Thursday, January 16, 2020
#16 / The Laws Of Physics Are Inevitable
The illustration above is from an article published in the online magazine, Quanta. The article is titled, "Why the Laws of Physics Are Inevitable."
In explaining the illustration, the author says that "these three objects illustrate the principles behind 'spin,' a property of fundamental particles. A domino needs a full turn to get back to the same place. A two of clubs needs only a half turn. And the hour hand on a clock must spin around twice before it tells the same time again."
OK, I get that, though the whole concept of "spin," when it comes to elementary particles, is beyond my understanding.
I also do not understand the "bootstrap," featured prominently in the article. The "bootstrap" is a concept apparently relied upon by Daniel Baumann, a theoretical physicist at the University of Amsterdam, who has "used this technique to infer what the laws of nature must be."
"By considering simple symmetries," the article tells us, "physicists working on the “bootstrap” have rederived the four known forces. 'There’s just no freedom in the laws of physics' (emphasis added)."
I commend this article to those who can understand it. My attention was captured by the title of the article, and by that final quoted statement: "There's just no freedom in the laws of physics."
The fact that the laws that govern the physical universe are fundamentally different from our human laws was an insight that came to me some time ago. It led me to what I have called my "Two Worlds Hypothesis," the name of which is intended to sound "scientific."
In short, it is obvious to me that we do actually live in "Two Worlds," simultaneously. Ultimately, we live in the World of Nature, the world that is governed by those "natural laws," those "laws of physics" that permit exactly NO freedom. Most immediately, however, we live in a world that we construct ourselves. This world is a "human" world, and the "law" in our human world is nothing but freedom. NOTHING IS INEVITABLE in the world that we create. Every human dream, and every human nightmare, is a possibility.
The current title of my blog (once called "Two Worlds") is intended to point out that the nature of the world that we most immediately inhabit is completely "political," and that it is in our political existence that we exercise what we call human freedom.
While we are ultimately the inhabitants of a world governed by the laws of physics, the World of Nature, where those "natural laws" permit "no freedom" whatsoever, the world in which we most immediately live is a "political world," a world that we construct ourselves.
Our world works on the following formula:
Politics > Law > Government
This formula is meant to say that our human (and political) world is governed by laws that we write for ourselves. Our laws are unlike the laws of physics, which are descriptive, telling us what is "inevitable." Human laws are prescriptive, and tell us what we have decided we want to do. In our world, "freedom" is the essence of the law. In physics: the opposite.
One of our greatest problems, as humans, is that we keep getting confused about "the law." We act like we can ignore the laws of physics that govern the World of Nature, upon which we ultimately depend. Thus, as an important example, we continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, as though we can ignore the consequences of what the laws of physics ordain. On the other hand, considering the world we most immediately inhabit, the world in which WE MAKE THE LAW, we act as though changing the existing order is impossible. You can translate this, in our contemporary politics, into a statement like, "Bernie Sanders can never be elected." Or, "even if Bernie Sanders were elected, he could never change the laws that have created the income inequality that is hollowing out our political, social, and economic life."
I think the "Two Worlds Hypothesis" is helpful. And correct. To change the world - the current shape of which is NOT "inevitable" - all we need to do is to exercise the freedom that we have to make the laws, and not get confused by any claim that we are like atoms spinning in space, where the laws allow exactly NO FREEDOM whatsoever.