Ask A Genius 494 – Ontological Lower Limits and Upper Limits
January 4, 2019
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is the limit of the knowledge from physics?
Rick Rosner: You were talking to a cosmologist who is working towards a theory of multiverses. You were saying that our knowledge is limited in terms of a global view because we’re in the system and not the system.
I have been thinking about how advances in physics are a combination of reasonable suppositions in terms of common sense deduction and then throwing mathematics at what we don’t know.
For instance, Newton sees the apple fall. He sees something fall. He gets the idea that the falling of the small object to the Earth is related to a large orbiting object that has orbital momentum and is constantly orbiting the Earth that pulls its path into a circle or an ellipse.
It is a manifestation of matter being attracted to all other matter. It is one of the simplest suppositions you can make given those equivalences. It turns out to be true as he applied his mathematical instincts to invent the idea of matter being attracted to all other matter.
A couple hundred years later, I forget who; they invented the raisin pie theory of atoms. It is the idea of the raisins being stuck in a pie, as a ball. It is not quite it. But it is a good first pass as to what an atom might be like.
People came up with the idea of electrons orbiting the nucleus. It is a good second pass and a good conclusion someone could draw from the evidence at the time. Then more information comes out, the Quantum Theory is developed.
It is replaced somewhat. People think in terms of orbits. It is still quantized probability clouds. An electron with different quantized amounts of kinetic energy will be found in different shaped clouds in orbit, but it does not quite orbit. It will be in different places within a probability cloud.
Mathematical tools along with conceptions of what the world is like that in retrospect that seems sensible. People like to say that quantum physics is inherently weird and absurd and doesn’t make sense compared to the macro world.
That was mostly said by the first, second, and third generations of quantum physicists. Now, I feel they simply accept this, as quantum systems inherently lack complete knowledge about themselves.
I bet you there are plenty of people who have a mostly intuitive feel of quantum phenomena.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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