Complex life may be more rare in the universe than we thought

Image of the sun

Quanta has a pretty interesting article up today: A Solution to the Faint-Sun Paradox Reveals a Narrow Window for Life. Our understanding of the physics of the sun indicate that it should have been only 70% as bright as it is today. But if so, early Earth should have been a snowball not really capable … Continue reading Complex life may be more rare in the universe than we thought

The entanglements and many worlds of Schrödinger’s cat

I recently had a conversation with someone, spurred by the last post, that led to yet another description of the Everett many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, which I think is worth putting in a post. It approaches the interpretation from a different angle than I've used before. As mentioned last time, the central mystery of … Continue reading The entanglements and many worlds of Schrödinger’s cat

Superdeterminism and the quandaries of quantum mechanics

Last week, Sabine Hossenfelder did a video and post which was interesting (if a bit of a rant at times at strawmen) in which she argued for a little considered possibility in quantum mechanics: superdeterminism. In 1935, Einstein and collaborators published the famous EPR paradox paper, in which they pointed out that particles that were … Continue reading Superdeterminism and the quandaries of quantum mechanics

Anil Seth’s theory of consciousness

I recently completed Anil Seth's new book, Being You: A New Science of Consciousness. Seth starts out discussing David Chalmers' hard problem of consciousness, as well as views like physicalism, idealism, panpsychism, and functionalism. Seth is a physicalist, but is suspicious of functionalism. Seth makes a distinction between the hard problem, which he characterizes as … Continue reading Anil Seth’s theory of consciousness

Reconciling the disorder definition of entropy

In last week's post on entropy and information, I started off complaining about the most common definition of entropy as disorder or disorganization. One of the nice things about blogging is you often learn something in the subsequent discussion. My chief complaint about the disorder definition was that it's value-laden. I asked: disordered according to … Continue reading Reconciling the disorder definition of entropy

Carlo Rovelli’s Helgoland

I've posted a lot over the years on interpretations of quantum mechanics. My writing has tended to focus on comparing the big three: Copenhagen, pilot-wave, and many-worlds. But there are a lot of others. One that has been gaining converts among physicists and others is Carlo Rovelli's relational quantum mechanics (RQM) interpretation. This is an … Continue reading Carlo Rovelli’s Helgoland

The relativity of scientism

Symbol for an atom

Philosopher Jonny Thompson has an article up on RealClearScience profiling the views of Mary Midgley: The Three Myths of Scientism. (Warning: the RealClearScience site is pretty ad intensive.) Midgley was a famous critic of views she regarded as scientism, and often sparred with atheist and antitheist Richard Dawkins. As someone who usually takes the scientific … Continue reading The relativity of scientism

Structural realism, a way to be a scientific realist?

In the scientific realism vs instrumentalism debate, realism is the position that the elements of a scientific theory represent reality. So when general relativity talks about space warping, space really is warping. Instrumentalism, or anti-realism, is the stance that scientific theories are just prediction mechanisms, with no guarantee that they represent reality. Under instrumentalism, general … Continue reading Structural realism, a way to be a scientific realist?