Monday, 30 January 2017

The Fall

Being ascended from unconsciousness into consciousness. However, the first moment of this ascent was also the moment of the Fall into suffering or unsatisfactoriness, as formulated in the First Noble Truth of Buddhism. Unconscious organisms respond to environmental alterations but do not feel or sense them. Feeling and sensation are the earliest stages of consciousness. An organism that has become conscious feels hot when it is hot and senses heat when there is a nearby source of heat. The feeling of bodily states probably preceded the sensing of anything external.

A conscious organism dislikes excessive heat or cold and therefore moves to a more comfortable position. It dislikes hunger and likes eating, therefore seeks food. Naturally selected organismic sensitivity to environmental alterations quantitatively increased until it was qualitatively transformed into conscious sensation because two kinds of sensation, pleasure and pain, have survival value. They are also interdependent. Hunger when unable to eat and satisfaction when eating are opposite ends of a single spectrum or two sides of a single coin. Therefore, there was no Paradisal state of consciousness before suffering.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Challenges Of Life

(i) To cope with practical tasks, most basically to survive/earn a living.
(ii) To do more, e.g., to run a business or to advance in a career.
(iii) To engage in meaningful activities that might not become a means of livelihood.
(iv) To understand and respond to society and life.

I have always been impractical and unambitious but interested in (iii) and (iv).
Some people let their received religion address (iv).
Judgementalism is unnecessary. People differ.

Monday, 9 January 2017

What Is The World Made Of?

According to Carlo Rovelli in Reality Is Not What It Seems (Allen Lane, 2016), p. 168:

Newton thought that reality was space, time and particles;
Faraday and Maxwell added fields;
Einstein 1905 united space and time;
Einstein 1915 united space-time and fields as covariant fields;
quantum mechanics referred to space-time and quantum fields;
quantum gravity has just covariant quantum fields.

It is not surprising that covariant fields generate space-time because surely space and time are relationships in any case. Newtonian space was relationships between particles and Newtonian time was relationships between relationships between particles. Now particles are regarded as quanta of fields.

What is counter-intuitive is that there are quanta of space. Mathematically, the number one can be divided into endless smaller fractions but apparently a volume of space cannot be divided into endless smaller volumes.

Addendum: Quantum gravity is a theory of fields but not yet a unified field theory.

Quanta Of Space II

Faraday's lines of force were infinitely thin and continuous and filled space whereas the closed lines or loops of quantum gravity are discrete and finite and are space.
The loops are links between points called nodes.
Each node is a quantum of space.
Two nodes are separated by a small area.
Photons are in space whereas nodes are space.
-Carlo Rovelli, Reality Is Not What It Seems (Allen Lane, 2016), Chapter 6.

Quanta Of Space

To measure a volume of space, it is necessary to place a particle in it.
According to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, a particle placed at a point in space soon escapes from it.
The smaller the volume, the greater the velocity of the escape.
A particle escaping at a high velocity has a lot of energy.
A lot of energy in a small volume of space curves space so much that the particle becomes a black hole.
Thus, the attempt to measure a small volume of space prevents measurement of it.
The minimum volume of space is the minimum size of a particle before it becomes a black hole.
-Carlo Rovelli, Reality Is Not What It Seems (Allen Lane, 2016), pp. 129-130.

Friday, 6 January 2017


Carlo Rovelli, Reality Is Not What It Seems (Allen Lane, 2016), pp. 41-47.

Faraday intuited that " entity diffused throughout modified by electric and magnetic bodies and...acts upon..." them. (p. 41) This entity is a field consisting of many infinitely thin lines of force. Maxwell wrote equations that describe these lines of force.

The electromagnetic force:

holds electrons in atoms;
holds atoms in molecules;
makes chemistry, organisms and neurons work.

(I thought that the four forces of nature were gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces but here Rovelli describes just two.)

Maxwell's equations predict that lines of force undulate. The speed of their undulations, when calculated, was the same as for light because light is undulating electromagnetic radiation and color is different wavelengths. Maxwell also predicted invisible wavelengths which include radio. Thus, a technological revolution:

the internet

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Quantum Gravity

This is written from memory late at night so it is going to be wrong in details:

Newton thought of gravity as action at a distance;

Faraday thought of lines of force;

lines became fields;

however, quantum mechanics divides fields back into quanta;

quanta of space/gravity are lines joined by nodes;

moving nodes form lines and moving lines form surfaces.

I will reread the relevant passages of Reality Is Not What It Seems shortly. 

Who Is The Lord?

The Christian Version
The Biblical deity regarded as literally existent.
Jesus regarded as human, divine and resurrected in power.

Other Versions
Other specific deities, variously interpreted.

My Versions
An indeterminate or composite deity regarded as mythological and metaphorical.
The Buddha, who was human and died a long time ago.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Scientific Syntheses

Newton's universal gravity combines Kepler's celestial physics with Galileo's terrestrial physics.

Maxwell's and Faraday's electromagnetism combines electricity with magnetism.

Einstein's special relativity resolves contradictions between Newtonian mechanics and electromagnetism.

Einstein's general relativity resolves contradictions between Newtonian mechanics and special relativity.

General relativity describes continuous phenomena in curved space-time whereas quantum mechanics describes quanta in flat space-time.

Quantum gravity synthesizes Feynman diagrams and lattice calculations and will resolve contradictions between general relativity and quantum mechanics.

Carlo Rovelli, Reality Is Not What It Seems (Allen Lane, 2016), pp. 125-127.


Einstein discovered the relativity of simultaneity and, in his special theory of relativity, unified:

space and time;
mass and energy;
electricity and magnetism.

Newton: space, time and particles;
Faraday and Maxwell: space, time, fields and particles;
Einstein, 1905: spacetime, fields and particles;
Einstein, 1915: fields and particles;
Dirac (and see here): fields are particles;
quantum mechanics: spacetime and quantum fields;
quantum gravity: covariant quantum fields.

Einstein's general theory of relativity identifies space-time with the gravitational field.

Carlo Rovelli, Reality Is Not What it Seems (Allen Lane, 2016), pp. 51-107.

Monday, 2 January 2017

From Plato

Reality Is Not What It Seems. See here.

Rovelli shows continuity between ancient philosophy and modern science:

Plato asked his mathematical disciples if they could calculate the motions of heavenly bodies;

Ptolemy, summarizing centuries of Greek astronomy, wrote the Almagest, which predicts planetary movements;

Greek learning went to India and returned to Europe via the Arabs;

Copernicus revised Ptolemy, putting the Sun at the center;

Kepler improved Copernicus;

Galileo, using a telescope, discovered Saturnian rings, lunar mountains, Venerian phases and Jovian moons;

initiating experimental science, Galileo discovered mathematical laws for the movement of bodies on Earth;

Newton discovered that the same laws of motion applied to celestial and terrestrial bodies;

Faraday theorized electric and magnetic fields in space;

Maxwell devised equations for fields;

Maxwell's equations describe electricity, magnetism, visible light and invisible wavelengths;


modern technology uses electromagnetic waves.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Greek Philosophical Schools, Continued

I do not fully agree with this quote but it covers a lot of the territory. There is a problem with any proposition that begins with the word, "All..."

Reality Is Not What It Seems. See here.

There is continuity between Lucretius' "living proof" of atomism and Einstein's confirmation in 1905 of the existence and size of atoms.

Aristotle initiated and defined the sciences of biology, zoology and physics. Plato recognized the importance of mathematics which had been developed by Pythagoras, a disciple of Anaximander.

"Ptolemy was an astronomer who lived in Alexandria in the first century of our era, under the Roman Empire, when science was already in decline and about to disappear altogether, overwhelmed by the collapse of the Hellenistic world and suffocated by the Christianization of the empire." (p. 30)

This historical summary is relevant to science fiction "alternative histories." See here.


Carlo Rovelli, Reality Is Not What It Seems (Allen Lane, 2016).

"Lucretius decants in verse the thought of Epicurus and the atomism of Democritus, and in this way a part of this profound philosophy was saved from the intellectual catastrophe of the Dark Ages." (p. 20)

"The Catholic Church attempted to stop Lucretius: in the Florentine Synod of December 1516 it prohibited the reading of Lucretius in schools. In 1551, the Council of Trent banned his work. But it was too late. An entire vision of the world which had been swept away by medieval Christian fundamentalism was re-emerging in a Europe which had reopened its eyes. It was not just the rationalism, atheism and materialism of Lucretius that were being proposed in Europe. It was not merely a luminous and serene meditation on the beauty of the world. It was much more: it was an articulate and complex structure of thinking about reality, a new mode of thinking, radically different from what had been for centuries the mind-set of the Middle Ages." (pp. 24-25)