Jun 23, 2007

Mr Wang Sends An Invitation

Bernard Leong blogs at various places, including Singapore Angle, the Science Abode and Singapore Entrepreneurs.

He also happens to have a PhD in Physics from Cambridge University, and his research areas include theoreotical astrophysics and cosmology.

I've just sent him the following email:


Dear Bernard:

Recently there has been lots of discussion on my blog on .... quantum physics!

The stuff we're talking about include the Copenhagen interpretation, the Bohm interpretation, the "consciousness causes collapse" interpretation, and all the implications for the "everyday reality" that we think we live in. The discussion goes on in the comment section of three posts - "Time is an Illusion"; "How to Grow A Limb" and "Mindhacking Safe & Simple - Part 1".

I suppose I should have expected it, but now some people think I'm crazy. ;)

As you have a PhD in Theoretical Physics from Cambridge University, I'm inviting you to share your own thoughts on the matter. With your background, I think you will certainly be able to offer some educational and enlightening explanations.

If you could contribute a guest post to my blog, on this topic, that would be great. I leave it to you to write the article as you please.

Naturally if your opinion is that I have recently become an crazy idiot, I must insist that you be completely honest and say so in your article. I promise that I will post your article on my blog with no editing, no revision, no censorship whatsoever.

Regards,
Mr Wang
This could be fun! I hope Bernard accepts my invitation.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling he is not going to support your position for you.

Anonymous said...

It is very definitely crazy to link the topics like that. Each one of your topics is worth several rounds of debate all by itself. You have hardly offered Bernard Leong any focused topic to comment on.

It's like asking Micheal Jackson to comment on "music and spirituality". There's a distinct lack of focus here that one of your commenters rightly pointed out was "woolly headed thinking".

Anonymous said...

You anonymous posters are too cruel to Mr Wang. He's just an eager soul trying to communicate his understanding of the world to his readers. Go easy on him.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 3:40pm: But many of his readers have been very kind to him already. Teck (a physics teacher) rightly pointing out that all of this was beer talk. That's very kind already. As long as that's the mutual understanding, what's the problem?

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Each one of your topics is worth several rounds of debate all by itself."

Yeah, I know. In fact, each of those topics could be an entire book in itself.

I do intend to explore each of those topics in greater detail, on my blog, in future.

In March, I already said that this blog is going to change, and I'm moving on from sociopolitical blogging. What - you didn't believe me then?

I don't want to scrimp Bernard's style. That is why I said "I leave it to you to write the article as you please". I would like him to look at all these posts and all these comments, and write whatever he himself thinks would be most interesting, appropriate, needed or whatever.

Also I am not asking him to "support" me in any way. That is why I added that if he thinks I am a crazy idiot, he MUST say so.

But since you mentioned this: "You have hardly offered Bernard Leong any focused topic to comment on."

... well, actually I would be interested to read his views on the following:

1. whether it is correct to say that there is an "external objective reality", in view of

(a) the seven interpretations of the wave-particle duality phenomeon; and

(b) my own statements about the relationship between our minds and the universe;

2. Assuming the "consciousness causes collapse" interpretation to be true, his views on (a) whether existence depends on observation, and (b) whether this eventually leads to the idea that the universe must originally have been created by a consciousness making an observation. And whether this, in his opinion, could be fairly described as an example (a huge one, actually) of "thought affecting reality"

3. Assuming that the Bohm interpretation is correct, whether my comment on "How to Grow A Limb" on 22 June 2007, 11:59 pm about how reality could behave, makes sense (oh, I'd love to hear his view on the voodoo doll too!)

4. his confirmation (or rebuttal) that when Everett says that the universe splits into separate realities, Everett really means that the universe splits into separate realities - it isn't just some kind of semantic game

But as I said, I don't want to scrimp his style, so I leave it open to him to comment on whichever part he wants to comment on.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Errr, is that focused enough for you? I mean Anon June 23, 2007 3:30 PM

Mr Wang Says So said...

Oh, if there is any specific question any of you want to ask Bernard, do leave a comment here as well ..... I'm sure he will see it.

Anonymous said...

This is definitely a very effective way for an eminently qualified scholar to give us all, a first hand demo on DIY extinction or online hara kiri.

As for you Mr Wang you are already a fossil, you demise started when you started to write more and more like a Xiahue.

Sorry, I am just being very honest. Pls try to take this constructively.

Anonymous said...

Like I said, it's is craziness to link all of that together. What does Limb regeneration have to do with a Voodoo doll, which is just a simple-minded way to understand quantum entanglement.

Anonymous said...

I do intend to explore each of those topics in greater detail, on my blog, in future.


In that case, pardon me for I am going of here.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I don't see limb regeneration as the point anymore - the comments on that post veered into other directions.

But if Bernard wants to write abt limb regeneration, again I leave that entirely up to him.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"In that case, pardon me for I am going of here."

Hey there, bye, take care. I fully expect that many readers will leave, after all, they originally came here to read about politics etc.

Anonymous said...

The third sign you're going crazy -

Also I am not asking him to "support" me in any way. That is why I added that if he thinks I am a crazy idiot, he MUST say so.


What do you mean he must. He has no obligation to you whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Quote: I don't see limb regeneration as the point anymore - the comments on that post veered into other directions.

I think you owe some people on that thread an explanation. After all, they rightly pointed out that it was speculative.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wang, seeking for the truth of our existence is a lifetime pursuit. Only those with a higher consciousness seek for such truth. The masses are not interested.
Be patient n the insight will come to u.
Why give up ur worthy fight for the oppressed and suppressed Singaporeans ? These are equally challenging and satisfying pursuits.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Oh, I just don't want him to hold back due to courtesy or politeness. I want to make it clear that it's perfectly ok for him to criticise me as much as he wants to.

Anyway, I think that is all I have to say for now .... I'll just wait for Bernard's article.

Anonymous said...

hahaha Ah Wang,

Just to let you know, if he is dumb enuf to respond, we will not hesitate to demolish it.

I have been waiting for this day, it had to come. Give a man enuf rope and he will....

Do try to have a very nice day.

Scholarboy

(The brotherhood)

Anonymous said...

Hey there, bye, take care. I fully expect that many readers will leave, after all, they originally came here to read about politics etc.

Could the source of confusion come from your saying your still "tracking the little red dot"?

Mr Wang Says So said...

"After all, they rightly pointed out that it was speculative."

That is their opinion, sure they can feel that way.

Personally, I really can't see anything in the article that I would want to change. My article goes:

"But is it really possible to think your way to a new arm? I don't know, maybe. Maybe not now, but maybe in future, we'll figure it out. I mean, through genetic engineering, we've already got mice to grow human ears. Would it be really amazing if humans could grow human arms? And if humans could kickstart, speed up or control that process with their thoughts? I don't think so."

I said - "maybe", "maybe not now", "maybe in the future", "would it really be amazing"; "I don't think so".

Sure, you could say it's speculative. It's about as speculative as saying:

"Maybe the Opposition can win half the seats in Singapore Parliament in 15 years' time".

Personally I think that limb regeneration within the next 15 years is a better bet.

Seriously - what do you think?

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Could the source of confusion come from your saying your still "tracking the little red dot"?"

hey, you're right ... I should change that.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do indeed have a question to ask Mr Leong.

Could he explain basic quantum physics in simple English? I've been trying to understand it for three years and it still can't get to me.

For me, basic means energy levels of electrons, and the implications, practical uses of transferring the electrons to the next electron shell (whether higher or lower). Also, what can we do with the knowledge (of quantum physics)?

If he has time, maybe he can go into an indepth of sputtering (how it happens) as well. What's the difference between magnetron sputtering and plain sputtering?

I'm not joking. I'll like to look at the reply and maybe get some new insights.

Anonymous said...

This article may help the lay person to understand.

http://www.integralscience.org/sacredscience/SS_quantum.html

hmm ... said...

Mr Wang, that was an interesting comparison. When you put it like that, yeah, I think limb regeneration is a lot more probable than the oppo winning 50% of seats in 15 years.

Anonymous said...

"Just to let you know, if he is dumb enuf to respond, we will not hesitate to demolish it."

Well there you have it Mr Wang, I really don't see how Mr Leong can possibly feature in the discussion now - they have up the ante, so to speak.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Noooo! Nooo! They mustn't! What if Bernard Leong wants to call me a crazy idiot? LOL.

Fen said...

hey mr wang, I recommend you read Stepehen Hawking's A Brief History of Time if you haven't already :)

Elia Diodati said...

*Choke* You want a theoretical physicist to comment about the quantum physics of consciousness?!

Look no further, Mr Wang. I present you: Professor Brian Josephson, Nobel Laureate in Physics (though admittedly *not* for his current work on "Mind-Matter Unification").

This is going to be priceless. :)

Elia Diodati said...

Anon "June 23, 2007 5:17 PM":

Looks like Bernard might be busy, so I'll help him out a little. :)

Not to stir the sh1t up further, but it might help you to understand that "quantum theory" is the term for an old, ad hoc theory that was cooked up by Bohr and his compatriots to explain experimental facts about atomic spectra, the ultraviolet catastrophe and things like that. Such theories are called phenomenological theories because they don't claim to embody new insights into how the universe works, they just happen to explain the available empirical data. Quantum theory was superseded by quantum mechanics, a new theory pioneered by Schrödinger and Heisenberg that not only explained the same phenomena that quantum theory could, but for the first time gave a solid justification for the existence of discrete energy levels for atoms. (If you found Bohr's and Sommerfeld's descriptions of electron levels and orbits confusing, it's not just you. They were pretty much making it up as they went along. Turns out they were almost completely wrong, too!)

Incidentally, the invention of quantum mechanics led P. A. M. Dirac to proclaim famously that "The underlying physical laws necessary for the mathematical theory of a large part of physics and the whole of chemistry are thus completely known". The application of QM to the behavior atoms and molecules now forms the study of several major subfield, such as molecular physics , chemical physics and physical chemistry.

If you have a background in linear algebra and differential equations, you would probably find the study of "quantum mechanics" (pioneered by Schrödinger and Heisenberg) very rewarding.

For a non-technical introduction (no equations needed!), try The New World of Mr Tompkins by George Gamow, Russell Stannard, and Michael Edwards. This is about the only popular science book that does justice to the various phenomena of quantum mechanics without dwelling on them like they were some mysterious, inexplicable workings of the world trapped behind incomprehensible mumbo-jumbo.

For a scientific introduction, a few excellent textbooks at the undergraduate beginner's level are Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by Griffiths, Introductory Quantum Mechanics by Liboff and Principles of Quantum Mechanics by Shankar. (You might be able to get them at Clementi Bookstore, probably elsewhere too.) If you're not intimidated by large books (and can find it in Singapore), Physical Chemistry by R. S. Berry, Stuart A. Rice, and John Ross has an excellent section on quantum mechanics too.

OK, enough history and book shilling. Back to work. :)

Elia Diodati said...

And before I dig a hole for myself, *nobody* (not even B. J.) today knows how to solve the equations governing quantum mechanics (the famous Schr&oum;dinger equations) in a practical manner for anything larger than moderately sized molecules, and definitely *not* for anything as complicated as the human brain.

Anders Brink said...

To summarize about what I think is the crux of the matter, Mr Wang wants the physicists to weigh in on the status of quantum mechanics. Does it lend support to the fact that it is it observer-laden, subjective and unreal? Or is it just weird (but understandably weird).

Mr Wang Says So said...

Thank you, Elia. :)

I'll look out for that book "The New World of Mr Tomkins".

yee sian said...

"Could the source of confusion come from your saying your still "tracking the little red dot"?"

You might want to remove the part about being one of Singapore's most popular bloggers too. Your popularity might be arising from reasons you may not wish to be associated with anymore.

BL said...

Hi Mr Wang,

Thank you for the invitation.
At the moment, I have been busy with several projects and is unable to write something on this interesting subject matter. I also see that Elia and Teck have responded to the topic and they are just as qualified to discuss this subject.

Hope that all are well.

Take care & best regards,
Bernard Leong

Mr Wang Says So said...

Aw, shucks. Teck's reply to my question "Does the universe exist?" was:

"I'm not sure".

That doesn't get us very far. Well, maybe that's reality for you.

Anyway, Bernard, thanks. Guess I may have to read up on Prof Brian Josephson, that Nobel Laureate in Physics currently researching the unification of mind and matter.

Christopher Ng Wai Chung said...

Mr. Wang,

Your recent topics which attempt to integrate religious spirituality with science is very laudable.

Now let me offer you an alternative to refining your worldview.

Rather than continue to read the arcane texts of Physicists, I strong recommend Ken Wilber's Theory of Everything.

This is one man who attempted to unify the sciences, arts and spirituality into a powerful model and frankly, was reviled by the academia for his efforts.

Regards

Elia Diodati said...

Mr Wang,

1. Brian Josephson's recent work on "mind-matter unification" is not recognized by most scientists as genuine research in physics. Caveat emptor.

2. As to the question "Does the universe exist?", you might be interested in two subbranchs of philosophy - epistemology and metaphysics. Epistomology studies questions like "How can we know the things we know?". Metaphysics (outside its use as a label for new age stuff) poses questions like "Why do we exist?" The marriage of metaphysics and epistemology to a large extent forms the subdiscipline known as the "philosophy of science." As a collection of knowledge firmly entrenched in empiricism (belief that only what can be observed matters), there are some questions that science cannot answer.

me said...

I mean, through genetic engineering, we've already got mice to grow human ears.

You do know that the mouse didn't grow a human ear right? It looked like a human ear but was neither human nor ear. Scientists implanted a scaffold shaped like an ear, and seeded the immunocompromised mouse with cow cartilage, which grew around the scaffold to produce what you saw.

Of course, the press captions and images have been extremely misleading, but the experiment didn't bring us closer to regeneration of actual human parts (that can't already regenerate). It was merely cosmetic.

And also, the experiment didn't involve genetic engineering either. The mouse was a breed that had a natural genetic mutation which left it without an immune system, so that it could receive the cow cartilage cells and scaffold implant without rejection. The mutation also left the mouse hairless, furthering the image of a skin covered ear.

So - no human, no ear, and no genetic engineering either.

Quantum Mechanic said...

Hello Mr Wang,

I've had some beer so, I'll answer the questions you posed if noone else will. I will treat this as an honest attempt by you to find answers from a scientist. I have a feeling several other posters here were also scientists, but have been less reluctant to say so. So I will be honest too, although it might be brutal. :)


1. whether it is correct to say that there is an "external objective reality", in view of

(a) the seven interpretations of the wave-particle duality phenomeon; and

(b) my own statements about the relationship between our minds and the universe;


POINT 1A. There IS an "external objective reality". We do not know the exact mechanism of how it works yet, but we know something of what constraints it. For one thing, it CANNOT be local realistic (see my earlier post).

It does not matter how many interpretations you have of the particle-wave duality. At this point, they are all COMPATIBLE with the experimental results. Furthermore, something that escapes the layman: Bohmian, MWI and most other interpretations are an attempt to form a REALISTIC model of quantum mechanics. That is, the interpretations are about squaring QM with an "external objective reality".

POINT 1B. As a person with some experience in studying the material world, I find it hard to believe that the mind, based on the material brain, can affect the world outside it. So Mr Wang cannot claim that "mind exercise" can bring about physical miracles ala Jesus/Buddha, without some serious evidence.


2. Assuming the "consciousness causes collapse"...


POINT 2. I am afraid that before we have developed a proper theory of consciousness, it is pointless to discuss this conjecture. And that is precisely what it is - conjecture. We know next to nothing about consciousness (although we know very well how to cause the absence of it :)).

3. Assuming that the Bohm interpretation is correct, whether my comment on "How to Grow A Limb" on 22 June 2007, 11:59 pm about how reality could behave, makes sense

Point 3. Mr Wang is beginning to get the idea of what is meant by non-locality, and that the results of quantum mechanics can be counter-intuitive. This, however, is true no matter what your interpretation of quantum mechanics.


4. his confirmation (or rebuttal) that when Everett says that the universe splits into separate...

Yes, the realities and consciousness of the observer is said to split. However, (even putting aside further philosophical problems that arise)this is all idle speculation because we lack a theory of consciousness.

So what do we have? We know there must be an "external objective reality". It is very unlikely that thoughts can affect the material world i.e. "external objective reality". Furthermore, QM is itself, a very precise and objective theory. It is the interpretation of some results that requires us to abandon our intuition (i.e. the "traditional objective reality" I referred to in my earlier post). As far as I see, appealing to QM does NOT help anyone in pursuit of "mind hacking".

Mr Wang is a smart guy, and has quickly seen how counter-intuitive the results of QM are. I wish him the best of luck in learning about the quirky but objective world of quantum mechanics. Just be careful when making conjectures.

One last point before I leave this discussion. If you think that it is possible for "mindhacking" to affect the physical world, I say to you: THAT IS NOT THE POINT.

The point is whether something is probable. The weight of evidence accumulated to date points to very, very high improbability of telekinesis, telepathy or mindhacking.

'nuff said.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Thank you!

Let me see if I can accurately summarise your view. Square brackets indicate my own extrapolation, inferences etc:

1. Physics tells us that there is an external objective reality, but that it is very, very, VERY different from what most of us are conditioned, by our everyday experience, to think it is.

2. So far, physics has no way of fitting "consciousness" into a physics equation. We are conscious beings, we have consciousness, but physics cannot prove or disprove that. Much less say anything about the effects of consciousness.

3. [While we experience consciousness every day, in the form of thoughts, mental images, emotions, memory, imagination, logical analysis, dreams, sensations of pain, heat, cold etc etc], physics is almost absolutely useless to us in an endeavour to understand any of those effects.

Yes?