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The elusive world of molecules |  papilla

The elusive world of molecules | papilla

The rationalist fallacy is to reduce understanding to reason. We can understand our own contradictions, the contradictions of the beings we love, the contradictions of our times. We can appreciate the colors of the autumn forest, the bankruptcy of symphonies, and the words of a poem. All these activities belong to understanding and are not rational. Simply because it is not subject to the formalism of syllogism or to symbolic or mathematical logic.

Rationalism is a basic but limited faculty of understanding. It is for this reason that rationality as a vision…

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The rationalist fallacy is to reduce understanding to reason. We can understand our own contradictions, the contradictions of the beings we love, the contradictions of our times. We can appreciate the colors of the autumn forest, the bankruptcy of symphonies, and the words of a poem. All these activities belong to understanding and are not rational. Simply because it is not subject to the formalism of syllogism or to symbolic or mathematical logic.

Rationalism is a basic but limited faculty of understanding. This is why rationalism as a worldview is false (or rather, limiting). But surprisingly, our civilization assumed it to be the way reality is expressed. Nature speaks the language of mathematics, as Galileo said. Descartes made a radical proposal with this idea, to account for science: Science is one and mathematical. Newton delved deeper into this effort and, with the successes of physics, began to confuse this science with reality. But this simplification, while useful, is not acceptable. Time passed, and at the beginning of the twentieth century, an island of darkness emerged within the science of physics itself, a science that had become deterministic. She appeared uninvited when the Prussian was investigating black body radiation. Planck’s constant will change the world forever.

Quantum mechanics is the most accurate, universal and advanced scientific theory of all the theories conceived throughout the history of science. He answers many questions, and in turn asks some questions that he could not solve. Every good theory, like every good novel, leaves an open thread so that the conversation never stops. Three recent books bring us closer. Firstly, God’s equation He repeats, in a certain messianic tone, an ancient promise of physics, the theory of everything. The theory that will be our “only salvation” and that will allow us to read “the mind of God.” As if an equation would bring out the chestnuts from the fire. An entire celebration of the “wonders of modern technology”, which have discovered the fundamental forces of the universe (four, in particular) and which are “coming closer and closer to solving fundamental mysteries”: what happened before the Big Bang, what’s behind black holes or if there are parallel universes.

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Michio Kaku considers the universe to be a beautiful, orderly, and simple place. And the laws that govern it fit on a single page, though the Standard Model complicates it with somewhat cumbersome sampling of particles. I have always been fascinated by the optimism of physics. On the one hand, it is claimed that more than 90% of the universe is dark matter and energy (we don’t know what it is). On the other hand, four fundamental forces have been hypothesized to govern the entire universe.

We live in a small suburb of a smaller galaxy, we are fundamentally territorial, but that does not prevent us (as Kant did with morality) from postulating universal laws that materialize in remote places we cannot even imagine. Pictured delirium has many variants. Added to this, Kaku resorts to the rhetoric of the cumulative progress of scientific knowledge, which gradually “discovers” all these mysteries, which would make even the Popperian historians of science smile.

The other two books are quantum books. One is Orthodox, the other is heretical. The classical quantum, nicely compiled and explained by Alberto Casas, makes the (forgivable) gaffe of reducing reality to physics. When language has great power, it tends to impose its meanings beyond its reasonable limits. In Heresy, Wolfgang Smith argues that physics is only one aspect of reality. The Orthodox believe that mathematics is the language of nature. The innovator has only one way, among many others, to question her. and that no mathematics can explain sensitivity, any more than no rules can explain literature. Puritans believe we are one step closer to unraveling the mystery of reality (when general relativity is unified with quantum mechanics). Innovators, that this mystery will always be with us, that it is the salt of life, and that it is good that it be so. Borges warned that the solution to a riddle is always inferior to the riddle.

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The uncertainty principle has emerged as a small, incomprehensible and mysterious patch within the mathematical domain, a deterministic realm. New mode does not mean damage to physics. On the contrary, it makes it nobler. Determination and non-determination are not actually contradictory, nor do they exclude each other, but complement each other. The idea of ​​a completely deterministic universe is fanciful, and so is the idea of ​​a completely unpredictable and chaotic universe.

Both represent the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the cosmic game, which is unpleasant for the Cartesian rationalists. From the Enlightenment to Max Planck cosmic theory Mechanism, the idea of ​​the universe as a clock, was dominant. But the startling fact that freedom and necessity can coexist, and the fact that one does not exclude the other, as in artistic practice, makes the universe a much more interesting place.

Material things are not things in themselves (and this applies to stars and galaxies as well), but things related to certain types of empirical research. Physics does not speak of nature, but of our relations with it. The universe is not a collection of things, but a network of perceptions. Everything is connected to everything else, as Bell’s theory of connectivity tells us. The idea of ​​separation must be reconsidered. They do not know that particles cannot live an independent existence. And if they ever got in touch, the memory of that encounter will be preserved. Phenomena, like gods, are local, but their totality is not.

Smith writes a bold and philosophically rigorous book. His reading of reality is that of Aristotle, and he intends to recover the helomorphic model, which he boldly connects with the Taoist idea of ​​yin and yang. There is a sequential horizontal causation occurring in time; and vertical causality, the here and now, and the eternity of the moment (as the poets say), which has one of its manifestations in the so-called “measurement problem” in quantum theory. The very fact of making a measurement leads to a breakdown of the “state vector”. The wave function (an abstract function of superposed probabilities) takes on physical meaning when it collapses. And this collapse resulting from the realization of a living body is the manifestation of the principle that perpetuates and creates the world at every moment: the pure action of Aristotle. It may sound crazy, but it has overwhelming logic. This is how Smith solves the “measurement problem”, uniting in the same choir the voices of Aristotle, Prabhakara and Berkeley. Perception is the light of the world. She has her own light. The rest, objects and subjects, reflect light.

Quantum puzzle

Wolfgang Smith
Translated by Jose Antonio Estareles
Lunch, 2023
192 pages, 17.95 euros

God’s equation

Michio Kaku
Translated by Francisco Pedrosa Martin
Discussion, 2023
208 pages, 20.90 euros

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