RE: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence

From: Lawrence DeBivort (
Date: Sun Mar 17 2002 - 13:05:33 GMT

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    Subject: RE: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence
    Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2002 08:05:33 -0500
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    Philip, what a delight to read your message on quantum quantificiation. I
    did not understand it all (what an understatement!) and got a sense of what
    you are describing, and the kinds of challenges that the physicists and
    mathematicians were tackling. It also sounds like we haven't seen the end of
    attempts to generate a descriptive mathematics that actually does match well
    to the observed phenomena. What an intriguing world you describe...

    Many thanks. Thanky you for taking the time to write this up.


    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: []On Behalf
    > Of Philip Jonkers
    > Sent: Sunday, March 17, 2002 4:20 AM
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence
    > Lawrence:
    > > > Especially when one remembers that the meaning of the term quantum is
    > > > the
    > > > smallest discernible amount. new Age folks sometimes think it
    > means the
    > > > opposite, as in 'a quantum leap.'
    > Wade:
    > > But, AFAIK, that refers to the energy state of electrons, and it _is_ a
    > > vast leap across a gulf of immense energy, atomically speaking.
    > >
    > > But, some physicist will be coming along shortly to beat my ears with
    > > the facts....
    > Allow me before I hit the sack. Quantum mechanics knows two levels of
    > quantization.
    > In the first some physical quantities, such as energy and angular
    > momentum,
    > are quantized,
    > that is, they are allowed to only take on discrete values represented by
    > socalled
    > quantum numbers. The very first act of quantization was one rather fuelled
    > by despair,
    > as a last resort one might say, deployed by Max Planck. So it was that in
    > order to solve
    > the great riddle of the ultra-violet catastrophe he decided to allow the
    > radiation due
    > to the black-body system only to take on dicrete energy values.
    > Although he
    > remained
    > repugnant of that dreadfully unholy (read un-classical) decision things
    > fell into places as no classical theory could accomplish before.
    > And look and behold, the quantum era had begun.
    > This purely pragmatical and ad-hoc measure led to the development of the
    > old version of quantum mechanics pioneered by other no less giants such as
    > Einstein, Bohr
    > and Sommerfeld. It then took the next generation of physicists such as
    > Heisenberg, Jordan,
    > Born and Schroedinger to substitute the rather ad-hoc mish-mash of recipes
    > (which supposed
    > to be passing for quantum theory) by a more solid and coherent
    > framework by
    > inventing matrix
    > and wave mechanics. Of course, the game wasn't finished until our great
    > friend Paul
    > Dirac came along and casted the whole thing into an even more rigorous and
    > mathematically
    > sound theory. Although even then the game wasn't really over and many a
    > mathematician
    > spent a great deal of time proving what Dirac simply had taken
    > for granted (
    > such as the properties
    > of his name-bearing Dirac `function'). After all, Dirac's credo
    > was not too
    > bother too much with
    > the math as long as the physics was right. (After all still, he
    > got a PhD in
    > *applied* mathematics.)
    > In the second quantization matter itself is quantized. Electrons, protons,
    > neutrons and what have
    > you are defined as small packages of energy, mass, momentum, angular
    > momentum
    > and what not. The quantum variant burdened with its description
    > is known as
    > quantum field
    > theory and its existence allows us to interpret experimental
    > results on the
    > bubble chamber
    > for instance, my boss' highly credited invention. Unlike the
    > birth of (real)
    > quantum mechanics in the
    > 20s, to be regarded as a happy time in modern physics as a second rate
    > physicist could
    > do first rate work (wasn't that Felix Bloch who said that?),
    > quantum field theory or better quantum electrodynamics suffered a rather
    > traumatic time of
    > development in the late 30s and 40s due to the discovery of inherent and
    > persistent infinities in the theory.
    > Many physicist saw that as a fair excuse to leave the sinking
    > ship and find
    > pleasure in other
    > areas (such as in biology as Max Delbrueck did and my own boss too
    > presumably).
    > Anyway, I'm dwelling (too much), getting carried away as my sentenced are
    > getting too long
    > and fancy and need to get some sleep (no I'm not drunk or
    > intoxicated in any
    > other way).
    > But it was my pleasure and please forgive me if I left out a
    > crucial element
    > or two,
    > Philip.
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    > For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > see:

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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