SMBC: To the collider!

This may well be the best explanation of particle colliders, like the Large Hadron Collider, I’ve seen in a long time.

Click through for full sized version, and for the Feynman diagram in the red button caption.

via Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

Of course, none of it might be fundamental.  It might be structure, patterns, mathematics, whatever, all the way down.  Even when we can’t go down any further, there will always be doubt that maybe, perhaps, there is something more fundamental farther down than we can observe.

15 thoughts on “SMBC: To the collider!

  1. Gotta love infinite regress. Seems unavoidable. We can define whatever we want as the “necessary” or “fundamental” answer, but there’s always the nagging question to have an explanation for that as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi SelfAwarePatterns, you could call it ‘matter’ or ‘objective reality’. From Lenin’s Materialism and Empirio-criticism, Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy’ ‘From Engels’ point of view, the only immutability is the reflection by the human mind (when there is a human mind) of an external world existing and developing independently of the mind. No other “immutability”, no other “essence”, no other “absolute substance”, in the sense in which these concepts were depicted by the empty professorial philosophy, exist for Marx and Engels. The “essence” of things, or “substance”, is also relative; it expresses only the degree of profundity of man’s knowledge of objects; and while yesterday the profundity of this knowledge did not go beyond the atom, and today does not go beyond the electron and ether, dialectical materialism insists on the temporary, relative, approximate character of all these milestones in the knowledge of nature gained by the progressing science of man. The electron is as inexhaustible as the atom, nature is infinite, but it infinitely exists. And it is this sole categorical, this sole unconditional recognition of nature’s existence outside the mind and perception of man that distinguishes dialectical materialism from relativist agnosticism and idealism.’ I highly recommend Lenin’s book to any scientist or philosopher of science. Bourgeois epistemology cannot cater for what is being discovered in science. Dialectical materialism does. Regards, Phil Stanfield


  3. Hello SelfAwarePatterns, in my view Lenin was a little too free with the concept ‘absolute’. Unless all the evidence is in (which nature and dialectics argue against), we can only ever speak of a theoretical absolute. But I think the word ‘doubt’ is not the appropriate counter to this. Do you doubt the theory of evolution or do you think it appropriate that it be used and continually tested in its use? Our sensory input, our theorising about that and, most importantly, the testing of this in practice is an unceasing confirmation of dialectical materialism.

    While I have the highest regard for Marx, Engels and Lenin, I am not a Marxist – I have significant differences with Marxism. I state this because while I believe that developments on dialectical materialism are the only way forward, this epistemology has to be dug from beneath the burden of both history and, far more significantly, that of capitalist ideology. Marx, Engels and Lenin need to be considered with ‘fresh eyes’, not through the work of those who wrote on them, the great majority of them pushing assorted ideological barrows.

    ‘Mind’ is another significantly burdened concept (which Lenin used). There is no ‘mind’ (other than the patriarchal ‘mind of God’), there are brains. If there are things we don’t understand about the brain, no problems – we’re working on it (and excellent work on this is being done, as you know, in the United States). To apply a heavily burdened concept to what we don’t know or understand is nothing but a significant distraction and an autobahn back to philosophical idealism.

    However we theorise about the world can be traced to our position regarding primacy in the relationship between objective reality/matter and consciousness/thought. If we have not resolved that, our thought will inevitably be working at cross-purposes. Regards, Phil


    1. Phil,
      Doubt is one of those words I feel is incomplete without a qualifier of degree. I don’t doubt evolution by the common default intensity of doubt, but I do consider it, like all scientific theories, provisional, subject to revision on new evidence. It’s worth noting that our understanding of evolution has…evolved substantially since Darwin, and likely will continue to.

      I think you had told me before that you weren’t a Marxist, just interested in certain aspects of their philosophy. As the memory of Communism and all its ills fades, people might become more open to those aspects. I’m not necessarily closed to them, but I fine much of the language of it a bit convoluted.

      I think there are a variety of philosophies involved in the way we theorize. Some are more fruitful than others. I think the key is to recognize that they’re all tools and that none of them are perfect. And that no philosophical assumption should trump data from careful observation.


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