The second of two fascinating films about two very beautiful minds, Hugh Everett III and Stephen Hawking.
I am slightly hesitant in pursuing this, after my article about Hugh Everett on the 19th. Said slightly tongue-in-cheek following a fascinating, as always, exchange of comments with Patrice Ayme. Here’s a taste of Ayme’s writings, and here’s the exchange,
Patrice first wrote,
The question is: what happened? The multiverse answer is that, whatever it is, it happened in one universe, and it did not happen, in another universe. And if it is not a matter of discrete choice, as in a 2 slit experiment, an uncountable number of universes will be created. In other words, if one wants a proof of the insanity of some of today’s physicists, the multiverse is all we need. According to this lamentable spasm of the mind, during every single, smallest amount of time imaginable, an uncountable infinity of universes appear.
OK, the inflationary universe has the same problem, and is about as insane. But being surrounded by mad men does not excuse one’s own insanity. So we shall laugh.
To which I replied,
Dear Patrice, the challenge presented at this end, in terms of how to evaluate your comment, is that your anonymous profile (that is truly respected, by the way) makes it impossible to determine your academic and social backgrounds. Therefore are you replying from the position of a great thinker, or of a great thinker with significant scientific and philosophical accreditations? Your writings are powerful and impressive but nonetheless to assume (as I read into your approach) that the world of quantum physics is a ‘done deal’ is not something I can share. I anticipate that you will feel similarly ready to laugh on Thursday when I publish some words on Stephen Hawking.
Eliciting a further very thoughtful reply from PA,
Thoughts have to learn to stand on their own. The authority fallacy (if you forgive this neo sentence) is no ersatz for truth. Some (previously) immensely respected physics Nobel prizes were member of the Nazi party before Hitler. That did not make their physics any less insane.
Most top thinkers of the scientific revolution in the 17C were not respected tenured professors at the university (although Galileo and Newton were, not so for Kepler, Bruno,Descartes, Fermat, Pascal, Leibnitz…). We have no historical distantiation to judge what’s going on now.
I respect some of the work of Hawking. And certainly respect him tremendously as a person (although he dumped his wife for his nurse).
I appreciate the fact you tease me with Quantum Mechanics as a “done deal”. I actually believe that QM is the most precise theory we have, but it’s most certainly false or crazy as Newton basically said about his own theory of gravitation, and pretty much for the same reasons… This shows that I have to express myself more clearly…
In any case QM got no traction with the Quantum computer, so far. To say the least, many questions have been found to not be answered…
As far as accreditations are concerned, I will refer to the PhDs of Qaddafi’s children, and the movie “Ghostwriter”. Speaking of Harvard, what about Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations”, of an incredibly low scholarly level, and the numerous professors there on Qaddafi’s payroll? Does that mean they were accreditated by Qaddafi?
I am quite familiar with academia, and I think too much credit is given, quite often.
I am going to put a more extended version of my various remarks on my site, insisting on the fact QM, however impressive, is no deal. The multiverse was a desperate attempt to make it a deal, precisely, as it was made to eschew the problem of the non existence of a detailled mechanism of wave packet collapse. [Ironically I was once punished on a “philosophy” site for saying that QM was a live subject of research; I never went back to that site, which has academic pretentions: they had told me they checked with physics professors…]
Best wishes to you too, and I look forward chewing on Hawking very slowly… meanwhile I shall put my anti-multiverse blast on my site…
So here goes!
Professor Stephen William Hawking was born in 1942 in Oxford, England. His own website has a nice summary of his life which may be read here. There is a huge amount that could be written about this most amazing man. His book A Brief History of Time has sold in the millions which for a man who deals with some pretty big personal challenges, is no small feat. Here’s a relatively recent talk (2008) from TED2008,
But like the Hugh Everett posting, I wanted to draw your attention to the 48 minute programme, originally from the BBC Horizon series, that explores some of the challenges that are starting to appear to Hawking’s long-held theories about the start of the universe.
The film may be watched from here.