John Walker's Electronic House

Rum Doings Episode 235: My Willy Plopped Out My Bumhole

by on Feb.17, 2017, under Rum Doings

In our 235th ever Rum Doings, our topic is, is PewDiePie the next Hitler?

Oooh, lovely, it’s a proper old-fashioned Rum Doings episode, with topics jumping back and forth all over the house. We cover two year past deaths of radio presenters no one’s heard of, childhood fear, quantum entanglement and confused bishops.

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14 Comments for this entry

  • scotchmi_st

    I’m pretty sure Nicks description of a lot of the physics stuff is pretty off, although sadly it’s been too long since I last did physics for me to actually argue against anything mentioned. That said you failed to mention the famous Feynman conjecture that all electrons in the universe are really the same electron, just inhabiting different states simultaneously and interacting with itself all over the place.

    In terms of that whole consciousness stuff, it’s worth bearing in mind that physicists never actually ‘view’ the thing that detected the particle, anyway. If you’re using something such as a scintillation counter then the ‘recording’ is quite far removed from anyone doing the viewing, and suddenly you find yourself back at the debate about whether anything happens at all, and what is this consciousness stuff anyway? Which if you’re a physicist is pretty dull.

    It really makes everything easier if you think of everything in terms of waves and fields, rather than particles. Forget about particles. This talk by Sean Carroll is pretty good- https://youtu.be/gEKSpZPByD0

  • Xercies

    I do believe that a few times Batman or Bruce Wayne is seen at a charity event or giving money to charity or at least its talked about. Yes in Dark Knight Rises he is said to fund the orphanage Robin is at. Even in Batman and Robin I think the function Batman goes to is for charity.

  • Nick Mailer

    My descriptions of the science were not “pretty off”. Look up the Quantum Eraser experiment yourself.

    And yes, I know perfectly well that we’re really talking about wave functions and the collapse thereof. But to suggest that a discussion of pervasive fields makes things EASIER is peculiar to me. At best they are ontological copouts that beg the question; at worst, they’re a post-modern Ether.

  • Daniel

    As far as I understand it the measurement part of quantum mechanics is not about human consciousness but is a physical process. By which I mean the measurement is done by some kind of experimental apparatus and has nothing to to do with the human looking at it.

  • Daniel

    I also disagree in the notion that physicists are not interested in the question of what consciousness is. There are physicists/computer scientists who’s work is based around that question. It’s one of the big questions of science/philosophy. Although I think physics and scientists in general have a tendency to be quite ignorant of the philosophy side of things.

  • Daniel

    I also also don’t agree that the maths is complicated but the concepts are simple :p Physicists generally agree that the maths works without understanding what is actually happening.

  • Nick Mailer

    @daniel – Regarding measurement, it’s not as simple as that. For a time, it was assumed that the detectors etc could be influencing things like the double-slit experiment. But then, with Wheeler’s Delayed Choice and the Quantum Delayed Eraser, the particle/wave always passed through the detector, which was always on. But a later prism either confirmed or removed the possibility of KNOWING which detector it went through. In other words, the mere destruction of information in the universe was enough to allow the interference pattern to remain.

    And the only way you can determine that interference pattern is by looking at it, or looking at a computer’s report of it.

    Do you see the problem? Can information meaningfully be considered to exist without an entity to perceive it?

    As for complexity: the implications are certainly philosophically complex, but the concepts we have at hand are simple. The quantum world’s rules are much, much less complicated than a game of football, for example! It’s just that it plays that particular game at all that’s the complicated consideration!

  • scotchmi_st

    Nick: I wasn’t referring to the quantum eraser experiment. I’m surprised at how defensive your immediate reaction was about something I’m pretty sure you haven’t studied to a serious degree. It’s not as if not knowing modern particle physics is some personal failing.

    1. Yes, pair production can lead to quantum entanglement, but from a high-level viewpoint, actually all that’s needed is to bring to particles into close proximity to each other in order for them to interact. Your explanation of pair production was unnecessary and misleading.

    2. Yes spin is something that can be correlated with entanglement, but so can other properties such as momentum and position. Again, the frankly rather muddled and wibbley explanation was misleading and not necessary.

    Also, you may believe that discussing this stuff in terms of waves and fields is “a post-modern Ether” but quantum field theory is the foundation of modern physics. It isn’t an “ontological cop-out” any more than anything else for at least the last 100 years has been. If your beef is that thinking about something in one way shouldn’t make it easier to understand than thinking about it another way, then why not try expressing Maxwell’s equations using both polar and cartesian coordinates, and see which is easier to get your head around.

  • Nick Mailer

    Of course it’s an ontologically copout! Hence “shut up and calculate”.

  • Kit

    Woof, good thing you avoided talking about Milo

  • Gassalasca

    The Batman in The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie is genuinely good.

    Also, you could make a short-ish special episode only talking about PewDiePie and Milo. :D

  • scotchmi_st

    Nick: It’s too bad if that’s what you think. Fields and waves are by no means a 20th century concept. After all, Faraday was quite used to thinking in that way, about light and electromagnetism. I wonder if you would have thought that when Newton was describing how gravity works using maths, without yet understanding of why objects seem attracted to each other across empty space. (I wonder if you yet think that thinking about spacetime and GR in that way is itself an ‘ontological copout’). Either way, if you think there’s refuge to be found in stubbornly thinking about everything as a ‘particle’ then you yourself must surely be guilty of your own question-begging when it comes to the nature of particles.

  • Nick Mailer

    Why do you assume I think everything is a particle? I don’t. But to call something “an excitement of a field” is just poetical BS, and begs the question of the ontological reality of that field.

    And you’re quite right. A field is not a 20th century concept. Any time a scientist wants to describe something without being able to grasp its ontology, they say “oh, it’s just a field”. It’s literally saying “it’s the way things happen in this universe when I observe an interaction of X with Y”.

  • scotchmi_st

    I’m not really sure where the issue is, for you. What’s wrong with thinking about it in terms of ripples on the surface of water? Indeed, there have been a series of experiments in the last few years which find comparisons between that and QM. You may find this interesting- http://news.mit.edu/2013/when-fluid-dynamics-mimic-quantum-mechanics-0729

    Again, it’s too bad if you think that fields are a kind of mathementical fudge. I’m not sure what I could say that could convince you otherwise. I’ve never heard of a philosopher have a problem with electromagnetism or gravity though. If you do then you may be alone in that.

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