Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Message in a Bottle

I recently received an email from what sounded like a very bright young person, talking about machine consciousness, qualia, and essentia.

Then that email rather mysteriously disappeared. 

So this is a 'message in a bottle,' whereby I hope to reach that individual and ask that they try again.


Saturday, October 01, 2016

The Forces of Nature, Color

Watched this on PBS the other night.

There's nothing here you likely haven't known for a long time.

Except for the fact that they state, quite explicitly, that color is a feature of light itself.

Did our civilization just do a 180 on the subject?

And did no one bother to tell me?

Oooh, that makes me so mad.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

New Support for Alternative Quantum View

May 16, 2016

Of the many counterintuitive features of quantum mechanics, perhaps the most challenging to our notions of common sense is that particles do not have locations until they are observed. This is exactly what the standard view of quantum mechanics, often called the Copenhagen interpretation, asks us to believe. Instead of the clear-cut positions and movements of Newtonian physics, we have a cloud of probabilities described by a mathematical structure known as a wave function. The wave function, meanwhile, evolves over time, its evolution governed by precise rules codified in something called the Schrödinger equation. The mathematics are clear enough; the actual whereabouts of particles, less so. Until a particle is observed, an act that causes the wave function to “collapse,” we can say nothing about its location. Albert Einstein, among others, objected to this idea. As his biographer Abraham Pais wrote: “We often discussed his notions on objective reality. I recall that during one walk Einstein suddenly stopped, turned to me and asked whether I really believed that the moon exists only when I look at it.”

But there’s another view — one that’s been around for almost a century — in which particles really do have precise positions at all times. This alternative view, known as pilot-wave theory or Bohmian mechanics, never became as popular as the Copenhagen view, in part because Bohmian mechanics implies that the world must be strange in other ways. In particular, a 1992 study claimed to crystalize certain bizarre consequences of Bohmian mechanics and in doing so deal it a fatal conceptual blow. The authors of that paper concluded that a particle following the laws of Bohmian mechanics would end up taking a trajectory that was so unphysical — even by the warped standards of quantum theory — that they described it as “surreal.”

Nearly a quarter-century later, a group of scientists has carried out an experiment in a Toronto laboratory that aims to test this idea. And if their results, first reported earlier this year, hold up to scrutiny, the Bohmian view of quantum mechanics — less fuzzy but in some ways more strange than the traditional view — may be poised for a comeback.



Disclosure: I've long argued for a similar POV.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Notes on the Revolution, 5

Here's a stunner: Nobelist Frank Wilczek, talking about the same stuff I've been on about for 40 years, regarding color v. action, symmetry, and higher dimensions.

(The first 20 minutes or so are a recap of contemporary physics.)

More on LinkedIn

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Notes on the Revolution, 4

Quantum Computers

Emerging Technology That Will Revolutionize The World

By David Deuchar

  • Google’s Quantum AI team, which works with NASA and D-Wave Systems, recently announced concrete evidence of huge runtime gains for proof-of-principle optimization problems with D-Wave’s latest quantum computer.
  • The 1000+ qubit D-Wave 2X quantum annealer outperforms classical processors by a factor of over 10 to the 8, or 100 million times.
  • Central banks, governments and major aerospace firms already employ the technology on a exploratory basis, but financial researchers/directors see massive potential for portfolio optimization in the vein of HFT trading.
  • This technology not only has massive implications for Google but for the entire financial industry as a whole.

The ability to solve complex, dynamic problems that would take classical computers tens of thousands of years in mere seconds — this has been the promise of quantum computing. The theories and ideas behind quantum computing have been around for decades, but now, Google is starting to demonstrate concrete progress in the quest for a practical quantum annealer that could revolutionize the entire world.

I was happy to see color and consciousness in the scrolling topics. Here’s a little learning to flesh that out a bit.

So long as we adhere to the conventional notions of mind and matter, we are condemned to a view of perception which is miraculous. We suppose that a physical process starts from a visible object, travels to the eye, there changes into another physical process, causes yet another physical process in the optic nerve, and finally produces some effect in the brain, simultaneously with which we see the object from which the process started, the seeing being something “mental”, totally different from the physical processes which precede and accompany it. This view is so queer that metaphysicians have invented all sorts of theories designed to substitute something less incredible.

~Bertrand Russell

If you ask a physicist what is his idea of yellow light, he will tell you that it is transversal electromagnetic waves of wavelength in the neighborhood of 590 millimicrons. If you ask him: But where does yellow come in? he will say: In my picture not at all, but these kinds of vibrations, when they hit the retina of a healthy eye, give the person whose eye it is the sensation of yellow.