[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

Re: Physics vs Nature

Oct 06, 1999 12:36 PM
by JRC

> My own opinion here is that they are not, and this
> comes from 35+ years of being an engineer and
> trying to use the idealistic equations of physics in
> real-world applications. Besides, virtually all dynamic
> equations for systems are time reversible. Physics
> recognizes no Arrow of Time (except in thermodynamics)
> but nature seems to.

Very difficult to really know ... and while I've heard many of those
arguments (for and against the physics=nature notion), none of them make
particular sense to me, because they generally are vague about what they
mean by "laws of physics" and what they mean by "nature". And the core of
the argument seems to be more about epistemology (what we mean when we say
we "know" something - be it knowing physics or knowing nature) that about
the specifics of the laws of physics. Nature may seem to recognize the arrow
of time, however, we have no way of knowing whether this is a function of
nature, or a function of our (extremely) limited perception of it. Our
physical perception, for instance, is clearly constrained to two dimensions
(the *eyes* are only a collection of nerve endings - rods and cones - that
either trigger or don't trigger depending on a set of criteria ... it is the
*mind* that takes that input and adds the third dimension - i.e., to the
physical eyes there's no difference between a picture on a TV screen and
actual street; we don't *see* the back of a coffee cup, but when we see the
front view of it we paint the rest of the picture according to a internal
map). And just as a one dimensional perceiver might be able to imagine two,
but couldn't imagine 3, and a two dimensional perceiver (like us) can
imagine three, but couldn't imagine 4 (at least not without considerable
work) ... so too it may be that we are currently *constrained* to only
perceiving time as a (unidirectional) line - and couldn't even begin to
imagine what a *plane* of time, or a "solid" of time might be.

For instance, constrained to a single dimension, we nonetheless do have an
internal sense, at times, that time is moving (relatively) faster or slower
... some days just fly by, and others seem to crawl (committee meeting
especially seem to be able to severely restrict smooth movement along the
axis of time (-:)). This makes no sense at all if time is one dimensional,
but make it a plane (for instance), and envision it as a street with a
number of lanes ... because we have no notion that it exists, we simply wind
up carried along in the slower lanes or faster lanes at any particular
moment depending upon random chance (or at least upon some set of
determinants that we haven't a clue about). So we find ourselves subject to
a default set of conditions upon birth: perception of a single dimension of
time, and movement in only one direction along that dimension. Naturally all
of our perceptions of nature, organized on top of this underlying
constraint, can't appear to be anything *other* than what it is: That there
is a unidimensional arrow of time that exists as a natural law (which is
really nothing other than saying "*all* the traffic in my lane is moving at
roughly the same speed, and in the same direction - and since I cannot
perceive anything other than that, it is the "arrow of traffic" the there is
no way of breaking free of ...).

In other words, the idealistic equations of physics may sometimes actually
be much closer to the truth of "nature" in and of itself ... but *don't*
work when we try to apply them to the "real world", because our "real world"
is the one we "compile at runtime" (as we programmers say) according to the
assumptions generated by our limited perceptions. But, because it *is*, to
us, real ... some laws of physics that *may* actually be true to a
multi-dimensional perceiver cannot be fully applied within our perceptual
world ... we need to bend them, adjust them, fiddle with them, to actually
get bridges built that don't fall down (as it were).

It may, however, be that just as the mind permits us to build our three
dimensional world out of single or unidimensional sensory input (though it
really does often make mistakes ...) - the mind may also, through the
language of mathematics, enable us to at least somewhat engage aspects of
nature that will *never* be accessible to our physical selves, but
nonetheless have considerable truth to them.

Just ponderin' on this fine fall day ... -JRC

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application