
III. Ecosmos: A Revolutionary Fertile, Habitable, SolarBioplanet, Incubator Lifescape1. Quantum Cosmology Theoretic Unity Siegfried, Tom. A ‘Landscape” Too Far? Science. 313/750, 2006. A news report on the June 2006 Conference on Supersymmetry and the Unification of Fundamental Interactions where a revival of the anthropic principle, seemingly merited by string theories, was acrimoniously hashed out. The article notes a growing upheaval in quantum physics and consequent multiverse cosmology to move beyond a two decade hiatus due to the string mindset, whose mathematics can take on a life of its own. And it makes me wonder why this totally male field so abhors any thought that human beings might be cosmically worthwhile. Simcoe, Robert. The Cosmic Web. American Scientist. JanuaryFebruary, 2004. Its subtitle reads: “Observations and simulations of the intergalactic medium reveal the largest structures in the universe.” A collaborative project of humankind achieves graphic visualization of filamentary webs of stars and galaxies. Smolin, Lee. A Perspective on the Landscape Problem. arxiv.org/pdf/1202.3373. A paper to appear in Foundations of Physics special issue on String Theory, see Susskind below. Smolin, a senior philosophical physicist at the Perimeter Institute, Waterloo, Canada, finds deep flaws to persist which beg even more arcane straits to deal with. But if one samples a list of recent conferences via the Perimeter Institute Recorded Seminar Archive such as Laws of Nature: Their Nature and Knowability (2010) or Emergence and Effective Field theories Conference (2011), one gets a sense that the very physics and cosmology scenario or paradigm is Ptolemaic at best, seeming to require constant excuses, revisions, or band aids. In any event, Smolin’s posting has many clickable references in this regard. String theory brought the landscape issue into focus but, as we have seen, it was inevitable that as physics progressed we would have encountered the problem of explaining how the universe chose its laws. We can call this the generalized landscape problem. Whether string theory is the right theory of unification or not, it is clear that this general landscape problem must be solved. But as we have seen, this problem can only be solved if we abandon the idea that ultimate explanations in physics are to be given in terms of laws organized according to the Newtonian paradigm, with timeless laws acting on a timeless space of states. (26)
Smolin, Lee.
Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution: the Search for What Lies Beyond the Quantum.
New York: Penguin,
2019.
Another insightful volume by the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics natural philosopher as he continues to sort out and clarify a past century of entangled quantum theories. Smolin presses on because the field seems to have reached an impasse that only a novel, missing dimension can resolve. In regard, a first part, An Orthodoxy of the Unreal, recites personal opinions, aspects and arguments since the early 1900s that have mostly wound up with ephemeral, antirealist schemes. A survey of Leibniz, Mach, Einstein, Bohr, de Broglie, Schrodinger, Hugh Everett, and many others is covered to prepare for further glimpses such as by David Bohm and John Bell. A Realism Reborn section then avers that an independent reality outside our human conjectures must be seen to exist on its distinct own. By so doing, Smolin lays out the contrast between giving in to unintelligible quandaries or allowing that clouds can clear and a resolve be found. Quantum physics is the basis of our understanding of atoms, radiation, and so much else. But it has been plagued by intense disagreements between its inventors, strange paradoxes, and implications that seem like fantasy. In Einstein's Unfinished Revolution, theoretical physicist Lee Smolin argues that the problems which have bedeviled quantum physics since its inception are unsolved for the simple reason that the theory is incomplete. Our task  if we are to have simple answers to our simple questions about the universe we live in  must be to go beyond quantum mechanics to a description of the world on an atomic scale that makes sense. (Publisher excerpts) Smolin, Lee. The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The philosophical physicist worries that things are not well, out of kilter, with quantum mechanics and its cosmology paradigm. Now gone astray into arcane landscapes of multidimensional strings and megauniverses, it takes leave of natural reality along the way. Smolin goes on to chart pathways toward a better approach and agenda, which includes perceptive considerations of how science should conduct itself. Smolin, Lee. Three Roads to Quantum Gravity. New York: Basic Books, 2001. A report on efforts to unify quantum and relativity physics by means of loop quantum gravity, string theory, and black hole thermodynamics. Smolin goes on to offer glimpses of a fractal and hologramlike cosmos, a duality of particles and relations, selfsimilar networks, and an inherently selforganizing development. The world must be a network of holograms, each of which contains coded within it information about the relationships between the others. In short, the holographic principle is the ultimate realization of the notion that the world is a network of relationships. (178) It may seem fantastic to think of the universe as analogous to a biological or ecological system, but these are the best examples we have of the power of the processes of selforganization to form a world of tremendous beauty and complexity. (201)
Smolin, Lee.
Time Reborn: From the Crisis of Physics to the Future of the Universe.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,
2013.
The author, a philosophical physicist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario, of which he was a founder, is a leading reality checker, course corrector, and frontier thinker for physical cosmology. His 1999 The Life of the Cosmos introduced cosmological natural selection, while in 2007 The Trouble with Physics took issue with string theory, multiverse, and other entanglements. Please search Smolin and arXiv for many postings. This latest work, six years on, proceeds to scope out an historic conceptual reimagination. An old Newtonian school fixed upon timeless truth, eternal laws, predetermined fate, isolate particles, the reductive litany, is set aside for a 21st century horizon of a dynamically nonequilibrium, selforganizing, complexifying, emergence. Restrictive formulas and parameters become malleable and evolve as time ticks and meters, opening upon unpredictable futures. (Old Newton, Boltzman version) Time is an illusion. Truth and reality are timeless. Equilibrium is the natural state and inevitable fate of the universe. The observed complexity and order of the universe is a random accident due to a rare statistical fluctuation. Quantum mechanics is the final theory and the right interpretation is that there are an infinity of actually existing alternative histories. (New Leibniz, Smolin revolution) Time is the most real aspect of our perception of the world. Space is emergent and approximate. The universe naturally selforganizes to increasing levels of complexity, driven by gravitation. Quantum mechanics is an approximation of an unknown cosmological theory. (248249) Stamatescu, IonOlimpiu and Erhard Seiler, eds. Approaches to Fundamental Physics. Berlin: Springer, 2007. Each select chapter is meant to cover prime topics extant today such as Particles, Quantum Fields, General Relativity, Quantum (mostly Loop) Gravity, Strings and Dark Energy Cosmology. But the entries, set as they are in theoretical reaches, seem strained since their premises are locked in a Ptolemaic model that loses and excludes life and the very human intellect able to accomplish such inquiries. Susskind, Leonard. String Theory. Foundations of Physics. Online December, 2012. The Stanford University physicist, author, initiator and vocal advocate of “string theory,” offers a synopsis of its history and status for a forthcoming issue of this journal “Forty Years of String Theory: Reflecting on the Foundations.” But per the quotes, and this paper alludes, four decades later there is little to show for it. It appears, as Susskind suspects, to be without foundation, is ever being propped up, epicycles upon epicycles, and is largely unprovable. See Smolin 2012 above for further qualms. Just to be precise about what constitutes string theory, let me give a narrow definition. But it has the virtue that we know that it mathematically exists. By string theory I will mean the theory of supersymmetric string backgrounds including 11dimensional Mtheory and compactifications that preserve some degree of super symmetry. With that definition of string theory, there is no doubt: string theory is not the theory of nature – the world is not supersymmetric, and it has positive cosmological constant. Exactly how the definition has to be expanded in order to describe the observed universe is not known. (2)
Tegmark, Max.
Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality.
New York: Knopf,
2014.
The MIT physicist and cosmic imagineer writes an opus that stretches what might be conceived as an explanation for where and why we find ourselves. Human, earthly existence becomes valorized into four levels of parallel multiverses, each due to a mathematical occasion. A primer appears in the December 2013 issue of Discover magazine, quote below, see also a review in Nature (505/24, 2014). Earlier versions (search), are on arXiv and in Foundations of Physics (38/2). A brief capsule does not apply, so we quote from “Bottom Line” of the last chapter “Life, Our Universe and Everything,” where, in contrast to most science books , a significance is yet held out for human beings, if we may so choose. * Even though our two intellectual expeditions set off in opposite directions, toward the large and the small, they ended up in the same place: in the realm of mathematical structures. * On the largest and smallest scales, the mathematical fabric of reality becomes evident, while it remains easy to miss on the intermediate scales that we humans are usually aware of. * If the ultimate fabric of reality really is mathematical, then everything is in principle understandable to us, and we’ll be limited only by our own imagination. * Evidence suggests that there’s no other lifeform as advanced as us humans in our entire Universe. * From a cosmic perspective, the future potential of life in our Universe is vastly greater than anything we’ve seen so far. * Yet we humans devote only meager attention and resources to existential risks that threaten life as we know it, including accidental nuclear war and unfriendly artificial intelligence. * Although it’s easy to feel insignificant in our vast cosmos, the entire future of life in our Universe will arguably be decided on our planet in our lifetime – by you, me and our fellow passengers on Spaceship Earth. (Bottom Line, 398) Tegmark, Max. Parallel Universes. Scientific American. May, 2003. Imaginative speculations on the implications of the latest quantum and cosmological physics which are opening upon hidden dimensions and an immense variety of universes. Tegmark, Max. The Mathematical Universe. www.arxiv.org/abs/0704.0646. In this technical paper, first posted online as above, the MIT theoretical cosmologist reports on a decade of work toward an historic reconception that, as noted, would please Galileo. A full published copy is available in Foundations of Physics (38/2, 2008) with a popular summary in the New Scientist for September 15, 2007. Tegmark also directs the Foundational Questions Institute, funded by the Templeton Foundation, which can be accessed at: www.fqxi.org. A recent capsule of his lifefriendly cosmology is noted in Current Vistas. I explore physics implications of the External Reality Hypothesis (ERH) that there exists an external physical reality completely independent of us humans. I argue that with a sufficiently broad definition of mathematics, it implies the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH) that our physical world is an abstract mathematical structure. I discuss various implications of the ERH and MUH, ranging from standard physics topics like symmetries, irreducible representations, units, free parameters and initial conditions to broader issues like consciousness, parallel universes and Godel incompleteness. I hypothesize that only computable and decidable (in Godel's sense) structures exist, which alleviates the cosmological measure problem and help explain why our physical laws appear so simple. I also comment on the intimate relation between mathematical structures, computations, simulations and physical systems. Abstract 101)
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