Monday, April 28

Cool

On The Subject Of The Higgs Boson And How We Know For Certain That All That New-Agey Spiritual Crap Is, In Fact, Crap

Sorry, jump forward to about 34:00 to get to the delicious creamy filling.  I did have that working, but now it doesn't want to behave.

Though then you'd miss the chocalatey coating, with tidbits like the fact that the amount of energy in the particle beam of the Large Hadron Collider is equivalent to a freight train moving at 100 miles an hour.  (Which is why the thing is so big - freight trains have lousy turning circles.)


In essence, any hypothetical event - say, faith healing - can be reduced to particle interactions under Quantum Field Theory.  People are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons, so whatever happens to us has to interact in some way with those particles.

We know the properties of the known subatomic particles, and none of them allow for faith healing.  So if faith healing were real, it would have to be carried by a new, previously unknown particle.  And under Quantum Field Theory the properties of that particle would be constrained by the very fact that it interacts in normal, perceptible ways (curing illness) with normal everyday matter.

The trick shown here is that the same equations that describe this hypothetical interaction also describe how new particles are produced in particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider.  And the constraints on the properties of our hypothetical faith healing particle include a constraint on its mass.  And for our hypothetical particle to interact in perceptible ways with everyday matter, that mass would be low enough that existing particle accelerators would generate it in quantity.

And yet, they don't.

In other words, any such particle would already have been found and catalogued, and the mechanism for faith healing discovered.

Which means that Quantum Field Theory can be correct, or faith healing can be real, but not both.  The evidence for Quantum Field Theory is vast; if it were wrong, you would not be reading this, because computers and fibre-optic links simply would not work.

This doesn't mean that there aren't exotic undiscovered particles that show up at very very small scales or at very very high energies.  It doesn't mean that we won't find such particles and harness them in advanced technologies.  It just means that we know for certain that they play no direct role in our everyday lives.

There are known unknowns in physics; we don't know what dark matter is, and dark energy came as a complete surprise.  And there are almost certainly unknown unknowns.  But Quantum Field Theory tells us where these unknowns lie, and it's not in our day-to-day world.

Which means that not just faith healing, but anything that affects people in perceptible ways, that disagrees with known physics, is known to be untrue.

So bigfoot isn't ruled out (though it clearly doesn't exist), but ghosts most certainly are.  Acupuncture isn't ruled out (though meridians don't exist), but crystals are just pretty rocks.  And so on.

We reject all that stuff anyway because it's unsupported by evidence and contradicts well-tested scientific theories, but Quantum Field Theory tells us outright that it cannot be true.  If the internet exists, then psychic powers do not.  If you have an iPhone, you do not have a guardian angel.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 12:28 AM | Comments (12) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 559 words, total size 4 kb.

1

Re Guardian Angel: The answer to your comment is that God created the rules, but God isn't constained by them. He can violate them any time He wants in any way He chooses to.

Thus even if it could be proved that Angels can't exist under Quantum theory, that wouldn't be important. They aren't under it; they're outside it.

(I don't believe this, of course. But it's important for an atheist to understand how the religious think.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Monday, April 28 2014 05:14 AM (+rSRq)

2 "And yet, they don't."

I thought the faith-healing particles were what kept this guy alive...

Posted by: Mikeski at Monday, April 28 2014 07:03 AM (Zlc1W)

3 Steven - yes, special pleading is the first refuge of the wilfully deluded.  This result does mean, though, that anyone claiming that their pet idea is supported by (unspecified) science, is consistent with science, that science doesn't know everything, or that it's "quantum" can be shot down immediately.

Then, of course, they too will resort to special pleading, and you can ignore them because they've established that they are immune to logic and evidence.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Monday, April 28 2014 11:31 AM (PiXy!)

4 Mikeski - ouch.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Monday, April 28 2014 11:33 AM (PiXy!)

5 Damn, this means no super powers from radiation either.

(Wonderduck is getting spammed right now)

Posted by: Mauser at Tuesday, April 29 2014 06:46 AM (TJ7ih)

6 Actually, I've been getting spammed for a few days.  I don't know what a Michael Kors is, but I wish it nothing but ill.

Posted by: Wonderduck at Tuesday, April 29 2014 11:05 AM (wmliA)

7 Do you realize that this line of argument would also "prove" that consciousness and self-awareness don't exist?

Posted by: Michael Brazier at Tuesday, April 29 2014 05:09 PM (VlMqg)

8 Please explain.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tuesday, April 29 2014 06:05 PM (PiXy!)

9 Simple substitution. "We know the properties of the known subatomic particles, and none of them allow for [consciousness]. So if [consciousness] were real, it would have to be carried by a new, previously unknown particle. And under Quantum Field Theory the properties of that particle would be constrained by the very fact that it interacts in normal, perceptible ways with normal everyday matter."

Consciousness particles don't show up within the Large Hadron Collider; therefore either quantum field theory is wrong or consciousness doesn't exist. Right?

Posted by: Michael Brazier at Tuesday, April 29 2014 06:56 PM (VlMqg)

10
We know the properties of the known subatomic particles, and none of them allow for [consciousness].
False analogy.  Protons, neutrons, and electrons are all that's needed to build the big, complex, electrochemical computers we call brains, and brains are what produce consciousness.

We know this.  It's not up for dispute.  We are still learning the structural and functional details of the brain, but there are no exotic particles hiding there, and consciousness has no exotic properties that would require them.

This is not true of faith healing, ghosts, magical crystals, psychic powers, or guardian angels.  All of those require interactions - and hence particles - with properties outside the Standard Model but with energies that would place them within the Standard Model.  That contradiction immediately tells us that they do not exist.

Did you watch the video?  If not, please watch it before posting anything else.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tuesday, April 29 2014 08:42 PM (PiXy!)

11 "We are still learning the structural and functional details of the brain, but there are no exotic particles hiding there, and consciousness has no exotic properties that would require them."

That's only true if you go all-out into the many-worlds interpretation of QM. With the Copenhagen interpretation, consciousness necessarily has causal effects that are impossible for any known subatomic particle (or really, any possible particle.) And more recent speculations involving an objective reduction process tend to assume that consciousness is a result of that process.

BTW any such process would have to operate at mass scales well above the particles in the LHC experiments, though it can be tested for - it involves placing an object with a mass in micrograms into a quantum superposition, then seeing if the superposition decays.

Posted by: Michael Brazier at Wednesday, April 30 2014 09:34 AM (VlMqg)

12
That's only true if you go all-out into the many-worlds interpretation of QM. With the Copenhagen interpretation, consciousness necessarily has causal effects that are impossible for any known subatomic particle (or really, any possible particle.)
This sort of statement is always false. Interpretations of QM are just that - interpretations. The calculations you perform and the answers you get are identical no matter how you interpret the result. If you think Many-Worlds makes a different prediction to Copenhagen, you are automatically wrong.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wednesday, April 30 2014 12:10 PM (PiXy!)

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