Hollow Theories


This is the way theories end
Not with a bang, but a whisper.

(Adapted from T. S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men)

Lately, we are witnessing a strange state of affairs in modern physics where hope has given place to a state of unrest. A shiver of weirdness seems to have crept under some famous physicist’s pillows giving them bad dreams. Like Joesph Conrad’s character of Kurtz trapped in the Heart of Darkness they have been heard whispering “Oh, The Unnaturalness, The Unnaturalness!”

Have the Dreams of a Final Theory become a Waking Nightmare?

Perhaps it is most discouraging that this situation occurred immediately after success with one of the most expensive experiments in the history of physics – the search for and discovery of the Higgs Boson at the LHC. Yet, this success brought with it the more mundane absence of what many physicists hoped to find!

In sum, the whole business has perhaps turned out to be similar to the case of old gold-miners who expected to find a whole cave filled with gold and what they got instead was just a handful of shiny flakes of metal from a nearby river.

The physicist’s gold was the widespread expectation of evidence for Supersymmetry also nicknamed SUSY. There were several reasons for high expectations that SUSY might be real. Key were the speculations by various theoreticians on how to address important cosmological problems such as the origin of Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Another reason is the many “God given” parameters of the present Standard Model and their fine tuning, otherwise known as the problem of Naturalness.

Sadly, the fountain of new supersymmetric particles have not turned up in the LHC experiments. Subsequently, several more blows were dealt to the SUSY idea up to the point that any attempt to resuscitate it now appears rather hopeless. Part of the story is summarized in this blog as well as in a recent high precision measurement of the electron dipole moment.

Of course, future experiments may turn out unexpected result only that our poor gold miners may now need accelerators of the order of the solar system to perform them!

Be it as it may, one certainly feels a bit of a melancholy in the atmosphere for all the studies, doctoral theses and career hopes invested in SUSY. One finds it appropriate to say a most poetic farewell to the extinct SUSYsaurus utilizing the verses of Ozymandias, the 19th century poem by Shelley

And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is SUSYmandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.


Whittaker and the Super-Potential

220px-Edmund_Taylor_WhittakerE.T. Whittaker – Mathematical Physicist (1873 – 1956)

“What these gentlemen call vacuum isn’t really
nothing but something which is not matter”
(Caroline Ansbach, letter to Leibniz)

Here is a minor fiction, which speaks to mathematical fashion. Once upon a time, in a far away galaxy, there were twin planets, carrying the twins Primo and Ultimo. On giving them some mathematical tools their differences in character become readily apparent.

Primo asserts:

“Oh, what nice tools! I will make the same as you only better!”

Ultimo counters:

“Oh, what nice tools! I will make something different and hope you like it!”

One wonders how deeply people think on their own sayings. Is there any time at all to think in the face of such enormous growth in the scientific literature and bibliographic material?

Do we read others just to differ or only to better?

The exponential growth of bibliography from the 19th century onward should make any sane civilization worry about how to handle the complexity of such a task.

In understanding some of the consequences of this, we consider the cognitive dissonance caused by any the concept of “a vacuum” and that of “nothingness”.

Most people find it difficult to conceive of anything with an existence of any kind between material objects without this “additional” existence being able to exert some kind of resistance or “friction” for that matter.

The famous Michelson-Morley experiment probed exactly that. Was there an Aether existing between substances that supported electromagnetic vibrations of a something?

Let’s look at this from a modern viewpoint. Consider space walks. Such an experience would appear to be one of the utmost freedom, without anything in the vacuum of space impeding us. But think again! How naive that would sound to any person trained in the fundamentals of General Relativity?

In fact, there is nothing really free at all in a situation of “Free Fall”!

I have never heard of any phrase with such an inherently self-contradictory attitude than the expression “Free Fall” as normally used in GR! Surely, no other state of motion is less “free” than the one constrained to move along a precisely tuned Geodesic!

The affront to our freedom lies in the Platonic domain, that line of thought of Einstein himself on the nature of Space-Time. What restricts the motion out there amidst all the nothingness of the world? It is the successor… to “Newtonian potentials”, GR being the
greatest “potential” theory ever made – matter tells space how to curve, space tells matter how to move. The two are co-dependent.

And what exactly is a potential? Is it a bird?, Is it a plane? Is it a tangible thing? Well, it seems that somehow, that it is and it is not. Let us call this intangible existence a state of “something” at the moment.

[Ed. Within the context of electromagnetism and source theory we can see the role of the Green’s function in helping eliminate “the source” in favor of “the potential”. Matter and field are two sides of one indivisible phenomenon.]

One might imagine cartoons appearing on a TV screen and ask if there is any kind of “resistance” to their own motion from the screen itself? What does the image move through if not nothing? Of course, it is a phase relationship of one pixel to its neighbor. Something can move while being itself nothing.

Scientific perspectives can be fluid, as illustrated by a quote in the recent book Contact Geometry and Topology. The first chapter contains the remark (p. 2):

“Since electrodynamics is just a part of mechanics, the discovery made in 2009 can be attributed only to systematic eradication of historical facts from scientific textbooks and monographs.”

I remembered then, in my own college days, never having being informed by anyone on the existence of curl eigenfields nor of the important work by Eugenio Beltrami, mentioned in my previous post. It was as if an invisible hand had erased any memory of it!

It is the Parable of Primo and Ultimo in the context of scientific fashion. When once something is done we make it better or different to the point of forgetting. For institutions that are being paid for teaching you this resembles the art of misdirection used by trickster magicians and card game bluffers.

Your attention is moved to where the educator wanted.

Using this trick, anything or anyone that does not conform to our present axiomatic framework will be cast as marginal and boring. It lies in the realm of specialized techniques, that will only be taught in the extreme situation that we may need to make use of such former wisdom for a demarcated purpose.

This thought causes me to go back a hundred years and check in on the problem of vacuum vs nothingness. The question concerns evidence for “Super-potentials” and Theories of the Aether, due to English Prof. Edmund T. Whittaker. The description of his contribution may be found here.

Whittaker had a certain animosity towards Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity. This was, in part, because Whittaker had invented himself a simple theory in one of his most influential papers in 1904 only that it was superseded by Einstein’s work in 1905 to end up on the shelves.

[Ed. Whittaker appeared to view history through the lens of the Aether and thus took a different perspective. Of course, Einstein was the guy who banished the Aether so perhaps this explains some of the animosity.]

My purpose is to trace the reconciliation of relativistic theories with the previous analysis by Whittaker. It involves recalling his work on the super-potential theory.

The relevant papers are:

1) On the partial differential equations of mathematical physics which develops a general solution of Laplace’s equation through a novel decomposition of the field into two pieces;

2) On an expression of the electromagnetic field due to electrons by means of two scalar potential functions which expresses the electron field in terms of derivatives of two auxiliary scalar potentials

These early works anticipate somewhat the Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Electrodynamics due to John G. Cramer, which itself evolved from the Wheeler and Feynman Source-Absorber theory of photon exchange.

[Ed. Whittaker may perhaps be understood, even if you disagree with his viewpoint, as following a path different from the now conventional Green’s function approach to solving for the field given its sources.]

The Whittaker separation of the electron field into two non-symmetric parts are referred to here as Super-potentials. Their value lies in the fact that both the fields and the first level potentials for such fields can be constructed from an originating potential without any recourse to vector fields. In a different view, these might represent the actual, independent degrees of freedom of the fields, akin to a “basis” or an irreducible representation but not in the ordinary sense of a linear algebra including of course the necessary gauge degrees of freedoms.

Interestingly enough, the first Whittaker scalar, if parametrized in spherical coordinates, shows an interesting periodic structure while the second is akin to a “phase” angle. In the 1930s, H.S. Ruse discovered that the Whittaker scalars represent the Principal Null Directions of the Hertzian tensor in the fully covariant relativistic expression of Maxwell equations due to Heinrich Hertz. This result followed his earlier anticipation of a connection between super-potentials and relativity.

Surprisingly enough, Ruse managed to find a direct association of this basis with the Dirac equation. In fact, the Dirac theory seems possible without explicit use of spinors due to an equivalent form offered by the Whittaker scalars! Little attention seems to have been paid to these facts by the rest of the physics community.

Some fifty years later the connection between Hertzian, Whittaker and relativistic theories was revived by Japanese researcher Prof. Hideki Kawaguchi Prof. Hideki Kawaguchi. Kawaguchi published a series of articles from 1988 to 1995, working from the Hertzian formulation to the standard Lienard-Wiechert potentials, with a connection to the spinorial version of Dirac wave-functions.

Coming back to our previous “vacuum vs nothingness” question, Kawaguchi illustrates the connections on five levels. At the lowest fifth level, where the super-potentials lie, the complexity of radiation reaction shows up in the relations among these potentials in analogy to the Lorentz Force in a more conventional treatment.

The theme of “advanced” waves and signals from the future resurfaces here, underscoring the complexity of any discussion of causality in the electron system. Such considerations, working from advanced waves, led John Cramer to speculate on Retrocausality and a possible series of experiments to look for such effects.

[Ed. The key issue, much like tests of the Bell inequality, is whether any information can be transmitted in such a scheme of advanced and retarded waves. Considerations of relativity would suggest not, much like the lack of any super-luminal signalling potential in the EPR experiments to test Bell and Leggett inequalities.]

This exploration of super-potentials calls attention to an old allegory of Plato. In his defense of “Ideas” as superior to “Things” (the Cartesian “Res Extensa”) Plato considers a grand piece of marble. Before the sculptor starts work, one may conceive of all possible statues being contained in that initial marble. Thus the monolithic marble represents a universe of potentialities from which our consciousness gradually shapes at least one.

This “shaping” procedure in natural law seems to incorporate a kind of “Occam’s Razor” – a principle of economy in the logical structure of theories. Perhaps this has something to do with the super-potential idea as being a level down in the hierarchy, which leads to those layers above.

In contrast, strings, branes, and other popular speculations upon a deeper level, seem to be less constrained and may therefore seem less in tune with Occam’s Razor. According to the ancient meaning of the Greek word “Cosmos” which originates in the verb “Cosme’o” (to decorate) the true meaning of the Cosmos must be “The Jewel”!

Beltrami Fields

Ingenio Eugenio (Beltrami)
Ingenio Eugenio (Beltrami)

“It’s not a fragrant world”
Raymond Chandler

Recently, our tribal leader has expressed his will for a trip into the depths of the remote past. There lies a hidden treasure of secrets covered under tons of malodorous Danish Blue otherwise known as the Copenhagen Interpretation.

Having had the same feeling for years, I asked a million loyal Mongol bots to complete their “Seek and Loot” mission among old and dusty library shelves, forgotten drawers and even locked chests. The loot is in, and all prisoners have been interrogated. Just as I expected, their testimony reveals that we have perhaps come full circle.

Readers may recall the disarray caused to the old guard of 19th century electrodynamics when they realized the conundrum caused by a circulating electron. Why did it not radiate and fall in upon the nucleus? This gave rise to the famous Atomic Stability problem.

Even today, many still think that this problem has no solution in classical electrodynamics. However, people of the “Old Kingdom” were unaware of the richness of certain classical solutions of Maxwell equations. The key is a “Radiation Cancellation” condition, wherein the field is dynamic but not dissipative.

The first example involved an homogeneous, isotropic sphere of charge that is unable to radiate when in purely radial oscillation. Subsequently, Langevin examined the case of a wall of charge in motion. Progress remained slow until 1948 when Bohm and Weinstein published a general study of Non-Radiating Distributions in the Physical Review.

The first to notice the importance of such Radiation-less Conditions for Quantum Mechanics was Goedecke with his landmark 1964 paper:

Classically Radiationless Motions and Possible Implications for Quantum Theory

where we seem important connections made with quantum theory.

Finally, in 1973, the seminal paper of Devaney and Wolf entitled:

Radiating and Nonradiating Classical Current Distributions and the Fields They Generate

saw the light of day. Here a magnificent truth is finally revealed in all its glory: an important general formula with which every radiating current must abide.

It is not surprising that Devaney and Wolf reached their conclusion in an effort to solve a practical problem unrelated to difficulties with QM. They focused on the task of recognizing and accurately identifying a radiation source. This requires the solution of an inverse problem of great significance to radar research and other such applications.

Decades later, two more pioneers, Marengo and Ziolkowsky continued this early work and recovered the full condition for a non-radiating current. It is quite suggestive to take a look at the specific formula appearing in p.3346 as eq.(4) of this paper which describes a condition on the current.

Perhaps the most important, the most significant, characteristic of this formula is a category of current flows that simply fail to obey the given condition. Such currents give rise to a host of possible Non-Radiating solutions!

The origin of this neglected possibility is to be found in 19th Century Hydrodynamics, but does not appear widely known, as judged by the contemporary Wiki consensus: see Non-Radiation Condition. The missing link consists of the Maren-Ziolkowsky work combined with the concept of a Force-Free Magnetic Field

It is then sufficient to take the formula for the eigenfield of the rotation operator, the “curl”, and instead of applying it to the magnetic field, apply it directly to the current sources.  All sorts of strange things will then start coming out of the hat. One will be forced to conclude that, under such circumstances, there will be a myriad of strange, tangled current flows giving rise to non-radiating, non-stationary charge volumes when the rotation eigenvalue is not a constant number.

What we are facing here is clearly a case of general conditions being reduced and studied only as special cases. Such oversights in science can happen. However, it is perhaps embarrassing that no mention, and no credit, is given to the father of the “force-free” condition, although he was well known in his own time. One has to dig under tons of old literature to rediscover the work of Eugenio Beltrami in the general classification of the different types of hydrodynamic flows.

It was Beltrami who explored eigen-fields of the rotation operator, which first appeared in his 1889 “Considerationi Hidrodynamiche”, Rend. Reale Ist. Lombardo 22. Some translations of extracts of these works are listed here:

The Importance of Eugenio Beltrami’s Hydroelectrodynamics

On the Mathematical Theory of Electrodynamic Solenoids

Considerations on Hydrodynamics

In our view, such vector fields might properly be called Beltrami Fields. They constitute eigen-fields of the rotation operator with a non-constant eigenvalue. As such, they can never satisfy the radiation condition of Devaney-Marengo-Ziolkowsky!

Evidently, it may be worth reexamining certain assumptions. Especially when one knows of other works in Solar Heliodynamics and Magneto-Hydrodynamics (MHD) where such general solutions of Beltrami equations lead to “Compartmentalised” solutions.

These are conceptually quite close to the apparent “quantisation” conditions only with some new ingredients that may perhaps serve as a model for an extended non-linear theory including the essential ingredient of “mass” as a self-interaction term as already proposed by our tribal leader.

In the end, I would not be surprised to find some similarity between such controversial proposals as “Spherical Lightning” and protons and electrons.

At least to this, I have had a minor contribution:

A Transmission Line Model for the Spherical Beltrami Problem

As for the rest, perhaps we must wait for the Shamans to fly away from their present obsession with branes, strings and other sundry instruments of mind haze.

[Editor’s note: An interesting and heartfelt post. Theo is encouraging us all to re-examine the classical works of Eugenio Beltrami and perhaps widen our field of vision. I would add one thought to amplify what he is perhaps alluding to at the conclusion. Locating self-consistent solutions to the Maxwell-Dirac and Einstein-Maxwell-Dirac equations has, so far, resisted all attempts by a most capable and committed group of mathematicians. However, we do know that static solutions with a net charge are not possible. Since an electron is charged and has a permanent magnetic moment the commentary above does seem pertinent. We are seeking a current configuration that is dynamic but non-radiating. In this respect, Theo has pointed us toward a very interesting and neglected avenue of inquiry.]

Takin’ Care o’ Business

Book of the Samurai
Hagekure: The Book of the Samurai

“Even if it seems certain that you will lose, retaliate. Neither wisdom nor technique has a place in this. A real man does not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death. By doing this, you will awaken from your dreams.”

HAGAKURE, Yamamoto Tsunetomo (1659-1719)

In the outrageous 1974 film Network, an important new worldview was exposed, perhaps even more important and socially penetrating for this exact social moment than the tired and cliched stereotypes of Coppola’s The Godfather. A worldview explained in the marvelous dialogue between the supposedly radical Mr Beale and the Chairman:

The famous Corporate Cosmology scene.

This worldview has much in common with the Many-Worlds philosophy of Hugh Everett III, as well as to the possible future of the “Academy”. What is a University when they are now offering their lecturing material for free through the internet?

It seems that the ponderous Medieval Scholastic academic profile, so celebrated through the ceremony, fancy hats, robes and all, is now officially a dinosaur. The meteorite has struck! It is a dying relic of the past in a world where computing machines become more and more intelligent and decision making is awarded and divided between both man and machine alike. They must now form a team and get along with one another.

(Ed. Bravo, my good Mongol! We are now on a journey to the Post-Medieval World).

Surprisingly enough, both Marx and Popper always considered the traditional professional Guilds as enemies of an open society. We may think of this as still being true apart from any Messianic attitudes towards history.

(Ed. Guilds are anti-competitive. The Monastic Academy is the Biggest Guild of all. IMHO.)

There is evidence that future society will be a far more Open Society than ever. Consider the Mars One mission now in preparation. This is a truly private mission that garnered global private funding along with support from the Nobel Laureate Gerard T’Hooft.

The Mars One mission and mission philosophy is Radical.

It proposes to start Mars colonization inside ten years but at a price of a one-way ticket! After landing, there will be no turning back. You are Martian for good or ill!

(Ed. A classic Point of No Return strategy. Crash through or Crash. Shatter the Gloom Barrier, or Die Trying! Very Hagakure! No Frequent Flyer points on offer.)

From Mars One company data, it seems that there are already about 40,000 or so applications for an apparent suicide mission. Compare this with the very famous Shackleton Advertisement for the Voyage of the Endurance:


(Ed. Booyah! Men are not born Mice: they are only made so by weak leadership. Leave it to the Marines to get the job done! Lock and Load: Now ship those battle wagons out!).

Having heard this, I started thinking what would a future Martian educational system be like, as there will be families. It is known from evolutionary biology that isolation helps drive diversity. This is one of the reasons, for example, that animals in Australia seem to be so unique and strange. They spent millions of years in isolation from the other continents .

(Ed. Music to my furry little Aussie marsupial ears! We evolved Cold Beer you can Drink.)

I am really eager to see the University of Wild Marslands and how it will function. Pioneers are more practical as they have to resolve any number of new and unexpected situations for survival. As in the Yester-Years of American Colonization, old habits inspired by the European Aristocracy and Papal Authority gradually gave their place to new, more libertarian forms of social arrangement. This is the famous Frontiersman Spirit.

This time though, there will also be a new companion in the form of huge A.I. systems that will be created in the next decades and apparently they will also follow the human path to Mars and beyond in a purely symbiotic form.

(Ed. Never send a Fleshbot to do a Droid’s work in the Photosphere.)

An key element in Evolutionary Computing Strategies is the use of simultaneous alternative viewpoints. Academic stubbornness and conservatism will not help in an unknown terrain with lots of possible challenges along the way.

(Ed. Agree. Traditional Academia is now Combat Ineffective).

In order to cultivate this attitude, it seems imperative to abandon the follower’s stance of a dogmatic truth and develop an inner dialectic where one remains calm in the face of paradoxical and conflicting data.

(Ed. In Confucian China, the classical text the I Ching was used to mold minds prepared for command to accept the reality of change and opposites. This is vital under the Fog of War. Certainty is Certain Death. The Japanese Samurai tradition trained all warriors to be less certain of their logic. They must cultivate Intuitive Perception also, to maintain the supple mind. This is the skill of the Scouting-Warrior, the soul of all true Ninja.)

People that are treated from their childhood to have no clear cut and sharp distinction between opposites like “black” and “white” are perhaps a bit better at doing so.

Some teachings of Soft Martial Arts suggest the absolute complementarity of all movement. This is the art of leaving any mistakes to the opponent, even to eliminate the concept of opponency itself! In Zen philosophy, there is no opponent only a shared dynamic which creates an outcome.

A recent example of this Attitudinal Rigidity problem came from an interesting paper titled

Full characterisation of polarization states of light via direct measurement

which has been published in the eminent science journal Nature.  

But ain’t that supposed to be impossible? Would not a full knowledge of the quantum state come into conflict with Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and undermine the whole Copenhagen School of Physics viewpoint?

(Ed. I have stated my own views on this already.)

The authors of course claim a certain use of strong and weak measurement that avoid collapsing the wave-function and so leave the system unperturbed.

But wait a minute! Ain’t that even more preposterous? And what do these crazy “weak” measurements really mean after all? I read a while ago in another blog about these Weakers being apostates of the worst kind. An unwelcome lot during the Recitation of Divine Liturgy. I think the blog was that of a sturdy Wavewatching Buccaneering Sailor from that shadowy harbor, down Treasure Island way!

But then, who cares any more? Computers of the future will still spit their own nice results, new incomprehensible theories will rise and fall, and most of all new territories will still be there to conquer on Mars or elsewhere.

Who will remember some old academic that had a vision problem a century from now?

Most of all, will it become possible to build a new kind of science closer to the Chairman’s vision in the Network movie? A nice, ecumenical company where everyone will hold a share of stock?

That I think would be worth pondering.

The Misanthropic Principle


“What is well known in general, exactly because it is well known, is not known.”

G. W. F. Hegel, “Preface to The Phenomenology of Spirit”

“Defects of empirical knowledge have less to do with the ways we go wrong in philosophy than defects of character do; such as the simple inability to shut up; determination to be thought deep; hunger for power; fear, especially the fear of an indifferent universe”

David Stove, “The Plato Cult and Other Philosophical Follies”

The historical development of modern science carries with it several philosophical underpinnings that while common, often pass unnoticed by becoming parts of a “social cliche”.

The recent Creationist Agenda managed to bring about one such issue which is commonly referred among professional philosophers with the pompous name of the “Three Major Cosmological Indignations of Mankind”

These are attributed to the three major revolutions, the Copernican, the Darwinian and the Freudian. All share a common attribute consisting in a decentralization of the human kind with respect to the rest of the Universe. Although the last may be in doubt due to more recent neurological evidence, it is the second one that presents the most interesting evidence of a self-contradictory attribute in it’s very name by which it became known to a general audience’.

Despite the core of Darwinian teaching, we still prefer to use the term “Evolution”. In doing this, we preserve a place for us in the upper parts of a tree-like diagram of species variation. Implicitly, we enjoy a special place on the upper leaves of that tree for our own intelligence and scientific understanding.

However, one should be reminded that a “tree” structure is in itself an abstract construct that only shows variation. The true nature of the so called evolutionary record is in fact the mere and raw prevalence of one specimen to another.

It is perhaps by a sheer luck that the lack of contact with any possible alien race allows us to show such arrogance by putting ourselves on the top leaves and considering our own science as the best of anything achievable. But just think of a species able to sense all the acoustic and electromagnetic spectrum, what need would it have of all our precious and expensive equipment!

[Ed. Indeed, the Mantis Shrimp is a crustacean found in waters of Thailand with extreme perceptual powers from ultraviolet through infra-red]

Consider also the case where all the massive ingenuity and trickery of nature would have been concentrated on another species like the “Alien” in Scott Ridley’s film, not requiring anything more than its own reflexive power to face all our defenses. If ever on Earth it would have wiped us all out in months if not days!

We are flattered enough by still thinking of ourselves as the culmination of natural history, a kind of self-prize and yet we show no true evidence of such a progress when the issue of social relationships comes about, even in Academia.

There, the same old natural attitude abounds and that is “pre-eminence”.

Multi-Verse Dreaming and the Fredkin-Zuse Ambush

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on;
and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

W. Shakespeare, “The Tempest“, Act 4, scene 1.

In a previous post on Privateer Science, one phrase caught my attention:

“all physics is an algorithm”

I believe this is worthy of further analysis.

Can we reduce everything to an Algorithmic formulation? Are we living in a digital universe or a simulation? There is much blood spilled over such claims, which makes it interesting to trace their history backwards.

The earliest version was offered by a pioneer of digital computers, Konrad Zuse. In 1967, he published a treatise with the name “Rechnender Raum”, [Ed. in English: Calculating Space], which conceived of the Universe as a set of interconnected parallel processors. The problem of quantum correlations is not there resolved but is attributed to “external” machinery of some sort.

Later, the American physicist Edward Fredkin developed this story. He tried to build a realistic model based upon the conception of parallel automata given by Von Neumann. Later, this became known as “Cellular Automata” as in the computer game “Life”. This philosophy was renamed the “Fredkin-Zuse Hypothesis” in analogy with the famous “Church-Turing Thesis”.

It is unclear how to build the Standard Model as Cellular Automata and how many properties and symbols these should have. Such systems, if properly defined, have a vast number of combinations so any disproof is difficult.

The most recent creative attempt is a book by Stephen Wolfram, “A New Kind of Science”. At 1200 pages, this colossal tome claims that a short collection of Cellular Automata might reproduce the complexity of the Universe as we perceive it.

There remains the problem of consciousness, or freedom of will, and a serious attempt by the Roger Penrose. In his masterpiece, “Shadows of the
, he claims to present a complete and rigorous proof for the non-algorithmic nature of the human mind. The key is the intuitive capability of proof, as shown by mathematicians.

Others think differently, including Marvin Minsky and John Searle.

Let us be dispassionate. Personally, I would not be surprised if these questions turn out to be undecidable!

What is interesting to me is that the history of such claims goes way back in ancient Greek philosophy. Indeed, the allegory of Plato’s Cave, in the “Republic”, describes how people can live chained like prisoners. They perceive the shadows of things as reality projected on the walls of the cave from an external source of light which is always behind their back.

If by accident, or by favor, one of the prisoners ever grasps the
external reality, he finds it impossible to explain it to the rest of his comrades. They still prefer the shadows into which their minds are accustomed from the actual reality. This is the mystery of Life.

Later Plato’s followers and intellectuals like Carneades and the Pyrrhonists established a kind of “Academic Scepticism” which in a sense  precludes the Kantian notion of the ever inconceivable “Being in itself”. Soon after, the Pre-Christian tradition of the Gnostics went a step beyond, by claiming to have discovered an external constructor or “programmer” of our reality in the face of the evil mad god “Demiurge or “Yaldabaoth”  in the effort to also answer the famous “Problem of Evil“.

Strangely enough, modern sociology and anthropology was also influenced vby the notion of simulated reality. This is evident in the works of Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco and Jean Baudrillard, especially the Baudrillard’s
work “Simulacra and Simulation“. In this and similar works, modern sociology sees a kind of “Apo-Semiosis” or designification where the Sign is finally deprived of any need for a signified “true” object to gradually become an empty signifier. This is reminiscent of all the “quantum this and quantum that” hype or the “All Popes and no God” attribute mentioned earlier in this blog.

One of the most important works of fiction that made heavy use of such a paradigm was the 1992 novel “Snow Crash” based on a 3D Metaverse, a kind of fully “Immersive Reality“.

In an acute critic, Richard Rorty mentions that the most important symptom of such a worldview is not so much its artificiality but rather the total lack of inspiration. In another important work by Walter Michaels, titled “The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History”, the following phrase still echoes concerns expressed in this blog.

“So a world in which everything – from bitmaps to blood – can be understood as a “form of speech” is also a world in which nothing actually is understood, a world in which what a speech act does is disconnected from what it means.”

The above really sounds so “Quantum” if so “Copenhagen” that one cannot avoid the temptation offered by direct comparison!

And by another stranger coincidence, one can even be tempted to ask of what it would mean if a kind of “Entangled Brains Hive”  could exist where not just two separate dreamers but a myriad of them could tune into one and the same common dream!

Would such a dream be able to materialize and what kind of elusiveness would such a dream matter appeared to have? What would the scientists and intellectuals inside the World Dream conclude on the nature of the Dream-matter? Would it be as elusive as the
wave-particle duality appears to be?

I cannot avoid a last comparison in here with the verses from a very common popular song, the well known “Hotel California

“We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! “