Archive for the ‘Physics’ Category

Infinity, math, physics, and metaphysics

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Can physics be done without infinity as taught in math (real analysis) today? Someone demanded an explanation in an email sent to my son.  (I guess the Raju family has the same problem as the Bernoulli family in Europe!  :-) .)

Ordinarily, I would not have responded, for people ought not to demand an explanation by email without bothering to read or understand what I have already written. But, similar doubts were expressed by a young woman (with a PhD in functional analysis) who attended my talk in Ramallah. They may again arise in future. So, I decided to respond.

Infinity is metaphysics. Infinity relates to eternity, so that the Western concept of infinity in present-day math is saturated with the church metaphysics of eternity.

Ironically, the figure for infinity, ∞, is still shaped like a serpent coiled back on itself and eating its own tail, and is an old symbol of quasi-cyclic time.

The linkage of infinity to eternity led to the first creationist controversy: over the nature of eternity, not evolution. In the 6th c. John Philoponus objected to Proclus’ notion of eternity based on quasi-cyclic time. Philoponus’ problem was that if the cosmos is eternal (as Proclus conceived it) it would not be created. That creationist controversy is still going on.

For example, Stephen Hawking claimed the cosmos was created with a “singularity”. (A “singularity” is nothing but an infinity of some sort.)  He concluded his only serious scientific book by identifying the “singularity” with “the actual point of creation” where there is a breakdown of the “laws of physics”. This conclusion is pure metaphysics, for there is no way to check it empirically.

In his popular book, Hawking explained the point of this metaphysical conclusion: because the “laws of physics” break down at the “singularity”, that leaves God free to create the world of his choice. Note that this is in accordance with the Christian notion of one-time creation (and contrary to the Islamic notion of continuous creation, or the Buddhist notion of non-creation, or the “Hindu” notion of periodic creation and destruction). The church heavily promoted this “scientific proof” of the correctness of its (post-Nicene) Christian theology.

People may be suspicious of the church but they implicitly trust scientists today. And, though few  (perhaps 2 or 3 among the 1.25 billion in India) have read or understood Hawking’s scientific work, hundreds of millions of people strongly believe he is a great scientist. Such gullibility and implicit trust is bound to be exploited by the church, which is ever on the lookout for new ways of doing its propaganda. Few people are even aware that Hawking reached his conclusion by postulating his “chronology condition” which denies quasi-cyclic time, and does so using exactly the same bad argument that Augustine used against Origen,  and which argument is at the foundation of post-Nicene Christianity. So, what Hawking did was to use the metaphysics of infinity to promote the politics of the church, like Augustine.

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The “God” particle and creationism

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Wow, the reports makes people believe that scientists have experimentally demonstrated the existence of God and the church notion of creation! Discount those people (who believe this) as gullible idiots if you like, but that is the constituency.Article on god particle

Retarded gravity

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Presented this talk at a school at Petropolis, Brazil. Lorentz covariance requires that gravity be velocity dependent. But old physicists can’t get over the 19th c. idea, reiterated by Eddington, that introducing velocity dependence in gravity makes the two-body problem unstable! They never studied functional differential equations, and no physics texts yet mentions my first solution of functional differential equations in a serious physical context. Old-time physicists confuse the mathematical theory of ordinary differential equations with physics. But young people do better.

 

Islam and the Philosophy of Science

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

The Pusat Islam organized a talk on Islam and the philosophy of science. (Click the image for the paper. But the paper does not cover the queston of ethics of science, taken up during the talk.)

Einstein’s mistake and CERN experiment

Saturday, March 24th, 2012
For the last six months I have been repeatedly answering the question about superluminal neutrinos. I post below one such response from Sept 2011.
Einstein was, of course, wrong, but not for this reason. He (and most other physicists after him) wrongly thought relativity matters only for speeds close to light. That is true only for the one body problem. For the many body problem, relativity matters even at lower speeds. Einstein never understood this subtle mathematical point all his life.
CERN is wrong because the claim about superluminal neutrinos is conceptually confused. (But, of course, Western journalists superstitiously believe in the authority of CERN, “God particle” and all that. They have the money, so they must be right.)
—————email of 26 September—–
The point I made is that theory of relativity starts off by defining a clock. There is no God-given time out there to be measured, as Newton wrongly thought.
So what clock should one use?
If you do not know exactly how to measure time, you cannot measure velocity either, so it is meaningless to speak of velocities greater than that of light.
To understand the first thing about relativity, you must understand this point. (more…)

Islam and science

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Another way to see the religious bias in present-day science (see previous post)  is to look at the way it is used to attack Islam. (Note: specifically science vs Islam, not science vs “religion”.)  See my paper on “Islam and Science” Indian Journal of Secularism, 15(2), 2011, pp. 14-29.

For example, consider the claim that Islam is anti-science because it does not believe in “laws of nature” or “laws of physics”.  As my paper explains, belief in “laws of nature” is part of the post-Crusade theology of Aquinas; it is no part of science. Newton himself believed that theology and thought that he was a prophet to whom God had revealed those laws. (He also thought he was born on 25 December.)  So, here we have a simple situation where science is pro-church but anti-Islam (as in Hawking’s singularities which support the church doctrine of creation against Islam).

It is true that people are still taught “Newton’s laws of physics” in school. But that is bad terminology which spreads church indoctrination. Because colonial education blindly imitates the West, this propaganda is still propagated through science teaching in schools which should have changed that long ago. Newton’s “laws” have proved to be false, and science cannot ever lay claim to any eternal truth. Science only constructs fallible models.

 

 

The religious bias in mathematics and science

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

The following papers were published in July on my teaching experiments on calculus. (Should have blogged about it long ago.)

“Teaching mathematics with a new philosophy”, 

Formal mathematics is difficult because of the church metaphysics in it, which has nil practical value. The simple solution is to teach calculus for practical purposes, the way it historically developed in India, together with the philosophy of zeroism. It works!

This religious bias in mathematics crept into Newtonian physics through calculus in a subtle way, and into Stephen Hawking’s singularity theory in a not so subtle way.

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Hawking’s singularities are about the failure of the metric tensor to be twice continuously differentiable. This is absurdly interpreted by Hawking to mean a “moment of creation”,  at which the “laws” of physics fail! See the earlier blog on Hawking.

 

Decolonisation: Conversation in the Sun (Updated to 15 Sep 2011)

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
Here is my paper, talk, for the decolonisation conference.
Here is the report in the Sun by its former chief editor, Zainon Ahmad, 1 July (click to enlarge)
Zainon's article
(or online).
Here are also the reactions (click to enlarge).

Decolonising math and science

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
There was a conference in Penang on “Decolonising our universities” 27-29 June. A very interesting part of the conference was to share similar experiences of colonial and racist deceit with people from different parts of the world.
Shadrock-Uma-Claude-Mira-Molefi-ckr-Ashis
Another very interesting aspect was the involvement of a number of young student rapporteurs, and to watch how their understanding of the world was transformed a bit.
Present-day universities are modeled not on Nalanda, but on the Western system of universities which began in Crusading times with Bologna, (more…)

Probability in Ancient India: the H-Asia debate

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

The debate seems to have generated wide interest, so I thought I would record it here. Here is my original post on H-Asia. The comment from Michael Witzel, of Harvard University, is given in the comments section under that.

Probability in Ancient India
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The history of Asia is somehow understood in the West in such a way as to *exclude* the history of science, and, by extension, the possibility that the Asian philosophies can ever contribute significantly to present-day science.

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