The Multiverse

The non amateur stuff. Hawking, black holes, that sort of thing

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brian livesey
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Re: The Multiverse

Post by brian livesey »

You claim a limit to human understanding Mike, but you don't set a definite boundary line.
To borrow from Richard Dawkins again, he made the point that while Comte was writing in 1835 that we would never be able to know what the stars are made of, Joseph Fraunhofer was making his first spectroscopic observations of the Sun. :D
In our time, we've discovered the expanding universe, the cosmic background radiation, dark matter and more besides. :wink:
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mike a feist
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Re: The Multiverse

Post by mike a feist »

Brian: Perhaps there would be not having enough time until the lack of a similar increase in wisdom (as opposed to great increase in scientific knowledge) causes destruction of the species (or planet itself.) It seems to me that humanity is hanging on by its fingertips, with a dozen other threats from within (self-destruction,geological and biological) and from without (bombardment, destruction by the swelling Sun, radiation from supernovae etc).
Still, what do I know! I do know that this gloomy weather really spreads a grey sadness through my view of the world!
regards mike
joe
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Re: The Multiverse

Post by joe »

Even with the current gloomy weather I personally consider the whole business of trying to discover more of and look deeper into the cosmos a fabulously positive, even joyous endeavour - especially given the success we appear to be achieving.

I see no reason why we should reach a limit.
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brian livesey
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Re: The Multiverse

Post by brian livesey »

Knowledge can never be complete ( imagine how boring life would be if it was! ), because everything is in a state of flux.
I'm with Joe here. Humanity is on a great adventure through time. :D
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mike a feist
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Re: The Multiverse

Post by mike a feist »

I guess here - on this site and on this planet too- we are just playing with words - I originally wrote, in error, "paying with swords", perhaps this is what I meant or perhaps "playing with swords"!- for none of us will ever know the final outcome.
(Although, an astronomical friend, who believes in life-after-death, which I do not, often points out that if I am right, I will never know but if he is right he will be able to say "I told you so!)
Still, I feel much brighter today as the sky cleared before dawn, revealing the Gibbous Moon, Saturn and Mars in the line, low in the southwest, and the Sun is shining. regards mike
Cliff
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Re: The Multiverse

Post by Cliff »

Dear Mike, Brian, Joe et al(L)
I recently saw part of a TV programme about "Ancient Britain which I think I possibly watched more thoroughly some time ago ?. It was fairly easy to understand I thought than some weird stuff broadcast about modern cosmology and quantum whatsits.
Ancient Britain about stone circles and structures constructed 5000years ago, got me wondering ?
I don't fully share the optimism of Brian & Joe about our future, but perhaps I am a Doom&Gloom merchant. In the past empires have COME & GONE, but there are still uncertainties about what happened in the past despite the increasing expertise of archaeologists & historians. I wonder if these advances result in a level of knowledge not as perfect as we often think it is. Are there still possible problems that bright sparks of society (even scientists) fail to accept that sometimes humans inevitably make similar mistakes to those made in the past.
Sciences, especially astronomy & cosmology have apparently made incredible advances in the last 100 years. I wonder if those advances are all as perfect as we might be inclined to think ?
Even if our understanding of cosmology is perfect , the answers often seem to create more questions, which scientists are keen to follow up. Hoping or perhaps knowingmore questions will result. But while scientists might cocoon themselves in researching esoteric perfection in the forthcoming 5,000 years ahead, outsiders may be bewildered by a plethora of more ordinary but serious problems (eg global warming, over-population, lack of food production, terrorists). That assumes that humans are still around in another 5,000 years.
Even then there might be a new band of archaeologists discovering hidden wonders underground , perfectly circular tunnels several miles in diameter, with a maze of wires & magnets
Now I wonder what they were for ?
Best wishes from Cliff
brian livesey
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Re: The Multiverse

Post by brian livesey »

Five thousand years is a long time Cliff. Possibly before then, humanity will be part of a galactic community, sharing ideas and cultures.
They'll probably look back objectively at our times as being just an earlier stage in human development, with its own triumphs and tragedies.
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mike a feist
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Re: The Multiverse

Post by mike a feist »

Sharing a Galactic culture seems very optimistic to me judging by Humanities current record of being entirely incapable of sharing a Global culture, a Continental Culture or even a National Culture. Still we will never know. regards mike
joe
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Re: The Multiverse

Post by joe »

Cliff wrote: I don't fully share the optimism of Brian & Joe about our future,
My optimism was directed more at science/cosmology rather than the human race - I'm fairly neutral about our fate.

I may be straying a little off the subject but part of my optimism lies in the hope that we will eventually find a better way of looking at and describing the universe. I think many of us get frustrated or lost because we look at the very large (universe) and the very small (quantum processes) through eyes and a brain that are not properly adapted to understand the properties of these things. They have been hidden from us for all but the last 100 years or so of life's existence on this planet.

This is a particularly interesting article on how we see things.

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160421 ... t-reality/
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brian livesey
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Re: The Multiverse

Post by brian livesey »

Personally Joe, I think we humans are eminently capable of fathoming out nature's secrets. We do it primarily through being the toolmaking animal par excellence: the telescope, microscope, atom smasher, etc, etc, reveal what our unaided senses can't reveal. :D
Last edited by brian livesey on Tue May 03, 2016 9:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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joe
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Re: The Multiverse

Post by joe »

Yes, I think that's what I was saying - plus we are beginning to realise that there are other ways of interpreting the data we receive from these tools. Tools only detect what they are designed to detect - just like our senses.
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brian livesey
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Re: The Multiverse

Post by brian livesey »

Are you sure that our tools "only detect what they are made to detect"? There are many examples in science of where unexpected phenomena have been discovered by instrumentation intended for something else.
For example, William Herschel didn't expect to discover Infra Red radiation when he was tinkering with his prism. There are many examples of where intruding "anomalies" in experiments have turned out to be new and unexpected phenomena.
Those people who say that we humans are sensorily too feeble to see true reality,overlook the fact that being a sophisticated toolmaking animal allows us to extend the power of our senses through the tools to a degree that seems limitless, at any rate, at this point in time.
As long as we can make the tool for the job, our success in understanding nature is assured. :wink:
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joe
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Re: The Multiverse

Post by joe »

Generally speaking, yes. If you consider Herschel's prism as an "electromagnetic wave detector" then it detects electromagnetic waves - even those that we weren't expecting. If you design an instrument to detect photons instead of waves then you will detect photons, not waves. This "conflict" forces us to think in a different way.

I'm not arguing that all instruments are one dimensional. We can certainly use our heads to decipher other kinds of information from the data. That was the whole point of what I mentioned above. I agree with you, however, that we have much room for optimism when it comes to understanding the universe.
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Cliff
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Re: The Multiverse

Post by Cliff »

Dear Joe and Brian
You both seem confident about humankinds future. At least humans future with regards understanding the universe.
Some astronomers/cosmologists seem to think that humans existence is based on wanting\needing to understand the universe, as if apparently nothing else is really important.
Now Brian suggested that 5,000 years is a very long time. However, to me on the basis that Dinosaurs apparently ruled the roost for 100million years or so before declining for another 50 million years (the latter according to fairly recent research by Reading University). In which case 5,000 years is a drop in the ocean - unless of course time does not progress uniformly ?
Is it reasonable to think that in the last 100 years rate of discovery was such that cosmologists should know the answers well within the next 5,000 years. If that is the case humans will have served their purpose and time on earth very soon and can quite happily become extinct. So overall humans will have served their time on earth in a million years, or if we limit to 'important' humans, ie Homo Sapiens Sapiens, may be only about 200,000 years.
If humans exist for such a short period of time then surely they are not as clever as we think we are.
Best wishes from Cliff
David Frydman
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Re: The Multiverse

Post by David Frydman »

Dear Cliff,
I like your last sentence in particular.

Clearly we are self destructive by overpopulation and the destruction of countless species of plants and animals and resources.
We have done this to ourselves.

Best wishes,
David
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