“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, July 6, 2014

I Know a Hawk from a Handsaw

I don't ever read reviews of my stuff, at all! So when I hear about reviews, I sort of go "Dur, er, huh" like some kind of Scooby Doo with a Ph.D.

But I think I hear that some people are like “What on Earth does Morton think he's doing with his talk of relativity on one page and quantum theory on another? Everyone knows that they are totally different!”

Well, that's the whole trouble you see. Of course one “knows” they are different, people have horrifying trouble putting gravity together with the other three forces, etc. One has indeed put this fact in all one's books, so it's peculiar people don't see it. Or maybe don't want to see it?

There is a difference however between knowing and assuming.

What interests me is

1. The scientism of “knowing” (for sure) that these “scales” or “levels” are different. This isn't actually how science proceeds, which brings me to

2. Many, many younger physicists are questioning the classical–quantum boundary, discovering it to be neither thin nor rigid. Discovering boundaries to be neither thin nor rigid was Derrida's whole schtick so I really really like them for that. I think that's also my job.

So I really like the work of Aaron O'Connell, who has shown that you can put something massively bigger than regular expected things such a photons and subatomic particles (that people bang on about in pop science) into coherence--this thing is so massive you can see it with the naked eye. Go on, watch his TED talk about it but I recommend (as I did when it first came out, a long time before the talk) reading his actual piece in Nature.

Then there are Petr Horava and others, who talk about quantum gravity: there is a very good essay by him called “Quantum Gravity at a Lifschitz Point” which says that gravity is a kind of averaged-out emergent property of tiny things interacting, noticeable at bigger-than-electron scales. I'm not saying he's right. I'm saying it's very interesting.

Then there are these guys from Caltech. Neat.

Now as far as hyperobjects go, these sorts of thing are all analogies, not actually observed patterns in empirical data.

Yet since I hold that thin rigid boundaries are impossible, I take these sorts of physicists to be very very good. Not right--how could I evaluate that? But very congruent with how I see things. I think they might be right if my idea of objects is right. I take what they do as symptoms of what things are in general.

I think they're so good that I take Niels Bohr to be part of some kind of correlationist clampdown when he says “There is no quantum world.” Sure there is--you can see it with your naked eye at this point! How come that's “not classical”--how come weird stuff only happens below 10 to the minus 20 cm or whatever?

Before I was into OOO I was very into David Bohm. Still am. He was notoriously hounded for his view that entanglement might be ontological, not just an effect of measurement. Naturally he would have enjoyed O'Connell's work quite a lot, and the string theory chaps such as Raphael Bousso who also have...a holographic universe model!

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