## can "nothing" exist?

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BlackSails wrote:Ok, now it just sounds you are quoting from timecube, or what the !@#$%^ do we know anyway. Quoting from knowledge, but you can also check Wikipedia if you wish. Quantum article. I am NOT a snake. Opinions discussed are not necessarily the opinions of the people discussing them. Kyrn Posts: 937 Joined: Sat Sep 05, 2009 3:55 pm UTC Location: The Internet ### Re: can "nothing" exist? Kyrn wrote: BlackSails wrote:Ok, now it just sounds you are quoting from timecube, or what the !@#$%^ do we know anyway.

Quoting from knowledge, but you can also check Wikipedia if you wish. Quantum article.

Knowledge, really? Then you must know all about how photons are just excited modes of a spin 1 quantum field.

And wtf does "Photons are the lowest quanta a "piece" of light can be" even mean?

BlackSails

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

BlackSails wrote:
Kyrn wrote:
BlackSails wrote:Ok, now it just sounds you are quoting from timecube, or what the !@#\$%^ do we know anyway.

Quoting from knowledge, but you can also check Wikipedia if you wish. Quantum article.

Knowledge, really? Then you must know all about how photons are just excited modes of a spin 1 quantum field.

And wtf does "Photons are the lowest quanta a "piece" of light can be" even mean?

Yes, and you can't get a lower excitedness of the spin field, if you view it in that manner.

Admittedly my phrasing isn't entirely proper, but basically, you cannot split photons.
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Kyrn

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Sure you can. Its very easy in fact. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spontaneou ... conversion

Photon number isnt conserved.

BlackSails

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

BlackSails wrote:Sure you can. Its very easy in fact. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spontaneou ... conversion

Photon number isnt conserved.

I will admit I cannot suitably (explain/visualize/understand) my point, and that my knowledge isn't complete (again, not a quantum scientist).
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Kyrn

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

doogly wrote:
Variance wrote:Quantum Physics describes probability distributions that are a result of imperfect observation at the atomic and subatomic levels

No, this is an extremely essential point. Quantum mechanics is not about *our* uncertainty, it is about the *universe's* uncertainty and indeterminancy. You can distinguish between these things a la Bell.

I can't say much here beyond that you're wrong. Let me explain the philosophical basis:

The universe cannot be said to have any nature but that which we observe. I think it exists independent of observation, but that's beside the point: the only things we can say about it are those we observe.

We cannot observe things at the quantum level well enough to tell exactly where or how things are, a la the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle. This does not mean that the things themselves have any probabilities attached to them. This is important: quantum mechanics ascribes no probabilities to things that are brought out of anything but our own inability to effectively observe these processes.

I make no claims as to whether there are actually any random properties to the processes that happen in the universe. Neither does quantum mechanics. Because we don't know, there's no reason to positively assume that there are probabilities that act in these processes in reality; this is derived from the basis of Burden of Proof. We only know that we can't observe the processes well, and that this introduces probabilities into our perception of the universe.

We cannot say, nor is there any outstanding evidence that I know of, that there is any probability in the universe in actuality. There is only the probability in our perception, which is as good as any. It's all semantics, but it's important to understand when considering the philosophy behind the workings of the universe.

(You may also cite an atom decaying, but as I've explained before in this thread, there is no actual probability in the atom's decay in absolute reality; the decay only has probabilities attached to it in our perception of it. There is only the occasional loss of radiation in the nucleus at irregular intervals introduced by, we presume in science, the instability of the irregular nucleus and its movement. Since we can't observe the nucleus well at all, it appears random, but it's not.)

Kyrn wrote:Wrong, entropy describes the fate of the system at all points in time; Given any interaction or changes of state, the resultant state should always have less potential energy/information (depending on which Entropy theory you're referring to here). If there is an experiment which shows otherwise, either the experiment is misintepreted, the theory is wrong, or our understanding of how the theory should be applied is wrong, period (this however doesn't necessarily make it useless, just as newton's laws aren't useless even though it's been proven wrong). This is precisely why information theory is more commonly used (because it handles statistical variations), though in my opinion, the conventional entrophy theory will give the same results if you consider wave functions as opposed to discrete values. Technically, it would make the conventional theory statistical in nature as well, but it would allow the theory to apply to energy as well as information.

I actually agree with you on this, but I wasn't planning on defending this particular point against Yakk. But you are correct; every single interaction in the universe reduces the net potential energy in the system, given that full entropy is a state of absolutely 0 potential energy. (Or free energy, if you want to call it that.)

Um? Information theory states that entropy is a scale dependant thing. Things that are highly ordered, if left to jostle, will more likely become less ordered -- but things that are highly disordered, if left to jostile, will eventually become highly ordered.

Your second statement acts only in the finite basis. See above. Whatever a system does in a finite period of time is irrelevant in any conception of entropy, as probability allows for plenty of temporary increases in complexity. It's only the ultimate fate of the system that is important.

Both wrong. First, you're simplifying far too much. Information theory is about how much information one can determine from a system. For that matter, unlike thermodynamics, Information theory can be applied to a non-finite system, for the simple reason that it has no direct bearing to physics or the real world (It's maths). Furthermore, thermodynamics would be a subset of theories that can be derived from information theory; you simply cannot assume that any non-limitations on information theory is automatically applicable to thermodynamics.

To simplify the relationship with both, information entrophy is the amount of information you can gather from the current state. The more you attempt to gather information or otherwise change the environment, the more entrophy increases, up to a point where no more information can possibly be gathered about the initial system. Coincidently this is the same point where thermodynamic entrophy peaks, because the energy potential of the system is in itself also part of the potential information that can be gathered (or in my opinion, the whole of the information that can be gathered, if one considers energy states as opposed to discrete energy potential; the states in itself is actually a form of calculation of available/known information).

For further information, the maxwell demon thought experiment gives a theoretical example of how information entropy and thermodynamic entropy are linked.

I understand and agree with all this again. However, I wasn't talking about the amount of information that is in or can be obtained from the system. I was only talking about entropy in the context of the system's level of order. This is why I didn't want to get into Information theory, because the information in or that can be gotten from a system is all beside the point, which was whether entropy can be avoided or not. That's a cosmological question and only demands knowledge about entropy insofar as Thermodynamics entropy describes it; everything beyond that, in information theory, is not necessary. Yakk just introduced it to try to show that thermodynamic entropy can be avoided because it's theoretically incomplete, though he was wrong in that sentiment.
Unfortunately, ALL of our current understanding of the world (aka science) is dependant on A=A and A!=(not A). But the more imporant question is, what is A to start off with? Place a wrong definition, and naturally all your equations wouldn't give the correct result. For instance, if one were to assume that light are made of waves, they would have given the wrong definition to light, and hence lead to flaws in calculations.
We were obviously wrong then in the previous definition of light. A=A and A=!(not A), though, are based on far simpler observations and cannot be "incorrect" in the way that more complex observations can. While you can find your definition of light is wrong, you cannot "find" that A is actually B unless it spontaneously changes nature, which never happens. The observations are too axiomatic to be able to be incorrect. But again, this is all beside the point that I was making, which was that A=A are also observations, so although they could *theoretically* be incorrect, somehow, they are much less likely to be incorrect than the statement that "the laws of thermodynamics were violated", which does not have as much evidence supporting it. And since the statements are at odds, one must be wrong, and I posit that the probability rests with the latter being wrong.

And supernatural beings, though nice, does not help with understanding at all, because we can make no further conclusions from it. As far as possible, one must strive to derive a set of rules which can explain the world, as far as science is concerned, so as to be able to make conclusions from such. The only time I accept supernatural beings in my theories is when there is no further use for conclusions or there can be no further way to form conclusions, but we are far from that as far as quantum dynamics are concerned.

For note, I don't mind a supernatural being be the cause of the universe since there is no point trying to figure out what happened before time. But they have no place from the very point time (and our universe) began, except for a few instances where we cannot suitably explain or solve by science alone.

I agree that supernatural beings are lame as a straightforward explanation for the beginning of existence, since it's kind of a hard stop on scientific understanding if true. But that's not why I'm looking to say supernatural beings caused the universe; I'm trying to play all this into giving philosophical quarter for the existence of God as a legitimate proposition and even, perhaps, a probability.

BlackSails wrote:
Variance wrote:Essentially, two repelling bodies right next to each other would generate opposing force and direct their momentum away from each other, but as their real momentum decreases, their momentum potential increases. There is no differentiation between the two in Conservation of momentum, so the sum of the real momentum and potential momentum remains constant.

Uh no, there is no such thing as "momentum potential"

I invented it for my example, which was a hypothetical possibility that would never actually exist in our universe, because time runs forward as a constant here. However, were it not to, all kinds of strange things would pop up were time able to be frozen. Such as, potential momentum existing between two bodies that would repel were time moving forward in normal cadence. This is also why there's no scientific term for it, because it doesn't exist in reality.

So you can disregard all that. I can't remember why I was positing such a hypothetical scenario.

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Variance wrote:I can't say much here beyond that you're wrong. Let me explain the philosophical basis:

The universe cannot be said to have any nature but that which we observe. I think it exists independent of observation, but that's beside the point: the only things we can say about it are those we observe.

Quantum mechanics makes testable predictions about things that did not occur. For example, take the Elitzur-Vaidman bomb tester.

The basic set up is this: You have bunch of bombs. Each bomb detonates when it detects a photon. Some of the bombs are duds. How can you distinguish the duds from the real bombs?

The obvious answer is you try to detonate them all. The ones that dont explode are the duds. But what if you dont want to explode them?

To do that, you can set up an apparatus called a Mach Inferometer, and using that, you can determine if a bomb would have exploded had a photon hit it. Obviously though, since it doesnt explode, the photon doesnt hit it.

You can also do the same thing with spins (this is basically Bell's theorem). You have a particle, it decays into an electron and positron. If you measure the spin on the electron, you know what the spin is on the positron, despite never measuring it.

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Variance wrote:We cannot observe things at the quantum level well enough to tell exactly where or how things are, a la the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle. This does not mean that the things themselves have any probabilities attached to them.

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle has nothing to do with measurement. It is a straightforward consequence of the fact that momentum is the Fourier transform of position. This happens in signal processing as well - do you think spectral broadening is a result of observer ignorance, or nature?

And Bell is really a principal scenario in which to notice the difference. What is your scientific background? There are explanations of this effect at a variety of levels I can point you towards.
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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Variance wrote:The universe cannot be said to have any nature but that which we observe. I think it exists independent of observation, but that's beside the point: the only things we can say about it are those we observe.

We cannot observe things at the quantum level well enough to tell exactly where or how things are, a la the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle. This does not mean that the things themselves have any probabilities attached to them. This is important: quantum mechanics ascribes no probabilities to things that are brought out of anything but our own inability to effectively observe these processes.

I make no claims as to whether there are actually any random properties to the processes that happen in the universe. Neither does quantum mechanics. Because we don't know, there's no reason to positively assume that there are probabilities that act in these processes in reality; this is derived from the basis of Burden of Proof. We only know that we can't observe the processes well, and that this introduces probabilities into our perception of the universe.

We cannot say, nor is there any outstanding evidence that I know of, that there is any probability in the universe in actuality. There is only the probability in our perception, which is as good as any. It's all semantics, but it's important to understand when considering the philosophy behind the workings of the universe.

Are you claiming that an unobserved particle does not exist as a wave state? If so, how do you explain Young's double-slit experiment?

If you are just referring to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, I think this excerpt from wikipedia explains the point:
Spoiler:
The uncertainty principle is often stated this way:

The measurement of position necessarily disturbs a particle's momentum, and vice versa

This makes the uncertainty principle a kind of observer effect.

This explanation is not incorrect, and was used by both Heisenberg and Bohr. But they were working within the philosophical framework of logical positivism. In this way of looking at the world, the true nature of a physical system, inasmuch as it exists, is defined by the answers to the best-possible measurements which can be made in principle. So when they made arguments about unavoidable disturbances in any conceivable measurement, it was obvious to them that this uncertainty was a property of the system, not of the devices.

Today, logical positivism has become unfashionable in many cases, so the explanation of the uncertainty principle in terms of observer effect can be misleading. For one, this explanation makes it seem to the non positivist that the disturbances are not a property of the particle, but a property of the measurement process— the particle secretly does have a definite position and a definite momentum, but the experimental devices we have are not good enough to find out what these are. This interpretation is not compatible with standard quantum mechanics. In quantum mechanics, states which have both definite position and definite momentum at the same time just don't exist.

telcontar42

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

A particle simply does not have well defined values of observables until we actually observe it and collapse the wavefunction. Its not that we dont know it. Its that it does not exist.

BlackSails

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

BlackSails wrote:A particle simply does not have well defined values of observables until we actually observe it and collapse the wavefunction. Its not that we dont know it. Its that it does not exist.

Both the people claiming it does, and doesn't, have observables are making stronger claims than the scientific evidence. There are interpretations of the QM math (that generates testable predictions: ie, the math has evidence behind it) in which there are hidden variables (these are non-local, which makes them weird, and not much like "Newtonian" physics), and others in which there are no hidden variables (which can be 'local' theories).

The point of all of this is that when science describes the universe, the answer comes back "very weird". And all of the pontificating about "logically, these laws, as I presently understand them, must be the laws of nature, and things that don't match up with them (as I understand them) must therefore be supernatural" has multifold issues:

First, are you sure you fully understand the laws of physics we have currently enshrined as the laws of nature? Really?

Second, science has replaced seemingly good laws of nature with utterly strange ones twice last century. Both Relativity (where we threw out absolute time, gravity as a force, etc) and Quantum Mechanics are utterly bizarre compared to what was being used to describe the universe before. But they happened.

We should expect something similar to happen again. We don't expect that the laws of physics we have right now are complete: in a number of areas, they don't really work (trying to apply gravity on small scales, and other problems at extremely high temperatures near the big bang), and their application seems to be full of hacks (see normalisation) that are done because they generate the results we see in experiments, and not because they are the laws of nature.

As we solve these problems (or build a better framework to do the hacks we are currently using), we can (based off of past experience) expect that the range of validity of our physics will get larger, and we'll end up with seemingly impossible things being predicted and tested to occur.

Third, what physics has taught us is that if we use our naive understanding of the universe on the scale we experience it, we will end up with utter garbage predictions when trying to work on other scales. Cause and effect, while it holds at the time/temperature/size scales of human 'natural' experience, doesn't have to hold on other scales. Lots of the philosophical stuff ends up making what seems to be reasonable assumptions based off of our everyday experience, and then derives non-testable conclusions about reality: but that just says that either those seemingly reasonable assumptions are violated, or the conclusion holds. And I have little to no faith that human-scale everyday experience has that much connection to macroscale, microscale, or sufficiently hot/dense/curved/fast/slow reality (etc). In order to check that, you test it. And the batting average of ascribing to a god a surprise is quite low, in the human-scale everyday experience of science.
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Yakk

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Man, if we get stuck with nonlocality, I am quitting. Better to have been a shoemaker.
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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

doogly wrote:Man, if we get stuck with nonlocality, I am quitting. Better to have been a shoemaker.

Well, that too.

But I'm just saying that asserting nonlocality, or asserting no hidden variables, are both questionable assertions. We cannot distinguish between them at this point (and possibly they cannot be distinguished between, which would be an interesting result).
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Yakk

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

The kochen-specker theorem says that either observables dont have defined values until you measure it, or the value is dependent on how you measure it. You can choose the second option if you want, since mathematically its just as well founded, but I think its bizarre to talk of "the spin" of a particle if you cant actually measure "the spin"

BlackSails

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

I know there may be some theories to the contrary, but as I understand it, it is well accepted that quantum mechanics is not based on hidden variables, as proved by Bell's inequality.

telcontar42

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

telcontar42 wrote:I know there may be some theories to the contrary, but as I understand it, it is well accepted that quantum mechanics is not based on hidden variables, as proved by Bell's inequality.

Bell's theorem only rules out local hidden variable theories, and there are several loopholes in it.

BlackSails

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

I hate to ask, but what is a non-local hidden variable?

More to the point, if you have global hidden variables in "the physical world", then does it make sense to ask "Are those global hiddens another name for 'God'?".

(Probably belongs in a philosophy of God thread, but I didn't see one)

(Is God writing a program so complex that He can't organize everything into Objects?)
===

Lets see if I understand this last page or so correctly:

1. At the bottom level, things are not "what"s -- particles, they are "wha???"s -- wave-behaving thingies.

2. When two "Wha???"s interact, you have a measurement -- both turn into "what"s for an instant to interact, and then turn back into "wha???"s, that are different from the original "wha???"s.

3. Quantizing effects limit the "size" of the "wha???"s to specific sizes -- for example, photons emited from a electron decay from "2" to "1" (ground) of a given element will always be the same "size".

4. Two different "Wha???"s can be "identical" -- anything that you determine about one also applies to the other. But only two. This allows you to determine the position OR velocity of a particle by measuring it's entangled buddy, but that still doesn't help you as you don't know the other either.

5. If we ever think we understand the "Wha???", it will be replaced by a "Whathehuh???", which is even more confusing; this has happened twice so far (Adams was wrong in thinking this had happenend only once .
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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

SpazzyMcGee wrote:
sinc wrote:so, is the only natural possibility is for there to be nothing at all?

Nothing by definition doesn't exist.If IT existed then it wouldn't be nothing.

Unless it was explicitly defined as being nothing.

If, for the sake of argument, you assume that the universe is ultimately a logical construct of some form (and since this discussion is skimming theology anyway, why not assume it?), then it is equally natural for the universe to be nothing as it is for it to be something.

BlackSails wrote:Thermodynamics is information theory. You can argue this point, but you would be wrong.

Wouldn't thermodynamics concern a part of information theory, and information theory concern a part of thermodynamics?

That is to say, thermodynamics also concerns things that have nothing to do with information and information theory isn't all about heat.
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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Indon wrote:
SpazzyMcGee wrote:
sinc wrote:so, is the only natural possibility is for there to be nothing at all?

Nothing by definition doesn't exist.If IT existed then it wouldn't be nothing.

Unless it was explicitly defined as being nothing.

Leave computer science out of this. Computer science is not reality. (and the null pointer doesn't mean nothing to begin with. If we consider computer instructions as a language, null pointers means the WORD undefined, not any actual value. The only thing that means nothing is the representation of 0 (or 0 bit, or false, which all means the same thing in code)

If, for the sake of argument, you assume that the universe is ultimately a logical construct of some form (and since this discussion is skimming theology anyway, why not assume it?), then it is equally natural for the universe to be nothing as it is for it to be something.

BlackSails wrote:Thermodynamics is information theory. You can argue this point, but you would be wrong.

Wouldn't thermodynamics concern a part of information theory, and information theory concern a part of thermodynamics?

That is to say, thermodynamics also concerns things that have nothing to do with information and information theory isn't all about heat.
[/quote]
Energy quantity is a fraction of Information. Other subsets of information includes positional, temporal (arguably same as positional depending on PoV), directional. There is nothing in thermodynamics which is not part of information theory, but there are plenty in information theory which is not part of thermodynamics. Or to simplify, Thermodynamics is a subset of Information.
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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Kyrn wrote:Leave computer science out of this. Computer science is not reality.

Oooh, scott aaronson is gonna come get you.

BlackSails

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Kyrn wrote:Leave computer science out of this. Computer science is not reality.

To continue the 'reality is strange' point Yakk has been working on, we don't know that.

Kyrn wrote:(and the null pointer doesn't mean nothing to begin with. If we consider computer instructions as a language, null pointers means the WORD undefined, not any actual value. The only thing that means nothing is the representation of 0 (or 0 bit, or false, which all means the same thing in code)

Uh, no. Null is the concept of nothing, and is expressed at a higher logical level than bits. When an object is null, the null denotes that the object correlates to nothing - that it is a descriptor of and for nothing. A null object isn't simply the lack of something - it is the lack of everything, a non-thing, in a sense. An undefined object is an object which isn't anything - thus... nothing. I can go on.

0, as a bit, is simply off - that level of abstraction does not effectively describe the concept of 'nothing', as a bit set to 0 is a thing that you can manipulate extensively. You can't manipulate nothing - you can only verify that it is, in fact, nothing.

Kyrn wrote:Energy quantity is a fraction of Information. Other subsets of information includes positional, temporal (arguably same as positional depending on PoV), directional. There is nothing in thermodynamics which is not part of information theory, but there are plenty in information theory which is not part of thermodynamics. Or to simplify, Thermodynamics is a subset of Information.

Thermodynamics is a subset of physics. Information theory broadly applies multiple fields of physics for a specific purpose, but I wouldn't describe it as co-opting any of them in that sense.
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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Indon wrote:Thermodynamics is a subset of physics. Information theory broadly applies multiple fields of physics for a specific purpose, but I wouldn't describe it as co-opting any of them in that sense.

Thermodynamics is a subset of information theory, just like kinematics is a subset of mechanics.

Edit: And if you believe wheeler, all physics is a subset of information theory

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Kyrn wrote:I will admit I cannot suitably (explain/visualize/understand) my point, and that my knowledge isn't complete (again, not a quantum scientist).

Guess what? I'm going to pick on you! This is a prime example of when you shouldn't be posting in SB. Do your homework, cite your assertions and know what you're talking about before opening your mouth.

Take a break from the thread.

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Indon wrote:To continue the 'reality is strange' point Yakk has been working on, we don't know that.

The biggest difference between computer science and reality as we know it, is because we defined the rules of computer science, starting from all interactions involving only two states. In a sense, computer science starts from the definition, then we create the world, science has the world created, and then we attempt to define it.

Take for example: if quantum computing really takes off, be prepared to see computer science being split into two distinctively separate languages, simply because the "undefined" would greatly change the whole landscape. We no longer have to work with the assumption that everything is either true or false. The "=" symbol would have to be completely rethought.

Uh, no. Null is the concept of nothing, and is expressed at a higher logical level than bits. When an object is null, the null denotes that the object correlates to nothing - that it is a descriptor of and for nothing. A null object isn't simply the lack of something - it is the lack of everything, a non-thing, in a sense. An undefined object is an object which isn't anything - thus... nothing. I can go on.

Computer science involved all levels. "Higher level" logic merely serves to describe combinations of lower level logic. Not to mention if we compare to quantum physics, there are a lot of instances where values are undefined, yet certainly not nothing. (the whole point is that undefined is in itself a quality)

Not to mention that null pointers are artificial constructs of higher level logic; pointers has always existed even at the lowest level. By saying that null means nothing, you are also indirectly implying that nothing is an artificial construct of higher level logic.

Not to mention that if you do not have sufficient protections (whether due to buffer overflow or otherwise), you still can manipulate the values within null pointers.

0, as a bit, is simply off - that level of abstraction does not effectively describe the concept of 'nothing', as a bit set to 0 is a thing that you can manipulate extensively. You can't manipulate nothing - you can only verify that it is, in fact, nothing.

There is no such thing as manipulation without the concept of pointers. Hence you are manipulating a location, not the value directly. When I perform X = X + Y, I'm not manipulating X, I'm reading the value of X and Y, then assigning the value (complete replacement) to X. When I perform X++; I'm performing a series of bit swaps starting from the right (depending on implementation) until I find a value where the bit == 0. When I say X << 1 I'm doing a pointer shift of all values. When I perform AND, OR, XAND, XOR, I'm doing bit replacements based on the values of bits on two separate locations.

Azrael wrote:Guess what? I'm going to pick on you! This is a prime example of when you shouldn't be posting in SB. Do your homework, cite your assertions and know what you're talking about before opening your mouth.

Take a break from the thread.

I do cite my assertions and such where noted (and BlackSails cited some others relevant to my points as well). It just so happens that I misunderstood something. That in no way mean that my other points are invalid.
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Kyrn

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Kyrn wrote:
Indon wrote:To continue the 'reality is strange' point Yakk has been working on, we don't know that.

The biggest difference between computer science and reality as we know it, is because we defined the rules of computer science, starting from all interactions involving only two states. In a sense, computer science starts from the definition, then we create the world, science has the world created, and then we attempt to define it.

We did not define computer science. Computer science has as much to do with computers as calculus has to do with calculators.

BlackSails

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Kyrn wrote:Take for example: if quantum computing really takes off, be prepared to see computer science being split into two distinctively separate languages, simply because the "undefined" would greatly change the whole landscape. We no longer have to work with the assumption that everything is either true or false. The "=" symbol would have to be completely rethought.
Azrael wrote:Guess what? I'm going to pick on you! This is a prime example of when you shouldn't be posting in SB. Do your homework, cite your assertions and know what you're talking about before opening your mouth.

Azrael's words are relevant a second time!
= does not mean something completely different. Quantum mechanics does not change how logic works, just how probability works. You should check out the quantum computing stuff Scott Aaronson put up, which Blacksails mentioned. It's extremely good.
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doogly
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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

doogly wrote:
Kyrn wrote:Take for example: if quantum computing really takes off, be prepared to see computer science being split into two distinctively separate languages, simply because the "undefined" would greatly change the whole landscape. We no longer have to work with the assumption that everything is either true or false. The "=" symbol would have to be completely rethought.
Azrael wrote:Guess what? I'm going to pick on you! This is a prime example of when you shouldn't be posting in SB. Do your homework, cite your assertions and know what you're talking about before opening your mouth.

Azrael's words are relevant a second time!
= does not mean something completely different. Quantum mechanics does not change how logic works, just how probability works. You should check out the quantum computing stuff Scott Aaronson put up, which Blacksails mentioned. It's extremely good.

I never said it means anything different, but it has to be rethought. I admit I wasn't clear on what "=" meant, but it applies to both cases.

Equality has always been consistently used for determination of whether a statement is true or false in terms of computer sciences, and is not compatible with undefined/probability values. To put simply, if X is a quantum value and Y is a quantum value, X EQUALS Y will no longer return either true or false.

Assignment would have the same issue: if X (quantum value) is assigned to Y, X is not necessarily equal to Y (no local hidden variables).

[EDIT] Admittedly confused when pointers came to discussion. Stepping out.[/EDIT]
Last edited by Kyrn on Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:46 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
I am NOT a snake.

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Kyrn

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Kyrn wrote:I never said it means anything different, but it has to be rethought. I admit I wasn't clear on what "=" meant, but it applies to both cases.

Equality has always been consistently used for determination of whether a statement is true or false in terms of computer sciences, and is not compatible with undefined/probability values. To put simply, if X is a quantum value and Y is a quantum value, X EQUALS Y will no longer return either true or false.

Assignment would have the same issue: if X (quantum value) is assigned to Y, X is not necessarily equal to Y (no local hidden variables).

Ill put this bluntly. It is obvious you have never studied probability, quantum mechanics, computer science or formal logic. Study it, come back and we can all have a pleasant discussion.

BlackSails

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

I think the OP's question is merely definitional, but I'll take a stab at it anyway:

Nothing does exist, but only as a logical construct. You cannot have a bottle with "nothing" inside it. Nothing is what you see when you look out the back of your head--no light, but no absence of light either. It indicates that the measure you are currently using is not applicable and has no value.

Also, wouldn't a proton pendulum release energy in the form of gravity waves and eventually halt?
MrGee

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

That's an interesting "also," but yes.
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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Kyrn wrote: Stepping out.[/EDIT]
Let's all remember that when I tell you to leave a discussion, there are consequences if you don't.

Azrael
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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

MrGee wrote:Also, wouldn't a proton pendulum release energy in the form of gravity waves and eventually halt?
According to classical physics, yes. According to quantum physics, apparently no.
achan1058

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Is this a known result somewhere?
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

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doogly
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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

doogly wrote:Is this a known result somewhere?

It seems reasonable that the ground state of the quantum pendulum would have zero point energy much like the harmonic oscillator.

BlackSails

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Well, it seems reasonable that the speed of light in a frame moving at v would be v+c
And more seriously, if the potential you had trapped the proton in was gravitational in nature, then gravity wave dissipation seems fairly reasonable. It'd be a nasty calculation but I think one you could do if you girded your loins with Birrel and Davies. And if you pretended a proton was a scalar field, *of course.*
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

Meaux: It's not jumping the shark if you never come down.

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Variance wrote:We cannot observe things at the quantum level well enough to tell exactly where or how things are, a la the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle. This does not mean that the things themselves have any probabilities attached to them. This is important: quantum mechanics ascribes no probabilities to things that are brought out of anything but our own inability to effectively observe these processes.

Well, the thing is, you really can extract more than this.

Bell's Inequality and that really neat other theorem -- I swear someone linked it in this thread?! -- show that naive local realism with measurement problems cannot be what is going on behind quantum mechanics. And apparently we have cut down the possible "hidden variable" theories even further -- saying "physics is non-local" isn't enough to allow you to inject hidden variables and wipe your hands of quantum wierdness!

Reality is weird. Attempting to make teleological arguments based on human-scale every-day experience about the universe isn't a really strong argument, in my mind: because when we look at the universe on scales away from ours, we get crazy things all over the place.
Kyrn wrote:Citation please: Basically, as far as I know, any experiment which seems to reduce entropy, indirectly increases entropy in a different locale by an equal or greater manner. I would like to know what proves otherwise.

There have been a few linked: one involves protean folding, the other involves observing small drops of water.

And yes, if thermodynamic entropy is derived from information theory entropy, then we should expect to only be able to see thermodynamic entropic reversal in rare, tightly controlled, and small scale experiments.

And yes, the experiments might not be hugely convincing. But even supposing that this doesn't happen: just because we can generate entropic reversing experiments doesn't mean that we have access to supernatural forces.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

Yakk

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Yakk wrote:
Bell's Inequality and that really neat other theorem -- I swear someone linked it in this thread?!

The Kochen-Specker theorem.

There are also two no-go theorems for hidden variables with no names - one requires invariance under time slicing, the other requires things like Bohmian mechanics to only work in infinite dimensional hilbert spaces.

BlackSails

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

It's amazing how much happens before I can come back from Thanksgiving and reply.
BlackSails wrote:
Variance wrote:I can't say much here beyond that you're wrong. Let me explain the philosophical basis:

The universe cannot be said to have any nature but that which we observe. I think it exists independent of observation, but that's beside the point: the only things we can say about it are those we observe.

Quantum mechanics makes testable predictions about things that did not occur. For example, take the Elitzur-Vaidman bomb tester.

The basic set up is this: You have bunch of bombs. Each bomb detonates when it detects a photon. Some of the bombs are duds. How can you distinguish the duds from the real bombs?

The obvious answer is you try to detonate them all. The ones that dont explode are the duds. But what if you dont want to explode them?

To do that, you can set up an apparatus called a Mach Inferometer, and using that, you can determine if a bomb would have exploded had a photon hit it. Obviously though, since it doesnt explode, the photon doesnt hit it.

You can also do the same thing with spins (this is basically Bell's theorem). You have a particle, it decays into an electron and positron. If you measure the spin on the electron, you know what the spin is on the positron, despite never measuring it.

This is not contrary to what you quoted me on saying. These are just indirect means of observing photons and positrons, albeit far more indirect than even traditional indirect means.

doogly wrote:
Variance wrote:We cannot observe things at the quantum level well enough to tell exactly where or how things are, a la the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle. This does not mean that the things themselves have any probabilities attached to them.

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle has nothing to do with measurement. It is a straightforward consequence of the fact that momentum is the Fourier transform of position. This happens in signal processing as well - do you think spectral broadening is a result of observer ignorance, or nature?

And Bell is really a principal scenario in which to notice the difference. What is your scientific background? There are explanations of this effect at a variety of levels I can point you towards.

I have to contradict you, the Heisenberg principle has everything to do with measurement: it imposes limitations on our ability to measure things, regardless of how it is derived. You should know this, given the elevated position you appear to be talking to me from. I won't answer your question about my experience, because I won't go along with Argument from Authority.

Spectral broadening is a result of cause-and-effect processes, no matter what incarnation of it you mean; I assume you refer to natural broadening. Natural broadening does have probability in it when we deal with it, given that it varies along a Cauchy distribution; this, though, is still the result of our observational faults. We cannot perfectly measure the nature of an excited state, by the uncertainty principle, and therefore its potential nature decays over time in our perception into the Cauchy distribution. Again, it has an absolute nature, but because of Heisenberg, we can't fully know it, so it appears to have a probability function attached to it, and for all intents and purposes, it pretty much does. But we cannot say that it does in absolute reality.

(See the bottom about Bell's theorem.)

BlackSails wrote:
Indon wrote:Thermodynamics is a subset of physics. Information theory broadly applies multiple fields of physics for a specific purpose, but I wouldn't describe it as co-opting any of them in that sense.

Thermodynamics is a subset of information theory, just like kinematics is a subset of mechanics.

Edit: And if you believe wheeler, all physics is a subset of information theory

I fully agree with this. To cover myself shamelessly, the reason I was arguing against using Information theory in the first place was because whoever I was arguing against Way Back Then wanted to use it to override Thermodynamic theory to say entropy can be violated; as Indon said, it doesn't co-opt any subset theories.

MrGee wrote:Also, wouldn't a proton pendulum release energy in the form of gravity waves and eventually halt?

Only if gravitation and thus the mediating particles behind it are somehow subject to decay. According to the standard model, the answer would be no, because gravitons are fundamental particles and the interactions they mediate have no "friction". That doesn't prove anything though, because the standard model assumes fundamental particles do not decay, which we can't necessarily accept. I'm inclined to say yes, it would be subject to entropy, because if we do not accept space-time as a separate medium, as is usually done in classical physics, then gravitation must release some energy given that gravitation in and of itself is just a momentum potential that is being constantly drained as gravitation is affected.

So quantum physics say no, the mediated interactions have zero "friction", being particles, and the system is therefore closed and already at maximum entropy. However, that quantum physics answer assumes the standard model, which if not accepted does not necessarily place the system at maximum entropy if gravitation is said to be potential energy released when the interactions between gravitating particles happen, as Doogly said.

Bell's Inequality and that really neat other theorem -- I swear someone linked it in this thread?! -- show that naive local realism with measurement problems cannot be what is going on behind quantum mechanics. And apparently we have cut down the possible "hidden variable" theories even further -- saying "physics is non-local" isn't enough to allow you to inject hidden variables and wipe your hands of quantum wierdness!

Reality is weird. Attempting to make teleological arguments based on human-scale every-day experience about the universe isn't a really strong argument, in my mind: because when we look at the universe on scales away from ours, we get crazy things all over the place.

It's a bit of a red herring to keep saying reality is weird. Reality isn't anything particular; it just is, and whatever incomplete understanding we may have of it and the wonder with which we regard it are purely the results of our inabilities to know everything and accept it all. The "human scale", imperfect as it is, can still determine very absolute things: we derive from the mere existence of things and our observation of them the fundamentals of logic.

You decry this as naive and small-minded, cosmologically provincial, but regardless of how it is, it is. Quantum Physics just is, trascending being "weird". Cogito ergo sum and the existence of that which we observe, on whatever level artifacts we perceive exist, are similar. They are. This would be the nature of an overriding purpose in life, of God: if he were to exist, he would be. No adjectives are needed, because they would distract from the reality. His purpose he hands down would be similar: morality and purposes would be, and exist beyond adjectives.

So I must discourage you from shrugging everything off as "weird" and having that be the end-all-be-all to any arguments concerning reading God and purpose into the universe. I'm not reading such things in because I have a lack of understanding of the universe; to the contrary, I find evidence that supernatural forces exist in the existence of the universe. I don't consider it "weird", I just accept the probability. Quantum physics is the same way; all the exists and the rules that govern things just are, and to ascribe adjectives to them is to distract from the pure fact that they exist, and must be considered.

Therefore, reply to my argument in that fashion: don't pass it off as weird. My argument is that quantum physics (and modern science in general) does not imply that something can become nothing, or vice-verse; quantum physics does not violate the three classical laws of logic.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ah, Bell's theorem. When Bell published his inequality, he proved that for Quantum mechanics to be satisfied, one element of local realism must be untrue: reality or locality. Given we have evidence for quantum entanglement, it looks like that one will be locality.

Yakk and Doogly may think that I've been violating the theorem by holding for the reality element, but that's not the case: I do not disagree that locality can be violated. It obviously is in accordance with quantum entanglement. Essentially, I posit hidden variables which are not necessarily local. I don't believe in local realism, only realism: A=A and not (not A).

In this way, when I say that there is no evidence for probability absolutely existing in particles, I make no claims contrary to Bell's theorem. I never assumed locality of any hidden variables.

Deeper than that, though, and in accordance with what I was talking about in response to Yakk above, what is is. So while I say there is no evidence that particles have probabilities ascribed to them in reality, I don't discount that they could. I'm just saying that there is no evidence proving that they do, so therefore there is no evidence that they don't. The real case is beside the point: our limited observation makes it impossible to see if positive probabilities exist absolutely as components of particles.

In essence, local hidden variables are discounted by Bell and I both, but hidden variables are not. If evidence is brought against the latter, I will be satisfied. Until then, I recommend reading my arguments carefully to see exactly what type of variables I'm positing if I argue for determinism. I make no claims about the locality of hidden variables, local or non-local; only that hidden variables are not impossible.

And, of course, I also accept that there might be no hidden variables at all and the absolute nature of things might be a probability distribution. Either way, the existence of hidden variables has absolutely nothing to do with the question of whether QM can violate the laws of logic, prove A=(not A), and make nothing be something, a potential answer to the OP's question.

If A(X) is, in reality, a probability distribution that can become A(1) or A(2), then that's its nature. That doesn't mean that it becomes something it wasn't; by schrodinger's cat, it could have been either for observational purposes before it was shown to be one when we observed it and defined a non-hidden variable. Such is the nature of QM; our inadequate observations that make probability distributions do not define the real nature of things. If probability distributions are real, then they are the way things are; they are A. If they don't exist in reality, that is then A.

So that's my monologue about why the existence of hidden variables, which you guys have been snickering about in the corner over, is irrelevant to the question of whether A can be not A. A is the reality, and regardless of what A is, regardless of whether A is a wave-function of potential or a point particle, A is. An apple is an apple, and not an orange. A is A, and is not (not A).
Last edited by Variance on Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:46 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

Variance

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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

I'd like to avoid arguing from authority, I'd rather argue from physics. This is why I'm trying to determine how much you know, and if you tell me where you are at, I can address you at that point. Can you do the chapter in Sakurai that covers this? I think Griffiths QM also has a section it, that is undergrad level. If you don't know any quantum mechanics at all, I am going to talk from an authority position, sorry.

Gravitons aren't part of the Standard Model. And in the standard model, fundamental particles do decay. Muons are not composite, but an energetic one can definitely decay.
\mu \to e + \bar{\nu}_e + \nu_\mu
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

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doogly
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### Re: can "nothing" exist?

Oh my, that was fast. You got in before I could post the rest of my consideration of Bell's theorem, because I accidentally posted the reply before I had finished.
doogly wrote:I'd like to avoid arguing from authority, I'd rather argue from physics. This is why I'm trying to determine how much you know, and if you tell me where you are at, I can address you at that point. Can you do the chapter in Sakurai that covers this? I think Griffiths QM also has a section it, that is undergrad level. If you don't know any quantum mechanics at all, I am going to talk from an authority position, sorry.

See my now completed previous post. I'm not going to detail my level of understanding because it is irrelevant to considering whether QM can violate A=A and not (not A). I can discuss this on the level required; not that my graviton mistake lends me any credit.

Although I understand why you want to know my level of education here, I've been jaded by debates prior. An argument from authority is an informal fallacy, no matter how sincere. Let's keep this strictly to factual discussion, because although there is nothing strictly wrong in an argument from authority, it quickly leads to an appeal to ridicule, even if not from you yourself.
Gravitons aren't part of the Standard Model. And in the standard model, fundamental particles do decay. Muons are not composite, but an energetic one can definitely decay.

You certainly got me on that one. I'm posting this at 2 AM, so you'll have to forgive me. However, I assume that an energetic Muon only decays to a non-energetic one with 0 potential energy and not beyond that per entropy, and that other particles are similar. At least in the standard model.

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