Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's About Time

Whenever deep and difficult questions trouble the minds of the . Wise . of . Arda (or the less wise), it is sure that the IlLumonati will be there as well. I will leave you to ponder his words, as I am, but a parenthetical remark caught my eye.

Diversity of viewpoints

I must say one more thing. Sean Carroll talks about different perspectives where the concept of time is more real or less real. And he makes it very clear that he doesn't give a damn whether one has these different viewpoints.

Such comments are just stunning for me. The existence of different ways how to look at the same physics that profoundly and qualitatively differ (e.g. by the existence of some coordinates of spacetime) is one of the most critical criteria that measure a true conceptual progress in physics. That's why the AdS/CFT correspondence is so deep.

Such dualities and alternative descriptions tell us that concepts, phenomena, and mathematical descriptions that used to be thought of as completely different are actually equivalent. I can't imagine how a good theoretical physicist could not care - and I am actually convinced that there is no good theoretical physicist in the world who doesn't care.

It seems to me that this fails to make sense at more than one level. My first interpretation was that this was just Lumo in his Savronala persona, condemning anyone who fails to follow the religion according to Lumo. So what was it that Sean said?

But none of these technical arguments are really the point. What I don’t understand — and this is a sincere lack of understanding on my part, not an indirect claim that this perspective is wrong — is what’s supposed to be so great about timelessness. What are we supposed to gain from thinking in this way? What problems is it supposed to solve?

Lumo would seem to be offended not that somebody might be wrong about physics, but by the possibility that somebody else doesn't share his totalitarian view of the universe. So far, standard Lumo operating procedure, but what comes next baffles me.

In the next two paragraphs he seems to be advocating the importance of having more than one picture of the world "The existence of different ways how to look at the same physics that profoundly and qualitatively differ (e.g. by the existence of some coordinates of spacetime) is one of the most critical criteria that measure a true conceptual progress in physics. "

Bohr would certainly agree. Einstein, may not so much. In any case, I am pretty sure than Sean(AKA, the "the" in the links) agrees (as do I), so what's the problem?