Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate

Now this is way too cool! An article right in the New York Times about "otherwise respectable scientists" saying how the Higgs Boson might not want to be discovered. About how that might be why the Large Hadron Collider won't start up, like it's supposed to do this December and like it failed to do last year.

Either the physicists who are up in arms about it have no sense of humor, or no perspective, or both; or these guys actually are on to something. The funniest part was about how the United States version of the Large Hadron Collider, to be even larger, of course, and called the Superconducting Supercollider got scrapped even after billions of dollars had already been spent on it. That's Billions, like Carl Sagan used to be misquoted saying. That would NEVER happen with a highway.

Well, it did in the middle of Ohio as I recall, where I once hazarded upon a lonely interstate bridge in the middle of nowhere while riding my motorcycle. I thought I must have been hallucinating, but the earthy farmer nearby confirmed that this was also a case where the appropriations apparently didn't establish enough momentum for escape velocity. Maybe the guy who got it started was caught sleeping with someone inappropriate? That seems to be the best way to derail stuff these days if you don't like where things are going. Or not going.

Or maybe the farmer was one of those returnees from alien abduction and was telling me elaborate lies to cover up what was really there, camouflaged as a bridge to nowhere. Or maybe I'm an alien abductee. You can't be too careful these days, and you never know who might have stolen your own identity without your being aware of it. Hell, for all I know, I could be an alien thinking I'm me!

They actually did propose a kind of statistical test, these 'otherwise respectable scientists,' modeled almost precisely on what they do over in China when consulting the Yi-Ching, or I Jing or whatever you want to call it. But in this case, there would be no master set of codes to consult. They were just suggesting that the whole enterprise could be scrapped and a lot of trouble saved, just in case some highly improbable test came out on the wrong side of possible.

Well, you have to know how the test would be connectible to the thing being tested. When drawing yarrow stalks for a Book of Changes consultation back over in China or among new agers on this side of the globe, what matters is the state of mind of the person doing the drawing. Or at least I think that must be what matters. What else could it be?

So, I guess the idea is to get the collider itself to generate the random throws. But everybody knows computers can't really do random. They have to reach out into the real uncomputed world to get a seed.

But that's kind of like what the Large Hadron Collider is supposed to be doing in the first place, so I don't see how it could be a very good test.

And anyhow, if you've been reading me right along, which by the way would have to exclude me as reader since I hardly ever remember what I've already written and what is sitting nicely still up in my supposed head and just hasn't found a way yet to make it out.

So this question is up to you and you alone, gentle reader. But if you've been reading me right along, you already know that I've been saying over and over again that the answer is already out there, free for the taking.

Well the answer is already in here, but it's still free for the taking. The graviton, the force carrying particle which would define gravity, sometimes also called the hadron, or the Higgs boson, (I might have my wording off) just isn't there, see. It's supposed to show up only when mass edges toward that asymptotic ending where largish quantities get created or destroyed. That's what the Big Bang means, and I guess that's what must be meant by the end of time off in the other direction too.

In the meanwhile, gravity just sort of is; shaping the cosmos since, even in theory, it's impossible dimensionally to measure anything apart from it. So the Collider is supposed to generate enough energy, which is equivalent to mass remember, to simulate conditions toward the Big Bang boundary. Which is approximately equivalent to, sort of, creating that much mass out of, well that much energy, measured in the trillions of electron volts, which is getting right up there now to how we measure the burn rate of our economic engines.

Now I don't really want to cheat, and talk about the likelihood of the economy holding together long enough to keep paying the physicists and ferreting out the al Qaeda reps who are only working there to see what they can use against us. Not to mention how much longer we can justify using that much energy up to find something a hell of a lot smaller than the head of the head of the head of etc. a pin on which angels might be dancing.

Let's say we have the actual will and expertise to pull it off. Why then do I insist that the hadron won't be found?

Because, as I've said now over and over and over again, the thing which describes the utterly improbable calling into existence of being out of nothingness might as well be called what it actually is. Emotion! There was a wanting, and well, sort of, poof, there you have it.

Yep, that's what I said. These same g-string theorist gurus, who are working out the probabilities of so many things going wrong with the various proposed tests to finalize the standard theory of particle physics are working on a theory to explain the possible mechanisms for impossibly improbable events just like, well, us:

From the New York Times article:

Another of Dr. Nielsen’s projects is an effort to show how the universe as we know it, with all its apparent regularity, could arise from pure randomness, a subject he calls “random dynamics.”

Whatever mechanism they discover to explain this mysterious process, I'd suggest they just label it emotion, just like I have. You wouldn't even have to torture the English language like I do (or like many physicists do), because the word could keep on making sense exactly as it is.

An emotional connection is, after all, a connection only in the mind. It can't be measured except by such external manifestations as secretions, actions, motivations, decisions, rationalizations, delusions, and all the rest which, seemingly, result from it.

By very definition, emotion is improbable in any particular direction. I mean really now, who's going to fall in love with someone sent to them without their sayso, or computer matched. Hmmmm. Moving on then. . .

It took a long long time for something like humanity to evolve, which unlike plenty of beastly species I know, includes the ability for individuals to respond emotionally to things that happen around them. I don't mean like screaming and scurrying for cover. Any old beast does that, and looks like a pretty good imitation of human while doing it.

I mean more like what a dog does when it knows its master.

I'd say this has as much to do with our individually recognizable faces and our grammatical black box ability to use language as it does with our much too vaunted intelligence. Well, sure it has a lot to do with smell, but I have a real problem separating intelligence from emotion in the first place. We'd better table that discussion.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm a pretty smart guy myself, and I'd like to think that gives me some advantages, but it's when people point out my emotional idiocy that I feel really bad about myself. (no, not badly 'teach', I feel myself just finely. I mean I feel bad).

But anyhow, if you think about it, and I know you want to, all the unlikely accidents which have led up to you and me just as we are might as well be called emotional connections across the ages. I mean, consider the alternatives! Would you rather be just a throw of the dice? And even if you are, would you like to be treated that way?

I'm not saying very much changes by this reinterpretation of the obvious. In fact, I'm not saying anything changes at all. Except that we really don't have to waste a lot of time anymore chasing our own tale (I learned on YouTube that penis really means tail from a lady who sells sex in the guise of teaching you something about words. Now if you ask me, that's ridiculous, but who's watching anyhow). We're running the wrong way 'round for chrissakes, and we'll suck ourselves up our own tuba just like the nowhere man did.

Well, maybe it could change things. It wouldn't change a single bit about physical theory except for where it ends up. It wouldn't change a single thing about cosmology, except, sort of, the same problem about where things end up. And it surely wouldn't make it possible to win the lottery. That kind of statistical improbability just makes you stupid for buying tickets. You'd have better odds being struck by lightning, and even better ones if you curse God's name while asking for it.

(I can't actually prove the last one, and I'm not even sure that God can have a Name, but it seems like a good idea to hedge one's bets, if you know what I mean)

If we were simply to call all those unpredictable unmeasurable and even in principle impossible to measure connections emotional connections, we'd save a lot of grief trying to find something else there. Especially when we already know that nothing could be there, since that's what we mean by random meaningless chance in the first place.

Sure, just like those guys wondering if the future is sabotaging us by preventing the Large Hadron Collider from working, you might be able to predict these connections looking backward. But that's Monday quarterbacking, and it's just not fair.

But that's the thing with conceptual relations. They exist only in the mind, in precisely the sense that's meant by that cool new voguish term, qualia. These guys - qualia - can't even in principle be measured or pointed to. They are what you mean by red say when you're talking about communism or Republicanism or the sky at night. You have utterly no way to know that I'm am meaning the same thing when I mean red. Philosophers worry this one to death, although not nearly so much as the physicists worry the collider.

Come to think about it God must be a qualia, which I hope isn't an insult of some sort. I suppose the philosophers have lots of good jokes about that one. God is dead, but so's your brain on crack or something like that. God is all in your head, but then so is your lover. I could go on and on. You never really can know what someone else is thinking.

But one thing is for certain. If there is a principal whereby something can be made out of random nothing, against all known laws of probability, I'd be a lot happier if there was a wanting. OK, so you've noticed my strategic use of the passive. I'm not going to say that someone wanted us, because that would be as stupid as giving a name to the Nameless.

But there are relations among qualia which exist only in the mind. Call 'em conceptual relations and the qualia you might get away with calling concepts. And there are conceptual relations among physical things. Call them projects or ideas or plans whose predictability is purely a function of realism and desire.

I'd be the first to say that the Large Hadron Collider is a do-able project. I hardly think there's a need for it, although there is apparently a pretty big wanting. Go for it guys, but don't tell me I didn't warn you. The thing is not going to tell you what you want or need to know and then you're going to have to come back to the rest of us to get more money, and well, we might have better things to do with it by then. Unless you're going to uncover the hope particle. The change particle. The human decency in the face of sociopathic corporate predations particle.

Oh wait, by George I think I've done it. Feelings. That's all we need. Another cheesy Beatle's song: All we need is love.

Let's hope we do have something better to do with all our money. No, I'm not talking about the Large Hadron Collider. I'd always vote for another experiment in basic science. It's almost always a hell of a lot cheaper than what Glenn Beck gets paid to rant and rave and upset my entire world.

I'm talking about the trillions now that we spend feeding the same furnace which ate up our other trillions. You know, that greed thing. That little lies adding up to one big lie thing. That delusion that you can just keep growing and growing and never pop. That if we all just look after number one, then somehow the invisible hand will make things alright.

But I did give up counting how many particles there might be in the universe at about the same time I realized that someone was pulling my leg about how many angels might fit on the head of a pun. There's always room for one more. Always.

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