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Thursday, December 6, 2012

6:12:2012 ..Why The Universe Is Not a Computer After All


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David

Why The Universe Is Not a Computer After All

The idea that our Universe is a giant cosmic computer pervades modern science. Now one physicists says this assumption is dangerously wrong

 

One of the driving forces in modern science is the idea that the Universe “computes” the future, taking some initial state as an input and generating future states as an output. This is a powerful approach that has produced much insight. Some scientists go as far as to say that the Universe is a giant computer.

Is this a reasonable assumption? Today, Ken Wharton at San Jose State University in California, makes an important argument that it is not.  His fear is that the idea of the universe as a computer is worryingly anthropocentric.  “It’s basically the assumption that the way we humans solve physics problems must be the way the universe actually operates,” he says.

What’s more, the idea has spread through science without any proper consideration of its validity or any examination of the alternatives. “This assumption…is so strong that many physicists can’t even articulate what other type of universe might be conceptually possible,” says Wharton.

He argues that a close look at the notion of the cosmos as a computer reveals important problems. Wharton examines several. For example, a computation involves three steps. First, the physical world has to be mapped onto some mathematical state. Next, this state mathematically evolves into a new state. And finally, the new state is mapped back onto the physical world.

In quantum mechanics, this can only happen if this final step is probabilistic. As Wharton puts it: “Not even the universe knows which particular outcome will occur.”

And yet, when the universe is measured, a specific outcome does occur. The operation of a  computer cannot account for this. For Wharton, this is a crucial flaw that most physicists just overlook.

It’s also an important clue that idea of the universe is a computer is merely an assumption and one that has never been rigorously questioned. “It is the least-questioned (and most fundamental) assumptions that have the greatest potential to lead us astray,” he says.

The consequences of this are profound. “Thanks to this deep bias, it’s possible that we have missed the bigger picture: the mounting evidence that the fundamental rules that govern our universe cannot be expressed in terms of [a traditional computation].”

To demonstrate the point, Wharton spends a significant part of his paper explaining an alternative view of the cosmos which does not rely on traditional computation. This is Lagrange’s formulation of the laws of physics based on the principle of least action.

An example is the principle that light travels the shortest distance between two points. Lagrange’s method is essentially to stipulate the start point and end point, examine all possible paths and choose the shortest. “In this view, the reason light bends at an air/water  interface is not because of any algorithm-like chain of cause-and-eect, but rather because it’s globally more ecient,” explains Wharton.

Anybody familiar with this approach will know its great elegance and beauty.   But critics ask how the light ray can know its end point when it starts its journey. Wharton says these critics argue like this: “Yes, [Lagrange’s method] may be beautiful, it may be powerful, but it’s not how our universe really works. It’s just a useful trick we’ve discovered.”

But this argument is itself powerfully anthropocentric, says Wharton. It assumes the Universe must work in the way we solve problems–that the Universe is as “in the dark” about the future as we are. 

Of course, there are plenty of good arguments for thinking that the Universe works like a conventional computer. The point Wharton makes is that there are other ways of thinking about the cosmos too and that these may provide important new insights. We ignore them at our peril.

Interesting reading.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1211.7081: The Universe As Not A Computer

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How to Digitally Record/Video a UFO sighting:


Como registar digitalmente ou gravar um vídeo de um avistamento de um UFO:




Stabilize the camera on a tripod. If there is no tripod, then set it on top of a stable, flat surface. If that is not possible lean against a wall to stabilize your body and prevent the camera from filming in a shaky, unsteady manner.

Estabilize a camera com um tripé. Se não tiver um tripé, então coloque-a em cima de uma superfície estável. Se não for possível, então encoste-se a uma parede para estabilizar o corpo e evitar que a camera registe de maneira tremida e instável.

Provide visual reference points for comparison. This includes the horizon, treetops, lampposts, houses, and geographical landmarks (i.e., Horsetooth Reservoir, Mt. Adams, etc.) Provide this in the video whenever is appropriate and doesn’t detract from what your focus is, the UFO.

Forneça pontos visuais de referência para comparação. Isso inclui o horizonte, cimo das árvores, postes de iluminação, pontos de referência geográficos (como o Reservatório de Horsetooth, Mone Adams, etc) Forneça esses pontos no vídeo sempre que for apropriado e não se distraia do que é o seu foco, o UFO/a Nave.

Narrate your videotape. Provide details of the date, time, location, and direction (N,S,E,W) you are looking in. Provide your observations on the weather, including approximate temperature, windspeed, any visible cloud cover or noticeable weather anomalies or events. Narrate on the shape, size, color, movements, approximate altitude of the UFO, etc and what it appears to be doing. Also include any unusual physical, psychological or emotional sensations you might have. Narrate any visual reference points on camera so they correlate with what the viewer will see, and thereby will be better able to understand.

Faça a narração do vídeo. Forneça pormenores sobre a data, hora, local e direcção (Norte, Sul, Este, Oeste) que está a observar. Faça observações sobre as condições atmosféricas, incluindo a temperatura aproximada, velocidade do vento, quantidade de nuvens, anomalias ou acontecimentos meteorológicos evidentes. Descreva a forma, o tamanho, a cor, os movimentos, a altitude aproximada onde se encontra o UFO/nave, etc e o que aparenta estar a fazer. Inclua também quaisquer aspectos pouco habituais de sensações físicas, psicológicas ou emocionais que possa ter. Faça a narração de todos os pontos de referência visual que o espectador irá ver e que, deste modo, será capaz de compreender melhor.

Be persistent and consistent. Return to the scene to videotape and record at this same location. If you have been successful once, the UFO sightings may be occurring in this region regularly, perhaps for specific reasons unknown, and you may be successful again. You may also wish to return to the same location at a different time of day (daylight hours) for better orientation and reference. Film just a minute or two under “normal” circumstances for comparison. Write down what you remember immediately after. As soon as you are done recording the experience/event, immediately write down your impressions, memories, thoughts, emotions, etc. so it is on the record in writing. If there were other witnesses, have them independently record their own impressions, thoughts, etc. Include in this exercise any drawings, sketches, or diagrams. Make sure you date and sign your documentation.

Seja persistente e não contraditório. Volte ao local da cena e registe o mesmo local. Se foi bem sucedido uma vez, pode ser que nessa região ocorram avistamentos de UFOs/naves com regularidade, talvez por razões específicas desconhecidas, e talvez possa ser novamente bem sucedido. Pode também desejar voltar ao mesmo lugar a horas diferentes do dia (durante as horas de luz)para ter uma orientação e referência melhor. Filme apenas um ,inuto ou dois em circunstâncias “normais” para ter um termo de comparação. Escreva tudo o que viu imediatamente após o acontecimento. Logo após ter feito o registo da experiência/acontecimento, escreva imediatamente as impressões, memórias, pensamentos, emoções, etc para que fiquem registadas por escrito. Se houver outras testemunhas, peça-lhes para registar independentemente as suas próprias impressões, pensamentos, etc. Inclua quaisquer desenhos, esbolos, diagramas. Certifique-se que data e assina o seu documento/testemunho.

Always be prepared. Have a digital camera or better yet a video camera with you, charged and ready to go, at all times. Make sure you know how to use your camera (and your cell phone video/photo camera) quickly and properly. These events can occur suddenly, unexpectedly, and often quite randomly, so you will need to be prepared.

Esteja sempre preparado, Tenha sempre uma camera digital, melhor ainda, uma camera vídeo consigo, carregada e pronta a usar sempre que necessário. Certifique-se que sabe como lidar com a sua camera (ou com o seu celular/camera fotográfica) rápida e adequadamente. Esses acontecimentos podem acontecer súbita e inesperadamente e, por vezes, acidentalmente, por isso, necessita estar preparado.

Look up. Be prepared. Report. Share.

Olhe para cima, Esteja preparado, Relate, Partilhe.

MUFON.COM

ESOTERIC



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