Sheldon on unsolved problems in physics, based on a pop science article here:

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1) are there more than 4 dimensions? (3 space, 1 time).

No.

Why am I so sure?

Because there are only 3 families of neutrinos, leptons, quarks etc. Each additional dimension provides extra degrees of freedom, extra ways to wiggle. Each degree of freedom adds to the energy levels. When there are only 3 energy levels, it is telling you about the dimensionality of space.

A very similar argument can be made with gravity, which drops as the square of the distance, 1/r^2. Why the square? Because in a 3-dimensional space, the surface area of a sphere goes up with the square, and the density on the sphere goes down as the square. Gravity diminishes as the square because it is “filling” a 3-D volume.

So why is everybody trying to get 11 or 21 dimensions? Because of string theory, which is an attempt to unify particle physics by replacing particles with “strings” in 11 dimensions. It didn’t work 50 years ago, and it still doesn’t work.

2) Why isn’t there equal amounts of matter and antimatter in the universe? Because the Big Bang model is still a kludge. There are several non-conserved quantities that have never been properly incorporated into the Big Bang model.

3) How much does a neutrino weigh?

Well, its measured to be about 15eV right now, give or take 10 eV. But not enough to provide the dark matter. Which is why everyone is disappointed and asks questions they already know the answer to.

4) Is the proton immortal?

Yes.

The Japanese built an enormous tank of water with phototubes all around it to detect the decay of just one proton. After 10 years of looking they haven’t seen it. They did detect neutrinos arriving from a supernovae however, so all wasn’t wasted. But the SuperKamiokande detector pretty much seals the fate of “proton-decay” theories. So why are we still asking?

Because if the proton decayed, it would breathe new life into “Steady-State” universe models which have no beginning, as well as “Super-Symmetry” models of dark matter. Theorists never lost faith in Plato’s eternal matter, or as Max Planck put it, “Physics progresses one funeral at a time.”

5) what causes sonoluminescence?

Again, the phenomenon was measured 20 years ago and explained soon after. Why is this question coming up again? Because it might fund cold fusion experiments–or so they said about 5 years ago. Did it cause cold fusion? No, and I’m surprised people are still asking about it.

6) “collapse of the wavefunction”

This is classified under “Foundations of QM”. The math is straightforward, its the metaphysics that is contested. As I understand it, this “collapse of the wavefunction” is a bad metaphor for the the coherence of measurement. One bad metaphor, and the metaphysical speculation runs rampant.

You heard it here first. In conclusion, we can categorize all our favorite “unsolved mysteries”, but what such lists actually show is our ideological preferences that prevent us from accepting “No” for an answer.

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*See also:* The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (cosmology).

Ha, exactly what I have arguing. A higher being can’t exist in higher dimension.

All IDers who have been claiming QM is metaphysical please take note.

Nice article. While I agree that there are only four dimensions or degrees of freedom, I cannot accept that time is one of them. There can be no freedom of movement in time because a changing time is self-referential. IOW, a time dimension makes motion impossible. There is only the ever changing NOW. Time travel is crackpottery.

Therefore, IMO, all dimensions are spatial. I have reasons to believe that the entire visible universe is moving at C in the fourth dimension.

Furthermore, although I am not saying that this is Dr. Sheldon’s position, I take issue with the claim that dimensions are “out there” or that, a la String theory, they can be curled up or compactified into little balls. This is a ridiculous idea in the “not even wrong” category. A degree of freedom is simply due to a variable property. IOW, position is not a property of space but a property of particles. There is no space.

Dr. Sheldon, I am pleasantly surprised by your idea that the number of dimensions is related to the composition of particle families. I have felt for a long time that every particle property is directly related to one or more of the four dimensions.

Methink, the Creator of the 4 Dimensions has to “be outside”. NOTW dude:)

Nice article Dr. Sheldon. To venture in a more metaphysical vein I would include the questions,

“Is there some underlying materialistic reason why the universe appears to be designed?”

and,

“Is there a possible materialistic explanation for consciousness and our own conclusions that we have free will?”

Both of which are continually asked and need to be answered, “No.”

as to:

Dr. Sheldon, if I’m reading you correctly, i.e. ‘the math is straightforward’, it seems to me that you have joined the

“shut up and calculate.”camp: 🙂🙂

Dr. Sheldon since you think ‘collapse of wave function’ is a bad metaphor and ‘coherence of measurement’ is a good one, I certainly would like to hear what you think the ‘coherence of measurement’ actually means.

Stephen Barr offers the best explanation, that I’ve seen thus far, of the ‘straightforward math’ and the measurement problem here:

Moreover Stephen Barr is not alone, MIT’s David Kaiser says that the ‘straightforward math’ of quantum mechanics tells us that

‘the world is inescapably crazy and bizarre’Here is one example of the ‘crazy and bizarre world’ that the ‘straightforward math’ of quantum mechanics reveals to us:

a few related notes:

Also of note: Eugene Wigner, who wrote ‘The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences’, and who also won a Nobel prize for his mathematical formulation of Quantum Symmetries, had this to say about quantum mechanics:

It is also interesting to note that many of Eugene Wigner’s insights have now been experimentally verified and are also now driving a ‘second revolution’ in quantum mechanics,,,

That Wigner’s insights into the foundations of quantum mechanics would drive a ‘second quantum revolution’ certainly adds tremendous weight to Wigner’s contention that ‘consciousness is the ultimate universal reality’.

Verse and Music:

ppolish @ 4

Heh, that is exactly my argument ! Most recent is here

methink, 100 dimensions or 4, God is beyond. Is that what you were arguing? Jesus was 4D, Holy Spirit how many D’s? Creator God beyond D.

ppolish @ 8

If you read the link, you would understand even 4th (spatial) dimension is impossible to manage. You can’t even tie a knot beyond 3rd dimension. A creator who creates in 4D or any higher dimension can’t even create a single atom as the atoms will have nP orbitals (n=the number of dimension). In 4th dimension, you have 4P orbitals, in 5th, 5P orbitals and so on. This will allow more than two electron per orbital- which will change the element ! Every element will have weird properties ! Atoms will collapse easily. Atomic bonding will be shot. Molecules forming will be difficult and weird. If Jesus was 4D, you would be seeing him as thin double slices floating in air in 3D world.

Of related interest:

Wave function gets real in quantum experiment – 02 February 2015

Excerpt: It underpins the whole theory of quantum mechanics, but does it exist? For nearly a century physicists have argued about whether the wave function is a real part of the world or just a mathematical tool. Now, the first experiment in years to draw a line in the quantum sand suggests we should take it seriously.

The wave function helps predict the results of quantum experiments with incredible accuracy. But it describes a world where particles have fuzzy properties – for example, existing in two places at the same time. Erwin Schrödinger argued in 1935 that treating the wave function as a real thing leads to the perplexing situation where a cat in a box can be both dead and alive, until someone opens the box and observes it.

Those who want an objective description of the world – one that doesn’t depend on how you’re looking at it – have two options. They can accept that the wave function is real and that the cat is both dead and alive. Or they can argue that the wave function is just a mathematical tool, which represents our lack of knowledge about the status of the poor cat, sometimes called the “epistemic interpretation”. This was the interpretation favoured by Albert Einstein, who allegedly asked, “Do you really believe the moon exists only when you look at it?”

The trouble is, very few experiments have been performed that can rule versions of quantum mechanics in or out. Previous work that claimed to propose a way to test whether the wave function is real made a splash in the physics community but turned out to be based on improper assumptions, and no one ever ran the experiment.

What a state

Now, Eric Cavalcanti at the University of Sydney and Alessandro Fedrizzi at the University of Queensland, both in Australia, and their colleagues have made a measurement of the reality of the quantum wave function. Their results rule out a large class of interpretations of quantum mechanics and suggest that if there is any objective description of the world, the famous wave function is part of it: Schrödinger’s cat actually is both dead and alive.

“In my opinion, this is the first experiment to place significant bounds on the viability of an epistemic interpretation of the quantum state,” says Matthew Leifer at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Canada.

The experiment relies on the quantum properties of something that could be in one of two states, as long as the states are not complete opposites of each other: like a photon that is polarised vertically or on a diagonal, but not horizontally. If the wave function is real, then a single experiment should not be able to determine its polarisation – it can have both until you take more measurements.

Alternatively, if the wave function is not real, then there is no fuzziness and the photon is in a single polarisation state all along. The researchers published a mathematical proof last year showing that, in this case, each measurement you make reveals some information about the polarisation.

Get real

In a complicated setup that involved pairs of photons and hundreds of very accurate measurements, the team showed that the wave function must be real: not enough information could be gained about the polarisation of the photons to imply they were in particular states before measurement.

There are a few ways to save the epistemic view, the team says, but they invite other exotic interpretations. Killing the wave function could mean leaving open the door to many interacting worlds and retrocausality – the idea that things that happen in the future can influence the past.

The results leave some wiggle room, though, because they didn’t completely rule out the possibility of some underlying non-fuzzy reality. There may still be a way to distinguish quantum states from each other that their experiment didn’t capture. But Howard Wiseman from Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, says that shouldn’t weaken the results. “It’s saying there’s definitely some reality to the wave function,” he says. “You have to admit that to some extent there’s some reality to the wave function, so if you’ve gone that far, why don’t you just go the whole way?”

http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....iment.html

The biggest problem with the metaphysics of the wave function is the belief that it requires a particle to be observed by a conscious observer in order for its wave function to collapse. So nature cannot function and the sun cannot burn nuclear fuel unless every interaction is observed by a conscious being?

Who ordered this nonsense? The crackpottery is deep and in your face in the physics community.

Wigner’s friend?

: at the 8:30 minute mark of the following video, Schrodinger’s cat and Wigner’s Friend are highlighted:

Divinely Planted Quantum States – video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCTBygadaM4#t=156s

This also may be of interest:

Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....i7t6wfpg8g

Measurements on the reality of the wavefunction – Jan 2015

http://arxiv.org/pdf/1412.6213v2.pdf

A very similar argument can be made with gravity, which drops as the square of the distance, 1/r^2. Why the square? Because in a 3-dimensional space, the surface area of a sphere goes up with the square, and the density on the sphere goes down as the square. Gravity diminishes as the square because it is “filling” a 3-D volume.This is a ultrasimplistic (applicable to point mass only) and the last sentence is a crock and here’s why. Gravitation is governed by the famous 1/r^2 relationship if the field can be modelled as generated by a mass at a point, and measured by a test mass similarly concentrated at a point. It works OK for Earth orbital mechanics if all of the Earth’s mass is considered concentrated at a point, and that point being a focus of the orbital ellipse. At the planet’s surface and below this falls apart, and instruments taken several miles below sea level will not measure according to the 1/r^2 relationship to any reference point, which is why that last sentence got so labelled by yours truly. Also consider the gravitational field generated by a very long cylindrical mass. The gravitational force cannot be modeled at all with the 1/r^2 factor, it is approx 1/r at distances short compared to the length of the cylinder. Only at distances large compared to the length will the 1/r^2 factor dominate. A final example is a very large sheet mass, in which at distances small compare to the mass dimensions, gravitation is unchanged with ‘r’.

Which brings up a final ‘point’. The gravitational force with distance calculation is closed form only for A) point mass, B) spherical, uniformly dense mass, (can someone verify this?) C) cylindrical, uniformly dense, infinitely long mass and D) infinite surface uniformly dense mass. Any other shapes do not yield to a closed form solution and can be modeled with numerical methods only.

Since the Earth’s shape is not a sphere and it is not uniformly dense, the 1/r^2 relationship is an approximation. That assumption of the Earth’s mass concentrated at a point for orbital mechanics is then really an approximation but a very good one. The point moves around a little depending on orbital position, thus earth orbits are not exactly ellipses.

The Soul Hypothesis: Investigations into the Existence of the Soul

Chapter 6 is Hans Halvorson’s ‘The Measure of All Things: Quantum Mechanics and the Soul’

Hans Halvorsen is a philosopher of quantum physics at Princeton University

Description: Quantum theory’s strange conclusions are founded on data obtained by measuring effects in certain experimental situations. But if quantum theory is correct there are no determinate data of the required sort, for the states of the measuring instruments will be superposed and entangled and thus indeterminate. The dualist has a way out of this problem. Superposition is when a physical system is in two apparently inconsistent states at once — for example, an electron is passing through both the left-hand slit and the right-hand one at the same time. Because of the nature of linear dynamics, this superposition is retained in a device further down the line of this process. If this continued with an observer, he would be aware of inconsistently believing that the electron was in two places at once. But this is not what happens. Observation ‘collapses the wave packet’ (not a phrase Halvorson generally deploys) and only one determinate state is observed. Now it is often pointed out that measurement collapses the wave packet, but that the measuring device need not be a conscious observer. Halvorson replies to this that a non-conscious measuring device will itself be in an entangled state, but that if a conscious subject observes it, only one of its possible states will be seen, so consciousness is crucial to making reality determinate. (151)

http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/24611-.....-the-soul/