graviton (was Re: [asa] Re: Scientific stupidities part 2)

From: George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
Date: Fri Mar 27 2009 - 10:32:40 EDT

The nuttiness of the graviton, if it is such, is of a very different degree from many other nutty proposals. It's not as if someone just said out of the blue, "Hey, I'll bet gravitational influences travel as particles." The graviton comes out quite naturally from two well tested theories, general relativity & quantum theory. If quantum theory is completely consistent then gravitation has to be quantized - otherwise you could beat the uncertainty principle for a particle with suitable measurements of the gravitational field. We have indirect observational evidence for gravitational waves. Quantization of the weak field limit of general relativity, where we don't encounter the tough problems that plague attempts to get a full quantum theory of gravity, immediately gives you quanta - i.e., gravitons - in a completely standard way. & some further arguments, which I skip here, indicate that they will have very small, if not zero mass & spin 2. Of course it could turn out that there aren't gravitons, & that there's something fundamentally wrong with general relativity &/or quantum theory, but at present it would seem nuttier to suggest that than to believe there are gravitons.

Bill, I'm curious who the Stanford guy you mention is. Roy Rand, who used to be at Stanford, was the department chair at U of Western Australia who hired me there for a 2 year position to be, among other things, involved with him & others in the gravitational wave group that was getting started there. He left there shortly after I did (1977) & I think went back to Stanford for awhile.

"Once one leaves observational verification, science becomes nothing more than mathematical theology" we should observe first the pejorative use of the term "theology." But if we replace "mathematical theology" simply with "mathematics" the statement is correct - IF we leave observational verification altogether. But as Bill points out correctly, empirical verification can be indirect & in any case need not be the starting point for physical theories. Read Einstein's essay "On the Method of Theoretical Physics." & it's kind of funny to use Dyson in an argument against excessive mathematization since his main claim to fame as a physicist is proving, or at least beginning to prove, that QEC is renormalizable to all orders of perturbation theory. How would we confirm that observationally?

Shalom
George
http://home.roadrunner.com/~scitheologyglm

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bill Powers" <wjp@swcp.com>
To: "Glenn Morton" <glennmorton@entouch.net>
Cc: "asa" <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2009 8:47 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] Re: Scientific stupidities part 2

> This is an interesting study. Talk of the graviton has surely been
> around for quite some time. I believe it was Einstein who suggested it
> would travel at the speed of light. I remember in my graduate days some
> guy at Stanford, I believe, was trying to measure the graviton. I'm
> sure he was well funded.
>
> The empiricist side of physics may argue that if we can't measure one,
> or their supposed effects, they don't exist. Something like the
> neutrino. Observe, however, the great rapidity that the neutrino
> advanced from being evidently observed (through a thick mass of theory)
> to being used to observe other things. Why was this? Because of the
> theoretical "necessity" for the neutrino. The theory had already been
> laid into the foundations.
>
> The theoretical and metaphysical side of physics needs the graviton to
> support the universally held rejection of action at a distance (shades
> of DesCartes). Gravitons according to well accepted theory "must"
> exist.
>
> Since I suggest that the "new" physics has left behind empiricism and
> moved into a metaphysical and "religious" era, gravitons will, like
> quarks, be said to exist, even if they be more sly than quarks.
>
> bill powers
> White, SD
>
> On Fri, 27
> Mar 2009, Glenn Morton wrote:
>
>> Once one leaves observational verification, science becomes nothing more than
>> mathematical theology. Take the Graviton. Tony Rothman (and someone else)
>> had a conversation with Freeman Dyson about whether or not the graviton was
>> verifiable. Rothman with the someone else wrote a paper on that idea. They
>> concluded that in order to detect the graviton, one must build a clear liquid
>> vessel the size of Jupiter and monitor it for 14 million years before having
>> the high certitude of getting one interaction. But because of the noise level
>> in such a system, it would be impossible to tell the noise from the signal.
>> and even if you could do that, if you monitored it for 14 million years and
>> got a strike, you would have to wait another 14 to 28 to get enough
>> confirmations to publish!
>>
>> So, the question is: Is the graviton verifiable. How nutty is the concept?
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Bill Powers" <wjp@swcp.com>
>> To: "Glenn Morton" <glennmorton@entouch.net>
>> Cc: "asa" <asa@calvin.edu>
>> Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2009 10:01 PM
>> Subject: Re: [asa] Re: Scientific stupidities part 2
>>
>>
>>> Just a question. How do we know when a "theory" or a suggestion is
>>> "nutty"? Is it "too metaphysical," meaning much more than we think is
>>> required to explain the phenomena (Ockham's razor type nutty)? I think the
>>> String theory and multiverses are "nutty." Why? Suppose String theory
>>> actually suggests some new phenomena? What then? Will it then be viewed
>>> by me as not or less "nutty"?
>>>
>>> It occurred to me today that if causal properties, or forces (or whatever
>>> you consider fundamental) always came mixed up, we would never have
>>> discovered them. We depend upon the possibility of demonstrating the
>>> properties of causal forces in isolated and simple situations and
>>> experimental designs. Nancy Cartwright calls such demonstrable
>>> regularities nomological machines. What if nomological machines were not
>>> possible? What if, e.g., the effects of gravity could not be "sensibly"
>>> isolated from the electromagnetic effects or even the gravitational effects
>>> of other bodies, then we would never be able to observe or confirm the
>>> existence of such forces and their force laws (fortunately we have a nearly
>>> ideal gravitational machine in the earth-sun system)?
>>>
>>> Having said this, a further doubt arises. Modern physics has advanced on
>>> the ladder of simple idealized models (i.e., they may not ever exactly
>>> exist in nature -- there is no hydrogen model in nature because a hydrogen
>>> atom never exists alone). How do we know that we have chosen the "correct"
>>> building blocks? Why believe there are four fundamental forces? Perhaps
>>> all of this is "nutty."
>>>
>>> I frankly do not know how to know. My model for how science progresses is
>>> that it keeps throwing out its net, further than would seem reasonable by
>>> most conservative estimations (i.e., anyone interested in certain truth),
>>> sort of like inching out along a branch in the dark. We keep proceeding
>>> unless something really comes up and hits us in the face, something that
>>> snaps off the branch, and we fall to the ground. But we don't at that
>>> point burn the whole tree down. We climb back up into the tree, closer to
>>> the trunk and try again.
>>>
>>> So, I guess would say that anything is "nutty" only within the context of a
>>> given branch. Often, or at least possibly, what appears "nutty" will in
>>> some future realization produce a new branch as the neo-nutty.
>>>
>>> I'm certain there are examples of such occurrences.
>>>
>>> Anyone got any?
>>>
>>> bill powers
>>> White, SD
>>
>>
>
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Received on Fri Mar 27 10:33:26 2009

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