virus: Re: Heisenberg

Ken Pantheists (
Mon, 30 Dec 1996 15:36:12 +0000

Here is the latest post from our anonymous reader:

S/he is writing, initially, about the quote I placed in my sig file.

I have included it in the sig. of this posting for easy reference.

> Heisenberg and Bohr influenced eachother a great deal. Heisenberg's
> uncertainty principle states that at any given moment you can know a
> particle's velocity but not its position and vice versa. He used matrixes
> to take all potential positions and velocities into account and discussed
> the ~probability~ of finding a particle with any of these values. The issue
> of wave-particle duality relates directly to this idea.
> Although Heisenberg himself claimed to have uncovered "a strangely beautiful
> picture of reality," in actuality his principle offered no visual
> representation at all. "[A]ny picture of the atom that our imagination is
> able to invent is... defective," he declared. "An understanding of the
> atomic world in that primary sensuous fashion... is impossible." Having
> reached a satisfactory mathematical explanation, he disdained of any attempt
> to discuss the concrete physical form these distinctly metaphysical ideas
> might have implied. But that is not the whole story.
> Heisenberg's discovery rendered Bohr's "planetary model" of the atom
> obsolete. Strictly speaking, it rendered all models are obsolete. And yet
> it has to describe reality. Thus, it has to have a physical expression in
> both the micro- and macro-realistic terms. But how do you express a
> probability visually? To answer this question Bohr delved into metaphysics.
> He used a philosophical yin-and-yang perspective to account for
> wave-particle duality, and his view of truth, eloquently expressed in your
> signature, summarizes the conflict of quantum mechanics -- and memetics,
> incidentally -- perfectly. Aspects of reality that seem to be contradictory
> are in fact -- one way or another -- complementary.
> Others on the list have reacted skeptically to Heisenberg on the basis of
> (1) a privileged observer idea and (2) the fact that the quantum does not
> produce observable effects.
> As far as (1) is concerned, I'm not sure I understand the critique at all.
> I think the term "privileged" observer needs to be defined before I can
> begin to respond. As for point (2), which was made by XYZ, I believe it's
> not correct. To wit: The uncertainty principle does have macroscopically
> observable results. As just stated above, quantum mechanics was devised to
> describe conflicts in concrete, natural reality. Two famous examples follow.
> First, when light passes through two parallel slits in a curtain, it
> produces an interesting diffraction pattern on the far wall -- proving that
> light is simultaneously a particle and a wave. However, the moment that a
> measurement is taken to detect which slit a given photon is passing through,
> the diffraction pattern vanishes.
> Second, a more concrete example can be given by the experiment of
> Schro:dinger's cat: Imagine that a device measuring photons is connected to
> a jar of cyanide poison gas and that when a photon reaches a particular
> position, the gas is released, killing a cat that happens to be in the room.
> According to quantum mechanics, the photon might be in that particular
> position and ~not~ in that particular position simultaneously. According to
> the many worlds hypothesis, the photon which is simultaneously a particle
> and a wave is capable of rendering the cat alive and dead at the same time.
> The possibility of hosting conflicting memes could be related to this idea.
> Imagine an intelligent system circulating various memes throughout its
> network. As in Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, this intelligent network
> sustains the possibility of potential and active connections simultaneously.
> >That is similar to the idea that there is a memesphere that contains all
> >possible memes, but they compete for limited belief-space.
> That makes sense, I think, though I wonder if we are still scratching the
> surface.

> >
> >1+1=2 and "fire is hot" are often quoted in defence of this point of
> >view.
> There are certainly some physical truths that some people cannot change just
> by thinking about them differently. Nevertheless, we still know precious
> little about the link between conscious and reality -- although there is a
> great deal of experimental and theoretical evidence (particularly in quantum
> mechanics) that supports such a link. 1+1=2 is not a good example of an
> incontrovertible truth because these values are abstract conceptions that
> are relative to the point of view of the mathematical system under
> discussion. I think it is conceivable that 1+1 did ~not~ equal 2 in some
> situations. Radioactive particles might also defy this rule, I believe.
> "Hot" is also not an absolute term. It has to be scientifically defined
> based on the observer's frame of reference.
> Are there are others on the list who can express this idea better than I can?
> >The most recent area of conflict on the list comes from those who say
> >that this is an inherently unscientific point of view.
> What is an "unscientific" point of view? Is Heisenberg's theory, complete
> with its metaphysical implications, also unscientific? I think not.


Depending upon what is meant by
> "hard science," I might agree that some degree of objective, rational
> relevance should remain in the debate in order to distinguish memetics from
> pseudoscience. As you can see, I believe physics could be used as a
> yardstick where this matter is concerned. When we talk about Einstein,
> Heisenberg or Neils Bohr, we may be standing on some pretty solid ground...


  Ken Pantheists 

"The opposite of a trivial truth is false; the opposite of a great truth is also true."

-Niels Bohr +--------------------------------------------------------+