Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Historically Justified Quantum Cosmology Approaches

If we take the relatively uncontroversial position that human organs of perception (sense & cognition) evolved based on their ability to assist survival and reproductive success, it seems extremely unlikely that they would be well suited to perception of fundamental aspects of reality.  For example, our species has no innate ability capable of perceiving that we live on a planet, or even the relative size of the nearest star, our sun.  Only decades (or centuries) of careful observation and investigation revealed basics of our world that lie outside everyday experience.  We may properly conclude our senses and cognition are unlikely in the extreme to be able to directly perceive any relatively significant aspect of reality.

Our lives consist of atoms and molecules within spacetime, interacting with others based on distance, charge, gravity, energy state, relative motion, and so forth.  As we, our instruments, and everything within spacetime interacts similarly, it is quite natural for us to consider our observations to represent reality.  Yet careful observation and investigation reveals anomalies.
When confronted with such problems, we are normally best served by postulating a new factor, such as in geology, where extra floods were added to Noah’s which could accommodate the fossil record.  In astronomy, new epicycles were added to account for observed celestial motions.  In cosmology today, new dimensions are added to account for observations of matter and spacetime.  

Like now, when revolutionary advance is necessary, it has been accomplished by changing the focus of research efforts from adding new factors to imagining the simplest unifying explanation for our observations.  This change gave rise to theories of heliocentrism, quantum mechanics, evolution, blood circulation, plate tectonics, relativity, and many others. 

Physical models now assume dimensions in which atoms, charge, forces, and mass appear are real, and we postulate new dimensions to accommodate observations in physics and astronomy.  These are poor approaches because they are founded on acceptance that time and space perceptions are essentially real, rather than the more conservative and skeptical view that they are merely observations.  Thus, our investigations should focus on processes giving rise to perceptions of spacetime dimensions, matter, charge, and energy.

This is the only approach with which we may enjoy historically justified confidence in our ability to progress adequately.


Rich Ludwig said...

Very interesting, I never took the time to give this much thought. You give some great points about dimensions being a way to accommodate for anomalies. Are there any current experiments or examples that would meet this scope? I am having a hard time thinking about an experiment that we might actually perceive space time dimensions, matter, charge,and energy. LHC?

One thing I am still struggling to wrap my head around is the universe is flat, in a euclidean geometry sense.

BurntSynapse said...

Hi Rich,

Extra dimensions are a very popular research area. All the big names are involved in their study, but this approach bears all the historical hallmarks of indicators that the discipline is in what Kuhn described as "pre-revolution crisis".