Can we lay nothing to rest?

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #50 on: 26/11/2014 18:26:23 »
Quote from: John
I'd like to hear about that one too Bill.

Sorry John, I'm not sure what you want to hear more about.  Could be I'm having a "senior moment".  [;)]

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #51 on: 27/11/2014 19:42:55 »
Perhaps it is time to look at some of the things I might be able to take from this thread so far.

I am aware of the fact that scientific veracity does not depend on democratic vote, but “hitch-hikers” like me do well to seek and heed the opinions of the more knowledgeable.

I have often been asked why I think there can be no change, or meaningful division in infinity.  Answers like “Because it makes sense to me”, or “because infinity has a lot in common with Barbour’s Platonia”, are obviously not of the best, so I try appealing to such reasoning as “time and eternity are entirely different concepts”, and my answers always seem to be countered by Cantor-type responses which do little more than muddy the waters.

Let’s see if the responses to these questions help the situation.  The majority view seems to be:
Is infinity a number?      No.
Is eternity a length of time?     No.
Could there be change without time?     No.

A sequence is a number of things/concepts/etc.
Infinity is not a number; therefore it cannot be a sequence.
An “infinite sequence”, such as the natural numbers, is not truly infinite.  Boundless – yes; infinite – no.

Eternity is not a length of time. It is not time at all.  Without time there can be no change, therefore there can be no change in eternity/infinity.

Now I need to square that with the idea that the cosmos is infinite, and our Universe is “part” of the cosmos.

There are many scientists who believe the Universe is finite.  Many of those who opt for an infinite Universe see it as being infinite in the way that they see the sequence of numbers as being infinite.  It really makes little difference which one believes.

We exist in an infinite cosmos in which there is no change or differentiation.  Every “part” is the whole.  Nothing happens, everything just “is”.

We are conscious of time as being linear, and experience our Universe as passing through time; but that is because we are restricted to 3+1 dimensions, we cannot see or experience infinity, and in order to survive in this “illusion” must be able to make sense of our world.

I this science? Yes. 

If there had ever been nothing, there could be nothing now.  There must always have been something.  That something must be eternal/infinite, and therefore changeless.

Will we, as individuals ever experience/understand the infinite cosmos?  The answer to that is not science, it may be philosophy, theology or plain old guesswork, but not science.   

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Offline PmbPhy

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #52 on: 27/11/2014 21:58:04 »
Quote from: Bill S
An “infinite sequence”, such as the natural numbers, is not truly infinite.  Boundless – yes; infinite – no.
This is incorrect. There is such things as infinite sequences. Being an infinite sequence means that the value of the partial sequence has no bound. For example: the sequence

1, 2, 3, .... , etc.

1, 22, 32, .... etc.

are both infinite sequences. Each has no bound. The sequence

1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, ..., etc.

is an infinite sequence as well but this one is bounded.

Bill - Have you ever considered picking up a book on calculus and read the first couple of chapters? You can do it in a day or two and after that you'll have answers to all the questions you've asked over the last month or so. You'll do much much less work reading too.


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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #53 on: 27/11/2014 22:10:54 »
A sequence is a number of things/concepts/etc.
Infinity is not a number; therefore it cannot be a sequence.
That needs some explanation - it makes no sense to me as it stands. A sequence is an ordered list; there's no requirement I'm aware of that it must be finite. (it can also have zero elements)

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An “infinite sequence”, such as the natural numbers, is not truly infinite.  Boundless – yes; infinite – no.
What is the justification for this? What is the difference between 'infinite' and 'truly infinite' ?

Quote
Eternity is not a length of time. It is not time at all.  Without time there can be no change, therefore there can be no change in eternity/infinity.
Eternity is defined as endless time, time without end, infinite time, time of indefinite or infinite extent, etc. So whatever it isn't, it is some sort of time; that's what the word means.

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Offline PmbPhy

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #54 on: 27/11/2014 22:37:53 »
Quote from: dlorde
That needs some explanation - it makes no sense to me as it stands.
Same here.

Bill - It's best to back up assertions like this when you make them, otherwise they're not of much use.

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Offline JohnDuffield

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #55 on: 28/11/2014 10:47:04 »
Quote from: John
I'd like to hear about that one too Bill.
Sorry John, I'm not sure what you want to hear more about.  Could be I'm having a "senior moment".  [;)]
How you get something from nothing. By the way, I was reading your post, and I spotted this:

"Without time there can be no change, therefore there can be no change in eternity/infinity."

Thar's your problem! You got it back to front. It should be without change there can be no time. Or motion of you prefer. A clock clocks up some kind of regular cyclical motion and shows you some cumulative display that you call the time. But it doesn't literally "measure the flow of time". It isn't some kind of cosmic gas meter.   

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #56 on: 29/11/2014 16:11:34 »
Quote from: Pete
This is incorrect. There is such things as infinite sequences. Being an infinite sequence means that the value of the partial sequence has no bound. For example: the sequence

1, 2, 3, .... , etc.

1, 22, 32, .... etc.

“…the value of the partial sequence has no bound.”

Precisely! It is unbounded, you could never establish that it was infinite, other than in principle.

In the first half of the 1980s when I started a science based degree course with the Open University, I dabbled in calculus.  Unfortunately, a major career change, and the learning curve that accompanied that prevented any further study, and 30+ years on I have suffered from the “use it or lose it” syndrome, but I recall nothing that would influence my thoughts about non-mathematical infinity.  Mathematical infinities, as I have said before, are not a matter of contention to me.

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Offline PmbPhy

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #57 on: 29/11/2014 17:43:21 »
Quote from: Bill S
“…the value of the partial sequence has no bound.”

Precisely! It is unbounded, you could never establish that it was infinite, other than in principle.

I was talking about the following statement
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An “infinite sequence”, such as the natural numbers, is not truly infinite.  Boundless – yes; infinite – no.
and not whether someone could sit down in a lab with pen and paper and do it. Those are two entirely different things. You keep talking about boundless as being different than infinite when in actuality they are synonyms. To be exact - Something is infinite when it has no limit. When someone writes 1, 2, 3, 4, .... the "..." actually is defined to mean that it has no limit, that it keeps going and never ends. It is therefore infinite.

You really should study this again. It's not as if it'd be a waste of time for you because you'll spend less time talking about it here then actual study time. It's only a few pages long and doesn't require much math background at all because this is the foundation of math. Just a bit of friendly advice from your buddy Pete! :)
« Last Edit: 29/11/2014 19:28:10 by PmbPhy »

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #58 on: 29/11/2014 21:52:49 »
Quote from: Pete
There is such things as infinite sequences. Being an infinite sequence means that the value of the partial sequence has no bound. For example: the sequence

1, 2, 3, .... , etc.

1, 22, 32, .... etc.

are both infinite sequences.

It seems that not all mathematicians agree with this.

https://www.math.toronto.edu/mathnet/answers/infinity.html

“Number systems come in many sizes. There is the "natural number system", which is just the set of numbers used in counting: 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on. Or, one can expand this number system to include additional concepts, such as negative numbers, fractions, even the so-called "imaginary" numbers (which are not really imaginary at all). Each of these concepts exists provided we look for it in the context of a large enough number system.

Now the question is, does infinity exist in the same way that these concepts (negative numbers, fractions, etc.) do?
In other words, does there exist any number system which, as well as including the familiar numbers we are used to, also includes an "infinity" concept?

The answer is no;”



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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #59 on: 29/11/2014 22:51:46 »
It seems that not all mathematicians agree with this.
I suspect there's no field of human knowledge where everyone agrees about everything.

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Online jeffreyH

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #60 on: 29/11/2014 22:59:04 »
Take a sphere of set radial dimension. Draw two lines from the center of the sphere to its surface separated by a set angle. We can describe the arc that joins them at the surface by a mathematical formula. Now make the radius infinite and carry out the same procedure.

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Offline PmbPhy

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #61 on: 30/11/2014 03:05:03 »
Quote from: Bill S
It seems that not all mathematicians agree with this.

https://www.math.toronto.edu/mathnet/answers/infinity.html
Nope. You're wrong. I believe that in your haste to attempt to prove me wrong you didn't take the time to completely absorb the material and as such you didn't understand that they said that there's no number which equals infinity. But that's not what I argued, Bill. Was it?

Quote from: Bill S
“Number systems come in many sizes. There is the "natural number system", which is just the set of numbers used in counting: 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on. Or, one can expand this number system to include additional concepts, such as negative numbers, fractions, even the so-called "imaginary" numbers (which are not really imaginary at all). Each of these concepts exists provided we look for it in the context of a large enough number system.

Now the question is, does infinity exist in the same way that these concepts (negative numbers, fractions, etc.) do?
In other words, does there exist any number system which, as well as including the familiar numbers we are used to, also includes an "infinity" concept?

The answer is no;”
You misread it. They are not talking about infinity as most other mathematicians do. It's a VERY poor webpage. Look at their proof at: https://www.math.toronto.edu/mathnet/answers/infnotnumber.html

No "infinity" concept exists in the context of any number system, if by number system one means a collection of concepts that have operations like addition and multiplication the way familiar numbers do, operations which obey the usual properties of arithmetic.
Quote
One way to see this is to think, what would infinity minus 1 be? It couldn't be a finite number, since no finite number plus 1 equals infinity. So it must be infinite, and this would mean

infinity - 1 = infinity

From this one can immediately see that the rules of arithmetic must be violated, since if they held one could subtract infinity from both sides to conclude that -1 = 0, which isn't true.
Did you see what they're talking about? They mean

Quote
...in which "infinity" would mean something one can treat like a number.
which is what nobody thinks of as being infinite. That's merely ONE instance/version in which your article speaks of infinity which doesn't exist. However they also give to other examples in which it does.
In this argument they're proving that there is no such thing as a number which equals infinity which is not what everyone else means by infinity. They claim that they're talking about the "concept" of infinity but they aren't. This is a really bad argument and is written extremely poorly.

Bill - I'm sorry but I can't respond to anymore of your responses on infinity unless I know that you took the time to read a section in a calculus text about it. You'd end up reading less than you do in all the internet articles that you've read in the past few days and you wouldn't keep making these errors. But I'm taking a lot of time out of my internet time to respond to your comments to help you. But you haven't been appreciative enough to take my advice and read what I suggested. I feel as if you're being disrespectful to me when the fact is that I'm being as respectful to you as I possibly can by doing a lot of work trying to help you understand this and all you do is skirt around my one single suggestion which will help you. I beg you to understand my point of view. It is not my intention to come across as a jerk to you by any means. The fact is that I consider you one of my best internet friends and an intelligent man to boot. I'm merely expressing my dissatisfaction with you not taking my word on this. You've known me for years now, right Bill? As such you should know that I don't take such strong positions unless I'm absolutely certain that what I'm suggesting will be helpful more than anything you're going to read from me or anybody else on the internet. So please don't get angry with me my friend. Okay? :)

See the attachment which completely defines the concept of infinity

[attachment=19326]

Do you see this, Bill? This is all that I was asking you to read all these days. Do you see how small it actually is? And it completely covers the concept and shows that "becomes infinite" is identical to "increases without bound" by definition. :)
« Last Edit: 30/11/2014 04:41:01 by PmbPhy »

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Offline JohnDuffield

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #62 on: 30/11/2014 14:24:45 »
It seems that not all mathematicians agree with this.
I suspect there's no field of human knowledge where everyone agrees about everything.
I beg to differ!

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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #63 on: 30/11/2014 18:13:56 »
I suspect there's no field of human knowledge where everyone agrees about everything.
I beg to differ!
[:o)] [;D]

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Offline phyti39

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #64 on: 30/11/2014 18:22:34 »
Bill S:
1.  Is infinity a number?
No.
infinite: not limited, not measurable, not countable, without a specific value
By definition, infinity is not a number, but a state of indeterminacy.

2.  Is eternity a length of time?
No.
eternity: time without a beginning and an end
Its definition implies an infinite duration, and therefore cannot be measured.

3.  Is it possible to define Cantor’s “absolute infinity”?
No.
Cantor was a self appointed spokesmen who thought he could explain infinity, i.e. things without end, despite the fact that no human experience encounters it, thus  the mind has no ability to conceptualize it. If you study something to a greater degree than the masses, they will consider you an expert. This would require a separate topic.

4.  If there had ever been (absolutely) nothing, could there be something now?   
Yes.
There is something now, and something cannot come into existence without a cause/reason.

5.  Could there be change without time?
Yes.
Time does not cause changes. As far as known, energy does. Time is like an accounting system, recording events of interest to a standard (clock) event.
This was done long before philosophy was augmented with measurement to become science.
In the quantum world, particles change states, A to B, and B to A. The physicist observes both while his clock accumulates ticks. One transition is the reverse of the other, not one moving backward in time. Change of states for basic entities is  acceptable behavior, but a shattered glass reassembling itself off the floor, and moving to the top of the table would be suspicious. To maintain perspective, running the film backwards (in real time) is not equivalent to an actual reconstruction of a complex object.
Ponder this.
If time is a causal factor, why are quantum predictions expressed as probabilities?
For a 24 hr period, people enter a restaurant off the interstate, eat and leave. Their circumstances vary, so there is no causal chain of events, i.e. their visits are random. Time did not cause their visits. It's memory that allows the mind to make fictitious connections for a sequence of events.
While watching animations on the display, are there really 'moving pictures'?
While watching a plane fly toward the horizon, is it the plane or its image, getting smaller?

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #65 on: 30/11/2014 19:45:25 »
Pete, please don’t think that I lack appreciation for the time and patience you and other experts expend trying to help “hitch-hikers” like me.  As the main carer for two disabled family members I have little time to spare, and I have to say that when I hind a few minutes I tend to spend it interacting with others on line rather than trying to find the specifics of calculus or complex numbers that might, or might not, help. 

Thanks for your attached explanation; it is perhaps the best I’ve seen to date.  If this is what we have been discussing, and coming close to falling out about, we have certainly been at cross-purposes.  As far as I understand it, in my mathematically challenged way, I have absolutely no problem with it.

Some time ago I downloaded a calculus course which has remained unstarted somewhere on my external HD; maybe I should find it and  have a go.  [:-\]
 

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #66 on: 30/11/2014 19:54:30 »
Phyti39; you raise some interesting points, some of which I would like to return to when time permits.  In the meantime, this puzzles me:

Quote
4.  If there had ever been (absolutely) nothing, could there be something now?   
Yes.
There is something now, and something cannot come into existence without a cause/reason.

Shouldn't that have been "No"?

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Offline Ethos_

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #67 on: 30/11/2014 22:17:23 »

Ponder this.
If time is a causal factor, why are quantum predictions expressed as probabilities?
Time is an abstract mental picture we humans define as change in progress. Time does not cause change, change is the evidence that time has passed.

Quote from: phyti39
While watching animations on the display, are there really 'moving pictures'?
No, but photons are moving between the screen and your eyes. And pixels have also changed places and colors.
Quote from: phyti39
While watching a plane fly toward the horizon, is it the plane or its image, getting smaller?
This question is a bit silly. Hold your finger up very close to your eyes, observe it's apparent size then move it to arms length. If you'll notice, it now appears smaller compared to when it was very close to your eyes. Are you prepared to suggest that just because your finger now appears smaller than when very close to your eyes that is has somehow shrunken?

The divergence of light is the reason for the phenomenon of perspective, not because the object has reduced in size.
« Last Edit: 30/11/2014 22:29:16 by Ethos_ »
"The more things change, the more they remain the same."

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Offline PmbPhy

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #68 on: 01/12/2014 00:05:49 »
Quote from: Bill S

As the main carer for two disabled family members I have little time to spare, ..
Yes. I know that and that's why I wanted you to trust me and read what I suggested to you what I did. I.e. because you would have spent a great deal of time less in reading and discussing the point otherwise then actually reading the very small amount on the definition. And when I say that it'd be less reading I mean that'd it take less than one minute! :o

You saw and read the attachment that I created and inserted into my last post. Thus you saw now how little there actually was to read, didn't you? The reason I asked you to take my advice and my word and read it was because I would have had to do less work creating that attachment because I couldn't easily type it out since limit notation is hard to do by typing. I told you many times how little where was to read and you kept thinking that it would take too long. Do you now understand how little there was to actually read? Will you please take my word for it next time? :)

Quote from: Bill S

..when I hind a few minutes I tend to spend it interacting with others on line rather than trying to find the specifics of calculus or complex numbers that might, or might not, help.
You mean to tell me that when I (or someone else) posts a URL to something like a Wikipedia article of a webpage of mine that you've never looked at it? If you did then why would you think that reading a paragraph or two in a text would be any different or require more work? I would never repeatedly suggest reading a portion of a text it wasn't actually a mere paragraph or two.  I just wish you would have trusted me on this. :(

Quote from: Bill S
Some time ago I downloaded a calculus course which has remained unstarted somewhere on my external HD; maybe I should find it and  have a go.  [:-\]
That'd be a great idea.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2014 00:14:27 by PmbPhy »

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Offline PmbPhy

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #69 on: 01/12/2014 00:08:35 »
I suspect there's no field of human knowledge where everyone agrees about everything.
I beg to differ!
[:o)] [;D]
My sentiments exactly, dlorde. :)
« Last Edit: 01/12/2014 16:15:52 by PmbPhy »

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Offline phyti39

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #70 on: 01/12/2014 15:44:50 »

Ponder this.
If time is a causal factor, why are quantum predictions expressed as probabilities?
Time is an abstract mental picture we humans define as change in progress. Time does not cause change, change is the evidence that time has passed.

Quote from: phyti39
While watching animations on the display, are there really 'moving pictures'?
No, but photons are moving between the screen and your eyes. And pixels have also changed places and colors.
Quote from: phyti39
While watching a plane fly toward the horizon, is it the plane or its image, getting smaller?
This question is a bit silly. Hold your finger up very close to your eyes, observe it's apparent size then move it to arms length. If you'll notice, it now appears smaller compared to when it was very close to your eyes. Are you prepared to suggest that just because your finger now appears smaller than when very close to your eyes that is has somehow shrunken?

The divergence of light is the reason for the phenomenon of perspective, not because the object has reduced in size.
I think you get the point. Perception is not what it appears to be. Time does not cause change is my argument against "change cannot happen without time". People still cling to this idea that there is something invisible orchestrating the sequence of events. Maybe it's some form of security blanket in a world where things are so temporary, including life.
Nevertheless, the history of time as a concept and as applied science, shows it as an alias for distance. Look at a Minkowski diagram and notice the vertical axis is ct.

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Offline phyti39

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #71 on: 01/12/2014 15:47:55 »
Bill S #51
Quote
We exist in an infinite cosmos in which there is no change or differentiation.  Every “part” is the whole.  Nothing happens, everything just “is”.
I hope you don't believe in fatalism.

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Offline phyti39

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #72 on: 01/12/2014 15:57:10 »
Phyti39; you raise some interesting points, some of which I would like to return to when time permits.  In the meantime, this puzzles me:

Quote
4.  If there had ever been (absolutely) nothing, could there be something now?   
Yes.
There is something now, and something cannot come into existence without a cause/reason.

Shouldn't that have been "No"?
There was nothing (a physical universe), then one came into existence. Since the elements (energy or matter) had no prior existence, they can't be used to bootstrap themselves into exixtence.

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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #73 on: 01/12/2014 16:29:13 »
There was nothing (a physical universe), then one came into existence. Since the elements (energy or matter) had no prior existence, they can't be used to bootstrap themselves into exixtence.
When you say the bolded above, do you mean there was a physical universe? because it seems to me a physical universe isn't nothing.

If you mean instead that there wasn't a physical universe (i.e. there wasn't anything at all, so no causes or reasons), then you seem to be contradicting yourself - if something cannot come into existence without a cause/reason (i.e. the elements (energy or matter)... can't be used to bootstrap themselves into existence), and there is something now, then it follows that there can't have been nothing (no cause or reason).

I'm puzzled...


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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #74 on: 01/12/2014 16:39:49 »
Time does not cause change is my argument against "change cannot happen without time".
It's not really an argument - "change cannot happen without time" doesn't imply that time causes change. It just says time is a necessary condition for change.

Having said that, there are good arguments for the inverse dependency, "there's no time without change", which does have more of a causal flavour...

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Offline PmbPhy

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #75 on: 01/12/2014 17:13:04 »
Quote from: phyti39
There was nothing (a physical universe), then one came into existence.
That's not known at this point. The Big Bang theory cannot be used to trace back to t = 0 but to only a short time after that. Therefore we cannot say what came before that time. There is a theory called the Pre-Big Bang theory which uses string theory to address some of those scenarios.

Quote from: phyti39
Since the elements (energy or matter) had no prior existence, they can't be used to bootstrap themselves into exixtence.
We don't know that either. There are particles which do "bootstrap themselves into existence". In fact many particles do that. There's a whole slew of them in particle physics which have been seen in the lab merely "popping into existence" from the inertial energy which is already there.

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #76 on: 01/12/2014 19:06:27 »
Quote from: Pete
There's a whole slew of them in particle physics which have been seen in the lab merely "popping into existence" from the inertial energy which is already there.

This is one of the fascinating things about science; scientists seem to be able to claim that the "inertial energy which is already there" is nothing, yet maintain that it can give rise to something. 

I'm willing to believe that I have missed something; but I wish someone would explain what it is. My suspicion is that "nothing" is used in different ways, with different meanings, in different contexts, and that the trouble comes when the contexts get crossed over.

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #77 on: 01/12/2014 19:26:56 »
BTW. If anyone is interested in seeing how the discussion, starting with the same OP, developed on another forum, you might be interested in looking at SAGG.  Just for fun.

http://www.scienceagogo.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=53488&page=1

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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #78 on: 02/12/2014 00:16:01 »
This is one of the fascinating things about science; scientists seem to be able to claim that the "inertial energy which is already there" is nothing, yet maintain that it can give rise to something. 

I'm willing to believe that I have missed something; but I wish someone would explain what it is. My suspicion is that "nothing" is used in different ways, with different meanings, in different contexts, and that the trouble comes when the contexts get crossed over.
Yes; the articles I've seen by Krauss, Carroll, and others usually clarify what they mean by 'nothing' - and it's generally not the conceptual 'absolutely nothing' we've been kicking around here; for example:
Quote from: Lawrence Krauss
To a physicist, the first version of nothing of is simply empty space with nothing in it. You wouldn' t have any particles, all the radiation and so, there's literally nothing in it. But that nothing is actually quite complicated because of quantum mechanics and relativity. It turns out empty space is a boiling, bubbling brew of virtual particles, popping in and out of existence in a time so short that you can' t even measure them.

So clearly it is important to specify exactly what you mean; and, to your credit, you did, when you talked of 'absolutely nothing'; albeit in my view it isn't meaningfully applicable to the physical world.
« Last Edit: 02/12/2014 00:19:43 by dlorde »

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #79 on: 02/12/2014 14:25:25 »
My favourite  quote from Lawrence Krauss is:

“By nothing, I do not mean nothing…..”

OK, it's a bit unfair, but it makes a good quote.

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Offline phyti39

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #80 on: 02/12/2014 21:16:08 »
There was nothing (a physical universe), then one came into existence. Since the elements (energy or matter) had no prior existence, they can't be used to bootstrap themselves into exixtence.
When you say the bolded above, do you mean there was a physical universe? because it seems to me a physical universe isn't nothing.

If you mean instead that there wasn't a physical universe (i.e. there wasn't anything at all, so no causes or reasons), then you seem to be contradicting yourself - if something cannot come into existence without a cause/reason (i.e. the elements (energy or matter)... can't be used to bootstrap themselves into existence), and there is something now, then it follows that there can't have been nothing (no cause or reason).

I'm puzzled...
Should have put "no" in place of "a". Nothing to me is literally "no thing", no matter, no energy, no physical laws. These things had to be introduced somehow. They do not bring themselves into existence. The "big bang" states the universe starts from a singularity, and even assigns an age. That just replaces one question with another.

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Offline phyti39

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #81 on: 02/12/2014 21:21:44 »
Quote from: phyti39
There was nothing (a physical universe), then one came into existence.
That's not known at this point. The Big Bang theory cannot be used to trace back to t = 0 but to only a short time after that. Therefore we cannot say what came before that time. There is a theory called the Pre-Big Bang theory which uses string theory to address some of those scenarios.

Quote from: phyti39
Since the elements (energy or matter) had no prior existence, they can't be used to bootstrap themselves into exixtence.
We don't know that either. There are particles which do "bootstrap themselves into existence". In fact many particles do that. There's a whole slew of them in particle physics which have been seen in the lab merely "popping into existence" from the inertial energy which is already there.
Quantum fluctuations, virtual particles, etc. result from energy and processes already in place. Prior to the "big bang" or whatever, that could not be the case, unless you propose a 'forever' universe.

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Offline Ethos_

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #82 on: 02/12/2014 23:21:13 »

Quantum fluctuations, virtual particles, etc. result from energy and processes already in place. Prior to the "big bang" or whatever, that could not be the case, unless you propose a 'forever' universe.
Frankly, that's exactly what I'd propose. I'll explain:

If our universe once sprang up within nothingness, as a few might suggest, it is quite likely it can happen again. The question is; How do we understand this nothingness from which our universe first came into existence?

There are those that will contend that nothing lies outside our present universe. In fact, they will suggest that there simply is no outside at all. If that's the case, and our universe is finite in both size and age, it came to being within an region that did not formerly exist. And that logic simply does not make any sense at all. If that region didn't exist, nothing could arise within it.

If the Big Bang is an accurate understanding of our universal evolution, we still can only go back to a very short time after this initial event. I therefore suggest that because space is here now, it has always been. And our local Big Bang is just that, a local event within an infinite cosmos of both size and age.

Nothingness is, IMHO an impossibility!







« Last Edit: 02/12/2014 23:29:46 by Ethos_ »
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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #83 on: 05/12/2014 19:03:32 »
Much earlier, I said:

“Dlorde; ……I agree, in general, with your definition of nothing, and would like to say more about it, but at this point it would introduce thread drift, so I will come back to it later.”

I tend to write my notes as though I were trying to explain points to someone else.  In this instance that was the case, so please excuse the style.  These are my thoughts on nothingness from a few years ago.

 I suggest a visualisation exercise.  For the sake of the exercise, we will assume the correctness of a number of theoretical positions: First, the Big Bang itself; secondly, that before the Big Bang, there was nothing and, thirdly, that inflation caused the infant universe to expand extremely quickly.  Now for the mental image: The Universe appears, out of nothing.  It inflates rapidly to the size of a beach ball.  Freeze the scene at this point and describe what you see in your mind’s eye.  Do not bother too much with the appearance of the Universe, it is the image of “nothingness” that is of interest.   

    All the people I have asked to undertake this exercise have described a sphere of light, surrounded by blackness which extends (some qualify this with such words as “presumably”) to infinity in every direction.  There is a second part to the exercise.  Now imagine two universes coming into existence simultaneously.  Freeze the action at the same point, and describe what you see.  The picture that emerges from those who have undertaken the exercise is of two spheres of light, separated by blackness, and surrounded by infinite blackness.  Two points need to be addressed here.  One is: does the second mental image really describe two objects with nothing between them?   The other must be: is this what nothing looks like?   

    If we talk of two runners, for example, finishing a race with nothing between them, we mean they are so close together that it is almost impossible to separate them.  Obviously, this is a figurative use of the term, because, unless they are actually in physical contact at all possible points, which is very unlikely, there will be at least a small amount of space between them.  Strictly, then, can we talk of two things having nothing between them if there is any sort of gap between them?  We might argue that there is nothing in that gap, but the gap itself must be space, and space, as relativity tells us, is something in its own right.  This must lead us to reason that if our two imagined universes have nothing between them, then they must be contiguous, with maximum surface contact.  This must prompt us to question the nature of the nothingness surrounding both the pair of universes, and the earlier single universe.  If we cannot have a space between them with nothing in it and justifiably call this “nothing”; how can we have space around our universe, or universes, and call that “nothing”?  This brings us to the second question: “is this what nothing looks like?”  The answer must be “no”, because nothing cannot look like anything.  Where does this leave us?  I believe it leaves us having to acknowledge that we cannot actually visualise nothing.  Many popular science books assure us (and rightly so) that we cannot visualise a fourth dimension of space, let alone the ten, or more, dimensions required by string theory, because we have no experience upon which to base such a visualisation.  In the same way, I suspect that our life experience prevents us from forming a mental picture of nothing, because we have never experienced it, either first hand, or through someone else’s description of it.  Our nearest experience is of “empty” space, so when we try to visualise nothingness, we use empty space, as a convenient substitute.  If space has ever been a suitable substitute image for nothingness, it certainly is not now, because, according to quantum theory it is far from empty.  Of course, there may be mystics somewhere who can visualise “nothing”.  Perhaps Fred Alan Wolf could find us a yogi who could do this.  The possibility must not be ruled out, but for the vast majority of us the fourth spatial dimension and “nothing”, together with the moment of creation of the Universe, will probably remain concepts we can acknowledge only intellectually, but never actually visualise.

As usual, I would appreciate comments/criticism.

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Offline chiralSPO

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #84 on: 05/12/2014 19:16:12 »
I think this thought experiment might be invalid because it requires the observer to be outside the beach ball universe(s). So you are already starting with a contradiction.

In the case of the two universes: I think this is an argument for considering more than just spatial dimensions. If there are multiple universes, and each is spatially all-encompassing, then they must either occupy the same space or have entirely different coordinate systems. By introducing even one additional dimension (one plus the three spatial and one temporal dimensions we are familiar with), these two universes can exist throughout all of 4D spacetime and still not have any overlap or contact.

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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #85 on: 06/12/2014 00:06:40 »
It seems to me a multiverse must consist of some meta-spacetime, particularly models that have universes 'continually' popping into existence and existing in 'parallel'. Whether this meta-fabric is a multidimensional view of the spacetime our universe is part of, or something different, it can't be nothing (because it spawns, or has spawned, universes).

If our universe is the only one and is finite, then it has no outside; it is all there is, and if you keep travelling 'straight' (a geodesic?) you never come to an edge, but may eventually revisit the vicinity of your starting point (if that is meaningful, given the time it would take and the ongoing expansion).

Just speculating...

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Offline yor_on

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #86 on: 06/12/2014 02:07:13 »
Multiverses are an abstraction, so are time without change. Both are important questions philosophically, to me at last. If you believe in the possibility of mutltiverses, do you also believe in the possibility of pure properties? That something to its nature can have a property that defines it?

I usually use linking 'c' to a clock, asking about that clock, ('c') split into Plank scale, one 'light step' at one 'Planck time', when I wonder about that one. Did that 'frozen instant' of one 'Planck step' also meant that we stopped its clock? (locally defined naturally, you can never get away from the observer and so such a experiment would be very hard to prove anything by, as the observers clock won't stop, and the observer defines the experiment.)

But let us assume that we by splitting 'c' into Planck scale also (locally defined) stop its 'clock'. Would you now define it as the property of that 'clock' still exist there?

Also, if we define a 'emergence' of something, to new properties that does not follow from what we know and can theorize about its constituents behavior before?
=

Also it becomes a question of the scale we use, if you think it's possible.

both questions are about properties, and if they are something more than just a idealization. If they are, what would that make a 'multiverse'?
« Last Edit: 06/12/2014 02:14:48 by yor_on »
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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #87 on: 06/12/2014 18:29:29 »
There are times when I wonder which is the more interesting when posting in these threads.  Is it the science, or the psychology?

The three responses so far all raise points that would be valid if my post were actually about multiple universes.  In fact, the post was about “nothing”; the single and double universes were introduced simply to illustrate different aspects of considering nothingness.

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Offline yor_on

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #88 on: 06/12/2014 18:44:31 »
It's the most exacting branching out of science Bill. We will build a whole wood here :)
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Offline phyti39

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #89 on: 07/12/2014 19:13:57 »
Quote
  All the people I have asked to undertake this exercise have described a sphere of light, surrounded by blackness which extends (some qualify this with such words as “presumably”) to infinity in every direction.  There is a second part to the exercise.  Now imagine two universes coming into existence simultaneously.  Freeze the action at the same point, and describe what you see.  The picture that emerges from those who have undertaken the exercise is of two spheres of light, separated by blackness, and surrounded by infinite blackness.  Two points need to be addressed here.  One is: does the second mental image really describe two objects with nothing between them?   The other must be: is this what nothing looks like?   
...
If space has ever been a suitable substitute image for nothingness, it certainly is not now, because, according to quantum theory it is far from empty.

You have identified the ambiguous words, "nothing" and "space".
If space has properties that are altered by the presence of mass as in gravity, and quantum fluctuations as in the casimer effect, then space, although invisible, has a form or structure. Nothing, being total absence of any thing, would have no properties. It would not have extent or measurement.
The figure of speech, "I see nothing" is more correctly "I do not see any thing".
A miniature universe embedded in a space would not be visible to an outside viewer.
With two, neither would be aware of the other. If the space of each merged then you would have one bigger universe.
The blackness has to be defined as "nothing" or "space".

My exercise would be to turn off photon production, and asking people what they imagine.

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Offline PmbPhy

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #90 on: 07/12/2014 22:14:35 »
Quote from: phyti39
You have identified the ambiguous words, "nothing" and "space".
Why do you say that they're ambiguous? To me they certainly aren't. They have very precise meanings even if space cannot be precisely defined. I.e. see http://users.wfu.edu/brehme/space.htm
Quote
Like time and matter-energy, it is not possible to define space in terms of simpler physical entities. Space simply exists. It can be defined only in terms of its properties. Those properties are what we call geometry.
The term nothing simply means the absence of matter, something that does not exist, the absence of all magnitude or quantity; also zero, nothingness or nonexistence.

Quote from: phyti39
If space has properties that are altered by the presence of mass as in gravity, and quantum fluctuations as in the casimer effect, then space, although invisible, has a form or structure.
Well stated.

Quote from: phyti39
Nothing, being total absence of any thing, would have no properties. It would not have extent or measurement.
The figure of speech, "I see nothing" is more correctly "I do not see any thing".
Seems okay to me.

Quote from: phyti39
A miniature universe embedded in a space would not be visible to an outside viewer.
I'm not quite clear what you mean by "miniature universe" since you're speaking of it in a way that is inconsistent with what our own universe is; our universe is not embedded in a space and can't even be though of as being so.

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Offline phyti39

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #91 on: 08/12/2014 18:11:25 »
Quote from: phyti39
You have identified the ambiguous words, "nothing" and "space".
Why do you say that they're ambiguous? To me they certainly aren't. They have very precise meanings even if space cannot be precisely defined. I.e. see http://users.wfu.edu/brehme/space.htm

Quote
Like time and matter-energy, it is not possible to define space in terms of simpler physical entities. Space simply exists. It can be defined only in terms of its properties. Those properties are what we call geometry.

The term nothing simply means the absence of matter, something that does not exist, the absence of all magnitude or quantity; also zero, nothingness or nonexistence.

Quote from: phyti39
If space has properties that are altered by the presence of mass as in gravity, and quantum fluctuations as in the casimer effect, then space, although invisible, has a form or structure.
Well stated.

Quote from: phyti39
Nothing, being total absence of any thing, would have no properties. It would not have extent or measurement.
The figure of speech, "I see nothing" is more correctly "I do not see any thing".
Seems okay to me.

Quote from: phyti39
A miniature universe embedded in a space would not be visible to an outside viewer.
I'm not quite clear what you mean by "miniature universe" since you're speaking of it in a way that is inconsistent with what our own universe is; our universe is not embedded in a space and can't even be though of as being so.
You know the necessity of good defintions, but Bill uses them with vague and uncertain meanings. The "miniature universe" is used as he presents it, being just as vague. The better his defintions, the less the participants can speculate!

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Offline PmbPhy

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #92 on: 08/12/2014 18:38:30 »
Quote from: phyti39
You know the necessity of good defintions, but Bill uses them with vague and uncertain meanings. The "miniature universe" is used as he presents it, being just as vague. The better his defintions, the less the participants can speculate!
I wasn't aware of that.

Bill. Is that true?

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #93 on: 08/12/2014 19:41:48 »
Quote from: Bill S.
For the sake of the exercise, we will assume the correctness of a number of theoretical positions: First, the Big Bang itself; secondly, that before the Big Bang, there was nothing and, thirdly, that inflation caused the infant universe to expand extremely quickly.

The reason I included these assumptions was to avoid speculation about where the “universe/s” might have come from; what their nature might be, or anything else about them.  The exercise was about “nothing”, and the perception of “nothing”.