User talk:GrantC/Archive1

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This is an archive page, last updated 19 May 2015. Please do not make edits to this page.
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Hmm. Well at least I can manage a signature. That's something, I guess. - GrantC (talk) 04:39, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

Since you seem to have been doing some scut work around the wiki[edit]

Your mop and bucket await. Instructions for their use may be found in the usual place. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 17:49, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

Why thank you. I will do my best not to spill water all over the place. - GrantC (talk) 17:52, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

A word[edit]

Lately I've seen more and more instances of "free reign" in the wild. One of my hot buttons, it's actually "free rein," as in easing off the grip one keeps on the bridle straps (reins) that lead to the bit in a horse's mouth, with which the rider controls the animal's head.

Thanks for your participation in the talk page with Raatz's ahole buddy BoN.24. The aroma of bullshit is evident there, without any need for gas chromatograph nor mass spectrometer to detect it. I've got nothing to add to that conversation beyond suggesting that they go try selling it some more on Wikipedia. Citizendium has also been suggested... Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 16:54, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

Heh, yes; I can't imagine what "free reign" would look like. Perhaps it's somewhat like divine right of rule, except who gets to be the monarch is decided my some kind of free-for-all.
I'm a bit torn on that whole discussion, as I can't be certain whether BoN.24 is just being obstinate, or if he's legitimately just misunderstanding the sources he's citing. I would guess from his "contributions" at WP that it's the former situation, which would be unfortunate indeed. Ah well. - GrantC (talk) 17:03, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
OK. You write a lot of stuff, and have a very quick turn-around time. I will try to get back to you later this week. (talk) 20:09, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, this is an advantage I have for actually working in the field. - GrantC (talk) 22:49, 9 September 2013 (UTC)


Look, most of your arguments appear to either be straw-men (For the last bloody time, I am not saying "Classical computation + quantum = quantum computation") or based on what we don't know rather than what we do. There is such a thing as ratcheting the burden of proof up way too high. (talk) 20:12, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

You are however saying "computing action + quantum action during computation = quantum computation" (by your own admission) which he has also explained as to why that is unacceptable. So no straw-man there. Nullahnung (talk) 20:21, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Actually, he didn't show me why it was wrong. Bandyopadhyay explicitly shows why microtubules satisfy quantum computational requirements. GrantC just goes on to say that "Oh, they're just classical with some quantum stuff here and there." (talk) 20:37, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
I watched that bloody video, and at no point does he actually prove why they satisfy quantum computational requirements. Also, what part of "show me the models" do you not understand? Show me the actual physical model of quantum consciousness that goes beyond "man, these quantum probabilities seem to make more sense". The entire idea of quantum consciousness that you have fed me so far amounts to nothing other than an unproven assertion.
I did explain why computing action + quantum action during computation = quantum computation is wrong. In fact, I gave you an explicit example: D-Wave. D-Wave's superconducting bits do indeed exhibit quantum tunneling during processing, and they do show computing action. That is not quantum computing! A quantum computer utilizes entanglement and superposition to perform computations. The fact that the BC in microtubules is quantum in nature is irrelevant! A link actually has to be placed showing that entanglement and quantum superposition are being observed during the computation, and no source has done that yet. One source says "there are qubits" while one says "look, quantum stuff happens at the same time", but that's irrelevant, because the quantum mechanical effects that are occurring are entirely unrelated to quantum computation. - GrantC (talk) 22:41, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, he is calling them topological quantum computers, so maybe the requirements are slightly different. I got the impression that the microtubules use quantum mechanisms in order to do the information processing in the first place. Obviously, quantum mechanical processes are everywhere in the universe, so quantum processes in the brain won't be much of a surprise, but the processes as Bandyopadhyay is showing seem to play a significant role in microtubules' information processing capabilities. That's what suggested quantum computation to me, what I know about it. In any case, Hameroff has told me that the Japanese team is testing "EPR-like" non-local correlations between separated microtubules. So some kind of entanglement is being tested, now that we've realized that there's a chance they can be topological quantum computers. (We never even had the possibility before at all!) All that needs to be tested is Penrose's Objective-Reduction interpretation (a test is being carried out right now), and the gravitational topological quantum computers that are microtubules will be realized. Whew! And in case you didn't get past the paywall, here's the Penrose-Hameroff model for gravitational topological quantum computation: The updated model will be out soon, and part of it is given in Hameroff's reply to Pothos and Busemeyer. (talk) 18:16, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Hopefully we can put all of this behind us. I was a jerk. But we are, for all practical purposes, anonymous... (talk) 18:16, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
I appreciate your comments, and I apologize as well for losing my temper. It felt as though you were cherry-picking which of my arguments to address while ignoring the rest. I will say that Bandyopadhyay's work has not actually determined that these quantum mechanisms are responsible for information processing, and it will remain to be seen whether that connection will be made. Actual evidence of entanglement will get closer to the thrust of things, but I warn you that I will be wary of any results that come out of that. There is no general measure for entanglement on mixed states (even for two qubits), so if the system turns out to be anything even slightly complex and the study shows that entanglement happens, I will be very dubious and will ask to see more detailed proof. I will also point out that the OR interpretation (and the Penrose-Hameroff model in general) has been significantly discredited, and some of its predictions have been falsified. As a model, it's widely considered a fairly poor one, so I would be wary of any conclusions drawn from it (and no, I'm not referring solely to Tegmark's criticisms, but also criticisms that have arisen from lab work). Thanks for the link, though I do have access to journals behind paywalls. As you say, we are indeed anonymous, but I am actually a researcher in the field of quantum information, and so I do have institutional access to all of the major journal databases. I realize that I've provided you no proof of my assertions, but at the moment I'm unwilling to connect my real identity to my profile here.
That said, I do keep an open mind on things like this. I hope you understand that the reason I'm setting the burden of proof so high is because that's what is required in the scientific community. Until an idea has been reproduced and tested thoroughly (both experimentally and theoretically), it isn't anything more than interesting conversation. Please do let me know when the rest of these papers are published, and I will keep a close eye on the reaction from the scientific community. - GrantC (talk) 18:29, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
By the way, a word of warning... I'm not sure if you're in league with Jfraatz, but what he is spouting is much closer to woo than what you're talking about. I appreciate that you have been trying not to rely on things like the Orch-OR model or other very much disputed results, but both you and he also seem to chime in on similar discussions. I note that in your discussions with me you didn't reference any of his positions, which is good. I did not respond to them myself because they were so unscientific as to be useless (claiming that one can't empirically prove everything with science while trying to argue that a quantum model of consciousness exists is self-contradictory). - GrantC (talk) 18:37, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm a friend of Raatz, perhaps unfortunately (LOL)! I just think of him as a good resource for random crazy shit people often overlook. Some of his beliefs are out-there, but I respect him generally. (talk) 19:11, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Also, Orch-OR has criticisms, but I don't know if they're really as huge as WingGundam makes them out to be. The predominance of A-Lattice microtubules thing was a mistake (they were considered ideal for information processing), but it was only one prediction, and there are ways around that. For one, the number of tubulin bits/qubits needed for a conscious moment was calculated ahead of time (via Penrose's OR formula: E=ħ/T), so the ways you can distribute the number of tubulins among them can vary, depending on where the A-lattice vs. B-Lattice microtubules are. Related to this, Hameroff and Bandyopadhyay (keeping in touch with them is pretty damned helpful!) have stated that microtubules can "switch" in geometries, from A-Lattice to B-Lattice, vice-versa, and other geometries. They'll be coming out in the series of papers by Sahu et al. (the first two have been published). Danko Georgiev's paper is more like an op-ed. It makes several weird arguments (I've never seen anything stating that Orch-OR relies on the Freudian subconscious, since it actually seems to rely more on Whitehead and Jung), and Jack Tuszynski's team has responded to some of his criticisms with a model for the transportation of photons to quantum states in microtubules. I should also mention that he has his own OR model of consciousness, so there might be a conflict of interest there. Anirban's coherence is said to occur without actin gel, so that might be a moot point, though still an open one. Hameroff had the de Zeeuw paper in front of him (You can read the 2001 article!), so it seems more like a speculative leap on his part to think they would be where he wanted them to be, but it was only considered once as a mechanism. And the 10^7 number of tubulins was also a miscalculation (probably based on prior assumptions about neuron densities, etc.), but again, Orch-OR didn't rely on it for its predictions to be true. It was always used as an example ("If the number is X, as is commonly thought, that means these processes we've calculated ahead of time will occur here, here, and here"). It might actually be more beneficial to work with the actual 10^9 tubulins. I hope this helps... (talk) 19:11, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Also, I think the "quantized phase slip" argument seems quite convincing on Bandyopadhyay's part. I think the entire point is that the tubulins (the information-processing subunits in the microtubule) are qubits that can form topological qubits on a larger scale, and also show signs of being able to undergo entanglement. That's what I mean by "the microtubules are most likely quantum information processors". (talk) 19:11, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
The last thing I'd like to say is that the plausibility and testability of this (combined with how some of the criticisms are kinda lame) shows that this isn't really woo. Quantum mind is also more of a philosophical position in the first place. It CAN be scientific, but not necessarily so. (As if you couldn't tell already, I'm a philosophy guy!) It's a compromise between materialism (unfalsifiable as hell...) and dualism (also unfalsifiable). I wouldn't refer to it as "woo" or pseudoscience as a result. Tuszynski is a pretty respected theorist, as is Bandopadhyay (he's actually working nanotechnology, so that might be why he's using the microtubules), and both either are or were about Orch-OR. I got miffed when you said this was "fringe", because it doesn't seem like that's the case. (talk) 19:11, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
The criticisms may not be as dire as WingGundam says; this is true. However, as I've mentioned previously, there are still big gaps in the theory that have yet to be filled (and the various OR models still leave much to be desired). Perhaps it will be determined that some modified OR model is correct, but we're nowhere near that point yet.
Sure. Even Johanan and another friend of mine who supports it admit there are gaps that need to be filled. (talk) 19:46, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, and it's important to note that said gaps might not be fillable at all. There's always that possibility in science. - GrantC (talk) 20:06, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
They are fillable. I acknowledge the possibility, but it seems unlikely. (talk) 20:38, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, but on what grounds do you say that? The majority of scientists disagree with you quite strongly. - GrantC (talk) 20:58, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
The majority of scientists are agnostic at this point, actually. Bandyopadhyay himself has a wait-and-see attitude. So do Pothos and Busemeyer. (talk) 21:29, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
I used the word fringe for a reason, and it's still valid here. Of course, science works pretty strictly on the principle of peer review. At this point, the majority of scientific peer review of the various OR models and this research in general has determined that in its current formulation there is not enough evidence to consider it a working theory. The supporters of these OR models are a minority, and the views are far from mainstream. Hence, this science is indeed fringe. Whether it's woo or not may be another question, but I would say that until more evidence is put forward that actually closes these gaps (who knows, perhaps the papers you're referring to will do so when they are published, or maybe they won't), this kind of thing doesn't belong in the article. There are always many, many different branches of research into any scientific subject (check the arXiv for an example of that), and generally until the scientific community at large considers a paper or result notable (and more importantly, correct and reproducible), it's not really worth anything more than conversation, as I've said before.
There is some evidence, though. I still find Bandyopadhyay's arguments to be quite compelling, and it looks like it's been thought of as revolutionary by quantum computer people, but we'll see. The information processing is done via tubulin arrangements in a microtubule, which seem to be topological qubits. That's why I thought they were topological quantum computers, since there's that link. (talk) 19:46, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Some evidence, but not enough. It's also not really considered revolutionary, at least not by the majority of quantum computer people (look up quantum computing on Wikipedia and you'll see a list of institutions that are considered the bastions of quantum computing and quantum information). The big names in the business are people like Raymond Laflamme, David Cory, Peter Shor, David Wineland, the Horodecki family, etc.). The folks you cite may claim to be big in quantum information and quantum computing, or their supporters may think so, but they are not considered widely credible in the field by any of the actual big players. - GrantC (talk) 20:06, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Fair enough. They were definitely taken seriously by Jiri Pokorny, though. They're not "self-proclaimed", either. Don't know where you got that from. (talk) 20:33, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
You'll note that I said that they either may claim to be big in the business, or their supporters think so. If you check Jiri Pokorny, you'll find that he has never published on anything related to quantum computing, or in any physics journals, for that matter. Hameroff has published a single major paper in a physics journal, and none of his positions/appointments have been in the field of physics, let alone quantum information. While Bandyopadhyay has published quite a few times in respected physics journals, none of his papers were on the topic of quantum information. - GrantC (talk) 20:58, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Great, but I meant with regards to biology. The 10 MHz excitation was excellent progress, based on what his recent paper on BioPhysics looked. Hameroff has published more stuff in theoretical neuroscience journals than in actual physics journals. (talk) 21:29, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
I know a few philosophy majors myself, and they also think this method of dealing with scientific subjects is weird, but science puts heavy value on documented evidence, and tends to pay much less attention to speculation that isn't fleshed out with said evidence yet. That's why I didn't touch the concept of dualism in my responses: as it is unfalsifiable, it (and anything based on its premises) is unscientific by default. Science very strictly takes the side of materialism, and anything that requires a compromise from that point is, by definition, pseudoscience. Until some model comes along that leaves out the philosophy and says "here's the hard math", it's not scientific. - GrantC (talk) 19:28, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Materialism hand-waves stuff away, though. It hits a road-block with consciousness and just talks around the explanatory gap. If you don't believe me, take a quick look at the reviews of and arguments in CONSCIOUSNESS EXPLAINED. It's been called CONSCIOUSNESS EXPLAINED AWAY. It has great stuff on cognitive science, but it doesn't look like it has much else. There's no hard math in it. It basically boils down to, "This is how the brain works. Brain=mind. Therefore, this is how the mind works." And the Hameroff model DOES provide the math, unlike the more philosophical arguments like Wigner's and Stapp's. And models are prone to be tweaked, so who knows? Anyway, I'm glad you've softened up on it a little... (talk) 19:46, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Whether or not materialism hand-waves stuff away, by definition the domain of science is rooted solely in materialism. If we can't find real physical evidence for it, it's not science. That definition is rigid and absolute. That's not to say that things with a non-materialist explanation aren't interesting, but they aren't science (period). The Hameroff model provides some math, but it is considered a bad model at the moment because it's filled with holes and several parts of it have been discredited. Hameroff's replies to these issues have also been criticized, and one of his major replies was never actually peer reviewed (which makes it nigh worthless to the scientific community). My position hasn't necessarily softened, as I still believe this is pseudoscience. I'm trying to be nicer about it because you are not rooted in science, and in light of that, your objections are a little more understandable. I believe some of these objections are rooted in an incomplete understanding of the methodology behind scientific research, which is fair, because it's actually quite a convoluted subject. When I first started into research, I had some of the same misconceptions that you seem to have now.
While my understanding of science may be in development, it is my understanding that you can alter aspects of the hypothesis just as long as the central claims aren't changed. Hameroff's replies seem very direct, as some biologists on the Nature forums were saying with regards to his unofficial Reimers-McKemmish response. The wonky JOURNAL OF COSMOLOGY thing was more of a side project with Henry Stapp, Rosenblum and Kuttner, and Don Page on quantum mind. But it wasn't the real reply. The actual preliminary was given by Hameroff at the 2010 TSC conference for feedback, and Tuszynski's replies in both Pokorny's papers and his own essentially repeated the same points, but included more physics. The final one is presumably going to be that Fall article Hameroff keeps telling me about. The only time Hameroff has really had his response "criticized" is the Rosa and Faber 2004 article, which is more of a compromise than a critique. (talk) 20:33, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
His replies were also generally considered insufficient as concrete proof. You certainly can alter aspects of a hypothesis, but what we're talking about here is a model (not a hypothesis), which is subject to a far more rigorous standard. It is possible that there is some variant of the Orch-OR model that will in fact work, so to speak, but the current incarnation is not it. I await his full paper and the response from the scientific community that will follow. - GrantC (talk) 20:58, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm also somewhat interested in philosophy myself, so I can understand the urge to conflate philosophical discussion and scientific reality (this misunderstanding is why most universities offer a "Philosophy of science" course for science majors). - GrantC (talk) 20:06, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
I am more of a philosophy of science guy, yes. Materialism isn't scientific. It's kind of unfalsifiable, and keeps moving the goalposts when stuff related to quantum mechanics (or even now-speculative but mathematically sound theories of quantum gravity) is found. It's more of a faith position than anything else. Quantum mind is an unorthodox position, but it seems to be worth it... (talk) 20:33, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Materialism is the basis of science, actually. Again, as someone who is a quantum physicist, there is nothing in quantum mechanics or current studies of quantum gravity that require moving the goalposts or abandoning materialism. If you believe there is, then you fundamentally misunderstand both theories. Sure, some people spout mumbo-jumbo about how things like wavefunction collapse, wave-particle duality, and quantum field theory are crazy and impossible to explain, but that's just not true. Quantum gravity is hard to figure out for a fairly mundane reason: relativity treats time in a fundamentally different manner than quantum mechanics does, and trying to reconcile those two definitions is problematic. This implies that one (or both) theories are incomplete. Again, there has been no moving of the goalposts here. There is no place in science for anything beyond materialism, because by definition, non-materialist phenomena do not present physical evidence. There may very well be non-materialist stuff out there, but if it is, science isn't the right set of tools to describe it. This is why I have a bit of an issue with the claim that quantum consciousness is a compromise between the two. Quantum mechanics is a theory well-rooted in entirely materialist science (as it should be). Anything quantum mechanics can describe is, by definition, materialist. Anything that isn't materialist cannot be described by quantum mechanics. - GrantC (talk) 20:58, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
OK. It looks like you're set in your opinion. I guess I'm done here. Just don't alter it so that it's "woo". (talk) 21:00, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, set on what? If it's that the model is still incomplete, that is true, and the burden of proof is on Hameroff. Again, I'm open to changing my mind when his rebuttals show in the fall paper he's working on. If he does satisfy the objections brought against Orch-OR, great. If it's about the fact that quantum mechanics and quantum gravity are solely based on materialism, then I'm not sure what to tell you. You may be thinking of the various debates about the interpretation of quantum mechanics, but there is roughly one interpretation per researcher in the field, and nobody treats them as actual science. Philosophy, yes. Science, no. There's nothing scientific about many-worlds theory because it isn't testable. Either way, quantum mechanics is purely materialist, from tip to toe, and so is the current theoretical work on quantum gravity. - GrantC (talk) 21:04, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
A cursory Google search shows where the latter issue may be arising. I would note Victor Stenger's view on the subject. He's a well-respected physicist, and his views actually represent the majority views of actual researchers in quantum mechanics. You'll find that most researchers who spend their lives working on quantum theory find interpretations to be an interesting subject of discussion, but will be quick to point out that the theory itself (the actual physics) is soundly materialist. - GrantC (talk) 21:08, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Oh, boy. You think Stenger is a respected physicist? He's not. He's published about 7 papers and is more of a philosopher of science. He does not represent the consensus view at all. I've read Stenger. You'd be surprised how much he's been debunked. His QUANTUM GODS book is ridiculous. (talk) 21:29, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
(EC) Actually, he has done quite a lot of work in particle physics:, and that is indeed respected. I don't care how much some of his philosophical views have been debunked; the fact of the matter is that quantum theory has nothing to say about stuff other than matter and energy. You may interpret quantum theory one way or the other, but the actual physics itself says nothing on the subject. I'm not sure what quantum physics you've been researching such that you arrive at the conclusions that quantum mechanics supports non-materialism, but again, you're completely wrong. How you interpret what the theory means is subjective, but the theory itself is not. - GrantC (talk) 21:35, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Look, it's not his "philosophical" views that have been debunked. It's his scientific ones as well. His book on fine-tuning looked pretty bad, seeing the reply by Luke Barnes. And no, QM DOES violate materialism. I never said wave-function collapse was "impossible" to explain. I don't like things like many-worlds because there are issues with probabilities to the point where it's ad-hoc, not so much because it's untestable. I like Penrose OR, but I think it could be more information-based, like the interpretations Zeilinger's experiments seem to support (though he denies naïve realism as well!). And I remember Fotoni Markopoulou-Kalamara and Lee Smolin talking about how spacetime needs to be broken down in order to get a theory of quantum gravity. There's also a great deal of stuff by Raphael Bousso and Leonard Susskind indicating that QM and GR entail something like the holographic principle as true. Digital physics is becoming a big thing (in fact, Stenger spends a lot of time talking about how the universe BEING a quantum computer refutes God!) due to these recent advancements. (talk) 21:58, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Isn't Stenger just a philosopher of science now? Given some of his articles at HuffPo it appears he rejects the consensus of digital physics as well. Also I believe he has attacked as pseudoscientists far more respected physicists like Penrose and Davies. -Jfraatz
Again, I don't care about his philosophical work now. The point is that his work in particle physics is quite well regarded, and that's the part I was referring to. - GrantC (talk) 21:35, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
We're not referring to philosophical work. I was wrong about the number of papers he published, but most of his stuff looks kinda minor. He mostly authored them with other people. (talk) 21:58, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Okay, so perhaps you don't understand this, but it is very rare in physics to find a paper involving only a single author. Most papers are collaborations between various research groups, or between a professor and some of his or her students. There are hundreds of authors on any paper published from LHC data, as an example. Also, they "look kinda minor"? Again, I don't think you're familiar with how physics research actually works. If you were to look at the publication history of some Nobel laureates, you would find the same thing. The fact is that what is interesting and important in science is not at all the same as what "looks" important to the average layman. The average research area of any physicist is necessarily narrow. - GrantC (talk) 22:08, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Fine. All I was trying to say was that he's not the genius people trump him up to be. (talk) 22:12, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Also, who the hell are you to talk about who is and isn't a respected physicist? I base these things on their contributions to the field of science, while you seem to just slap the term on whoever you support. Note that you insisted that your sources above were well-respected in quantum information until I pointed out that none of them actually work in the field.

Those were years ago though. The last time he published in particle physics was in 1986. And don't see how particle physics is particularly (no pun intended) relevant to the issues here. -Jfraatz
Who cares if it was years ago? We're discussing an interpretations issue that is at least 90 years old. The time period between his last contribution and now is not relevant to this discussion. Also, have you ever done anything in particle physics? Tip: It involves quite a lot of quantum theory. - GrantC (talk) 21:40, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Nice red-herring. (talk) 21:58, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
... Seriously? The argument was about whether Victor Stenger's views on whether quantum mechanics says anything about materialism are correct or not. Your argument was that he's not qualified on the grounds of not being a respected physicist. I pointed out that he is respected in his work, and thus he is indeed qualified. Also, point out where the math and physics in quantum theory points the finger at non-materialist conclusions. Again, burden of proof. Quantum theory is entirely agnostic to the concept of materialism, but the science itself does not and cannot speak about anything other than matter and energy. - GrantC (talk) 22:04, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
I did point them out to you. They're the Zeilinger articles. I get the burden of proof. Look, we're going down a rabbit hole now, and I just wanted to talk with you about Orch-OR. Can we wrap this up? (talk) 22:12, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Zeilinger's articles rightly point out that the conclusions to the EPR paradox imply that our current understanding of reality is incomplete. This is because locality has been treated as a fundamental fact in physics for some time. Relativity threw current scientific philosophy on its head as well when it released, but to say that the physics behind entanglement and non-locality points towards non-materialist viewpoints is not accurate. Zeilinger may well argue that this is the case, but it's a purely philosophical discussion, as there is no evidence out there that proves it. Currently, the only "proof" we have is that A) non-locality seems to be the right thing, since Bell's theorem removes the possibility of hidden variables, and B) that's weird and doesn't make much sense given how we think of reality. However, there is no scientific evidence that builds a bridge between those legitimate conclusions and the idea that materialism is bunk. At the end of the day, what this really means is that locality is not a property of the universe as we once thought it was.
I would be more than happy to wrap up this discussion now. - GrantC (talk) 22:21, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

Science =/= materialism = pseudoscience[edit]

"Science very strictly takes the side of materialism, and anything that requires a compromise from that point is, by definition, pseudoscience."

My friend suggested I come over here, and I can see why. Science does not "strictly take the side of materialism." There is no reason why science should take any ontological "side." In fact given the experiments by Zeilinger some years back it takes quite the opposite view. The existence of matter is not substantiated with any evidence and has much evidence against it. If you have some evidence to the contrary please present it.

Besides all of that, none of us here are substance dualists or are arguing for things outside of science. However claiming that science is per definition materialistic, and anything outside of that is pseudoscience is presuppositionalist question begging. Wouldn't you agree? -Jfraatz

No, I wouldn't agree, because I actually do research in physics. Quantum theory says nothing about whether materialism is correct, and in fact, it only speaks of materialist quantities (matter and energy). The whole "interpretation issue" is not science, as quantum theory cannot prove or disprove the Copenhagen interpretation, for example. It is exactly that: an interpretation, and it is subjective and untestable. Please don't comment further on my talk page. Your friend has at least proven to be amenable to discourse, while you are not. - GrantC (talk) 21:29, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes and I have degree in physics, I'm not blind to what it's saying and what is going on in it today. "it is subjective and untestable" <----A.) That's not what Zeilinger seemed to be arguing. B.) If it's subjective why do you say science strictly takes one side on it? "amenable to discourse, while you are not" <----What?
I don't care what Zeilinger is arguing. My point from the beginning is that quantum theory as a discipline is rooted in materialism, and makes predictions only about materialism. The point I'm refuting is that it is acceptable to say "quantum mechanics describes this thing" while also saying "this thing is non-materialistic". These are mutually incompatible views. - GrantC (talk) 21:38, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Also, what part of "please don't post here" don't you understand? - GrantC (talk) 21:41, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Dude, it makes no predictions of any kind. It doesn't "use" materialism as the be-all end-all. If science supports that information is more fundamental than spacetime, so be it. Materialism is something that's been abstracted from scientific results. It initially thought the universe was some kind of billiard-ball machine that was completely deterministic. Not only has the determinism been falsified, but QM implies that it's not particles, but MATH all the way down, at least from what I gather reading Penrose and Tegmark. (talk) 22:02, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Sure it does. At the end of the day when you solve problems in quantum mechanics, the results you get involve energy and matter and that's the end of it. Wavefunctions are mathematical abstractions of real quantities. What those quantities are is sometimes subject to debate, but what is understood is that the quantities are physical. For example, the wavefunction of an electron cloud is a probabilistic distribution for a family of particles over an area. The particles are real, however, in that no matter how you interpret them, they are a physical phenomenon that have measurable fundamental quantities (mass, charge, etc.). The MATH is a representation of real physical stuff. - GrantC (talk) 22:11, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
I think science does take the side of materialism. See Methodological naturalism. --Weirdstuff (talk) 07:00, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
So I followed the link you gave, which led me to this bit of text: "However, this assumption of naturalism need not extend beyond an assumption of methodology. This is what separates methodological naturalism from philosophical naturalism - the former is merely a tool and makes no truth claim; while the latter makes the philosophical - essentially atheistic - claim that only natural causes exist."
I think materialism refers to philosophical naturalism, so this bit of text actually directly contradicts what you are saying about science taking the side of materialism. Just trying to be precise about words and their definitions here. Nullahnung (talk) 07:06, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
We must be talking past each other. As science assumes methodological naturalism as a method then it assumes that only natural causes exist. It is a method, not a philosophical statement about the world - which would be philosophical naturalism.--Weirdstuff (talk) 08:01, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
Apparently we agree with each other. Nullahnung (talk) 08:24, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
I find myself both surprised and disappointed. :-) --Weirdstuff (talk) 11:43, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, well this was the point I was trying to make in the first place. In a way, it can be said that quantum mechanics (and science in general) is agnostic towards the philosophical position of materialism (even more, it doesn't give a shit about it). Some physicists like to tread into philosophy and talk about what the philosophical meaning of quantum mechanics might be, but the theory itself assumes methodological naturalism and leaves the philosophy out. Alas, Jfraatz and the BoN continued to quote physicists talking about philosophy (I know Lee Smolin, Zeilinger, and Aspect, and I know of their views - some of their talks are very interesting) and just assumed that these were physical/mathematical conclusions. Quantum mechanics is weird (non-locality being a basic underpinning of the universe flies against everything we know, love, and cherish), but it has nothing to say about philosophy. - GrantC (talk) 14:52, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
OK. Let me make this clear. I know science assumes methodological naturalism. That, however, does not mean "materialism", i.e. the idea that everything is composed of matter and energy and everything outside of that is pseudoscience. Take, for example, the wave-function of the universe. It's timeless and spaceless, and probably can't be tested in the matter-and-energy way you describe, but is widely-accepted. It's directly entailed by QM. Zeilinger and the rest do give evidence-based arguments for their conclusions. They don't just "talk about philosophy". And I know QM itself doesn't care about philosophy, but this is besides the point. NONE of the sciences care about philosophy. That doesn't make evidence-based discussion delving into what was formerly occupied by metaphysics any less important. And I don't think the Zeilinger experiments targeted Bell's Inequality. They targeted the Leggett inequalities, I believe. (talk) 22:45, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
Actually, the wavefunction of the universe is something real, and can very likely be expressed in terms of matter and energy alone. After all, it's just a wavefunction comprised of everything in the universe and all couplings between them. As of yet, we have no reason to believe the universe contains anything but matter and energy (dark matter and dark energy are conjectured to be matter and energy respectively), so it stands to reason that the wavefunction would be similar. Now, that wavefunction isn't testable, but for entirely different reasons: to simulate every particle and wave in the universe (which would be required to simulate this wavefunction) would require possessing a computer with exponentially more bits than there are particles in the universe. So yeah, no dice. Also, violating the Leggett inequalities implies some issues with realism as we understand it. However, to quote Alain Aspect (one of the physicists working with Zeilinger), "[t]here are other types of non-local models that are not addressed by either Leggett's inequalities or the experiment," and thus the results are still subjective, and still philosophical by nature. While metaphysical discussions about materialism may be interesting, the fact is that quantum mechanics still does not point there. To make that jump implies almost a "God of the gaps" argument, since it's akin to saying that since our picture of reality is possibly wrong, therefore materialism must not be accurate. - GrantC (talk) 00:39, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
OK, but I don't know if Aspect is moving the goalposts in that Physics World piece. And these experiments were followed in 2011, where the results were basically expanded upon. (talk) 01:45, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
I see what you're getting at, but that's not moving the goalposts. The current standing model of reality was kind of thrown on its head, but that doesn't rule out the existence of other models that can explain reality without relying on locality or the preservation of Leggett's inequalities (as Aspect alludes to, such models already exist). In science, ruling out a particular theory or model doesn't actually draw any conclusions beyond "that theory or model was wrong". It's not moving the goalposts to say that these experiments (including the expanded ones in 2011) don't rule out materialism. - GrantC (talk) 01:56, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
It's also worth noting that until definite proof is found that such a model cannot exist (i.e. there does not exist a model that can explain reality using matter and energy alone), it won't be acceptable to say that quantum mechanics implies some kind of non-materialism. - GrantC (talk) 02:02, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

Your talk page[edit]

It still needs Dirk Steele and Jzyehoshua to show up. Then the crackpot singularity will be attained and we will all die beneath an intractable morass of text. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 23:19, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

Oh God, I don't know if I could handle that... - GrantC (talk) 23:21, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

Non-local Universe[edit]

While we were vacationing last month, She Who Gets My Undivided Attention was shopping around in a used bookstore, and found a copy of The Non-Local Universe (1999) by Robert Nadeau and Menas Kafatos. I guess she felt she needed smartening up, so she bought it. I'm about 20% of the way through it, and it looks like a reasonably sane, if shallow, "physics for poets" exposition starting off with Bell's theorem. Any thoughts? I'm inclined to finish reading it, and then decide whether to keep it on the shelf or use the pages to line the floor of the canary's cage. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 16:35, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

I haven't read the book myself, but from what I've seen so far, it seems fairly sound. As with all physics (especially quantum) books geared for a wider audience, it will be shallow, but it seems to get the point across correctly. I'm somewhat surprised that it didn't start off with the EPR paradox, since the concept of Einstein's "spooky action at a distance" and his doubts that it could be true ended up being the foundation for Bell's work and Alain Aspect's later experiments. There is one warning sign you should watch out for though. Despite non-locality being weird, it emphatically does not allow for information (or anything else) to be transferred faster than the speed of light. If the book claims otherwise, toss it to the canary. - GrantC (talk) 16:51, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, that seems directly on point. I'm guessing FTL communication/travel is one of the more prominent features of the current crop of gee-whizzery, what the kids today are calling woo.
I've got a dozen or so pages yet to go before getting to their mention of the EPR stuff. Been through some wave/particle whatnot, and variations of the two-slit experiment so far. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 17:25, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
Hmm, interesting that they should discuss Bell's theorem before particle-wave duality. The double-slit experiment is a very good test case, if you will, for quantum mechanics (and is probably the best way to show off particle-wave duality), so it's good that they went into it. FTL is indeed a big part of current woo, and it mostly arises from the concept of non-locality in entanglement. Admittedly, it's a complicated issue, and trying to explain to some folks that no information is actually exchanged faster than the speed of light is a tough one. A good way to think about it is as follows: Let's say Alice and Bob are our two experimenters. Alice entangles two qubits, and then sends one to Bob. Now, because the qubits are entangled, the measurement Alice performs on her remaining qubit will determine which state Bob ends up with when he makes that measurement. However, Alice needs to tell Bob which measurement strategy to use (Bob can't use any old measurement), and needs to send the qubit to him in the first place. Both of these steps require sub-light travel speeds.
In every case involving entanglement, for it to be useful classical information has to be sent along with it (which obviously must obey the speed of light). See this WP link for more details on that. It has a useful little breakdown on why quantum mechanics doesn't break special relativity. The non-local part is still very interesting, as even though FTL communication/travel is still not on the menu, it does have interesting implications for cause and effect in quantum mechanical phenomena. Specifically, it allows two spatially separated observers to see the same event simultaneously (with one major caveat: for this to be true, no classical information must be sent, and so the result will still be entirely random for both observers). - GrantC (talk) 17:47, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
@Sprocket: "Gee-whizzery"? Surely "wackadoodle" is the better term. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 17:51, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
Whack a doodle? That sounds like something a nurd does in his mom's basement. As such, it is an apt construction, and relevant to fringe topics. Nay the less, Imma stick with geewhizzery here. In my day, "Gee whiz!!111!" went along with cutting-edge sciencey stuff, much as "woooo..." goes along with, well, woo nowadays. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 18:01, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
Woah there, "wackadoodle"? That's just crazy. - GrantC (talk) 18:20, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

Actually, Bell's stuff gets more discussion after EPR gets mentioned in conjunction with Einstein's and Bohr's lengthy discussion, and after a picture, with captions and arrows, showing an artistically rendered sinewave passing through a polarizing screen. Turns out that bit about him and his theorem in the first paragraph of the first chapter was more of a teaser...

Rather than live-blog my reading of the book, I will thank you for your responses and go quiet here for a while. Thanks again, Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 14:32, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Ah, that choice makes more sense to me now. Are you sure you don't want to live-blog it? I imagine with material like that you would become an Internet star in no time. I can't think of many topics with community appeal as broad as quantum physics!
All joking aside, if you have any questions at any point, feel free to ask away. If there's a question I can't answer, I can certainly point out a resource that can. - GrantC (talk) 14:35, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, I may take you up on that. The exposition leading up to their mention of Aspect's thingy, and Gislin's, leave me wanting to say something like "instructions unclear— dick stuck in Dewar." I will come back and pester you about it if my further diligence is unfruitful. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 20:50, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, the theory is fairly complicated and counter-intuitive when explained well; when not explained well, it may as well be a pile of garbage. That said, I can't imagine the pain associated with getting one's dick stuck in a Dewar. - GrantC (talk) 21:03, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The only foreign object I've ever introduced into a dewar, other than occasional slender home-brewed coaxial hardline, was a dandelion. They used to say the price of liquid helium tracks along with good Scotch. Similarly, liquid nitrogen goes as milk, gallon for gallon. I don't know— been out of that business a long time.

So far somewhere between 75% and 83% done with it, now coming out of a somewhat dismissive (but intentionally not strident) synopsis of structuralism and deconstruction and all that Foucault/Saussure/Lacan/Derrida song and dance. There was also a sidebar mentioning Penrose and Hameroff. Still digesting, still seems sane... Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 02:12, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Admittedly, I haven't introduced much into a dewar either. My lab is largely concerned with low temperature quantum mechanics, but I believe the largest object we've ever placed into our various dewars is a set of superconducting resonators. Admittedly, the dilution refrigerators we use aren't exactly designed to carry large samples. Actually, I tell a lie; the large Dewars we use in some of our NMR magnets are quite large, though for very obvious safety reasons, we can only put probes in those (nothing like watching a 700 MHz superconducting magnet quench).
Right, it definitely sounds like the book is attempting to avoid the song and dance, as you put it. I think that's a good thing, of course. While it's fun for physicists to muse about QM interpretations and other unfalsifiable (and unscientific) things, books meant for public digestion should not carry such talk (at least not as a main thrust). It's too far removed from actual science to be useful, and introduction of that kind of interpretational talk is (I'm sure) part of what generates so much of the woo around quantum mechanics. - GrantC (talk) 06:22, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
OK, I'm a dozen pages from the end, and have skimmed ahead a bit. It will have to wait (perhaps quite a while) til I find some moments of dedicated focus to finish. They've traipsed into the realm of ecology (emergent properties of the world's biota regulating atmospheric gases) and economy ("real" economy, which I take to be some holistic thing, as opposed to Adam Smith's invisible hand, which they liken to classical statistical gas dynamics and such.) They even suggest a tax on increased entropy, which they claim could be calculated with "an algorithm running on a desktop computer". Then there is some homily about taking steps to avert catastrophic climate change while we still can.
The authors do not conflate emergent planetary homeostasis with quantum mechanical effects, only pointing out some similarities regarding the difficulty of keeping the parts and the whole in view at once, what they call complementarity. My take on the similarities is that they may show up when viewed from a great distance. If you're looking for explicit models and parameters, this is not the book for it. Physics for poets, and all. For now, I'm a go with "a light and pleasant bagatelle, a peripatetic omnibus with an un-intimidating page count, and apparently free from crankery." Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 16:14, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
Interesting. I know that physics grads are usually well paid in fields such as economics and finance, since the modelling required tends to be heavily mathematical and quite complex. I think it's great that the book touched on those applications without conflating them with quantum mechanics. There are certainly analogues between many complex systems, though it is a common mistake to assume that this makes them identical. I think I'll have to take a look at this book myself! - GrantC (talk) 18:06, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

The Newest Orch-OR Paper...[edit]

Here's the paper I was telling you about:, and an accompanying lecture: (talk) 16:27, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

I won't have time over the next few days, but I'll give this a read next week. I'll also keep an eye on the correspondence around it. - GrantC (talk) 16:49, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
So...? (talk) 01:23, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Well first of all, your link stopped working shortly after you posted it, and a search through my university's database fails to recover the paper in question. Second, from what I did manage to read of the paper before it disappeared, I have absolutely no reason to be any less skeptical than I already am, or to retract any of my previous objections. Third, I still have yet to see any independent third party (i.e. someone not affiliated with Hameroff) review and corroborate his work, let alone someone who is actually qualified to do so (e.g. someone who actually does research in quantum information). If such a third party work does show up, let me know. Until then, there is little to discuss on the matter. - GrantC (talk) 06:16, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Actually, Hameroff and Penrose answered your objections and others' objections pretty well, in detail, in Section 5.6 [you probably read this, though...]. From what I recall, I'm pretty sure the biggest objection you had after our last conversation was "There's a lot of problems that it needs to get around." But not even the people who have made the model deny this. The basic premise behind it is that, per Penrose's interpretation of Gödel's and Turing's Theorems (which can be defended quite well, despite the criticisms), consciousness is non-computational, but still related to the brain. Hence, physics within the brain that can't be replicated by a TM in principle are most likely required, and Orch-OR is the version of the physics Penrose and Hameroff came up with. It's a huge gamble, but gambles can have a huge payoff. [Please understand that philosophy plays a HUGE role in these debates over the physical bases of consciousness. None of us are denying that we need a scientific basis for consciousness. We "trolls" are just trying to say that in order to be honest AND scientific, you need to place consciousness at the level of QM-phenomena. There's no equivocation here between "philosophy" and "science". BTW, philosophy or quantum mind isn't "pseudoscience" any more that "physicalism" is pseudoscience.] And the paper is still there; the link works just fine for me. Regarding the third party thing, no one is denying that the status of Orch-OR is still up for grabs, but no one can deny that it has great potential to provide a physical model for consciousness. What I don't like is the fact that many people are knocking their hard work away before they've looked at it. From what I can tell, just through my contacts with Bandyopadhyay and the quantum cognition paper I gave you, most people are skeptical but open-minded towards it, almost in a "wait-and-see" fashion. (talk) 22:33, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
What would address my objection about there being significant issues that it needs to get around is proof that it can actually get around them. So far, there is not enough adequate proof to show that Orch-OR (or the concept of a QM-related mind that it attempts to explain) is valid. You're correct that philosophy isn't pseudoscience, but that's because it isn't science at all. If you want to talk about the philosophy of the quantum mind, fine, whatever. However, until the actual scientific model behind it is independently and adequately verified (which it has not been), it's fringe science at best and pseudoscience at worst. Scientific consensus is necessarily rigorous in that regard.
By the way, that review paper also fails to clarify any of the "let me see the math" problems I earlier addressed. The issue here is one of substance: the current Orch-OR model is not suitable as a mathematical/physical model of consciousness because it doesn't meet scientific rigour. At the moment, it's just a loose collection of ideas predicated on "hey, this seems like it works". On the other hand, quantum mechanics is a behemoth of a physical theory with a significant quantity of physical evidence and mathematical sensibility backing it up. - GrantC (talk) 00:42, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
This answer seems strange, especially in light of the fact that they discuss the mathematics and evidence all over sections 4-5. The sections on the testable predictions of Orch-OR shows that there is good reason from empirical data to support this conclusion. They also calculate how many tubulins are required for each conscious moment (using Penrose's OR formula and the tubulin bit-qubit properties) coordinated with gamma synchrony EEG, how these take place inside neuronal microtubules, and how they may be distributed across the brain. I agree that it's not quite exact yet, but it's definitely not as rough as you're making it out to be. When I gave you the main principle behind Penrose's search for consciousness, it was more of a metaphysical outlook than anything else. It helps point our scientific inquiry in a certain direction as these things on consciousness are supposed to do, but nothing more. Saying that the specific model Penrose and Hameroff are using is nothing more than "a loose collection of ideas" seems like a straw-man to me. (talk) 03:47, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
I brought up the philosophy thing because earlier on, you were saying how philosophy was of no use to science and that we shouldn't "equate physics with philosophy". In fact, one of the changes I made to the presentation was placing "quantum consciousness" under "philosophy". I don't know if you saw that. (talk) 03:47, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
I read sections four and five in detail, and I read the original paper. The mathematics being discussed is that of a very simplistic model of quantum mechanical probabilities. The issue here is one of perspective, I think. As someone approaching this from a detailed in quantum information, what you define as "not quite exact" is the same as what I consider "as rough as I'm making it out to be". This is part of that concept of scientific rigour I expressed before. "Not quite exact" just doesn't cut it for something being called a physical model of some observable process. My comment about the Orch-OR model being a loose collection ideas was not a strawman. Our discussion was about the efficacy of this particular model, and my comment was meant to express that in terms of what is required of a physical model, it is quite weak. There is no suitably detailed mathematical bridge linking things together, hence it's a loose collection.
I didn't say that philosophy was no use to science. Philosophy can be useful, since it can encourage thinking in different directions. However, using philosophy as motivation and using it as a central piece of a "physical" theory are two entirely different things; the latter is just bad science, and that is what I meant by "equating physics with philosophy". As to what changes you made to the article, I wouldn't know. I joined the conversation after the edit war was finished. My main opposition with making that branding is that the article as a whole covers a bunch of other stuff that doesn't quite fit the category well. Since our goal here is not to be encyclopedic, I doubt many people are going to wander in here looking for that sort of thing. - GrantC (talk) 04:00, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
And you are misunderstanding what I mean by "not quite exact". The stuff on QM probabilities (and that's not all, since it's based off other work by Hameroff and Tuszynski about the quantum information capacities of microtubules, which is also very detailed) is hardly simplistic, and there's a great deal of rigour involved. The evidence seems to be in their favour as well. Keep in mind that this paper is mostly a summary based on prior work. If it's "loose", it's because the math used here is grouping a great deal of other work together. I'll dig up some other materials. Also, I never said that philosophy was used as a basis. What I'm saying is that the mathematics of the Gödel-Turing argument point in this direction as do the hypercomputational nature of spacetime and gravitational topological quantum computation. Penrose isn't the only one who's noticed this. Velez and Ospina released a paper on gravitational TQGs and the way they get beyond the Turing limit, and Stuart Kauffman himself has advocated a "mind-in-the-poised-realm" model (as in, the gap between quantum and classical physics) that has strong connections to Penrose's ideas. (talk) 12:39, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
I have read the earlier works, and indeed, the quantum information side of this model is quite simplistic, at least from the point of view of someone who actually studies quantum information. I also wish to point out that there is no "gap" between quantum and classical physics. Classical physics is merely the limit of quantum theory as one approaches macroscopic sizes. There's no real need for an explanation or a model for this transition. Anyways, I do not wish to see more works by these authors. I have found fault in their work and their models, and in response, you continue to show me more of their work. I need to see some independent verification of this from people who are respected quantum information researchers. Until you provide me that, this discussion will remain circular. I am not convinced, and it doesn't help that you're citing the very papers I'm disputing in order to answer my questions. That's not how science works. If you cannot provide independently verified third party sources, then there is no point continuing. - GrantC (talk) 15:37, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
Tell me why they're "simplistic." (talk) 16:52, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
And when I said "gap", I was speaking metaphorically for the unification of quantum mechanics and general relativity, albeit poorly. (talk) 17:03, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
As I've said before, the quantum states and propagators the papers discuss are not truly valid for any open quantum system (of which the brain would most certainly be an example). The assumptions made to generate the probabilities and mathematics given in the papers are significant and unfounded. - GrantC (talk) 17:33, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

Of interest?[edit]

io9 Scream!! (talk) 20:26, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

Yes, it will be interesting to listen to his justification. The paper itself (and the scientific response to it) will tell the real story about the physics, but this gives an interesting glimpse into the philosophical side of things. - GrantC (talk) 20:35, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
I forgot to thank you for the link! So yeah, thanks for the link, and my apologies for being unintentionally rude. - GrantC (talk) 20:41, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
's OK. It's all double Dutch to me but seems as if it might be relevant to some of your recent trollfeeds. Scream!! (talk) 20:57, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Indeed; at the very least, it saves me from being attacked with it later! - GrantC (talk) 21:01, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Scream, we're not trollfeeds. And yes, they do look like the "Breaking Bad" of neuroscience! LOL (talk) 12:34, 18 September 2013 (UTC)


Hi Grant. You seem to have turned up at just the right time to take on some editors who would wish to add some dubious context. Thanks.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 18:43, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

No problem! It irks me when individuals use my field of study as a prop for pseudoscience, and as much as I try not to get involved as much ever since that whole quantum consciousness debacle, sometimes it goes a bit too far... - GrantC (talk) 19:33, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
I think you're doing really well. I would join in but some of it is over my head.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 20:22, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
Well thanks! One of the significant difficulties with anything related to quantum mechanics is that it's terribly non-intuitive for someone not studying in the field. It also doesn't help that the math required to get a good understanding of the topic (largely calculus and linear algebra) forms an entry barrier for folks who are casually interested. I find that to have a cursory understanding of what evolution "is" (in the broadest sense) doesn't necessarily require a significant understanding of genetics or biology in general. Trying to explain quantum mechanics on a similar level gets a bit difficult at times. - GrantC (talk) 20:28, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I'm still trying to get my brain around the idea of superpositions being collapsed by observing them.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 10:49, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
Well there are interpretations that make wavefunction collapse quite boring and not very mysterious. One intriguing interpretation involves considering wavefunctions as epistemic (as opposed to ontic) states. In this interpretation, quantum states describe our knowledge of a given system. Until we observe the system, our knowledge is incomplete (i.e. the state is in a superposition). Once we observe the state, however, our knowledge instantaneously becomes complete, and the collapse represents exactly that. This view is a natural analogue of classical Liouville theory. - GrantC (talk) 14:44, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
In case certain folks try to grab onto this, I should clarify that this doesn't actually make observation special. If a double slit with no human interaction causes a state to collapse (provided we know for sure that the particle is passing through the slit), that's still enough for our knowledge to change. No consciousness is actually necessary, and this interpretation doesn't actually say anything about what the state was before the collapse. The whole point is that our knowledge is incomplete to the point that we can't make the claim that we know what a superposition state is (beyond talking about the probabilities) until it collapses. - GrantC (talk) 14:47, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
Sooo. You are saying that there are two things. Our knowledge of the state and the (errrr...) state of the state.
If our knowledge of the state is incomplete then it might as well be any one of two (or more) states, but once our knowledge is complete then we know the state. OK, so far, so prosaic.
But my understanding was that our observation of the state produced a collapse of the state itself. That is to say that not only the state of our knowledge changed but so did the physical state of the (eerrrr..) state.
The probability is, of course, that I have misunderstood what you wrote above but if you can clarify that would be nice. :-)--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 18:51, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, I believe GrantC is simply offering a different interpretation to consider. Your interpretation that it is human observation that causes the collapse is alright too, for all intents and purposes. It's the interpretation that was suggested to me back when I was starting to learn academic physics. I believe this is a discussion every physics student has had at one point, what the implications of the different interpretations regarding measurement and collapse are. Nullahnung (talk) 19:07, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
Right, exactly. It comes down to how you interpret collapse. Remember that quantum states (hereby referred to as constructed states) are mathematical constructions in and of themselves. When we talk about the "spin state" of a particle, that doesn't have much meaning until you couple it with some kind of measurement. Wavefunction/state collapse is simply a byproduct, if you will, of a von Neumann strong/projective measurement. If we interpret the state in an ontic fashion, then wavefunction collapse is weird, as the collapse is interpreted as a change in the physical state of the object. If you look at things from an epistemic point of view, however, then there's no real reason to connect the quantum state we construct and the true physical state of the particle. In this interpretation, the physical state of the object does not change as its observed. Rather, our knowledge of what the state is just becomes complete. Of course, the constructed state does indeed collapse, but that's uninteresting, as in classical probability theory, the same sort of "collapse" occurs. If we have some classical particle with some particular probability distribution, each measurement we make does indeed "fix" the particle's location at that time (thus our probability of finding the particle there at that point in time becomes unity). We may or may not know where the particle was before, but that knowledge becomes irrelevant once we perform the measurement. - GrantC (talk) 19:53, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
It's important to note that in this epistemic picture, we don't (and can't) know what the physical state actually is prior to "collapse", as by definition, our knowledge was not complete enough to say that. If we measure the particle's spin and find that it is spin up, then all we know about the particle's prior state is that it had some probability of being spin up and some probability of being spin down. The epistemic interpretation does not attempt to glean any information on what the physical state was before our measurement, and in fact, posits that knowing this information just isn't possible in a deterministic fashion. - GrantC (talk) 19:59, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
Note: Earlier I used the word "ontological" instead of "ontic" as I had intended. I corrected the instance of that happening, and apologize for any confusion - GrantC (talk) 20:23, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for taking the time to reply Grant. I'd like to say that my understanding is now perfectly clear. Unfortunately .... --Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 10:18, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
Well I think you'll find that no physicist will ever claim that their understanding of quantum mechanics is clear. Heh, in that sense you're not actually that far off everyone else. - GrantC (talk) 20:55, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

Rabbits chew the cud[edit]

It is a proven scientifical fact that rabbits, like cows and other animals of the human consumption barium chew the cud.— Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Right. - GrantC (talk) 16:42, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
Barium? Redchuck.gif ГенгисIs the Pope a Catholic?Moderator 19:27, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
It is a proven scientific fact that rabbits are rich in barium, which makes them uniquely qualified to serve as mascots for nutritious breakfast cereals. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 19:31, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
That sounds legit. - GrantC (talk) 19:45, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
So rabbits have been causing chemtrails all along? SophieWilderModerator 20:41, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
I thought everyone knew that already... - GrantC (talk) 20:49, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
Looks like autocorrect got its grubby paws on "baramin." Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 20:51, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
I consider it a good thing that autocorrect does not recognize "baramin" as a legitimate word. - GrantC (talk) 20:52, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
Let's just call 'em barmies, then. That's a word, isn't it? - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 03:08, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
Works for me! - GrantC (talk) 04:56, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
Mind you, a baramin enema would be interesting. SophieWilderModerator 06:33, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
A rabbit would probably be pushing the rodent envelope a bit too far for that in my book. Redchuck.gif ГенгисRationalWiki GOLD memberModerator 09:44, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
This conversation is going dangerous places. - GrantC (talk) 20:55, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
I was going to try a hyrax. Then I saw the rest of the clade. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 01:47, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
Colorful little afrotherian
I see no problem with other members of the clade... Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 02:37, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
+1 - GrantC (talk) 15:24, 26 September 2013 (UTC)


Hi, just to make sure you see this. No worries on he edit conflict. Thanks for fixing it . Do you know anything about quantum gravity ? Cute afrotherian. It looks huge ! or really small. Hamster (talk) 21:40, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Excellent; I left that note on your talk page because I rolled back my edit without considering that it wouldn't leave a visible record in recent changes for anyone who has minor changes hidden. I'm still not sure what caused that issue, but it's not the first time it's happened to me. I think it happens when I get two quick conflicts twice in a row.
Well, quantum gravity is a fairly loose concept. I do have decent familiarity with quantum field theory, however, which is the underpinning of most current tentative models of quantum gravity. - GrantC (talk) 00:47, 18 October 2013 (UTC)


Don't hate it man. It puts food on my table!--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 21:25, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

Oh mine too, given that it's the only language I can speak fluently in conversation (my knowledge of French has degraded due to lack of use). Still, the English language is one almost built on idiosyncrasies, which even as a native English speaker I often find terribly confusing and counter-intuitive! - GrantC (talk) 21:27, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Not to disrupt the pleasant atmosphere, but this raises the topic again. I think hating English does not constitute discrimination against people on the basis of the language they use, therefore it is perfectly acceptable. An analogy to racism would be "I hate black skin, but I don't hate people for having it, therefore this does not make me racist." That's about right, I hope. I have an irrational fear of clumsy analogies. Nullahnung (talk) 21:41, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Lighten up man! I'm sure Grant was using "hate" in a jocular sense!--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 21:44, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
That would be correct. I was making absolutely no attempt to link it to discrimination whatsoever. - GrantC (talk) 21:46, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
I am sorry and apologize. I knew "hate" was being used in a jocular sense, but it made me think back to the other topic, so I promptly wrote what I was thinking. It was still uncalled for to switch the topic (and the mood) so abruptly (and sort of ruin this conversation). Probably should have posted my thoughts on this in the talk page to that article on linguistical discrimination instead. Sorry! Nullahnung (talk) 21:50, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Well... I'm not sure I would go so far as to say you ruined the conversation. I'm fairly light-hearted and difficult to offend, so I wouldn't use words like "uncalled for" or apologize multiple times in the same sentence :P. That said, if you'd like to roll with this theme, I guess I could threaten you or something of the like. - GrantC (talk) 21:53, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
I've been know for masochistic tendencies at times... but nah, I'll pass, thanks for the offer! Nullahnung (talk) 21:56, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
No worries then! If it helps, I just shook my fist at you halfheartedly. (Also, yes, I'm a purveyor of sarcasm in humour, so don't take the tone of these couple posts to be mocking or insulting.) - GrantC (talk) 21:58, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
You were too polite for me this time, but I'll get you next time, o propagator of harmless sarcasm great chaos and confusion! Nullahnung (talk) 22:07, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Sarcasm on the Internet is a deadly weapon, sowing confusion and destruction wherever it goes! - GrantC (talk) 22:08, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

Hilton Ratcliffe[edit]

Can you please have a look at the Hilton Ratcliffe article? Someone was complaining about some of the wording, so I had to pay some attention to it. It relies too much on citing Ratcliffe's own site, and too light on the debunking. There's a particular statement I commented out that needs verification, about a possible mainstream contribution of the guy - the linked text on his website mentioned Michael Mozina and that caused my bullshit detector to trip. :)--ZooGuard (talk) 14:29, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Sure, I can take a look. On the face of it, I have no idea what a "strictly classical approach to space science" even looks like, so I'm also expecting that this guy isn't terribly credible. I'll do a bit more digging though. - Grant (Talk) 15:26, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
It's an old trope amongst physics, and sometimes other types of cranks - that modern science is based on abstractions ("theories" in the colloqual sense), not on empirical reality, and that it's the reverse with their pet ideas, which makes them superior. (See also the Electric Universe for an another example of the mindset.)--ZooGuard (talk) 15:34, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Indeed. It's a bit of a funny coincidence when you think about it, but physics researchers are often the last to know about these cranks, since the physics community often just disregards this kind of stuff out of hand. The last time I remember hearing about physics cranks (prior to joining RW) was when I was still in undergraduate and that kind of stuff brought some good laughs to the students in the department. - Grant (Talk) 15:44, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
By the way, I'll post in more detail on the talk page, but I would be wary about including the claim you commented out. There are some fishy things going on here. - Grant (Talk) 15:44, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Done. I'll see what discussion comes up, and if things are relatively quiet, I'll start adding some of the points/references to the article itself. You were definitely right to have your bullshit detector trip, as all of Ratcliffe's work is very, very far from mainstream science. - Grant (Talk) 16:43, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Another BoN (this one not so pleasant)[edit]

Your personal attacks on Nassim Haramein? I've heard you attack this guy on a very personal level, however I'm interested in the specifics of his calculations. Given your advanced knowledge in Physics, can you please show me where he has miscalculated in his equations. I understand that he's a crank, and a fool and all that. But I'm reading over his paper on the Schwarzschild Proton and all of his calculations seem to be correct. Can you please point the errors in his calculations?— Unsigned, by: User: / talk / contribs 4:16, 21 Jan 2014 (UTC)

I've already explained on the relevant talk page that his fundamental premises and assumptions are incorrect. Go kick up your issues there instead. - Grant (Talk) 04:21, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
I actually don't have any "issues". I'm simply looking for educated physicists to critique his work. I've seen many many attacks on his character and many people writing off his ideas as "crackpot" and "outlandish". So I get that it's out there. To me, that means that his theories should be very easily discredited on a scientific basis. I've been interested in his work for a while now, and I've seen a lot of ad hominem attacks on the guy, but to date I haven't read any real critiques of his actual calculations. I welcome any SCIENCE you can add to this topic.— Unsigned, by: User: / talk / contribs 4:48, 21 Jan 2014 (UTC)
In that case, I recommend you take a read through of the discussion I had with someone else on the talk page for Haramein's article. There's plenty of science there. I'm not going to rehash discussions I had with somebody else just because you don't want to wander over to the page where I had said discussions. Also, please sign your talk page posts by typing ~~~~ at the end of your posts. Thanks. - Grant (Talk) 04:53, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
Also, please indent your posts with : as you see me doing it. Look at the number of colons I've posted in my last response, then use that many plus an extra one. Then we all win! Yay! - Grant (Talk) 04:58, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
I would be happy to read over it, if I were able to locate it. All that I seem to find is your VERY biased page on Haramein himself. No discussion, just more or less a character assassination. Perhaps you could provide a link to your illuminated conversation. Hows That?— Unsigned, by: User: / talk / contribs 5:07, 21 Jan 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for indenting, but please do remember the signature part as well. It's a lot more work for me to tack it on afterwards than it is for you to type four characters. You can find my discussion on the talk page on Nassim Haramein (at the top left of the page should be two tabs: "Page" and "Talk"; click "Talk"). The discussion in question is at the very bottom of the page. - Grant (Talk) 05:10, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Wait, what?[edit]

Cudgel this you useless PUNK

FINGERMichaellarkin (talk) 21:48, 21 January 2014 (UTC)MichaelLarkin

Huh. There exists another user who quite commonly screws up his/her signature in the same way you do. Either way, I don't really care. - Grant (Talk) 21:49, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Edit conflict[edit]

Sorry about the deletions. Firefox/Tor browser seems to do that. It actually feels good to have a browser that does that to people who cause edit conflicts! I am also aware that the feds have fully compromised the fuck out of Tor. I remember Dondrekhan, told me about it, before that happened. (talk) 15:53, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

No worries. I've accidentally done that with edit conflicts in the past, and to be completely honest I have no idea what causes it to happen. As best as I can tell, I added back your posts without breaking anything (aside from one failure that I quickly fixed). Yes, I imagine most activities on the Internet aren't terribly safe now, but I doubt posting on RW is an activity the authorities are paying attention to. - Grant (Talk) 15:55, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Making hasty conclusions about terms that are new to me[edit]

So I'm sorry about loudly asserting that social anxiety isn't a medical condition. I haven't encountered the term before and rashly assumed things about it due to the context I read it in... This will teach me caution. Nullahnung (talk) 21:09, 28 February 2014 (UTC)

No problem at all. I'm sure there's argument among the psychological community about whether anxiety disorders belong in the DSM as well. It's also a disorder that's generally not well understood by the populace (most people don't understand anxiety disorders in general), and it is widely misused by people looking for quick and easy excuses for abhorrent behaviour. I've always believed that while such disorders can act as explanations for certain actions, they should never act as excuses for said actions. - Grant (Talk) 21:11, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
Wait, wait, wait… I've never seen anybody use social anxiety as a thing for abhorrent behaviours- I mean, I've occasionally seen it used for seeming a bit creepy (*looks around sheepishly*), and sometimes seeming like a bit if a douche, but I've never seen it used for anything I would describe as "abhorrent"- would you mind please giving me some examples of when somebody might use it? Most of the time, it's just when people don't feel like talking at parties or whatever, I thought. MESSIAH OF DOOM Be judged by your suicidal desire Dolan.png 14:02, 9 March 2014 (UTC)
Social anxiety disorder manifests itself as an abject fear or concern that everyone else is negatively judging your social interactions. Not feeling like talking at parties is a bit of a different scenario; sometimes social anxiety disorder can lead to that conclusion, but it's a symptom, not a cause. It's important to realize that the irrational fear and concern (the anxiety) is the only part of that behaviour that's really due to the social anxiety.
Where the problem comes in is how your personality interacts with that anxiety. Some people (as in your example) blame themselves for that anxiety, think they're the problem, and very often choose not to interact with others as a result. This is what I was like; I didn't talk to people when I went places because I didn't want to be put into a situation where the anxiety came through (I blamed myself for it before I knew it was a disorder).
Others, however - who might be a bit more aggressive - can instead blame others, and that can lead to MRA-like thinking or other anti-social behaviour (note the medical definition of anti-social is not what the colloquial definition is, and I'm using the medical definition here). Sometimes folks like this start to think the anxiety is caused by other people treating them poorly, and this is especially true when the opposite sex is involved. When you're in the mood to toss blame around, you often look for the easiest possible target, and a single rejection can provide that scapegoat fairly easily. - Grant (Talk) 17:28, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

gravity waves[edit]

do you have any comments on the recent announcement on the discovery of gravity waves (or gravitational waves). Does this discovery change anything in physics apart from maybe reducing the number of models of the inflation theory ? Hamster (talk) 04:59, 22 March 2014 (UTC)

Well I think it's interesting for a number of reasons. For one, gravitational waves are a staple of general relativity, and one that hasn't been found before (which is pretty cool in and of itself, as it provides additional verification of GR). Related to that, these waves would have emanated when the universe was young, dense, and small, so it's reasonable to imagine that both quantum effects and general relativity both played important roles in the generation of these waves. While I'm not one to jump to conclusions, this brings up some interesting questions about the prospects of quantum gravity.
Another big thing is the inflation itself, and that sort of ties into the points I made above. No matter how you cut it, inflation requires the existence of a fundamental quantum scalar field (e.g. a field of bosons, not fermions). We've never observed such a field in nature before, though it's speculated that the Higgs field might also be such a field. Either way, the existence of some scalar field that could produce inflation would be a bombshell for physics in general. We could quite literally be probing a point in time in the universe when the energy landscape was different enough to produce very different effects to what we're used to seeing today. - Grant (Talk) 05:10, 22 March 2014 (UTC)


Since you appear to be online at the moment, would you mind answering my question on the SB? I'm kinda worried about it, and I'd like an answer relatively soon please. Thanks man. MESSIAH OF DOOM The epitome of Gods and Men alike Dolan.png 05:49, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

I'm not sure my (or any single editor's) word carries any weight, but I'll weigh in with my opinion. - Grant (Talk) 05:50, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
Thanks. If you're curious as to what exactly happened, let me know, and I'll email you. MESSIAH OF DOOM Unite with thy oracle Dolan.png 06:10, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
Sure. It sounds like an interesting situation you got yourself into such that a group of unstable individuals may now be out for your blood. - Grant (Talk) 06:11, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
Sent. MESSIAH OF DOOM Deserved doom shall be unto you Dolan.png 06:34, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

Quantum consciousness[edit]

Penrose's ideas shouldn't be called woo, because they actually attempt at giving a mechanistic explanation of consciousness, ie superposition in microtubules somehow helps synchronize neural activity to produce the unity of conscious experience. Although his ideas have been discounted, it is wrong to call them woo like the total BS that gets thrown around by people like Deepak Chopra. My area of expertise is neuroscience though, not physics, so I can't really evaluate his claims about QM all to well; they are just clearly not total BS like some other wooey claims. Btw, when I said that Penrose's ideas are unnecessary in explaining consciousness, I was referring to 1.)neural synchrony is explained perfectly well by classical mechanics, and doesn't require instantaneous quantum events to work, and 2.)quantum theories of consciousness don't even really solve the problems they are introduced to solve (ie Hard problem of consciousness)and only confound things. — Unsigned, by: Pallidum / talk / contribs

I see. That makes more sense. I largely reverted your edits because what you meant by "unnecessary" was unclear to me, and I thought you were suggesting something entirely different. As for the part about Penrose's ideas being woo, that's a little more shaky, and I suppose it depends on how you define "woo." It's certainly bad science, since as you say, his ideas have been discounted and discredited significantly, and yet he and his supporters keep pushing it. You do have some good points though. Why don't you put your ideas on that article's talk page and we can see if we can work out some sort of compromise? I would rather the discussion be there, since there may be other editors interested in throwing in their thoughts. - Grant (talk) 19:40, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

Check thy Mail of E[edit]

Trapped inside this octavarium 12:11, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

Noted. - Grant (talk) 13:41, 22 April 2014 (UTC)


I just rolled back your rollback. Fat fingers, cell phone, embarrassment, etcetera. I don't know how to fix it. MarmotHead (talk) 21:14, 29 April 2014 (UTC)

You jerk! Just kidding. I just rolled back your rollback of my rollback. I'm doggedly determined to use my computer hardware until it dies completely, so I've been spending the last couple of months using a mouse that sometimes decides to register a double click when I single click. I've accidentally rolled things back more often than I would like to admit. - Grant (talk) 21:16, 29 April 2014 (UTC)
Thanks! No more cell phone editing for me! MarmotHead (talk) 21:19, 29 April 2014 (UTC)
I make it a point not to do so. I don't trust my fingers. - Grant (talk) 21:20, 29 April 2014 (UTC)


OK, now I'm scared. Your research use of cumulants gives me flashbacks to grad school (biostatistics PhD) and the fact that MacLaurin series are involved (I think) gives me flashbacks to calculus classes. Now, if you'll only use the delta method, you'll have a clean sweep of all my educational math nightmares. MarmotHead (talk) 14:51, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

It's even worse, as it's actually a time-ordered exponential expanded as a MacLaurin series of cumulants! Thankfully, since my field of research was tangential to the actual statistics involved, there was no need to use the delta method. So it's more like two of your educational math nightmares rolled into one. - Grant (talk) 15:59, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
Time-ordered? At least that gets closer to something I can handle ... or at least handled long enough to graduate. Quick reading tells me that, if I could ignore the physics part, statistical physics probably would be vaguely comprehensible to me (vague = big confidence interval).MarmotHead (talk) 16:04, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
Yes, that sounds about right. If you're familiar with time-ordered quantum operators and linear algebra in general, you would probably be able to make good sense of my research. Most of the abstractions I make logically follow from those underpinnings. Any actual statistician would likely be horrified by the cavalier methodology used in statistical physics, however. I'm not sure what biostatistics is like, but it's incredibly common to see, "X is Y orders of magnitude smaller than Z, so we ignore it completely." The probabilistic math behind most quantum processes generally leads to the creation of mathematically valid solutions that aren't physically realizable. What do we do when we find those? Scrap them. Heh. - Grant (talk) 16:09, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
A purist statistician would probably vomit at anything short of a perfect model, but then they wouldn't actually get anything done beyond proving asymptotic behavior of some godawful estimator of whatever. The practical statisticians would shrug their shoulders and say, "Yeah, that could screw things up, but so does everything else. Let's move on." I'm definitely in the latter school. That said, you get the kind of massive datasets that I rarely see. My largest ever dataset (300,000 observations) is probably several orders of magnitude smaller than you're tiniest dataset. I'm lucky to be able "prove" the obvious, let alone the physically unrealizable.MarmotHead (talk) 18:18, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
Lucky for me (in this specific case) I was doing theoretical work, so I was free to pick a model of my choosing. In some of the more experimental stuff I did with liquid state NMR, I would have to agree with the large sample sets there. Considering that each spin relaxation period involves amalgamating statistical data from some ridiculous quantity of spins, and experiments are typically run on the scale of many of these relaxation periods, data sets can be huge. Of course, the former portion is handled implicitly by the NMR system; you would be a rich man indeed if you could find a way for a liquid state NMR system to pick up signal on anything less than 1011 spins or so. - Grant (talk) 19:15, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
Cool! The advantage of being a statistician (bio- or otherwise): I get to encounter cool other science without having to go through years of education to understand it. Apparently, this is another way to feed that same hunger. MarmotHead (talk) 22:08, 1 May 2014 (UTC)
One of the things I never expected about doing graduate research in physics was how much I would learn about other subjects (especially pure math and statistics). Quantum information requires a lot of noise modelling in open quantum systems. The former involves heavy use of statistics, and the latter involves a lot of in-depth knowledge of linear algebra (specifically Hilbert spaces and how they work). I've learned a great deal about a great many things, which is great. I always enjoy sharing my research for that reason as well. - Grant (talk) 02:07, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Cat question[edit]

For Schrödinger's cat, aren't we ignoring the cat? To the cat, the outside-the-box wave functions haven't collapsed. Or am I forgetting that it's just a thought experiment? Physics hurts, statistics heals! MarmotHead (talk) 15:17, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

Heh, Schrödinger's cat was a thought experiment meant to show the absurdity of thinking that way about wave function collapse, so it seems as though it accomplished its goal! I prefer to think of collapse in a way that you might find more appealing (what with your crazy statistics and all that). This is a view I heard of from one of my professors, and I enjoy it. Imagine that quantum states are not, in fact, analogous to physical states. Rather, they represent our state of knowledge about those physical states. A pure superposition thus implies that we have the least amount of knowledge about a physical state, and a state with a single basis vector implies that we have perfect knowledge. In this picture, collapse becomes sensible: we don't know whether the cat is alive or dead, but it's probably one or the other. Similarly, the cat doesn't know the state of the outside world, but it definitely exists. Once the box is opened, the wave functions collapse and all information is known. It's not like wave functions have any particular meaning anyways. It's their amplitudes (and the probability distributions one can derive from those amplitudes) that really matter. - Grant (talk) 15:59, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
Now you've done it! You've gone Bayesian on me, I think. Let's see, diffuse prior distributions, post-observations posterior distributions that sometimes have amplitude at only a single point. Yup. Now, I understand more physics concepts than I thought possible ... time to see a therapist.MarmotHead (talk) 16:07, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
Haha indeed. In what may not come as any great surprise, this particular professor was a mathematics professor quite proficient in Bayesian inference. I'm more a Bayesian than a frequentist myself! From having some experience in the field, there are few things in life more deserving of therapy than a knowledge of physics. - Grant (talk) 16:09, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

Accidental revert[edit]

Sorry 'bout that. Fucking phones, man. GØØBY PLS Those who are not with me are against me- and I crush anyone who stands against meDolan.png 21:50, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

No problem. No harm done. - Grant (talk) 21:51, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
On a completely unrelated note, did you ever check out that band? The really depressed, orgasmic sounding one that only, like, five people like? GØØBY PLS Those who are not with me are against me- and I crush anyone who stands against meDolan.png 11:00, 12 May 2014 (UTC)
I did, yes. That's not particularly my style of music, so unfortunately I'm not one of those five. Heh. - Grant (talk) 14:10, 12 May 2014 (UTC)
Ah, okay. GØØBY PLS Those who are not with me are against me- and I crush anyone who stands against meDolan.png 07:31, 13 May 2014 (UTC)


Sorry for trolling for the last few months plz I am telling the truth plz plz plz remove me from the vandal bin--Fat Aardvark (talk) 18:02, 17 May 2014 (UTC)

Make some constructive edits and we'll think about it. Brutal \m/ESSIAH 07:57, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
Well some people may think about it. I certainly won't. - Grant (talk) 13:55, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
Fair enough. I meant "we" as in "some RW people". Brutal \m/ESSIAH 20:56, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

Trying out this template thing I made[edit]

Congratulations, GrantC/Archive1!
For your fine efforts in clarifying the AfD thingo, you have now been awarded 10 "thank you"s! Use them wisely.

Your pal,


Brutal \m/ESSIAH 07:53, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

Fixed it for you. Leave out the space between the template and your signature. That said, thanks I guess? Why ten? - Grant (talk) 13:56, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
I don't know. I guess 10 is a pretty cool number. It's neat and symmetrical and even and tidy and everything. Brutal \m/ESSIAH 20:55, 20 May 2014 (UTC)


I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office--the Presidency of your country. Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.
Lyndon B. Johnson
Well said, LBJ. - Grant (talk) 16:13, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

Probably a wise suggestion.[edit]

You know. That thing you said.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 19:06, 23 May 2014 (UTC)

Well it could be some random troll causing issues, but I'm not sure it's worth the risk engaging to find out. Of course, someone's going to do so no matter what I say, so we'll see how it goes. I just remember the stories I was told by some of my fellow graduate students. I wasn't targeted myself, but some of them certainly were, and a few were involved in talking to the Montreal police when it came to a head last time. The whole business was quite unpleasant, as I understand it. - Grant (talk) 19:38, 23 May 2014 (UTC)

Info as coding[edit]

Your response on information theory just proved my compression idea! "First book is bunk" is a four word lossless compression of my thirteen words. Therefore, my words contain no more than four words of information. Damn you and your practical proof! MarmotHead (talk) 16:37, 11 June 2014 (UTC)

What can I say? I'm an experimental physicist! I try to do everything as quickly and efficiently as possible so I'm not sitting in front of a spectrometer drumming my fingers for three hours. - Grant (talk) 16:41, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
And, as a statistician, I look at the randomness too much and, probably, get hypnotised by it.— Unsigned, by: MarmotHead / talk / contribs 16:43, 11 June 2014‎ UTC
Ah, randomness... It's the bread and butter of quantum mechanics, and I love it. - Grant (talk) 16:52, 11 June 2014 (UTC)

Who, What, Why[edit]

Who: myself and several other RW members.
What: I left the RW FB page after a disagreement with the other admins who I felt were overstepping their mark and basically being dicks to people who they thought were dicks before they actually became dicks. I then colluded with others and brought the RWFB page down by banning several admins.
Why: As above. Not sure why, I had my serious doubts about the cause of action but went ahead anyway.
Several people will say I did it because I hate feminists or am an MRA or that I don't respect gender issues but, here it is from the horses mouth, I thought these guys were being complete dicks so I thought I would rain down a little dickishness myself. Acei9 02:28, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for the explanation, Ace. As I mentioned on the Saloon Bar, that's the most informative thing I've heard about all of this. - Grant (talk) 02:29, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

Gather round in a circle and sing inspirational songs[edit]

Good idea!!! Reckless Noise Symphony (talk) 22:25, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

Ha, that's excellent. That's exactly what we should do! - Grant (talk) 22:31, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Is this inspirational? DØØM MĖSSIÅH …But spirit is foulest, devoid, askewDolan.png 22:36, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
No, that is broken. Reckless Noise Symphony (talk) 22:38, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Indeed... - Grant (talk) 22:42, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND, MUM!!!!!1!!1 MESSIAH OF DOOM I want you to see from behind these empty wallsDolan.png 05:24, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
But srsly, is good music. STFU. DØØM MĖSSIÅH I want you to see from behind these empty wallsDolan.png 05:24, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
Given that it's broken, I wouldn't know. - Grant (talk) 05:40, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
Oh, as in the video itself! I thought you meant the song sounded broken. In that case here ya go. I know that I've gone on about these guys, like 9762628393854920207522 times, but goddammit, they are fucking awesome, and must be recognised as such. MĖSSIÅH ØF DØØM Within her hands are gifts for the damnedDolan.png 06:08, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
Sounds like someone mixed Pelican with Electric Wizard. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 23:20, 22 June 2014 (UTC)
It's not at all my style of music, so to my ears it sounds like someone put an actual pelican through electric shock therapy. - Grant (talk) 23:27, 22 June 2014 (UTC)
Nebuchadnezzar, I think that would be the fucking shit. Seriously, that would be amazing to listen to. MĖSSIÅH ØF DØØM Don't read look every behind second you wordDolan.png 13:23, 27 June 2014 (UTC)

A question[edit]

What is it, exactly, tht drew you to physics? I mean, I know that it's pretty interesting, but I personally find chemistry and biology a lot cooler. In addition, how long did it take you to get the hang of shit? I mean, I still have no idea how any of that quantum shit is supposed to work (although, to be fair, that's mostly because I don't put as much effort into physics as I do with a lot of other stuff). So yeah, when did you finally get all the weird voodoo stuff, and what did it take? DØØM MĖSSIÅH Too close enough to touchDolan.png 06:15, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Well I'll answer your questions in order. What interested me in science was a curiosity as to how the universe worked. As for why I chose physics specifically, I'll quote Rutherford: "All science is either physics or stamp collecting." While I mostly mean that as a joke, it's not too far from the truth for me. I'm not terribly interested in the details of how chemical or biological processes happen. At the base of it, the root of chemical and biological processes can be explained using physics. After all, the physical theories covering the behaviour of particles and forces explain everything. In that sense, I'm not terribly interested in chemistry and biology because they're not esoteric enough. Without quantum mechanics, chemistry falls flat, but quantum mechanics is used for far more than just chemistry. You could almost say I'm a generalist, in that I prefer studying the broader strokes.
I don't have the hang of shit now, and I likely never will. With all due respect, it's doubtful that your lack of understanding of quantum mechanics has anything to do with the effort you put into physics. First off, nobody really understands some of the big questions about quantum mechanics (like why it is what it is). Understanding the processes by which it works takes years and years of dedicated study and an entirely new way of thinking. Even if you were to enrol in an undergraduate physics program, you would still leave knowing so little about quantum mechanics. I know I didn't when I finished my undergraduate degree, and it took several more years before things really started to click.
That's what appeals to be so much about quantum mechanics though. It's blatantly weird and it's incredibly counter-intuitive. You can't approach quantum mechanics with a common sense approach, because you'll fail. Similarly, you can't approach it with the same rigid way you might approach other scientific disciplines. A lot of problems that are trivial for non-quantum systems become incredibly difficult for quantum systems, and the same is true in reverse as well. Literally everything is different, and there's almost no field out there that requires such weird approaches. Our brains are bad at statistics as it is, and quantum mechanics is a field built on really weird statistics with very odd physical meaning.
A good example I like to bring up is my specific field of study, quantum information. Simple things like copying information become impossible in quantum systems, and even on the practical level a whole new host of problems exist. Decoherence is a uniquely quantum mechanical problem arising from the existence of superposition states, and it's a real issue in theoretical models of quantum computing. Quantum bits decohere (lose information) incredibly quickly in most physical systems. This is a problem that doesn't exist in classical computers. On the flip side, Shor's algorithm shows how many cool things you can do with an actual theoretical quantum computer.
Another good example is something you experience every day. When you walk across the floor of your house, what stops you from plunging through the floor? What force acts opposite to gravity that prevents you from breaking up into constituent matter and plunging straight to the gravitational centre of the Earth? You might say the normal force, which is what you would have learned in Newtonian physics, but is absolutely meaningless. What is the normal force? You might be inclined to say electromagnetic repulsion between the atoms in your body and those in the floor prevents it. That answer is also wrong, however. The real answer is quantum degeneracy pressure (an effect of the Pauli exclusion and Heisenberg uncertainty principles), which is in fact the same force that prevents neutron and white dwarf stars from collapsing in on themselves. In my field, I get the opportunity to study something that acts on scales so small that it's invisible even under the most sensitive microscopes, but is the entire basis of why matter remains stable. That's really, really cool, and that's why I study physics. - Grant (talk) 07:45, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
[1] Scream!! (talk) 23:35, 22 June 2014 (UTC)
Ugh, one of my least favorite xkcds... Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 23:55, 22 June 2014 (UTC)
Heh, indeed. While I'm a fan of joking around with my non-physics scientist friends about the superiority of physics, the reality is that graduate research in any science is incredibly deep and incredibly focused. While it's certainly true that every chemical process could be explained by the behaviour of individual atoms on a physical level, that's not a useful way to look at things. In fact, it's an impossible way to look at things, since we can't just trivially explore many-body systems like that. In reality, the other sciences have much to say that physics can't really comment on (and vice versa), and there's often significant overlap between fields. - Grant (talk) 23:59, 22 June 2014 (UTC)


Interesting to hear of your interest in physics. While my trade is PR and Consultancy; and my education is in Political Science, my hobby is in physics. Watching a lecture by Neil Turok or reading a book by Krauss is what I'll do on a Friday night if I am sitting at home instead of socialising. Granted I'll have a fair bit to drink but I am the only guy I know who'll get pissed and watch a Roger Penrose lecture as a means to enjoy ones self. Speaking of Penrose his cycles theory which hypothesized that we'd find concentric rings in the CMB which suggested we had collided with another universe seems to have some observable support. Thoughts? Acei9 07:55, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Ah, well I like to think that the seven years of my life spent grinding away at studies and research were done in the name of something I'm passionate about (otherwise, what's the point, right)? I also have yet to meet a physicist who wasn't at least as passionate as I am about it; I can't imagine you could last in this field without that sort of passion! It always comes out when someone asks me about it; I can't really help it.
His cycles theory is interesting in principle. It's one of those ideas I sometimes like to muse about philosophically speaking. Scientifically, it's hard to say what kind of validity his theory has. There's certainly no reason to discount it, of course, as that level of cosmology is still fairly unknown to us. Of course, it's also really cool to think about, since we stand no chance of seeing anything outside of our universe (either in space or in time). There's a certain beauty to something with such a friendly cyclical symmetry, and a very beautiful symmetry breaking in the behaviour difference between fermions and bosons at aeon boundaries (referring to Penrose's proposed cosmology, here). I suppose we'll have to wait and see what more comes about in this field! - Grant (talk) 08:12, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
I understand the passionate part. I have been at parties wherein I can't help myself but to explain with wonder about Krauss's "Universe from Nothing" to a generally bored yet sympathetic crowd. Ah well. And yes, Penrose has a rather pretty theory - just a pity Cycles of Time was such a difficult read! Acei9 08:24, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
Ah yes, I can't imagine not having the study of physics in my life! I know the feeling though; most people aren't terribly interested in hearing about physics, which is unfortunate. It doesn't help that there isn't a terribly large overlap between effective communicators and effective physicists (Penrose being an example of that). Often, physics books use confusing language and don't quite manage to appropriately hit the right target audience. This is partially the fault of progress, as it's difficult to understand the latest in astrophysics or quantum mechanics without knowing a huge list of other things. For example, how does one grasp the significance of the Higgs boson without knowing at least a little bit about bosons, fundamental forces, and the Standard Model? - Grant (talk) 17:20, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Speaking of Penrose...[edit]

Can you give a quick summary of the problems with his ideas about quantum consciousness for the quantumly illiterate? I understand the problems with this physiologically and cognitively speaking (it is not treated seriously in the cog sci literature, if it is mentioned at all), but I am lost when it comes to the details of the physics. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 17:28, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

Sure. I can elaborate further if you would like, but the main issue is the lack of real evidence pointing in that direction. The issue is that Penrose seems to make the assertion that because we don't currently have a classical explanation for cognition, the answer must lie in quantum mechanics. While that might be an interesting topic of discussion on a purely speculative level, it's not really the kind of reasoning appropriate for a scientific theory (or even a hypothesis, for that matter). Effectively, folks who follow Penrose's model of consciousness look at cognition and say "hey, what if this is probabilistic?" and then note that probabilistic mechanics underlie most things quantum. Of course, that's meaningless unless we have an actual mechanism for getting there, since there are many things that are both probabilistic and entirely classical.
A bigger issue comes when we look at some of the proposed mechanisms. For example, Hameroff and Penrose propose that the brain may be a quantum computer, and that this is how cognition could arise as a quantum process. In principle, that works out just fine, but in reality, it falls apart fairly quickly. The biggest problem with this is the concept of decoherence. Decoherence is a uniquely quantum mechanical phenomenon that arises because of the way quantum information is stored. Specifically, quantum information arises when coherences exist between quantum objects. These coherences tend to be fragile, however, and will decay when exposed to any kind of environment. In a way, you can think of the quantum information leaking from the system into the environment and diffusing to the point that it becomes unrecoverable.
To put this into perspective, because the environment tends to be quite large compared to the system, it's common to assume the environment as an infinitely large heat bath. Think of dropping a single drop of food colouring into a bathtub full of water. In that example, the structure of the food colouring droplet represents the coherences. Even in a perfectly still bathtub, the food colouring will still eventually diffuse into the water. If I ask you to go to the bathtub after this occurs and separate the food colouring from the water, the task is effectively impossible. The analogy here is that the system interacts with hundreds or thousands of other particles in the environment, and the coherences diffuse through those particles until they're effectively gone. In a purely isolated system, decoherence doesn't happen.
This is a problem because under ideal conditions (superconducting qubits at 30 milliKelvin), the average time for decoherence to destroy any useful quantum information is on the order of minutes. At room temperature, this falls to fractions of a fraction of a second. Since you're effectively limited to performing any computations prior to this information becoming unusable, it's a huge limitation on what you can do, and the idea of allowing enough time for cognition to arise is dubious at best.
If you have any other questions, feel free to ask away, but the above basically sums up the biggest issue with models of quantum cognition. - Grant (talk) 18:19, 22 June 2014 (UTC)
Thanks! I gleaned some of the points about decoherence from Max Tegmark's criticism, but that is a much easier to follow explanation. What do you think of the reply -- seems to me they say "We admit Tegmark is right, but it doesn't matter because he didn't criticize our specific model."
Penrose seems to be on the wrong track here in the more general sense, the logic being that there is no classical explanation therefore quantum physics! (Quantum of the gaps?) I don't see any reason to suppose that there cannot be a classical explanation. But more importantly it assumes that the explanation or solution to the "hard problem" must come from physics, as opposed to biology, which seems to be far more likely. (Although I do agree with them that the mind-brain identity theory is rather unsatisfying.) There has to be some differentiation between neurons in the brain and other parts of the nervous system, otherwise these physical "explanations" would predict that, say, our fingers or toes would be conscious as well. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 19:30, 22 June 2014 (UTC)
Indeed; I think your judgment of Hameroff's reply is basically spot on. More importantly, Hameroff more or less broadly writes off that we might be able to find something to shield the microtubules from decoherence, which is sort of a non-starter. Open quantum systems (quantum systems exposed to their environments) are very, very difficult to analyze, and massive simplifications must be made before we can even generate theoretical models of such systems. This is very much an open problem, which makes the claim that we can probably find something that could shield microtubules dubious at best. The proof is in the pudding, as they say.
"Quantum of the gaps" is also an accurate assessment. While consciousness may very well arise from quantum explanations, this is far from a given, and the jump to "it must be so" is certainly unwarranted. I'm sure we'll find the answer some day, but the claims Penrose and Hameroff make just don't stand up to scientific scrutiny at this point in time.
While I'm also vaguely amused at the idea of conscious body parts, I do agree that current models of consciousness probably aren't as accurate as they should be. I can't even say Penrose and Hameroff are definitively wrong, so much as I can say that their assertions don't appear to be supported by the evidence right now. - Grant (talk) 21:20, 22 June 2014 (UTC)
Okay, thanks again for the explanation. I thought Penrose and Hameroff possibly were on to something even if much of it seemed extremely speculative or outright false, but it all seems entirely hand-wavey now. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 23:18, 22 June 2014 (UTC)
No problem. They may very well be on to something, but the assumptions they make to get where they are and the handwaving they do to justify it certainly don't seem sound to me, and the mainstream scientific community appears to agree. I suppose it will remain to be seen what evidence surfaces on this. - Grant (talk) 23:26, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

My turn[edit]

My turn to praise your patience in dealing with a tendentious prat. I get the sense he likes argument for its own sake, and has proclaimed discussion of evidence-free ideology to be the most creative form of discourse, or something similar. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 17:19, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

Thanks! I often find that patience, a smile, and stubbornness often make even the most stalwart trolls back down in the end. Most people who argue for the sake of argument do it to get a rise out of others, so I try my best not to allow them to get such a rise out of me.
It seems you're correct about his love of arguments. He asks me for proof that SI and the metric system aren't equivalent, and when I provide it, he brushes it off as inconsequential. Given that electrodynamics is one of the largest and broadest fields in physics, and that Russian scientists still commonly use cgs, the idea that it's trivial is silly. That said, I doubt I'll participate further, as I've made my point. His proposed additions to the article would be minutiae even if all of his assertions were correct, as you also pointed out. - Grant (talk) 17:55, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

You're cool.[edit]

You can keep yourself calm and collected and make reasonable arguments amidst petty, childish drama. I like you. |₹Λ¥$€₦₦ Red rose 02.svg It wasn't easy, but nothing is; woo hoo! 22:01, 26 June 2014 (UTC)

Thanks; I certainly try. While I'm a fairly passionate person in general, I don't like drama, especially on a wiki that espouses rational thought. I also find that calm, collected discussion generally accomplishes more than bickering and in-fighting. Hopefully this tempest will wind down soon. - Grant (talk) 22:04, 26 June 2014 (UTC)
Is this about the Facebook thing, or has more pointless shit happened while I've been out? MESSIAH OF DOOM Fuck all you gun-toting hip gangster wanna-besDolan.png 05:11, 27 June 2014 (UTC)

Big Bang stuff[edit]

Could you please look at Quranic scientific foreknowledge? There are some questionable bits in the commentary in the Big Bang section. I've tried to fix the worst, but I don't have the time to continue. And the rest of the commentary in that article is not very good either, but I'll leave that for a later moment.--ZooGuard (talk) 08:56, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

It seems like you got the worst of it. There are a few other small things I'm poking through, but the majority of the rest is at least reasonably accurate (if not well written). I'll check once more to make sure I didn't miss anything. - Grant (talk) 15:18, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for editing Quranic scientifc foreknowledge[edit]

It's nice to have someone who has actually studied the Big Bang write about it, rather than me and my high-quality in-depth study of Wikipedia. My apologies for any stupidity of mine.

If you've got the time, would you mind also editing the "Universal expansion" portion of the article? Herr FuzzyKatzenPotato (talk/stalk) 19:14, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

No problem! The effort was sincere, and most of the mistakes were relatively subtle ones. I would be happy to take a look at that part of the article a bit later. - Grant (talk) 21:20, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

The Arts[edit]

So, you're into the arts and shit? Do you have any particular favourite form of art (visual, music, drama, etc.)? Also, are you an artist yourself, or are you just a fan of stuff? DØØM MĖSSIÅH Deserved doom shall be unto youDolan.png 11:45, 14 July 2014 (UTC)

I have no personal preference towards different forms of art. Personally, I'm a classical musician, though I've let practising fall to the wayside as of late. - Grant (talk) 16:07, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
Really? What instrument? Do you compose, or just play? What are your favourite artworks in different forms? Sorry if I'm being annoying or anything- haven't met up with any IRL people for ages. MESSIAH OF DOOM The epitome of Gods and Men alike Dolan.png 08:20, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
I play the clarinet, the tenor sax, the tin whistle, and I'm slowly but surely learning how to play the uilleann pipes. I have often thought about composing, but I haven't really had the time, so I mostly just play. I enjoy a wide variety of music, though mostly the romantic and modern eras of orchestral music, especially composers in the vein of Gustav Holst and Edward Elgar. As for visual art, most of my favourites have been painted by local artists, so they're not really mainstream. In performance art, I have to say that Shakespeare is hard to beat, especially Hamlet. - Grant (talk) 17:14, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
That's pretty cool! I'm not really into, like, wind instruments and stuff- as I'm sure you're aware, guitar is really my speciality, though I can also play drums and bass, and I'm reaching myself piano and singing. When you get the time, you really should compose some stuff- even though I'm sure that you'd probably like different stuff than my usual styles, I can tell you that, at least for me, writing/composing music is honestly one of the most satisfying and interesting things that I do. At what age did you start learning, by the way? Why?
As for performance, I agree that Shakespeare is awesome (though my favourite plays are actually Richard III and Macbeth). However, my absolute favourite theatre performance thing is Little Shop of Horrors- I took part in a high-school performance of the play, which was my first introduction to theatre. It's an awesome play, and the people I met in the process really made it a really cool experience.
(In case you didn't guess, this is Messiah- I'm having a break from using my account at the moment). (talk) 10:26, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

when reasonableness fails[edit]

There I was, trying to follow your reasonableness model and it turned into something crazy. When statisticians disagree (nobody agrees about multiple comparison adjustment), it turns to nothing worse than friendly jokes. I imagine physicists aren't much different. I guess reasonableness doesn't work everywhere! MarmotHead (talk) 13:24, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

Heh, indeed. While I've had some heated debates with my colleagues on why a particular calculation is, in fact, correct, it has never come down to frustration or anger. That said, there are always some people who are more than willing to troll. I try to adopt a policy of reasonableness because there's always a chance the individual on the other side will be open to criticism or legitimate discussion. When they're not, I kindly tell them to "eff off," if you will, and go on with my day. Perhaps that latter part isn't so kind of me, but so be it!
I noticed that craziness this morning and followed some of the threads back to take a look at what happened. That guy (or gal) seems to be putting a significant amount of effort into getting his points across. Given that everything he/she says is continually reverted or deleted, I don't understand what's motivating him/her to continue. I sometimes wonder if trolls think they're actually an inconvenience... - Grant (talk) 15:24, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
I must ask, wouldn't it be "When reason fails," rather than reasonableness? Is reasonableness properly a word?--"Shut up, Brx." 15:37, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
English speakers are in the fortunate position of lacking a national academy to prescribe what is and isn't proper usage. Within reason, understandable words may be coined by following generally recognized forms, even if we don't have the Teutonic flexibility of Wortkettenbildungsfähigkeit. If "craziness" is properly a word, then so is "reasonableness," which, by the way, carries a different set of denotations and connotations than "reason." Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 16:01, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Wow, Wortkettenbildungsfähigkeit actually means something! Cool stuff.--"Shut up, Brx." 16:17, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Indeed. I'm uncertain how I feel about the flexibility inherent in English vocabulary, but given that it has produced most of the words I use on a daily basis, I can't exactly be too picky. - Grant (talk) 16:43, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
I do like the German word mashup algorithm! MarmotHead (talk) 16:48, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Compound nouns are interesting, to say the least, but they make direct translations a significant pain. - Grant (talk) 16:57, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
traduttore, traditore (or omnis traductor traditorWikipedia if you'd rather go with quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur.) Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 18:01, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
To some extent, I think there's something to be said about that. Certainly there are some idioms and sayings I know in French that don't translate at all into English. As for the latter phrase, German is a little too close to English for impressing people, I find. On the other hand, the various Latin declensions and other quirks of vocabulary that make it so difficult to learn do indeed make it sounds entirely incomprehensible to the average English speaker. My grandfather was fluent in Latin, but he passed away well before I could try to learn any of it from him. - Grant (talk) 18:04, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Some time in a previous century, I found a book on language death, specifically the decline of Scots Gaelic in East Sutherland. What had once been a language capable of rendering nicely inflected shades of meaning became a pidgin only used for talking to old folks who hadn't kept up with the times. One source was explaining how to say a teapot fell off the table, saying something like "he fell, or she fell, it doesn't matter" which I interpreted to have the subtext "it doesn't matter any more." The ideal of language as a rich but unambiguous communication tool is doomed to remain a far horizon of shifting sand, growing never nearer. So far I've been able to live with that. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 18:42, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
I find dead languages quite interesting, perhaps more so than extinct languages. Much of a language's syntax and vocabulary can be written down and recorded, but things like idioms, colloquialisms, and inflections are often lost when the last speaker is no more. This kind of language death can be quite insidious, as it can happen slowly. I know that among some of the Germanic languages, dialects rise and fall relatively often. - Grant (talk) 07:24, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Hameroff and Penrose at it again[edit]

So this is a (somewhat) new thing from them. They're hyping a few new studies:

What say you? Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 05:37, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

If anything, I find myself more boggled. Their new formulation seems to (for some reason) rely on general relativity having an effect on quantum mechanics. While I'm sure there does exist some unified theory that manages to bridge both fields, I have no idea why it should be necessary for consciousness. Moreover, the existence of warm quantum vibrations doesn't really mean much. On its own, this means little, since quantum effects don't actually require low temperatures to be seen in macroscopic objects (read: neutron stars). I'm not sure that their assumption that these vibrations can be used to generate qubits actually holds much truth to it. - Grant (talk) 13:42, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
Just as well, the claims about microtubules still don't make sense because neurons are not the only cells with microtubules in them. So consciousness would not have anything to do with the nervous system then. But some of the stuff they cite is interesting, like the claims about the connection of quantum effects to photosynthesis. Are these legit or just inflated claims?
But, on another note, I am loving the zeal: "Orch OR is the most rigorous, comprehensive and successfully-tested theory of consciousness ever put forth. From a practical standpoint, treating brain microtubule vibrations could benefit a host of mental, neurological, and cognitive conditions." I can't even.... Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 19:47, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
I've always found the microtubules connection to be dubious. It's not enough for something to display quantum effects for it to be any kind of quantum computational device. Of course, Orch OR keeps jumping around, unable to decide whether consciousness requires a full-fledged quantum computer in the brain, or just some quantum effects. Some microtubules experiencing resonance effects does not a quantum computer make. I wouldn't be surprised if those claims were legitimate, as quantum mechanics effectively underpins all of reality. If you want to get pedantic, everything other than gravity is directly explained by quantum mechanics and its extension to macroscopic objects. To say more about the photosynthesis case directly, I would have to look at the specific paper in question, but H&P don't cite it directly in their summary (or even mention the authors), and I don't feel like wading through their crap to find it.
Zeal is something these guys seem to have a lot of. Given that only six of their twenty predictions have been proven, and whether the rest have been refuted is certainly a matter of debate, I would be far from considering this rigorous, comprehensive, or successfully-tested. Let's not even think about what "treating" brain microtubule vibrations would entail. We can't even control more than a few qubits under ideal conditions. "I can't even..." indeed. - Grant (talk) 20:24, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
I would like to include some of this on the quantum consciousness page, but I'm afraid my knowledge of the physics is not even rudimentary.
I noticed another thing that is definitely not helping their case: Citations to Deepak Chopra and Dean Radin. Yikes! Granted, the citation to Chopra is just for a description of dualism, but why not cite an actual philosopher or intellectual historian on that? And then Chopra is given space to respond! What were the editors of Physics of Life Views thinking? This really looks like shit-stirring along the lines of what Journal of Personality and Social Psychology pulled a while back with the Darryl Bem parapsychology stuff. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 06:52, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
Also, here is one of the photosynthesis studies if you wanted: [2], [3] Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 06:56, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
Indeed, now that H&P are investing more time in this, it seems that it would be worth putting more of this in our article. I'm just not sure how best to handle the rebuttals at the moment, as most physics journals are stuck behind paywalls and blogs just don't really cut it when it comes to debunking questionable physics. Either way, I would be happy to help with the physics side of things.
I'm not surprised about the cites to Chopra, or that he wrote one of the responses. Elsevier has a dubious reputation, and Physics Life Reviews is hardly a top tier journal. It has an impact factor of 7.2 while Nature has an impact factor of over 50. I don't know enough about it to say that it's a fringe journal, but it certainly seems like it might be.
Thanks for the link to that paper. Later today I'll give it a read over and post my thoughts here. - Grant (talk) 14:24, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
I don't think there is any rule against using gated sources in articles. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 21:19, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
Well no, but it would be preferable to find reviews in open access journals so that those without journal subscriptions can read them. Paywalls are never ideal. - Grant (talk) 23:49, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
Sometimes that's the best you can do though. I try to put a link to a press release along with the article if it's paywalled. Unfortunately, this is not always an option, because we know about the reliability of press releases... :/ Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 01:02, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
Indeed; Even if press releases were reliable, I doubt I would find one for something as inconsequential as a review. I suppose it will have to be paywalls! Oh well; c'est la vie. - Grant (talk) 01:38, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

Debating time[edit]

Right, um, I heard you like debating. I'm pretty bored. Any subjects regarding which your views may differ from mine? DØØM MĖSSIÅH Deserved doom shall be unto youDolan.png 06:39, 19 September 2014 (UTC)

I like discussion, but I don't really see much point in contrived discussion. If such a thing happens naturally, that's fine, but I don't really debate or discuss just for the sake of doing so. - Grant (talk) 22:47, 24 September 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, I was just bored and in need of someone to talk to. MĖSSIÅH ØF DØØM Masquerading solemn beautyDolan.png 07:09, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
I think contrived discussion is great - It's ridiculous not to engage in contrived discussion. I demand you put forward your case against contrived discussion and I will rebut forthwith! Tielec01 (talk) 07:14, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
Oh dear. Is this going to turn into a holistic discussion about contrived discussion? I don't really know what to think about this... - Grant (talk) 15:27, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
Well, Tielec, I believe that contrived discussion is inferior to spontaneous discussion as it is inherently forced, unnatural and, to an extent, dishonest. As such, it is difficult to fully engage in and continue. To use this discussion as an example, I actually really have no idea what the fuck to say next, whereas, if this discussion had arisen spontaneously, I would likely have very many responses and manners in which to continue this exchange. In summary, contrived discussions such as this are pretty shit, and we should stop right now. DØØM MĖSSIÅH Unite with thy oracleDolan.png 03:58, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

You're the alternative[edit]

OK, to avoid participating in further unnecessary unproductive controversy, I'm stopping by here instead, a place of calm discussion. How's it going? Great! OK, thanks, see ya later. MarmotHead (talk) 17:32, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

Heh, another BoN got you down? Perhaps the one on the Race article? I've been on-and-off following that one for a bit now. There's just no convincing some people, it seems! - Grant (talk) 17:40, 3 October 2014 (UTC)
I'm transparent it seems! I should avoid the statistical-topic bait, I guess. MarmotHead (talk) 17:50, 3 October 2014 (UTC)
There are some topics that seem to exclusively attract people who are dead set on their positions and only wish to cause trouble. I imagine topics like race are quite important (for very wrong reasons) to some people. - Grant (talk) 17:56, 3 October 2014 (UTC)


Congratulations on your degree! Now your credentials more closely match your proven ability. What next? More grad school? The real world? MarmotHead (talk) 15:11, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

Why thank you! Technically it was conferred in June, but I entirely forgot to update my user page here. I would do more grad school if an appealing position were shoved in my face, but my experience with my MSc. was unpleasant enough that I certainly don't plan to go seeking out more grad school. It will likely be the real world for me, but now I have to figure out exactly what I want to do... - Grant (talk) 18:17, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
If you ever get truly desperate for a job, remember that right-wing think tanks will throw money at any scientist willing to debunk global warming. Or if you want to remain independent, write a pop-science book explaining how your pet theory explains everything, and get rich off the speaking gigs that follow. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 18:53, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
You make a good point. All I have to do is abandon all pretenses of following any moral or ethical code, and I'll be set for life! Then again, many of the jobs suitable for someone with my degree are in finance, so I guess I might end up selling my soul either way. - Grant (talk) 22:02, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
In finance? Do the sub-atomic probabilities become price-of-next-trade probabilities? Quantum finance? MarmotHead (talk) 15:20, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
Schrodinger's Stock Ticker: all stocks exist in a superposition of both rising and falling value. Upon buying/selling, the stock collapses to a single value and you wonder why you're paying your broker a .5% management fee. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 15:41, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
More like Brownian motion, analyzed with a Wiener model. Pile up enough filthy lucre, and the sting of being called a quant weenie won't smart so much. Alec Sanderson (talk) 15:55, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
Now there's some terminology that brings out my inner giggly adolescent: "Brownian ... Wiener ... hehehe". Unlike physicists/quants, I never get enough data to legitimately use those terms ... sigh. MarmotHead (talk) 16:05, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
Sorry, but those words are reserved for the cool physicists in the room ;). Heh, but no, I wouldn't be doing anything related to quantum mechanics in finance. Banks just like people who think like scientists and have spent time modelling things using computers. - Grant (talk) 18:33, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
...which is where they get their quantitative analysts (quants) which has nothing to do with quantum anything. Alec Sanderson (talk) 22:26, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I know. I probably should have specified that I was responding to MarmotHead and Stabby above. I've spent enough time in research to know that nobody refers to quantum anything as "quants." I'm just usually very late in responding to jokes... :( - Grant (talk) 22:30, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
As for the "selling my soul" part, quantum mechanics is my passion. Moving into a job where I would be doing anything else definitely seems like a betrayal of everything I've worked towards over the last seven years. Such is life, I suppose. - Grant (talk) 22:32, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
Living in hope, I held onto the belief that you, Grant, did know. I didn't know if others in the room were as astute as your esteemed self. If I'm not prying, what possible paths forward would let you pursue your passion without betrayal? Alec Sanderson (talk) 22:42, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
Well I'm fairly bad at communicating in this kind of format, and usually say things that don't make sense. They do in my head, but it never works out that way when I press the "Save page" button...
The issue is that I always wanted to continue on to my Ph.D. and continue to do research. Unfortunately, a falling-out with my MSc. supervisor barely allowed me to scrape by with any degree, and effectively scuttled my chances of moving forward at all in research. In that sense, when I refer to doing financial work as a "betrayal," I more or less mean that any job I can get with my degree will necessitate doing something that runs contrary to my actual goals and dreams, which are now firmly shot. - Grant (talk) 22:47, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
OUch. Sorry to see that. The weather in Palo Alto is nice, but I don't know about the academic climate... Is the community so close-knit that the supervisor's attitude will follow you around? Feel free to not answer if it would be TMI. Alec Sanderson (talk) 23:03, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
It's more that the way things spooled out doesn't really give any other potential supervisor a reason to take me on as a student. I jumped from project to project so rapidly that I have very little solid research to show for it, and I certainly haven't published any papers. While my grades are good, they certainly aren't "holy shit, find this man a supervisor" good, and frankly most institutions care little about grades anyways. Finally, I'm doubtful I could find the number of reference letters required to be accepted to any decent institutions, given that my MSc. supervisor will almost certainly not provide one for me. Mostly it comes down to a perfect storm of issues that make it unlikely I could find a position. - Grant (talk) 23:07, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
Sorry to hear that. I assume you cannot or will not do a second MSc under a hopefully more agreeable supervisor for various reasons? Anyways, I hope you find something good. Nullahnung (talk) 00:42, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
Unfortunately that's not really possible. I have my MSc. already, and there are no "redos," so to speak. - Grant (talk) 05:06, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

This sounds juicy, what happened with your supervisor? During my masters, a while back now, I published a paper that pissed off a large commercial sector that was, in part, funding my research. It kind of exposed a common belief in the industry as a myth. Consequently my supervisor doubled down and backed me to the hilt - to this day we are close friends and on occasion we do research in my organisation together. Needless to say I had sabotaged any chance of working in the field where I conducted my research - but it all worked out fine in retrospect (although at the time I was nervous). Tielec01 (talk) 00:12, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

More or less, it was a combination of assigning me research projects that couldn't possibly be solved, even with help from other knowledgeable post-docs and graduate students in the group, and an expectation on his part that I should have known far more than I did for my level of education. I guess the previous institution he worked at had a much more specific program than my alma mater did, as he expected me to know details about processes that I had never heard of before. I learned a lot in an attempt to "catch up," but it was too little, too late. - Grant (talk) 05:06, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
The classic supervisor that expects everyone to be as knowledgeable as them, regardless of whether they are a newly graduated student or not. I had friends who had poor relationships with their supervisors and it destroyed their whole masters experience. On the other hand most of those friends are now in the commercial sphere earning ridiculous coin; as opposed to eating baked beans while earning a doctorate so, you know, swings and roundabouts. There is always the option to return for a doctorate after a few years, obviously I'm not sure how this works where you are from (or in physics) but I'm yet to meet the supervisor that would turn down a self-funded student who is keen to act as an unpaid research assistant. Tielec01 (talk) 07:10, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
That more or less sums it up. My experience was ruined as a result, and I feel as though my progression into a Ph.D. is hampered enough to make going back now a significant problem. While it is also true in physics that my current degree is worth far more in the commercial sphere than further research would be (I made more as a MSc. student than I would make as a Ph.D. student because my former supervisor had very significant funding), it's also not something I've ever wanted to do. As you point out, however, going back effectively requires me to be self-funded, which means I need at least a few years of income before I can justify that. Ah well, I have little choice at this point. - Grant (talk) 07:23, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
To be optimistic (not my usual mode), the opportunity to pursue a PhD won't get worse, so, if at any time you change your mind, it'll be there. It does suck that your student experience was so scarring. I've seen that happen from the supervisor side, too, and it just seems like such a waste of an opportunity. One of my students bounced from project to project because the projects just weren't well structured. The same thing can and often does happen after getting the PhD, but with much less consequence (I'm looking in the mirror now).MarmotHead (talk) 16:48, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
Indeed; I feel worse about the fact that I now need to work in the private sector instead of pursuing the research I initially wanted to (and still want to) pursue. From a student's perspective, it's certainly scarring. Jumping from project to project left me feeling like I didn't really accomplish anything, and the acrimonious break with my supervisor added an air to finality with that. I know quite a few post-docs and professors who had similar things happen, but they just moved to new supervisors trivially (in the case of the post-docs, since post-docs are actually valuable), or secured funding for new projects (in the case of the professors). It certainly does seem a bit easier to deal with once one has secured a Ph.D. - Grant (talk) 17:18, 29 October 2014 (UTC)


You have been nominated for that thing. DØØM MĖSSIÅH Solemn strikes the funeral chimeDolan.png 07:08, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for the nomination, but I'm afraid I have too much on my plate right now. Even though it's not a massive commitment, it's still more than I feel I can take on right now. - Grant (talk) 08:09, 25 January 2015 (UTC)