Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 7th, 2014

Something Rather Than Nothing? Is Change always one generation away?

My opinion is that:

1. There are changes in every generation. Not necessarily significant in most issues.

2. The preponderant World Views could change in a couple generations, but these views are cyclical in nature and many older world views will resurface after 3 generations in different forms and contexts

My opinion is that:

1. The term Nothingness is an abstract notion.

2. Even when taken statistically, nothingness cannot be demonstrated or proven. Any substantial issue will not generate enough enthusiasm for the world community to invest in the latest precise measuring tools and observation of the entire earth or colony.

Physicist Lawrence M. Krauss said in a video:

Change is always one generation away…

If we can plant the seeds of doubt in our children, religion will go away in a generation, or at least largely go away. And that’s what I think we have an obligation to do.”

Krauss was addressing whether religion should be taught to children in school.

Though, as an atheist, he opposes religious education, he said he does support teaching comparative religion classes instead of completely “shying away” from the topic. (There are no differences among religions or sects: Simply a different political context in  historical and society conditions for power grabbing)

“What we need to do is present comparative religion as a bunch of interesting historical anecdotes, and show the silly reasons why they did what they did,” he remarked.

He said educators should force children to confront their own misconceptions.

“But you don’t shy away from religion any more than you shy away from the claim that Earth is the center of the universe. We laugh at that now, and we get kids to realize why that might be wrong… and so we should take other falsifiable facts, which are at the center of our society, which is religious doctrine, and make just as much fun of that.”

Watch video below.

  • A UNIVERSE FROM NOTHING

    Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing

    By Lawrence M. Krauss

    Illustrated. 202 pp. Free Press. $24.99.

Lawrence M. Krauss, a well-known cosmologist and prolific popular-science writer, apparently means to announce to the world, in this new book, that the laws of quantum mechanics have in them the makings of a thoroughly scientific and adamantly secular explanation of why there is something rather than nothing. Period. Case closed. End of story. I kid you not.

Look at the subtitle. Look at how Richard Dawkins sums it up in his afterword: “Even the last remaining trump card of the theologian, ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?,’ shrivels up before your eyes as you read these pages. If ‘On the Origin of Species’ was biology’s deadliest blow to super­naturalism, we may come to see ‘A Universe From Nothing’ as the equivalent from cosmology. The title means exactly what it says. And what it says is ­devastating.”

There are lots of different sorts of conversations one might want to have about a claim like that: conversations about what it is to explain something, and about what it is to be a law of nature, and about what it is to be a physical thing. But since the space I have is limited, let me put those niceties aside and try to be quick, and crude, and concrete.

Where, for starters, are the laws of quantum mechanics themselves supposed to have come from? Krauss is more or less upfront, as it turns out, about not having a clue about that. He acknowledges (albeit in a parenthesis, and just a few pages before the end of the book) that every­thing he has been talking about simply takes the basic principles of quantum mechanics for granted. “I have no idea if this notion can be usefully dispensed with,” he writes, “or at least I don’t know of any productive work in this regard.”

And what if he did know of some productive work in that regard? What if he were in a position to announce, for instance, that the truth of the quantum-mechanical laws can be traced back to the fact that the world has some other, deeper property X?

Wouldn’t we still be in a position to ask why X rather than Y? And is there a last such question? Is there some point at which the possibility of asking any further such questions somehow definitively comes to an end? How would that work? What would that be like?

Forget where the laws came from. Have a look instead at what they say. It happens that ever since the scientific revolution of the 17th century, what physics has given us in the way of candidates for the fundamental laws of nature have as a general rule simply taken it for granted that there is, at the bottom of everything, some basic, elementary, eternally persisting, concrete, physical stuff.

Newton, for example, took that elementary stuff to consist of material particles. And physicists at the end of the 19th century took that elementary stuff to consist of both material particles and electro­magnetic fields. And so on. And what the fundamental laws of nature are about, and all the fundamental laws of nature are about, and all there is for the fundamental laws of nature to be about, insofar as physics has ever been able to imagine, is how that elementary stuff is arranged.

The fundamental laws of nature generally take the form of rules concerning which arrangements of that stuff are physically possible and which aren’t, or rules connecting the arrangements of that elementary stuff at later times to its arrangement at earlier times, or something like that.

But the laws have no bearing whatsoever on questions of where the elementary stuff came from, or of why the world should have consisted of the particular elementary stuff it does, as opposed to something else, or to nothing at all.

The fundamental physical laws that Krauss is talking about in “A Universe From Nothing” — the laws of relativistic quantum field theories — are no exception to this. The particular, eternally persisting, elementary physical stuff of the world, according to the standard presentations of relativistic quantum field theories, consists (unsurprisingly) of relativistic quantum fields.

And the fundamental laws of this theory take the form of rules concerning which arrangements of those fields are physically possible and which aren’t, and rules connecting the arrangements of those fields at later times to their arrangements at earlier times, and so on — and they have nothing whatsoever to say on the subject of where those fields came from, or of why the world should have consisted of the particular kinds of fields it does, or of why it should have consisted of fields at all, or of why there should have been a world in the first place. Period. Case closed. End of story.

What on earth, then, can Krauss have been thinking? Well, there is, as it happens, an interesting difference between relativistic quantum field theories and every previous serious candidate for a fundamental physical theory of the world.

Every previous such theory counted material particles among the concrete, fundamental, eternally persisting elementary physical stuff of the world — and relativistic quantum field theories, interestingly and emphatically and unprecedentedly, do not.

According to relativistic quantum field theories, particles are to be understood, rather, as specific arrangements of the fields. Certain ­arrangements of the fields, for instance, correspond to there being 14 particles in the universe, and certain other arrangements correspond to there being 276 particles, and certain other arrangements correspond to there being an infinite number of particles, and certain other arrangements correspond to there being no particles at all.

And those last arrangements are referred to, in the jargon of quantum field theories, for obvious reasons, as “vacuum” states. Krauss seems to be thinking that these vacuum states amount to the relativistic-­quantum-field-theoretical version of there not being any physical stuff at all. And he has an argument that the laws of relativistic quantum field theories entail that vacuum states are unstable. And that, in a nutshell, is the account he proposes of why there should be something rather than nothing.

But that’s just not right. Relativistic-quantum-field-theoretical vacuum states — no less than giraffes or refrigerators or solar systems — are particular arrangements of elementary physical stuff.

The true relativistic-quantum-field-­theoretical equivalent to there not being any physical stuff at all isn’t this or that particular arrangement of the fields — what it is (obviously, and ineluctably, and on the contrary) is the simple absence of the fields!

The fact that some arrangements of fields happen to correspond to the existence of particles and some don’t is not a whit more mysterious than the fact that some of the possible arrangements of my fingers happen to correspond to the existence of a fist and some don’t.

And the fact that particles can pop in and out of existence, over time, as those fields rearrange themselves, is not a whit more mysterious than the fact that fists can pop in and out of existence, over time, as my fingers rearrange themselves. And none of these poppings — if you look at them aright — amount to anything even remotely in the neighborhood of a creation from nothing.

Krauss has heard this kind of talk before, and it makes him crazy.

A century ago, it seems to him, nobody would have made so much as a peep about referring to a stretch of space without any material particles in it as “nothing.” And now that he and his colleagues think they have a way of showing how everything there is could imaginably have emerged from a stretch of space like that, the nut cases are moving the goal posts.

He complains that “some philosophers and many theologians define and redefine ‘nothing’ as not being any of the versions of nothing that scientists currently describe,” and that “now, I am told by religious critics that I cannot refer to empty space as ‘nothing,’ but rather as a ‘quantum vacuum,’ to distinguish it from the philosopher’s or theologian’s idealized ‘nothing,’ ” and he does a good deal of railing about “the intellectual bankruptcy of much of theology and some of modern philosophy.”

But all there is to say about this, as far as I can see, is that Krauss is dead wrong and his religious and philosophical critics are absolutely right. Who cares what we would or would not have made a peep about a hundred years ago? We were wrong a hundred years ago. We know more now.

And if what we formerly took for nothing turns out, on closer examination, to have the makings of protons and neutrons and tables and chairs and planets and solar systems and galaxies and universes in it, then it wasn’t nothing, and it couldn’t have been nothing, in the first place.

And the history of science — if we understand it correctly — gives us no hint of how it might be possible to imagine otherwise.

And I guess it ought to be mentioned, quite apart from the question of whether anything Krauss says turns out to be true or false, that the whole business of approaching the struggle with religion as if it were a card game, or a horse race, or some kind of battle of wits, just feels all wrong — or it does, at any rate, to me.

When I was growing up, where I was growing up, there was a critique of religion according to which religion was cruel, and a lie, and a mechanism of enslavement, and something full of loathing and contempt for every­thing essentially human.

Maybe that was true and maybe it wasn’t, but it had to do with important things — it had to do, that is, with history, and with suffering, and with the hope of a better world — and it seems like a pity, and more than a pity, and worse than a pity, with all that in the back of one’s head, to think that all that gets offered to us now, by guys like these, in books like this, is the pale, small, silly, nerdy accusation that religion is, I don’t know, dumb.

David Albert is a professor of philosophy at Columbia and the author of “Quantum Mechanics and Experience.”

Note: All Religions are mental constructs to enslave the common people to the elite class and ruling classes that possess power. And the philosopher happily delved in those trove of constructs because they interested the intellectual people and the ruling classes in disseminating the necessary existence of religious beliefs.

 

Can you beat Homemade cooking? Not-Invented-Here syndrome

You have ingredients that you love to eat separately. Mix these ingredients and the result is not that tasty. I learned never to mix ingredients

You created a new cooking recipe. Never tell your guests that it is of your invention: They’ll make sure not to like your cooking. Lie through your teeth and say: “This a secret recipe, a tried-and true concoction that I learned from my grand mother.

You may try to invent a new sauce: Somehow, all sauces have been tried out without your knowledge. The kinds of sauce used are of the category “tried-and-true recipe.

You fall in love with your own ideas, for all kinds of solutions and designs that you put forth.

In-house designs and products are considered the best for clients in almost all companies. Even proposals by subsidiary companies are not good enough, compared to your tried-an -tested designs.

If you need to properly evaluate your ideas and designs, split your team in two: One team for generating the ideas and designs and the other for testing, assessing, evaluating and rating them compared to competitors products (a blind testing is necessary)

For example, shrewd ideas are overlooked when the source is from a foreign culture.

One of the major factors in start-ups frequent miserable returns is their self-confidence in what they newly designed.

Question: What could be your solution for reducing water consumption in your city without limiting it by law?

Read: The Art of Thinking Clear

 

 

As Qaeda-Backed Group Makes Gains, Rift Grows Among Rebels in Syria

And the US airstrikes are targeting most of the rebel factions” in Syria.” Even France has changed policy and doesn’t believe anymore in moderate factions could make any difference and resume the fight.

Photo

Fighters with the Qaeda-backed Syrian rebel group Al Nusra Front stood among destroyed buildings south of Damascus in September. The group has been making inroads in Idlib Province. Credit Rami Al-Sayed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

BAGHDAD — The Nusra Front, a Syrian rebel group affiliated with Al Qaeda, has been expanding its control in the northern province of Idlib, seizing territory from two Western-supported rebel organizations and potentially threatening a critical border crossing with Turkey, according to rebels and monitoring groups.

Groups in Idlib have been a focus of the Obama administration’s plan to train and equip some Syrian rebels to fight Islamic State, the jihadist group that has occupied territory further east in Syria and Iraq.

And though the province represents just a small part of the sprawling conflict in Syria, it has been an important center of international attempts to organize and supply the resistance to President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Two groups that the Nusra Front has seized bases from in recent days, the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and the Hazm Movement, are considered moderates and have received limited arms support from the West.

Despite that, they have been unable to hold their ground against the extremists in this latest outbreak of rebel infighting, commanders say.

The trouble began last week when the Nusra Front began moving against the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, headed by Jamal Maarouf, a former construction worker-turned rebel leader who has been widely accused by other rebels of war profiteering. (As if no leaders ever profited from war)

As the Nusra Front pushed him and his fighters from the area, Maarouf spoke out in videos posted online. In one, he walked over rocky ground, saying his men were defending Syria.

After the Nusra Front took over  last week his home village, Deir Sunbul, he acknowledged in another video that he had fled and vowed to come back and liberate the area, “village by village.” (Street by street as Gadhafi vowed to recapture Benghazi)

Activists linked to the Nusra Front struck back, posting videos of their fighters gathering weapons from Maarouf’s storehouses and of more than a dozen decomposed bodies of people they accused Mr. Maarouf’s men of killing and dumping in a well.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said he considered the videos genuine. His group, which tracks the conflict from Britain through contacts on the ground, reported earlier this year that Mr. Maarouf’s fighters had executed more than 90 Islamist rivals and dumped them in wells.

“These are some of those bodies,”  Abdul Rahman said.

Mr. Maarouf could not be reached for comment on the bodies.

It remains unclear how much support Mr. Maarouf’s group had received from the West, and some say the West does not give him aid.

But the other affected group, the Hazm Movement, has been a key recipient of military aid from a covert program run by the United States and other countries from across the border in Turkey. According to members of the group, this aid has included salaries, light ammunition and a limited number of anti-tank missiles.

Activists in Idlib Province said that tensions there had intensified when the Nusra Front chased off Mr. Maarouf. Both groups have fighters from the village of Khan al-Subul, where the Hazm base is, so they sought a deal to avoid bloodshed, with the Hazm fighters withdrawing over the weekend.

Activist reports conflicted on what arms the Nusra Front had seized from the base, with some saying they included anti-tank missiles sent by the West and others denying it. Other activists said that dozens of fighters had switched sides, joining the Nusra Front.

In an audio interview released online on Tuesday, the head of the Nusra Front, Abu Mohammed al-Jolani, attacked Mr. Maarouf, saying his group contained “thieves and bandits” and that other rebel groups had urged the Nusra Front to oust him.

While Mr. Jolani did not mention the Hazm Movement, he criticized Western aid for the rebels, saying it represented an effort to kill the “mujahedeen” and impose Western policy.

After years of refraining from intervening in Syria’s civil war, the Obama administration recently announced plans to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State. But that program, meant to train 5,000 fighters a year at a base in Saudi Arabia, has yet to begin, and many in Syria’s opposition have criticized the plan, saying their priority is to fight Mr. Assad.

Emile Hokayyem, a Middle East analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said that American policy toward the so-called moderate rebels had put them in a hard position. Some had aligned with the West in hopes that it would give them arms to fight Mr. Assad, he said. But now the United States wants to use them only to fight the Islamic State, damaging their credibility among Syrians who see Mr. Assad as the greater enemy.

“This is the worst of all worlds,” Mr. Hokayem said. “These guys get blamed for being American lackeys even when they get nothing.”

The infighting has angered residents of rebel-held areas, many of whom accuse rebel leaders of looking out only for themselves.

In a video posted this weekend, an unnamed man held up pieces of munitions dropped by Mr. Assad’s army and accused Mr. Maarouf, the Nusra Front and other rebel factions of doing little to protect civilians.

“We Sunni Muslims, why can’t we unify?” the man said. “Because we have people with big heads: Me! I want the chair!”

Correction: November 4, 2014
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article referred incorrectly, in one instance, to the rebel group that Jamal Maarouf leads. It is the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, not the Hazm Movement.

adonis49

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