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Author Topic:   Hawking Comes Clean
1.61803
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Posts: 2926
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004
Member Rating: 5.6


Message 136 of 148 (580519)
09-09-2010 3:38 PM
Reply to: Message 126 by Straggler
09-09-2010 4:58 AM


Re: Metaphysical Claims
Lol. Enjoy by all means, far be it from me to come between a man his god and his constitution.

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Straggler
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Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 137 of 148 (580530)
09-09-2010 5:30 PM
Reply to: Message 136 by 1.61803
09-09-2010 3:38 PM


Re: Metaphysical Claims
Who said I was talking about my constitution? Maybe the thread title "Hawking Comes Clean" was more descriptive than anyone initially realised.

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Percy
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Posts: 19042
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.4


Message 138 of 148 (580635)
09-10-2010 12:29 PM


NYT Pans Hawking's Book
Review of Hawking's book in today's NYT: Many Kinds of Universes, and None Require God

--Percy


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Straggler
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Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 139 of 148 (580655)
09-10-2010 1:46 PM
Reply to: Message 138 by Percy
09-10-2010 12:29 PM


Re: NYT Pans Hawking's Book
I wasn't very impressed with "Brief History of Time" and I don't expect to be bowled over by his latest book either.

Hawking is quite a self publicist in his own way and the attention accorded to his books reflects that as much as their scientific or literary worth.


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greyseal
Member (Idle past 2196 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 140 of 148 (580670)
09-10-2010 3:03 PM
Reply to: Message 139 by Straggler
09-10-2010 1:46 PM


Re: NYT Pans Hawking's Book
what's wrong with it? I suspect a certain "not invented here" pooh-poohing from certain US quarters, but I haven't read either the first book nor this new one (which was roundly denounced before anyone had even read it by certain factions).

"the god delusion" for example by Dawkins was a very easy read, very informative and straightforward.

Hawking on the other hand discusses math, which is confusing at higher levels at the best of times...


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cavediver
Member (Idle past 1978 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


Message 141 of 148 (580671)
09-10-2010 3:04 PM
Reply to: Message 139 by Straggler
09-10-2010 1:46 PM


Re: NYT Pans Hawking's Book
Hawking is quite a self publicist in his own way and the attention accorded to his books reflects that as much as their scientific or literary worth.

Brief History was born out of extreme necessity (for cash) - it was his two great results with a wrapping of fundemental cosmology. He has never been the best instructor or lecturer but he does capture the imagination, and the confusion he weaves at his public lectures seems to be well received!


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kbertsche
Member (Idle past 466 days)
Posts: 1427
From: San Jose, CA, USA
Joined: 05-10-2007


Message 142 of 148 (580978)
09-12-2010 6:37 PM
Reply to: Message 65 by cavediver
09-08-2010 4:33 AM


Re: Lennox on Hawking
kbertsche writes:

Does Hawking really use the terms "laws of physics" (or "laws of nature") and "universe" as interchangeable?


quote:
No, like most intelligent people, he sees context as important. If he states

Hawking writes:


''Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.''


do you really think that by "law" he is merely talking about our current understanding? How stupid do you think he is? A correct paraphrase of what he said is "because of the nature of gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing".

Now, I would never actully speak in such terms. I would always deny any kind of "creation from nothing" to attempt to describe the situation accurately. Stephen doesn't give a shit - he's putting it this way as he knows it will kick up. He enjoys that.



OK, I think I understand and agree with your complaint. I had claimed (and quoted MacKay and Lennox) that scientific law is descriptive. But Hawking's use of the term seems a bit different. I think we often use the terms "scientific law" or "law of physics" in two closely-related senses:
1) Our scientific description of the way the universe behaves
2) The behavior of the universe which we are trying to describe scientifically

Hawking's use above is closer to the second. The universe behaves in a certain way, we study this, we describe it mathematically and give it a name, "gravity."

quote:
Then you've never worked in or amongst those working in quantum gravity - or you have not been privy to their conversations. Did you not even study any quantum cosmology in your grad work? Go chat to Jim Hartle - he can't be too far from you - or Joe Polchinski.

No, I don't work in quantum gravity, and I've never studied quantum cosmology, even though I did my thesis in an astrophysics group. I am an experimentalist, and I work with experimentalists, some of whom do experimental astrophysics (sky surveys, dark matter and dark energy searches, etc.). I know some folks who do simulations of binary star collapse, but I don't know much about their research.


"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." – Albert Einstein

“I am very astonished that the scientific picture of the real world around me is very deficient. It gives us a lot of factual information, puts all of our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously.” – Erwin Schroedinger


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caffeine
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Posts: 1728
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008
Member Rating: 5.7


Message 143 of 148 (581035)
09-13-2010 5:04 AM
Reply to: Message 140 by greyseal
09-10-2010 3:03 PM


Re: NYT Pans Hawking's Book
what's wrong with it? I suspect a certain "not invented here" pooh-poohing from certain US quarters, but I haven't read either the first book nor this new one (which was roundly denounced before anyone had even read it by certain factions).

"the god delusion" for example by Dawkins was a very easy read, very informative and straightforward.

Hawking on the other hand discusses math, which is confusing at higher levels at the best of times...

There's very little maths in a Brief History of Time, and yet it's somehow really dull. I'm not exactly sure what it is - maybe something to do with his writing style. I've got a book by Roger Penrose and, even though it's full of maths and I don't understand the vast majority, it still manages to capture the imagination and seem exciting in a way that Hawking's book totally failed to do.


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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 144 of 148 (581057)
09-13-2010 9:34 AM
Reply to: Message 143 by caffeine
09-13-2010 5:04 AM


Re: NYT Pans Hawking's Book
Funny, I really enjoyed Brief History of Time, but then I had the version with all the pictures.

As a teenager it made a big impression on me and really cemented a love of science. Maybe I ought to go back and see if it's held up.


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Straggler
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Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 145 of 148 (581060)
09-13-2010 9:49 AM
Reply to: Message 144 by crashfrog
09-13-2010 9:34 AM


Re: NYT Pans Hawking's Book
Crash writes:

As a teenager it made a big impression on me and really cemented a love of science

John Gribbin's books did hat for me in my formative years.

Had a look at them recently ("In Search of the Big Bang" and "In search of Schrodinger's Cat") and found them both incredibly tedious.

I'd be interested to know what you make of Brief History of Time" now.


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Modulous
Member (Idle past 439 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 146 of 148 (581176)
09-14-2010 8:51 AM
Reply to: Message 145 by Straggler
09-13-2010 9:49 AM


In Search of Gribbin's appeal...
John Gribbin's books did {t}hat for me in my formative years.

Had a look at them recently ("In Search of the Big Bang" and "In search of Schrodinger's Cat") and found them both incredibly tedious

Same here - both were on my 'most read' books along with Lord of the Rings. Picked up in Search of the Big Bang about a year ago and gave up out of boredom. Is it because I was so familiar with the work? Or just because the ideas are quite 'tame' these days? Or was I just so taken aback by the ideas as a teen I would've obsessed over any half decent book scattered with Minkowski and Penrose diagrams and I've just read much better since?


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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 147 of 148 (581209)
09-14-2010 1:56 PM
Reply to: Message 146 by Modulous
09-14-2010 8:51 AM


Re: In Search of Gribbin's appeal...
After wading through an explanation of physics basics and the history of related subjects more generally I didn't find that there was much more to these books. Familiarity of the subject matter and the fact that I have read superior and more up to date accounts of this stuff elsewhere I think must be what has led to my changed attitude to these books.

But back in the day I really did find them quite inspirational.

As a mate put it to me when I confessed a similar disappointment upon seeing the first Star Wars film again recently: "Well the film itself hasn't changed in over twenty years. So I guess you must have".

Difficult to argue with that analysis really.


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caffeine
Member
Posts: 1728
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008
Member Rating: 5.7


Message 148 of 148 (581353)
09-15-2010 8:07 AM
Reply to: Message 147 by Straggler
09-14-2010 1:56 PM


Re: In Search of Gribbin's appeal...
I've never read any other book by John Gribbin, but I enjoyed Schroedinger's Kittens. He wrote it as a kinf of sequel to In Search of Schroedinger's Cat, so it assumes a bit mroe knowledge and the general introduction to quantum mechanics is fairly brief, if I remember right. It spends more time talking about the philosophical implications of quantum theory - what is the actual physical reality that our maths describes?; is that knowable or important?; that sort of thing.

I think the question the book tries to address can probably best be summed up thusly:

"Okay, so I know that it can behave like both a wave and a particle, but what actually is it, really?"


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