Science, and knowledge in general, is often like a locomotive – lots of inertia and running in fixed lines. Occasionally a crucial experiment derails the old locomotive, which I hope will happen soon.
I joined the Philosophical Society, associated with the Oxford University Dept. of Continuing Education in 1990. The President was Dr. Michael Lockwood, who, unusually, combined expertise in Philosophy with expertise in Physics. He set up study weekends where members would listen to lectures by and question world- renowned scientists or philosophers. Being a chemist myself, I have enjoyed the informal discussions both between members and with the guest lecturers.
The one thing that has disturbed me was that the following five ideas, which I dispute, seemed common to most philosophers and scientists:
- Strict Classical determinism- past and future are fixed
- The Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum theory- quintillions of new universes are born every second, none of which can be detected by each other
- Time, and therefore events, could be reversed in time direction
- The present moment is an illusion, that someone could be alive in the past
- Free will does not exist
I am publishing the linked essay now because experiments I have long awaited seem to be in progress and likely to be successful soon (Brooks, M. 2015, http://tinyurl.com/NewExperiments). These experiments will show that general relativity is not in conflict with quantum mechanics, but indeed essential to crucial quantum effects in the world. They will demolish the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum theory and eventually determinism as a basis of science and philosophy. I expect the resulting intellectual changes to be profound. This essay is an attempt to describe them.
My essay shows that, if we abandon the five ideas above, we already have plausible answers to all of the following scientific/philosophical problems that had no accepted solutions. It also shows a means of refuting the five ideas. Many of the important papers and insights referenced have been ignored or misunderstood for years; they are neglected science.
- Einstein’s relativity supposedly implies determinism, which is in philosophical and mathematical formalist conflict with quantum indeterminacy, basic to quantum mechanics, the most successful theory of all- with implied determinism, we cannot reconcile the two most basic theories of reality
- The irreversible forward arrow of time and the uniqueness of the present moment- we do not understand time
- The “collapse of the wave function” – we do not understand how events arise
- Causality and the “entanglement” of distant quantum states with each other, or “spooky action at a distance”- Einstein spent much of his life on this, with no resolution
- The imbalance of matter versus antimatter in the universe, equivalently, why was matter not completely annihilated at the origin by the required equal amounts of antimatter- we have no accepted explanation for the existence of matter
- Why there is something rather than nothing, and how could our particular spacetime background be constructed consistently with known physics
- How did our universe arise, whose most fundamental constants and parameters appear to have been “tweaked” to be perfect for life, against astronomical odds: The Fine-Tuning Problem
- The accepted, symmetry-based Standard Model of particle physics requires 19 unrelated constants of arbitrary magnitudes. Further, the possibility of neutrino mass seems likely to require at least six more, in the view of most specialists in the field: another fine-tuning problem?
- Roger Penrose’s concern about the anomalously extreme low entropy state apparently required at the origin
- Free will and responsibility versus the jazz song lyric “I’m depraved because I’m deprived”