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Comment Then and now (Score 1) 620

In the days of yore: Burroughs B6900, line printers, Apple ][, PC XT, 5 1/4' floppy disks. The fondest memory of all: the text for my MA qualification carefully typed on an Olivetti typewriter, with the master bibliography organized with 3'x5' cards filling dozens of wooden drawers. Currently: Moleskine / Canson sketchbooks for taking notes (loads of them), and my inkjet printer bought in 1996, still in perfect working order.

Comment Re:Numbers (Score 1) 157

Right. All our observational access to reality, with our finite perceptual capabilities, finite memory, finite precision of measuring instruments (however large they might be), etc, is not in terms of reals, but in terms of RATIONALS. Any experimental value *ever* measured can be written as a rational number. Reals are a HUGE conceptual idealization, with some quite wild topolgical properties -- that, incidentally, demonstrate the power of abstract reason.

Comment Re:YouTube? Srsly? (Score 4, Interesting) 157

In the 60s we didn't need no blinkin computer

Indeed. Ed Lorenz was able in 1963 to visualize the attractor behind deterministic nonperiodic flow with only rudimentary manual graph plotting done on basis of numeric printouts. And Mandelbrot wrote his pioneering papers on fractals (such as 'How long is the coast of Britain') in the middle Sixties, and although he was at IBM's Thomas J. Watson, the computing resources were those available at that time.

Comment Re: Numerology (Score 1) 183

Nope. It an experimental measurement that DOES depend on the interpretation chosen. If (otherwise QM-compatible) local realistic theories (a.k.a. local hidden-variables) are true, abs(delta)=2. If standard QM (without hidden variables) is true, delta=2*sqr(2), and the Bell inequality is violated (as was shown to be the case). What differs, in a nutshell, is the ontology pressuposed by the theory in each interpretation -- once a component associated with "strictly philosophical" discussions, nowadays proved to have measurable experimental consequences. Thus the term "experimental metaphysics" coined by philosophers of physics Abner Shimony and Michael Redhead. The outermost formalism is in both cases the same, but it is a narrow view to think that formalism is all there is to theory. It is but an element of it. Theories include, in a substantive way, e.g. ontological commitments and methodological assumptions as well (to speak nothing of values, etc).

Comment Re: Numerology (Score 1) 183

"All arguments about interpretations of quantum mechanics are philosophical in nature. None of them change the actual calculations done to make quantitative predictions. They can help give you ideas for what to try next..." Well, (1) What about the Bell inequality? That's an old-school quantitative prediction, as far as I know. (2) Philosophical / interpretive arguments don't just "give ideas for what to try next". They can foster rational intelligibility of Nature, which does not seem like a minor bonus to me.

Comment Re:Computable? Simulatable? (Score 1) 199

Well, Bolotin's reasoning seems fascinating at first sight, but it's worth recalling that there is a VERY strong realist assumption hidden there, namely, that the universe constantly "solves" Schrödinger's equation in order to work. Now that's two subtly (but crucially) different things to say that that: (1) certain properties of our world are well *described* by Schr's Eqn., and that: (2) certain features of the world *depend* on computational properties of Schr's Eqn. What one can say for sure is that Schr's Eqn. is our representation. To say anything stronger than this would require an independent defense of scientific realism (certainly not a trivial task).