Saturday, July 28, 2012

Erroneous common sense vs nonsensical Reality : Sciences, solid vs quantum


Modernists such as think tank climate deniers pride themselves on their side's "solid science" , their "common sense" science developed from that reliably Anglo Saxon trio of Newton, Dalton & Darwin .

They dismiss the other side's (quantum-based) science as "nonsensical".

On both counts they are correct but unfortunately, also in error.

(Rather like a quantum particle which can be shown by experiment to be in two places at once and also both a particle and a wave.)

Nineteen Century science - the only sort of science that 21st century university undergraduates and high school seniors are ever taught, is indeed solid and commonsensical.

Unfortunately, starting in the 1890s it was also shown to be fundamentally wrong (more accurately : wrong at fundamental scales) and only apparently semi-accurate over a limited (but very common) scale of activities.

Up until about 1947, nothing we had ever built in the Age of Modernity (except perhaps natural penicillin antibiotics) reflected the new quantum sciences of physics,chemistry and biology.

Not even the A-Bomb.

But starting with transistors and other semi conductors, almost everything truly major invented since then has been only possible by understanding and accepting quantum science's take on reality.

We can still safely build huge bridges and dams using only old Newton's rules, but I won't want to land a plane using a GPS system built by Newtonian Science : crash ,boom, dead !

What we take to be solid actually isn't fundamentally solid - not from those little hard elastic balls we thought were atoms, right down to the smallest possible sub atomic building block, sorry random vacuum energy flux.

And a great deal of quantum science is indeed non-intutitive and nonsensical but the measurements do not lie ; to parts per million they are real, they are reality.

Our sense impressions are at fault : not Reality.

By contrast much of Newton's & Maxwell's most fundamental laws fail embarrassingly at crucial points.

Nineteenth century science convinced engineers, at least, that feathers fell as fast as lead ball (in a vacuum) and that the sun's gravity "force" affected the earth via "spooky action at a distance" : neither ideas seem on the surface to be commonsensical.

But they were (and are) wildly popular notions among modernists and deniers despite all that.

Why ?

I would argue this is because Nineteenth Century Science promised us that while our macro (Man-sized) world of volcano and weather sized objects and events seemed complex, dynamic and uncertain, it reassured us that underneath - at the most fundamental level - Reality was actually solid, simple, certain, regular.

 Fundamentally Reality was knowable, controllable and manipulatable by Man.

A libertarian capitalist or socialist's dream : in Isaiah Berlin's formulation : Liberty for Man and Slavery for Atoms.

What quantum science revealed was exactly the reverse: a man sized rock was solid - particularly if your car hit it - but neither its fundamental atoms or their tinier components were solid - really just flickering bits of energy : altogether the wrong sort of eternally shifting sand to set the foundations of an ideology of certitudes upon.

Quantum science and Solid science of modernity / libertarianism / climate denial are fundamentally opposed - only one can be true.

No science experiment - even at the high school level - shows that solid science beats quantum science ; always solid science is a subset of quantum science, a useful subset that sometimes works - and then embarrassingly - sometimes does not.

But quantum science's revealing of the reality at its most fundamental has split over into post-modernity ; in fact helped create it and sustain it.

Post-modernity is quantum-modernity ......

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