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 Interview with Carver Mead 
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American Spectator, Sep/Oct2001, Vol. 34 Issue 7, p68
Carver Mead
The Spectator Interview

Once upon a time, Nobel Laureate leader of the last great generation of physicists, threw down the gauntlet to anyone rash enough to doubt the fundamental weirdness, the quark-boson-muon-strewn amusement park landscape of late 20th-century quantum physics. "Things on a very small scale behave like nothing you have direct experience about. They do not behave like waves. They do not behave like particles ...or like anything you have ever seen. Get used to it."

Carver Mead never has.

As Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech, Mead was Feynman's student, colleague and collaborator, as well as Silicon Valley's physicist in residence and leading intellectual. He picks up Feynman's challenge in a new book, Collective Electrodynamics (MIT Press), declaring that a physics that does not make sense, that defies human intuition, is obscurantist: It balks thought and intellectual progress. It blocks the light of the age.

In a career of nearly half a century that has made him the microchip industry's most influential and creative academic, Mead is best known as inventor of a crucial high frequency transistor, author of dominant chip design techniques, progenitor of the movement toward dynamically programmable logic chips, and most recently developer of radical advances in machine-aided perception. In 1999, he won the half-million dollar MIT-Lemelson award for innovation. But any list of accomplishments underrates Mead's role as the most important practical scientist of the late twentieth century. He is now emerging as the boldest theoretical physicist of the twenty-first.

Perhaps more than any other man, Mead has spent his professional life working on intimate terms with matter at the atomic and subatomic levels. He spent ten years exploring the intricacies of quantum tunneling and tunnel diodes, the first electronic devices based on an exclusively quantum process. Unlike most analysts, Mead does not regard tunneling as a mysterious movement of particles through impenetrable barriers. He sees it as an intelligible wave phenomenon, resembling on the microcosmic level the movement of radio waves through walls.

While pursuing these researches, Mead responded to a query from Intel-founder Gordon Moore about the possible size of microelectronic devices. Mead provided the empirical analysis behind Moore's law (predicting a doubling of computer power every 18 months).When single chips held only tens of transistors, he showed that in due course tens of millions would be feasible. In collaboration with Feynman, Mead also developed a definitive course on the physics of computation that has yielded a minor industry of books and tapes and imitators. After a year in Coblenz with Nobel-prize winning physicist-turned-biologist Max Delbruck, Mead pursued a lifelong multi-disciplinary interest in the physics of neural systems. His researches on the human retina led to his invention of the revolutionary Foveon camera that achieves resolution and verisimilitude in cheap silicon superior to the best silver halide films. His study of the cochlea has informed the creation of unique directional hearing aids, produced by Sonic Innovations of Salt Lake City.

Now, in the opening years of the new millennium, Mead believes that it is time to clear up the philosophical and practical confusion of contemporary physics. He revisits the debate between the Copenhagen interpreters of quantum physics--Niels Bohr, Alfred Heisenberg, John von Neumann, Richard Feynman--and the skeptics, principally Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrodinger. Pointing to a series of experiments from the world of microelectronic and photonic technology that still lay in the future when Bohr prevailed in his debates with Einstein, Mead rectifies an injustice and awards a posthumous victory to Einstein.

During a lifetime in the trenches of the semiconductor industry, Mead developed a growing uneasiness about the "standard model" that supposedly governed his field. Mead did not see his electrons and photons as random or incoherent. He regarded the concept of the "point particle" as an otiose legacy from the classical era. Early photodetectors or Geiger counters may have provided both visual and auditory testimony that photons were point particles, but the particulate click coarsely concealed a measurable wave.

Central to Mead's rescue project are a series of discoveries inconsistent with the prevailing conceptions of quantum mechanics. One was the laser. As late as 1956, Bohr and Von Neumann, the paragons of quantum theory, arrived at the Columbia laboratories of Charles Townes, who was in the process of describing his invention. With the transistor, the laser is one of the most important inventions of the twentieth century. Designed into every CD player and long distance telephone connection, lasers today are manufactured by the billions. At the heart of laser action is perfect alignment of the crests and troughs of myriad waves of light. Their location and momentum must be theoretically knowable. But this violates the holiest canon of Copenhagen theory: Heisenberg Uncertainty. Bohr and Von Neumann proved to be true believers in Heisenberg's rule. Both denied that the laser was possible. When Townes showed them one in operation, they retreated artfully.

In Collective Electrodynamics, Mead cites nine other experimental discoveries, from superconductive currents to masers, to Bose-Einstein condensates predicted by Einstein but not demonstrated until 1995. These discoveries of large-scale, coherent quantum phenomena all occurred after Bohr's triumph over Einstein.

Mead does not banish the mystery from science. He declares that physics is vastly farther away from a fundamental grasp of nature than many of the current exponents of a grand unified theory imagine. But he believes he can explain the nature of the famous mysteries of quantum science, from the two slit experiment where "particles" go through two holes at once to the perplexities of "entanglement," where action on a quantum entity at one point of the universe can affect entities at other remote points at speeds faster than the speed of light. In his new interpretation, quantum physics is united with electromagnetism and the venerable Maxwell Equations are found to be dispensable.

But Mead does not bow humbly before all of Einstein's conceptions. He dismisses the photoelectric effect as an artifact of early twentieth century apparatus. He also believes that General Relativity conceals more than it illuminates about gravitation ."All the important details are smoothed over by Einstein's curvature of space time." Gravity remains shrouded in mystery.

We arrived at Mead's house in Woodside, high above Silicon Valley. It is a modernistic aerie with hardwood floors and cathedral ceilings, perched on the precipitous slopes of the Los Altos Hills. The dense stands of surrounding redwood trees, concealing the valley below, make for a cathedral outside as well as in. We found him eager to discuss his theories and his Promethean book. A short lithe man with a small beard and a taste for undulatory rainbow shirts, Carver speaks with quiet authority, quirky humor and a gentle but inexorable persuasiveness. He conveys the sense that during his fifty years of immersion in technology he has made electrons and photons his friends, and he knows they would never indulge in the outrageous, irrational behavior ascribed to them by physicists. In the process, he is also implicitly coming to the defense of reason, science, history, culture, human dignity and free will.

THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR: You open your new book with a dramatic statement. "It is my firm belief that the last seven decades of the twentieth will be characterized in history as the dark ages of theoretical physics." Can you explain that?

CARVER MEAD: Modern science began with mechanics, and in some ways we are still captive to its ideas and images. Newton's success in deriving the planetary orbits from his law of gravitation became the paradigm. To Niels Bohr early in this century, when the quantum theory was invented, the atom was thought of as a miniature solar system, with a nucleus as the sun and electrons as planets. Then, out of the struggle to understand the atom came quantum mechanics. Bohr gathered the early contributors into a clan in Copenhagen, and he encouraged them to believe that they were developing the ultimate theory of nature. He argued vigorously against any opponents.

Among whom was Albert Einstein. He had already scored a triumph with relativity theory by that time. But the history books tells us that he lost the argument with Bohr. Can you explain their dispute? And why do you now award the verdict to Einstein?

Bohr insisted that the laws of physics, at the most fundamental level, are statistical in nature. Physical reality consisted at its base of statistical probabilities governed by Heisenberg uncertainty. Bohr saw these uncertainties as intrinsic to reality itself, and he and his followers enshrined that belief in what came to be known as the "Copenhagen interpretation" of quantum theory. By contrast Einstein famously argued that "the Lord does not throw dice." He believed that electrons were real and he wrote, in 1949, that he was "firmly convinced that the essentially statistical character of contemporary quantum theory is solely to be ascribed to the fact that this [theory] operates with an incomplete description of physical systems."

So how did Bohr and the others come to think of nature as ultimately random, discontinuous?

They took the limitations of their cumbersome experiments as evidence for the nature of reality. Using the crude equipment of the early twentieth century, it's amazing that physicists could get any significant results at all. So I have enormous respect for the people who were able to discern anything profound from these experiments. If they had known about the coherent quantum systems that are commonplace today, they wouldn't have thought of using statistics as the foundation for physics.

Statistics in this sense means what?

That an electron is either here, or there, or some other place, and all you can know is the probability that it is in one place or the other. Bohr ended up saying that the only statements you can make at the fundamental level are statistical. You cannot grasp the reality itself, only probabilities related to it. They really, really, wanted to have the last word, and the only word they had was statistical. So they made their limitations the last word, saying, "Okay, the only knowledge that there is down deed is statistical knowledge. That's all we can know." That's a very dangerous thing to say. It is always possible to gain a deeper understanding as time progresses. But they carried the day.

What about Schrodinger? Back in the 1920s, didn't he say something like what you are saying now?

That's right. He felt that he could develop a wave theory of the electron that could explain how all this worked. But Bohr was more into "principles": the uncertainty principle, the exclusion principle--this, that, and the other. He was very much into the postulational mode. But Schrodinger thought that a continuum theory of the electron could be successful. So he went to Copenhagen to work with Bohr. He felt that it was a matter of getting a "political" consensus; you know, this is a historic thing that is happening. But whenever Schrodinger tried to talk, Bohr would raise his voice and bring up all these counter-examples. Basically he shouted him down.

It sounds like vanity.

Of course. It was a period when physics was full of huge egos. It was still going on when I got into the field. But it doesn't make sense, and it isn't the way science works in the long run. It may forestall people from doing sensible work for a long time, which is what happened. They ended up derailing conceptual physics for the next 70 years.

Let's take a break--toll us a little about how you came to physics.

I was fortunate enough to get introduced to electricity at an early age, and I fell in love with it. By the age of six I was comfortable with all kinds of electrical phenomena.

So practice took precedence over theory?

Yes, but I wanted the theory to understand it. And that took time. But I never lost that intuitive grasp from having actually worked with it.

Tell us about your early life.

I was born in 1934 and grew up in California. We lived in a place called Big Creek, halfway between Yosemite and King's Canyon, up in the Sierra country. A lot of snow falls on those mountains during the winter, and in the spring it runs off. Around the turn of the century they built a series of dams and power plants up there, the Big Creek Project. As late as WorldWar II, it supplied about 90 percent of the power for Los Angeles. It was a marvelous way to grow up because I learned about electricity just by being around it. It was everywhere. My father worked in the power plant, and he taught me as best he could.

You lived near the plant?

We had these places called camps, which were a group of homes around the power plant. Originally they were tents for the construction workers. When I was 12, a guy who was a ham radio operator moved in. My uncle had gotten me started on radio, but then he went off to the war--he worked in Britain on the radar project. Anyway, this guy had a background in electronics and he was willing to teach me what he knew. That was just as the war was ending, so there was all this war-surplus electronics on the market, dirt cheap. With the little bits of money that a kid could earn, I could buy piles of electronics, and try to figure out what they were and why they were that way and how I could modify them. That was how I got my start--you could afford to do experiments, because the stuff was so cheap. You could build up equipment and try things, just to see what happened.

Where did you go to school?

Between two of the camps, way back in the woods, we had a little school. Twenty kids for all eight grades. There was one teacher through 4th grade and then it became a two-teacher school. My grandmother lived in Fresno in the CentralValley. They had a better high school, so I lived with her and went to high school there. Then I interviewed to go to Caltech and I remained there for my whole career.

What about the power plant?

Oh, there were things in the power plant that were just awesome. In the generator there's this big wheel going around with these coils of wire, and this cascading water coming down two thousand feet through these great pipes and rushing through turbines. On the other side, there are these one-inch diameter cables, going down to Los Angeles. As a kid, I would watch them bring a new unit on line. The generator has huge inertia, but almost no friction, so you have to be really careful. You let a little water through and the rotation accelerates. Its speed comes up and up, governed by this instrument called a syncroscope that looks at the relative phase [timing of the troughs and crests of the wave of electricity] on the grid, and the voltage from the generator. Nobody ever gets those phases exactly right, but if you miss by much, the whole power plant goes boom--the difference in phase is enough to shear off the huge bolts, six inches in diameter, that bind the generator to the floor of the power plant. So electricity may be invisible, but it is powerful stuff; it's not invisible really. It's just invisible in the way we normally look at things.

So early on you knew that electrons were real.

The electrons were real, the voltages were real, the phase of the sine-wave was real, the current was real. These were real things. They were just as real as the water going down through the pipes. You listen to the technology, and you know that these things are totally real, and totally intuitive.

But they're also waves, right? Then what are they waving in?

It's interesting, isn't it? That has hung people up ever since the time of Clerk Maxwell, and it's the missing piece of intuition that we need to develop in young people. The electron isn't the disturbance of something else. It is its own thing. The electron is the thing that's wiggling, and the wave is the electron. It is its own medium. You don't need something for it to be in, because if you did it would be buffeted about and all messed up. So the only pure way to have a wave is for it to be its own medium. The electron isn't something that has a fixed physical shape. Waves propagate outwards, and they can be large or small. That's what waves do.

So how big is an electron?

It expands to fit the container it's in. That may be a positive charge that's attracting it--a hydrogen atom--or the walls of a conductor. A piece of wire is a container for electrons. They simply fill out the piece of wire. That's what all waves do. If you try to gather them into a smaller space, the energy level goes up. That's what these Copenhagen guys call the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. But there's nothing uncertain about it. It's just a property of waves. Confine them, and you have more wavelengths in a given space, and that means a higher frequency and higher energy. But a quantum wave also tends to go to the state of lowest energy, so it will expand as long as you let it. You can make an electron that's ten feet across, there's no problem with that. It's its own medium, right? And it gets to be less and less dense as you let it expand. People regularly do experiments with neutrons that are a foot across.

A ten-foot electron! Amazing

It could be a mile. The electrons in my superconducting magnet are that long.

A mile-long electron! That alters our picture of the world--most people's minds think about atoms as tiny solar systems.

Right, that's what I was brought up on-this little grain of something. Now it's true that if you take a proton and you put it together with an electron, you get something that we call a hydrogen atom. But what that is, in fact, is a self-consistent solution of the two waves interacting with each other. They want to be close together because one's positive and the other is negative, and when they get closer that makes the energy lower. But if they get too close they wiggle too much and that makes the energy higher. So there's a place where they are just right, and that's what determines the size of the hydrogen atom. And that optimum is a self-consistent solution of the Schrodinger equation.

So much for the idea of the quantum world as microscopic...

Bohr and his followers had this notion that you got to the quantum world only when things were very small. Well that's because the only thing they knew that exhibited quantum characteristics was an atom. They said, "Well, an atom is so small, we'll never see one." Now, it turns out, people have put atoms in cavities and you can see a single atom perfectly well. That experiment has been done many times now. In fact, if you do it properly, you can make atoms totally coherent. Do that with a lot of them, and you get Bose-Einstein condensate--a bunch of atoms in phase that act like one big matter wave. It was first demonstrated in 1995 by Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman in Colorado.

The early experiments that dealt with things like black-body radiation and light passing though double slits--couldn't they detect those effects?

The experiments on which the conceptual foundations of quantum mechanics were based were extremely crude by modern standards. The detectors available Geiger counters, cloud chambers, and photographic film--had a high degree of randomness built in, and, by their very nature, could register only statistical results. The atomic sources were similarly constrained--large ensembles of atoms, with no mechanism for achieving phase coherence. Understandably, the experiments that could be imagined were all of a statistical sort.

The most famous of those experiments involved a "single" photon that somehow succeeded in going through two holes at once.

That uses a point-particle model for the "photon"--a little bullet carrying energy. If you define the problem this way, of course, you get nonsense. Garbage in, garbage out.

So how should we think of a photon?

John Cramer at the University of Washington was one of the first to describe it as a transaction between two atoms. At the end of his book, Schrodinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality, John Gribbin gives a nice overview of Cramer's interpretation and says that "with any luck at all it will supercede the Copenhagen interpretation as the standard way of thinking about quantum physics for the next generation of scientists."

So that transaction is itself a wave?

The field that describes that transaction is a wave, that's right.

So how about "Schrodinger's cot"--the thought experiment he proposed to illustrate the impossible conundrum of quantum theory. The cat is in a closed box, with a quantum-based trigger that either does or does not release poison. Gribbin summarizes the standard Copenhagen view of the situation: "Neither of the two possibilities has any reality unless it is observed." So is the cot dead or alive? The standard quantum-theory answer--we're quoting Gribbin again-would be: "The cat has neither been killed nor not been killed until we look inside the box to see what happened." In other words, reality is observer-dependent.

That is probably the biggest misconception that has come out of the Copenhagen view. The idea that the observation of some event makes it somehow more "real" became entrenched in the philosophy of quantum mechanics, and, like the other misconceptions, is said to be confirmed by experiment. Even the slightest reflection will show how silly it is. An observer is an assembly of atoms. What is different about the observer's atoms from those of any other object? What if the data are taken by computer? Do the events not happen until the scientist gets home from vacation and looks at the printout? It is ludicrous!

Gribbin goes on to describe an experiment with entangled photons, which shows quantum entities affecting one another at long distances with no passage of time. He says this "proves that there is no underlying reality to the world."

That is the experiment proposed by John Bell, the late Irish physicist, and done in its most definitive form by John Clauser--I'm currently in discussion with him about his fascinating findings. But the results say nothing whatsoever about what is and is not real.

In your book, you ambitiously redraw the boundaries of physics. In the "dark age" of the last 70 years, you say, a fundamental distinction was drawn between classical physics--mechanics, electricity and magnetism-and modem physics, consisting of quantum theory and relativity. Bohr connected the two with his "correspondence principle." What was that?

That was one of the big mistakes they made. They wanted the quantum domain to approximate the classical Newtonian world. And it simply doesn't. But Bohr believed that if you picked a limit where there are enough wavelengths, everything would average out to the same result you get from

Newtonian physics.

So by "correspondence," he meant a correspondence between the quantum world and the larger Newtonian world?

Yes. And that was the wrong assumption. When you get to coherent quantum systems, they don't have a Newtonian limit at all. Coherent quantum systems "scale" in a way that is entirely different.

You proposed dividing physics into "coherent?" and "incoherent" systems. What's the difference?

Okay. The quantum world is a world of waves, not particles. So we have to think of electron waves and proton waves and so on. Matter is "incoherent" when all its waves have a different wavelength, implying a different momentum. On the other hand, if you take a pure quantum system--the electrons in a superconducting magnet, or the atoms in a laser--they are all in phase with one another, and they demonstrate the wave nature of matter on a large scale. Then you can see quite visibly what matter is down at its heart.

Perhaps we con compare it to water in a bathtub. If you "reinforce" the bath water at the right moment, a big wave will suddenly slosh out onto the floor. That is the macro equivalent of what you are describing. But when the little wavelets lap against one another, then not much happens--incoherence, in other words. is that right?

That's right. In the coherent system, the waves are all in phase. But now, instead of water, let's think of something solid, say a billiard ball. A billiard ball is an incoherent mixture of lots of little matter "waves" that are interfering with one another all the time.

But to our everyday understanding, on the "macro" level, a billiard ball is also "coherent" in the usual sense of that word. It obeys Newton's laws, for example. Throw it with a certain velocity and we can predict where it will land.

Right, but that is a different sense of the word. As I describe them, coherent and incoherent systems are dominated by different sets of physical laws. With the incoherent systems that we see all around us, time is one-directional. And things that come apart don't spontaneously come together again. And the inertia--of the billiard ball, for example--increases linearly with the number of atoms. With coherent systems, on the other hand, time is two-directional, and inertia increases with the square of the number of elements. In a superconducting magnet, the electron inertia increases with the square of the number of electrons. That's foreign to Newtonian thinking, which is why Feynman had trouble with it. A coherent system is not more real, but it is much more pure and fundamental.

Can we finesse this business about time going backwards and forwards? Understanding quantum physicals is hard enough as it is! When Bohr proposed the correspondence principle, he wanted to keep a single set of laws: "As above, so below" And yes, in the microcosm, when things are jumbled up and "incoherent," it does approximate the physics of the macro-world. But under appropriate conditions--what you term coherence--the micro-world seems to operates in a quite different way?

Right--Bohr put his foot on the wrong stone, the Newtonian side rather than the quantum side. The underlying reason is that Newtonian physics was phrased in terms of things like position and momentum and force which are all characteristics of particles. Bohr was wedded to particles.

Are coherence and incoherence absolutes--can something be "a little bit pregnant?"

Yes, it can be. Light from an ordinary fluorescent bulb has a certain amount of coherence, but light from incandescent bulbs has almost none. With coherence, all the waves have a common phase. When they're out of phase you get all these fringes and interference patterns.

"Coherence" seems comparable to electricity--it has existed forever, and we could see it in the sky as lighting but only in the nineteenth century were we aide to harness Jr. And only recently have we been able to harness coherent phenomena.

Right. And once we have harnessed them in the laboratory, and begin to understand them, we can start to see them in the universe around us. There are increasing indications that many of the objects in the universe have coherent things going on in them. There are known to be masers in the atmospheres of some stars. It's now thought that a lot of the beaming of pulsars has to do with laser-like action. That's just surmised from the actions of these very mysterious objects--mysterious within the normal realm of incoherent physics. The universe is probably full of coherent physics.

That brings us back to Einstein--experimental results continue to vindicate his viewpoint no?

The Bose-Einstein condensate, for example, or the quantum hall effect, or the super conducting quantum interference device--I list ten of them in my book, beginning in the mid-1930s and going up through 1995. Not many of your readers will have heard of them. But most people know what lasers and superconductors are, and they demonstrate nature acting in ways that Bohr and Heisenberg did not anticipate--a coherent state. Unfortunately, it was not until the 1960s that those results became widely known. So Einstein didn't have that information. He predicted coherent phenomena, but he didn't have a single example that he could actually get his hands on.

So orthodoxy won the day.

And after Bohr defeated Einstein, nobody else would take on the argument. Because if they put Einstein under, think what they would do to you.

And yet it all turned on some very open questions...

Einstein's basic point was that unpredictability does not mean intrinsic uncertainty. His other complaint was that Bohr was removing understanding from the field of physics. Bohr argued quite passionately that intuitive understanding was just not possible any more, and that you were old-fashioned if you insisted on it.

And so mathematical description was substituted for understanding?

Absolutely. It's conceptual nonsense. You can calculate stuff with the theory, but the words people put around it don't make any sense. That had the effect of driving the more conceptually-oriented students out of physics. We have ended up with more and more mathematicians in the physics departments. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with mathematics--it's the language we use to express the precise relations of physical law. But there is an increasing tendency to mistake the language for the physics itself. Once we lose the conceptual foundations, the whole thing becomes a shell game. There are very few conceptual workers left in the field. Feynman was one of the last ones, and he wasn't willing to take on the Copenhagen clan. Nobody was, until we come to A. O. Barut, John Dowling, John Cramer, and a few others.

A lot of the trouble seems to came down to the idea of matter being composed of particles, rather than waves.

Point particles got us into terrible trouble. If you take today's standard theory of particle physics, and the standard theory of gravitation, it is well known that the result is "off" by a factor of maybe ten to the power of 50. That's 10 followed by 49 zeroes. The amount of matter in the universe is way, way more than what is observed. And that discrepancy comes, at its heart, from assuming that matter is made made up of point particles.

What's the problem with them?

Because point particles are assumed to occupy no space, they have to be accompanied by infinite charge density, infinite mass density, infinite energy density. Then these infinities get removed once more by something called "renormalization." It's all completely crazy.. But our physics community has been hammering away at it for decades. Einstein called it Ptolemaic epicycles all over again.

Hold on... epicycles?

Ptolemaic astronomers assumed that the earth was at the center. But then it became more and more complex to calculate the orbits of visible planets. When you assume the earth is the center, you have to add epicycles to the existing orbits to adjust them. In the same way, when you assume photons are point particles, and all you can calculate is probability, you have to add epicycles of conceptual nonsense to "explain" even the simplest experiment.

So when results don't fit theory...

The theory has to be adjusted, with band-aids stuck on top of one another. This happens all the time with science, but especially with the statistical quantum theory. It takes enormous work to take that theory and work it into a form that is useful for anything except those questions that it was initially devised for. And the band-aid epicycles are then announced as a triumph for the theory. It's amazing how long they have gotten away with it.

Is there a message in all this?

What this is telling us is that we have simply not been thinking about it right. We have to start working through the whole subject again. And that is going to take real work. I've gotten a little start on various pieces of it. Barut and Dowling got some wonderful results with the hydrogen atom. But there's a whole lot more work to do.

Running through your work is the idea that the deeper thing is probably simpler.

It always worked out that when I understood something, it turned out to be simple. Take the connection between the quantum stuff and the electrodynamics in my book. It took me thirty years to figure out, and in the end, it was almost trivial. It's so simple that any freshman could read it and understand it. But it was hard for me to get there because all of this historical junk was in the way.

Much has bean made of the philosophical implications of quantum theory.

Once Bohr and Heisenberg won scientific the debates, they went around pontificating about philosophy.

What was the thrust?

They said that if the quantum world is inherently uncertain, if the only information about basic physics is statistical, then we need to rethink our view of all of reality. In a way it was a throwback to the old arguments between science and religion. Newtonians used the ability to predict the planets' positions as a refutation of standard religion, which said, well, "God puts them where he wants and you have just have to have faith about that." Religion didn't need to take a stand against Newton, but it chose to, starting with Galileo. And this terrible polarization set in.

So quantum theorists took us back to the unknowable, where things have to be taken on faith or on authority?

Yes, but as we look out at the universe today, there's nothing that makes it anything but more awesome. In fact, as we look back at those pictures and we think, "Now how could anyone who had any deep sense of faith believe in a God that would make stars by punching little holes in a cardboard sky?"

What was anti-religious about the Newtonian view? He was personally religious.

Nothing, but his followers framed the issue as, "If you can predict it, that shows that religion is wrong." The quantum theorists reopened the question as "No, you can't predict it, because it's basically statistical."

You could say that for some people, the predictability of nature undermined faith in God (although it needn't have done so). Quautum uncertainty undermined farm in science.

I think Einstein was being a scientist in the truest sense in his response to the Copenhagen interpretation. He said that none of us would be scientists if deep down we didn't believe there is a set of regularities in the operation of physical law. That is a matter of faith. It is not something anybody has proven, but none of us would be scientists if we didn't have that faith.

What you're saying is that in a rush to declare science complete, Bolt & co. essentially defined away a key assumption of science?

Faith in physics was undermined. Generations of students were basically driven out of physics because it was no longer comprehensible.

While theory was ailing, though, people were devising all kinds of interesting experiments and practical devices.

It was indeed a time of enlightenment for the experimental side--we had to go off and make our own picture of the world. We got ideas about what experiments would be interesting and went ahead with them. Tony Siegman's book Lasers is the definitive treatment of the device that underlies the whole field of fiber optics. He shows that the statistical quantum assumption just gets in the way. In an 1,200-page tome, he hardly even mentions photons.

What the reaction in the profession to what you are saying?

People are trying to figure out what to make of it. People like the idea that there is a simpler way of thinking about this, but it's a lot to get your head around. The world is full of specialists nowadays, and there aren't that many people any more who try to understand large fractions of what physics is about. So it is going to take time for people to realize this is a much simpler way to teach physics, and that they can grasp a lot more of it than by today's method. And some people have said, "This is great--it never made any sense to me, which is why I quit being a physicist."

You've crossed over into biology your self--building silicon retinas and cochleas. And this is leading to same real revolutions-super-high-resolution cameras and hearing aids with greatly improved intelligibility. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Sonic Innovations is a company whose hearing aid, for the first time, uses our full knowledge of the human auditory system.

And Foveon, your camera outfit?

Foveon is about making the finest photographic images that have ever been made. We have about 60 employees, some of the most creative people I have ever worked with. We've been making our own low-volume, high-end cameras for two years. Now, the technology is just beginning to go into name brand cameras. You will be amazed!

Does it use coherence?

Every semiconductor derives its properties from the coherent nature of the electrons in it. The Foveon sensor uses these properties in a more fundamental and powerful way than other photosensors.

The computer industry has thrived by doing well what humans do badly, namely calculation. But computers seem to do badly what humans do well--speech, movement, perception.

The effort to build neurally inspired hardware has been much heavier going than I thought.

You write, "Biological solutions are many orders of magnitude more effective than those we've been able to implement using digital methods." You write about the fruit fly as an embarrassment, because its sensory abilities so vastly outstrip the most powerful computer. What's going on?

The fly has an autonomous system that avoids being swatted. It has the ability to see and navigate and make decisions on millisecond time scales. We've never been able to make artificial vision systems that come within orders of magnitude of that, with all the computation we can throw at them.

Why not?

That's what I was trying to find out. It makes us look so stupid. And you don't get popular by saying that. But it's true. And the more we try, the more we realize it's a much harder problem than we thought. What is it about the way that the fly, or the cat, or the fish process their information that makes it so much more effective at computing these things? They use what seems like really slow, slimy computational material, and yet they perform miracles with tiny amounts of power, tiny amounts of space and in real time and very fast.

What's the problem?

We don't know how even to formulate that problem, and we've been working on it since the dawn of computing. Every time we get another order of magnitude in computing capability, somebody says, "Now we've got enough!" But we haven't begun to get it.

It could be that when you find out what's really ping on, you'd be even more in awe.

As I have found out more about what's going on, I have become more in awe. I'm amazed, for example, by the chemical complexity of neurological processes. They're not just digital or analog--they're chemical and physical, with dimensions that we do not understand at all.

Now if your faith is correct, behind that awesome complexity lies some simple set of rules. No?

I think there are principles. And I think there are principles of computation that get us this exponential advantage, which don't have to do with whether you do it with chemicals or electronics.

Are you saying, in effect, architectural principles?

You bet. I thought many times that I was on the verge of getting a hold of one of those. I haven't been able to make a crisp statement of one yet, but I feel on the verge. Every time I talk to the biologists, I get all charged up again.

Does biology have a problem analogous to the physics problem--lots of people barking up tress, and not many looking at the forest?

Every scientific discipline does. Our establishment rewards that kind of behavior. It's very, very hard to ask the deeper questions, because you won't get tenure that way.

For years, artificial intelligence research has pursued an approach that comes down to "If we can just write enough code, we can figure out how to make the thing do logic and how to solve problems..." It hasn't worked very well.

I think it just totally failed. Those Al systems can't see. They can't hear. They can't act. And they can't learn. Looking at the principles used by living systems has been much more successful. There have been recent successes in recognizing faces, fingerprints, things like that. The best results I have seen in reverse-engineering the brain have been the auditory processors done by my friend and collaborator Lloyd Watts. He has made remarkable progress by working with auditory neurobiologists and realizing the architecture of a much more capable hearing system in computational form. That's one to watch.

And vision?

Silicon sensors have been built that can recognize motion. But to distinguish between a computer and a car--that is a really, really hard problem. And yet we do it effortlessly, and so do flies. So we don't really know how to ask the question yet.

Sounds like the gluon researchers might be closer.

Oh, I would say so. It's more likely that we will figure out first if there's missing matter in the universe. If so, what it is. And if not, what's wrong with the general theory of relativity. We'll figure that out before we figure out the brain. It's just a really hard problem.

So we shouldn't expect machines to take over any time soon.

Don't lose sleep over it. Anybody who says, "Oh my God. These things are going to take over!"--it is just so far from anything real. People don't even know where to put the decimal point.

Do you have any thoughts about gravitation?

Yes, I've been working on it quite actively. It's funny--the most common force, everyone experiences it, and we just have no clue. It's fascinating when you think about it. The two long-range forces that we have in nature are the electromagnetic force and the gravitational force. The first we understand better than anything in physics, and yet gravity--we basically have no clue what it is. It doesn't fit with any of the other theories. It just gets pasted on. It's really an acute embarrassment.

So there are still lots of mysteries in nature.

We are all just struggling our way in this wonderful realm of nature that we know really very little about. Feynman has this wonderful quote about how the "theory of gravity" once was that the planets were being carried along by a whole flock of invisible angels. Then we ended up with a theory that it is this force between two masses that pulls at right angles to the motion. So he said what we have done is we have gone back to the invisible angels except now they are pushing at a 90-degree angle to the motion.

Not angels but angles...

Once angels were the explanation, but now, for us, it is a "force," or "field." But these are all constructs of the human mind to help us to work with and visualize the regularities of nature. When we grasp onto some regularity, we give it a name, and the temptation is always to think that we really understand it. But the truth is that we're still not even close. Isn't it wonderful that nature is like that? It would be so dreadful if nature were so dull that we, with our pathetic little prejudices, had it all figured out already.


Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:05 am
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
I'm surprised he didn't mention Descartes's equation of substance with quantity (extension); that is where the real dissociation of physics from our senses began.

Msgr. Tissier noted this problem in his Faith Imperiled by Reason ch. 2 sec. 5:
Quote:
We know that the physicist Werner Karl Heisenberg (1901-1976) elaborated in 1927 a theory concerning the statistical position of atomic and molecular particles known by the name of the ‘uncertainty principle.’ In 1963, our professor of physical sciences in Paris, Monsieur Buisson, mocked the application, that certain ill-advised philosophers wanted to make of this principle, to substance and nature, which must henceforth be considered indeterminate and thus unstable! It is unbelievable to see how the confusion between substance and quantity can have put the pseudo-philosophers, and even the pseudo-theologians, in a whirl for fifty years.

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Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:51 pm
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
Alan Aversa wrote:
I'm surprised he didn't mention Descartes's equation of substance with quantity (extension); that is where the real dissociation of physics from our senses began.

Sure, and he stole the one idea he had which seemed sound from St. Augustine's City of God (I think therefore I am). Of course, St. Augustine's version is elegant and definitely right, whereas Descarte's is puerile.

Carver Mead is a man with a genius for intuition and a high intelligent, combined with an evident love for truth. He is also completely innocent of traditional philosophy. It's tragic!

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Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:52 pm
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
John Lane wrote:
Alan Aversa wrote:
I'm surprised he didn't mention Descartes's equation of substance with quantity (extension); that is where the real dissociation of physics from our senses began.

Sure, and he stole the one idea he had which seemed sound from St. Augustine's City of God (I think therefore I am). Of course, St. Augustine's version is elegant and definitely right, whereas Descarte's is puerile.
Read Deely's Four Ages of Understanding pages 512ff on Descartes. Pages 516-17 have a quote from St. Bonaventure's Itinerarium Mentis in Deum, whose thought Deely shows influenced that of Descartes.

Cogito ergo sum is a poor representation of Descartes' thought. Descartes considered his thoughts more real and less prone to doubt than his sensations, and he considered the idea of God as responsible for his certain thoughts. Also, his proof for the reality of a mind-independent "external world" actually rests on the fact that "God is no deceiver."

Despite all this seeming piety, Descartes is still an idealist; only ideas are real. He commits a philosophical sin in believing in a strict separation between soul (a res cogitans or "thinking thing") and everything else, including one's own body, (the res extensae or "extended things"). Catholics believe the soul is the substantial form of the body, that a person is an inextricable union of soul and body. Even when a person dies and his soul "separates from his body," his soul has a certain relation to his body, as we Catholics believe in the resurrection of the body.

Étienne Gilson is a famous Catholic philosopher and Descartes expert.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has a good entry on "Descartes."

The article on "The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist" has some interesting tidbits about Descartes, too, e.g.:
Quote:
Since Descartes (d. 1650) places the essence of corporeal substance in its actual extension and recognizes only modal accidents metaphysically united to their substance, it is clear, according to his theory, that together with the conversion of the substance of bread and wine, the accidents must also be converted and thereby made to disappear.
C. S. Peirce put it well in his Principles of Philosophy:
Quote:
19. In short, there was a tidal wave of nominalism. Descartes was a nominalist. Locke and all his following, Berkeley, Hartley, Hume, and even Reid, were nominalists. Leibniz was an extreme nominalist, and Rémusat [C. F. M.?] who has lately made an attempt to repair the edifice of Leibnizian monadology, does so by cutting away every part which leans at all toward realism. Kant was a nominalist; although his philosophy would have been rendered compacter, more consistent, and stronger if its author had taken up realism, as he certainly would have done if he had read Scotus. Hegel was a nominalist of realistic yearnings. I might continue the list much further. Thus, in one word, all modern philosophy of every sect has been nominalistic.
John Lane wrote:
Carver Mead is a man with a genius for intuition and a high intelligent, combined with an evident love for truth. He is also completely innocent of traditional philosophy. It's tragic!
For a world-renowned modern physicist who is also very knowledgeable about Aristotelian Thomism (Deo Gratias!), read about Dr. Anthony Rizzi of the Institute for Advanced Physics (bio); he's a TLM goer, too. He also wrote the excellent book The Science before Science, which is about how medieval Scholastic school men, especially St. Thomas, paved the way for modern science.

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Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:12 pm
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
Thanks Alan, I've bought a copy of Rizzi's book on your recommendation. By the way, did you ever see Science at the Crossroads? The text was available as a pdf download some time ago. Or you can get it from abebooks.com probably.

I would love to suggest to Mead that he posit the existence of the ether, in order to restore the fundamental notion that a wave implies a medium, and see whether he finds that lots of things fall into place.

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Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:23 pm
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
Alan Aversa wrote:
Msgr. Tissier noted this problem in his Faith Imperiled by Reason ch. 2 sec. 5:
Quote:
We know that the physicist Werner Karl Heisenberg (1901-1976) elaborated in 1927 a theory concerning the statistical position of atomic and molecular particles known by the name of the ‘uncertainty principle.’ In 1963, our professor of physical sciences in Paris, Monsieur Buisson, mocked the application, that certain ill-advised philosophers wanted to make of this principle, to substance and nature, which must henceforth be considered indeterminate and thus unstable! It is unbelievable to see how the confusion between substance and quantity can have put the pseudo-philosophers, and even the pseudo-theologians, in a whirl for fifty years.


Alan, that looks to me like a quote from Ratzinger, but it's hard to tell. The previous paragraph is from Ratzinger, it seems, and the next one is too. But Ratzinger wouldn't have been studying physical sciences in Paris in 1963, would he? It seems to be a formatting problem - I would guess that the quotes were originally set in and that differentiating factor has been lost in the HTML version.

In any case, whoever wrote it, I don't think it attacks Heisenberg's idea sufficiently. That idea is itself unsound, not just improperly applied outside of its original context.

What went wrong is that people abandoned Thomist philosophy. That happened in the Renaissance, and everything flows from that. We are now so far gone down the path to insanity that I see no use in trying to engage in criticism of any modern philosophy except to discredit it completely so as to clear the way for a return to Thomism. "Science" needs to be redefined against Bacon and Newton and all these pseudo-philosophers and completely renovated, root and branch.

In sum, we need to take seriously the one thing these various people say which is honest, and that is that they don't really know anything. Then we just say, well we do know things with certitude, here's a picture of reality for you. Those of good will can then grasp it and those who prefer the darkness can drift off where they will.

Gilson was generally sound, I think, but he focused on the history of philosophy whereas it were better if he had concentrated on working out whatever aspects of modern physical discoveries demand to be reconciled with Thomist reality, and simply stated it. In other words, show by actions that one really believes that faith and reason are certainly in perfect accord, by insisting on true philosophical principles (i.e. those that are approved by faith) as the best and most effective basis for progress in natural knowledge. Imagine if this had been done at any time last century so that there really was a definite school of sound physical science. Instead, we had all this confusion in which complete garbage like Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and Einstein's various fairy tales were treated as if they were respectable if not the last word. The same with Darwin. Even an insistence on the proper use of terminology would have been incredibly helpful, such as calling the theoretical thing they called the "atom" something else. The atom is the indivisible unit, so if you are postulating a thing which is composed of parts, it ain't the atom. (Not that the structure of what they call the atom has ever been demonstrated, and seems clearly to violate Thomist reality.)

The other thing that would be clear if we had a school of sound physical science is the distinction between science and engineering, and the proper credit given to engineering for the wonders of modern technology. "Science" has had so little to do with any of these things that it is hard to find any real contribution at all by it, yet the general view is that we owe technological progress (including the industrial revolution) to "science." That's complete rubbish. But it's vitally important in keeping the myth alive that modern ideas are fruitful, even if only of material progress. That is in some ways the cardinal lie of our age.

I'm pretty convinced that what is called the scientific method is a myth too. I don't think anybody who achieves anything real follows it, it's just a posterior explanation of discoveries which attempt to give the credit to "science" which it doesn't deserve. Mead doesn't believe in it, even if he doesn't realise the fact himself. He's an engineer, using an intuitive grasp of reality as the basis of a prototype, then improving it by stages until he has something new and useful. His fundamental philosophy rejects the scepticism which is supposed to underlie the scientific method (but as I said, that's a myth anyway). In that sense he is a natural philosopher. Such a tragedy he doesn't know Aristotle as corrected and perfected by Thomas - i.e. Thomism!

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Sun Nov 06, 2011 11:18 pm
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
John Lane wrote:
Thanks Alan, I've bought a copy of Rizzi's book on your recommendation. By the way, did you ever see Science at the Crossroads? The text was available as a pdf download some time ago. Or you can get it from abebooks.com probably.
No, I haven't. Who wrote it? Thanks
John Lane wrote:
I would love to suggest to Mead that he posit the existence of the ether, in order to restore the fundamental notion that a wave implies a medium, and see whether he finds that lots of things fall into place.
For an excellent article in The Thomist on ether, read Aristotle's Aether and Contemporary Science by Christopher A. Decaen, a tutor at Thomas Aquinas College. He discusses, inter alia, how what modern quantum electrodynamicists call "the vacuum" is really just a modern version of the ether.

Decaen also wrote Elemental Virtual Presence in St. Thomas, which treats St. Thomas's opusculum De Mixtione Elementorum. It helps answer questions like: "Do the substantial forms of hydrogen and oxygen atoms corrupt, remain, or only exist virtually after they combine to form a water molecule?"

Lastly, Decaen gave an excellent lecture on the Galileo affair.

I mention all these on my Aristotelian Thomism page.

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Mon Nov 07, 2011 3:40 am
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
John Lane wrote:
Alan Aversa wrote:
Msgr. Tissier noted this problem in his Faith Imperiled by Reason ch. 2 sec. 5:
Quote:
We know that the physicist Werner Karl Heisenberg (1901-1976) elaborated in 1927 a theory concerning the statistical position of atomic and molecular particles known by the name of the ‘uncertainty principle.’ In 1963, our professor of physical sciences in Paris, Monsieur Buisson, mocked the application, that certain ill-advised philosophers wanted to make of this principle, to substance and nature, which must henceforth be considered indeterminate and thus unstable! It is unbelievable to see how the confusion between substance and quantity can have put the pseudo-philosophers, and even the pseudo-theologians, in a whirl for fifty years.


Alan, that looks to me like a quote from Ratzinger, but it's hard to tell. The previous paragraph is from Ratzinger, it seems, and the next one is too. But Ratzinger wouldn't have been studying physical sciences in Paris in 1963, would he? It seems to be a formatting problem - I would guess that the quotes were originally set in and that differentiating factor has been lost in the HTML version.
I checked the French version, and it is certainly Msgr. Tissier, not a quote.
John Lane wrote:
In any case, whoever wrote it, I don't think it attacks Heisenberg's idea sufficiently. That idea is itself unsound, not just improperly applied outside of its original context.

What went wrong is that people abandoned Thomist philosophy.
If people only recognized John of St. Thomas (John Poinsot)'s contribution over that of his contemporary Descartes! Cf. John Deely's "What Happened to Philosophy Between Aquinas and Descartes?."

Aristotelian Thomists contend that the abandonment of Thomist philosophy is the problem, too.
John Lane wrote:
That happened in the Renaissance, and everything flows from that. We are now so far gone down the path to insanity that I see no use in trying to engage in criticism of any modern philosophy except to discredit it completely so as to clear the way for a return to Thomism. "Science" needs to be redefined against Bacon and Newton and all these pseudo-philosophers and completely renovated, root and branch.
To get a good sense of how arbitrary Newton's laws are, read Fr. Moreno, O.P.'s article on the principle of quidquid movetur ab alio movetur and the law of inertia. Understanding this is very useful in refuting those trying to disprove St. Thomas's 1st Way with Newtonian mechanics, since the Arian heretic Newton, who wrote at least as much "theology" as mathematical physics, was one of the first Modernists trying to invent a "new philosophy [that] will bring in new divinity" to supplant the "philosophy and divinity [i.e., theology] [...] so interwoven by the schoolmen," e.g., by St. Thomas, whom Newton disparages, saying: "but to us Thomas Aquinas is no Apostle; we are seeking for the authority of greek manuscripts." (source). Fr. Moreno's article really shows you how the conservative French Catholic physicist Pierre Duhem was spot on in his "saving the appearances," "instrumentalist" conception of science (cf. pg. 132 ff. of this collection of Duhem's articles). There are some very perceptive Dominicans (those of the River Forest or Aristotelian Thomism school) very concerned about all these issues.
John Lane wrote:
In sum, we need to take seriously the one thing these various people say which is honest, and that is that they don't really know anything. Then we just say, well we do know things with certitude, here's a picture of reality for you. Those of good will can then grasp it and those who prefer the darkness can drift off where they will.

Gilson was generally sound, I think, but he focused on the history of philosophy whereas it were better if he had concentrated on working out whatever aspects of modern physical discoveries demand to be reconciled with Thomist reality, and simply stated it. In other words, show by actions that one really believes that faith and reason are certainly in perfect accord, by insisting on true philosophical principles (i.e. those that are approved by faith) as the best and most effective basis for progress in natural knowledge. Imagine if this had been done at any time last century so that there really was a definite school of sound physical science. Instead, we had all this confusion in which complete garbage like Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and Einstein's various fairy tales were treated as if they were respectable if not the last word.
After reading The Writings of Charles de Koninck (Volume 1) by the French-Canadian Catholic philosopher of science Charles de Koninck, I am more on the side of Sir Arthur Edington's ontological indeterminism than Newton's and Einstein's determinism/mechanism. Indeterminism in nature, not just an epistemological indeterminism—an indeterminism in our knowledge of nature—, is not incompatible with a intelligent Logos, Creator. Matter, after all, is potency, indeterminacy. De Koninck also wrote Ego Sapientia: The Wisdom That is Mary.
John Lane wrote:
The same with Darwin. Even an insistence on the proper use of terminology would have been incredibly helpful, such as calling the theoretical thing they called the "atom" something else. The atom is the indivisible unit, so if you are postulating a thing which is composed of parts, it ain't the atom. (Not that the structure of what they call the atom has ever been demonstrated, and seems clearly to violate Thomist reality.)
Duhem was opposed to atomism and in favor of energetics (cf. these articles by the modern Duhem philosopher Paul Needham).
John Lane wrote:
The other thing that would be clear if we had a school of sound physical science is the distinction between science and engineering, and the proper credit given to engineering for the wonders of modern technology.
Yes, it is sad today that science is no longer considered a pursuit for truth but a pursuit for utility.
John Lane wrote:
"Science" has had so little to do with any of these things that it is hard to find any real contribution at all by it, yet the general view is that we owe technological progress (including the industrial revolution) to "science." That's complete rubbish. But it's vitally important in keeping the myth alive that modern ideas are fruitful, even if only of material progress. That is in some ways the cardinal lie of our age.
There hasn't been any really new, innovative science in the past ~80 years. Numbers of new doctorate students in physics have been steadily plummeting. The Cartesian shizophrenia is scaring away all the truly innovative, non-"just shut up and calculate" minds.
John Lane wrote:
I'm pretty convinced that what is called the scientific method is a myth too. I don't think anybody who achieves anything real follows it, it's just a posterior explanation of discoveries which attempt to give the credit to "science" which it doesn't deserve. Mead doesn't believe in it, even if he doesn't realise the fact himself. He's an engineer, using an intuitive grasp of reality as the basis of a prototype, then improving it by stages until he has something new and useful.
It sounds like you would thoroughly enjoy Fr. William A. Wallace, O.P.'s The Modeling of Nature (vide this review of it). He, as an Aristotelian Thomist, has similar criticisms to these you mention.
John Lane wrote:
His fundamental philosophy rejects the scepticism which is supposed to underlie the scientific method (but as I said, that's a myth anyway). In that sense he is a natural philosopher. Such a tragedy he doesn't know Aristotle as corrected and perfected by Thomas - i.e. Thomism!
Yes, another tenet of Aristotelian Thomism is that St. Thomas's commentaries on Aristotle actually express his own views and are not just a regurgitation of Aristotle. As one of the Aristotelian Thomism school's founders, Fr. Benedict Ashley, O.P., wrote in "The River Forest School and the Philosophy of Nature Today," which also criticizes Gilson as being Wolffian (cf. also this short description of the schools of Thomism):
Quote:
The first [thesis 'of this school of Thomism'] is that the philosophy of Aquinas, as distinct from his theology, is best gathered not from the Summa theologia (supplemented by the Commentary on the Sentences and the Summa contra gentiles, etc.), as Gilson for example chose to do, but from the commentaries on Aristotle, in which the philosophical disciplines are treated according to their own principles and methods via iventionis. Nor can it be maintained that these works are merely commentaries on Aristotle, not expressions of Aquinas' own thought, since as Weisheipl has shown they are written by Aquinas precisely to defend his use of Aristotle in theology in the face of the "Augustinians" who accused him of Averrorism.

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Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:42 am
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
Alan Aversa wrote:
No, I haven't. Who wrote it? Thanks

Herbert Dingle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Dingle - this article is designed to discredit him, yet can't help mentioning his eminent status nevertheless (i.e. until he preached scientific heresy and was excommunicated).

Here's the book: http://blog.hasslberger.com/Dingle_SCIE ... sroads.pdf

John Lane wrote:
For an excellent article in The Thomist on ether, read Aristotle's Aether and Contemporary Science by Christopher A. Decaen, a tutor at Thomas Aquinas College. He discusses, inter alia, how what modern quantum electrodynamicists call "the vacuum" is really just a modern version of the ether.


It's pretty darn good, too. However he perhaps takes too seriously some of the claimed experimental data which Mead himself is prepared to doubt as merely artifacts of imprecise or crude instruments.

The whole particle theory of energy needs to be tossed out as Mead suggests and the wave theory developed. This alone makes sense and fits all the phenomena. That much Mead has covered. Where he fails is in admitting a wave which does not require a medium. This is simply absurd, a contradiction in terms. Put back the ether and you have a medium which will not distort the wave (which is what Mead says is required), and everything makes sense. I suspect Mead is too "concrete" a thinker, not abstracting sufficiently, although I may be mistaken. Whatever the cause, the problem is apparent - he doesn't have a grasp of Thomistic philosophy.

Thanks for these links, Alan. A lot more of the work I have thought needed doing has been done already. There is such an exciting field awaiting young physicists today, with the collapse of most of the junk that has infested physics hitherto. Not that most physicists have noticed, but that doesn't matter.

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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
Alan, he's also implicitly accepting the notion that philosophy and experimental science are capable of validly reaching different conclusions, and/or that experimental science can make the same progress without obeying philosophy as it can under obedience to philosophy. This is implicit in his approach. You can see it at the end where he refers back to Aristotle and suggests that his theory will need to be modified, as if St. Thomas has not already done so. Why not just forget Aristotle as such, and talk about Thomas's philosophy, which may need modification also (which I do not concede), but which is the current iteration and best iteration, of the perennial philosophy?

If Thomas has already improved Aristotle, then we need to return to Thomas. If modern "science" has gone of the rails and is now discovering the fact, then it needs to be pointed to Thomas.

Carver Mead says that the last sixty or so years have been wasted in theoretical physics. Our answer is yes, and that's because it didn't retain a sound theoretical basis, so the answer is to reestablish it on Thomist principles so that we don't waste the next sixty years.

And ironically, Thomas also has the answer to what Mead sees as the human cause of the sterility of those decades, the domination of physics by giant egos who were more concerned with fame and status than with truth. Humility is the answer. We see in these kinds of coincidences, to use a word loosely, that even in mundane matters virtue is best. Blessed are the pure of heart, that is, those least attached to creatures, for they shall see God. They shall see.

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Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:29 am
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
I'll take a look. Thank you

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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
John Lane wrote:
I'm pretty convinced that what is called the scientific method is a myth too. I don't think anybody who achieves anything real follows it, it's just a posterior explanation of discoveries which attempt to give the credit to "science" which it doesn't deserve.
I certainly know you don't discredit all a posteriori arguments since one uses those to prove God's existence from His effects á la Romans 1:20. Galileo used Aristotle's Posterior Analytics as much as St. Albertus Magnus and Aristotle himself did. I think what you are getting at is the difference between modern physics (what Maritain calls an empiriological science in his excellent Degrees of Knowledge) and metaphysics (what Maritain calls philosophy in the narrow sense). Physical theories are simply "economizers of experimental laws which approach asymptotically some sort of reality, rather than that of models of reality itself or bearers of truth," as Miller summarizes Duhem's philosophy of physics, and metaphysics (which Fr. Benedict Ashley, O.P., prefers to call "metascience" in his excellent summary of Aristotelian Thomism, The Way toward Wisdom) does offer explanations. Cf. also Duhem's "Physics & Metaphysics."

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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
Alan Aversa wrote:
To get a good sense of how arbitrary Newton's laws are, read Fr. Moreno, O.P.'s article on the principle of quidquid movetur ab alio movetur and the law of inertia. Understanding this is very useful in refuting those trying to disprove St. Thomas's 1st Way with Newtonian mechanics, since the Arian heretic Newton, who wrote at least as much "theology" as mathematical physics, was one of the first Modernists trying to invent a "new philosophy [that] will bring in new divinity" to supplant the "philosophy and divinity [i.e., theology] [...] so interwoven by the schoolmen," e.g., by St. Thomas, whom Newton disparages, saying: "but to us Thomas Aquinas is no Apostle; we are seeking for the authority of greek manuscripts." (source). Fr. Moreno's article really shows you how the conservative French Catholic physicist Pierre Duhem was spot on in his "saving the appearances," "instrumentalist" conception of science (cf. pg. 132 ff. of this collection of Duhem's articles). There are some very perceptive Dominicans (those of the River Forest or Aristotelian Thomism school) very concerned about all these issues.


Thanks Alan. I'll keep reading. I have to say, however, that based on that article Moreno is not particularly profound. Part of his deficiency is his failure consistently to use traditional terms. (He also has an inexplicable respect for Einstein and Quantum Theory.) For example, he starts off by asserting that laws of physics are necessarily "fictitious" when he means that they must be essentially abstract, that is, philosophical. Fictitious is a very poor choice of words!

He also managed to omit St. Thomas when making this point:
Quote:
The dispute between Einstein, Bohr, Bohm, and De Broglie is regarded as merely philosophical by most physicists. Physicists, however, are philosophers of nature looking for the explanation of phenomena, as were Aristotle, Galileo, or Newton. A physicist is a philosopher of nature, and a philosopher of nature must know physics.

Why? St. Thomas was as much a physicist as any in the list - more so, because he was a better scientist (i.e. a better philosopher with more right ideas).

I was explaining to one of my sons a month or two ago the arbitrary nature of Newton's "laws" and how divorced from reality they are. Moreno is good on motion, very good. He also shows very well how modern historians don't even understand what St. Thomas (or Aristotle) taught on the subject, so that makes it impossible for them to write accurate history. However I don't understand his explanation of the historical development of the concept of "impetus" - it appears to me that what he ascribes to De Rossi and then Soto is in fact pure Thomism (i.e. without development). Am I missing something?

The end of the article seems unnecessarily weak. Why not openly advocate a return to Thomas, now that we know what a mess we got into by abandoning him? Human respect?

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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
John Lane wrote:
Thanks Alan. I'll keep reading. I have to say, however, that based on that article Moreno is not particularly profound. Part of his deficiency is his failure consistently to use traditional terms. (He also has an inexplicable respect for Einstein and Quantum Theory.) For example, he starts off by asserting that laws of physics are necessarily "fictitious" when he means that they must be essentially abstract, that is, philosophical. Fictitious is a very poor choice of words!

He also managed to omit St. Thomas when making this point:
Quote:
The dispute between Einstein, Bohr, Bohm, and De Broglie is regarded as merely philosophical by most physicists. Physicists, however, are philosophers of nature looking for the explanation of phenomena, as were Aristotle, Galileo, or Newton. A physicist is a philosopher of nature, and a philosopher of nature must know physics.

Why? St. Thomas was as much a physicist as any in the list - more so, because he was a better scientist (i.e. a better philosopher with more right ideas).
Because Fr. Moreno likely isn't an Aristotelian Thomist. I cited that article for the history and for his citations of Eddington.
Fathers Weisheipl, Wallace, Ashley, and Mr. de Koninck are the prominent Aristotelian Thomists. The best articles are those of these authors and those listed under the "Scholasticism in Empiriological Sciences" heading on my Aristotelian Thomism page.
John Lane wrote:
I was explaining to one of my sons a month or two ago the arbitrary nature of Newton's "laws" and how divorced from reality they are. Moreno is good on motion, very good. He also shows very well how modern historians don't even understand what St. Thomas (or Aristotle) taught on the subject, so that makes it impossible for them to write accurate history. However I don't understand his explanation of the historical development of the concept of "impetus" - it appears to me that what he ascribes to De Rossi and then Soto is in fact pure Thomism (i.e. without development). Am I missing something?
Probably
Read this excerpt of Duhem's 10 volume magnum opus in French, Le Système du Monde. Histoire des Doctrines cosmologiques de Platon à Copernic: "The 12th century birth of the notion of mass which advised modern mechanics ... and void and movement in the void" (cf. also this 1 volume abridged English translation: Medieval cosmology : theories of infinity, place, time, void, and the plurality of worlds.)

Commenting on Aristotle's Physics III., St. Thomas distinguished for the first time these three things: weight, mass, and the resisting medium:
Quote:
535. [...] This resistance can arise from three sources: First, from the situs of the mobile; for from the very fact that the mover intends to transfer the mobile to some certain place, the mobile, existing in some other place, resists the intention of the mover. Secondly, from the nature of the mobile, as is evident in compulsory motions, as when a heavy object is thrown upwards. Thirdly, from the medium. All three are taken together as one resistance, to constitute one cause of slowing up in the motion. Therefore when the mobile, considered in isolation as different from the mover, is a being in act, the resistance of the mobile to the mover can be traced either to the mobile only, as happens in the heavenly bodies, or to the mobile and medium together, as happens in the case of animate bodies on this earth. But in heavy and light objects, if you take away what the mobile receives from the mover, viz., the form which is the principle of motion given by the generator, i.e., by the mover, nothing remains but the matter which can offer no resistance to the mover. Hence in light and heavy objects the only source of resistance is the medium. Consequently, in heavenly bodies differences in velocity arise only on account of the ratio between mover and mobile; in animate bodies from the proportion of the mover to the mobile and to the resisting medium—both together. And it is in these latter cases that the given objection would have effect, viz., that if you remove the slowing up caused by the impeding medium, there still remains a definite amount of time in the motion, according to the proportion of the mover to the mobile. But in heavy and light bodies, there can be no slowing up of speed, except what the resistance of the medium causes—and in such cases Aristotle’s argument applies.
In IV Physica lect. 12, n. 535

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Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:42 pm
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
Alan Aversa wrote:
Because Fr. Moreno likely isn't an Aristotelian Thomist. I cited that article for the history and for his citations of Eddington.

Poor Moreno. :) (Although my own outlook would better be described as Thomist Aristotelian, I'm not sure yet whether that is what they mean by their term. How could you have such a thing as a non-Aristotelian Thomist? You could indeed conceive of a non-Thomist Aristotelian, however.)

Eddington I think, from the quotes I've seen, is arguing from the empiricist stance against any real philosophy of science. Is that right?


Quote:
Read this excerpt of Duhem's 10 volume magnum opus in French, Le Système du Monde. Histoire des Doctrines cosmologiques de Platon à Copernic: "The 12th century birth of the notion of mass which advised modern mechanics ... and void and movement in the void" (cf. also this 1 volume abridged English translation: Medieval cosmology : theories of infinity, place, time, void, and the plurality of worlds.)


He seems to be arguing from a stance which accepts the notion of a real void, and also Newtonian physics. Equating a void with a vacuum might be fair in the sense that it seems to be what Aristotle held, but is it what Thomas thought? There is reason in the small extract given here to suggest that he didn't restrict the ether to the heavens, in the sense that he doesn't deny that it could be elsewhere and he is very precise - stating only what is true and not drawing unsupported negative conclusions.

Quote:
Thomas thinks that this division between motor and moved thing that Peripatetic philosophy had declared impossible can be accomplished, at least, in thought; thought distinguishes, on the one hand, a form, the motive force or gravity, and, on the other hand, prime matter given determined dimensions, not prime matter bare and simple, but a quantified body occupying a certain location and resisting the force attempting to bring it somewhere else. Even though this division of a weight into gravity and a body of determined magnitude can only be accomplished in thought, it suffices in order for us to be able to assimilate the movement of heavy or light bodies with the movement of celestial bodies; it also suffices to render inoperative one of Aristotle’s objections against the possibility of void.

It isn't clear that this analysis is accurate (conflating "gravity" with the motion imparted by a mover). In St. Thomas's mind, gravity is an effect. The reason that bodies fall is that it is their nature to do so, to reach a position of rest. He does not recognise it as a "force". (Incidentally, it was interesting to read the comments by I think Einstein to the effect that Newton's ideas are anthropomorphic, which seems right.)

If Thomas abstracts, as he does, so as to distinguish motor and mobile, he is precisely not departing from the doctrine that the two cannot be separated. This notion of "mass" in St. Thomas is a pure abstraction. Then again, it is a pure abstraction in Newton too, it's just that the latter thought you could measure abstractions and treat them as realities. :)

I think this is a classic case of Thomas developing Aristotle, applying his principles more clearly and thereby completing his doctrine. Duhem in this place looks only at what apparently contributes to modern physics, which is of course an abandonment of Aristotle and St. Thomas. I'm not suggesting that he doesn't consider this doctrine in itself elsewhere.

What do you think?

Quote:
535. [...] This resistance can arise from three sources: First, from the situs of the mobile; for from the very fact that the mover intends to transfer the mobile to some certain place, the mobile, existing in some other place, resists the intention of the mover. Secondly, from the nature of the mobile, as is evident in compulsory motions, as when a heavy object is thrown upwards. Thirdly, from the medium. All three are taken together as one resistance, to constitute one cause of slowing up in the motion. Therefore when the mobile, considered in isolation as different from the mover, is a being in act, the resistance of the mobile to the mover can be traced either to the mobile only, as happens in the heavenly bodies, or to the mobile and medium together, as happens in the case of animate bodies on this earth. But in heavy and light objects, if you take away what the mobile receives from the mover, viz., the form which is the principle of motion given by the generator, i.e., by the mover, nothing remains but the matter which can offer no resistance to the mover. Hence in light and heavy objects the only source of resistance is the medium. Consequently, in heavenly bodies differences in velocity arise only on account of the ratio between mover and mobile; in animate bodies from the proportion of the mover to the mobile and to the resisting medium—both together. And it is in these latter cases that the given objection would have effect, viz., that if you remove the slowing up caused by the impeding medium, there still remains a definite amount of time in the motion, according to the proportion of the mover to the mobile. But in heavy and light bodies, there can be no slowing up of speed, except what the resistance of the medium causes—and in such cases Aristotle’s argument applies.
In IV Physica lect. 12, n. 535


I would like to understand better this reference to "time" as the measure of the ratio between mover and moved. For those of us educated in the modern era, we would state this ratio in terms of "energy", a post-Newtonian concept. The body moves in proportion to the energy imparted to it by the mover. This notion is strictly in accordance with Thomas, since his essential proposition is the ratio. But what does he mean by "time" in this context? I wonder if he has been properly understood (as he clearly wasn't in relation to movement in a vacuum, according to Duhem).

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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
Alan Aversa wrote:
John Lane wrote:
I'm pretty convinced that what is called the scientific method is a myth too. I don't think anybody who achieves anything real follows it, it's just a posterior explanation of discoveries which attempt to give the credit to "science" which it doesn't deserve.
I certainly know you don't discredit all a posteriori arguments...


Yes, I was referring to the so-called "scientific method" which I am saying is a myth. That is, there is no such thing as a method which is agreed and actually followed by "scientists." I am not questioning the value of reasoning from particular to general, I am merely pointing out that there is no agreed method which answers to the title "scientific method" and which we can verify that various successful discoverers followed. Yes, I accept that there is a theory, which has changed over the decades, which at any given time is "the scientific method" in text books. But it isn't stable and it isn't really applied, I think.

The notion of the scientific method is part of the imposition of "science" as the ultimate authority in all things. You know, Bacon discovered it and since then human knowledge has exploded in all directions producing goodness for all. Not only is this wrong in theory, it's not factual. It's not what has been done. The real credit for technology belongs to engineering, not "science" which has often enough actually hindered real progress. See the example of the laser in Mead's interview. Heisenberg applied some kind of method, obviously not rigorous, and developed a theory which according to the high-school texts should have been tested thoroughly against experimental data. The widespread acceptance of his theory shows that men assumed that this had been done, that the theory stood up. But if those men developing the laser had followed Heisenberg, they'd have never gotten anywhere. Why did they not follow Heisenberg? Because they were engineers. If they were following the text-book scientific method themselves, they'd first have conducted experiments, proven Heisenberg wrong, then developed an alternative theory, following which engineers would have applied it to make stuff that worked. That's the theory. But it's not real.

And in any case, you can't have a useful theory without metaphysics. All that happens in the absence of philosophy is that mathematics is applied to abstractions and the maths works, so the theory is regarded as true. This is the character of Galileo's theory, of Newton's theories, of Einstein's theories, of Heisenberg's nonsense, of modern cosmology, and of most astro-physics as far as I can tell. It's ironic that men who regard themselves as much more grounded than those airy-fairy philosophers find themselves enslaved to theories which in no way touch the concrete at all, and in fact violently disagree with concrete realities. Supreme irony.

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Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:37 am
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
Pax Christi !


John Lane posted :

Quote:
The real credit for technology belongs to engineering, not "science" which has often enough actually hindered real progress.


I read this no less then 5 times..... it is profound and true. One does not need to look farther than the Roman Empire. They knew nothing of " science" yet, engineered an Empire with roads,buildings, earth works that are still in use today.
" Science" has become a political agenda which is for the most part, anti-Catholic.

In Xto,
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Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:16 am
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Vince Sheridan wrote:
. One does not need to look farther than the Roman Empire. They knew nothing of " science" yet, engineered an Empire with roads,buildings, earth works that are still in use today.


Largely true, Vince. Of course, they did have scientific knowledge, which must precede engineering. What they didn't have was Newton's "laws" for example. Yet as you say, they built stuff we would struggle to replicate today.

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John yes, my use of the term science was within the realm of Physics and Cosmology. Of course the Romans had a keen grasp of Geometry.

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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
John Lane wrote:
Eddington I think, from the quotes I've seen, is arguing from the empiricist stance against any real philosophy of science. Is that right?
Some people classify Eddington as an idealist because he speaks of "mind-stuff," but this is incorrect. Eddington used that term to show that there is an inherent intelligibility in the world; viz., that there is no Cartesian res cogitans / res extensa dichotomy. Read Charles de Koninck's thesis on Eddington in his The Writings of Charles de Koninck (Volume 1). Volume 2 is from where his Ego Sapientia: The Wisdom That is Mary comes.
John Lane wrote:
Quote:
Read this excerpt of Duhem's 10 volume magnum opus in French, Le Système du Monde. Histoire des Doctrines cosmologiques de Platon à Copernic: "The 12th century birth of the notion of mass which advised modern mechanics ... and void and movement in the void" (cf. also this 1 volume abridged English translation: Medieval cosmology : theories of infinity, place, time, void, and the plurality of worlds.)
He seems to be arguing from a stance which accepts the notion of a real void, and also Newtonian physics. Equating a void with a vacuum might be fair in the sense that it seems to be what Aristotle held, but is it what Thomas thought? There is reason in the small extract given here to suggest that he didn't restrict the ether to the heavens, in the sense that he doesn't deny that it could be elsewhere and he is very precise - stating only what is true and not drawing unsupported negative conclusions.
Quote:
Thomas thinks that this division between motor and moved thing that Peripatetic philosophy had declared impossible can be accomplished, at least, in thought; thought distinguishes, on the one hand, a form, the motive force or gravity, and, on the other hand, prime matter given determined dimensions, not prime matter bare and simple, but a quantified body occupying a certain location and resisting the force attempting to bring it somewhere else. Even though this division of a weight into gravity and a body of determined magnitude can only be accomplished in thought, it suffices in order for us to be able to assimilate the movement of heavy or light bodies with the movement of celestial bodies; it also suffices to render inoperative one of Aristotle’s objections against the possibility of void.
It isn't clear that this analysis is accurate (conflating "gravity" with the motion imparted by a mover). In St. Thomas's mind, gravity is an effect. The reason that bodies fall is that it is their nature to do so, to reach a position of rest. He does not recognise it as a "force". (Incidentally, it was interesting to read the comments by I think Einstein to the effect that Newton's ideas are anthropomorphic, which seems right.)

If Thomas abstracts, as he does, so as to distinguish motor and mobile, he is precisely not departing from the doctrine that the two cannot be separated. This notion of "mass" in St. Thomas is a pure abstraction. Then again, it is a pure abstraction in Newton too, it's just that the latter thought you could measure abstractions and treat them as realities. :)

I think this is a classic case of Thomas developing Aristotle, applying his principles more clearly and thereby completing his doctrine. Duhem in this place looks only at what apparently contributes to modern physics, which is of course an abandonment of Aristotle and St. Thomas. I'm not suggesting that he doesn't consider this doctrine in itself elsewhere.

What do you think?
That is a fair assessment of Duhem. Read the section "2. Fideism or Rational Obedience" and following sections from a biography of Duhem; the biographer shows Duhem's relation to Modernism and Pascendi. Since many suspected Duhem of advocating a complete split between modern physics and metaphysics, Duhem was suspected of compromising the . I believe it was due to equivocation of the word "metaphysics" because in his "Physics & Metaphysics" he seems to distinguish between a true metaphysics and metaphysics improperly so-called (e.g., Descartes vortices, etc., that he mentions in his Aim & Structure of Physical Theory, which actually quotes Summa Theologica, I, q. 32, a. 1 ad 2).
John Lane wrote:
Quote:
535. [...] This resistance can arise from three sources: First, from the situs of the mobile; for from the very fact that the mover intends to transfer the mobile to some certain place, the mobile, existing in some other place, resists the intention of the mover. Secondly, from the nature of the mobile, as is evident in compulsory motions, as when a heavy object is thrown upwards. Thirdly, from the medium. All three are taken together as one resistance, to constitute one cause of slowing up in the motion. Therefore when the mobile, considered in isolation as different from the mover, is a being in act, the resistance of the mobile to the mover can be traced either to the mobile only, as happens in the heavenly bodies, or to the mobile and medium together, as happens in the case of animate bodies on this earth. But in heavy and light objects, if you take away what the mobile receives from the mover, viz., the form which is the principle of motion given by the generator, i.e., by the mover, nothing remains but the matter which can offer no resistance to the mover. Hence in light and heavy objects the only source of resistance is the medium. Consequently, in heavenly bodies differences in velocity arise only on account of the ratio between mover and mobile; in animate bodies from the proportion of the mover to the mobile and to the resisting medium—both together. And it is in these latter cases that the given objection would have effect, viz., that if you remove the slowing up caused by the impeding medium, there still remains a definite amount of time in the motion, according to the proportion of the mover to the mobile. But in heavy and light bodies, there can be no slowing up of speed, except what the resistance of the medium causes—and in such cases Aristotle’s argument applies.
In IV Physica lect. 12, n. 535
I would like to understand better this reference to "time" as the measure of the ratio between mover and moved. For those of us educated in the modern era, we would state this ratio in terms of "energy", a post-Newtonian concept. The body moves in proportion to the energy imparted to it by the mover. This notion is strictly in accordance with Thomas, since his essential proposition is the ratio. But what does he mean by "time" in this context? I wonder if he has been properly understood (as he clearly wasn't in relation to movement in a vacuum, according to Duhem).
Yes, that is an interesting question.

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Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:45 pm
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
John Lane wrote:
But if those men developing the laser had followed Heisenberg, they'd have never gotten anywhere. Why did they not follow Heisenberg? Because they were engineers. If they were following the text-book scientific method themselves, they'd first have conducted experiments, proven Heisenberg wrong, then developed an alternative theory, following which engineers would have applied it to make stuff that worked. That's the theory. But it's not real.


This reminds me of a quote somebody gave me a few years ago, that is now posted at my desk.

"In theory there's no difference between practice and theory; in practice, there is." :D


Wed Nov 23, 2011 8:32 pm
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Have a look at this description and where the author uses the term "free space" replace it with "the ether". Waves in a medium.

The bit about photons having a point of view is nonsense, but the instinct is right - the energy is not "disconnected" from its source, precisely because it is a wave generated by that source in a medium which remains connected to the source and the destination (i.e. both source and destination are within the ether).

I find it fascinating to see how modern thinkers thrash around trying to work stuff out which they would be clear about very quickly if they just accepted Thomistic philosophy.

http://205.243.100.155/frames/Non-Herzian_Waves.html

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Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:54 am
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
John:

I have an article from an amateur radio experimenter's magazine entitled "QEX" which you may find of interest. This article deals with non-Hertzian waves, how to generate them, and how to demodulate them. So far, ranges are fairly short, but the entire concept and application is very interesting.

I will attempt to scan and post some of that article here in the near future.

And I most certainly agree with your comment vis-a-vis St. Thomas!!!!!!!!

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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
This is delicious.
Even though I don't necessarily agree with some of his (philosophical) conclusions there is a great respectability for many of his observations.
I'm a bit cautious about:
Quote:
But they're also waves, right? Then what are they waving in?

It's interesting, isn't it? That has hung people up ever since the time of Clerk Maxwell, and it's the missing piece of intuition that we need to develop in young people. The electron isn't the disturbance of something else. It is its own thing. The electron is the thing that's wiggling, and the wave is the electron. It is its own medium. You don't need something for it to be in, because if you did it would be buffeted about and all messed up. So the only pure way to have a wave is for it to be its own medium. The electron isn't something that has a fixed physical shape. Waves propagate outwards, and they can be large or small. That's what waves do.

Curious, at least.
Quote:
A mile-long electron! That alters our picture of the world--most people's minds think about atoms as tiny solar systems.

Right, that's what I was brought up on-this little grain of something. Now it's true that if you take a proton and you put it together with an electron, you get something that we call a hydrogen atom. But what that is, in fact, is a self-consistent solution of the two waves interacting with each other. They want to be close together because one's positive and the other is negative, and when they get closer that makes the energy lower. But if they get too close they wiggle too much and that makes the energy higher. So there's a place where they are just right, and that's what determines the size of the hydrogen atom. And that optimum is a self-consistent solution of the Schrodinger equation.

Needs some explanation to make it intelligible to me.
But!
Quote:
And so mathematical description was substituted for understanding?

Absolutely. It's conceptual nonsense. You can calculate stuff with the theory, but the words people put around it don't make any sense. That had the effect of driving the more conceptually-oriented students out of physics. We have ended up with more and more mathematicians in the physics departments. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with mathematics--it's the language we use to express the precise relations of physical law. But there is an increasing tendency to mistake the language for the physics itself. Once we lose the conceptual foundations, the whole thing becomes a shell game. There are very few conceptual workers left in the field.

Quite!
Science has become the King's New Clothes... "everyone says it so it must be true"... even if it doesn't make sense.


Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:20 am
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
Alan Aversa wrote:
Some people classify Eddington as an idealist because he speaks of "mind-stuff," but this is incorrect. Eddington used that term to show that there is an inherent intelligibility in the world; viz., that there is no Cartesian res cogitans / res extensa dichotomy.


Some modern "idealists" thought that the objective world exists and is intelligible, eg. while Berkeley denied the material world and left only the mind of God and our mind and while Kant left the world beyond perception unknowable (noumena or X) and Schopenhauer explained it as objectless and irrational Will, Hegel's system described the external world as in accord with the categories of thought, with both the mind and the world as a reflection of the intelligible logos. Hegel is considered "idealist" because of the logos not because of any denial of the world.

Thomism is also "idealist". The external world is actual but it is a reflection of the divine Nature, which is unintelligible, inconceivable and "known" only by analogy with creatures. Its similar to Plato's doctrine of the One: the world is real but less real than the eternal One in which the world "participates". God is absolutely real, creatures possess only a relative or contingent existence. The Thomistic God is similar to Kant's unintelligible noumena in that there is only an unintelligible relation between the divine Nature and the world (even "analogy" is used "by analogy") but it is trichotomic (threefold division: God, world, mind) like Plato and Hegel not dichotomic like Berkeley, Kant and Schopenhauer. Thomism is also Sceptic: if philosophy is the study of truth and absolute reality then the True and the Real cannot be known by the Thomist.

What explanation did Eddington give?


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Gandolfo 1958 wrote:
Thomism is also "idealist". The external world is actual but it is a reflection of the divine Nature, which is unintelligible, inconceivable and "known" only by analogy with creatures. Its similar to Plato's doctrine of the One: the world is real but less real than the eternal One in which the world "participates". God is absolutely real, creatures possess only a relative or contingent existence. The Thomistic God is similar to Kant's unintelligible noumena in that there is only an unintelligible relation between the divine Nature and the world (even "analogy" is used "by analogy") but it is trichotomic (threefold division: God, world, mind) like Plato and Hegel not dichotomic like Berkeley, Kant and Schopenhauer. Thomism is also Sceptic: if philosophy is the study of truth and absolute reality then the True and the Real cannot be known by the Thomist.

I came in late to this discussion as John only recently sent me a link to the original article; I've still not had time to read all the following discussion.

However, I disagree that Thomism is idealist and that Truth and Creation are ultimately unintelligible.

There is a profound difference between not being able to know everything and not being able to know anything.

Knowledge and understanding are cumulative... a step by step process... you can't reach the last step without all the intermediate steps. We have the benefit of many steps made since the limited information available to Uncle Tom.

As with many things, the more steps one takes the more one can see many more steps to be taken. Even though the full knowledge and understanding of the Works of God will take an infinite number of steps that does not imply that no steps can be, or should be, undertaken or that those steps are futile.

To me that only indicates that, after the General Resurrection and the institution of the New Earth, the blessed will have plenty to occupy themselves with for eternity.


Fri Jul 20, 2012 3:07 am
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Oldavid wrote:
However, I disagree that Thomism is idealist


http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1014.htm#article8

I answer that, The knowledge of God is the cause of things. For the knowledge of God is to all creatures what the knowledge of the artificer is to things made by his art. Now the knowledge of the artificer is the cause of the things made by his art from the fact that the artificer works by his intellect. Hence the form of the intellect must be the principle of action; as heat is the principle of heating. Nevertheless, we must observe that a natural form, being a form that remains in that to which it gives existence, denotes a principle of action according only as it has an inclination to an effect; and likewise, the intelligible form does not denote a principle of action in so far as it resides in the one who understands unless there is added to it the inclination to an effect, which inclination is through the will. For since the intelligible form has a relation to opposite things (inasmuch as the same knowledge relates to opposites), it would not produce a determinate effect unless it were determined to one thing by the appetite, as the Philosopher says (Metaph. ix). Now it is manifest that God causes things by His intellect, since His being is His act of understanding; and hence His knowledge must be the cause of things, in so far as His will is joined to it. Hence the knowledge of God as the cause of things is usually called the "knowledge of approbation."


http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1014.htm#article11

Therefore it must be said otherwise, that, since God is the cause of things by His knowledge, as stated above (Article 8), His knowledge extends as far as His causality extends. Hence as the active power of God extends not only to forms, which are the source of universality, but also to matter, as we shall prove further on (44, 2), the knowledge of God must extend to singular things, which are individualized by matter. For since He knows things other than Himself by His essence, as being the likeness of things, or as their active principle, His essence must be the sufficing principle of knowing all things made by Him, not only in the universal, but also in the singular. The same would apply to the knowledge of the artificer, if it were productive of the whole thing, and not only of the form.


Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:10 am
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Hmmm.
Fascinating, Gandolfo.

With a judicious selection of quotes you can make just about anyone seem to say just about anything.

In the very little formal philosophy schooling that I had the Master said something like: "And when I give you an assignment don't dish me up a lot of quotes from here, there and everywhere; if you can't say what you mean in your own words it's because you don't know what you're talking about".


Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:42 am
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Oldavid wrote:
Hmmm.
Fascinating, Gandolfo.

With a judicious selection of quotes you can make just about anyone seem to say just about anything.

In the very little formal philosophy schooling that I had the Master said something like: "And when I give you an assignment don't dish me up a lot of quotes from here, there and everywhere; if you can't say what you mean in your own words it's because you don't know what you're talking about".


We were discussing the doctrine of Aquinas not my doctrine and thats why I quoted him where he addresses the question of whether the knowledge of God is the cause of things. I also provided links so that you can read the entire sections.

Your manners have failed you.


Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:52 am
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My manners are crude, at least.
I'd better just stay in the Tea Room with Katie.


Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:03 am
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Gandolfo, Odd's manners haven't failed him, but I think yours could do with a little polishing.

He's exactly right: If one cannot express the truth - even if it's the truth about what somebody else really thought - in your own words, you're probably not master enough of the subject to discuss it. There's nothing rude about saying that.

St. Thomas is "idealist" as he is "existentialist" - in a special sense of both terms, but not in the sense in which those terms are generally used. Idealism is generally used of Platonism and some modern pseudo-philosophies. Existentialism is often used to refer to those who deny that anything really exists. The term that I think is commonly used to describe St. Thomas's philosophy is "moderate realism". This doesn't mean that he was moderately real, athough he was really moderate - but it doesn't refer to that either. :)

Anyway, the point is that one should define terms before arguing about them.

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Fri Jul 20, 2012 9:57 am
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John Lane wrote:
Gandolfo, Odd's manners haven't failed him, but I think yours could do with a little polishing.


Oh really, you would be out of the conversation immediately in England if you used a phrase like "you obviously dont know what you are talking about." Likely the entire community would treat you as nutter until you learned to talk to people with respect.

I quoted a text from Aquinas that demonstrates that he was idealist. That was entirely appropriate.


Fri Jul 20, 2012 3:42 pm
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Gandolfo: please define "idealist".

Thank you.

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Fri Jul 20, 2012 9:46 pm
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Gandolfo: You say: "I quoted a text from Aquinas that demonstrates that he was idealist."

If you will excuse me, in my view, you didn't quote a text from Aquinas: you quoted a text from NewAdvent that purports to quote a text from Aquinas, and a translated one at that.

If you had actually quoted a text from Aquinas, it would have been in Latin.

Let us try to be as accurate as possible here, please.

Also, again in my view, NewAdvent, although appearing to be at least conservative, and the site containing much valuable information, is also solidly Novus Ordo and thus cannot be unqualifiedly trusted.

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Fri Jul 20, 2012 9:53 pm
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Ken Gordon wrote:
If you had actually quoted a text from Aquinas, it would have been in Latin.

Let us try to be as accurate as possible here, please.


Oh Ken! Now you are being pedantic! :)

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Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:32 pm
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John Lane wrote:
Ken Gordon wrote:
If you had actually quoted a text from Aquinas, it would have been in Latin.

Let us try to be as accurate as possible here, please.


Oh Ken! Now you are being pedantic! :)

Yes! Aren't I, just? I am trying to make a point....obviously missed by some... :wink:

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Sat Jul 21, 2012 5:08 pm
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Ken Gordon wrote:
Yes! Aren't I, just? I am trying to make a point....obviously missed by some... :wink:


Fake superiority

Have you read the ST in Latin?

Do you think that you could translate it better than the Dominican fathers?


Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:14 am
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Ken Gordon wrote:
Gandolfo: please define "idealist".


"Reality" is itself ideational: it takes its ontological structure from ideas. Ideas dont just reside in the understanding as an interpretation of reality but ideas are prior to reality and they give form to reality itself.

For Aquinas the self-knowledge of God is the cause of things not only in general but in the singular. His substance is simple yet he knows how creatures may participate in him.

Reality is intelligible but it has its ultimate meaning in its ultimate reality which is God who is incomprehensible even in the beatific vision. The finite mind cannot grasp the infinite in its coherence. Providence in particular is said to be inscrutible.

Thats why I termed Aquinas a sceptic as well as an idealist. Of course the terms need to be specified and qualified. :)


Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:24 am
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Gandolfo 1958 wrote:
Ken Gordon wrote:
Yes! Aren't I, just? I am trying to make a point....obviously missed by some... :wink:

Fake superiority.

Ah! I see you have missed my point... :-)

Gandolfo 1958 wrote:
Have you read the ST in Latin?

No. Have you?

Gandolfo 1958 wrote:
Do you think that you could translate it better than the Dominican fathers?

Of course not. However, as I said, anything taken from New Advent is suspect, IMHO.

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Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:49 am
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I've recently come accross a book that's been in my long forgotten library for "yonks". It's called "Modern Aether Science" by Harold Aspden, Doctor of Philosophy of Trinity College in the Universith of Cambridge.

My link to the book is subtitled "Aspden vs Einstein", and Harold does, indeed, cite many greviances against Relativity and it's adverse effects on cognitive physics.

The main thrust of the book (although more detailed and with specific examples) is very similar to Carver Mead, above. It's rather long (about 170 pages) and rather dated (1970's) but the principles still apply.

However, the book is a protected pdf and I don't know how to snatch a quotes from it to present here for your perusal. Neither do I immediately know where I got it from to post a link to it, though a clever computer manipulator might be able to discover that info hidden in this computer.

Anyhow, it's a darn good read and if anyone is interested I'll do my useless best to dig it up for you.


Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:41 am
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Hi David,

Here it is! http://www.aetherscience.org/www-aspden ... sbook.html

:)

I did not hack your computer. :)

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Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:13 am
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
John Lane wrote:
Alan Aversa wrote:
No, I haven't. Who wrote it? Thanks

Herbert Dingle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Dingle - this article is designed to discredit him, yet can't help mentioning his eminent status nevertheless (i.e. until he preached scientific heresy and was excommunicated).

Here's the book: http://blog.hasslberger.com/Dingle_SCIE ... sroads.pdf

John Lane wrote:
For an excellent article in The Thomist on ether, read Aristotle's Aether and Contemporary Science by Christopher A. Decaen, a tutor at Thomas Aquinas College. He discusses, inter alia, how what modern quantum electrodynamicists call "the vacuum" is really just a modern version of the ether.


It's pretty darn good, too. However he perhaps takes too seriously some of the claimed experimental data which Mead himself is prepared to doubt as merely artifacts of imprecise or crude instruments.

The whole particle theory of energy needs to be tossed out as Mead suggests and the wave theory developed. This alone makes sense and fits all the phenomena. That much Mead has covered. Where he fails is in admitting a wave which does not require a medium. This is simply absurd, a contradiction in terms. Put back the ether and you have a medium which will not distort the wave (which is what Mead says is required), and everything makes sense. I suspect Mead is too "concrete" a thinker, not abstracting sufficiently, although I may be mistaken. Whatever the cause, the problem is apparent - he doesn't have a grasp of Thomistic philosophy.

Thanks for these links, Alan. A lot more of the work I have thought needed doing has been done already. There is such an exciting field awaiting young physicists today, with the collapse of most of the junk that has infested physics hitherto. Not that most physicists have noticed, but that doesn't matter.


David, you might also like to check out the links above.

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Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:17 am
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Oldavid wrote:
I've recently come accross a book that's been in my long forgotten library for "yonks". It's called "Modern Aether Science" by Harold Aspden, Doctor of Philosophy of Trinity College in the Universith of Cambridge.


David,

Fascinating book. Some notes.

1. The writer is an excellent thinker, but like all victims of modern education, he struggles with accurate expression (including the use of terminology).

2. He rejects false philsophy, which is an excellent beginning. However he calls this "abstraction" when all philosophy, including his own, involves abstraction. He means "unfounded abstraction" - abstraction which is not true, which is not consistent with fact and/or logic.

3. Page 7 is particularly poorly written, which is a pity because he is trying to express particularly good and sound ideas! What he should have written is that all science is based upon a philosophy, and modern physics is based upon false philosophy (he has said, at least partly, in what respects - especially his criticism of the modern theory of "space" as a "void" which as he says, really means that it doesn't exist at all, which is hardly a helpful postulate.). What is required is not merely a return to empiricism, but the re-establishment of true philosophy as the foundation for the consideration of factual data from observation and experiment. This is what he appears to be doing but he has a confused way of expressing himself, so it isn't clear.

4. The writer confuses the subject by considering the origins of the universe and its age. The question, if it exists, of how the universe developed is not necessary to the questions of the nature of the universe today. Whatever philosophical truths can be known, and whatever phenomena can be accurately observed, and whatever mathematical relations can be shown to exist between those phenomena, will give us true insights into the nature of physical reality. Whatever development or change has occurred is an entirely distinct question.

More later. Thanks David, for an excellent source for consideration.

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Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:04 am
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Yair, well, I never meant to imply that Harold was, or is, a definitive authority in philosophy or physics.... but he has some very interesting observations that concur with mine, and Carver's.

Just as well that you didn't hack into my computer, John, or you'd be still wading around in a sea of who-knows-whats.

When I first got this thing (computer) I reckoned that to learn to work it I'd have to have the practical part of my brain surgically removed and replaced with something that responds to beeps and flashes.

I'm still not convinced that I was wrong about that.

There are lots of things that Harold said that make me scratch my head... but ultimately, he's saying that just because we can't understand it now doesn't mean that it's not understandable... although it's not his position it's mine; Creation is intelligent and intelligible... little by little. For each of us eternity begins now.


Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:32 am
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5. He believes in the "tiny solar-system atom" which seems extremely hard to explain, considering his determination to believe only demonstrated truths.

6. He believes that the earth rotates, which I understand to be scientifically an uncertain proposition.

7. This chapter is especially brilliant: http://www.aetherscience.org/www-aspden ... asch04.pdf (although he displays again his firm belief in a moving and rotating earth, a postulate that surely deserves no more scientific acceptance than the opposing view).

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Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:33 pm
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Oldavid wrote:
Yair, well, I never meant to imply that Harold was, or is, a definitive authority in philosophy or physics.... but he has some very interesting observations that concur with mine, and Carver's.

...

There are lots of things that Harold said that make me scratch my head... but ultimately, he's saying that just because we can't understand it now doesn't mean that it's not understandable... although it's not his position it's mine; Creation is intelligent and intelligible... little by little. For each of us eternity begins now.


Yes, of course, I didn't take you to be putting forward your teacher in all things, but rather a good conversation stimulant. I think you and I agree on philosophy. One of the very nice things Mead emphasises is that nature is intelligible, contrary to Heisenberg, Einstein, and the other worshippers of Man.

I'm not sure you and I agree on physical science, but that doesn't matter much, as I'm sure we also agree! :)

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Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:36 pm
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
John Lane wrote:
I'm not sure you and I agree on physical science, but that doesn't matter much, as I'm sure we also agree! :)

Yair!
Right!
We agree that we don't agree?
About what, anyway?


Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:18 pm
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Oldavid wrote:

Yair!
Right!
We agree that we don't agree?
About what, anyway?


About stuff which doesn't matter as much as the stuff that matters a lot! :)

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Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:24 pm
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For some "interesting" observations on our "nearby" universe, you two should read at least one of the books by Donald Patten, who was a leading proponent of the Planetary Catastrophism school.

I found one particular book, which contains a chapter entitled, "The Mount Carmel Barbecue" highly entertaining. :lol:

I'll try to find my copy of that book so I can list the title here.

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Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:43 pm
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
John Lane wrote:
Oldavid wrote:

Yair!
Right!
We agree that we don't agree?
About what, anyway?


About stuff which doesn't matter as much as the stuff that matters a lot! :)

Ken,
I recon that this bod (John Lane) is just trying to duck out under a smoke (word) screen. See if you can head him off, I'll see that he doesn't go incognito into the bar where they serve whisky.


Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:55 pm
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Perhaps this is a little off topic, but I wonder if you are familiar with this theory, and if so, what do you think about it? It seems extremely interesting to me although I don´t understand everything it says :)

http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/index.html

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Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:22 pm
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Oldavid wrote:
John Lane wrote:
Oldavid wrote:

Yair!
Right!
We agree that we don't agree?
About what, anyway?


About stuff which doesn't matter as much as the stuff that matters a lot! :)

Ken,
I recon that this bod (John Lane) is just trying to duck out under a smoke (word) screen. See if you can head him off, I'll see that he doesn't go incognito into the bar where they serve whisky.

Scotch! Single-Malt! Lagavulin! :lol:

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Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:48 am
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
Dang it!
I was just trying to post a reply to Cristian and it's vanished! Anyhow, anyone interested in the subject should have a good look around here: http://www.trueorigin.org/camplist.asp

Meanwhile, Ken and I will keep guard over the whisky.


Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:09 am
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John Lane wrote:
Alan Aversa wrote:
Quote:
535. [...] This resistance can arise from three sources: First, from the situs of the mobile; for from the very fact that the mover intends to transfer the mobile to some certain place, the mobile, existing in some other place, resists the intention of the mover. Secondly, from the nature of the mobile, as is evident in compulsory motions, as when a heavy object is thrown upwards. Thirdly, from the medium. All three are taken together as one resistance, to constitute one cause of slowing up in the motion. Therefore when the mobile, considered in isolation as different from the mover, is a being in act, the resistance of the mobile to the mover can be traced either to the mobile only, as happens in the heavenly bodies, or to the mobile and medium together, as happens in the case of animate bodies on this earth. But in heavy and light objects, if you take away what the mobile receives from the mover, viz., the form which is the principle of motion given by the generator, i.e., by the mover, nothing remains but the matter which can offer no resistance to the mover. Hence in light and heavy objects the only source of resistance is the medium. Consequently, in heavenly bodies differences in velocity arise only on account of the ratio between mover and mobile; in animate bodies from the proportion of the mover to the mobile and to the resisting medium—both together. And it is in these latter cases that the given objection would have effect, viz., that if you remove the slowing up caused by the impeding medium, there still remains a definite amount of time in the motion, according to the proportion of the mover to the mobile. But in heavy and light bodies, there can be no slowing up of speed, except what the resistance of the medium causes—and in such cases Aristotle’s argument applies.
In IV Physica lect. 12, n. 535


I would like to understand better this reference to "time" as the measure of the ratio between mover and moved. For those of us educated in the modern era, we would state this ratio in terms of "energy", a post-Newtonian concept. The body moves in proportion to the energy imparted to it by the mover. This notion is strictly in accordance with Thomas, since his essential proposition is the ratio.
Is "energy" "a post-Newtonian concept"? See the recent The Thomist 75 (2011): 207-43 article by Thomas McLaughlin, "Act, Potency, and Energy".

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Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:55 am
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Alan Aversa wrote:


Oh my, now that was good! Thank you, Alan!

One quibble. Potential energy doesn't "become" kinetic or any other kind of energy. St. Thomas says that "potentiality is reduced to act." I've always found this terminology (which I presume is Aristotelian) curious. It must signify something, and I think it signifies the fact that there is a relation between the two concepts. It keeps the thing in view properly abstract. McLaughlin's loose language in this matter carries with it a suggestion of some concrete process, which is completely mistaken. I doubt that he really means to imply that, but he ought to avoid it by better terminology.

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John Lane wrote:
5. He believes in the "tiny solar-system atom" which seems extremely hard to explain, considering his determination to believe only demonstrated truths.

6. He believes that the earth rotates, which I understand to be scientifically an uncertain proposition.

7. This chapter is especially brilliant: http://www.aetherscience.org/www-aspden ... asch04.pdf (although he displays again his firm belief in a moving and rotating earth, a postulate that surely deserves no more scientific acceptance than the opposing view).

I've been meaning to get back to this, but I've been distracted by some earth-shattering frivolity.

That the Earth rotates, as far as I can see, can only be disputed if one dismisses many of the facts and observations; like, for example, geostationary satellites, or the fact that when they are launching their rockets into "space" they aim them in a slightly Easterly direction to take advantage of the Earth's rotation to help the rockets achieve "escape velocity".
Quote:
(although he displays again his firm belief in a moving and rotating earth, a postulate that surely deserves no more scientific acceptance than the opposing view).

Not at all! To the best of my knowledge, a rotating, moving Earth fits the observations very well indeed. The "opposing view" requires considerable violence done to observations and (apparent) laws of physics; most particularly gravity and inertia as determined here on Earth.

I have been made giddy on a merry-go-round of baseless assertions in this area in another forum, but I repeat that; unless you can demonstrate that Creation is not orderly and consistent geocentrism is impossible.


Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:59 am
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Oh! The tiny Solar System atom.
I doubt very much that he believed that even back in 1970's, but I don't have time to look back at the article.

"Newtonian" physics doesn't apply sub-atomicaly. Sub-atomic "particles" only appear as chunks of matter in some instances... otherwise many of them exhibit similar properties to light... another argument altogether.


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Oldavid wrote:
Oh! The tiny Solar System atom.
I doubt very much that he believed that even back in 1970's, but I don't have time to look back at the article.

"Newtonian" physics doesn't apply sub-atomicaly. Sub-atomic "particles" only appear as chunks of matter in some instances... otherwise many of them exhibit similar properties to light... another argument altogether.


David,

I don't believe any of the quantum physics stuff. I think we'll find in the long term that the various assertions about it are all either artifacts of the crude machinery the physicists are using, or derivations from dodgy theory, or a combination of both.

It's a blank slate and we need to start again, which is what Carver Mead says very clearly. Of course the thing that needs to be done first is to re-establish the atom as what it is - the indivisible - whether it's the particle currently called the atom or not - and begin again to study the particle currently called the atom to discover its nature (and whether it's actually divisible and therefore ought to be re-named).

My views are that there is an aether, and that quantum phenomena are waves in the aether, and that there is no possibility of action at a distance (actually, that's not an opinion, it's an indisputable philosophical truth). Carver Mead's views are entirely compatible, nay, confirmatory, of these ideas, even if he doesn't realise it (yet).

Oh, and waves and particles (i.e. bodies) are entirely distinct, mutually opposed, categories. They're only confused by modern physics because the theoretical work is so bad that the observed phenomena don't make any sense, so we have utter nonsense being asserted such as that some things are both particles and waves, etc. Utter tripe, unworthy of adults.

I also think it's marvellous that modern man can achieve such excellent results in the practical order in the use of electricity, magnetism, gravity, and various other aspects of physics, without having the slightest notion of what any of them fundamentally are. A mate of mine who is a PhD in physics works with amazingly sensitive and precise measurements of gravity. He says that "gravity is an acceleration" when asked what it is. In other words, it's an effect, a phenomenon. They have no idea what it is, and he at least doesn't pretend to know. The same is true of magnetism and electricity (notwithstanding the silly pop-science notion that electricity is "electrons" flowing along a conductor).

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Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:17 pm
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
Just because many of the speculations of quantum physicists is just that- speculation, and some loonies go making up "particles" just to fill up a space in some hypothetical equation, doesn't mean that nothing is, or can be, known about sub-atomics.

Whether you like it or not, things like electrons do exist; they can be stripped from or added to atoms to make ions, they can be fired through air and vacuum (as in lightning), through tiny orifices to observe their behaviour; and that behaviour is curious- sometimes they behave like particles and sometimes exhibit the properties of a wave thing.

Anyhow, I'm not at all sympathetic to the view that because we don't know everything we must know nothing and relegate the whole of Creation to unintelligible "magic", which is what one must do to relegate Faith to an elaborate superstition. The Beast has been doing that from the beginning.

He said: "fill the Earth and subdue it" and I recon that "subdue it" implies an understanding of it which, in turn, implies that it is understandable; that is that it must be orderly and consistent and therefore intelligible, little by little.

Electric current in a wire is not simply electrons moving along the wire (at the speed of light)... it is more than just that simple but it makes perfect sense, just the same. Anyhow, that's a study in itself.


Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:09 pm
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New post Re: Interview with Carver Mead
Oldavid wrote:
Just because many of the speculations of quantum physicists is just that- speculation, and some loonies go making up "particles" just to fill up a space in some hypothetical equation, doesn't mean that nothing is, or can be, known about sub-atomics.


I agree.

Oldavid wrote:
Whether you like it or not, things like electrons do exist; they can be stripped from or added to atoms to make ions, they can be fired through air and vacuum (as in lightning), through tiny orifices to observe their behaviour; and that behaviour is curious- sometimes they behave like particles and sometimes exhibit the properties of a wave thing.


I agree, except that it seems to me that when they behave like particles, this is nothing more than the "discrete" wave phenomenon that Mead says everybody used to deny could exist, but it does. Don't confuse the phenomena with the theory that has described and named them.

When these men see discrete sub-atomic (sic) phenomena, they say it is "particle" behaviour; otherwise they see it as a wave. Carver Mead has killed that thinking once and for all, I think.

Oldavid wrote:
Anyhow, I'm not at all sympathetic to the view that because we don't know everything we must know nothing and relegate the whole of Creation to unintelligible "magic", which is what one must do to relegate Faith to an elaborate superstition.


I agree again.

But in every other branch of ordered knowledge of causes (i.e. science), whether it's philosophy, natural theology, political science, economics, psychology, biology, etc., a great confusion has entered in and many truths have been abandoned whilst a great many things are "known" that just aint so.

This is temporary, of course.

Oldavid wrote:
Electric current in a wire is not simply electrons moving along the wire (at the speed of light)... it is more than just that simple but it makes perfect sense, just the same. Anyhow, that's a study in itself.


That description of the phenomenon only makes any sense at all within the vague and essentially nonsensical framework within which the phenomenon is described. Carver Mead says he has seen produced a mile-long electron. That's obviously a wave in a medium. I would have thought anybody with common sense would take that as final proof of the complete baselessness of the notion that an electron is a tiny particle that flies around the core of the atom at the speed of light, unless it doesn't, etc. It's a load of codswallop. And the idea wasn't born in any direct way from observation; it was postulated as a way of keeping the aether out of existence, as far as I can tell. A "particle" goes through two separate slits at the same time; ergo, some weird theory... But a wave can do that, will do that, is expected to do that. But the discrete nature of this wave had them bluffed. Heisenberg and co were will denying the possibility of discrete wave phenomena in the 1960s, when the laser was produced. Those blokes are just modern witch-doctors. Seriously, David, it's all black magic. The truth that is found in it is there by accident, or at best, to make it plausible.

"Blank slate" is an exaggeration, but only because we have some observations. But the theory is bankrupt.

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Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:41 am
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