Concurrence: Roger Penrose & Myself
Earlier, I was reading a couple of book reviews in Martin Gardner’s collection, The Jinn from Hyperspace, on a couple of works by physicist Roger Penrose — The Road to Reality, and The Emperor’s New Mind.
Now regarding the second, while I differ from Mr. Penrose on his conjecture that the functioning of the human brain to produce consciousness is dependent on quantum mechanical processes, since the idea has little evidential support and has also been spuriously hijacked by paranormalists as support for their ideas, I noticed that he and I tend to agree rather nicely on a number of matters. That is, unless he’s changed his mind since writing these books.
That being said, let’s go over a couple of points where the two of us appear to share common ground.
First, there is the matter of the nature of reality, which we both accept as existing “out there” in an external world independent of our subjective views, perceptions, wishes or needs.
Further, this objective reality has two aspects that I believe exist, not in separate realms, but both in the same unified realm of Nature: both physical reality, and the objective, indeed, certain and universally applicable laws of mathematics. I’d go so far as to argue that at its most fundamental level, numbers underlie reality.
I’ll elaborate on my own views a bit further. It seems to be that if other universes, other ‘Worlds’ do exist with laws and constants different from those of our own, that the very same laws of math apply no matter how physically distinct they are.
Even in a universe with a radically differing number of dimensions or spacetime geometry, the very same geometrical rules that we use to describe such configurations in our own theoretical models would apply.
There is no part of the universe, no universe, no multiverse wherein which 5+5 does not continue to equal 10 (in base-10 arithmetic), no matter how idiosyncratic its physical laws and constants.
Second, we also appear to agree on the view that the our understanding of physical laws is incomplete, and that those laws and theories we use today must eventually rest upon the substrate of a further, deeper understanding of the universe. And this is not an intuition that I came upon by way of my little finger.
This is nothing new to me, but it is often the case that even people I differ from on certain points or claims of fact I can agree with on others. This is cool, because it leads to a more robust skepticism.
Scientific truth sometimes comes from the most unlikely places, and I’m well aware that conversely, those who are usually correct can sometimes be wrong. We are none of us gifted with the revelation of absolute Knowledge. Fnord.