But part of my fascination with the subject is that I often ask myself similar questions when thinking about the equally mysterious world of highly complex emergent systems, that is, systems where the whole can at times be quite different from the sum of their parts.
…Four different characters tell widely different versions of the same event: the samurai’s wife who says she was raped by a bandit, subsequently fainted and then awoke and found her husband dead; a bandit who says he seduced the wife and then killed the samurai in an honorable duel; a woodcutter who says he witnessed the rape and murder but did not want to get involved; and the dead samurai, who speaking through a medium said that the shame of the events he witnessed drove him to kill himself.
…Early in the 19th century, French mathematician and scientist Pierre-Simon Laplace observed that if we knew the precise state of the universe as represented by the position and speed of every one of its particles, classical mechanics would enable us to calculate all past and future states of the universe.
…The results of the experiment support the latter scenario, namely, “that there is a Rashomon effect not just in our descriptions of nature, but in nature itself… What this research implies is that we are not just hearing different stories about the electron, one of which may be true.
…But if so, why can’t we gather enough data and use highly sophisticated models and powerful supercomputers to make precise short and long term weather predictions, figure out what the traffic will be like tomorrow in Manhattan, anticipate the ups-and-downs of the economy or come up with better medical treatments for diabetes and other chronic diseases?
…While in principle such systems are deterministic, in practice our ability to predict their future or past behaviors is severely limited by their inherent complexity, the dynamic nature of their components, their intricate interrelationships, and their high sensitivity to initial conditions, a property called chaos.
…We now have the ability to gather huge amounts of information about the real-time behavior of such systems, which can be quickly analyzed with powerful supercomputers to help us figure out what’s going on, enabling us to make better informed, smarter decisions.
…Nicely done Irving–an elegant story telling, despite the absence of mentioning the pioneer of complexity with our friends at SFI:) One of the reasons we are located in NM–have engaged with many up the hill since conceived my classic CAS in our lab in mid 90s–then in N AZ, but it’s better being on the ground as I can participate regularly with visiting scientists from all over the world.
…I feel a bit uncomfortable with Frenkel’s statement that “There is really no escape from the mysterious – some might say, mystical – nature of the quantum world” which I perceive as opting-out from a deeper and objective discussion. … Moreover, cantoning to the framework of physics alone, my feeling is that when we take very seriously the essence of what the two physical theories of Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity tell us about our world, when we take both of them to their extreme consequences and follow mathematical consistency leading to Quantum Gravity (e.g. with Loop Quantum Gravity), we might also have a base for clarifying the discussion on what being a “realist” means which is very much related to the reality of the wave function.
Read Full Article ››