To what extent are concepts like string theory, quantum mechanics, etc true?

funknotik
atheist
funknotik's picture
Posts: 157
Joined: 2007-12-10
User is offlineOffline
To what extent are concepts like string theory, quantum mechanics, etc true?

It's a whole new concept for me, as I understand it string theory is one of many theories that attempt to piece together the "theory of everything," which would then make it True in principal? I'm asking because I read Stephen Hawkings Grand Design and I watched the BBC special about his information paradox and I'm now more confused than ever. Are any of the claims made by physicists testable or verifiable and if they are not what are the chances that they will be now that we have the LHC? Also I had a discussion with some friends regarding the validity of quantum mechanics and theoretical physics and the consensus among non scientists seems to be that these theories are equally as absurd as belief in god since they cannot be proven with testing. I understand that these theories are mathematically sound and have a functional internal logic according to the physicists but it's difficult to explain this concept to someone who is telling you the idea of multiple dimensions is absurd. Also I can't exactly walk them through these complex equations since I don't fully understand them myself. If anyone can provide some links or a good beginners book to understanding this stuff that would be great.

 


redneF
atheistRational VIP!
redneF's picture
Posts: 1971
Joined: 2011-01-04
User is offlineOffline
We don't know.They are only

We don't know.

They are only 'theories'.

 

That's the 100% truth.

Otherwise, the LHC would not have been needed.

 

Even though they are 'theories', they only 'suspect' that they 'might' be possible/probable.

This, in no way, parallels religion.

 

No matter what scientists 'suspect', once the tests show compelling evidence otherwise, scientists will simply lose 'faith'.

If the experiments prove conclusively otherwise, they will simply 'reject' those previous theories, immediately.

 

No matter how much of their life, they invested in those previous theories.

They are not 'insane'.

They are NOT religious in nature, towards these speculations.

 

I keep asking myself " Are they just playin' stupid, or are they just plain stupid?..."

"To explain the unknown by the known is a logical procedure; to explain the known by the unknown is a form of theological lunacy" : David Brooks

" Only on the subject of God can smart people still imagine that they reap the fruits of human intelligence even as they plow them under." : Sam Harris


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5904
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
String theory is

String theory is acknowledged by most scientists to be very much at the the fringe, but enough think it might be at least the basis for a new insight to be worth investigating/testing.

OTOH, Quantum Mechanics is as 'true' as any theory gets - it has so far stood up to all serious tests, and has provided the ground for some for much fruitful further research. Its problem is that its concepts are so counter-intuitive, that it is hard to work out what it 'means', beyond all the math.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


butterbattle
ModeratorSuperfan
butterbattle's picture
Posts: 3729
Joined: 2008-09-12
User is offlineOffline
funknotik wrote:It's a whole

funknotik wrote:

It's a whole new concept for me, as I understand it string theory is one of many theories that attempt to piece together the "theory of everything," which would then make it True in principal?

Not sure what you mean by "true in principle." Theories need to be internally consistent, and then, they are compared to reality.

funknotik wrote:
Are any of the claims made by physicists testable or verifiable and if they are not what are the chances that they will be now that we have the LHC? Also I had a discussion with some friends regarding the validity of quantum mechanics and theoretical physics and the consensus among non scientists seems to be that these theories are equally as absurd as belief in god since they cannot be proven with testing.

Quantum mechanics is already well established with empirical evidence i.e. "testing." Theoretical physics is a branch of physics, not a theory. Calling that an absurd belief is already a category error. 

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


TGBaker
atheist
TGBaker's picture
Posts: 1367
Joined: 2011-02-06
User is offlineOffline
butterbattle wrote:funknotik

butterbattle wrote:

funknotik wrote:

It's a whole new concept for me, as I understand it string theory is one of many theories that attempt to piece together the "theory of everything," which would then make it True in principal?

Not sure what you mean by "true in principle." Theories need to be internally consistent, and then, they are compared to reality.

funknotik wrote:
Are any of the claims made by physicists testable or verifiable and if they are not what are the chances that they will be now that we have the LHC? Also I had a discussion with some friends regarding the validity of quantum mechanics and theoretical physics and the consensus among non scientists seems to be that these theories are equally as absurd as belief in god since they cannot be proven with testing.

Quantum mechanics is already well established with empirical evidence i.e. "testing." Theoretical physics is a branch of physics, not a theory. Calling that an absurd belief is already a category error. 

 

My understanding is that string rheory is the best thing going but not testable/ falsifiable.I thing its been said there are 500,000,000 potential string theories corresponding to their possible worlds.

 

Check this out????

http://www.hedweb.com/nihilism/nihilf08.htm

 

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whip cream."--Frank Zappa

http://atheisticgod.blogspot.com/ Books on atheism


EXC
atheist
EXC's picture
Posts: 3140
Joined: 2008-01-17
User is offlineOffline
funknotik wrote: To what

funknotik wrote:
To what extent are concepts like string theory, quantum mechanics, etc true?

String theory - Scientists' opinions oscillate between it being true and false.

Quantum Mechanics - It can be simultaneously true and false.

 

 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5904
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
Big difference between

Big difference between speculative and so far unproved scientific theories, like String Theory, and God, is that for a scientific theory to be taken seriously at all, even as a hypothesis, it has to be basically consistent with well-established existing theories, and have a solid logical/mathematical basis.

God ideas don't remotely qualify - they are pure hand-waving speculation, involving entities and attributes totally beyond anything observed or even theoretically observable or testable.

They also don't even provide a real explanation of anything, just basically invoking magic, unlike String Theory. God cannot explain the origin of existence, since it is part of what exists. As a moral argument the evidence is massively against any God being moral, or 'good'. God ideas are a total fail.

String Theory does provide an explanatory framework, but we can't verify that it is the only workable explanation. As already mentioned, String Theory actually provides a large number of 'possible' explanations for observed physical laws and particle behavior.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


BardlishtheMagnifico
atheistScience Freak
BardlishtheMagnifico's picture
Posts: 37
Joined: 2011-03-01
User is offlineOffline
I would add that one of the

I would add that one of the ways of validating a theory is its predictive power.  While quantum mechanics is stupidly counter-intuitive and (I suspect) can only be effectively approached by we mere humans through the lens of mathematics, using quantum theory to make predictions has thus far demonstrated its validity.  This is the strength of any good scientific theory be it evolution, gravity or quantum mechanics. 

 

It is also one of the major and damning differences between scientific theory and the god hypothesis (because hypothesis is the most it could hope to attain and it is a shaky label at that.)  Theism is completely bankrupt with regard to predictive ability as the god-man is so capricious and his actions so arbitrary and contradictory that one simply cannot make any valid predictions based on it.  Deism is not bankrupt but only because it never had an account to begin with.  For all practical purposes, deism is indistinguishable from atheism in everything but semantics.

Wisdom lies not in thinking outside the box. Wisdom is the realization that there is no box. Truth and reality extend as far as the eye can see and infinitely further.


Ktulu
atheist
Posts: 1830
Joined: 2010-12-21
User is offlineOffline
butterbattle wrote:funknotik

butterbattle wrote:

funknotik wrote:

It's a whole new concept for me, as I understand it string theory is one of many theories that attempt to piece together the "theory of everything," which would then make it True in principal?

Not sure what you mean by "true in principle." Theories need to be internally consistent, and then, they are compared to reality.

I think he said 'true in principal'... he was referring to his school's principal... sorry, couldn't resist, I make mistakes all the time I'm just a dick Smiling

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


JesusNEVERexisted
Superfan
JesusNEVERexisted's picture
Posts: 693
Joined: 2010-01-03
User is offlineOffline
redneF wrote:We don't

redneF wrote:

We don't know.

They are only 'theories'.

 

That's the 100% truth.

Otherwise, the LHC would not have been needed.

 

But doesn't some of the stuff in Quantum Physics and multiverses just seem more like Science FICTION than fact?

For exapmple, you guys know according to traditional physics something like Jesus "coming back" is impossible but accordng to Quatnum Physics that's possible along with 100s of other religious claims/prognostications.

The Lakota Sioux still have prophecies about how their lord will wipe the white man out and they'll get their land back.  According to Quantum Physics all that can happen too along with what the Apache, Comanche, Cheyenne, Mayans, etc. said.  Not to mention all the claims the eastern religions make like Hinduism, Jainism, Bahaii, Shinto, Buddhism, Sikhism, etc.

This multiverse crap is even more insane if that's possible.  The multiverse theory actually claims there's one of us in every possible scenario in alternate universes. So all of you who post have one of us as a serial killer, a president, a rock star, a porn star, a mechanic, a CEO, a ditch digger, a begger, a hooker, etc. in another universe!!  In other words there's one of you in every situation possible in another universe!!

That sounds like PURE FICTION and something they just made up with NOTHING to support it being even remotely real!!

 

Click here to find out why Christianity is the biggest fairy tale ever created!! www.nobeliefs.com/exist.htm www.JesusNEVERexisted.com


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5904
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
Quantum theory does not say

Quantum theory does not say literally anything can happen - it still has to be physically possible.

All it says is that many alternative sequences of events are possible, due to uncertainties at the base of existence.

But there is enormous variation in probability across all these possible sequences, and also, the total probability of histories leading to chaotic or or otherwise meaningless (to us) outcomes totally swamps those which embody specific claims or ideas of various individuals and groups.

The likelihood that an entity that may correspond extremely closely to us in physical and mental structure is possibly existing in another universe within the multiverse is vanishingly small, and only some scientists would maintain the position that it is a possibility to be taken seriously.

Once you get into these extrapolations , even scientists can go off the deep end. Any of these quantum possibilities need to be put in context of all the other possibilities that could follow from the same initial state.

For example, it is finitely possible that all your atoms could spontaneously shift ten feet to the left, and you could suddenly find yourself on the other side of the nearby wall, However, it is vastly more probable, though still incredibly improbable, that your atoms will shift in more random manner, like not by the same amount, and your body will be distributed as a scrambled mess on either side and within that wall.

One guy proposed the possibility of 'Boltzmann Brains', that is was possible that, like virtual particles, whole thinking 'brains' could just spring into existence. Yeah, technically, but it is vastly more probable that raw disorganized chunks of flesh could appear like that, or brain-shaped rocks, or anything else with no meaningful specific structure.

Of course it sounds like science fiction, and if you scientifically crunch the numbers, the science predicts that such scenarios are indeed astronomically, cosmically, stratospherically unlikely, even if not absolutely impossible.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


JesusNEVERexisted
Superfan
JesusNEVERexisted's picture
Posts: 693
Joined: 2010-01-03
User is offlineOffline
BobSpence1 wrote:Of course

BobSpence1 wrote:

Of course it sounds like science fiction, and if you scientifically crunch the numbers, the science predicts that such scenarios are indeed astronomically, cosmically, stratospherically unlikely, even if not absolutely impossible.

Then WHY are seemingly so many physicists/scientists spreading this Quantum/multiverse BS like it either is true or they state it like it has a reasonable probability of being true? 

I admit I've not heard them giving odds on how true it is but they explain it in a similar manner how you explain evolution which we KNOW is true.  If the odds are so infintesimally low that it is true they why the hell are they wasting they're time with it??

Why not wait for Jesus to appear in front of you too?

Click here to find out why Christianity is the biggest fairy tale ever created!! www.nobeliefs.com/exist.htm www.JesusNEVERexisted.com


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5904
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
JesusNEVERexisted

JesusNEVERexisted wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

Of course it sounds like science fiction, and if you scientifically crunch the numbers, the science predicts that such scenarios are indeed astronomically, cosmically, stratospherically unlikely, even if not absolutely impossible.

Then WHY are seemingly so many physicists/scientists spreading this Quantum/multiverse BS like it either is true or they state it like it has a reasonable probability of being true? 

I admit I've not heard them giving odds on how true it is but they explain it in a similar manner how you explain evolution which we KNOW is true.  If the odds are so infintesimally low that it is true they why the hell are they wasting they're time with it??

Why not wait for Jesus to appear in front of you too?

The Quantum Multiverse - I assume you mean some variant of the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum probabilities - is a legitimate framework for getting your head around the implications of the math of Quantum Theory.

The problem is those imaginary but incredibly unlikely scenarios that people respond to that are presented out of context of the absolute and relative probabilities attached to them, and without mentioning all the other far more likely and much less interesting possibilities.

That 'Boltzmann Brain' thing I mentioned had me wondering about at least some scientists along somewhat the same lines as you have. Like WTF were they thinking?

I dunno. Scientists are still human, and many of these ideas make a good story. But usually they make it clear, or certainly should, that they are in speculation mode, bouncing around ideas, which occasionally will suggest something that may really deserve to be investigated.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


redneF
atheistRational VIP!
redneF's picture
Posts: 1971
Joined: 2011-01-04
User is offlineOffline
JesusNEVERexisted wrote:Then

JesusNEVERexisted wrote:

Then WHY are seemingly so many physicists/scientists spreading this Quantum/multiverse BS like it either is true or they state it like it has a reasonable probability of being true? 

I admit I've not heard them giving odds on how true it is but they explain it in a similar manner how you explain evolution which we KNOW is true.  If the odds are so infintesimally low that it is true they why the hell are they wasting they're time with it??

Well, that's easy to answer.

The mechanics of particle physics, extend past what is visible by the human eye, under any magnification possible. It becomes very difficult to distill what the mechanics, of the mechanics, of the mechanics are, when the first link in the chain, is not even visible.

It becomes too 'infinte'(in terms of variables, combinations, and chains) for even the most adept and disciplined human brains to assimilate and extrapolate.

IOW, 'model'.

 

But, computers are exponentially more capable.

I keep asking myself " Are they just playin' stupid, or are they just plain stupid?..."

"To explain the unknown by the known is a logical procedure; to explain the known by the unknown is a form of theological lunacy" : David Brooks

" Only on the subject of God can smart people still imagine that they reap the fruits of human intelligence even as they plow them under." : Sam Harris