Wednesday, April 13, 2016

There's Nothing There - Part 23

Now. Although nobody is all that crazy about reality not existing unless some sort of observation or measurement is made (apparently by some sort of intelligent being, like a human or ET, but not by a really smart animal, like a bonobo)(You need to go look up "bonobo" right now), nobody can get away from it.

The best that anyone can do is to try to figure out what happens AFTER the observation is made. But nobody has been able to say that the observation is NOT the thing. The Thing. The Thing that makes reality come into being.

And nobody can really define what an observation actually is.

Or what the observer actually is. Or who.

Now. I'm fully aware that all of this sounds insane. Which is part of the problem. It just sounds crazy. OK, that's ALL of the problem. It's lunacy. But it's the way the universe works.

The Copenhagen Interpretation says that all possible realities exist together (cat both alive and dead) until the observation is made, and then all the possible realities go away except for one. Live cat universe OR dead cat universe.

The Many Worlds Interpretation says that when the observation is made, the universe splits into two universes. Live cat universe AND dead cat universe.

That would mean that there are many many many universes. Except, of course, there aren't. At least none that we have any evidence for. This one, of course. Ours. But not a single other one.

Something like two out of three physicists accept the Copenhagen. Something like one out of nine accept Many Worlds. That's about three out of four of all physicists. The other one physicist likes any of the other nine interpretations. So they aren't too popular.

Really what's going on is that a lot of very smart people are hoping that there's (and this is what they call it, so use your deep professional American Idol voice) ...


Albert Einstein wanted this. Stephen Hawking wants it. Roger Penrose. Lots of folks. Most everyone.

And here's what's interesting about that.

It's that ... they don't like it because it doesn't make sense to them, even though it's perfect and it's always right and it's never wrong.

That is to say that they fully believe that the universe should be understandable to us, the beings that live in it. Since ET hasn't shown up yet.

Even though Neil deGrasse Tyson says quite firmly, "The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you," he really does want it to make sense to him, even though it's under no obligation to do so. That's what he himself said to him himself, along with all the rest of us ourselves.

We could note here that we are the only creatures on earth, and maybe the only creatures in the universe, that gives a rat's patootie about understanding the universe.

All the other creatures just eat, sleep, excrete, procreate, and try to keep daddy from eating the babies.

We (firmly convinced that we are not special)(which we figured out all by ourselves)(based on fairly bad logic, as it happens) spend a good amount of our time trying to understand things.

Physicists - the universe. Other scientists - smaller parts of the universe. Psychologists - why we are such whackadoodles. Historians - why we are such whackadoodles. Marketing people - why we won't buy their crap, and how to make us buy their crap. People - all the other people.

Animals don't do this. Plants don't do this. Galaxies don't do this. Even particles, which apparently are smarter than we are, don't do this. Particles are just flipping coins to figure out what they are going to do, and waiting to see if we are going to try to catch them doing it. But particles are not trying to understand particles.

We're the only ones.

And if we reach a place where we can't understand things (like space-time, black holes, Big Bang, quantum things, relativistic things, bendy time and bendy space, cats both dead and alive until we look at them, particles going backwards and forwards in time, stuff like that), then instead of just saying, wow, we're just not gonna get that, are we?, we say, dang, the universe must be broken, cause it's way weirder than we thought it was going to be.

And what the universe is saying is, hey, it's YOU guys who are weird. The rest of it? That's normal. That's the way it is. You're like little babies afraid of the dark or the bathtub or bunnies or green veg. Or, in my daughter's case, ET, spiders and laundry lint.

So somehow, we who are not special are supposed to be the only creatures in Space-Time who are special enough to be able to figure everything out, how it all works and makes sense to us who are like tiny little rancid carbuncles on the right butt cheek of the solar system.

The universe does throw us a bone. It lets us find and understand the math that describes it all. The math of relativity, of the general theory, of quantum theory and the Standard Model of Particle physics, of Chaos and Complexity, even String Theory (OK, we don't quite get the math and it isn't true yet, but still) and Loop Quantum Gravity (ditto) and Inflation (ditto ditto) and Dark Energy and Dark Matter (which EXIST but we CAN'T FIND THEM!!!).

But the math, the cruel, bitter heartless math, tells us a story that we cannot understand. And will not. But we want



to understand it.

It's kind of adorable.

Because we, cute little Minions that we are, make this assumption that has no support. And it is, we can Understand Everything. We who can't see the backs of our own heads, we who live in a universe that is maybe 10**26th times bigger than we can actually see, we who look out at the night sky, see 9110 stars (which is all that we can see with our eyeballs) and assume that we are Seeing It All, we for whom 95% of the universe is Dark Energy and Dark Matter and we have no idea what they are, we who cannot go backwards in time or tunnel instantaneously across vast regions of space or be in 2 places at once, though all of our particles can, we who travel to the Moon and think we have been in space, we who dream of colonizing Mars, which is a lot like dreaming of colonizing that spot in the sand right next to us on the beach, we who are bound to air and water and food and gravity and light and cannot live without any of them,


want to Understand it All.

Adorable. Just ... adorable.

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