Re: virus: Re: Heisenberg

Alexander Williams (
Mon, 30 Dec 1996 20:44:28 -0500

Just to clear up a couple things:

Ken Pantheists wrote:
> > Heisenberg's discovery rendered Bohr's "planetary model" of the atom
> > obsolete. Strictly speaking, it rendered all models are obsolete.

This isn't quite true. The "planetary model" is still `usable' if you
assume the orbit itself `makes up' the electron. Its a rather crude
approximation, but it /does/ approximate the behaviour as described.

> > both the micro- and macro-realistic terms. But how do you express a
> > probability visually? To answer this question Bohr delved into metaphysics.

Most mathmaticians use fields to visually describe probabilities. Most
of the modern texts on college physics use the idea of `electron fields'
in their `diagrams' of the atom, followed by discussion of the various
types of electron orbitals.

> > 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.

I'm not skeptical of Heisenberg's science; its been proven quite
effacious in the understanding of physics. I /do/ question his
metaphysics. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Theorum implies no `privileged
observer,' it says nothing except that you can not know both speed and
direction of an electron simultaneously because you have to use
something to detect the electron and that something will /affect/ the

> > 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

For those who've been using Heisenberg to suggest that consciousness
affects the outcome of experiments, the scientist looks askance at them
and asks what priviliges them in terms of observation. As I said
before, HUT says nothing about /consciousness/ collapsing the wave
function simply that the act of detection changes it.

> > 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.

This is either willfully wrong or naively wrong, I can't tell. The
reason that the diffraction pattern vanishes is that the only way to
detect the location of the photon is to fire just one at the slit and
try and see what happens. One electron does not a diffraction pattern
make. Moreover, the act of detecting its location can and often does
cause the absorbtion of the photon in question.

Again, its not a question of consciousness, its a matter of experimental

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.

According to the MWH, the cat is rendered into two seperate universi at
the exact moment the photon is injected or not. One in which the cat is
alive and one in which its dead. If one applies a very loose version of
HUT to the question, the cat can be seen as suspended in a probability
state, neither alive or dead, /until someone opens the box and looks/.

Note that this does not mean the fate of the cat is undecided until that
time, in fact the cat is either alive or dead as soon as the
quantum-test time is up. Its the cat's existance as an
information-entity, the meme regarding the cat's living status, if you
will, that is neither alive nor dead until observed.

> > 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.

There's no need to make old Heisenberg roll in his grave to account for
the retention of contradictory memes. The much simpler method of
assuming that all memes are relatively independent and can claim some
portion of the resources, enough to retain their position in the
memesphere, is sufficent. Occam's Razor cuts deep.

> > 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

As demonstrated above, most of this `evidence' is from those who don't
understand the processess of which they speak.

> > What is an "unscientific" point of view? Is Heisenberg's theory, complete
> > with its metaphysical implications, also unscientific? I think not.

Metaphysics is, by nature and definition, unscientific. Thus, the HUT
/with/ its metaphysical implications is unscientific while the HUT alone
is not.

> > 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...

As long as you know what you're talking about, I agree. Just as I'm not
going to discuss memes from the PoV of modern literary theory because
I'm /certain/ I'll make a cock up of it, those that don't understand
physics should avoid using it to bolster their claims.

   Alexander Williams { /}
  Prefect of the 8,000,000th Terran Overlord Government Experimental
      Strike Legion, Primary Transport TOG "Bellatores Inquieti"
   You ride in 250 tons of molecularly aligned crystalline titanium
wedded to a ceramic ablative matrix.  You carry a 200mm Gauss
cannon, two massive 10-gigawatt lasers, two SMLM fire-and-forget
missiles, a Vulcan IV point defense anti-missile system, and a
deadly assortment of other equally lethal weapons.
   Your vehicle is the ultimate product of 4,000 years of armored
   Your life expectancy is less than two minutes.