Critique of "The Scientific Worldview": Part 9c The Ten Assumptions of Science: Irreversibility

Bill catches an error and consupponibility and the nature of certainty arise.

I am ever so grateful to Bill Westmiller, whose comments are marked "BW: ". The quotes marked TSW are from "The Scientific Worldview[1]" and my comments are marked "[GB: ".

TSW: Seventh Assumption: Irreversibility (Part 9c)

 "All processes are irreversible."

TSW:  "Causality, uncertainty, and irreversibility thus are consupponible."

BW: I would agree that causality and irreversibility are logically coherent (consupponible). However, "certainty" is a state of mind, not a state of nature. I'm certain that the next time I slap my desk, it will produce a sound. It is an "unmitigated truth" that the collision of objects in a gaseous environment will produce a sonic wave, whether anyone hears the tree falling or not.

[GB: Remember what the Third Assumption of Science, uncertainty claims: It is impossible to know everything about anything, but it is possible to know more about anything. Thus, you are right that certainty is a state of mind. We can only claim certainty by ignoring infinity. It is not even certain that the desk will be there the next time you try to slap it (a jokester might shove it out of the way). The upshot: In science, nothing is 100% certain, although we can get pretty close. In an upcoming paper Steve and I were able reject a particular null hypothesis with 99.9999999999999% certainty.]

TSW:  "... it is not uncommon to find chemists and physicists who consider movements in opposite directions at equilibrium to be indications of reversibility."

BW: There are plenty of scientists who consider any two mathematical statements separated by an equal sign to be "reversible", when they are merely interchangeable.

[GB: Right. That is how math is done. It is also why its idealism often prevents us from understanding the real world. Math, like the chemist’s claims of reversibility, must be taken with a grain of salt.]

TSW:  "Thornes and Brunsden were moved to write that "time is distinguished by possessing the property of intrinsic direction and in the macroscopic sense being irreversible."

BW: A silly statement, since time has no *directional* component. Change has no sign: any difference in position is a change, irrespective of the motion vector of the objects ... which is one reason why I prefer my definition of time, rather than simply equating it to motion.

[GB: Agree, although one often hears of the “arrow of time.” Glad to see that you are beginning to see time as the movement of all things with respect to all other things. Now if you could just get rid of that idea that rotation might occur without time…]

TSW:  "The idea of time independence ultimately promises life eternal since it calls for matter to sit still and ultimately to disappear - the solipsist's dream."

BW: I agree with your conclusion, but IF matter *requires* motion, as you've asserted, who is the solipsist?

[GB: The fact that matter requires motion has nothing to do with what we think about it, solipsist or not.]

TSW:  "All events are 'similar' and not 'identical,' as would be required in an absolute conception of reversibility ..."

BW: Well, not ALL events, only those of the same kind. Gravity is not the same as acceleration, even if Einstein thinks their effects are equivalent (which they aren't). However, even if the effect of one gravitational scenario is "identical" to a second gravitational scenario, the law of gravity doesn't respect scenarios. Even though two scenarios are never perfectly identical, the effects of the law of gravity are always identical. Nevertheless, the gravitational process, even if two cases were identical, is still not reversible.

[GB: All events have some similarities, because all occur as a result of collisions (see Newton’s Second Law of Motion). You are about the only person who thinks that gravitation does not involve acceleration. What is the point of writing that “the effects of the law of gravity are always identical”? All microcosms are bathed in an infinite macrocosm filled with an infinite number of supermicrocosms. Neither the causes nor the effects involving any two of them could ever be “identical,” no matter how similar they might be. Perhaps the identical effects you are thinking of are, like all identities, simply imagined. Certainly, no two folks falling off a cliff will suffer identical injuries.]

TSW:  "... it is a special preoccupation of certain indeterminists to try to imagine a 'time' that occurred 'prior' to the existence of the universe."

BW: Which is laughable, even as a fantasy. Deists and theists fantasize some supernatural entity "choosing" to create the universe, but that word is logically impossible in the absence of a universe.

[GB: Agree!!!]

TSW:  "Only an indeterminist could regard the debate as fruitless."

BW: Only a mystic could regard their beliefs as existing independent of reality, logic, and evidence ... but hey, whatever rocks their boat.

TSW:  "Reversibility could only occur in systems that are completely isolated from the rest of the universe."

BW: I don't think any event is reversible *even if* it were perfectly isolated. A collision is a collision, which can't be undone. So, you can call me an "absolutist" on the issue of reversibility.

[GB: Good catch. Looks like I will have to remove that statement from the next edition. I guess I was too enamored of those chemistry experiments we did in “isolation from the rest of the universe.” If we could have looked at those in more detail, we would have found each collision within them to be unique. After all, even our imagined perfect spheres in billiards cannot collide without some degree of variance from a straight line.]

Next: Infinity

cotsw 018

1 comment:

Glenn Borchardt said...

Comments from Bill and my response:

GB: "You are about the only person who thinks that gravitation does not involve acceleration."

BW: You misunderstood my statement. Gravity produces acceleration, but it is not *identical* to the acceleration produced by two objects colliding, as Einstein would have it. Gravity is *radiant* and therefore has non-parallel lines of force (matter in motion).

[GB: Do not think that I did. Gravitation is produced by two objects colliding as per our Neomechanical Gravitation Theory (NGT). In the case of NGT, we hypothesize that gravitation is produced when aether pressure (collisions) is greater on one side of a microcosm than the other—similar to the deterministic theory proposed by the younger Newton. As far as I am aware, Einstein never considered gravitation to be the result of a collision. His “gravitational field” was immaterial. The elder Newton refuted the push theory, adopting the pull theory, which was better suited to the solipsism of the times.]

BW: For example, if I push a yardstick in the middle, it accelerates by Newton's law. However, gravity will "pull" on all points of the yardstick at different angles relative to the gravitational mass. So, the effects of the two accelerations are not identical and the causes are distinct.

[GB: You must be joking. There are no true pulls in nature. NGT never claims that any two accelerations are identical.]

GB: "What is the point of writing that 'the effects of the law of gravity are always identical'?"

BW: The inverse-square law applies to all objects, producing the same "effect", even if the variables are different. I'm not disputing your proposition that all objects are distinct in some way, only disputing your assertion that "all events [causes] are 'similar', not 'identical' ..."

[GB: Glad to see that you agree that no two microcosms are alike: there go your finite particles without anything in them.]

GB: "Certainly, no two folks falling off a cliff will suffer identical injuries."

BW: They *have to* land at different places, so the "effect" of hitting the ground is similar, not identical. But, the effect of their falling (rather than rising) will always comply with the cause of their falling, as specified in the gravitational law, which is identical for each of them.


Borchardt, Glenn, and Puetz, Stephen J. , 2012, Neomechanical gravitation theory ( http://www.worldsci.org/pdf/abstracts/abstracts_6529.pdf ), in Volk, G., Proceedings of the Natural Philosophy Alliance, 19th Conference of the NPA, 25-28 July: Albuquerque, NM, Natural Philosophy Alliance, Mt. Airy, MD, v. 9, p. 53-58.

Newton, Isaac, 1718, Opticks or, a treatise of the reflections, refractions, inflections and colours of light. The second edition, with additions. By Sir Isaac Newton (Second ed.): London, Printed for W. and J. Innys, printers to the Royal Society, 382 p.