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How science suggests God; you might not like it.

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  • How science suggests God; you might not like it.

    In 1999, while sitting at a bus stop in Cuernavaca, Mexico, a Czech physicist named Petr Šeba noticed young men handing slips of paper to the bus drivers in exchange for cash. It wasn’t organized crime, he learned, but another shadow trade: Each driver paid a “spy” to record when the bus ahead of his had departed the stop. If it had left recently, he would slow down, letting passengers accumulate at the next stop. If it had departed long ago, he sped up to keep other buses from passing him. This system maximized profits for the drivers. And it gave Šeba an idea.

    “We felt here some kind of similarity with quantum chaotic systems,” explained Šeba’s co-author, Milan Krbálek, in an email.

    After several failed attempts to talk to the spies himself, Šeba asked his student to explain to them that he wasn’t a tax collector, or a criminal — he was simply a “crazy” scientist willing to trade tequila for their data. The men handed over their used papers. When the researchers plotted thousands of bus departure times on a computer, their suspicions were confirmed: The interaction between drivers caused the spacing between departures to exhibit a distinctive pattern previously observed in quantum physics experiments.

    “I was thinking that something like this could come out, but I was really surprised that it comes exactly,” Šeba said.

    Subatomic particles have little to do with decentralized bus systems. But in the years since the odd coupling was discovered, the same pattern has turned up in other unrelated settings. Scientists now believe the widespread phenomenon, known as “universality,” stems from an underlying connection to mathematics, and it is helping them to model complex systems from the Internet to Earth’s climate.

    The pattern was first discovered in nature in the 1950s in the energy spectrum of the uranium nucleus, a behemoth with hundreds of moving parts that quivers and stretches in infinitely many ways, producing an endless sequence of energy levels. In 1972, the number theorist Hugh Montgomery observed it in the zeros of the Riemann zeta function, a mathematical object closely related to the distribution of prime numbers. In 2000, Krbálek and Šeba reported it in the Cuernavaca bus system. And in recent years it has shown up in spectral measurements of composite materials, such as sea ice and human bones, and in signal dynamics of the Erdös–Rényi model, a simplified version of the Internet named for Paul Erdös and Alfréd Rényi.

    Each of these systems has a spectrum — a sequence like a bar code representing data such as energy levels, zeta zeros, bus departure times or signal speeds. In all the spectra, the same distinctive pattern appears: The data seem haphazardly distributed, and yet neighboring lines repel one another, lending a degree of regularity to their spacing. This fine balance between chaos and order, which is defined by a precise formula, also appears in a purely mathematical setting: It defines the spacing between the eigenvalues, or solutions, of a vast matrix filled with random numbers.

    “Why so many physical systems behave like random matrices is still a mystery,” said Horng-Tzer Yau, a mathematician at Harvard University. “But in the past three years, we have made a very important step in our understanding.”

    By investigating the “universality” phenomenon in random matrices, researchers have developed a better sense of why it arises elsewhere — and how it can be used. In a flurry of recent papers, Yau and other mathematicians have characterized many new types of random matrices, which can conform to a variety of numerical distributions and symmetry rules. For example, the numbers filling a matrix’s rows and columns might be chosen from a bell curve of possible values, or they might simply be 1s and –1s. The top right and bottom left halves of the matrix might be mirror images of one another, or not. Time and again, regardless of their specific characteristics, the random matrices are found to exhibit that same chaotic yet regular pattern in the distribution of their eigenvalues. That’s why mathematicians call the phenomenon “universality.”

    “It seems to be a law of nature,” said Van Vu, a mathematician at Yale University who, with Terence Tao of the University of California, Los Angeles, has proven universality for a broad class of random matrices.

    In the late 70s,

    The Feigenbaum constant delta is a universal constant for functions approaching chaos via period doubling. It was discovered by Feigenbaum in 1975 (Feigenbaum 1979) while studying the fixed points of the iterated function

    and characterizes the geometric approach of the bifurcation parameter to its limiting value as the parameter mu is increased for fixed x. The plot above is made by iterating equation (1) with r=2 several hundred times for a series of discrete but closely spaced values of mu, discarding the first hundred or so points before the iteration has settled down to its fixed points, and then plotting the points remaining.

    So it became clear that chaos has an innate order.

    The first Feigenbaum constant is the limiting ratio of each bifurcation interval to the next between every period doubling, of a one-parameter map

    where f(x) is a function parameterized by the bifurcation parameter a.

    where an are discrete values of a at the n-th period doubling.

    Along with this:
    Time’s Arrow Traced to Quantum Source
    A new theory explains the seemingly irreversible arrow of time while yielding insights into entropy, quantum computers, black holes, and the past-future divide.

    The ideas of Discovery Institute Fellow Michael Denton, for a world "front loaded" for all the things we see around us, but as Denton writes at the beginning of his book Nature's Destiny:

    In large measure, therefore, the teleological argument presented here and the special creationist worldview are mutually exclusive accounts of the world. In the last analysis, evidence for one is evidence against the other. Put simply, the more convincing is the evidence for believing that the world is prefabricated to the end of life, that the design is built into the laws of nature, the less credible becomes the special creationist worldview.
    (pages xvii-xviii)

    It's getting harder to deny that the universe shows signs of teleology.

    "I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose."
    J.B.S. Haldane.

    Maybe not.
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  • #2
    A pitifully transparent trolling headline combined with a Squeaky length cut and paste

    It's sad to see the decline of abilities in the elderly


    • #3
      Where is the evidence for a global flood?
      "the best maths don't need no stinkin' numbers"

      "The waters under the 'expanse' were under the crust."
      -Bob B.


      • #4
        "It is important to emphasize at the outset that the argument presented here is entirely consistent with the basic naturalistic assumption of modern science--that the cosmos is a seamless unity which can be comprehended in its entirety by human reason and in which all phenomena, including life and evolution and the origin of man, are ultimately explicable in terms of natural processes. This is an assumption which is entirely opposed to that of the so-called "special creationist school." According to special creationism, living organisms are not natural forms, whose origin and design were built into the laws of nature from the beginning, but rather contingent forms analogous in essence to human artifacts, the result of a series of supernatural acts, involving God's direct intervention in the course of nature, each of which involved the suspension of natural law. Contrary to the creationist position, the whole argument presented here is critically dependent on the presumption of the unbroken continuity of the organic world--that is, on the reality of organic evolution and on the presumption that all living organisms on earth are natural forms in the profoundest sense of the word, no less natural than salt crystals, atoms, waterfalls, or galaxies.

        In large measure, therefore, the teleological argument presented here and the special creationist worldview are mutually exclusive accounts of the world. In the last analysis, evidence for one is evidence against the other. Put simply, the more convincing is the evidence for believing that the world is prefabricated to the end of life, that the design is built into the laws of nature, the less credible becomes the special creationist worldview."
        IDer and Discovery Institute Fellow Michael Denton, in Nature's Destiny (my emphasis)

        Are there no YE creationists among IDers. Don't know for sure, although Philip Johnson might come close. Michael Behe describes himself as an evolutionist. On the other hand, he testified that ID is science in the same sense that astrology is science.

        Q And using your definition, intelligent design is a scientific theory, correct?

        A Yes.

        Q Under that same definition astrology is a scientific theory under your definition, correct?

        A Under my definition, a scientific theory is a proposed explanation which focuses or points to physical, observable data and logical inferences. There are many things throughout the history of science which we now think to be incorrect which nonetheless would fit that -- which would fit that definition. Yes, astrology is in fact one, and so is the ether theory of the propagation of light, and many other -- many other theories as well.

        Q The ether theory of light has been discarded, correct?

        A That is correct.

        Q But you are clear, under your definition, the definition that sweeps in intelligent design, astrology is also a scientific theory, correct?

        A Yes, that's correct. And let me explain under my definition of the word "theory," it is -- a sense of the word "theory" does not include the theory being true, it means a proposition based on physical evidence to explain some facts by logical inferences. There have been many theories throughout the history of science which looked good at the time which further progress has shown to be incorrect. Nonetheless, we can't go back and say that because they were incorrect they were not theories. So many many things that we now realized to be incorrect, incorrect theories, are nonetheless theories.
        Q Has there ever been a time when astrology has been accepted as a correct or valid scientific theory, Professor Behe?

        A Well, I am not a historian of science. And certainly nobody -- well, not nobody, but certainly the educated community has not accepted astrology as a science for a long long time.
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