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Comment Re:What is the appeal of these things? (Score 1) 128

I seem to recall one Douglas Adams mocking digital watches in 1980, it seems that the improvements in functionality have not really changed their appeal.

Unlimited battery life and a full medical diagnostic suite are the only things that might make them worth wearing.

Comment Re:Discredited? Really? (Score 2) 236

Agreed robotic space probes ARE adequate for exploring the universe. The only reason anyone sends meat sacks into space these days is to do experiments on low orbit space stations. Going anywhere further requires wasting money at a rate that only politicians flattering their own vanity can afford. The last time humans were part of the space race was in the 1970's.

Comment Re:Trouble with physics (Score 1) 387

I think we need popular science even if it is mostly hype and bullshit. At the end of the day popular science should be regarded as an art form. It purports to tell us something about the world and ourselves just like the other arts. The fact that it is based in hard science does not alter the fact that it is interpretive, 99.9% of the population do not have the tools to understand the actual science so we feed them metaphors and interpretations. Culture evolves as science evolves, for example mans place in the universe has steadily moved from the center under god in the last few centuries because of science. If there was no popular science then culture would be cut off from our understanding of the world.

Comment Re:Parallel dimensions just an idea (Score 1) 387

Parallel universes does not mean that we can ever interact with them. I am completely happy with the idea that eternal inflation creates bubble universes, each one as valid and real as ours. As a solution to the question of what came before the beginning of time it gets rid of the need for ever having a beginning which is nice. As to whether you need to believe in them, well it is just like any belief, unless something comes along to disprove or argue with the belief then it becomes the working belief and it is not terribly important how much you believe in it. I have a working belief that the sun will come up again tomorrow and it makes no difference whether I strongly believe in it or not, the sun will come up or not. Belief is overrated.

Comment Re:In older days (Score 1) 387

Yes and it is a great improvement as the ghosts and spirits were invented to back up another set of made up explanations of why shit happens - Religion. At least our stringy friends are basing their imaginary descriptions of the world on things they have actually found in the world and have no agenda other than dreaming up the prettiest solution.

Comment Re:Just a few steps needed ... (Score 1) 387

Fair comment,

Let go of any genesis theories - Effectively this has already been done in the thought experiment that postulates eternal inflation and the bubble universe multiverse that comes with it.

Just not measurable by human standards - agreed to even by eternal inflation speculators, they see few if any chances of measuring the existence of other universes outside ours as they lie beyond the observable horizon.

Forget the furthest objects. I have to agree, humanity will never reach the nearest star outside the solar system, the distance and the cost are beyond us. Warp drive is and will always be science fiction in our lifetimes.

Comment Re:fubding (Score 1) 387

Unfortunately our culture is more and more about money for the rich and a populist circus for the worker drones. There is little space left for academic study for it's own sake. It is a huge surprise that so much good science still gets done under this farcical primitive culture. I suspect that it has contributed to the string bandwagon rather more than it should have done and in this respect Smolin probably has a point. And before people start yelling at me that communism is a failure and dog eat dog capitalism is the only model that "works" I should remind you that there are a range of societies across the world that work quite well and are not describable as strictly capitalist or communist. If you are unable to comprehend this, then it indicates that your own society is probably some kind of dogma that does not allow free thought.

Comment Re:My thoughts... (Score 1) 387

A lot of cosmology is actually on pretty solid ground these days. For example, the Planck satellite measured the cosmic microwave background (CMB) to one part in ten to the five. The logarithmic pattern it shows fits very well (12 sigma) with the physics invented by Viatcheslav Mukhanov which says that they are quantum fluctuations blown up onto the sky by the big bang. The lambda Cold Dark Matter (CDM) model also fits all of the observable data and the existence of Dark Matter and Dark Energy. I do not believe that you have studied cosmology in any depth to make the assertions that you do, a twelve sigma fit is pretty convincing.

The predictions of Solar Terrestrial physics is better thought of as Space Weather and is a hard physics problem to solve just like terrestrial weather. The problem is more to do with measuring the variables involved not the fundamental physics.

Comment Re:My thoughts... (Score 1) 387

You make the only reasonable point that I have seen against AC posting - that it is being done in order to both moderate and to post. I have points at the moment but choose to join in the conversation rather than moderate. I am probably naive but I do not think many people would bother to both moderate and to comment. I agree that it might happen on a contentious political topic, so the validity of AC posting depends on the topic and the flammability of the content. As for your metaphysical point, we could all indeed be figments of your imagination :-)

Comment Re:old wisdom (Score 1) 387

I agree this hologram business is widely misunderstood. The media paint it as showing that our lives are not real but are just a hologram projected somewhere unspecified. The Holographic principle is a much more general idea than that. It is actually about being able to use mathematics on a surface to say something about what is going on inside the three dimensional volume it contains, and vice versa. For example you can pack the surface of a black hole with enough information to define everything within it. However it is still mathematics, we have no evidence one way or another that a black hole is empty and is just the information on its surface, or that we are holograms. It is a curious and unexpected fact that a three dimensional volume can be explicitly defined merely by the information on a two dimensional surface enclosing it. This is a piece of information that does not seem to have much practical use now, but it does not seem very different from the idea that Pi is a constant applicable to all circles in flat geometry and we certainly find Pi useful.

Comment Re:old wisdom (Score 1) 387

The Dirac formulation of Maxwell's equation also predicted the existence of anti-matter which was duly manufactured as the anti particle of the electron - the positron. So we have firm evidence that a successful model of reality which has extra terms that we do not understand may well be predicting something about reality that is not yet understood. There is no way of knowing whether a mathematical solution is physical from the solution itself. Just because the number is negative and appears to make no sense does not mean that it is not a model of something real. Of course the converse can also be true.

Comment Re:old wisdom (Score 1) 387

I think you misunderstand what string theory is and where it came from. Essentially it came out of viewing particles as having more properties of world sheetyness than point lines, a way of thinking that does allow much more successful calculation of predictions. What you are decrying was the effort to take this idea and develop it to its full implications. An effort that currently only has our universe as a unique solution if you acknowledge the existence of ten to the five hundred other solutions - the multiverse. So string theory has some bits that are practical but other bits that just raise more questions than answers. In that respect it is no more wrong than the Bohr atom.

Comment Re: old wisdom (Score 1) 387

Oh I am totally with you on this interpretation of what Smolin and Co would like to do. The problem is that no one is going to make a living out of writing papers about speculative interpretations of reality, they just would not get funded. The alternative is what we have now, plenty of me too papers on obscure ramifications of existing ideas with the hope that these people can leap on the next big idea and process it when it comes. There is plenty of synthesis going on, information science is currently being collided with the theoretical physics of Black Holes as we speak. Whether anything insightful will come of it is not known.

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