Monday, October 19, 2009

This thread has asploded ...

Please continue any and all arguments about the scientific method, the existence and nature of God, the limits of technology, and attestations to alien abduction, ghost stories, and near-death experiences here. Thank you. Have at.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

The scientific method is flawed if only because we are trying to figure out something that we don't understand so we have to formulate a theory based on observable data but our theories are only as good as our ability to create the theories which for 99% of humanity is terrible. The scientific method is fundamentally flawed in the most basic sense, and anyone involved will tell you it may be the most efficient way of figuring things out these days but it has it's flaws. -Anthony

bleh said...

I was asked to repost my comments here. Like a good sheep, I'm doing it. =)

And for the record, I'm a grad student in particle phenomenology at Johns Hopkins now with an additional extensive background in relativity. I feel it's good to get that out there in case anyone wants to question my authority on these points.

----------------
Alright, I've been deleting 99% of the 193481293489283492834 ridiculous
messages that have been going back and forth across the mailing list, but
I just happened to read the last sentence of this email and felt the
facepalm sting enough that I feel a response is merited.

Okay, it's cool that we can always have this lovely "well, one day we'll
have the technology" principle to fall back on because for a good portion
of human history this has been the case. Yes, perhaps one day we'll have
vehicles that can travel close to the speed of light, but if I have to
suffer through one more "ftl rocketship" speculation I think I'm gonna
slap a bitch.

If something can propagate FTL - let's say a signal - then, thanks to the
magic of Lorentz boosts in special relativity, we can always jump to a
reference frame in which someone receives the signal before it's sent.
The signal can then be sent back to someone in the previous reference
frame in a similar manner and arrange everything so that if you sent the
signal, you could receive the return signal before you sent it in the
first place. This leads to causal paradoxes: you could then in principle
arrange for your father to be killed before you're born.

In general relativity, temporally-closed regions of space-time are
admissible solutions to the field equations, but they're always separated
from non-closed regions via an impassable event horizon. Since on
relevant time scales the region of space-time in which we dwell isn't
temporally closed, we must conclude we're not in one. And thus, such
situations that lead to these causal paradoxes are inadmissible.

You might say "but maybe relativity is wrong!" Yes, it might not be 100%
right, but this question deals more directly with what kind of geometry
space-time has. Relativity suggests that it's locally 'Minkowskian" -
don't worry about the details, suffice it to say it just means inertial
frames are related via Lorentz boosts and not just rotations. Even if it
weren't quite Minkowskian - even if there were just a little mixing
between Minkowskian and Euclidean geometries - such that these FTL
rocketships could be possible, the results in particle physics and
cosmological experiments would be RADICALLY different. Yes, there are
theories out there that consider modifications to the Minkowskian geometry
of space-time (look up CPT symmetry breaking) but these would necessarily
be so god damn minute on the macroscopic scale that exploiting these
slight deviations would be literally impossible (think inter-molecule
interactions of any sort simply being unable to stand up to the necessary
energy and momentum densities - we're talking scales that could only
support hydrogen plasma as a state of matter at best).

So yeah, it's cool to think about, but unless you're ready to kill your
own father before you're born and convince you universe you didn't just
try to cheat it NO we will never ever ever ever ever ever have FTL
travel. Period. Nor will the aliens.


Wormholes are a different story...lol =P OH and I'm just talking about
traveling locally FTL - globally doesn't count because it turns out to be
quantum mechanically unstable.

Chris said...

Dude, you spelled exploded wrong...;)

Anonymous said...

If you can read this, comments by non-members are enabled.

Jordan Wade said...

All of the worst arguments I have heard can be rewritten: X is conceivable, therefore X is true. It is obvious that at least one person on the VAA discussion thread is ignorant of the logical leap involved in this sort of diarrhea. I would like to hear someone explain the leap and perhaps spark some discussion on possibility vs. plausibility. I can't bring myself to accept the shame involved in explaining something so fundamental to a fellow UVa student.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, yes, I think we can safely say we'd be more sure of ourselves if we were trying to figure out what we already understand. Do you see the problem here?
-Calixcarie

Steve said...

Research on NDE has been ongoing at the University of Virginia for over 40 years. There is more to it than you might think. Many hypotheses have been examined and discarded. There seem to be no easy explanations that fit with scientism (a materialistic worldview that all things can be explained by a scientific approach),

such as the patient being able to repeat conversations that took place between doctors out of earshot or describe objects only visible from the ceiling,

or

"Pam Reynolds described accurate and detailed visual perceptions of her brain surgery in which all the blood had been drained out of her body and her brain waves were totally flat." -Bruce Greyson, M.D., Carlson Professor of Psychiatry at UVA
(http://www.aspsi.or/feat/life_after/tymn/bruce_greyson.htm)


On Oct 19, 2009, at 11:25 AM, Alexander Rohrer wrote:

You aren't dead until a certain number of things happen. Just because your heart stops beating, your brain is still working for what could feel like hours, which in reality could be 2 minutes. Everything you do -- everything you think -- is nothing more then biological reactions, created by the firing of neurotransmiters. I'm sorry, but your 'near-death experience' statement is just false. They don't exist -- only what your brain can show you does.

-Gavin

Dee W said...

Jordan, the worst (i.e. most annoying) argument I've seen is: Nothing has ever been proven true or false, so all claims are equally valid.

I really don't know how to point out to people that they cannot and do not live their lives as if ANYTHING is possible.