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April 23rd, 2012

Watching Mister Ed

I am not the biggest advocate of television, but watching Mister Ed is a far superior use of one’s time than speculating on the philosophy of a brain in a vat. That horse hasn’t seen a mitzvah he can’t violate and try to make up for later.

(It is an obvious fact that every healthy, living brain already is in exactly the type of vat that would be necessary! Just do scientific research, and refer the philosophers to a psychiatrist.)
See http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0703179.  The math in it is geometric algebra, which I happen to be working with at the moment anyway, so it is fresh in my mind. Therefore, it is a good time for me to read this paper, especially as I am in a programming rut (partly due to migraine).

One type of response to this kind of argument is that it doesn’t strive to provide a model for that actual experiment. This response is entirely irrelevant, though it is understandable how it would appeal to physicists. If you write a simulation, for instance, it is necessary not only that the simulation disprove the argument, but that it look as much like the published experiments as possible. Thus we have papers like this one: http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0105034

(An error in application of Bayes’ rule is just one of the ways the problem can be characterized, and happens to be the first on record and probably the one most accessible to non-specialists. Lots of people know probability theory, and some of them actually trust it to give the right answers if you strictly follow its rules.)

Surprise, surprise!

I had been trying to remember who it was, and when I found him again (http://www.liv.ac.uk/~whofer/) it turned out he too recently used geometric algebra to make an argument against ‘non-locality’.

This actually shouldn’t surprise me, even though it does; geometric algebra is increasingly popular in physics as a substitute for the vector algebra we used when I was in school. (Whether GA has made inroads in the electromagnetic engineering field [pun intended] I do not know.)

Looking over Joy Christian’s paper, I see she seems to give Bell’s ambiguous notations a different reading that IMO does not apply to his Lyons-Lille example, so IMO probably she is reading them incorrectly, or alternatively the Lyons-Lille example was a poorly devised analog for his argument about EPR. (Bell wrote several papers, sometimes using very poor notation.) But that would merely change where the math error manifests, given that no matter how you read Bell he arrives at the wrong result. She’s going to argue (I peeked ahead) that he assumed the products of functions of the ‘hidden variables’ in the ‘local’ theory had to be commutative.

Hofer’s article looks more interesting, because it seems he’s actually claiming something like a new interpretation for the quantum mechanics; he seems to be blaming Bell’s error on discounting a phase component (in the ‘local realistic’ case) because in QM it was represented by imaginary numbers. In geometric algebra it can be represented by real numbers and given a visualizable geometric interpretation.

Wish me luck.

Hypothesis confirmed

I was curious to verify my prediction that the author of the postmodern poetry at http://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/0302167 would be a kook, and was not disappointed: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_d%27Espagnat

What I did not predict was that he would be a kook of a little stature, who has even been published in Supersticious American.

( :) I unsubbed from Scientific American many years ago, having tired of its ‘balanced journalism’, ‘he said, she said’. Have they reformed, or by now are they publishing ‘Intelligent Design’ articles to balance out the paleontology reports?)

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