Sunday, March 23, 2014

Poetry Sunday - Old Misunderstandings

Old Misunderstandings

I have a fear that in three thousand years,
When science texts become the bible,
But people stay the same
As they came three thousand years ago
when tribal,
That when they read about our quantum deeds
And quirky quarks with spin and charm
They'll be alarmed.
Religiously they'll say it is not so
But libel.
Our scientists, then, will likely be condemned
In that time for preaching lies
When all they tried
To metaphorically record
The grand, uncertain plan or story
Of something they didn't understand
In all its glory.


Big Myk said...

At some point, all the expanding matter in the universe will have visually disappeared beyond the cosmological horizon, and all that will be left will be part of a gravitationally bound cluster of nearby stars: an island universe. There will be no evidence of an expanding universe. Will future astromoners relegate our current understanding to the category of mythology?

By the way, I like this one, and the more I read it, the more I discovered: the way poetry should be.

Big Myk said...

Here's the Scientific American article that discusses how an expanding universe will eventually make itself unknowable. It claims that we live in an extraordinary time: perhaps the only period in the history of the universe when scientists can reach an accurate understanding of its true
nature. The End of Cosmology? An accelerating universe wipes out traces of its own origins. But maybe not. Who knows what secrets of the universe are currently hidden from us?

Big Myk said...

I've long known that I just have a limited number of thoughts in my head that swirl around in there and emerge from time to time.

I just discovered that the above comment is really a recyled comment I made back on February 8, 2011, in response to Jim's post, Everything is a Remix, T. S. Eliot, and Oh Pshaw! That comment was inspired by another article in the New York Times: Darkness on the Edge of the Universe. We all live to some extent in our own echo chamber.

Peter H of Lebo said...

Will future astronomers relegate our current understanding to the category of mythology?

Depends on how much of our record is left. If our current understanding is intact enough, it would be very difficult to relegate it our knowledge to mythology for numerous reasons.

The great thing about science is prediction and reproducibility. Reproduce our calculations on the speeds, sizes, orbits of both our solar system and Milky Way galaxy (though if it is far enough in the future the milky way-adromenda galaxy would exist not the milk way) We have designated which stars will be at what stage in their life and predicted their future, therefore future scientists can compare their sky with our predictions. Plus articles and musings like this are further proof we were smart enough to know expansion and its eventually undetectability. Its is called indirect observation, though we didn't see mt vesuvius erupt indirect evidence indicates it likely occurred. Halley's comet was first predicted by studying ancient observations similarities and using new math.

So in a sense, if most of our stuff is right and we have predicted their sky from long ago, its not as big a leap of faith believing in our past knowledge than saying of the 100 + billion humans to ever walk the earth only one was recorded to be conceived with the hymen intact.

Also didn't look, but I probable responded like this the first time. We do live in an awesome and lucky time, hope we can preserve knowledge, if voyager 1 and the golden disc is any indication there will be at least time capsules.

Peter H of Lebo said...

Shoot, science can "conceived with the hymen intact", conceive without paternal that is also possible. Deity semen, only one recorded conceived with deity juice.

James R said...

Actually, it was a pretty common recording. Well, not common like in the stars. Man can do things that the former gods can only dream about.

Big Myk said...

Actually, the whole idea of a super-distant time when even an advanced race with uber-sensitive instruments would be unable to detect any evidence of the big bang is just a thought experiment about how some information about the universe might simply be not available to us. The question of whether some future civilization would trust our observations and predictions is a matter of pure speculation. They might decide that, because we were right about some things, we were right about others. They might also decide that, even though we were quite brilliant, we were also wrong about some things things. Einstein never bought into quantum theory.

But, the fact of the matter is, all my comments here have had only a glancing relevance to the point of Jim's poem (at least as I see it). He, instead, worries about whether future scientists will even understand the language we use to describe things that require us to stretch language to fit totally new observations. Niels Bohr realized that: "We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry." What if in some future age people no longer get the poetry?

Origen, a writer of the third century commented on all the virgin birth strories floating around at the time. He says that people even say that Plato's birth resulted from his mother, Ariston, being impregnated by Apollo. He says that these stories always concern "a man whom they regarded as possessing greater wisdom and power than the multitude, and as having received the beginning of his corporeal substance from better and diviner elements than others, because they thought that this was appropriate to persons who were too great to be human beings." In other words, in the ancient world, claiming that someone was virgin-born was just a poetic way of saying he was better than everybody else.

Over time we lose the meaning of the poetry.

Big Myk said...

For your enjoyment some real quantum poetry:

When You're a Ket
by Prof. Paul Halpern,
University of the Sciences in Philadelphia

When you’re a ket
You’re a ket all the way
From a simple singlet
To a Spin 2 array

When you’re a ket
You’ve got brothers in place
You belong to a set
Of a complete Hilbert space

You’re never alone
You’ve always got a bra state
Proud columns you roam
Not rows- that lie prostrate
Even when you rotate

If you’re a ket
In the basis of | p >
Or the basis of | x >
Doesn’t matter to me

If you’re a ket
You are well normalized
You’re as free as you get
In a box, well or slice

You’re never afraid
Of projection operators
If they single you out
To try- and negate ya
You can pop back later

Now here’s a vignette
From- great Albert’s past
Never believed in these rules
Never thought they could last

But when you’re a ket
You can change your own fate
Just a roll of the dice
You’re a new quantum state

If EPR’s true
You’ve got instant communication
A flip of your spin
All your pals in syncopation
Will do quick rotations

And then you are set
With your own special Psi
That you’ll never forget
Til your probability’s nigh
On a ket you can rely!

James R said...

I'm relieved you wrote "But, …my comments here have had only a glancing relevance to the point of Jim's poem". I was beginning to worry :).

The strongest evidence on how future generations will view us is probably how we view much earlier writings. We don't "get them" often because we have lost the context. Some, like Aristotle and Plato are respected (by a few), but not many bother to read or understand them. There are some fundamental differences in how we see the world. We don't care about "telos" or purpose of an object. That, it seems to me, colored practically everything they thought about.

I'm pretty sure it will be the same for us. The future will wonder why we were so focused on "_blank_", but I don't know what that _blank_ is.

Newton, Bohr, Einstein will be quaint. Storytellers may fare slightly better. Shakespeare will be enjoyed as much as Euripides is now.

"When You're a Ket" is thoroughly enjoyable! But as incomprehensible as a vector in Hilbert space.