Carson Chow said...

Isn't the Casamir effect standard QFT?  What am I missing?

NicolasBourbaki said...

"Is reality a perception of one's own mind? Or does it exist at all?"

This is an incredibly stupid question. It's impetus is the Continental Heideggerian phenomenological school of bullshit. Reality is real, mind independent. Not a "perception of one's own mind." It exists unlike clear quality thinking for the individuals that subscribe to that school of "thought". 

steve hsu said...

Yes, the Yale experimenter is measuring it in the lab. QM fluctuations as in Casimir can lead to violation of the null energy condition (e.g., "negative energy" in certain frames), which is necessary to stabilize a wormhole (Raychaudhuri eqn). Sorry if that's too compressed -- it's explained, e.g., in our paper.

MtMoru said...

It is a stupid question. I agree. But you followed that with the even stupider statement:

"It's impetus is the Continental Heideggerian phenomenological school of bullshit."

Only someone who had never read Heidegger or any of his commentators could say such a thing. How old are you? Really?

Yan Shen said...

At least Steve gave a far more tactful answer than did Feynman here. ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8aWBcPVPMo&feature=related

Sam H said...

I'd like to know your thoughts on the big questions & ultimately the only questions that really matter: 1), Do you believe God? 2), Do you believe in an afterlife?

NicolasBourbaki said...

What's really stupid is to call it a "un-question." No, it's not an "un-question" [sic]. It's a question with a clear and obvious answer. HINT: The answer is in the negative to the former and affirmative to the later. Only someone stupid enough to be brainwashed by Heideggerian charlatans think it is not asking anything. And yes, I've read Heidegger. The difference is is that I've actually understood him and thus can see through the bullshit unlike those who cannot. 

MtMoru said...

"And yes, I've read Heidegger. The difference is is that I've actually understood him"
 
As I suspected you tried to read Heidegger but couldn't understand him. You should try him in your native language if there's a good translation.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5IQnQhzMSI
 
One problem with "professional philosophy" is that there are far more people "doing philosophy" than are capable of doing it.

NicolasBourbaki said...

The people who are "doing" philosophy but who cannot do it properly include those who comment here about people like Lewis, Kripke, Bostrom and other but can't even explain what they have said , can't point to their "errors" because they never read anything by them (and are probably too stupid to understand them even they they attempted to read them). 

MtMoru said...

I've read enough to know .... the emperor has no clothes.

NicolasBourbaki said...

"I've read enough to know .... the emperor has no clothes."

Which is nothing or the odd quote from google scholarship.

"Have you ever heard Kripke in person?! Something's wrong with the guy."

The thing that is "wrong" about him is that he is far more brilliant than you. I suspect "wrong" that is what you will call anyone more brilliant than you. Of course, you don't need to be as brilliant as someone that once taught a graduate seminar in logic at MIT as a teenager like Kripke to realize that it's all just bluff and bullshitting on your part.

MtMoru said...

So I take it you've never heard him in person?

Peter said...

Hi Steven, I own www.SwarmKnowledge.com and wanted to know if you can do an interview with similar material from Through the Wormhole. It would just be a written interview with questions about wormholes, space, gravity and other exotic materials like anti-gravity, dark energy etc.
I hope you'd like my Facebook fanpage too at: www.Facebook.com/swarmknowledge.
Thanks and great work!

Peter

NicolasBourbaki said...

I don't know how many times you managed to discredit yourself with idiotic bullshitting and lying. 

"Kripke is a third rate logician and is not a philosopher at all."

"Since the 1960s Kripke has been a central figure in a number of fields related to mathematical logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, metaphysics, epistemology, and set theory.... Kripke has made influential and original contributions to logic, especially modal logic, since he was a teenager... He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He won the Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy in 2001."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Kripke

"Stupid people read philosphy but don't understand it."

Well, at least they are smart enough to know how to spell "philosophy" correctly. A bajillion and eight vs 0 but who's keeping count?

MtMoru said...

"I don't know how many times you managed to discredit yourself with idiotic bullshitting and lying."

I do. Zero times.

"A bajillion and eight vs 0 but who's keeping count?"

Sorry the prole art of typing isn't a skill I've practiced much. You're like one of the Japanes holdouts.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_holdout

"Since the 1960s Kripke has been a central figure in a number of fields related to mathematical logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, metaphysics, epistemology, and set theory.... Kripke has made influential and original contributions to logic, especially modal logic, since he was a teenager... He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He won the Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy in 2001."

YES!!! Eaxactly as I said. Kripke is a THIRD rate logician. BUT among "professional philosophers" he's the best.

NicolasBourbaki said...

I didn't know illiteracy was such a large problem...

MtMoru said...

Especially among those who scored 800 on the GRE verbal. Oh my. And among native speakers of English.

NicolasBourbaki said...

Just a clarification: even if we are living in a computer simulation, reality would still be not a "perception of one's own mind." It would just have a different nature than people assume it to have but it would still be mind independent. OTOH, if Boltzmann brain hypothesis is correct on the usual interpretation, there would be no mind independent reality.  

MtMoru said...

"Towards the end of 1945 leaflets were dropped by air with a surrender order printed on them from General Tomoyuki Yamashita of the Fourteenth Area Army. They were in hiding over a year at this point, and this leaflet was the only evidence they had the war was over. Onoda's group looked very closely at the leaflet to determine whether it was genuine or not, and decided it was a hoax.
One of the four, Yuichi Akatsu, walked away from the others in September 1949 and surrendered to Filipino forces in 1950 after six months on his own. This seemed like a security problem to the others and they became even more careful.
In 1952 letters and family pictures were dropped from aircraft urging them to surrender, but the three soldiers concluded that this was a hoax."

MtMoru 2;
Nick 0

David Coughlin said...

My wife watched for a good 20 minutes when it re-aired [this week? It's all a blur lately], which is 20 minutes longer than she gives most shows with a cosmology bent.  I thought the stability demonstration with the pen was a little goofy, the bubble was a nice, effective illustration and I left shortly after that to do the dishes.  You are much more 'theorist' than 'CEO' in your mien [by stereotype].

MtMoru said...

^^^I didn't know illiterate pseudophilosopher wannabes were such a big problem...

MtMoru said...

Steve appears to be MUCH more sophisticated than most natural scientists and even theoretcial physicists. Even though Steve worships Feynmann I would be surprised if Steve didn't have a much higher IQ than Feynmann.

Most of the following, not all, appear to be "little bits of men, abnormally developed, masquerading as the whole, not real men at all", as Julia Flyte said of her husband Rex Mottram.

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/07/50-renowned-academics-speaking-about-god/comment-page-1/#comment-574108

MtMoru said...

^^^I didn't know illiterate pseudophilosopher wannabes were such a big problem...especially among those for whom English is a second and still challenging language.

NicolasBourbaki said...

Damn, you've completely lost what little mind you had...Moron forgot what topic this whole thread was.

NicolasBourbaki said...

Lies lies lies...chain of lies. Yes, Kripke is a philosopher and probably mentally so superior to you that he may be classified as a different species. 

NicolasBourbaki said...

I understand that you are too stupid to understand a word I said. This is because of two reasons: 1. Natural stupidity (as I've shown repeatedly) 2. Your lack of philosophical education.

MtMoru said...

Hardly. I was describing you. Didn't you read my comment that you are like the Japanese holdouts. Seeing is believing, but not for you.

MtMoru said...

Truths truths truth...chain of truths. Kripke is not a philosopher. He talks like a little girl. He's a third rate logician.

MtMoru said...

I understand that you are too stupid to understand a word I said. This is because of two reasons: 1. Natural stupidity (as I've shown repeatedly) 2. Your lack of philosophical education.

NicolasBourbaki said...

"You took the words right out of my mouth Nick."

The pronominal cross reference for 'you' in my post is you, i.e., mtmoron. So if I took the "word right out of your mouth" you'd be agreeing with me about the depth of your stupidity...which is more evidence of your stupidity... 

NicolasBourbaki said...

Kripke talks like a "little girl," thus he is a "third rate logician". That is the level of your reasoning ability. It's ironic that the very subject you are incapable of understanding is also the subject responsible for illuminating your errors of reasoning. 

NicolasBourbaki said...

"If Kripke weren't a "philosopher" but had instead worked in a department of computer science or mathematics he would not even have made tenure."

Again, more evidence of your ferocious and unashamed stupidity. The problem here with your reasoning is that Kripke has had tenure at math departments (Rockefeller University) and have supervised the dissertation of other logicians. One of whom is a philosopher who also has tenure at a math department (Scott Weinstein at Penn). there are many other philosophers/logicians who have had and have tenure at math and computer science departments: Richard Jeffrey (MIT), George Boolos (MIT), WVO Quine (Harvard), Hilary Putnam (UCLA, MIT, Harvard), Richard Montague (UCLA) have all had tenure appointments at math, electrical engineering or computer science departments. 

Me: a bajillion and 9. you, 0.

NicolasBourbaki said...

^^^^The contents of mtmoron's brain.

MtMoru said...

Now that's bullshit.

MtMoru said...

I didn't say thus Nick. Two different statements. That is the level of your reading ability?

1. Kripke talks like a little girl.
2. Kripke is a third rate logician

MtMoru said...

Me a bajillion you 0

"...philosophers/logicians who have had and have tenure at math and computer science departments..."

These are "philosophers" Nick not philosophers. And like I said Kripke could never have made tenure in a math or CS department and didn't. Check your "facts" Nick.

NicolasBourbaki said...

No, the old saw "taking the words out of" someone's mouth means saying something they wanted to say. It means conveying the sense of their thoughts. It doesn't mean speaking in the exact same words as they had "in their minds". Surely, the fact that you don't know that is further evidence of your stupidity.

NicolasBourbaki said...

Here's the level of sophistication of your insults: "How old are you really"... "you can't write in English". Which is actually slightly more sophisticated than your thoughts about philosophy, math and science. 

MtMoru said...

You should take some english lessons Nick.

"Speaking in a squeaky, high-pitched voice, he held forth for an hour 10 minutes, circling round and round his subject, riffing on other philosophers and occasionally darting off for a digression on, say, obesity or the theory of intelligent design. (He objects, on grounds of probability alone.) When he finished, in midsentence, more or less, he got a standing ovation."

Pretty obvious what's going on here.

MtMoru said...

No Nick. It's just the cause of this comment exchange.

You are an immature, callow, unsophisticated, etc. pseudophilosopher wanabe who has yet to master English, the language of the pseudophilosophy you adore.

I remember I was considering taking a logic course but only the philosphy department was offering one. My advisor in the math department told me I shouldn't bother it would be looked down on by graduate admission committees in math if I applied. He also said it would be a waste of time.

NicolasBourbaki said...

One of the marks of intelligence is facility with metaphorical thought. One of the marks of stupidity is the inability to think metaphorically. If you are so stupid that you think the common idiom "You took the words right out of my mouth" is to be taken literally, it may be more than just common stupidity. It may be serious brain damage. What the idiom means is "you expressed what I was thinking" (ergo, in my case, expressing the depth of mtmoron's stupidity) and not "you used the exact words I used only privately."

NicolasBourbaki said...

I took two seminars in mathematical logic with the math department. One used a classic textbook (Computability and Logic) written by three philosophers (Boolos Jeffrey, Burgess). The instructor considered it the best textbook to teach the course and also considered the writers to be first rate logicians. My instructor is one of the world's leading model theorists (and has a Erdos number of 3). I aced that course. The class started out with about 10 people. I was the only philosophy major. 7 math majors dropped the course (one had an MA in computer science). You "considered" taking a logic course but as we both know, you were too stupid to take it. That was the real reason.   

NicolasBourbaki said...

It's difficult to understand that you have an incompetent grasp of the English language despite the fact that it is your first language. It's ironic that I've corrected you on your errors several times despite the fact that English is my second language. That not only proves your relative incompetence with the English language but your relative lack of intelligence. 

NicolasBourbaki said...

SO now you admit that your foolish post is just a non sequitur. 

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