Daily Archives: Monday, 22:46, April 5, 2010
The fact that any particular thing is possible, or any set of things, such as the efficacy and usefulness of science, relies on certain things, or certain sets of things, being conversely impossible at least as far as our current understanding of known physical laws is concerned. This is the principle of renunciation.
In any universe with consistent laws and constants — regular observed patterns of the behavior of physical systems, and the quantitative values they possess — and which is openly knowable, however provisionally, the impossibility of certain things likewise allows certain other things to be possible.
Possibility entails the need for and existence of impossibility. You can’t have one without the other.
The constant c of Einstein’s Law of Mass-energy Equivalence, E=mc², is an outstanding example.
To date, no one has ever observed anything traveling faster than the speed of light, and I’m sorry, but the hypothetical particles known as tachyons are still unobserved as of this writing. If you disagree, please point out to me any properly documented study you know of that has been reliably and independently confirmed proving otherwise. I shall be glad to take a look at it and correct my error.
The value of c is particularly important in that not only does it (so far) render faster-than-light travel impractical if not impossible, it also allows the possibility of much of atomic theory and nuclear physics, permitting us to, for good or ill, harness nuclear energy.
It permits even seemingly inert matter to possess staggering amounts of energy, and this is a demonstrable reality, given what we have achieved with quantum mechanics, which allows much of our technology to function, and likewise relativity theory, which makes GPS technology as practical and as accurate as it is.
Likewise, no one has ever reliably observed a true violation of the Laws of Thermodynamics, and localized seeming instances of such violations are not within truly closed systems. Take the Earth for example: While there seems to be an increase of order locally, the Earth is not a truly closed system as it receives its energy from the Sun.
While it may indeed be true that our understanding of physical laws is flawed, and it is almost certainly incomplete, unless those who find fault with science can demonstrate those flaws through proper scientific channels and discover through the same new laws that work better than the ones we know of, we have no good reason to believe such laws wrong, incomplete as we know them to be, and no good reason to jettison them until our understanding improves and knowledge advances.
A universe where literally everything is possible could not exist, for in order to allow everything, it would have to allow the existence of physical laws and processes that would contradict each other. A chemical reaction occurring in this universe under a given set of conditions would undergo mutually conflicting processes at once, say, a protein chain both folding and unfolding itself in the same area of the molecule simultaneously, assuming for the sake of argument that such a molecular chain could ever form to begin with. And I suspect that under conditions of conflicting universe-wide physical system behavior that it probably couldn’t.
Such a universe would be one where nothing could happen and nothing would exist.
Not for the theologically thin-skinned… Greydon Square gives his views…
It’s been a rough week, and barely after the passing of my little cat, Sammy. Thanks to all of you who’ve offered their sympathy over the last seven days — You guys have been a huge comfort to me, =^skeptic cat^=, Jay, Xarcht, Todd, and anyone else who commented on last Monday’s post or otherwise helped out my Troythuluness since then. Thanks, guys.
It does no good though, to try to convince myself of Sammy continuing to be in any sort of kitteh afterlife, or any other sort of literal spiritual immortality. As much as I’d like to believe, for the shallow comfort it might give me, I have little reason to accept it at the expense of my grasp on reality. Sorry, but delusional thinking does not appeal to me. Hence the skepticism. I could be wrong, it would be nice if I were, but rather than postulate an unlikely dualistic immortality of the soul, even that of a beloved pet and friend over at least the past decade, it seems more likely that Sammy has gone into that Undiscovered Country forever, no longer suffering and in an endless, dreamless, and comforting sleep.
Sammy will go on in the memories I and others have of her, and hopefully, at least as long as this website exists if not longer. I’ll never forget. Even a full week later, the hole is still there, but maybe time does heal all things…We shall see…My thanks go out to Pumpkin and That Fellow in Yellow for the pics posted with this entry. It’s been a trying week — Again, thank you all. And one last time for the road — take care, old girl Sammythulu.